The Power Glove and Google Fiber

I always wanted a Nintendo Power Glove. It seemed like the most amazing accessory ever. A controller… that you wear? To a six-year old, there is perhaps no more siren call. It didn’t help that all marketing for the Power Glove looked like a mix of Blade Runner and the commercial for Crossfire. It basically was the future of gaming, and if you were stuck with just a controller going into the 90s, you were probably going to be a chump. Sadly, dreams of gaming with a forearm clad controller were not to be.

Sorry lefties!
Image Credit: Matt Mechtley

Looking back, even in its time, the Power Glove had some (okay, a lot of) issues. As an adult, I can realize that aside from some retro-cool styling, it would have been a disappointing purchase. Why bring it up? After reading Jeremy Stretch’s piece on living with Google Fiber for a while, I get a little bit of the same feeling.

Google Fiber has been a source of longing frustration since it was released in 2010. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I pay my ISP the same amount for 15Mb down and 1Mb up that I would for Fiber’s symmetrical 1Gb connection.

Jeremy shows though that while the idea of that kind of speed is awesome, in practice it comes with a few compromises. The biggest one for me is that Google forces you to use their router, it doesn’t support being used as a bridge to a router the customer brings. Now I’m sure for most consumers this isn’t an issue. But the power users that do will make up a disproportional amount of customers for gigabit speeds. It just seems silly.

The other bit of weirdness is the inability to manage the Google supplied router locally. While most of the time I configure my router, I have full connectivity anyway, there’s something disconcerting of having to go to an Internet-based web portal to configure a piece of hardware sitting in my home.

The other thing that really hit me in Jeremy’s piece was that he found he didn’t really need the speed all that much. Even speed test applications seemed to be at a loss most of the time for how fast the service moved. I do a decent amount of uploading, so I’m always hungry for greater speed, especially since this seems to be an afterthought for most ISPs. But 1Gb up does seem almost like overkill. That being said, if I had Google Fiber in my area, I still wouldn’t turn it down.

Perhaps it’s just the simple fact that anticipation is better than actually getting something, but these not insubstantial disappointments sour me a bit on the dream that is Google Fiber. It’s not a basically broken product like the Power Glove, but maybe it’s not the perfect ISP I always wanted it to be. Even the idea that Google Fiber would push other ISPs to offer higher speeds at cheaper rates really hasn’t taken off. And Alphabet’s halting of Fiber expansion seems to show that maybe their model was bad business like the ISPs always claimed.

Still, even if Google Fiber is a bit of a wonky product, I wish I could have tried it out for myself.

PacketLife.net Blog comments:

I’m one of the lucky few to benefit from Google Fiber’s recent expansion into new regions (before they nixed the whole thing). I’ve had the service fire three months now and figured I should write up my experience with it thus far.

The Installation

Google Fiber announced that it would be expanding to the Raleigh-Durham metro area, known locally as “The Triangle”, in January 2015. It’s been a long game of hurry-up-and-wait since then, watching crews laying fiber all over town without hearing a peep from Google regarding availability. But in the fall of 2016, people were finally able to start signing up for service. Here’s how my installation went.

Read more at: Three Months with Google Fiber

About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.

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