5:10:14 Faster Dial-Up

I can't lay out every reason I've stuck with dial-up for Internet access. Some of it is cost: A monthly fee of $4.95, compared with what people pay monthly for cable/DSL/broadband access, is nearly free. But I think what pushes my atavism about Internet access is something more basic, something at heart philosophical. I've always treasured the original enthusiasm that the largest knowledge base the world has ever built would be freely accessible to all at a nominal cost via an Internet highway without tollbooths.

When I first connected to the Internet in the early 90s, it was via a local, free telnet connection, my machine was an Apple IIe, and my first email account was at a freenet in British Columbia, Canada. Still, with that primitive access--the bandwidth must have been miniscule--I was able to "get into" the original Web pages, housed at CERN, before access was closed to the public.


But as the 90s wore on, the Web became more graphics, less text. I moved on to a ThinkPad that gave me a fuller Web experience and for me the Internet, with a 56K dial-up modem, remained okay.

But sometime in the last five to eight years, the Internet, on a 56K modem, slowed noticeably. At times I thought it was my computer's slow CPU, insufficient RAM, my browser choice, whatever.

I'd say loading web pages on dial-up, more often than not, was an invitation for teeth-grinding.

So I went to duckduckgo.com and typed in a query: How to speed up dial-up. Several simple steps:

Use the Firefox browser (check, have that)
Max out its cache at 1 GB
Turn off image autoload (no big sacrifice)
Tweak some Firefox parameters (max pipeline requests and the like) and
Turn off JavaScript.

The results were stunning. Firefox has back its snap. Yes, I'm missing out pics and ads, but with JavaScript turned off, I don't have the sense a web page can't completely load until its "phoning home" routine is a wrap. Now, I've got an Internet speediness that reminds me of the 90s.

Granted my Web expectations are minimal, but my setup isn't so crippled, I can't get what I want: fast information. I can always turn on images; for balky websites, I can always turn on JavaScript. Those choices easily best insufferable waits.

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(click to enlarge image)

The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)

Also, a flash fiction, "Ylena Thinks Nyet," is at Cigale Literary Magazine.

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