Understanding nntp server behaviour and OE message counts.

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Crash, May 13, 2005.

  1. Crash

    Crash Guest

    Greetings all,

    Looking at ng message counts in OE, if an ng has no unread messages (i.e. no
    count beside the ng name and when the ng is selected 0 message(s), 0
    unread), then after a sync all shows the following

    (200) in bold beside the ng name, then when the ng name is selected 70
    message(s), 70 not read, 130 not downloaded.

    I take this to mean that;

    There have been 200 new messages posted since I last downloaded anything
    from the nntp server for this ng.
    There are 70 messages downloaded
    There are 130 messages that could not be downloaded because those messages
    have expired or been removed already.


    In my synchronise accounts settings I have new messages only. In
    view/current view I have hide read messages.

    If I am correct then I believe that the 130 messages above have come and
    gone between ng downloads via a sync account and if this is the case there
    is a retention problem as I get this problem if I sync all at 9:30 pm then
    8:00 am the following morning on some of the higher volume ngs that I
    subscribe to.

    Please no religious wars on news clients or ISP news server reliability - I
    am simply trying to understand what these number mean and if this indicates
    a poor nntp service then I plan to go into battle.

    Crash.
    Crash, May 13, 2005
    #1
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  2. Crash

    Ralph Fox Guest

    On Fri, 13 May 2005 21:43:24 +1200, in message
    <wD_ge.922$>, Crash wrote:

    > Greetings all,
    >
    > Looking at ng message counts in OE, if an ng has no unread messages (i.e. no
    > count beside the ng name and when the ng is selected 0 message(s), 0
    > unread), then after a sync all shows the following
    >
    > (200) in bold beside the ng name, then when the ng name is selected 70
    > message(s), 70 not read, 130 not downloaded.
    >
    > I take this to mean that;
    >
    > There have been 200 new messages posted since I last downloaded anything
    > from the nntp server for this ng.
    > There are 70 messages downloaded
    > There are 130 messages that could not be downloaded because those messages
    > have expired or been removed already.
    >
    >
    > In my synchronise accounts settings I have new messages only. In
    > view/current view I have hide read messages.
    >
    > If I am correct then I believe that the 130 messages above have come and
    > gone between ng downloads via a sync account and if this is the case there
    > is a retention problem as I get this problem if I sync all at 9:30 pm then
    > 8:00 am the following morning on some of the higher volume ngs that I
    > subscribe to.



    Each server allocates a number to each message in the group.
    In an ideal world the numbers would be allocated sequentially
    increasing as messages arrive in the server's database for
    that newsgroup. This is not always an ideal world.

    If the highest old (read) message number was 12340100, and the
    news server says its last message number is 12340300, then the
    news client guesses that there can be (up to) 200 new messages
    numbered from 12340101 to 12340300.

    When it comes to download the headers or messages, the news client
    finds that only 70 of those numbers are actually used for messages.

    There could be any number of reasons why the other 130 numbers
    don't have messages (and there may be different reasons among
    the 130)...

    (a) This is not an ideal world, and the server might not allocate
    numbers strictly sequentially.

    (b) To handle the load, your server might be a 'farm' of, say 4,
    servers sharing the load and each with its own subranges of
    numbers to allocate (e.g. 12340101-12340150, 12340151-12340200,
    etc.). If some servers don't get to use all their numbers
    then there will be gaps.

    (c) Some messages have expired.

    (d) A flood of spam was spamcancelled.

    (e) Some one posted a multi-part binary of illegal kitty pr0n, and the
    ISP removed it to avoid possible legal action from Internal Affairs.

    (f) A few people thought the better of their rash messages,
    and cancelled their own messages.

    (g) Other...


    > Please no religious wars on news clients or ISP news server reliability - I
    > am simply trying to understand what these number mean and if this indicates
    > a poor nntp service then I plan to go into battle.



    By itself it may not necessarily mean poor service.
    You really need to compare against the numbers of messages
    on other servers. If the server you ask about has all the
    messages (dated after 9:30 pm) that other servers have,
    then the "missing 130" numbers is almost certainly not due to
    messages expiring, and there is no need to go into battle.

    If not, then (depending on what those extra 130 are) you might
    want to go into battle.




    --
    Cheers,
    Ralph

    A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.
    Ralph Fox, May 13, 2005
    #2
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  3. Crash

    Crash Guest

    Ralph Fox wrote:
    > On Fri, 13 May 2005 21:43:24 +1200, in message
    > <wD_ge.922$>, Crash wrote:

    [snip]

    Ralph, many thanks for the informative response. It seems there is no
    absolute measure of message retention (or lack thereof).

    I have long suspected that the Xtra nntp server is a bit dodgy (based on the
    fact that the 'not downloaded' count was regularly more than 50% of the
    total unread) but you have identified why this may legitamately be the case.
    I have also observed many threads that first appear with a Re: in the
    subject line, meaning that the original post for the thread never appeared
    or I dont remember it.

    This leads to another line of inquiry - has anyone attempted to measure how
    well the xtra nntp server (news.xtra.co.nz) works? Has anyone switched from
    using this server to another service (paid or free) that they found better?

    I have looked at Google Groups but simply cannot stand the browser-based
    interface - and I like the freedom the be able to download messages
    separately to trawling messages (offline if I want to). I might me
    interested if there is a usenet service that is browser-based but whose
    look-and-feel is similar to an nntp client such as OE.
    Crash, May 14, 2005
    #3
  4. Crash

    Shane Guest

    On Sat, 14 May 2005 17:54:03 +1200, Crash wrote:

    > Ralph Fox wrote:
    >> On Fri, 13 May 2005 21:43:24 +1200, in message
    >> <wD_ge.922$>, Crash wrote:

    > [snip]
    >
    > Ralph, many thanks for the informative response. It seems there is no
    > absolute measure of message retention (or lack thereof).
    >
    > I have long suspected that the Xtra nntp server is a bit dodgy (based on the
    > fact that the 'not downloaded' count was regularly more than 50% of the
    > total unread) but you have identified why this may legitamately be the case.
    > I have also observed many threads that first appear with a Re: in the
    > subject line, meaning that the original post for the thread never appeared
    > or I dont remember it.
    >
    > This leads to another line of inquiry - has anyone attempted to measure how
    > well the xtra nntp server (news.xtra.co.nz) works? Has anyone switched from
    > using this server to another service (paid or free) that they found better?
    >
    > I have looked at Google Groups but simply cannot stand the browser-based
    > interface - and I like the freedom the be able to download messages
    > separately to trawling messages (offline if I want to). I might me
    > interested if there is a usenet service that is browser-based but whose
    > look-and-feel is similar to an nntp client such as OE.


    telnet :)
    I have recently been telnetting xtra's nntp server and looking at posts in
    the raw
    You are able to view ~59,000 articles for nz.comp
    If I were you I would have a good look at your OE settings (I cant help
    you there I have no idea) or look at a third party client
    (there are a few)
    http://www.newsreaders.com/win/clients.html
    should point you in a helpful direction

    (have another look at your OE settings though, as Id be inclined to blame
    a setting you have overlooked more than anything else)
    or get linux :) (by law I have to throw that line in when ever I talk to
    a windows user :p)

    --
    Hardware, n.: The parts of a computer system that can be kicked

    The best way to get the right answer on usenet is to post the wrong one.
    Shane, May 14, 2005
    #4
  5. Crash

    Ralph Fox Guest

    On Sat, 14 May 2005 17:54:03 +1200, in message
    <umghe.1197$>, Crash wrote:

    > Ralph Fox wrote:
    > > On Fri, 13 May 2005 21:43:24 +1200, in message
    > > <wD_ge.922$>, Crash wrote:

    > [snip]
    >
    > Ralph, many thanks for the informative response. It seems there is no
    > absolute measure of message retention (or lack thereof).
    >
    > I have long suspected that the Xtra nntp server is a bit dodgy (based on the
    > fact that the 'not downloaded' count was regularly more than 50% of the
    > total unread) but you have identified why this may legitamately be the case.


    Do you have a specific group in mind?

    I did check the most recent 200 message numbers in nz.comp,
    and all 200 of them do seem to have messages (although I did
    only check for headers)...

    | 291834 12 May 2005 07:12:50 -0700
    | 291835 Fri, 13 May 2005 02:29:40 +1200
    | 291836 Thu, 12 May 2005 13:56:46 -0400
    |...
    | 292031 Sat, 14 May 2005 17:54:03 +1200
    | 292032 Sat, 14 May 2005 18:04:03 +1200
    | 292033 Sat, 14 May 2005 18:14:43 +1200


    > I have also observed many threads that first appear with a Re: in the
    > subject line, meaning that the original post for the thread never appeared
    > or I dont remember it.


    There can also be other causes for threads that first appear
    with a Re: in the subject line

    (i) Some newbies start new threads with a Re: in the subject line.

    Check the headers. If there is no "References" header, then
    this _is_ the first post in a thread and the poster must
    have added the Re: to the subject line themselves.

    There seems to be more of these at the moment than usually.

    (ii) Some posters post follow-ups to messages which are many months
    old and no longer on your news server.

    One way to (try to) check this is to get the _last_ message-id
    in the references header, and search Google groups for
    that message.


    > This leads to another line of inquiry - has anyone attempted to measure how
    > well the xtra nntp server (news.xtra.co.nz) works? Has anyone switched from
    > using this server to another service (paid or free) that they found better?


    A few years ago, to Paradise's own server.
    Overall Xtra and Paradise seemed very similar overall at the time
    in terms of completeness and retention.

    OTOH Xtra's news server did go through the odd bad patch now and
    again for short periods.


    > I have looked at Google Groups but simply cannot stand the browser-based
    > interface - and I like the freedom the be able to download messages
    > separately to trawling messages (offline if I want to). I might me
    > interested if there is a usenet service that is browser-based but whose
    > look-and-feel is similar to an nntp client such as OE.



    --
    Cheers,
    Ralph

    "There is only one boss, the customer. And he can fire everybody in
    the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money
    somewhere else." -- Sam Walton
    Ralph Fox, May 14, 2005
    #5
  6. Crash

    bAZZ Guest

    In article <umghe.1197$>, Crash says...
    > Ralph Fox wrote:
    > > On Fri, 13 May 2005 21:43:24 +1200, in message
    > > <wD_ge.922$>, Crash wrote:

    > [snip]
    >
    > Ralph, many thanks for the informative response. It seems there is no
    > absolute measure of message retention (or lack thereof).
    >
    > I have long suspected that the Xtra nntp server is a bit dodgy (based on the
    > fact that the 'not downloaded' count was regularly more than 50% of the
    > total unread) but you have identified why this may legitamately be the case.
    > I have also observed many threads that first appear with a Re: in the
    > subject line, meaning that the original post for the thread never appeared
    > or I dont remember it.
    >
    > This leads to another line of inquiry - has anyone attempted to measure how
    > well the xtra nntp server (news.xtra.co.nz) works? Has anyone switched from
    > using this server to another service (paid or free) that they found better?
    >
    > I have looked at Google Groups but simply cannot stand the browser-based
    > interface - and I like the freedom the be able to download messages
    > separately to trawling messages (offline if I want to). I might me
    > interested if there is a usenet service that is browser-based but whose
    > look-and-feel is similar to an nntp client such as OE.
    >
    >
    >
    >

    Are you tied to OE thru preference or other reasons? If not then why not
    try a dedicated newsreader ? I use Gravity and find it meets my needs
    fine. Give it a try as it is really configurable to your individual
    taste. There are lots of others out there that are free too that are an
    improvement on OE.

    HTH
    bAZZ
    bAZZ, May 14, 2005
    #6
  7. Crash

    phstpok Guest

    bAZZ wrote:
    >
    > Are you tied to OE thru preference or other reasons? If not then why not
    > try a dedicated newsreader ? I use Gravity and find it meets my needs
    > fine. Give it a try as it is really configurable to your individual
    > taste. There are lots of others out there that are free too that are an
    > improvement on OE.
    >
    > HTH
    > bAZZ

    I agree, Gravity is good, but if you prefer the look of OE, try
    Thunderbird as both news and email client.

    Rob
    phstpok, May 14, 2005
    #7
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