Hello,


If you found this page by looking in your website logs, hello and welcome to MiniMins.com!

For all other members and users of MiniMins this is a page explaining what the Image Cacher is and what its for.

The term caching is to store something for various reasons, those are performance, archiving and security.

I have implemented it for all 3 of these reasons.


Performance


MiniMins.com as you know is a modestly sized forum, with generous signature space, and posts that allow you to post as many pictures as you want.

This gives members a wonderful opportunity to express their individuality in their posts and signatures with images and graphical content.

This content is typically hot linked. Hot linking came from the 1980's when hosting content was extremely expensive, to "hotlink" to a picture or file hosted by somebody else from your own website was on the top 10 things not to do. However the internet has evolved from then and hot linking is not looked down upon. Examples of hot linking are tickers, glitters, slimming world awards, pictures hosted on photobucket, imageshack, facebook pictures and so on and so forth.

When you think about this, a single thread on MiniMins could hotlink to hundreds of pictures on all of these services multiple times, this means your computer has to connect to each service provider individually and download each and every picture. This is considered the biggest performance hit on the internet today.

By caching all the images at a single point, it means your computer only has to query one url (staticpics.mmscdn.com) once. This is the performance increase I hope users will experience from this utility.

Archiving

Services, like tinypic, imageshack, photobucket have finite resources and they reserve the right to remove unpopular images (not that your unpopular!!) on their free accounts to conserve resources. Companies like Facebook save content forever and ever and have no interest in removing any of it until you wish to remove it.

With this cacher MiniMins can store the image indefinitely and thus if the image ceases to exist on a popular hosting service it will still be available for members of MiniMins. You can see examples of this on the before/after inspiration thread where many great before and after pictures have been lost.

Security

The final and most important reason is security. A recent example brought to my attention is images hosted on another site. This other site is attacked by malware robots (which happens all the time), and add extra code to the website hosting this image. This causes browsers like Firefox and Chrome to go into a secure mode to alert the user that the web page they are looking at is insecure (you may have seen this as a big red page as you go across the internet).

If you visit a webpage on MiniMins that happens to hotlink to this image on this another site while it has this big red page, the security notice is filtered up to MiniMins causing a user of MiniMins to see this big red page.

I have no issues with browsers like Chrome or Firefox doing this, however, as always, it is in our interest to prevent this from showing on MiniMins if possible.

By caching the images on our own servers we can limit the possibility of this happening.

Another example of a security issue is that an image can be clever. Not only is an image an image it can be software. This software could be something as simple as our MiniMins.com - Where is everybody?! or as complex as a method of determining how big MiniMins is or tracking users across websites.

Again by hosting the image we can negate this issue.

I hope I have explained why and what the Image Cacher is, and why it is important to have it.

If you have any issues with images, you will see a 404 with "Please tell Pierce...".

If you want an image removed by our cacher for whatever reason please let us know in the contact us button.

A few things to also keep in mind.

- Tickers will be updated every hour on the hour instead of instantly, so if you update your ticker statistics at tickerfactory it will not be instantly reflected on MiniMins.
- If you upload an image to MiniMins and then remove it, it will take 30 days for the system to clean out the image.

Any comments or questions please let me know by replying to the thread or in private by the contact us button.

Pierce