The Need for Speed

I have had broadband or ADSL1 for a while now. Where I live we only have access to ADSL1, ADSL2 is not available as yet. I have had a 1500/256 connection for most of that time. Earlier this year Telstra “took the breaks off” the fastest attainable speed that you could get. We also saw a drop in price for this fastest speed. In order to get the “unthrottled” service you had to upgrade your connection and pay a few extra dollars.

I have been pretty busy and I only got around to looking at my connection last Friday. Now the plan I was on, the 1500/256 plan dropped in price but I have been paying the higher price as I did not change anything. I found that I was basically paying for the unthrottled service. So I thought what the heck, I am paying it I may as well change to that speed and I got a 100% increase in available bandwidth.

Changing my plan means that I now have a 8000/384 connection. But this is variable, meaning that the minimum I will get it 1500/256. All week end I have been testing my connection on Speedtest.net checking if it switches over. Today I had some luck. I tested my closest Speedtest server which is Brisbane. I got the following result (note that the miles are wrong in this test):

What I noticed was that the ping has not changed much with the faster connection, not sure why. But as you can see the download speed has definitely had some improvement. The fastest I could get before was about 1300 download. So pretty good. I also tested Europe and the UK in addition to America, the following is the best result from the US:

The big surprise was the speed that I got here in Australia as the best result came from a connection from here in Cairns to Melbourne. What you might not understand is despite our connectivity here in Cairns we are actually quite isolated from the rest of the country. Our pipe from Cairns to Brisbane, which is the most direct is a long one and can be problematic at times. That Cairns – Brisbane connection is the bottleneck as all North connections run through it. But here is the result that I achieved to Melbourne:

I thought that was great. I am pretty happy with these results and time will tell if it is worth it. While I was happy with the download speed that I was getting on my old plan, it was not mega fast but I did not have to wait for much and I had the bandwidth that allowed me to do other things while I downloaded stuff. Now I have bandwidth to burn and the limit that allows me to test out great new services like Joost.

The upload speed was the thing that I was more interested in increasing. I upload the podcast each week and lots of files to our hosts and others this will help speed up that process a bit. But not as much as I was hoping. Then again it is very close to the stipulated 384k that is advertised so I should not complain. In fact it is very good really, as you may or may not know you never get what is advertised. Most people I talk to have no idea what speed they are on!

As I said previously this service is a variable one so I am going to do a few tests at different times and see what times of day are better than others.

These tests were performed with my internet service provider Internode using Speedtest.net. I have found Internode to be excellent and provide a great service at a reasonable cost. ISP choices are a personal choice and you have to be happy but you could do worse than Internode. A list of available plans is available from their website.

These speeds may seem poor if you live in Europe or the US and they are in comparison. Fact is; that for me this is as good as it gets where I live and is faster than most of the population here in Australia that have broadband access. Fast connection speeds in Australia are hard to come by and when you do they are very expensive, for me this is a good middle ground.

SPEEDTEST.NET is a great way to check out how well your ISP performs. It uses a graphical interface with some funky dials and gives very usable results as can be seen here. That is all well and good in isolation, but they also give you the functionality of being able to compare your results to others in your country and the world. These images are via the supplied links that they offer to embed your results into web pages.

Speedtest.net Screenshot

200 Firefox Extensions at Once!

Ryan over at CyberNet decided to take on a small project. He was surprised at the result, Firefox was functional. Although given the screenshots I am not sure how easy it would be to navigate through all the toolbars and extra icons and features.

From what he has blogged about it appears that there was a pint of Guinness riding on the result. Chris looks like he is going to have to pay up.

Ryan has installed no less than 200 Firefox extensions. I thought when I saw it and so did Ryan that the tendency of Firefox for memory leaks would be a problem. However, after the few minutes it took for Firefox to start it was using 145MB and rising to only 195MB after 2 hours and crashed only once.

It is a great story and worth the read, if only for the novelty value. A true testament to the stability of Firefox. Cool story and well done Ryan. Read the whole saga with heaps of very interesting screenshots.

Of note is that earlier this year some bloke installed 100 top Firefox Extensions, Ryan just doubled it.

FeedDemon 2.0.0.22 Beta Tested: Positive Results

Tonight FeedDemon was tested with an unable to connect to server error. I was impressed with the performance, there were a few bugs but nothing major. This may or may not have been a NewsGator Server problem.

I fired up FeedDemon and got the "cannot connect to server message". I got the option to un-synchronize the feeds and to manually page each feed for updates. I selected that and I was presented with a message that informed me that the feeds would be updated directly from the feed URL's and that it would be slower. So I selected OK.

To say that the feeds would update slower is an understatement, it is really slow and I have a 1500/256 connection (that is pretty quick here in Australia), so bear in mind that with functionality comes a slowdown. That said it was not something that bothered me too much. One error that occurred was that when the feeds updated it imported "old" updates. I got posts from January 2006 and they were out or order by date and some were marked read and others not read even though I knew I had marked them as read previously. I did however get the new feeds at the top, which is what you want.

While this was going on Sebastian had asked me to listen to a podcast he had done the day before, so I went to the folder, I did have to manually update the folder with the "update feed" command; but when I did I got the new podcast listed. I clicked the "paper-clip" and FeedStation opened and started to download. It noted that it could not connect to "my podcasts" but it did not seem to bother the download. The podcast downloaded and synchronised to my sync folder on my local machine with no problems.

One thing that is not made as clear as it could be is how to re-synchronise your folders. Basically; you get an icon in the bottom left corner of FeedDemon that has a disconnected symbol on it – or something like that. You can click this icon and get options, one is to test the connection and another one to say you are not synchronised with a tick – selected next to it. I just presumed that to resynchronise you "deselect the box". I was right, but it is not indicated that you have; or are trying to synchronise again. The indication that you are trying to connect and have been successful is the fact that the synchronising with NewsGator splash comes up. I think this needs to be improved.

A new feature is the "test" connection option, again an option within the click icon at the bottom left. So every once and a while I tested the connection and I eventually got a "good" result back and I went through the resynchronise process described above. No problems. FeedDemon synchronised and updated the feeds and did not have a problem with the fact that I had read some new posts and download an enclosure. FeedDemon even marked those as read – so it performed better then expected there.

As far as the reason for the outage, I am not sure if the NewsGator server was down or that I could not connect to it because of the connection between my machine and the server. If it was the server, it was not down for long, which makes me think it was a connection problem. Well done Nick, this is what I expect from you guys, thanks.