Robin Leach profiles an everyday Joe who didn’t pay a lot for a muffler.
AT&T U-Verse DSL is many things: expensive, sub-par, flaky, but the worst part about it (besides the utter contempt they have for their customers and the monopolistic attitude of their executives) is the downright shitty quality of their highly-touted “residential gateways”. These are just glorified DSL modems with (barely) built-in WiFi and a barebones user interface. If you have only a computer and a phone (and maybe a tablet), it will suffice (as long as you stay in the same room), but if you’re going to be streaming to your TV, playing online games, setting up IoT devices, or using any other manner of modern technology (in addition to your phone, tablet, and computer), you absolutely will need a real router. Don’t get taken by the monopoly phone company, make sure they don’t charge you for the gateway, and buy yourself a proper router–it saves so much headache and hassle with just a little extra setup cost and effort!
Assuming you’ve already bought a proper 802.11ac router and at least plugged it in, you’re going to want to connect to the device and make sure the connection type is set to “Dynamic IP (DHCP-Assigned)”. You may need to refer to your router’s instruction manual to reference how to do this. Go ahead and set up the residential gateway by plugging it in to a power source and connecting the DSL (phone) line as the AT&T installer did when he got his muddy footprints all over your carpet. Run an Ethernet cable from the “Broadband” port on your router (it may also be labeled “WAN” or simply “Internet”) to one of the available LAN ports on the back of the gateway. With another Ethernet cable, connect a computer to another open LAN port on the gateway.
On the computer you just connected, open a browser and point it to 192.168.1.254. This will take you to the residential gateway’s settings interface. For the price that AT&T charges for their horrid little modems, you would think that they might invest a little bit in UI design. Once your eyes stop bleeding, click the “Home Network” link at the top. On the right side of the page, you should see a box labeled “Status At A Glance”. Click the “DISABLE” button next to Wireless.
The system will ask you if you are sure you want to disable the built-in wireless router, to which you should respond “CONFIRM”.
Now, we need to edit the firewall settings for the new router. In the “Local Devices” box on the left, identify the wireless router from the list (there really should only be two options, and you can easily narrow it down if the gateway is only displaying IP addresses–just confirm the computer’s local address) and click “Edit firewall settings”.
On the next page, make sure the router is selected from the drop-down menu under the “Select a computer” heading. Then, click the radio button next to “Allow all applications (DMZplus mode)” and then the “DONE” button.
Verify all the settings are correct as you put them in (the device is the router, all applications are allowed, all protocols are allowed, all ports are open), then return to the home screen. Close your browser, unplug the Ethernet from the computer, then cycle the power on the router. Once the router is back up and broadcasting, connect a device to the wireless network, open a website, and voilà! Now you can get stronger WiFi signals, better connections, and have more granular control over your network than you could with one of those terrible little AT&T residential gateways alone!
HOLY CRAP! Check out what I found! Nostalgia rush in 3…2…1….
Warm up your yo-yo arm, get those bananas out of your ears, and tune to 747MHz! Do me so far do me?
Remember video rental stores? The days before Netflix and Hulu and any piece of entertainment at your fingertips. Video rentals were a visceral experience. I remember it like it was only twenty years ago….When I was in middle and high school, there was a Hollywood Video at the intersection of Dallas Highway and the new Barrett Parkway extension where we used to grab a movie or two on weekends. It was like this video wonderland (actually, I think Video Wonderland was down by the Kroger) with shelves upon shelves of not just new releases, but a lot of forgotten 1970s and 1980s B comedies—which might explain my sensibilities today.
“Ugh! Why would you get that? That looks weird!” my mother would protest. Fortunately, I managed to recover and repair our old VHR and a Sears CRT monitor from the trash years before, so I had the luxury of my own private setup in my closet of a bedroom. The fact that my rentals were cheaper than new releases may have further swayed the odds in my favor.
I was a bit like Harry Potter in those years–forced to live in a cupboard after my baby sister was born–as my parents wanted her nursery to be closer to them. Our house was an ancient 2BR/1BA craftsman-style that formerly featured a sun-porch opposite the bedrooms. When it was moved to the country (Yes, it was moved from Marietta to its current location; there’s a story in that for another day), my grandparents converted the sun-porch into an extra bedroom for my cousins who lived there previously. The room is approximately 6×15, barely large enough for a twin bed and a desk. It didn’t help that my desk was a large, hand-built, office desk that was once the property of the Norfolk Southern Railway Company (we got it for cheap from a collector because it was in pretty rough shape), but I learned to respect vertical space (and craftsmanship) in that tiny room.
In the mid-1990s, Pokémon fever was ravaging the country. Anime in the US was just starting to evolve from a fringe interest to mainstream entertainment medium, thanks in no small part to Cartoon Network. I remember watching Robotech and Samurai Pizza Cats on Saturday mornings (Channel 69—when you could pick it up—was the epitome of old-school UHF as lampooned in Weird Al Yankovic’s eponymous 1989 film, showing a literal grab-bag of content that often rotated from week to week), but that appreciation became a near obsession when I discovered a copy of Macross in the animation section of Hollywood Video accompanying the same shelf as Mickey Mouse and—oddly—Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
“Oh, those damned ‘killer cartoons’ that your uncle Tracey watches! Why the hell would you want to watch those?” my father would gripe. My uncle and I are a lot alike, and we’ve both got an oddball streak a-klick-and-a-half long. Anyway, something happens to you when you watch Akira as a 12-year-old, then follow it with Kubrick’s 2001. Something, but I’m not sure what. While the other nerdy kids were trying to catch ‘em all, I was dreaming about giant, transformable mecha and the heroes who piloted them.Pictured: Killer Cartoons
In high school, I finally found more people who shared my affinity for “Japanimation” (“anime” was just now becoming the preferred nomenclature thanks to the Suncoast Motion Picture Company), and we began to coalesce into a regular group of mates. We wanted to watch more, and to enjoy with our friends, but we either didn’t have the money to buy new tapes from Suncoast and Media Play or the resources to borrow from other fans two counties over (Gwinnett County and its sizable Japanese and Korean communities was a hotbed for anime fandom). So, we did the next best thing: we raided the Hollywood Video.
It was a pleasant Saturday afternoon, the gang had all arrived at the house noonish—Gilmore, CJ, Little J, Reed, Danny, Wes, and Chris all came out for the inaugural Angst Haben Anime Party. It was an extremely informal affair, as was the case with any Angst Haben get-together: “Converge, then plan” was our M.O. I figured the best way to get started was to pile everyone into the “Shaggin’ Wagon” (a 1996 Ford Windstar that I had the privilege to drive) and hit the store. After a pit stop at the Publix for snacks and the obligatory case of Citrus Drop soda, we stormed into the Hollywood Video like a Walmart on Black Friday. Armed with caffeine, razor-sharp snark, and a bucket-o-change, we set about determining the agenda.
I’m not even sure what films we ended up renting, two or three titles—Dirty Pair, Area 88, and Macross Plus seem likely candidates—but what does stand out in my mind is a certain Playstation title with particularly appealing cover art:
“Hey, this looks kinda interesting. Maybe a fighting game between different teenage stereotypes? The girl’s kinda cute, too.”
“HOLY SHIT! THERE’S A GUY WITH A BASEBALL BAT AND SOMEONE WITH A HUGE SWORD! SOLD!”
Imagine for a moment that you’re the store clerk: three VHS tapes, a Playstation game, and a plastic pail full of change have just dropped onto the counter and now you’re starting at what might be the cast of a new Nickelodeon series about the “outsider” kids—the punk rocker, the trenchcoat, the raver, the Polo shirt, the jock, the darkly poetic kid, the awkward goof, we were all there—waiting for you to accept their hard-earned US, Grade-A, legal tender in exchange for the opportunity to rent a selection of what might have been considered questionable material (“tits and explosions” were how most people described anime at the time). What do you do?
You reach into the bucket, pull out the two dollar bills floating on top, set the stack of media on the pickup counter by the door, laugh hysterically and mutter “Just…Just go.”
Spoils of war in hand, windows down, stereo up, and bouncing to a classic Sublime track, we set off for The Yella House.
And that, children, is how you get free video rentals.