Diana the Valkyrie

Diana the Valkyrie's Newsletter - December 1999

A hard man is good to beat


Fog and drizzle, a hansom cab trundling down Baker street. "The game's afoot", says Holmes. "I'll fetch my revolver" says Watson, putting on his greatcoat.

Actually, London isn't like that any more, except in Hollywood. Apart from the drizzle, of course, we still get the drizzle.

Pretty much all the deciduous trees are naked now. But there's plenty of evergreens for me to look at. And in England, the grass is green all year round; it came as a big surprise to me to find that this isn't the case in many other countries.

New and updated Galleries

Quite a few new artists this month; Kophic, RMG, Yok and Zump for example.

Galleries added this month.

The Library

Stories added this month.

Moxie has done a couple of illustrated stories, with Scoundrel illustrations, about Sueann the Supergirl. And David Sullivan has done the first two parts of Sandi vs Duke, and illustrated Sandi story.

The Movie Theatre

Movies added this month.


More ups and downs. Poor old Suzie is on her last legs. If we bring her up, she staggers along for a bit, then falls over again. Time for a new motherboard for Suzie. Fortunately, Mary has been performing just fine, which is just as well, because Mary is supposed to be the backup for Suzie, to take over if Suzie fails.

Meanwhile, we've started work on a new server, Tanya. Tanya is planned to use an Intel L440GX motherboard, twin Intel Pentium processors, error-correcting memory, and SCSI drives. In other words, I'm trying to go for maximum reliability here. Once Tanya is up and running, I plan to make Tanya the main Newsthumbs server, with Mary as the backup (and if Suzie starts behaving properly, Suzie can help too).

Up in New York, Joan has been performing non-stop and flawlessly for over 18 months now, with the main Galleries, Movies and Library. Nancy has been fine with the Audio for some time now, and Freya is carrying the Message Boards, chat room and assorted other stuff without any problems.

Clepsy should be keeping very good time now. I've told all the servers to check with Nist once per day to get the exact time. If the analog-type clock that you see isn't right, then that's not my problem, because that picks up the time from *your* computer!

Goddess Club

I've been chosen to be Goddess of the Month at the Goddess Club web site. A Valkyrie isn't actually a goddess, but I think it's more of an honorary title (like calling a mayor "his honour" even though you know politicians don't have any) than an actual description. Anyway, the Boss Goddess does have a very nice web site, and, in particular, it is very different from all the same-as-each-other femdom sites I've seen.

Visit the site, and have a look at some of the clothing designs she's offering (they're her own designs). Maybe there's a Goddess in your life who would appreciate one of them as a surprise Christmas present.

The Shopping Mall

Nothing new.

The Clubhouse

In the Chatroom

Chatter of the month



Diana the Valkyrie1508

Gaily is top chatter this month again (you can see a picture of her in the Chatroom Gallery). Socrates and Blastermouse between them can't equal Gaily's impressive total.

If you want to know who's in the chatroom at any time, look at the list on the main Message Board page.

On the Message Boards

New Message Boards for Kelly Dobbins, Teri Mooney, Helen Von Mott. Go and say hello!

Board of the month

Poster of the month






Diana the Valkyrie58
This month, the Chess Message Board is at the top. Sadly, the file-locking-collision Grinch ate the totals at the last moment, but the Chess board had notched up an impressive total of over 1000 postings, although it has to be said that a great many of these are the "Chess Trivia" postings from Teofilio, who has just reached the letter G. The most prolific poster is still Shanice, mostly on the Chess board. Scooby in in eclipse now, with the rising stars being Melissa Coates, Andrea Gahan, Andrulla Blanchetta and Helen Von Mott. Tex Biceps squeaked in to third place.

Understanding the Internet - bandwidth

The internet should be free.

Well, that's what a lot of people tell me. But when I ask them why, they give me a puzzled look.

Water isn't free. Sure, if you go to the sea you can scoop up a few buckets, and no-one will stop you. Or you can go to a river and fill up a couple of bottles, no-one will be annoyed. But would you drink that water?

When you buy water, what you're actually buying is the convenience of having clean water delivered to your home. That costs money; pipes, and pumps, and other equipment. That's why it isn't free. Some people go even further, and buy drinking water in bottles. They call it "mineral water", but what they really mean is "it isn't tap water".

So what is it about the internet that costs money? The answer is, mostly, bandwidth. But that's not a commonly used word, so I'll explain it.

If you have a "33.6" modem, then you have 33,600 bps (bits per second) of bandwidth. That's about 4 kb (kilobytes) per second. a 100 kb picture will download in 25 seconds, and 8 mb video file will take 30 minutes. If you have a "56k" modem, then you'll probably get about 5 kb per second. If you have an ISDN modem, then you'll get 8kb per second, and if you use both channels, you'll get 16kb per second.

But everything has to squeeze through that modem. If you try to download two files at once, then each one will download at half speed. If you download ten files at once, then each one will download at 1/10 speed.

So, maybe you get a cable modem, that's available from some cable TV companies. Or an ADSL modem (don't ask what it stands for) and then you hope to get 256,000 bits per second, 32kb per second. Maybe even more; they claim ADSL will download at 512,000 bps..

But it isn't as simple as that. If your modem is a pipe, then it feeds into a bigger pipe when it gets to your ISP. And then your ISP's pipe feeds into an even bigger pipe, and so on. And if there's a traffic jam on any of those pipes, then you won't get as much speed as you'd hoped.

You can look at the route you take to his web site and see where any traffic jams might be.

Say, for example, you have a cable modem, and so do 20 other people near you. Each of you is hoping to get 256,000 bps. But maybe you're all connected to the same place, and that place has a T1 servicing it. A T1 will carry 1,544,000 bps, so it can handle six cable modems at full blast. But if twelve people connect to it, then each of them will get half of what he was expecting. Well, you'd be unlucky if a lot of other people were trying to use their cable modem at the same time you were. Or is it that unlucky? There's peak surfing hours, just like there's peak traffic hours on the roads. And my figure of 20 people connected to the same T1 was just an example, it could be 100, or more. It depends on the people giving the service; that's one of the questions you should ask if you're thinking of buying internet access over cable or ADSL.

What do you pay for this? Well, you already know, yes? You pay your ISP some monthly charge (most of them give you unlimited usage for that fee). In the UK, you maybe don't pay your ISP a penny. But in the UK, you pay the phone company an hourly charge, and your ISP gets a share of that if you're dialing a free ISP. An America, you don't pay an hourly charge for local phone calls (and the rest of the world wishes we had that too). Typically, $10 per month is all that anyone is likely to be paying for internet access. Cable and ADSL costs several times that.

OK, that's your end. What about the web sites that you connect to?

Most of them are free, but although you aren't paying to access them, they're still costing money to someone. What are these costs, and how do they cover them?

There's the cost of the computer that the site runs on, that's usually just a PC, and costing $1000 or two. There's the person or people who make and maintain the site. People need to be paid so they can buy groceries, and webmasters are no exception. Some people make web sites for fun, others do it professionally, and would get paid a professional-type salary. There's a little bit of electricity, but the main cost is bandwidth. Again!

If 10,000 people each download a 100kb file, then that's one gigabyte of download. I just checked Mindspring's web site, they would charge about $40. One picture like that each day, would cost $1200 per month. They're probably not the cheapest ISP, but I've seen more expensive ones; I'm using them as an example here.

Or you can lease your own T1 from the phone company, configure your router, set up your DNS, install a firewall, and get your own network connected to the Internet. You'll be paying the phone company for the line, and an ISP for the connection and bandwidth usage. That makes sense for some companies who have a big bandwidth need, but it's a whole different technically complex world. And by the way, although a T1 looks like it should give you 17 gb per day of bandwidth, you'll actually get about 10 or 12 gb out of it. For comparison, my web site is currently taking about 30 gb per day. And no, I don't use Mindspring.

Clearly, running a web site can cost a lot of money if it is a popular place to visit. how is this paid for?

If it's a small "This is me, this is my dog" sort of web site, there's no issue, because not a great many people will visit. But once a web site is popular, that changes.

Some web sites act as advertising/tech support for companies selling products. For example, I needed to know some information about a hard disk. I went to the Maxtor web site, found what I needed, and bought the drive. So Maxtor make money out of the drive I bought, and me looking the info up on their web site is a lot cheaper for them, than having to send me a document. British Rail put their timetable on the web. I guess that is accessed a lot, but they save money on people answering the phone to give out train times.

But many web sites don't sell or support products or services, so they have to be funded somehow. The commonest method seen on the web, is via advertising.

I see a lot of web sites with a lot of adverts. Many of these adverts are irrelevant to the theme of the web site, and after a while, I think I've stopped actually seeing them, let alone reading them. But I guess there must still be people paying for thse adverts.

By the way, the surfers also pay for the adverts. It's that bandwidth thing again. If your modem can load a 6kb page in two seconds, then when you add a couple of 12kb adverts to that page, it takes ten seconds to load. So the adverts slow down your surfing. Most browsers let you switch off graphics, but a lot of sites don't make sense with graphics disabled, so you'll soon switch them back on again.

Another payment method is via the free web spaces like Geocities. The way that works, is you get your space for free, and Geocities sells advertising which is shown to people who visit your site. Personally, I find the Geocities pop-ups very annoying. Some of the free web spaces economise on costs by putting a bandwidth limitation onto the free sites, so that surfers can only surf them slowly. And they monitor the bandwidth taken by each site - if a web site starts eating a lot of bandwidth, they take the site down (often without warning or explanation).

One of the least used methods, is subscriptions from members. As you know, it's the method I use. I'm not sure why it's so unpopular with web site makers, but it may be because it means that there's a lot that you have to keep track of, and you have to give support to the people who have paid for access. I think that some of the porn sites work that way. It's hard to tell with many porn sites, I'm never sure about the meaning of the word "free" when they use it. Maybe some people who've joined porn sites could email me and tell me how it works.

So, should the internet be free? If you think that water, electricity, heating and food should be free, then you probably think that the internet should be free. If you're accustomed to paying for utilities, then you aren't surprised that connecting to the internet costs you money.

Back Page

I checked the site statistics. that Sandra counts up each night.

At the end of November 1999, there were about 233,000 pictures (11.3 gigabytes), 15.5 gigabytes of video, 3500 text files (mostly stories) and a total of about 27 gigabytes. In addition, there's NewsThumbs, which is another 507,000 pictures in 40 gigabytes and 0.8 million text files, a total of 42 gigabytes.

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