Where do/did my bullets go?
I think we have all been there, haven’t we? Playing our favorite online shooter and suddenly you are shooting what appears to be confetti and marshmallows at your opponents. As we have learned by joining the [Duma] Army; “Ping is King”.
But what really goes into that Ping?
This is going to be a multipart thread where I am, hopefully, going to try and explain a few things that you CAN control, and a few things you CAN’T control, when it comes to the caliber of your gaming and internet browsing experience. This will start looking at your house, and then expanding to the street, down the street, and then into the ether where the “magic happens”. I hope it helps. J
Who the hell am I? (Nobody really J ) What’s my background? Great question.
In my previous work experience I was a cable TV, Phone, Internet and fiber technician for various companies (TCI, AT&T Cablevision, Comcast) before joining the contractor ranks. I have worked in 6 States (Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, Illinois, Indiana), along with British Columbia (Canada) and S. Korea (DoD for the military) building plant that carries all those precious 1’s and 0’s. At last count, crews that have worked with me had built in excess of 15,000 miles of the cables and wires you see running from pole to pole, or pedestal to pedestal, around cities, neighborhoods and military bases. I was last active in 2006, so if there have been advancements or technological breakthroughs specific to this work, I missed them, but please feel free to share or update the information.
The first part I am going to tackle is your home wiring. Not that jumble of wires and cables you have cleverly hidden behind your entertainment center…
Everyone has a version of this mess to contend with, trust me. J Believe it or not, this exists all over the place around the country because wiring correctly is one of those “never time to do it right, but there is always time to do it over” cases.
“But the inside of my house is all wire tied up and looks awesome”. You are literally in the 3% club. In all my years of going into people’s homes (rich, poor, other) about 3 homes in 100 would have a ridiculously awesome wired system that looked like it belonged in a picture definition and the problem was rarely, if ever, there.
But let’s say you wired everything inside yourself and it is picture perfect. Everything has been tested and you have the tightest house in the state for data. You are the shining example of “wiring awesome”.
Congratulations. You have done what you can to insure your signal is top quality! Everything should be golden, right?
Not so much.
But let’s have a bit of a primer here. I am going to cover Co-ax or Coaxial Cable first, which is the standard cable used in about 85%+ of the standing structures’ wiring for “TV/Satellite” customers and about half of the internet subscribers. I can tackle Cat-5; “Fiber to the Curb” and “Fiber to the Home” later on if there is interest, but odds are good this will apply to most users.
This is a Coaxial Cable ( stripped back for fitting installation):
And here it is with a fitting correctly installed:
Now, you have to realize that your house got a slightly skilled worker, who had a route of 20+ jobs to do that day as part of their normal route. The person that came to your house wired the place up like s/he has done to 1,000 other homes in the course of their career.
Your home/apt/condo wasn’t special. You didn’t get the “magic wire” or the Installer of the Month winner who was wiring your house for a photo-shoot.
You got the person who was trying to get in, get done and get out of your driveway in less time than s/he was given to do the job. If s/he went over in time on your house, the rest of their appointments are going to be pissed. So if they had 40 minutes to work on your house, they most likely tried to be out the door and down the road in 30. Real talk. If you live in an apt or condo, you got about 10 mins of attention outside when it was “turned on” for your unit. If you were REALLY lucky, the installer cleaned up some fittings and changed some aging equipment outside.
This is the first part of what you CAN’T control (without filing a complaint with the company, or having the tools & knowledge to rework it yourself).
That reoccurring fact is where you get shit like this: (Note – There is something wrong in each of these pictures that would lead to “less than ideal” signal transmission conditions)
This is the connection at the side of the house. For most cable, phone, internet provider companies, this is the “end” of what they consider “owner maintained plant”, where “owner” represents the company and “plant” represents the physical wiring/connections, etc. If the line from the pole or street pedestal is damaged (unless you dug it up or your massive RV/Boat combo ripped it down – both true stories) the company accepts this as part of doing business and will usually replace it free of charge.
Tree branches fall in a windstorm? Free replacement. Big rig/truck rip down a few lines because he was too tall for residential work? Free replacement. Act of God lightning strike? Free replacement. This is owner maintained, so having a quality outside line (this is called a “Drop” in the industry) is part of the service you are paying for, so it SHOULD be good quality.
That doesn’t mean that it’s always brand new and in pristine condition.
Any of the pictures above could be replicated by most people that have worked on the “in home service call” aspect of cable/phone/internet service.
These are all really common “home fixes” that lead to horrendous signal quality, poor internet quality, pissed off customers and a lot of them are self-inflicted by the home owners themselves.
Ideally you have to think about the wiring at your home or place of usage as small water lines. If they have a break, a cut, an open point in any way, this will lead to INGRESS (which is a term for outside Radio Frequencies/other signals getting into the 1’s and 0’s you are trying to send or download - This is bad) and EGRESS (which is a term for the 1’s and 0’s you are transmitting getting outside of the cables and into the open air – THIS IS REALLY BAD).
What can cause INGRESS & EGRESS?
“Local” Ingress and Egress, meaning this happens AT YOUR HOME, makes up about 75% of the trouble/service calls that are filed (or used to be when I was active). I doubt that number has changed much as people LOVE to do shit themselves, even if they don’t have an idea of what the hell they are doing.
These are just some "common" examples of small stuff at or near your home that can effect your internet and video services. Having little breaks, or open ports, or flat damage (animal, natural or "man oops") to any of the wiring infrastructure actually at your residence can seriously negative effects on your quality of service.
One additional item to ALWAYS factor in! Just because the wiring at your house is BRAND NEW and looks like the shining example of a perfect installation, it was still done by a human. Shit happens when you build things. Failures right out of the box do occur for cable, fittings and splitters.
And the same is true for EVERY OTHER PLAYER HOST out there!
Let's see how this is received, then I can start plotting the follow up posts. I don't know if this is too technical, or too simplistic, and I haven't offered any solutions, because even if you see about 1,000 of these problems, you can't really diagnose them in a broad brush stroke, one-tip-fixes-all sort of way.
However, if you have something that looks like a picture above, or have specific questions, I am happy to try and help.