Picture of a judge's wigThis Is Not A BLOG!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 13/01/22

Optimal Conditions

I've mentioned before somewhere (I can't find exactly where because - as I said last month - the search facility on the site has been removed because it's not working) that I only have a limited amount of webspace available to me. When I signed up with PlusNet in 2003, they gave me 250MB free space and - as they now classify it as a 'legacy product' (biz-speak for, "We can't be arsed anymore") - there is no possibility of expanding it beyond that size. And I can't afford to move hosting the site to anywhere else from what I've been able to make out.

As the years have hurtled by (over eighteen and a half of them so far), this has presented certain dilemmas as I try to keep within that limit. One action I took a year or four back was to reduce the quality of the audio files I have here from 128Kbps bitrate down to 96Kbps (for music) and 64Kbps (for speech). This cleared a bit of room (although not that much, because there are only thirty-odd of them) but another, far larger, potential problem has begun to emerge.


There are over eighteen hundred image files of one sort or another scattered all over the site, from the tiny files which make up the icons you can see - to give just one example - in the navigation sidebar on the left of this page, via numerous screenshots and self-made graphics up to photographs of various origins and sizes. Between them, they were taking up over forty per cent of the space on here. Something Had To Be Done.

I had some time ago set myself an upper limit of 100kB per image, and had applied this to everything - photos, screenshots, the lot - and had re-optimised existing images and optimised any subsequent additions to match that self-limiting ordinance.

I recently realised that it was quite daft to have - to give one example - a screenshot from the Guardian or the BBC which was, say, 97kB when it would be perfectly readable at a third or even a fifth of that. Also that it was simply not necessary for a photograph from an outside source to be any larger than about thirty or forty kilobytes, rather than over twice that. So long as it was clear enough to make the point, then it didn't need to be so large.

With the usual lull which comes during that period around and just after New Year (a chunk of time which I have used for site maintenance and gussying-up before; see here, for instance), last week I set to it to optimise all image files which needed it. My copy of PaintShop Pro 8 (which I had...erm...liberated from my quondam employer many years ago) was put into overdrive, and after a few days I had reduced the size of some seven-hundred-and-fifty image files - about forty per cent of the total - down to sizes which will be more sustainable in the longer term.

(I have not touched the photos in the Gallery, by the way; that would go against a large degree of the bloody point of their being there to my way of thinking.)

(Just to make it clear in case anyone wasn't sure: this doesn't mean that the dimensions of the images have gone down; simply that they have been revised to take up less storage space. Although this could mean in theory that the images aren't as 'good', in actual practical effect no difference should be noticeable unless you zoom in on them.)

Going through them, I can see that there are some images which are unsatisfactory for one reason or another. These are usually maps of some kind, either from some of my Ramblings of happy memory, for example, or from 'special features' such as the map of shops, chapels and pubs in the village here or - most jarringly to my eyes now - the bus route maps here. I hope to take a look at improving at least some of these shortly.

I estimate that I have freed up around thirty to thirty-five kB of space for further expansion, which reduces the site's overall footprint by about twenty per cent. This - along with a new policy of optimising the bejayzus out of any future images - should mean that I can get through to the site's twentieth anniversary in June of 2023 without any further alarums.

And that's about the size of it... an arrow to click on to take you to a follow-up item