Much better now …

Chrome-logo-2011-03-16

 

Running this command made my life much better.

$ defaults write com.google.Keystone.Agent checkInterval 0

I’m more happy than I was before running this command. How did I get so happy? Let me explain. Google claims “By default, Google Software Update currently checks for new updates once a day.” This is completely false. It checks hundreds of times per day or more. It almost seems like it checks all the time. There is functionality to throttle the frequency of checks. However, if you change the interval to any other value it is not respected.

$ defaults write com.google.Keystone.Agent checkInterval <frequency>

This does nothing. This command is not respected. My firewall logs were clogged with attempts from the various Google attempts to check for updates. Automated updated were nice but I really didn’t want to have to be bothered with parsing out all the update checks to see useful information in my log files. It would check for updates as often as every fifteen seconds for hours on end.

It all lives in this directory:

/Library/Google/GoogleSoftwareUpdate/GoogleSoftwareUpdate.bundle/Contents/Resources/

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If you are really paranoid there is also a plist in /Library/LaunchAgents called com.google.keystone.agent.plist this will force a check upon login.

I don’t know why Google doesn’t allow the user to directly control these processes. Google continues to hide more and more features it thinks are power user only features.

More info here: https://support.google.com/installer/answer/147176?hl=en

Google Fiber Installed

 

I finally have Google Fiber installed and it is fast … very fast. The service technician was very clueless about the networking side of the technology but was well versed in the TV and physical plant used by Google.

Here is one of the speed test results:

The above results are fairly typical. I have run the tests several times. In fact it is so fast that it breaks the normal Ookla speedtest. It actually generates a weird error. You have to use a special site provided by Google. http://provo.speedtest.googlefiber.net/ It runs the Ookla software so I don’t suspect any shenanigans. Here is an index of the various tests. http://www.speedtest.net/isp/google-fiber I suspect that most of the tests were done via a wireless device. The WiFi APs in the house are only capable of 600 Mbps. When I had great signal strength I could only manage about 250 Mbps through wireless. I suspect with TCP overhead and driver overhead the MacBook Pro I with a Thunderbolt to ethernet was using couldn’t drive the connection any faster. Given typical TCP overhead of around 3% that would be 30 Mbps on a 1000 Mbps connection. It’s funny that that the wasted bandwidth of TCP overhead exceeds most peoples internet connections.

The best part about Google Fiber is that it replaced Comcast. The Comcast service was terrible. Truly undeniably awful.  The customer service was downright bad. Every CSR I ever interacted with was clueless and knew nothing beyond “reboot” your modem. You got completely difference answers depending upon whom you spoke with. You can add my vote to the “worst company in America.” Earlier this year Comcast fearing significant customer loss to Google Fiber came through the neighborhood and upgraded all the STBs in the house to the latest and also upgraded the Internet connection speed from 20/5 to 250/100, all with no cost increase. The true speeds were nowhere near what you were paying for at all. In fact they lowered the price by $75 per month. It was such a joy to send back all that crappy Comcast equipment. When I called to cancel service with Comcast they tried to keep me as a customer. I explained there was no offer that could match the Google offering. The local Comcast office transferred me to a retention CSR. She tried anyway; all in vain. She said she could offer me $99 per month service for TV, phone, and Internet for six months. I told her I needed gigabit speeds and it would have to be free for six months. She thought I was joking, I wasn’t in the slightest. It was obvious she was getting quite a few of these kinds of calls. I have no sympathy for Comcast.

It is really quite amazing what happens when a monopoly faces some competition. Even if Google Fiber is not available where you live you have to appreciate that Google has really stirred up a fairly stagnant market. Almost all ISPs had very little incentive to increase the connection speeds. Centurylink is a major ISP in the Utah area and they now are advertising that Gigabit speeds are now available. Of course it is all marketing and I can’t find a single address or person that is eligible for the service. But at least someone has kicked these companies butts into gear. Google may track and record everything you do like a mini-NSA but at least they provide a good service. Good riddance Comcast.

There are a few annoyances with the service. First the TV STB’s can act as WIFi Access Points which is great. However you cannot have separate SSIDs for the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz frequencies. It is pretty annoying. You can have separate SSIDs on the network box. Having the STBs act as WAPs is a great feature but is hampered by some lack of functionality. There are basically no advanced options for the TV STBs. They are disabled as APs by default.

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The Storage Box provides 2 TB of storage space, which allows you to store up to 500 hours of HD programming, and connects to the TV Boxes using MoCA or Ethernet. If MoCA fails it will fall back to ethernet.

A complete list of devices is here: https://support.google.com/fiber/topic/6005232?hl=en&ref_topic=6063014

The TV UI is pretty polished and highly responsive. In fact it is so responsive that if you rapidly click buttons on the remote control you can outpace the UI and it will queue up all those commands and execute them all which can lead you somewhere you didn’t intend to go. The Comcast IR remote was so unresponsive and slow to respond to input that you would furiously mash buttons in the hope the UI would react only to be disappointed and frustrated. It would ignore all other commands as well. The Google TV remote connects to the STB via Bluetooth. It also does IR for your TV. The Nexus 7 tablet is also a pretty nice little device. You can fling content like YouTube to your TV from it. The TV control interface on the Nexus is really pretty bad and hard to figure out what to click on. The flat UI does not lend itself to intuitiveness. I found myself often looking around for where to push an Okay button as it would be in random places on a particular page. The lack of contrast in the interface causes lots of issues. The Google Fiber TV app needs a lot of work.

The program guide on the TV UI is pretty nice except on thing. The program description is crammed vertically between the channel numbers and the times. It is awkward to read. This really needs to be displayed horizontally instead. Also there is a vertical bar that covers all the program descriptions to indicate a more precise time indication. It should be shortened to display in the row of time blocks instead of covering the whole UI.

The remote is connected to the STB via Bluetooth. It performs very well. All companies should stop selling IR  remotes immediately. Not having to aim the remote is not only enhancing my already significant laziness it makes me feel even more in control. However, if you have a receiver providing audio out to speakers there is no way to program the remote to change the volume on the receiver. This is a a major oversight. It would be nice to just use the Google TV remote for all functions. In the help section for Google Fiber there is no help about how to program it with a receiver except this annoying line:

“If you are familiar with electronics, you can certainly come up with your own creative way to connect!”

The page also says, “… supports only controlling the volume on your TV …”

They even say it won’t work, “…the Google Fiber remote control is not programmable to control external audio equipment.”

Google please fix this.

The Google Fiber website integrates nicely with your existing Google account. Unlike every other TV service provider out there, there are no annoying ads for movies and Pay Per views. It is typical Google clean and well designed. Companies like Comcast and DirecTV could learn a thing or two. Instead of hiding useful features behind upgrade links they should make the web site useful.