Google Fiber / TV review & first impressions from Kansas City

Nearly 2-years after announcing Google Fiber in Kansas City, an installer arrived at my home in late-January 2014 to install the blazing 1 Gbps internet and television service.

Google Fiber internet service

The Google Fiber internet service only comes with an 802.11n wireless router. While this is great, and the router seems to be reliable, you’ll never see anything near the advertised 1 Gbps, unless you’re hard wired to the router. With the Google Fiber router, you’ll see anywhere from 100 to 200 Mbps, if you’re not far from the router.

The newer 802.11ac would have made more sense, but the standard was only beginning to mature when Google announced their service. Even so, after Google Fiber was installed, I purchased the most recent version of the Apple Airport Extreme 802.11ac router. Even with this faster, allegedly 1 Gbps router, I’m only getting about 300 Mbps sitting next to the router.

Speed/bandwidth test results (wired and wireless)

  • Download: 930 Mbps – Upload: 939 Mbps – Hard wired
  • Download: 339 Mbps – Upload: 362 Mbps – Wireless 802.11ac

Overall though, there’s little to complain about. I migrated from AT&T Uverse at 18 Mbps to Google Fiber at 1,000 Mbps, for a little over $20 more per-month. Most websites and web services will come nowhere near matching 1 Gbps speeds in the foreseeable future. The most noticeable part about Google Fiber is no more buffering or waiting when watching YouTube, Netflix, or other online videos.

Google Fiber TV service

As of this writing, the Google Fiber TV service still needs work. The comparisons are relative to AT&T Uverse, my previous internet and television service provider.

  • The TV menus, programming guide, and remote are sluggish. It goes like this:
    Press Channel up button… 1, 2, 3… the next channel appears on the screen.
  • You’re only able to watch live local channels on the iPhone / Android Google Fiber app.
  • Unable to watch recorded television using the Google Fiber iPhone / Android app.
  • No ability to hide or favorite channels. If you’re a channel flipper, and you’re not interested in scads of home shopping channels, this might be annoying. After a few days, I discovered a Hide Unsubscribed Channels option in Settings > Advanced. This helps a bit.
  • The Google Fiber router and storage boxes both have fans, which run continuously, and are a bit loud.

Google Fiber TV Channel Lineup

Some have asked about the Google Fiber TV channel lineup. I’m very happy with it and can’t think of a channel that I’m missing. I’ve heard several people complain about the lack of the AMC (American Movie Classics) channel and all indications say that Google Fiber doesn’t plan to bring AMC to their lineup in the near future.

Here’s the Kansas City Google Fiber TV channel lineup (PDF)

AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) 2013 – the experience & a recap of the ride

When I first read about AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC), a 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, it immediately appealed to me. I was eligible for a one-month sabbatical, but wasn’t sure I’d be able to take time off in June, because of a high-priority project with a launch date of June 11, 2013. I was thrilled when my sabbatical was approved in December 2012.

Seattle friends from Team of One - ALC 2013

Seattle friends from Team of One at ALC Orientation – Day Zero

A few unpleasant thoughts came to mind just a few months before the ride. I love the outdoors, but 7-days camping in a tent, using portapotties, not sleeping on a real bed, or taking a real shower didn’t sound like something I was cut out for.

My first ALC ride was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The unpleasant thoughts quickly faded upon experiencing the energy and passion of other ALC riders and roadies. Everyone on the ride was more than happy to chat and get to know you. Riders were also very friendly when something went wrong. I had one flat tire during the ride; I was with my friend David, who stopped to offer emotional support. What he did is, give a thumbs-up to each rider who passed, as I fixed the flat tire. Otherwise, I would have been asked if I was okay dozens of times.

The thing I liked most about the ride was the diversity of the people involved.

Riding out of Cow Palace - ALC 2013

Riding out of Cow Palace — Day One

This year was a historic one for ALC. With the help of thousands of generous donors, 2,203 cyclists and 552 roadies (volunteers) raised $14.2 million dollars to support the parent organizations and the services they provide to those in California. I had the opportunity to meet a small fraction of the nearly 3,000 people involved, but each and every interaction I had was delightful.

Everyone was so invested in this. Everyone had a heartfelt story about why they became involved with AIDS/LifeCycle.

Garrett near Santa Cruz on Day One - ALC 2013

Me near Santa Cruz — Day One

Initially, my intent was to write a blog post each day of the ride. I thought I’d be sitting around each evening with time to collect my thoughts. After posting on an ALC riders Facebook group, I quickly found out the days are quite busy and taking a laptop or iPad wasn’t a good idea.

A typical day on AIDS/LifeCycle consists of waking up at 5 am and getting into your cycling gear. Next, you take down your tent, pack your bag, and deliver it to the designated gear truck. Then, you head off to the dining tent for a healthy, hearty breakfast. After breakfast, you make last-minute stops before venturing off to bike parking to start the day in the saddle.

Fog and mountains on Day Two

Fog and mountains in Central California — Day Three of ALC

The days ranged from 44 to 109-miles with rest stops placed every 15-20 miles. The rest stops were fully-equipped, with all sorts of delicious treats, Gatorade, water, bike technicians, portapotties, medical, and even entertainment! There were shorter hilly days and longer, flat days with rolling plains, similar to what I’m used to in Central Kansas. There were days with ocean and mountain views. There were days of riding through massive strawberry, avocado, and artichoke fields. There were days filled with rolling hills and beautiful vineyards. There were days on Pacific Coast Highway riding on the shoulder as cars and trucks zoomed by at more than 65 miles-per-hour, and days with a mix of bike trails, country roads, and city streets winding through the small towns of California.

The ALC ride and everyone involved provided a pristine example of how an ideal society might function.

Most days, I’d start out riding with either my team, the Pork Pedaler’s or with friends who were members of Seattle-based Team of One. By mid-day, you’d usually break into smaller groups of riders who were riding at your pace. Some days this would be team members and others it would be with other friendly ALC riders.

Pork Pedalers 2013 - AIDS/LifeCycle Team

Pork Pedaler’s AIDS/LifeCycle Team in Lompoc, CA – Day Five

When you ride into camp each day, you’re greeted by a crowd of cheering, enthusiastic roadies. The first thing you do is park your bike in the huge secure bike parking. Then make your way to your gear truck to pick up your luggage and tent. You find your space on the tent grid and set up your tent, and unpack your belongings for a much-needed visit to the shower trucks. I’ve not seen shower trucks before, they are semi-trailers with about 20-25 private shower stalls each. The water pressure was excellent, but I forgot to pack a towel. Luckily, my friend Matt packed an extra, which he let me have.

Me riding into ALC camp

Me riding into ALC camp in King City, CA – Day Two

After a shower and shave, if you had laundry to wash, you’d head over to the cold wash stations. After all this, it was time for dinner and evening announcements. By the time dinner wrapped up it was 8 pm or later, at which time you’d head back to your tent to wind down and prepare for the next day. We had a few fun nights where we gathered to play board games, or we went to a nearby restaurant for some non-camp food. In the early-evening when camp started to fill up, mobile phone and data service would quickly diminish.

I enjoyed the ALC so much that I already signed up for AIDS/LifeCycle 2014.

The thing I liked most about the ride was the diversity of the people involved. There were people of all skill and fitness levels. There were people from all backgrounds, nationalities, races, and age groups. There were gay, lesbian, straight, HIV-positive and HIV-negative people. I sometimes see these groups co-mingling in Kansas City, but it’s with far less frequency, cohesiveness, and energy toward a common goal. Everyone is so invested in this and has a heartfelt story about why they are riding. The ALC ride and everyone involved provided a pristine example of how an ideal society might function.

Ruby at Shawnee Mission Lake - August 8, 2010

In Memory of Ruby – September 5, 2003 – April 16, 2013

What does one do on a bicycle for 4 to 8-hours per-day? For safety, ALC banned listening to music via headphones, portable speakers, or mobile devices. Riders are required to ride single-file, except when passing. This means you focus on the road, the wonderful sights, smells, and sounds that surround you. You do lots of thinking. Many thoughts crossed my mind as I rode:

These thoughts brought tears to my eyes several times during the ride.

ALC Candlelight Vigil on Night 6 in Ventura

ALC Candlelight Vigil at Ventura Beach – Day 6

On Day Seven, we rode from Ventura to Los Angeles. It was a relatively easy 60-mile day with a few rolling hills and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. The best part of the day was seeing my friends, Mike, Zack, Scott, and Shawn at the finish line to welcome me. I said goodbye to ALC friends from California, Portland, Denver, Birmingham, Seattle, and even a cyclist from St. Louis.

KC Friends and I at the ALC Finish Line

KC Friends and I at the ALC Finish Line in Los Angeles – Day Seven

In closing, I’ll share a random powerful moment one night at dinner. One night, our team table filled up quickly. I ended up having dinner across from a middle-aged gentleman with disabilities. He had to communicate by typing on an iPad. He had trouble communicating with me and was even having trouble eating. I wish I could have communicated with him more and shared how much I admired his will and his passion. I wish I would have given him a hug. Tears streamed down my face as I walked back to camp.

I’m so thankful my employer offered this opportunity. A month away from work to do something meaningful to me and thousands of others in California and across the world.

Other Photos from AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) 2013

Powerful, influential moments during AIDS/LifeCycle 2013

Here, I’ll share some of the more powerful moments of AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) 2013. These are things I’ll remember and that will influence me for the rest of my life.

Eating dinner across from a gentleman with disabilities who was doing the ride. He had to communicate via typing on an iPad and had trouble eating. I wish I could have communicated with him more and shared how much I admired his will and passion. I wish I would have given him a hug. Tears streamed down my face as I walked back to camp.

Back in Kansas City — AIDS/LifeCycle ALC 2013 Recap Coming Soon

After a little relaxation and recovery in San Francisco, I’m gathering so many wonderful memories and photos, in preparation for a detailed recap of AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) 2013.

I hoped to post more details from the road, but after biking all day, rolling into camp, setting up your tent, getting your luggage, showering, doing laundry, seeing the doctor when needed, stretching, and getting dinner each night, there was rarely a speck of extra time for anything else, especially considering the daily wake up call was at 4:30 – 5:00 am.

ALC campgrounds & tent grid, before being set up for the day.
ALC campgrounds & tent grid, before being set up for the day.

Day Seven: Ventura to Los Angeles – AIDS/LifeCycle

Day 7: AIDS/LifeCycle 2013It’s Saturday, June 8th, Day Seven, THE FINAL DAY of AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) 2013.

Today, we’ll ride 60.2 miles from Ventura to Los Angeles. We start out at San Buenaventura State Beach and wrap up the day at VA Center in Los Angeles, California.

  • Miles ridden: 542.6
  • Miles to go: ZERO!

AIDS/LifeCycle 2013 COMPLETE!

Thank you all so much! I couldn’t have done this without YOU!

AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) 2013 – the experience & a recap of the ride (June 26, 2013)

Day Six: Lompoc to Ventura – AIDS/LifeCycle

Day 6: AIDS/LifeCycle 2013It’s Friday, June 7th, Day Six of AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) 2013.

Today, we’ll ride 84.3 miles from Lompoc to Ventura. We start out at River Park and wrap up the day at San Buenaventura State Beach in Ventura, California.

  • Miles ridden: 482.4
  • Miles to go: 60.2

AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) 2013 – the experience & a recap of the ride (June 26, 2013)

Day Four: Paso Robles to Santa Maria – AIDS/LifeCycle

Day 4: AIDS/LifeCycle 2013It’s Wednesday, June 5th, Day Four of AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) 2013.

Today, we’ll ride 97.7 miles from Paso Robles to Santa Maria. We start out at Paso Robles Fairgrounds and wrap up the day at Preisker Park in Santa Maria, California.

  • Miles ridden: 356.1
  • Miles to go: 186.5

AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) 2013 – the experience & a recap of the ride (June 26, 2013)

Day Three: King City to Paso Robles – AIDS/LifeCycle

Day 3: AIDS/LifeCycle 2013It’s Tuesday, June 4th, Day Three of AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) 2013.

Today, we’ll ride 66.7 miles from King City to Paso Robles. We start out at San Lorenzo County Park and wrap up the day at Paso Robles Fairgrounds in Paso Robles, California.

  • Miles ridden: 258.4
  • Miles to go: 284.2

AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) 2013 – the experience & a recap of the ride (June 26, 2013)