Would You Pay $260 For Xbox Live? Technically, I Just Did

Helplessly watching this sweating man thrust all of his body weight into my bedroom wall, grunting over the whine of the drill, I realised I was seeing and participating in the perfect metaphor for my attempts to connect my Xbox 360 to the internet in my new home.

"Man," he said, "you're a real tough 'un." I couldn't tell if he was addressing me, the drill, or whatever it was he was trying to bore through.

Let's back up. About three weeks ago I moved into a house I'm buying in my hometown. It was built in 1958. Its original walls are cinderblock. Sometime in the 1960s, its owners added a master bedroom, a deck, and a downstairs den. One of the bedrooms in the original layout is the office where I am now writing this. All of my video game consoles are in the downstairs den. An Internet signal needs to reach both. Those cinderblock walls prevent that.

After my cable internet was connected two weeks ago I went downstairs, punched on the Xbox 360, and was not at all surprised to see it could not find my wireless router. At my old dwelling, I had the console right next to the router, purchased in March, back in my old apartment, and the 360 frequently dropped the connection. I would sometimes get warnings in games about the goddamn NAT setting being "strict" and needing to be changed to "open," and I'd dutifully google what the hell that meant and still have no way to change whatever it was talking about. Eventually I just gave up in a huff of resentment and hardwired my 360 with Ethernet. I'm here to play video games, not fuck around with advanced networking. If I wanted to do that, I'd play on a PC.

The PlayStation 3 rarely had the same problem. I don't care if it's equipment, Internet provider or what. In my experience, the 360 has been a temperamental Princess-and-the-Pea piece of equipment when it comes to networking. So while the signal downstairs wasn't great, I could still use my laptop and my iPhone and even connect to PlayStation Network. The 360, naturally, couldn't even find the router on a scan.

I had two options: Essentially open a second Internet service account with the local cable monopoly, and pay $US120 a month, or try to find some way to position my router so that it could reach every device that needed a signal in the house. The only location was directly overhead of the consoles in the downstairs -- in the master bedroom. There was no coaxial outlet in that bedroom. So I called an electrician.

The visit would be $US85 and then $US60 an hour after the first half-hour of work. Sounded reasonable. I only needed the guy to drill into the drywall and then thread a cable down into a small utility area underneath the stairwell to the downstairs. From there I could hook it to the feeder line coming in from the street. It seemed simple, as the wall already had an electrical socket that I assumed was provisioned from the downstairs.

Well, it wasn't that simple. About an hour in, the electrician had cut a hole in the wall and what looked like a long piece of fishing pole was dangling out of it, and he was using a hook and an angled mirror to position an elongated drill bit.

"Man, I'm onna tell you what, I ain't had a challenge like this in a while," he said. Or at least I think that's what he said. If you took Boomhauer from King of the Hill and made him a teacher in a Charlie Brown special, that's what he sounded like. He was a friendly and earnest enough guy, I just had to ask him to repeat himself constantly.

It got real tense when he finally re-seated the bit in the hole he had bored and yet it wouldn't drill through. It did go sideways through the drywall in my stairwell, however. He stammered profuse apologies, which I immediately accepted. I knew this was an unusual case. "I think we're hittin' metal," he said. "You got any steel beams between here and there?"

I said I had no idea, and dreaded the thought of it being true. "Well, I guess we'll find out," he said. He went out to his van and brought back another elongated bit. He fitted it into the hole, squeezed the trigger and started leaning. For what seemed like a solid minute, the drill didn't move. It had as much tension as a submarine thriller. I kept watching, waiting to see his hands descend, indicating that he'd plowed a channel through which life-giving Internet could be borne. Nothing.

Then, finally, his eyes widened. "Yep!" Slowly, he leaned on the drill, pushing it through. The whine changed to a lower frequency, and he grinned. He'd pushed through. He triumphantly removed the drill and held the bit up to my nostril, nearly burning it. "Smell 'at! That's wood!" He had to go through some kind of plate or bracket, but he did.

It took another hour to finish up the wiring, but he did. He went back to his van to retrieve a price list and figure up the final bill as I agonised over what this would cost. Xbox Live is $US60. How many multiples of that would I be spending? He handed me the total.

It was $US260.44. And as he did, I swear, he smoked a cigarette.

Hey folks, Something Negative is a rant. Love it or hate it, we all need to blow off steam.


Comments

    Repeater - extender? LOL.

      ^This. THIS!!!! This is EXACTLY what I thought of when I first read the title!!!!

      Repeating doesn't support any form of useful encryption, but nice try.

    Oh yeah. Being on wireless or cable is irrelevant as such to your Nat setting.

      The point is he didn't(shouldn't) have to deal with the BS networking problems xbox's get, not that he wanted to hear your input on home networking hardware.

        Its doubtful it'd be just the Xbox. Given the makeup of the house, possible metal frame reducing the signal from upstairs, he'd likely get a reduced or non existent signal for pc's, ps3's, phones etc as well. It's the same at my house. Also, there's always Auto-detect which has always worked well for me and everyone I know in terms of settings unless you're adamantly wanting to use a static IP?

          Na mate. I got my PS3 and 360 in my room and the 360 allllllllllways has NAT issue and constant automatic signouts and thats just using ethernet. Wireless is pointless and a waste when it comes to the 360.

          The ps3 just does its job. You might get the ocassional NAT issues that the 360 has but that is very limited for the ps3.

        No the point is that he is a writer for Kotaku and is ignorant about basic networking. I done care if he wants to hear my input on home networking. I am not offering advice Mrs Hudson I am telling the author that he is ignorant, much like yourself.

          He's a writer for Kotaku, which is a games journalism blog-thing. His job is writing about games. If his job was writing about network hardware then you'd have a point. However basic troubleshooting it may be, I had an Xbox for 2 years and I wouldn't be able to tell you how to fix an NAT problem. They just magically fixed themselves after what appeared to be a random, arbitrary amount of time.

    Ethernet over power. Bam! 90 bucks (probably cheaper in the US) and you're problem is solved.

      What he said... for a tech website writer, i'm astounded you didn't consider EoP. You just wasted about $200.

        I didn't know Owen wrote about tech articles. All I see him doing is talking about American sports games that no ones interested in, others sports games, or just random swear-filled rants.

        I was thinking EoP the entire time I read this worthless article. I am strangely attracted to people and their ignorance of technology. One of those new 500Mb ones with 4 ports would be perfect, Ps3, 360, tv, and lappy all sorted.

      +1
      i paid AU $90 for a 4-way port EoP. got my pc, ps3 and xbox all hooked up. never had to deal with wireless problems again.

      THIS HUNDREDS TIMES OVER
      you can even get ones that also extend the wifi range!

      If your house is relative new you will get good speeds.

      Assuming upstairs uses the same circuit and is compatible. Also EoP is in my experience (1 year phone tech support for an ISP) unreliable and I'd use a dual band router over it any day. Though the Xbox probably doesn't support the 5Ghz band. One option if the laptop was working fine is virtual network bridge the wireless to Ethernet and plug the laptop into the 360 with said Ethernet. You can only get moderate NAT that way but whatever.

    The NAT warning message is always there for me. I stopped paying attentuion to it after the third time I tried fixing it, only to fail.

    Fair enough, I'm currently in a house where my Xbox gets a terrible connection, no wireless reaches it, and have resorted to using "network over power" adapters, they are not great...

    I'm confused...

    Is it only in Australia that men can do this themselves?

      I didn't realise all men still had to be blokey bloke DIY extraordinaires to function in life. Guess I'm screwed.

        Every man be he nerd, jock, bum or blokey bloke should DIY skills. Saves you a fortune and shows that you arent completely useless.

      You can't do electrical or data cabling in Australia without the proper licenses, hefty fines if you get caught. :)

        Well technically you aren't allowed to change your own light bulbs... Is anyone innocent there?

        Technically you can't end the cable... you can run it as much as you want just don't crimp those ends!! - From what I've heard from many sparkies whilst doing my apprenticeship.

      There's no need to be a sexist, ignorant bigot, you're forgetting women =D
      Im Australian, my wife is pretty handy with a drill. There's a lot of DIY Aussie chicks too.

    1. Your NAT problems will be no different no matter if you are using ethernet or wireless
    2. EOP?
    3. Why move the router to better position. you have someone coming in, may as well get them to run ethernet from your router to where you need it. Could have run it through the power conduits, saved yourself the headache and had a better connection for the same price or less.

      2. EOP = Ethernet over Power.

      There are adapters to run your ethernet signal through your power points.

      @ Donut
      Data cabaling is illegal without the proper licenses? Never heard that one, me and my friends got a huge roll of cable and the jacks and have been making our own for years. If we screw it up there is no danger. Now doing your own electrical cabling where screwing up can get you killed or somebody else that I know is illegal.

        I mean permanently connected outlets and such, (structured cabling) not patch cords strung around the house. :p

          http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD/pc=PC_1455#12 here's a FAQ if anyone is interested

            You definitely need to be registered to do data cabling - the main reason is to enforce standards about running data cable beside power (and the possibly fatal implications of doing it wrong)

        The thought behind data cabling needing a proper license is it is being connected to the phone/power networks and if not done properly may introduce interference/shorts into the grid networks. Now, the chances of you improperly rolling your own CAT5e cable and it causing issues going through your switch into your router into the phone line is very very remote, but that why its there (apparently).

          Yep, that too, but as a licensed cabler I can say that a lot of the course/exam is about the requirements for separating the two (data/power)

    Slowtaku: Blogger edition

    To fix nat settings itsso simple...GOOGLE the damn thing! I did it and fixed tht problem. And there is 40-200 ft cables to hook up anything..smh..waste of money

    Very dull story. Who cares?

    Um... If you have a NAT issue how about look into port forwarding in the router like you are meant to ?

      +1 million.

      Or set increase the hops in your UPnP setting s- common cause of this on Netgear routers I've found.

      Or set up a DMZ

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

      I'll enjoy it when you're permanently absent from Kotaku.

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