The Right Internet Speed For Your Grandparents

Remember back in the day of the dial up modem? The day when you had to make sure your parents and little sister did not pick up the phone in any other room as to not lose connection? Remember watching the little AOL man run across the screen as you listened to the sweet sound of the fax machine tones as it brought you to the “World Wide Web?” Great time right? You had the AOL software installed and from that one “Connect” button you were able to get online and search through websites, download things from Napster, and hang out in chat rooms with people. You were at the infancy of the Internet and little did you know what might become of it.

Flash forward to 2014 where your standard internet connection is at least 384kbps, which for those in the know is the standard DSL speed, and you are able to watch a video in less than 30 seconds, load multiple pictures, and have a fully function website come up no your browser in record time. Pretty sweet huh? But let’s back up a bit. When you were looking for an Internet Service Provider or ISP, what was your criteria? For the normal user including the elderly who are just coming in to this technology in the middle or tail end of their lives, it can all be very foreign to them. I am sure they probably even went to their children or grand children for advice, and that advice might just be, “Get what I have”; simply because it works. How are they to understand the Kilobytes or Megabytes or Gigabytes Per Second (KBPS)? How are we to protect them from being taken advantage of by service companies? And how can we keep them from breaking the bank?

First look at what your grandparents would use the internet for. Start with the simple things:

  • Browsing the web
  • Watching a video
  • Checking E-Mail
  • Making the occasional Skype Call

These are the basics of web use. Most older people are not familiar with the term Instant Messaging and the idea is very vague for them to understand but for those that do it must be quite pleasing to be able to talk and connect with them so quickly and easily than just the occasional visit or phone call. But look at the few thing like watching a video or making a skype call. Those take up a lot of bandwidth and if you have been sharing Wifi with a group of people and know when someone is watching a video, you see the speed drastically drop. So what would be good for them?

Your standard DSL package speed is about 384 KBPS. And there are plenty of companies like “NETZERO” which would say they are “faster than dial up by 10 times”. This is a funny statement as these companies are usually the ones that are slow to catch up with the times by being the ones who offered the “dial-up speed booster” when you had dial up. The reality is your dial-up connection was a 56KBPS connection. The software they provided you with to speed up the internet a month over dial-up most likely decreased the quality of pictures, made files smaller, and text different font to make it faster to render but it really did nothing toward making your speed faster. The reason it was called a 56K modem was simply because that was the fastest it could go: 56K. So that was the first scam they ran on you. So if we look to their claim as being “10 times faster” is really actually very wrong. The connection on most DSL modems can go at 384KBPS for the standard consumer model provided by phone companies and that is at the basic bundle. That is certainly enough to browse the web and read e-mail but will not be enough to handle YouTube or even voice on a Skype call. This is simple math. 56 x 10 = 560KBPS. That is not where close to 10 times. To prove this right you would have to rent the bundle with the upgraded model which goes at about 784KBPS and that is when you should rather just go with a basic cable package for internet because at that point your paying way to much.

Cable prices these days are not to bad. A basic package for a 50 Megabyte Per Second (MBPS) connection could start you between $30 and $40. Many cable companies will try and rope you in with bundles so be wary when calling. But for the internet technologies, software, and standards that are released every year the basic cable connection is your best bet. It is a solid connection for all the activities listed above and if ever needed most modems can boost up to 300MBPS, for a fee of course. Plus this basic package gives you some leeway to install a wireless router (if the one provided by the Cable company is not already wireless) so when you or family come to visit you can stream video and do whatever else you wish on the internet without your grandparents or parents losing money.

Now there is a warning that must be issued for those older people who have been up with technology and have an E-Mail from AOL and are still using the AOL software to connect to the internet. AOL may rightly be stealing money from you or them a month. If you have setup a different connection to the internet whether it be cable or DSL, and they are still using the AOL software to do everything on the web then they need to be shown whats happening. Now that you have put in a different connection the computer no longer uses itself to connect to the Internet as it did in the days of the 56K modem. The device the computer is connection to does. That device is always on so they no longer needs to hit the connect button on the AOL software to see the little yellow man run to the internet to connect. They have no need for the Mail app in the software or search or any of that antiquated functions that are currently no longer supported or produced by AOL. Why are they still paying for AOL then? Because somewhere in the transfer of their internet service AOL did not inform their users that they no longer provide internet connections and so they were able to justify the bill by saying that it is for support to their AOL software which is still being used.

It is intervention time. It is time to explain that the AOL software must be removed. They need to be shown how to access the internet without the software and how to check E-mail without the crutch. This is still a problem with senior citizens and $10 a month over many years is a lot of money for those on a budget or a fixed income. So sit down with your parents or grandparents and explain to them what is going on. Before the internet was a destination. Today the internet is always there and always on. We use it for communication, entertainment, and work. In this time of net neutrality it is time to bring them out of the dark of the old internet, save them some money, and move them into the light of standard connectivity.

Because getting an E-Mail or Instant message from Grandma or Grandpa is just as sweet if you know that they are not getting ripped off for sending it.

Shadow Realms

So I called it. The new Bioware Game is called Shadow Realms and it is an Action RPG. What I didn’t see coming was the 4v1 model behind the game. 4v1 is where 4 player characters take on 1 player character who plays the bad guy. As the player you can choose to be good or evil and gain progression in whatever one you are currently playing. Being that it is a Bioware Game I am expecting a great story and really deep combat progression.

The general plot is that humans are being awakened to powers they didn’t know they had. As they are figuring their powers out a force from a world called Embra called the Shadow Lords, have figured out how to leave their world and invade Earth.

That’s about all the information that was released but go here for a chance to get into the closed Alpha and to learn more about the game!

It’s also interesting to note that Shadow Realms (at least so far) seems to be a PC Only Game.

Why WoW is Dying

For years, World of Warcraft has been the most played, highest grossing MMO on the market. In the years that WoW has been operating, dozens of triple A MMO Titles have been released and failed to find the subscription base that WoW has. But all that being said… is WoW’s time in the spotlight coming to an end?

I remember when I first got the WoW Beta Invite in 2004, I installed it, played it for about 2 hours and uninstalled it. My first initial reactions to it were that the graphics were terrible and gameplay was horrendous. I forgot about it until some of my college roommates picked it up in November when it released and started playing it and talking about it. It took me a few months to go out and actually purchase it (at the time, I was playing Final Fantasy 11 and having a blast).

Fast forward a few months and I was hardcore playing it whenever I had any spare time. The idea was that a few of my roommates and college friends were going to “raid”. For those of you unfamiliar with MMO jargon, “Raiding” is playing the final boss areas with a pre-made, static group. This was before auto-grouping so you had to actually be social with people and find and join groups. Back then, Raiding was a 40 person ordeal. A guild had to organize 40 people to log onto the game at the same time and then spend a few hours playing. As you can probably imagine, those hours were some of the most monotonous, stupid hours of game playing ever. There were so many people, you could go make a sandwich and nobody would notice. But we all did it for the promise of epic gear and the feeling of accomplishment.

After a few months of doing the 40 man raids, I got bored with the whole thing and stopped playing. However, the first expansion was announced and guess what… I went out, bought it, and started playing again. This time there were 10 man raids, perfect for my group of friends and a few friends we had to make in-game. These were a lot more fun because we could interact and really get to know each other. We played the one 10-man raid: Karazhan until our eyes fell out of our head. But again, after a while, I got bored and stopped playing.

My guild downing Mimiron in WoW

Guess what happened when the 3rd expansion released? I started playing again. The timeline looked about the same for that expansion and for the 4th expansion. During the 4th expansion (the most recent), I got myself a great girl and got engaged. As I started doing other things, the time I could devote to WoW quickly dried up and I quickly realized that unless I could spend about 2 hours a day at minimum playing, my character was going to fall behind and I’d be left behind. Nevermind the fact that to raid, you need to devote 4-5 hours twice or three times a week at night which was not happening. WoW requires a pretty significant time commitment to play correctly and to play at a level that you will be able to compete. (not to be misconstrued, ALL MMOs require a significant time commitment).

A few weeks ago I resubbed to WoW just to see what the game was like after being gone for almost a year. I assumed that my max level character was going to be really behind on gear and would be unable to clear dungeons. Boy was I wrong… In a year, my character could still jump in and heal just as well as anyone (I have a 90 Paladin). Upon going to explore a little bit, the only thing I could see that was any different was the addition of new Raids. Don’t get me started on how terrible the game looks visually when compared to the new games out (Star Wars the Old Republic and Final Fantasy 14 just for comparisons).

Star Wars the Old Republic Gameplay Video

Final Fantasy FFXIV Gameplay Video

World of Warcraft Gameplay Video

Honestly, I know why people still play WoW, at this point, everyone has hundreds of hours and years of game time and have put in so much of themselves into the game. Part of it is that you have so much time put it, to quit would just make that time seem wasted. I think the other part is that when you have a good social network in the game, the game becomes more of a social thing then a gaming thing. The game also still has some of the best gameplay in an MMO which is another reason why people still play the game. However, the game itself is getting stale. There is only so many different mechanics you can give to a boss before one boss behaves just like or closely to another boss. I think WoW has a few more years left in it because of the reasons stated above but every year, WoW just gets older and older. I realize that they are finally redoing the character models in the next expansion but that really isn’t enough visually for me to even want to try to play again.