Kirk Tuck and the Visual Science Lab finally enter 21st Century with a fast internet connection.

We had all these cables running into the VSL headquarters just for 1.5 meg DSL. (kinda kidding). 
(from a studio assignment for 3M featuring heat shrink cable protection).

I'm not an early adopter in so many areas. I got my first car with Bluetooth in 2013. I'm still using an iPhone 4S. I don't order restaurant take out online. I'm not really sure why Twitter has value or if I am using it correctly. We have one television set. It's never been hooked up to cable. I only know about Pandora as she relates to Greek mythology. I think wi-if on a camera is the devil's work. And, most disturbingly, I've been using old AT&T business class DSL for the last 15 years. It got marginally faster a few years ago but only via the expense of a couple weeks of downtime and frustrating phone calls to help desks that repeated the same mantra over and over and over again: "Restart your modem."

But when we moved from Austin proper into the hills just west of Austin getting high speed connections was either impossible or required a King Midas/Goldman Sachs budget. Once I had a workable solution in the office I was loathe to change it. I made due with 3 mbs per second down and 1.5 mps up and I paid about $55 a month for the privilege. But recently Google came to Austin and even though they are only really interested in the low hanging fruit it has pushed their cable and other broadband competitors to change. A nice person from AT&T came by and showed me how switching our sloooow, home DSL and our sloow office DSL to their newer services would increase the speeds of our connections by a factor of ten while cutting our monthly bills in half. That's a nice value proposition, even for a lazy non-switcher like myself. 

Of course, now I'm kicking myself for not switching earlier but I still remember the hassles I had to deal with the last time I changed just the speed of my connection which resulted in more down time than most submarines. I'd gladly give up speed and a bit of cash not to disrupt my routine. But this time I didn't resist. They made it too easy for me. 

The technician came out this morning. He marveled at the bullet proof, weather proof, comet proof junction box at the back of the house like a Russian with steel fillings looking at a free gold crowns. About three hours later we'd switched from two old DSL accounts to one fiber account on a shared modem that delivers good signal strength everywhere. Just to test it Belinda and I watched two different movies in two locations, simultaneously. Nosferatu and some Meryl Streep movie on Netflix and nothing slowed down, coughed or hiccuped. (Now I sound like someone emerging from a time machine and talking about being able to read the newspaper on line!). 

It's like the time I traded in my bigass BMW on a four cylinder Honda and rediscovered good gas mileage (and reliability, and low maintenance costs, and cheaper operating costs, and a better air conditioner, and........). It's always a little startling to change things. 

But I miss things about the slower connection. Yesterday uploading two one megabyte images took about 20 second and it gave me time to think of a catchy headline for the blog I was writing. Today? One second and no downtime for the ole brain. No catchy headline. 

The most exiting part of all this? Now I can watch Kai at DigitalRevTV and Chris Niccolls from The CameraStore TV in full on HD and I don't even have to wait for my machine to buffer the signal. No stuttering, no stopping and no more jaggies. 

I'm pretty happy about the change, after the fact. My iPad streams news quicker and my laptop downloads new software like a geek box. But the biggest change is how quickly I can now upload enormous videos to Vimeo.com. Push a button and look away. By the time I hammer back a slug of cold coffee from the recesses of my desk the web has mysteriously sucked up a 600 MB video file and cracked the whip on the hamsters that process it at Vimeo ( a very nice service = thank you!).

I still think wi-fi in cameras is for children and other geeks and don't get me started on the stupid trend of putting GPS in a camera. I don't care what your rationale is, you and I both know you are wrong. But I'll come around in a few years. Once they've got it all perfected I'll give it a test drive. I just can't think of what in world I'd do with the coordinates. Maybe I'll give them to my phone and the robots will track me for the digital overlords. Could be fun. 

This is a cool ad for a Japanese tech firm that I worked on with my art director friend, Greg Barton over at Dandy Idea. Wafers, meditation and sunrises. Nice.


Robert Mann said...

You're a good man for watching Nosferatu. I don't think I ever found anyone else that would watch that creaky old classic.

rexdeaver said...

I don't have GPS in my cameras either, but I do in my phone. I use it to track my bike rides. I did use a standalone GPS tracker once to put photos on a trail map for a Rails-To-Trails post, but it was a lot of hassle. Sent the tracker to eBay heaven.

John Krill said...

A decade ago when I had DSL put in. I couldn't answer the phone without DSL dropping out. Turned out to be one of their 50 year old passive devices. I called Verizon support many times over a two week period and was constantly told to 'Restart your modem.' I would just put the phone down have some coffee and then come back to the phone and tell them 'OK I restarted the modem.'

Then a couple of years back the city had all our utilities put underground. Verizon put in one of those giant concrete boxes every 100 yards or so and all they put in it was standard phone line. No fiber, nada, zip, zero. Verizon has fiber to their central office in town but it goes nowhere local. You figure it out. All they do is complain they're losing land line customers. I wonder why.

Anders said...

Nice and very funny article. I fully agree on WiFi in cameras. Turned it off immediately when I got my A7. Much easier to pull out the card and push it into the card reader for fast USB 3.0 transfer and avoid battery drain.

I'm from a time where 2 channel ISDN was fast with 128 kbps. In case an incoming phone call was accepted, you could still surf with a stunning 64 kbps.
The cost for surfing using both channels was around 10 cents per minute as far as I recall.

Currently I'm perfectly happy with my connection that provides 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up including IP-telephony for around $25 per month.

So you must surely be very, very happy with your new super fast connection, because it really sounds like an incredible bargain.

Nigli said...

The Herzog Nosferatu or the original?

Kirk Tuck said...


Mark Davidson said...

Wifi and GPS is what we get when manufacturers get their input from "focus groups" and internet forums. I am sure I will have the opportunity to order pizza from my camera in the future.

Jeff said...

Ars Technica has articles on the ISP's and their fight to keep speeds and competition low until a lot of people complain or send more money to Congress than ISP lobbyist do. Seems USA is around 15th to 25th in $/MPS and behind Estonia. At least current FCC people are leaning towards consumers and more competition. Rural area towns are trying to setup their own internet service, but have been blocked by ISP's and local bureaucrats even though no ISP has service there.

joerawr said...

What's a "newspaper"?