ALBA-1 Cable To Cuba Is Live

Renesys is noting that ALBA-1, the mystery cable between Cuba and Venezuela is likely now online. It’s still strange how it’s being utilized (assuming what they are seeing is the result of the cable being active). More bandwidth will lead to more usage by more people. Information demands to be free, and people demand information. It’s only a matter of time. The groundwork has been laid.

Number Based Consumerism

Number based consumerism is when a consumer bases their buying habits on one or more numbers typically part of a products specifications. You likely see this all the time, and perhaps even have been guilty of it yourself. It’s most prevalent in technology though it exists in other sectors.

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Cable Fail

I’ve been looking for a 4 conductor male TRS connector (Apple iPhone headset jack) for a small project. Simple enough. I found a cheap extension on Amazon a week ago that seemed to fit the bill. For posterity here’s what the description says:

Technical Details

  • Made and designed to work seamlessly with the Apple iPhone.
  • Will act as an extension cable, carrying both the stereo audio and microphone signals from your device.
  • Allows the adapter to be used with stereo headphones that also have integrated microphone functionality
  • Made with Nickel plated materials, 3.5mm 4-pole plug, 3.5mm 4-pole jack and a 10 cm (L)
  • A perfect accessory for your NEW Apple iPhone.

Emphasis mine.

It arrived in an envelope containing a tiny ziplock back with no labeling (it’s barebones). When I hooked it up it seemed that audio quality wasn’t very good. I never bothered to check out the microphone. At that price it obviously didn’t make fiscal sense to return it as the postage costs about as much as it’s worth. So I decided to finish dissecting it.

From what I can tell it’s actually 3 wires. Each is a different color (red, copper, green) with some white strands in the core. The female jack has two prongs with one wire attached to each and the enclosure itself which seems like it’s the ground. My suspicion is that the audio is either combined or only one channel is used making it actually mono. The jacket I dissected was molded on so it was virtually impossible to remove the plastic without severing the thin wires in the process.

Here’s what the wire and the female jack (sideways on the bottom) look like:
Full Sized iPhone Wire Dissected

Here’s the jack from the back side. I suck at photography and only have a P&S camera, so it’s a bit blurry:
iPhone Cable Female Terminal

I’m now debating trying another vendor or a more expensive 2.5 mm to 3.5 mm adapter.

My original plan was to find a new 4 conductor TRS male plug, but that proved impossible via the usual sources. 3 conductor is easy.

If anyone has suggestions feel free to reach out.

Undersea Cable Map

Undersea Cable Map

Cable Map is an awesome website that shows known under sea cables on an interactive map (powered by Bing). It shows that there are actually many under sea cables. I mentioned a few months ago that most intercontinental data travels through undersea cables.

I should note that the locations on the map are approximate for security reasons. Because their damage could cost millions and disrupt worldwide communications only their operators and select contractors know where they actually come ashore.

The image above links to a big static version of the map just in case the site someday goes dark.

Internet Under The Sea

Most people these days seem to insist that all telecom (phone, internet in particular) go overseas by way of satellites. This however is far from the truth. There are actually many trans-oceanic cables and they provide most of the capacity. Mail Online has a great article about what goes into keeping the continents connected.

It’s a whole secret industry, partly for security reasons who in a low-key way keep critical communication between entire continents moving. Most people aren’t even looking at the water, they look up at the sky.