For the past several months, my home broadband has been plagued with speed & consistency problems. Worse than dial-up speed one minute, 7mb the next. Peak times were the real killer…
Chrome 4.0 brings with it a 42% performance boost over the old Chrome (which was faster than most browsers anyway!) plus it brings with it extensions – which means it can now go head to head with firefox’s add ons.
Chrome is now a serious browser and firefox should be very worried – i would be if my name were firefox. Chrome’s speed and simplicity is what makes it a threat to firefox. Despite the fact our computers & internet connections are more powerful and faster than ever before, speed is still a huge factor in winning a head to head battle with a rival application.
Up until now i’ve used chrome exclusively on my netbook (it was much faster than firefox to start up and to render pages) and i’d only use it on my desktop for web development / testing, because i needed several firefox add ons. That will all change shortly though. The only thing chrome is missing now for me is ‘firebug’ which is an essential add on for any webmaster who designs / develops / tests web sites or applications.
But if you’re just a regular surfer and don’t need any specific addons for firefox, then i’d recommend you switch to Chrome right now. The time has come. Chrome is now a superior browser to firefox for the average user.
It is quite literally a ‘google’ browser so you know it’s simple, fast and ultra reliable. It’s too early to write firefox off as they’ll have firefox 4.0 coming out shortly, but i feel they’re already losing ground which they’ll never be able to make back up… you cannot allow google to get ahead of you in any department and expect to catch up with them. It’s like giving usain bolt a head start in a 100m sprint.
Right now, firefox has more add ons and add ons which have been built exclusively for firefox. That’s a major plus point for them. However, firefox is slower and fatter (interface wise). Unless it sheds some serious weight very soon, it’ll soon be in a retirement home with IE, reliving past glories until it’s inevitable demise
Having tested out google’s new public DNS service, i decided that whilst i was at it, i’d give OpenDNS a go. I’d heard of OpenDNS as it came up as a good solution whenever ISP’s were overloaded with attacks.
I also know a bit about DNS (forced in to studying it at college) but the REAL reason i know about it is mainly because of eircom’s problems with it Anyway, i signed up to OpenDNS and started using it. Haven’t stopped since either.
It’s faster plus it gives me my own dashboard & stats and i can even block websites or filter content using their own pre-configured security levels (very handy if you have kids in a house or just want to piss people off by denying them access to google.com or something!). So it allows you to play God.
One other handy feature is that it allows you to create shortcuts. So lets’s say i want to go to www.smemon.com. I can just type ‘smemon’ in my browser, which will in turn contact OpenDNS, recognise that i have ‘smemon’ set as a shortcut for www.smemon.com and then take me there.
You can of course do this through a router’s software, but it’s just easier using OpenDNS and you don’t have to be at home to do it. This report from PC Mag confirms OpenDNS is much faster than default DNS settings, but it’s also faster or at least as fast as Google’s Public DNS.
So you get more control, get stats on everything that’s happening on the network and you can view them online. The speed gained is in milliseconds, so for the average user who just doesn’t care about speed or control, it’s pretty pointless making changes like this – you won’t really notice any difference.
Anyway, i’m sure OpenDNS were quietly cursing google when they first heard about their new DNS service, but had Google not announced their DNS service, i wouldn’t be an OpenDNS user now and i wouldn’t be blogging about it, so i’d imagine it’s not all bad news for OpenDNS (assuming there are more people like myself out there).
Today, google have announced a new public DNS set up that they reckon will help speed up the web. If you don’t have a clue what DNS is then don’t go messing around with your network settings – it’ll only end in tears.
DNS stands for domain name system, and basically it connects words to numbers. Websites, as we know them, are www.insertwordhere.com, but in reality that address is a series of numbers like 126.96.36.199. It’s much easier to remember a name rather than a number like that, so that’s why we have domain names. Anyway, it takes time to convert your words in to numbers, make sure the site exists and then send you information back and Google hope to reduce the time that whole process takes.
I made the switch temporarily and did notice a slight difference, so you can look at it as a case of “every little helps”. On the flip side, this new service from google would be an extremely powerful information gathering machine in the wrong hands.
Google already have search data on anyone with a google account and if they wanted to, they could now link that data with this new data and track IP addresses and every single site you visit (regardless of whether you get to it through google). They could tell how long you’re on the site, how often you visit it etc… notice i’m using words like ‘could’ – google could also view your email account if they wanted to… but it’s something we like to think doesn’t / cannot happen.
Moving on from that, Youtube (owned by google of course) also announced a new ‘feather’ BETA version which is basically youtube without all the crap nobody needs or wants like that ‘turn off the lights’ feature. They reckon it reduces load time slightly and is less stressful on netbooks so it results in small speed increases.
Again i’ve tested it out and i like it – it’s how youtube should be. Light versions should be the default version, not the other way around in my opinion. Anyway, little tweaks like these make big differences.
The need for speed is greater than ever before and it’s still probably the biggest challenge we have to overcome in IT. How often have you not been able to stream a youtube video without it stalling and stuttering along? Too often (well, if you’re in Ireland anyway). Playing a youtube video is like the 56k dial up wait of 2009…
I’ve spent all day (well ok, from 12pm until 3pm – i only got up at 11.30am) working on this blog. My portfolio page has been updated. My current projects page has been added to. Likewise my new logo page has seen some new additions. It’s not just a case of adding in some text and hitting ‘publish’ either…
I’ve created a standard ‘template’ for all images on my current projects page. It requires use of photoshop and a lot of cropping / resizing / messing about. But the end result looks fantastic and it’s now all starting to look the part. The sheer volume of projects and work i’m doing online is finally coming across.
I also spent a lot of time today mulling over stats and behind-the-scenes plugins and code on this blog in a bid to speed up the site. I’ve always been plagued with speed issues on this blog and having seen first hand how fractions of seconds can make huge differences in browsing habits (having installed firefox 3.5), i wanted to do my best to cut down page loading time on this blog.
I installed several new plugins to try and test and track speed and help me narrow down the problem areas. After a lot of trial and error, i found a plugin called ‘debug queries‘ which tells you how long stuff takes to load on your homepage.
By using that data & messing about with plugins (disabling and enabling them), i was able to reduce load time significantly. I also optimized & repaired database files and generally gave the blog a good service.
You should see visible results for yourself (if you’re a regular visitor). To test speed, try clicking on a few pages and see what you think I’m delighted with the blog’s speed now… as i said to someone earlier in the week, the reason the blog is hosted in the US is really for three reasons;
- I’m too lazy to move the site to new server and change hosts.
- Majority of my traffic comes from the US so the blog should perform better over there than here (speed wise).
Of course they’re all excuses, bluffer’s points and it’s tip-toeing around the problem One day i’ll move smemon.com to an irish server but for now, i’m happy with lunarpages (my current host) and i’m now reasonably happy with the blog’s speed.