Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

The Seattle location - 1122 3rd Ave - is an interesting spot. According to Google Maps[0], next door is the FBI Seattle Division office. On street view, the building itself has a street-level office with signs for both AT&T and CenturyLink.

3rd Ave itself is slightly notorious - hosting the surface entrances for the Seattle bus tunnel, and a large number of inter-city routes, the area has a reputation for crime and the occasional death by shooting. It was a bit worrying to commute through, as a bus rider, and seems like an odd location for an ISP street-level office.

[0] https://goo.gl/maps/8oxjkCL8JFm

Its choice of location is nothing nefarious. It was built in the mid 1950s as a Pacific Northwest Bell telco central office, for phone lines serving downtown Seattle, in the days when dialtone rotary pulse-dial phone systems were the highest technology available. The PNW Bell phone system and its interconnections with the AT&T Long Lines system had some sites which were mutually shared with military AUTOVON and other federal government long distance telecom circuits (such as those which fed the giant SAGE installations at McChord and in Moses Lake).

It became a USWest site in 1984 through the breakup of the Bell monopoly system, and then Qwest and eventually Centurylink.

> giant SAGE installations at McChord and in Moses Lake

What's that?

SAGE was a late 1950's-60's computerized air defense system: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-Automatic_Ground_Enviro...

There used to be some SAGE equipment at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. I don't know if it's still there or not, but it was definitely interesting to see. The "light gun" user interface and the control consoles have a really pleasing aesthetic.

And the building has "reinforced concrete foundations"! Wow, sounds exotic! Just kidding... not sure if they mean something else, but "reinforced concrete foundations" might be the most commonplace thing in structural engineering. (Most foundations involve concrete, and most concrete is reinforced.) So this is a bit like saying your car has a paint job. But hey I used to be a structural engineer, and unfair ballbusting of the poor hapless journalist aside, I'm still kind of curious what feature they were actually describing.

Edit: I'll wager it's a seismic upgrade. The building's vintage is from back when they didn't have as good of a handle on the seismic stuff. And the Cascadia Subduction Zone is no joke!

The Intercept are voluntarily acting as an arm of the FSB.

Just think of them as Stalin's New York Times - willing accomplices to Soviet genocide.

Yes, journalism working hard to spread awareness of a massive global surveillance systems, with rubberstamp oversight, that threaten fundamental rights found in all western countries against dragnets and warrantless privacy invasion = must be the Russian boogiemen at work.

"Move along citizen"

This isn’t a popular place for such a viewpoint.

"Soviet genocide"? There are numerous problems with that concept, besides the obvious fact that USSR ceased to exist decades ago. Where is the genocide occurring? Is it Libya? Iraq? Yemen? Somalia? Niger?

It seems odd to have an ISP office in the middle of downtown?

Every major north american city has a legacy telco central office in downtown, in a very central location, from the days of pulse-dial and then DTMF dial analog phones. Always owned by whatever corporate entity the Bell System and then ILEC eventually became.

Seattle, for example, also has the Elliot CO in Belltown: http://www.co-buildings.com/wa/206/

Yeah, you have to remember that in pulse dial days a central office station had a reach of roughly 3 miles. The longer you go, the more you're paying for cable, repeaters, or just losing quality. 90 volt AC for ringing has a limited range!

People who've never seen it in person find it amazing that things like 1200 pair phone cables exist... Here's a photo of just a 100-pair:


on this page is a photo of a 1200-pair: http://cityinfrastructure.com/single.php?d=RuralOutsidePlant...

How do they colour-code the wires to identify them?

"Ah there's your problem: you've patched the Fire Engine Red pair, it's meant to be the Ferrari Red. Rookie error."

> How do they colour-code the wires to identify them?

It’s actually pretty simple. There are only 10 colors: blue, orange, green, brown, slate, white, red, black, yellow, and violet. They’re grouped in “binders” (using colored strings). You’re likely familiar with the first four pairs from network cables (which omit the white/slate pair). After cylcling through blue through slate paired with white through violet (25 pairs), the wires are bundled with binders starting with blue/white string. That gets you to 625 pairs (the first picture posted above is 600 or 625 pairs). After that, the binder groups are bound in a similar fashion (typically if you’re going beyond 625, the slate/violet binder is omitted to get a nice round 600 in the first group).

Wikipedia has a good article: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/25-pair_color_code

100-pair cable is only about 3/4” diameter. I have a 24-line 1A2 telephone that uses 75 pairs just to connect to the phone switch and two 100-pair cables feeding a telephone display case in my living room.

It takes me about a half hour to punch down 100 pairs on a 66-block. Old school telecom guys could probably do it in under 10 minutes.

What about if you are color blind? Change professions?

Yes. Same problem for fiber fusion splicers. Worked for an ISP that hired a color blind person as a field tech, he didn't last long.

I'm pretty sure we have Human Rights Conventions to protect people from having to crimp a mess like that.

At least I hope so, if not, then they really should exist.

Once I learned to recognize what an telephone exchange looks like, I have a hard time not seeing them. All over the place. Downtown, neighborhoods, etc. Big, unmarked buildings with no windows, mostly concrete, lots of infrastructure on top, and various telco trucks parked around at all hours.

They look surprisingly similar to electricity substations, with the key differences being style (substations are usually older) and the vehicles parked in front.

Fiber hotels are in all the big cities, Westin Building Exchange on 5th Ave in Seattle is where a ton of peering also happens.

3rd Ave wouldn't be my first choice to locate a new ISP store, or any new retail location. 4th or 5th would be better. Going up the hill to somewhere like Boren and Madison might be easier for people across the city to reach.

The historic reasons from other posters give good justification for the current location.

That's a few blocks away from the notorious 3rd and Pike area. All of 3rd downtown is a bit rough around the edges due to being a transit corridor with lots of transient riders and homeless people, but besides 3rd and Pike it's nowhere near as dangerous as similar places in rust-belt cities.

Completely anecdotal evidence, but every morning I walk by this building and without failure I run into wireless interference of some sort on different frequency bands (GSM, bluetooth, etc.).

Not saying correlation is causation here, but the interfernce is definitely a little unnerving.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact