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New Breed Of Web Accelerators Actually Work

timothy posted about 11 years ago | from the os-dependency dept.

The Internet 323

axlrosen writes "Web accelerators first came around years ago, and they didn't live up to the hype. Now TV commercials are advertising accelerators that speed up your dial-up connection by up to 5 times, they say. AOL and EarthLink throw them in for free; some ISPs charge a monthly fee. Tests by PC World, PC Magazine and CNET show that they do speed up your surfing quite a bit. They work by using improved compression and caching. The downside is they don't help streaming video or audio." And they require non-Free software on the client's end, too.

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Faster porn? (5, Funny)

DigitalNinja7 (684261) | about 11 years ago | (#6925297)

Unfortunately, these caches store only the most accessed pages, so anything of any value to the Slashdot audience will be as slow as ever. But you can be sure your porn will be delivered at 5x the speed of your normal dial-up! (yawn)

Re:Faster porn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925332)

Hell yes faster porn. That's all the Internet's good for anyway.

Re:Faster porn? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925336)

Are you saying Slashdotter's don't value pron?

Re:Faster porn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925491)

Well, i'm sure that if this deliver a page with the following news:

RIAA sues [little kittens||homeless person||the pope]
SCO now [wants your ass||owns your car||says H2O contains its IP]
Microsoft [patches windows||says something||anything]

for /. readers, we'll be more than happy

THIS IS CRAP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925571)

Why are the Slashsnot Mods running stories like THIS CRAP but not even a mention that Edward Teller died yesterday. Just goes to show you that the mods are BRAIN DEAD SCRIPT KIDDIES.

Re:Faster porn? (3, Insightful)

onecrazyfoo (183660) | about 11 years ago | (#6925608)

Actually, how it was described to me, is that the requested page is retrieved by the ISP's server, cached and compressed, then sent along to the client. Which, with the compression they are able to get, is much faster for the dial-up user. At least that is how is supposed to work with Slipstream's product (what NetZero uses).

Re:Faster porn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925626)

faster porn,but excluding the dog porn videos.

damn!

you completely inhale the shit out of goatse's ass (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925309)

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You mean... (3, Insightful)

HungWeiLo (250320) | about 11 years ago | (#6925320)

"Web accelerators"...You mean highly-advanced technology like mod-gzip?

A different perspective (-1, Troll)

mao che minh (611166) | about 11 years ago | (#6925322)

So says them:

"Now TV commercials are advertising accelerators that speed up your dial-up connection by up to 5 times, they say...They work by using improved compression and caching. The downside is they don't help streaming video or audio."

What a 15 year old boy sees:

"Those net speeder shits work yo! it do not get mp3z n stuff faster, but you wont hav 2 wait as long 4 the big pr0n pictures load! its only 5 bills a month too. Lets hit up the cindy margolis site!"

Awwww boo hoo (2, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | about 11 years ago | (#6925324)

They require non-Free software?

Well, why don't you go ahead and write some Free software to accomplish the same thing?

My GameCube requires non-Free software too.

Wahhhh

what about your WiFiPod? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925355)

+5 WiFi@@!!!

Re:what about your WiFiPod? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | about 11 years ago | (#6925409)

I hate WiFiPods now!

It turns out they arent Free!

Imagine my dismay!

Re:Awwww boo hoo (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925373)

Apache/mod_gzip + Mozilla = free accelerated web content. Oh, and you can throw in squid if you want caching.

Re:Awwww boo hoo (5, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | about 11 years ago | (#6925478)

Nah, this is different altogether. Gzip is not the alpha and omega of compression.

Different algorithms lend themselves better to different applications, so it seems to me a good accelerator would use a mix of algorithms based on MIME type.

Ie; is the source data formatted in 24 byte words? 16 bit words? 8 bit words? If you have 8 bit data you don't want to look at 16 bit chunks, because then the string "abacadaeafag" doesnt compress for you. Dictionary sizes and blah blah blah... Even format conversion - turn all those BMPs that dingbats put on their pages into PNGs or lossless jpegs..

And as for caching, it seems to me like more of a prefetch than a squid-type cache.. Ie, you request page, proxy at IP gets page, compresses it on the fly, then sends it. Caching it locally is more of an advantage WRT latency, not throughput.

There's a lot of common sense tricks you could use. And according to these articles, they work.

Re:Awwww boo hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925497)

These services compress text, not audio/video. It's simply a cache/proxy that compresses pages for people. I've played with it.

Re:Awwww boo hoo (1)

sketerpot (454020) | about 11 years ago | (#6925483)

If you have squid on a fast connection, you can have it do gzipping. That would give you the same benefits as these web accelerators unless I'm mistaken in my understanding of how they work---and it would be all free, on the servers and clients.

Does anybody really care? (0, Insightful)

scosol (127202) | about 11 years ago | (#6925325)

come on- how many of you are over dial-up *right now*?

that's what i thought...

Re:Does anybody really care? (5, Funny)

toomuchPerl (688058) | about 11 years ago | (#6925386)

I'm ...
on ....

dialup....
you....
insensitive ...
clod!

And my connection is wheezing just trying to post this!

Re:Does anybody really care? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925484)

knock knock.... hello??? reality calling....

Over 50% on the net are not using nor even have available to them broadband access.

Just because your tiny speck of the world has it doesn't mean the rest does.

Re:Does anybody really care? (1)

ShadeARG (306487) | about 11 years ago | (#6925591)

Contrary to "popular" belief, not everyone has the ability to get broadband. It could be income related, or simply location. Some people barely get by with AOL, and some even have to dial long distance for that. This is a major step in offering some hope to these poor souls. Be thankful that you have it. You could have just as easily been cursed.

didja hear the one about reaming a 7-year old boy? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925326)

It's very tongue-in-cheek.

Give me a break (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925327)

And they require non-Free software on the client's end, too.

"Booo, is teh so ghey,,, i dotn watn too pay $$$$$ 4 my softwarez!!!!!!!1!!!!!!!!"

For a few dollars more . . . (2, Insightful)

Brahmastra (685988) | about 11 years ago | (#6925331)

get broadband. This will definitely help places that still don't have broadband. But, if broadband is available, it's a no-brainer. I'd rather spend a few bucks more and get broadband, rather than be stuck with some kind of software that may or may not speed up the access depending on what it is.

Another class of people who can't get broadband (3, Insightful)

yerricde (125198) | about 11 years ago | (#6925448)

You admit that a $200,000 setup fee [pineight.com] isn't "a few bucks more." Thank you; most people miss this.

But what about people who are so mobile that they need to be able to jack in and access the Internet from any of several locations, and they can't afford the price of a broadband subscription for each location? I was in just that situation for four years. Dial-up has the advantage of a last mile in almost every home in the States, brought to you by the Universal Service Tax, meaning that no matter whose house I was visiting, I could always plug my laptop into the wall and dial my Verizon Online account.

Re:For a few dollars more . . . (1)

sketerpot (454020) | about 11 years ago | (#6925531)

And for those of you who have broadband that you use to run an HTTP server on---have you considered using mod_gzip [schroepl.net] ? It will let you serve more with less, which is a very good thing if you ever get linked to from slashdot.

Re:For a few dollars more . . . (1)

SmackCrackandPot (641205) | about 11 years ago | (#6925568)

Will a web-accelerator accelerate make my broadband connection five times faster?

Use these to spread God's BASHing word! (-1, Offtopic)

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I still don't understand (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925337)

Why so many content providers aren't using gzip compression? The cpu time required is MUCH cheaper than the bandwidth, AND it makes users happiers because they get it faster. Oh, and it's free (for Apache anyway) and easy to set up. It even works with 99% of browsers these days.

because IIS's is garbage (5, Interesting)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 11 years ago | (#6925391)

mod_gzip is manna from heaven

I turned mine off by accident once and got a phone call from the co-lo wanting to know why I was suddenly maxing out.

gotta love that 70% saving.

Great, with faster download speed. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925342)

When the PIAA starts suing people, I am surely fucked.

Yeah, right! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925345)

And they require non-Free software on the client's end, too.

And I'll just bet that none of that software includes any popups, spyware or intrusive monitoring!

But really, why? (4, Interesting)

agent dero (680753) | about 11 years ago | (#6925347)

This seems like a really niche market nowadays. Not _too_ many people that need fast internet, that could use this, don't have broadband availible. The one key thing is price, which is even starting to get iffy.

Something like $10-20 monthly for "speedy" earhtlink dial-up, or an extra $10-20 slapped on my monthly cable bill for broadband? (Charter Communications, they suck anyways)

I guess if you need to read /. or pr0n that much fast, it works, tell me if I am wrong, but I am seeing a small market for this much hype

Re:But really, why? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | about 11 years ago | (#6925372)

Charter gives you cable internet for 10-20 bucks a month?

They charge everyone else 40 bucks.

There's a huge market for this. There's a shitload of people who's browsing is limited to cnn.com to check the weather and see the headlines, maybe the odd order from a well-known site like amazon.com.

A lot of people don't care all that much about the weeb.

$10-20/mo marginal cost (1)

yerricde (125198) | about 11 years ago | (#6925488)

Grandparent was referring to the $10-$20/mo marginal cost of broadband over the $20/mo national median cost of dial-up. Under this, broadband would cost $30-$40, in line with your observation.

Re:$10-20/mo marginal cost (1)

stratjakt (596332) | about 11 years ago | (#6925607)

Well all the same. It's like saying "Why not get extended service instead of basic cable?" "Why not get premium gas instead of regular?" "Why not supersize that Happy meal for only 49 cents?"

All those nickels and dimes add up to a dollar. Smart people don't pay for stuff they don't need.

Re:But really, why? (1)

MoxCamel (20484) | about 11 years ago | (#6925433)

This seems like a really niche market nowadays...

Not a niche market at all. Fairplay Communications [fpcc.net] offers this right now, and it's only an extra $5.00 a month.

Free? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925348)

And they require non-Free software on the client's end, too.

AS IF ANYONE GIVES A SHIT!!! Jay-zus, slashdot, get off your fucking high horse.

Next thing... (5, Funny)

koi88 (640490) | about 11 years ago | (#6925351)

They actually work?
Next thing they find out is the new generation of penis enlargement devices actually work, too...

Re:Next thing... (1)

Lispy (136512) | about 11 years ago | (#6925420)

They don't?? Doh!

Re:Next thing... (0, Redundant)

Bendebecker (633126) | about 11 years ago | (#6925432)

They don't?!?

Re:Next thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925617)

Next thing they find out is the new generation of penis enlargement devices actually work, too...

Read the review at goatse...

Non-Free software? (3, Insightful)

divisionbyzero (300681) | about 11 years ago | (#6925354)

OMG, not that! I know this won't get much play here, but I don't care if it's free or not as long as it works. I use the Free software that I do because it is better than Fee software, not because it is free. Shame on me for not being an ideologue.

Re:Non-Free software? (1)

s20451 (410424) | about 11 years ago | (#6925586)

I use the Free software that I do because it is better than Fee software

Strangely, your view is shared by Linus, who is using BitKeeper because it is free and the best tool for the job, even though it's not Free.

It's just the RMS fanboys who are obsessed with avoiding any software that is not ideologically pure.

tradeoff (3, Insightful)

nstrom (152310) | about 11 years ago | (#6925364)

It's just the old tradeoff between CPU power (decompression time) and bandwidth usage (download time). Much easier (and more smartly) implemented on the server side with something like mod_gzip, like HungWeiLo said.

And graphic compression's been done before too, since around AOL 3.0 or so. Most people turn it off because it makes pages look like crap.

Re:tradeoff (0)

insecuritiez (606865) | about 11 years ago | (#6925441)

The compression AOL was using was lossy. They could retrieve the image from the sever, decompress, re-compress at a higher ratio and send it off to you. It did suck, it make the images look like shit. It was on by default though and most users had no idea how to turn it off. This acceleration technology is lossless (Think ZIP). Therefore compressing things that have already been compressed with a lossy algorithm with this lossless is going to do next to nothing. Formats like JPEG, MP3, OGG, MPG, ASF, ZIP, and a whole slew of others will not be compressed hardly at all. So this lossless compression will work great for HTML markup and that's about it.

What the hell? (5, Funny)

elwoodblues16 (666185) | about 11 years ago | (#6925366)

Snake oil that works? What do you even call something like that?

Re:What the hell? (1)

xSauronx (608805) | about 11 years ago | (#6925529)

vegetable oil?

Re:What the hell? (1)

randyest (589159) | about 11 years ago | (#6925547)

Not "snake oil." That means it doesn't work. How about "a product"?

They aren't really that great. (5, Insightful)

Jerk City Troll (661616) | about 11 years ago | (#6925368)

My former company was checking out NetAccelerator [netaccelerator.net] recently to resell to our clients.

These things are a joke. The primary performance increase comes from recompressing images into really nasty JPEGs. AOL was doing this years ago (and getting blasted for it). If you turn that off, the performance improvement is not even measurable.

Furthermore, you tend to get a lot of stale caches on your machine. Most browsers don't even get this right, so they add yet another layer of potentially buggy cache abstraction.

No, these things are junk. They act as proxy servers and their source is closed. How can you trust them to handle your data? Even with all their compression features turned on, the performance improvement is seriously overrated. Don't bother. You simply cannot get something for nothing in cases like these.

Now, what would improve the download speed of the web is if web designers would start building standards compliant markup. Many web sites have as much as 700kb overhead in markup from tools that create loads of font tags and their ilk. Pure XHTML + CSS layout would do a hell of a lot more to speed up the web than these scams. Of course, don't take my word for it--read Zeldman [zeldman.com] .

Re:They aren't really that great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925403)

I assume by most browsers, you mean IE. Because that's true. IE has some issues with caching.

Re:They aren't really that great. (1)

Jerk City Troll (661616) | about 11 years ago | (#6925450)

I assume by most browsers, you mean IE. Because that's true. IE has some issues with caching.

Mozilla used to have some issues with caching, especially when reading files off the local disk. (Ever write a page, read it locally with Mozilla, alter it, and find your changes not taking effect?) AFAIK, this has been fixed.

I've seen some caching weirdness (at least minor) on most browsers, but nevertheless, you are correct: Internet Explorer is the most frequent and long-standing culprit.

Re:They aren't really that great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925580)

Netscape 4 is way worse. Totally broken.

Nasty JPEGs? (4, Funny)

Hayzeus (596826) | about 11 years ago | (#6925426)

OK -- now you'vegot my attention. Like, um... just how nasty?

Re:Nasty JPEGs? (1)

Jerk City Troll (661616) | about 11 years ago | (#6925469)

OK -- now you'vegot my attention. Like, um... just how nasty?

Take a picture. Using your favorite image editing software, save it as a JPEG. Load the JPEG and save it as a JPEG again. Lather, rince, repeat.

Doesn't take too long to look like shit, right? Welcome to NetAccelerator.

Re:Nasty JPEGs? (1)

Hayzeus (596826) | about 11 years ago | (#6925511)

I am overwhelmingly disappointed.

Re:Nasty JPEGs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925526)

Over Your Head, I'd like to introduce you to Sexual Innuendo. Sexual Innuendo, meet Over Your Head.

Re:Nasty JPEGs? (1)

BinLadenMyHero (688544) | about 11 years ago | (#6925622)

You didn't got the joke.
He was talking about this [google.com] .
(Well, not exactly that.. :) but you got the point.. Now you got it, right?

Re:They aren't really that great. (1)

el-spectre (668104) | about 11 years ago | (#6925485)

Unfortunately, you run a risk of leaving some folks with an unreadable page if their browser doesn't support CSS correctly.

I am a big CSS fan (having recently finally relented and converted my websites to use it), but the implementations are still varied.

What's sad is that SO MANY pages have this extra WYSIWYG garbage code in 'em. I was recently looking at job postings (JSP/ASP/CGI/Perl/Java/Hire Me!) and damned near every one had 'must be able to hand code'. Interestingly, the higher end jobs (like more hardcore java developers) are particularly lacking in this skill. Kind sad, it's like Steven King being a novelist, but not able to write complete sentences.

Re:They aren't really that great. (1)

Reziac (43301) | about 11 years ago | (#6925576)

Not every WYSIWYG editor makes bloated code. Happens that my fave, and my next-best-thing, both make very clean code with no needless crap. But neither is Frontpage or worse yet, Dreamweaver. :)

What do I use? Ancient AOLpress and Visual Page. With some hand-tweaking for stuff neither is new enough to grok.

Re:They aren't really that great. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 11 years ago | (#6925525)

Now, what would improve the download speed of the web is if web designers would start building standards compliant markup. Many web sites have as much as 700kb overhead in markup from tools that create loads of font tags and their ilk

no we need web designers that actually have skills instead of being frontpage operators.

Some of the absolute best websites on the net are written by hand by skilled designers that know what they are doing... and their sites are fast and clean (Html wise) while pushing the envelope.

www.thefray.com if you would like an example.

Re:They aren't really that great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925546)

ok beat me to hell today...

www.fray.com

I'ts late, I'm tired... time for beer....

Compressing the already compressed? (3, Interesting)

insecuritiez (606865) | about 11 years ago | (#6925382)

They compress the packets of data. Where will this help? In compressible places that aren't already compressed. Such as the HTML markup for webpages. This wont help already compressed JPGs, or already compressed MP3s or already compressed ZIP/GZIP files or already compressed videos (MPG/AVI/ASF). So is this really going to help much? Sure, there is always going to be a small percent of space (and therefore time) saved even transferring these formats. Is it going to make a 5X difference? No. Is it going to make a noticeable difference? It's unlikely but possible. The only way this "new technology" is going to help is if you are a dialup user without broadband options.

Re:Compressing the already compressed? (1)

insecuritiez (606865) | about 11 years ago | (#6925470)

Oh, and one more thing. If they do like AOL did and use LOSSY compression and re-compress the JPGs and other images on a website, forget it. Not only does that not save much space, it makes the images look like shit.

mod_gzip (1)

yerricde (125198) | about 11 years ago | (#6925515)

They compress the packets of data. Where will this help? In compressible places that aren't already compressed. Such as the HTML markup for webpages. This wont help ... already compressed ZIP/GZIP files

In properly set-up Apache installations, aren't HTML files "already compressed GZIP files" [sourceforge.net] ?

The only way this "new technology" is going to help is if you are a dialup user without broadband options.

Or if dial-up with this compressing proxy is $25/mo, broadband is $50/mo, and you have several mouths to feed. Or if you have to get online from several locations.

Re:Compressing the already compressed? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | about 11 years ago | (#6925527)

You can pitch out a bunch of the superflous stuff with HTTP by not using HTTP, and maintaining only one compressed connection to the proxy machine on the ISPs side.

Probably not a 5x increase, but noticable.

Re:Compressing the already compressed? (1)

insecuritiez (606865) | about 11 years ago | (#6925560)

Which works for browsing the web and cuts down on overhead only. Doesn't work for P2P or just plain downloading from the internet. Cutting down on overhead is still never going to account for raw bits per second that can be transmitted between point A and point B. But you make a good point.

Re:Compressing the already compressed? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | about 11 years ago | (#6925639)

Hence, these are web accelerators.

The type of people who want this service have no interest in the interweb besides checking the box scores or the local weather. The power user type already have broadband.

rproxy -- also actually works, and open source (5, Informative)

mattbee (17533) | about 11 years ago | (#6925384)

rproxy [samba.org] is a really interesting project, and back when I tried it over a 56K dial-up connection, it did actually work to speed things up. You sit an rproxy web cache at each end of the dial-up connection (so you need somewhere to deply your custom proxy to make it work, but bear with me...) and then request web pages as usual. Each end caches the pages that pass through it, but the clever part is that when you re-request a page, the proxy at the far end (on the fast connection) can fetch the page and compare with the last copy in the cache. Then it transmits only the differences using the rsync algorithm [samba.org] . Unforunately it's not being actively developed any more given the increasing availability of high-bandwidth connections, and the decreasing fraction of web traffic that is suitable for delta-compression. Shame, since it did seem to be a real "web accelerator" without any of the illusory techniques used by the garish banner-ad accelerators.

Problem with AOL... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925395)

I don't want to start a holy war here, but what the hell is up with you AOL zealots? Ive been sitting at my Freinds gig of a AOL box for 20 minutes while it attempts to download a 17Mb avi file! 20 Minutes! At home, on my NTL box the same operation would take 2 minutes if that.

Also, during this transfer, Winamp won't work, and everything else schreeches to a halt, even mozillabrid 0.8 is struggling to keepup as I type this. I won't bother you with the laundry basket of other problems. My old 9600 Baud connection to BT works faster than this AOL connection at times, in 2003!

AOL addicts, flame me if you like, but I'd rather hear some intelligent reasons why I should use AOL over faster, cheaper ISPs.

It's not an ISP in the first place! (0, Flamebait)

Lispy (136512) | about 11 years ago | (#6925537)

Well, you got it all wrong. AOL is not for people who want to connect to the Internet. It was never intended to. It's for people who like living in golden cages or disneyland. That's what it's for. Basically it's a LAN with a popup-forcing adselling-machine. No way would anyone use it to surf the web. The Internet was thrown in as added value in the mid90s when the "superinformation highway" was the buzzword of the day. Much the same as today they are inclduing spamfilters that are substandard. It's all about the hype.

I would even tend to suspect that the Illuminati are involved (ever recodgnized the pyramid logo?). It must be some sort of conspiracy, after all they act like a newage-church giving away all those free CD-ROMs. ;-)

Re:Problem with AOL... (1)

voxel (70407) | about 11 years ago | (#6925562)


Don't bother talking to AOL Zealots on Slashdot as they don't exist here.

Think about it... Do you really think an AOL user is the same user that signs into Slashdot? I don't think so.

Your efforts are wasted :P

- Voxel

Squid & mod_gzip (3, Interesting)

chill (34294) | about 11 years ago | (#6925396)

ISPs could simply put some squid caches between the net and their dial-up banks. Turn mod_gzip on and you'll accomplish a lot of the same thing.

Instead of having to traverse the Internet, with all the associated latency, pages are pulled locally - 1 hop away. Pages are also compressed.

A better way would be to figure out how to transfer pages via CVS, so only .diffs came across. :-)

Re:Squid & mod_gzip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925603)

My earlier dialup provider was probably doing something like that... Pages failed to refresh for days or weeks in spite of having been modified. Unbearable for doing any development on a hosted site (or even browsing the web decently).

Of course, all depends on how they do the caching, but this is a clear example of business $$$ my drive to over zealous caching, and the end result.

Just remember (4, Informative)

El (94934) | about 11 years ago | (#6925398)

GIFs, JPEGs, MPEGs, and MP3s are already compressed, so compression doesn't make them any smaller. That really leaves only HTTP, HTML and CSS to benefit from compression. And caching only helps if you're in the habit of looking at the same pages multiple times... so where's the benefit for the average porn-downloading, RIAA-infringing geek? Does it speculatively preread links before I click on them?

Re:Just remember (1)

Nucleon500 (628631) | about 11 years ago | (#6925452)

Am I missing something? I thought mod_gzip or similar took care of this at the application level, so with a compliant browser (and most are) and server, it's possible for even HTML and CSS to be compresed.

Re:Just remember (1)

jacket88 (89179) | about 11 years ago | (#6925468)

It compresses jpg and other images by actually reducing image quality. It is not lossless compression, you can definitely see the difference. So if you like your hi-res porn, this isn't for you.

Re:Just remember (4, Informative)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | about 11 years ago | (#6925495)

GIFs, JPEGs, MPEGs, and MP3s are already compressed

For a given representation these are all compressed. However in all cases these have lossy compression, where you can degrade the quality of the final output and send a smaller bitrate over the wire. Want me to prove my point... Take your favorite CD quality MP3 - lets say the track is 100 K. Now take it and convert the quality to minimum quality - the file will be like 20 K now (if even that much)... you can still hear what is going on... but the quality will suck. Can do the same thing with the rest of the compressed formats as well.

Re:Just remember (1)

insecuritiez (606865) | about 11 years ago | (#6925538)

So say you make a request for an image from a site. The ISP has to go, retrieve the ENTIRE image, de-compress, recompress at a higher level, and then begin transfer. Talk about latency issues. The only way they could do this it with caching. But then it would only be good for the most popular sites. And even then it would highly degrade the image quality.

Re:Just remember (3, Insightful)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | about 11 years ago | (#6925638)

Yup... this is exactly what they are doing... Remember I have a local proxy cache - and multiple T-3 links to the internet - you have a 33kbit connection to this. If I can get a 100K file - spend time compressing it by 5x and get it to you in less time than it would take you to get the 100K file (24 seconds right) I have won. And guess what - the next sucker that asks for it, I get to give the recompressed data too for free.

In many cases CPU power on the internet is free, bandwidth is expensive and worth spending free CPU cycles dealing with... Oh - how do YOU know that you are getting a degraded image anyway ? the average idiot going through an ISP that would do this only sees the internet this way.

Hooray... (2, Interesting)

-Grover (105474) | about 11 years ago | (#6925402)

You can get the same thing you looked at yesterday 5x faster!!

Caching and compression will only get you so far before lossiness (sp?) kicks in and you start getting garbage, or caching works so well you get the same page every time you load it.

Get on the bandwagon and chip the money for Broadband if you're looking to boost your speeds. If you can't get a/v any faster, really, what's the point?

Low bandwidth main pages becoming less and less prevalent so it's not going to do you much anyway, plus, you're still paying for it...

Semi-real, maybe (2, Interesting)

Empiric (675968) | about 11 years ago | (#6925418)

Okay, so GIFs, JPGs, streaming video, ZIPs, and compressed .EXE installers are all already compressed near to their thoretical limits.

[Puts cynics hat on]

The vendors mentioned in the PCWorld article seem to be treading dangerously close to copyright infringement by compressing other people's content on their servers to be pulled through their browser proxy.

NetZero and Earthlink apparently force you to use their proprietary internet-access layer, so how are we sure their extra-cost "Super" speed isn't just normal internet speed, and their "Base" speed isn't just slowed down by the interface layer?

[Takes cynics hat off]

The only thing here that seems like it would be genuinely useful is HTML compression... surely there is/will-be an Open Source solution for this. Maybe a new MIME type, e.g. text/html.compressed? Then it could be implemented on both the browser and server side, and this would have far greater impact. This could be implemented either in the browser itself or in a lightweight proxy like Proxomitron. Anyone? Anyone?

Re:Semi-real, maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925477)

As previously mentioned, it already exists - see apache mod_gzip.

Re:Semi-real, maybe (1)

scosol (127202) | about 11 years ago | (#6925506)

The only thing here that seems like it would be genuinely useful is HTML compression... surely there is/will-be an Open Source solution for this. Maybe a new MIME type, e.g. text/html.compressed? Then it could be implemented on both the browser and server side, and this would have far greater impact. This could be implemented either in the browser itself or in a lightweight proxy like Proxomitron. Anyone? Anyone?

Browsers have supported gzip compression since IIRC the 2.0 days...
See mod_gzip for apache.

Re:Semi-real, maybe (1)

Empiric (675968) | about 11 years ago | (#6925539)

Neat... so, mod_gzip will compress such that it's transparent to the user? The browser just automatically decompresses the HTML stream and displays it? Useful info.

Re:Semi-real, maybe (1)

sik0fewl (561285) | about 11 years ago | (#6925629)

Maybe a new MIME type, e.g. text/html.compressed?

Not necessary. HTTP has a Content-Encoding MIME header, so (off the top of my head)..
Content-Type: text/html
Content-Encoding: gzip

The browser then knows to decode the document before rendering it.

Worth the effort (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 11 years ago | (#6925423)

I wonder if all this is worth the effort. For instance, Bell canada offers low speed dsl which is capped around 25 KB/s ~= 5x dial-up for only a couple dollars more than regular dial up. When you add in the fact that you don't have to tie up the phone line, and the other advantages of DSL such as high speed on all pages, not just frequently visited ones, you really have to wonder why anyone uses dial up at all anymore.

Re:Worth the effort (1)

Void_of_light (469480) | about 11 years ago | (#6925566)

Don't forget some of us still do not have access to a high speed connection. Sure most of the country can get satellite or isdn but these dont count in my book. I am not talking about people in inaccesable areas I live 8 miles from town and there is nothing here and the phone company has told me they have no plans on bringing it out to me. When everyone can get DSL Cable Wireless or powerline Internet then you can say dial up is a niche market but not until then.

Re:Worth the effort (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 11 years ago | (#6925588)

Well, for one thing, broadband isn't available to everyone... the number of phone lines with broadband available is increasing, but it's not exactly there yet.

Even those with access to broadband often find the T&Cs of those providing in their area absurdly ridiculous, or if not that, just plain not what they're looking for.

Re:Worth the effort (1)

Reziac (43301) | about 11 years ago | (#6925631)

Why does anyone use dialup anymore? Because some of us CAN'T get broadband. I'm only 50 miles from Los Angeles, yet the nearest broadband is 15 miles away. (About 3/4ths of this valley, population 350,000, is out of range of broadband.)

Even so... I'm not sure I believe these accelerators will do enough to be worthwhile, especially when my dialup tops out at 26k and I don't load images in the first place. And I don't like the idea of yet another layer of Stuff that can go wrong.

Methods (2, Informative)

wfberg (24378) | about 11 years ago | (#6925431)

Caching webpages in a proxy is something all ISPs do. The downside is that whenever I've used an ISPs squid proxy, it slowed things down! Turning proxies off almost invariably helps speeds, in stead of hurting them. Plus, if the proxy goes down, you can still use the web. I have no idea why ISP's proxies are so craptastic (YMMV), but in my experience, they are. (BTW, it would help if windowsupdate was cacheable..)

Compression.. Now there's something! I have in the past used an ssh tunnel (with compression switched on) to my university's web proxy, and that sped up things quite a bit! Why isn't this switched on by default on my PPPoA connection? Doesn't apache handle gzip'ing these days? Doesn't seem to be used much, though.. This speed up might be less pronounced on dial-up links though, because POTS modems usually switch on compression anyway (again YMMV).

Some download accelerators simply download different chunks of the same file in multiple sessions from either one server (shouldn't matter - unless with roundrobin DNS) or even from mirrors (better!). That's quite effective as well, but we know this, and that's why we use bittorrent for big files, don't we? ;-) Not such a good approach for webbrowsing btw.

But it has to be said.. Most download accelerators are just bloaty spyware and don't do *zilch* to help your download speed.. Feh!

Didn't AOL use to convert GIF graphics to their own, lossy, .ART format when you used their client? Do they still?

Xwebs (1)

Zork the Almighty (599344) | about 11 years ago | (#6925434)

What ever happened to that Xwebs browser written by some 16 year old kid, that was a total scam, I mean, supposedly sped up web surfing lots ?

just wait (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925435)

m$ wil put in to IE 7 or something.
or is it code owned by sco

Wow, what an amazing concept! (4, Funny)

default luser (529332) | about 11 years ago | (#6925473)

WOW, a webcache and real-time compression!

My browser and my modem with .v42Bis compression have only been able to do that for, what, nearly a decade?

Cache the Suckage (2, Informative)

Bonker (243350) | about 11 years ago | (#6925504)

I worked at a local ISP who managed to get a demo for a cache server a while back. (I don't anymore.) The machine arrived. We plugged it in, and started to take tech calls.

Basically, it proxied all requests through that ISP on port 80. If it found a request to an IP or sitename it had visited before, it tried to serve it out of cache. If it didn't, it proxied the result through and returned the results from the requested IP or sitename.

The problems:

The server had a difficult time with virtual hosting of any kind. About 4 out of 5 requests to a virtual host would go through. About 20% of the time, there was some critical piece of information that the cache server would mangle so that the vhost mechanism would be unable to serve the right data. This was a couple years ago, so bugfixes might have happened. Maybe.

The server definitely had a hard time with dynamic content that wasn't built with a GET url (thus triggering the pass-thru proxy). If the request was posted, encrypted, hashed, or referenced a server side directive of some kind (server-side redirects were a nasty) the cache would fail. A server side link equating something like "http://www.server.net/redirect/" to a generated URL or dynamic content of some kind was the most frequent case we rean into with this. The server simply couldn't parse each and every http request or every variety and try to decide if it should pass-thru or not. I can't think of a logical way around this that wouldn't break any given implimentation. Can you?

We used dynamically assigned IPs at the time, so proxy requests made from one PC were often returned erroneously to another assuming the IP changed between usage. Say a modem hangup, etc. This was a rare event, but I listened to at least one person complaining that he was getting someone else's Hotmail. The fix to this is either to blacklist sites from being cached-- infeasible for every site that could possibly be requested-- or assign static IPs. DHCP broadband users may have similar problems, especially for those who have new IPs every so often.

Finally, if something got corrpted on the cache server due to disk error, stalled transfer, or some other reason, the sever had little or no way to throw out the bad data. It would throw out data that it *knew* was corrupt due to unfinished downloads, etc... , but often times this check failed or data was assumed to be correct even when it wasn't. Everyone who requested the same piece of corrupt data got it. I had to answer this statement a few times. "I downloaded it on one computer connected to your ISP and got a bad download. I downloaded it on my other computer from the same ISP and got the same bad download. Then I connected to another ISP from the first computer and got a complete download. What's up wit' dat, yo?"

Cache servers are a bad idea. The very idea is to try to be an end-all be-all to everyone who uses them. There are bug-fixes to some of the problem, but no way to solve the essential problem of the fact that MOST data on the web is dynamic now. Using cache servers with dynamic data is inviting difficulty and problem.

Re:Cache the Suckage (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 11 years ago | (#6925606)

We used dynamically assigned IPs at the time, so proxy requests made from one PC were often returned erroneously to another assuming the IP changed between usage.

What? Client A establishes a TCP connection to the proxy server, then disconnects. Client B connects with client A's old IP, happens to initiate a connection to the proxy server with the exact same source port, and ignores the fact that the proxy server didn't successfully complete the build-up. The server doesn't seem to notice that it's getting a SYN from an already-existing connection. And this happened more than once in the history of TCP/IP networking?

That appliance, my friend, had more problems than just flaky cache software. It also had a TCP stack that'd make Windows 3.11-era Microsoft cringe with disgust.

Re:Cache the Suckage (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925611)

Pity that your experience with commercial stuff has been so bad... we have run a SQUID proxy at work for the past 5 years, and the problems you mention have not bothered us.
Try free software next time, it often works better.

Tunneling!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6925519)

Great, more network devices for me to figure out...HTTP tunneling is a pain, especially when you have things out there like Microsoft's ISA Proxy, which drops cookies from the request when it feels like it...

Free Web Accelerators (3, Informative)

wang232 (601242) | about 11 years ago | (#6925564)

There are two free software projects building web accelerator proxies. One is RabbIT [sourceforge.net] . The other is ziproxy [sourceforge.net] . They are both web proxies which do not require any special software on the client side. They both compress HTML by gzip, and compress images into lower quality JPEG's. RabbIT is written in JAVA whereas ziproxy is written in C. RabbIT has more features than ziproxy, such as caching and removing ads. Give them a try if you're using a slow line! Disclaimer: I'm a ziproxy user and developer.

Oh yeah? (4, Funny)

identity0 (77976) | about 11 years ago | (#6925615)

If they're so good, why isn't this first post?!
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