Month: March 2006

It was awesome 15 years ago

I finally gave in to pangs of nostalgia and got a Super Nintendo last weekend. The selection on games was limited (and in fact so were the systems, I got the last one Gamers at Oakview had), but I managed to get out of the store with the deck, F-Zero, and Super Metroid.

Side story on that…

Gamers in Omaha officially sucks donkey balls. Things were wierd when I worked there 6 years ago, but I presumed it was for self defense against abusive customers more than anything else. For one thing I had to give my name, address, and phone number just to get a receipt and a warranty. What is Gamers really doing with that information? When I worked there, the explanation was we just wanted to get to know our customers, but if somebody objected we were cool with that. Not anymore. If you value your privacy enough not to divulge information about yourself to someone you don’t know working for a business you don’t patronize too frequently, you are a second-class customer to Gamers. Nevertheless, I wanted a Super Nintendo, and I was willing to take the risk.

Everything I bought looked and ran like absolute shit. This wouldn’t have slid by when I was working there. The simple fact is we would pay somebody $10 in cash for their Super Nintendo and turn around and sell it for $35. With a profit margin like that, you can afford to have a kid making minimum wage spend 15 minutes to make a used item look presentable to customers, not to mention check to make sure everything works. Anyways, when I got home I found that neither of the games I bought would work. Was it the games, or the console? Time to troubleshoot, with the prospect that I might have to go buy another SNES if this one is busted in the back of my mind. I gave the each of the games the Windex + Q-tips treatment, and that didn’t work. So apart came the console, and an hour later I had the solution – turned out the 62-pin connector that the cartridges slide into needed a good shot of compressed air. I cleaned that off and closed the case up, and voila – working games. Except for Metroid, because the PCB is dented and one of the connectors is basically destroyed. I can get that game to load maybe half the time. That’s ok though, because my copy of Final Fantasy 2 just came in the mail today and I have a feeling I’m going to be spending a lot of time revisiting that classic as it is.

It took me in excess of 2 hours to actually clean the console. Rubbing alcohol, paper towels, toothbrush, Q-tips, and elbow grease. But the real reason I cleaned the console wasn’t because I’m anal about how my electronics look (I am), or because it actually presented a threat to its own operability (it didn’t), but because I had plans in mind for it. Plans that involved spray paint – lots of spray paint. Can’t very well spray paint something when you’ve got somebody’s crayon on it, can you? Anyways, the paint job is finished and the console has been put back together – still in working order – and the results are pretty slick. I’ll post pictures when I get them.

Leave a Comment

Who wants an update?

I took a road trip a few hours west of Omaha today to go attend a conference for Nebraska telephone companies, the chief focus was on what phone companies need to do in order to stay in business over the coming years.

Aside from a few changes here and there to allow for internet service and other random crap, the technology behind the telephone hasn’t really changed since about 1980. This is a problem, because the rest of the telecommunications industry has. Internet service is getting faster and faster, high-definition TV is going to be a way of life in less than 5 years, etc etc.

Enter FTTH – fiber to the home.

This shit is all over the place in Japan. If you ever talk to someone over there and they tell you they have a 100mbps internet connection, guess what? They’re not lying. Where we’re at right now we can take fiber optic cabling and put any imaginable amount of bandwidth on it and still not max it out. Right now where I work we have a ring of gigabit ethernet connecting all our communities back to our NOC that is all fiber based – if a gigabit turns out not to be enough eventually, we’ll just switch all the converters out with equipment capable of passing traffic faster than that. Access to the home is going to get nuts, too – gigabit passive optical networks (GPONs) are under development that will allow for 2.5gbps down and 1.25gbps up, or something as simple as a symmetric 622mbps connection.

So what are you going to do with that kind of bandwidth? Well, voice over IP has already taken off. That’s just one possibility, but the amount of bandwidth required for VOIP is peanuts even today. How about your TV service? A high definition stream requires about 16mbps of bandwidth, which automatically puts it out of the range of people on DSL connections, and it will not be accessible by cable modem customers until providers start coughing up more bandwidth than they already do. Consider: if the average household has 4-5 TVs, and HDTV is going to become standard on television sets manufactured after 2009, you’re looking at 70mbps going out the window if every television in your house is tuned to a different channel. The cable modem I just bought last week can’t even handle half of that.

The reason this is going to effect telephone companies is simple: you can do anything on an IP network that a local telco can do, plus a hell of a lot more. We supply cable TV and phone/DSL server the old fashioned way right now. That’s going to change in a year or two, but in the meantime if somebody comes into our town and lays fiber everywhere right under our nose, they just killed us. They have a future-ready telecommunications network with endless possibilities while we’re still stuck in the stone age.

So the moral of the story is… watch out, because in the next few years there’s going to be fiber everywhere, and it’s going to turn telecom upside down.

Leave a Comment