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Netscape ISP Homepage (netscape.com)
165 points by fireeyed 2 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 116 comments

My grandmom legit still uses Netscape dial-up as her ISP. She lives in a very rural county in Tennessee, and there are no DSL, cable, or fiber options. Her house is unfortunately also down in a valley, so there's no cell phone reception, although there's reasonable 5G service if you walk up to the top of a nearby hill. Perhaps Skylink will be an option soon, although not yet.

My parents bought her a Kindle a while back, which is difficult to use without WiFi internet access, although it doesn't require much bandwidth. I actually made her a dial-up WiFi router using an RPi, USB WiFi and dial-up modem adapters so that she can create a WiFi network off of her dial-up connection to download e-books. My friends helped me use the GPIO to set up a nice, user-friendly button to connect and disconnect the dial-up connection, as well as a notification light to signal whether the dial-up is connected, connecting, or off. (Remember you can't leave dial-up on all the time, since you want to receive or place calls using your landline sometimes.)

Actually, the hardest part of the whole thing was getting the dial-up connection working with an open-source Linux client instead of Netscape's proprietary Windows client. I ended up having to use VirtualBox and some Linux FIFO's to listen in on what the proprietary windows client was doing when connecting. In case anyone else happens to come upon this problem: the proprietary Netscape client lowercases the password before sending it over the wire. :P

I would make a deal with a friend or neighbor who gets 5G reception on top of the hill. Connect a 5G modem to a Ubiquiti point-to-point antenna set that beams the connection to the house at the bottom (they have different products depending on the distance).

That may violate the TOS of the original connection but probably wouldn’t come up.

Have you missed all the recent chatter about Ubiquiti? I'd steer well clear and look at other options such as MicroTik et al.

Have you seen the chatter about MikroTik vulnerabilities as well? Everybody has security incidents. What matters is how you handle them.

The last breach was not handled really well by Ubiquiti.


Indeed, but if you don't put everything to the cloud and consider Ubiquiti as an HW manufacturer: they're pretty good

That is getting harder and harder. E.g. Unifi Video has a great on prem software to manage their video devices on your own devices but was depreciated in favour of a cloud based solution. At least MicroTik has so far steered clear of cloud solutions.

> That may violate the TOS of the original connection but probably wouldn’t come up.

How? If that were true, WiFi range extenders would violate TOS as well.

> How? If that were true, WiFi range extenders would violate TOS as well.

A WiFi extender just repeats the same network with same security, SSID and access password. It doesn't extend connection to third parties.

Similarly, if I have a large property with a large land, I can spread the network to every part of the land with the equipment of my choosing and no one would say anything unless I allow third parties unfettered permanent access to said network.

Same password, yes. But you can alter the SSID, on WEP at least, last time I checked.

You can always alter the SSID & password and present it as a completely different network (even you can run a different DHCP to make it a subnet effectively). However, when you keep the SSID the same, your devices can roam much easier.

In fact, WiFi has a roaming standard and latest devices can utilize this for mesh-like handoff without a central controller.

Recent laptops and phones handle it relatively well, it seems.

The WiFI extender I used could not change the passphrase.

Mine (a TP-Link RE-200) can do anything you want with it. If you add it to a OneMesh network, these settings are (sensibly) disabled and synced from the root node (the router).

Mine, TP-Link from 2013 could definetely not do this : I assume because it just retransmitted the packets and did not have the horsepower to do a decrypt+recrypt.

Probably. SoC based devices improved explosively in the last 5 years.

WiFi range extenders usually implies same home and same family members and not the house down the hill so neighbors don’t need to pay their own. It’s a bit absurd though since that house wouldn’t be able to pay their own in this case.

Ignoring all the problems you had, this is so sweet I can't stand it - your grandmom has an excellent grand-daughter/son <3

> My grandmom legit still uses Netscape dial-up as her ISP.

I wish all the websites which reasonably can and should would have mandatory lightweight versions optimized for dial-up and comparably slow connections so you could still use your bank, read news, chat (I mean WhatsApp which doesn't even have a PC client app you could install once), download books, book hotels/flights, order stuff from e-shops and online marketplaces etc while on narrowband. Thanks G-d we still have plain old POP3+SMTP e-mail servers and clients still available at least.

If you get time, make a blog post somewhere with this info on it, so other people can find it easily !

Have you considered open sourcing the work you did? Sounds interesting for hobbyists and retro technologists.

Would you consider putting the project up on github?


> Netscape ISP is a dial-up Internet service once offered at US$9.95 per month. The company serves web pages in a compressed format to increase effective speeds up to 1300 kbit/s (average 500 kbit/s). The Internet service provider is now run by Verizon under the Netscape brand. The low-cost ISP was officially launched on January 8, 2004. Its main competitor is NetZero. Netscape ISP is no longer actively marketed, but for a time its advertising was aimed at a younger demographic, e.g., college students, and people just out of school, as an affordable way to gain access to the Internet.

Reminds me of Opera Mini [1] utilizing Opera’s compression servers (which really helped with capped mobile data plans a few years back) or Google Web Light [2] which I have heard might be similar

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera_Mini

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Web_Light

Opera Mini doesn't just compress web pages. They run Presto (their OG web engine) headless on the backend, pre-render the pages, and push THAT to the device. It doesn't just conserve bandwidth but also the CPU power.

Amazon Silk works the same way. I think it's the default browser for Kindle devices.

I used to be involved with an ISP-specific product which was basically a plain-old HTTP proxy that would ensure everything is compressed with gzip at max settings and which downscaled images.

For dial up, it worked well. For everything else the added latency that came with re-enconding reduced subjective connection speed considerably unless you were lucky to hit the server's cache.

It's unfortunate how many of these things won't work so well with SSL everywhere.

At one point I toyed with the idea of a setup that'd rely on keeping a cache reasonably coherent between two sides of a slow link, but it'd be most effective if it was shared, but it's a non-starter unless it's only shared between people who'd be happy with MITM'ing their SSL connections for the sake of getting more of their connections.

Basically if both sides have a decent sized cache, on a cache miss you can re-request the resource from the origin but instead of returning the full page compare it to the cache entries you know the other side also has and produce a diff, and return just the compressed diff. It also overcomes bad cache settings etc., as long as the slow link between the caches is the primary performance limit of course.

(To guard against the caches going out of sync, you can of course return a hash, and let the cache on the "client side" force a refresh if it does)

If I ever find myself on a really slow connection again, maybe I'll test it with a VPN to a VPS.

Some people are going to call the design dated, but to me that kind of layout is timeless. Just the facts and it has good information density.

But LOL that the "Maps" link goes to mapquest.com. In other news Mapquest still exist.

My dad recently had me help him remove "Maps Galaxy" which had taken over his Chrome homepage, and which he had accidentally picked it up trying to get to Mapquest (which he apparently still uses regularly).

He is also the kind of person who wants an iPhone because he was impressed by the quality and capabilities of the Apple ][ computers he used in college. It's difficult for me to understand, but I have to respect that kind of loyalty in our rapidly-changing digital world.

I don't use Apple, but I understand "old people" (like I am rapidly becoming) follow the 1) It works!, and 2) If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

You don't specify, but can I assume that he has the same iphone for the last 5-7 years, or he upgrades regularly?

Oh no, he has a low/midrange Android and upgrades every couple of years. But occasionally he mentions he's thinking of switching to Apple, and mentioned that as the reason every time.

Incidentally and unrelatedly, I have had the same iPhone for the last 7 years, but I've been using a feature phone for the phone part the last 5. I'm reemerging into the smartphone world with Verizon's 1X network shutting down and I've realized I am also definitely rapidly becoming "old people" myself.

All of the phones I thought were so cool are now hopelessly obsolete, and most may not even be able to activate on a current network. Even beyond the obvious headphone jacks, physical keyboards, and removable batteries, what happened to phones with FM radios, tiny secondary screens, and IR blasters? Everywhere I look all I see are big screens and fancy cameras.

Compare that to the garbage that is the default msn page in Edge. I’m disappointed Microsoft isn’t using their new tab page to be more educational. So many scammy ads.

One of the lists I'm using on the home pi-hole apparently isn't fond of MSN, either, because "Safari can't find the server 'www.msn.com'. Sure enough, the pi-hole query log says it's being blocked. Maybe I'll disable for a few minutes and see for myself...

Yeah, now I see why. The MSN home page is worthy of an article, hell, a series of articles. I wouldn't dare click a thing on that page.

I still use the verb "mapquesting" when referring to online maps. It gets a laugh every once in a while.

It’s completely beautiful to me. Just the information you need and no bs.

I think it what makes it look dated are the shadows and gradients. If they got rid of those it would look pretty modern.

Very much agree and only disappointed to see it's not laid out with tables.

Needs more frames!

Old school, great load time.

https://www.compuserve.com is the same thing.

Oath/Verizon is keeping these sites on some kind of life support to this day.

Wow that feels so weird seeing spammy headlines with a minimalist layout and knowing it's not broken.

I was surprised not to see the old interactive Flash ads like "Swat the fly for a better insurance rate!"

They actually took the time to make it at "template" of sorts.

I wonder if the sites are deliberately made using an older design language to appeal to a certain audience?

You almost want to clone it and just replace the content with something more interesting.

Actually, the Netscape page is just a thin veneer over the CompuServe page. If you take the green gifs off, the page is filled with CompuServe colors. It's less a template and more Netscape wearing the skin of CompuServe turned green.

I prefer to think there's some developer out there who wrote wonderful code to made that "Homepage" performant and easy to maintain, and has successfully argued for their continued existence, occasionally pushing out a small feature addition to feed in data from new sources as old sources go.

That loaded fast.

Also, seeing the network request for background gradients takes me back to an era of CSS I don't miss. Anyone remember the hacks for drop shadows and rounded corners?

> Anyone remember the hacks for drop shadows and rounded corners?

Originally it was kinda simple: just a 3x3 <table> with stretched images in the outer cells, then <div>-itis. Fortunately we rarely needed 9 nested <div> elements - a common trick was to create a 2000x2000px-sized PNG containing the top-left, top, and left-edge border and then another for the other side and make that a background image - the only problem was the lack of support for transparency and how IE would get PNG colors wrong for some reason until IE8 unless you altered the gamma ( https://salman-w.blogspot.com/2011/03/png-color-problem-in-i... )

I remember building rounded containers this way, it’s been so long I had forgotten how much border-radius has saved us from those little hells.

And that was around the time the CMS was really getting mainstream (instead of Frontpage). So then you had to go digging through a million templates trying to wrap the right thing with your 3x3 table.

It was fun breaking sites with XSS vulnerabilities (i.e. most of them) where entering </table> into an unsanitized user-content editor would break the entire website layout.

> That loaded fast.

After getting through the order-of-magnitude slower cookie consent page, yes.

What cookie consent page?

https://imgur.com/a/vb6h0IF - complete with the "legitimate interest" checks that basically say "we see you'd rather not be stalked, we'd like to stalk you anyway". Never click "reject all" if you actually want to opt out of all tracking, always go to the options screen or what-ever they call it because "reject all" usually means "reject all except for those that claim legitimate interest" (i.e. not even remotely rejecting all).

If you are not in the EU, you just get all the tracking without even being asked (instead of being asked but any negative response somehow worked around).

Each of those chevrons when clicked lists the hundreds of partners that you are potentially being followed around by. They make it painful to opt out (impossible to permenantly opt out but of course easy to permanently opt in, accidentally or otherwise) though this design is not as egregious as many I've seen as it gives an opt-out-all click for "legitimate interest". Some sites ("powered by Admiral" - I'm looking at you, well actually I'm not as you are collecting in the list of sites blocked at the network DNS level here) make you click a separate option off for every. single. one. of. the. many. many. many. many. many. 3rd parties.

Interesting I guess they don't show it to those outside the EU.

No guessing needed. You only get them in the EU because the EU government decided to stand with people not wanting to be tracked everywhere and other governments have not (yet?) gone that way.

California has enacted some relevant policy in that direction, but IIRC it does not require consent in the same way the EU legislation does.

Probably an EU-specific page. I got it too, it was even in my local language.

I guess someone's got rich^W an okay business offering CCPaaS: Cookie Consent Popup as a Service.

I remember looking up some tourist destination and reading a few travel blogs about it, the cookie consent popups of the different sites looked identical

"That loaded fast"

welcome to non-garbage HTML! ;)

And someone spoke about pdf value as 'fixed' presentation a few days ago, this page felt the same.


I feel like the first character of this title should be lowercased, URLs traditionally are and I thought it said "LSP" instead of "ISP"

Agree @mods

Has the title changed in between your post and now? It currently is 'Netscape ISP Homepage' which makes sense to me?

"Isp.netscape.com" was the title.

Man, that logo hit me right in the nostalgia. Nice that they haven't modernised it actually.

Also, that homepage is incredibly lightweight by today's standards: 125KB with uBlock Origin enabled and still "only" 390KB with it disabled. Granted I'm looking at it on a fibre connection, but for me it loads almost instantly.

I imagine, if you're still using the Netscape dial-up internet access service over a 56Kb modem, it's going to be a rather different experience: probably 20 - 30 seconds to load with an adblocker switched on, and maybe up to a couple of minutes without one. I used to get stroppy with pages >50KB back when I still used a modem because of the time they took to load.

Still, a very beautiful and nostalgic homepage. Props to Verizon for not screwing it up.

Inaccessible without visiting guce.advertising.com/collectIdentifiers

DNS ad-blocking shows up a fair number of these methods because the sites become unavailable (not a bad thing)

Latest fetch: https://web.archive.org/web/20210408062043/https://isp.netsc...

Earliest fetch (2004): https://web.archive.org/web/20040205013205/http://www.isp.ne...

I wonder if all the traffic from HN every few years justifies the continued existence of these sites to the owners (unknowingly, not sure how granular they might be in their traffic analysis). Kind of like patronage at a museum.

Holy those pages load fast. Design feels slightly dated but the speed is fantastic.

And all the SPA frameworks were created to make pages load faster for a better experience, and now the original, simpler stuff is a much faster loading experience.

They are almost always noticeably faster for page loads after the initial one. If they aren't then it was built really, really wrong

Noticeably faster on subsequent page loads compared to the first one, sure. But many SPA take longer, in general, to get to the usable point than this netscape page.

Yes that is why I explicitly said "after the first one". That was my whole point it is slower on the first and faster on later ones. Which is why they are for Applications

The performance of website SPAs over time isn't the comparison I made. In my experience, the first, second, and any later load-to-usable time of a SPA is longer than the load-to-usable time for websites that are implemented like this netscape site.

every change they could make to feel the site feel less 'dated' would be a change for the worse.

Surprising to see recent headlines. Who here is still maintaining this. I am so nostalgic and intrigued.

I have SeaMonkey installed alongside Firefox on my laptop simply because it's kind of fun to browse the web in a browser that sort of looks like the late Netscape Navigator, or early Mozilla browser. It's fun loading a Netscape site in it.

Ditto. While Mozilla shut down the mailing lists this week, there's now an alt.comp.software.seamonkey newsgroup.

It's been a while since I've tried newsgroups. They were already on their way out by the time I was born.

Does gnus still work? Is there a way to connect (preferable with the ability to post) with it for free?

How does one make a newsgroup?

> Is there a way to connect (preferable with the ability to post) with it for free?

Yep, you can get a free account at https://www.eternal-september.org/ if your ISP doesn't carry newsgroups (note it's for text groups only). Personally, I use Thunderbird as a newsreader (and my ISP still carries most newsgroups), there are also dedicated apps like Pan: http://pan.rebelbase.com/

> Who here is still maintaining this

Copyright © 2021 Verizon Media. All rights reserved - so yes to the AOL observation.

It's also GDPR compliant! I guess there still must be enough traffic on it to continue updates.

That consent page is not compliant.

I'll give it a pass just because this webpage is clearly intended only for US consumption. In other news, that's the same "consent page" for all Oath* services, which makes my blood boil.

* Now Verizon Media, but I now see the utility of such seemingly-frivolous name.

It must be AOL. AOL runs Verizon's Mail.

When I clicked to check my Netscape Mail, which I have never had, I was taken to an AOL.com mail login page. Plus, the Netscape page attempts to load AOL resources.

> Surprising to see recent headlines. Who here is still maintaining this

Likely just a rendered RSS feed.

Today I learned you can still order an AOL CD: https://help.aol.com/articles/Ordering-an-AOL-CD-ROM

Rememeber how great the web used to be?

That page, including the thumbnails, would load in under 18 seconds over a 56kbps analog modem. I remember watching the JPEGs emerge from the progressive blur as pages loaded.

Man, look at that clean, readable HTML source! Growing up View Source was how I learned the bulk of my HTML/Javascript. Miss those days...

This site loaded so freaking fast it blew my mind.

I like that sportsball and celebs is off to the side - to differentiate it from news.

When I got into software development around 2013-2014, only dialup and satellite internet were available in my area, and nobody had really nice computers (mine was an old, secondhand netbook). As a result, I can't overstate how much I appreciate informational sites consisting of 'plain' Web 1.0 HTML/CSS. They loaded fast, didn't lag when doing something as simple as scrolling, and didn't break when the connection dropped. They were also easier to archive with wget, which was very important to me given the instability of my connection.

Thankfully that was the heyday of jekyll/octopress, so there were a lot of accessible dev blogs.

I was curious if I could find anything out about their stack. Turns out they are using something called Apache Traffic Server[0].

> Formerly a commercial product, Yahoo! donated it to the Apache Foundation

[0] http://trafficserver.apache.org/

Traffic Server is a caching HTTP server originally built by Inktomi.

At one point a good majority of the "internet" was served by AOLServer, a multithreaded TCL scriptable server written by NaviSoft and acquired by AOL.

I miss my old EarthLink.net email address. . Where can we go to get these old emails? Do any still exist?

Aside from being a little small, the layout of this page is very easy on my eyes and also holds my attention compared to most news sites I come across. It also loads and displays content really well without requiring external javascript.

I was sorely disappointed to see that was laid out with divs and css, not tables...

The best thing about this news page is the complete lack of clickbait headlines. Some of the headlines are so good that you don't even have to read the article!

I was wondering what everyone was talking about when a huge AOL cookie consent page came up for me first, requiring me to reject consent from a bunch of tracking cookies.

If this site doesn't actually track anything (and I stress I haven't checked), I guess they've just put the consent modal on everything they own just to be safe?

I guess this is because I'm based in Europe, given the majority of comments here.

Seeing that Netscape logo is a blast from the past. Out of curiosity I stripped out the subdomain to see where netscape.com goes these days, and it redirected me to aol.com. Ouch, that hurts!

Not just for nostalgic reasons but also as a parallel with how the open web these days is being co-opted by Google / Facebook.

I might just have to switch now that Fry’s ISP is no more https://web.archive.org/web/20210224065426/https://www.frys....

This is what the front page of a portal should look like. It looks good, loads instantly, doesn't ask you inane questions about cookies or bombard you with ads...


I actually had the tracking popup, I clicked "options", had to unselect a million things, scroll all the way down, and finally they let me decline tracking. So not quite like the old days..

ha, someone posted in the discussion about this years ago in 2016 (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12978762) that it was just like http://compuserve.com also. Amazing that one is up also

"Designed for AOL Netscape 6"

A relatively capable browser, with DOM and JavaScript. I test with it regularly.

An elegant browser for a more civilized age.

Being based on early Mozilla Suite, it is a bit rough around the edges, feels alpha quality, but has a nice feel, and quite elegant.

I remember using the first version of the Netscape browser that had this aesthetic and used this page.

Looking at this design triggers so much nostalgia. Reminds me of my early days learning html.

Politically I lean left, so my take from my view is the articles so far I've read are almost 90s like as they're much more just the facts and less spin. (Of course that's cause it's mostly just a wrapper around reuters and ap news feeds)

It's kind of refreshing.

I usually read news from news, politics, conservative, and socialist, and libertarian subs on reddit to get an idea how ppl think about what's going on from different angles. Usually just read the headlines and the comments. Plus hacker news.

I'm thinking when I just want news this might be a good portal to just get middle of the road news without opinions or spin in an old school layout that doesn't hurt my adhd brain.

BBC is mostly like that. They have the decency to put “analyst takes” after an hr in the news article and to feature multiple opinions. And you can just read the top “just the facts” section.

My issue with the BBC is that they don't cover everything. Specific topics which might anger the current government frequently do not get brought up, likely because the BBC's funding might be in jeopardy if they did.

aaah, the good old days of 980px wide websites.

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