[Cake] Slightly OT Re: [Make-wifi-fast] [Bloat] dslreports is no longer free

David P. Reed dpreed at deepplum.com
Wed May 6 11:39:03 EDT 2020

While the jury is still out for me on the "best" speed test to recommend to my friends, family, and even enemies, I think the progression has been good.
Originally, I used to recommend the web-embedded Java test called Netalyzer from ICSI. That did extensive tests, and included tests that are important to me like detecting DNS spoofing, various middlebox mucking with packets, ... as well as measuring lag under load in a simple way. But then I had to teach each person I recommended it to what everything meant. That was a BIG burden on me.
Then I switched to dslreports.com, because of several factors - it highlighted lag under load as a bufferbloat grade that made sense.
Now, I have to say that fast.com is likely to become my new recommendation. However, I have two issues with it. The biggest one is that lag-under-load is obscured in the interface, as is the asymmetry of upload vs. download.
The problem for me is that I usually get asked to recommend a test under circumstances where someone isn't looking for "bragging rights" but is experiencing a problem of disrupted service quality. The NUMBER ONE problem they usually have is the lag-under-load problem in some form. But all they know is what "download speed" they bought.
Many, many people are using videoconferencing now, not just web and TV watching. And that is hypersensitive to lag-under-load (also on WiFi due to airtime scheduling).
And no one seems to be aware that their quality of experience is not about speed, but about instability of lag-under-load. So it's a new idea.
Yeah, I do once in a while want to know if my service is delivering the top speed advertised - just as I once in a while measure the time of my car in the quarter mile on dragstrip :-)
But mostly I want to know what's making my *applications* so slow. And it's almost never the case that they need a nitro-burning funny car level of speed. Instead, they need either: elimination of lag under load, or eliminating all the crap running in tabs on the browser (like animated JavaScript attention-seeking ads filling memory with garbage and causing the JS garbage collector to run constantly).
So I would change fast.com, if I could, to emphasize the *problems* (as netalyzer did) and not the speed.
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