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[Pan-users] Re: Connections

From: Duncan
Subject: [Pan-users] Re: Connections
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2008 09:05:12 +0000 (UTC)
User-agent: Pan/0.132 (Waxed in Black)

walt <address@hidden> posted
address@hidden, excerpted below, on  Tue, 29 Jul 2008 02:36:46

> On Mon, 28 Jul 2008 21:32:46 -0400, Daryl Styrk wrote:
>> Why only 4?
> I have no idea why people want even that many connections, so I'm hoping
> someone here can explain it to both of us.
> I suppose if you want to post to one group while you read a second group
> and download headers from a third group -- well, that's three
> connections.  What do you do with the fourth one?
> I once asked a newsadmin why he advertised that he allows ten
> connections and his answer was (after filtering the BS) that his
> competitors did the same, so he has to compete.  It's like bragging
> about the number of cup holders in your minivan.  Most people still
> commute to work with only one person aboard...

The biggest reason for multiple connections is that many ISP-bundled or 
cheap pay providers cap the per-connections speeds, then allow you X 
connections.  For binaries, overall download speed matters, and it 
doesn't particularly matter whether that's a single connection or 20, so 
if per-connection speeds are capped, you use as many as you can.

Using Cox (my ISP) as an example, when I first signed up, the total 
Internet speed was 3 Mbit down, but they limited the news servers to 
384kbps per connection, four connections per server, three servers 
available (one could log in to all three at once), so 4*384kbps ~ 1.5Mbps 
per server (over the four connections) * 3 servers ~ 4.5 Mbps theoretical 
news speed, but as I said we had a 3 Mbit pipe so many would go three 
connections to two servers and two to the third, 3 Mbit total, then use a 
third connection on the third server for a separate text or posting 
session using little downstream bandwidth.  That left a connection free 
on each to get tied up in timeout errors or something, without killing 
the download speeds.

Later Cox upped the general pipe speed, first to 4 Mbit, then higher, now 
6-9 Mbit at the standard tier (7 Mbit here in Phoenix), which would have 
been /great/, except they cut the third news server at about the same 
time, so we were still stuck with 3 Mbit max news service (384kbps per 
connection, 4 connections per server, two servers), tho it now didn't max 
out our entire Internet connection.  That was OK when the pipe was 4 Mbit 
as it allowed one to do other things, say stream Internet radio at the 
same time, without killing the news speed, but as general Internet speeds 
increased, it got more and more frustrating as soon enough, the news 
speeds seemed pretty restricted.

About a year and a half ago, they cut news speeds further when they 
outsourced, to HighWindsMedia (which can't seem to keep its act together, 
there's almost constantly some problem or another, often "stuck" 
connections that you have to change your connected MAC address in ordered 
to get a new IP address to ditch).  HWM still has two server-farms 
available to us, but they track connections globally (and as mentioned, 
often get one or more "stuck", which sucks!), and we are now only allowed 
four connections total.  At least they upped the speed per connection, to 
a half-megabit, * 4 connections = 2 Mbps total, but that's still a 
bandwidth cut from before, PLUS with the crappy service and stuck 
connections, one can't even depend on that.

Oh, well, I've argued for quite some time that anyone real serious about 
their news binaries will have at least two sources, generally a low 
reliability but unlimited or low-cost-per-byte provider (which HWM is 
here) for most stuff, and a high reliability high completion high 
retention "premium" server that'll probably cost way more per byte, but 
that is only used for fills not on the "bulk" server, so it works out 

At least Cox is still providing news, including (most) alt.binaries.*, 
unlike many ISPs these days, and the servers do usually work well enough 
to fill the role of the cheap "bulk" server -- if you are willing to 
change your MAC address and reconnect to get a new IP occasionally, when 
connections start sticking.

The number of connections to full bandwidth cap can also depend on client 
implementation and computer speed.  Pan uses a separate decoding thread 
now, but at some point in the past, as a file completed pan wouldn't 
start a new download on whatever connection completed it until the decode 
was complete.  Of course, that lowered possible per-connection speed, so 
provided you had connections to spare, you'd have an extra one going to 
bring your total download speed back up toward overall cap, if it wasn't 
per connection.

I also know households with several users and several different computers 
(generally connected thru a NAPT based router so on a single public IP).  
They like the flexibility of multiple connections so 2 or more people can 
download at once, each with a set connection limit less than the total 
allowed in ordered to do so.

Finally... Outlook Express uses up to four connections depending on how 
you use it, but can only make GOOD use of two -- the other two are for 
low bandwidth stuff like getting the list of new groups since last 
update, etc.  This is one reason why four connections is so common -- OE 
will often throw up errors if you don't have four, and OE is widely 
enough used and often the only "officially" supported client.  I know 
that's why Cox has always had four per server -- they tried three, but 
their support costs jumped thru the roof with folks calling in due to the 
errors.  So OE is crappy, no doubt about it, but at least here on Cox, we 
have OE and its users to thank that we aren't even FURTHER limited in 
connections and therefore bandwidth, since each connection is bandwidth 

Duncan - List replies preferred.   No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master."  Richard Stallman

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