Fan (fanboy) is an abbreviation from fanatic. A word which carries a burden of negative connotations and rightly so. Indeed, throughout history we’ve encountered many form of fanaticism. A fanatic can act uncritically with great zeal or passion in many different areas. Religious (God wills it, thus we shall purge heathens by holy flame), nationalistic (Germany before WW2), racial (Ku Klux Klan). In our modern society we developed a new form of fanaticism: sports (which can be stretched to e-sports as well) and products, I’ll take a closer look at the latter form.
Of course there are many kinds of products, however we won’t be discussing disputes between Coca-Cola and Pepsi (because everyone knows Pepsi is much better). Do you see what I did there?
Instead we’ll focus on something we actually care about, games.
It was a beautiful day in Irvine, sunny California. On my way to work I was thinking about a very important meeting in the R&D department. I was generally a calm person, however a shadow of anxiety had crawled through my mind. “Oh, I have a bad feeling about this” I thought to myself while I was about to step through the gateway of hell… I mean, the glorious company that I had dreamed to work for since I was a teenager. As it turned out, my prediction was right.
The receptionist threw me a fake smile as I was on my way to R&D. I didn’t mind it much. Maybe because I wasn’t looking at her face, my eyes were glued to her huge breasts emerging from her unpinned shirt. “Oh the things I would’ve done with you…”. My erotic fantasies were violently interrupted by the sharp voice of Greg Street.
So I’m back in sunny sunny UK (lol) after two weeks of non stop Diablo 3 action and i can honestly say although it was a lot of fun, although very tiring and I’m glad to be home so I can have some chillout time. Having said that I’ve done anything but chillout since getting home since there’s just one week left of rated phase of TR to qualify for regionals so most of my efforts have been and will be on that for the next few days.
So i figured I’d cobble together a blog quickly before streaming this afternoon to let everyone know a bit more about the trip and how it went etc.
First of all it’s important everyone realises the purpose of the trip which wasn’t just to get first 60, but to gain publicity and awareness for athene’s charity campaign http://opsharecraft.com/. Over the duration of my visit of about two weeks they managed to raise $130,000 for people in the horn of africa due to the increased stream views gained from the Diablo 3 event.
The trip started out with the usual 2hour bus ride to London Heathrow airport where i would meet up with redhot aka mike aka bigbadmike where we would enjoy an english breakfast/tropical smoothie combo.
Moral of the story, food at airports sucks and is a ripoff; but i guess everyone knew that already.
Korlic wrote a post on VM broadband happenings over on TL and asked me to post it here too just to make more people aware of the bullshit that they call internet here in the UK.
[19:42:26] Ian Calderwood: something that makes it less like
[19:42:42] Ian Calderwood: ‘korlic begged me to put this on hydramist im still carrying him 2 years after he quit wow’
[19:43:14] Ian Calderwood: more like ‘we were discussing this issue in our high level gaming channel with powerhouses such as demun korlic and draintrainy’
Disclaimer: some of the maths might be off and were still testing bitrates etc.
I wrote this massive post on my stream thread and decided it would probably do better as a blog. Its nothing earth shatteringly important (and its a bit of a boring subject perhaps) but I thought I’d share it anyway.
I don’t know if any1 is familiar with UK internet, but basically its in a shite state of affairs, a bit of an embarassment compared to our neighboring countries whilst being incredibly over-priced to boot. I have 2 options available to me:
‘BT Infinity’, a 40/4 Fiber Optic service is being rolled out across the country with there being a list showing when it arrives in your area. The list covers ’till the end of 2013 and my area isn’t even on the list. So basically I have no real choice, its 90s technology copper phone line ADSL, or Virgin Media. 40/4 for Fiber Optic is also a joke btw. The reason its so slow is because they only bring the Fiber Optic cable to the ‘cabinet’ on street corners and then from there individual houses are connected through those same crappy old copper phone wires.
I couldn’t care less about 100Mb download, I’d much prefer a more balanced connection such as 50/20 or something, but the 10Mb upload speed was important to me. The main selling point however was the “unlimited” aspect of this expensive 100Mb package. This meant I could stream (and watch streams, download Steam games etc.) without worrying about my internet suddenly being crippled due to some ‘Traffic Management’ “fair use” policy. I’m not the type to sit and file share 24/7, I think those people are scum and are clearly abusing the system, but I don’t want to be worrying about my daily MB downloaded and so on.
The reason I’ve not been streaming recently is because Virgin Media (VM) have been doing work on the internet. They have been working on doubling the speed “for free” for all users on packages below 100Mb (100Mb customers are meant to get a tiny price cut). This has been a big PR drive with an advertising campaign featuring Usain Bolt:
You would think that in order to accomodate this speed increase they might be upgrading their infrastructure, purchasing increased bandwidth from Linx etc. Nope. Basically what they’ve done is snuck in a nasty little ‘Traffic Management’ policy on the quiet alongside this speed doubling charade:
(click the thumbnail for the full picture)
Basically what they’ve done is expanded their ‘Subscriber Traffic Management’ (STM) policy to also affect 50Mb and 100Mb customers, customers on their 2 most expensive packages. Basically what this does is massively slows down your internet once you reach a “fair use” threshold for upload and/or download. One of the main (advertised) selling points of these top-of-the-line packages was their freedom from STM. Now a quick glance at the chart will show you how unrealistic and restrictive the ‘Fair use cap’ limits are for upstream and downstream. Basically for my 100Mb package:
The last game I purchased through Steam was 17Gb and took roughly 20minutes to download. People have worked out that it will take 13 minutes to download 10GB on the 100Mb package, at which point the speed will be halved for 5 hours (lol). So basically it isn’t really 100Mb, its 100Mb for 13 minutes and then its 50.
***NOT 100% sure about the maths, need to take a proper look at it later ***
The upload is of more concern to me as someone who streams. My stream bitrate is ~2.5k. I’m not entirely sure what the average bitrate of my stream is (I wasn’t concerned about it because I was on an ‘unlimited’ package F**K). I calculated that if my average bitrate was 3000, that I would get 500 minutes of streaming before hitting the 12GB cap. I think 3000 is quite conservative for a 720p stream with 2.5k bitrate, its far more likely to be nearer 4000 taking into account SC2, Skype etc. giving closer to 5hours of streaming time. After reaching the cap my upload will be cut to 2.5Mb at best. This isn’t really adequate bandwidth for running a 720p stream whilst playing SC2 and being on Skype. 1080p is of course completely out the window as well.
This was an unannounced change that they basically shuffled through the back door whilst distracting us with the ‘double speed’ marketing. I didn’t even get a letter/email/phonecall explaining it, I found out by trawling through the VM forums.
As far as streaming goes I’m going to have to just try streaming one day and monitor my upstream, look at my average stream bitrate and find out how long it takes me to hit the “fair use” cap. I estimated a couple of hours is what I’ll get before having to worry about the cap, but I’m not sure yet. Either I have to hope that my average bandwidth usage is lower than 2.5Mbps so I can continue streaming after the cap kicks in, or that my usage is actually lower than expected such that I get many hours of stream time without hitting the cap. A third option is trying to stream at stupid hours (like when I wake up in the morning *yawn*). I guess the next step is to try streaming and see how long I last before hitting the cap, and then seeing if its playable while capped…
I recently signed an 18 month contract with VM. There may be some wiggle room to get out of it at the moment but the problem is, what are my alternatives? As stated earlier just ADSL with terrible upload where 720p streaming isn’t even possible in the first place. So no real alternatives. This is one of the main problems with UK internet, the lack of competition. There is basically 2 providers; BT and Virgin Media. Lots of companies lease the BT line and sell their own packages but its still basically BT, just with worse customer service because you’re going through a middle man rather than dealing with BT directly.
I speak to people from Sweden etc. and they just roll around laughing at these stories about UK internet. The idea of a 10:1 Download:Upload rate is alien to them, as is this ‘Traffic Management’. Most of them have been on a 100/100 package since something insane like 2005. 100/10 is the ‘UKs Fastest Broadband’ and it costs me £39.50 a month…
Apologies if I got my bits and bytes mixed up at any point during that The “first world problems” meme also sprang to mind but I don’t like being scammed and I thought it was pretty shady the way they gave with one hand and took with the otther, a common VM practice