Wasting your bandwidth

Imagine for a moment that broadband internet in New Zealand doesn’t consist of horribly expensive DSL services that punish those who download more than 600MB per month ... What a wonderful world it would be — and these are some of the sites that I would use my share of the Southern Cross Cable on.

I
magine for a moment that broadband internet in New Zealand doesn’t consist of horribly expensive DSL services that punish those who download more than 600MB per month. Imagine there are no data caps, no speed caps, no micro-outages and no monopolistic companies lording over the local telecommunications loop. What a wonderful world it would be — and these are some of the sites that I would use my share of the Southern Cross Cable on.

Random Downloads

http://random-downloads.com

Sometimes I feel like downloading stuff from the internet but can’t actually think of anything worthwhile to download. After all – this week I have single-handedly “KaZaA’d” eight of the top ten record labels out of business, filling my hard drive a thousand times over with boy-bands and Kylie Minogue b-sides. I have the latest version of Microsoft Office before Bill Gates has had a look himself and I’m just finishing my collection of DivX movies that is sure to break the back of the global film industry. What is a boy to do? The answer: random-downloads.com

Design:

Content:

National internet capacity used: 16%

GamePlanet

http://gameplanet.co.nz

Here in the PCWorld office, lunchtime hasn’t been called lunchtime for a very long time now. We prefer to call it “killin’ time”. The games of choice being the wonderful CounterStrike or the fast paced Unreal Tournament. (Yes, yes, they’re old games I know, but they’re our favourites and show no signs of being knocked off their prime lunchtime slot — although Medal of Honour: Allied Assault could change all that.) Online gaming is one activity that benefits greatly from plugging into a high-speed connection, most games will happily suck down every last scrap of bandwidth that comes their way. Kiwi site Gameplanet runs a collection of servers for the likes of CounterStrike and Unreal Tournament that are always well patronised — meaning no shortage of virtual victims. The site itself is up-to-date with the latest gaming news and has a number of partner sites dedicated to specific games. New Zealand’s gaming scene is looking exceptionally healthy at the moment and gamers have a wide selection of servers to choose from. Be sure to try servers run by the good folk at http://www.gamer.net.nz http://gamers.paradise.net.nz and http://jetstreamgames.co.nz.

Design:

Content:

National internet capacity used: 75%

Cat pictures

http://w3.trib.com/~jamesh

Downloading pictures is another of the great internet pastimes that simply can’t be overlooked when it comes to wasting enormous amounts of bandwidth. And what could be more interesting than looking at pictures of other peoples’ cats? Check out the crazy hijinx of Grubley, Spudley and Ribs as they go about their daily activities, which seem to include sleeping, sleeping and er… sleeping. Thankfully when you’ve looked at every picture and set your favourite as desktop wallpaper there are also some cat sounds to download and enjoy.

Design:

Content:

National internet capacity used: 62%

(I really like cats, okay!)

Scottish Parliament

http://scottishparliamentlive.com/userguide.html

God forbid this to ever catch on in this country. The Scottish Parliament is now being broadcast live to the world via the internet. Watch with dumbfounded disbelief as Lord McDullard of Dundee debates the merits of making kilts compulsory attire on public holidays in summer. Still, if this is your kind of thing, the coverage is excellent and, as the site points out, the cameras are on 24-hours a day so there will be times when you can tune in to watch absolutely nothing.

Design:

Content:

National internet capacity used: 2%

RealNetworks

http://real.com

RealOne (formerly RealPlayer) has been a stalwart of the streaming media community for some time now, providing hefty chunks of content through its website that is sure to test your broadband pipe. While RealOne has evolved over the years, there have always been two basic aspects to the service. A free player that gives access to limited content and a premium player that must be paid for to gain access to extra content and adding a host of bells and whistles to the software itself. Of course users aren’t limited to viewing content via the RealOne website, as there are thousands of audio and video providers using the format. Radio stations broadcasting over the internet generally provide content in either RealAudio or Media Player compatible formats. There is plenty of bandwidth-sapping content that doesn’t involve strreaming media and numerous free games can be accessed with RealArcade (another sibling in the ever expanding RealNetworks family) some of which are actually quite entertaining. The site is huge and you can while away the hours with any number of different activities. You can find RealOne on the March PC World Plus free CD.

Design:

Content:

National internet capacity used: 10%

Sonic Box

http://www.sonicbox.com

Sonic Box is actually a piece of software taking on the form of a streaming radio tuner rather than a website, but of all the many formats I’ve listened to this has provided the best quality sound over a rock steady internet stream. There are hundreds of stations to choose from coming from all over the world, so chances are you’ll be able to find something to tickle your aural-buds (actually, I don’t think there is such a thing as aural-buds … oh well). Over my “humble” JetStart connection the music played flawlessly for hours on end at 128kbit/s — the very same bit-rate used to encode the majority of the worlds’ MP3 files. Curiously, when you start the player fresh the first track always skips around a bit before settling down for the rest of the session. According to the Sonic Box website the software is being incorporated into regular stereos by Panasonic and Philips so you can listen to your favourite internet-based radio station without using a PC. I want one.

Design: ( for the software)

Content:

National internet capacity used: 13%

TV3

http://www.tv3.co.nz

Both TV3 and TV One make a good proportion of their nightly news bulletins available to watch through the internet, however TV3 wins hands down in terms of quality and volume. The larger size of the clips from TV3 means you get better picture and better audio quality, and there are more to choose from. Frequenters of http://xtra.co.nz will have noticed the close ties they have with TV3 news as many of the days stories will have accompanying TV coverage for a more complete picture. Not only is the TV3 site good news for anyone who has missed the news on the box but it is a superb way to waste your valuable bandwidth.

Design:

Content:

National internet capacity used: 9%

New Zealand Music

http://www.nzmusic.com

I like surprises — and what a nice surprise I got when I ventured onto NZMusic’s website. Not only was there up-to-date news about the local music scene but there is a growing collection of music video’s to peruse and enjoy. Neil Finn is there along with Kiri Te Kanawa, Betchadupa, Garageland and Shihad (for that was still their name at press time). Go and soak up some Kiwi culture and while you’re at it , remember to waste as much bandwidth as possible.

Design:

Content:

National internet capacity used: 7%

Red Hat Linux

http://www.redhat.com

Finally, if you are absolutely stuck for ways to waste bandwidth, I find there’s no better way to generate a truckload of traffic than by downloading entire Linux distributions, just for the hell of it. Remember that according to some of New Zealand’s ISPs, only 5% of internet users are generating 90% of internet traffic. Please, everybody, play your part. We need to raise this figure and get everyone generating as much traffic as possible to take the heat off heavy users like me. Your country will thank you.

Design:

Content:

National internet capacity used: 70%-90% (depending on the extras)

SUCK IT DOWN

http://gamer.net.nz

http://jetstreamgames.co.nz

http://gamers.paradise.co.nz

http://windowsmedia.com

http://mtv.com

http://tvone.co.nz

http://ucg.org/RealAud

http://virginradio.co.uk

http://cnn.com

http://apple.com/trailers

scott_bartley@idg.co.nz

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Scott Bartley

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