Server access problems and poor HD playback quality in online player


#1

Hello,

I’ve been having access problems with theanimenetwork.com which I’ve addressed in a PM message to support. Basically the website is frequently unresponsive, timing out in whatever browser I try. When this happens, and according to Tracert and VisualRoute, nodes starting at 205.251.245.63 (Seattle WA, owned by Amazon.com) stop responding.

That’s one problem. The other is that even when that node in Seattle does respond, I can’t get reliable HD playback in the online player. Video and audio are erratic, with frequent dropouts and pauses.

I’ve gone through numerous debugging trials with different browsers, “safe mode”, add-ons enabled or disabled, AV and Firewall software enabled/disabled. Nothing fixes it.

Rather than try to formulate a detailed list of symptoms and responses, I’ll use the questionnaire posted by moiseme and Slowhand in another thread on a similar topic. Here it is, annotated with my responses:

  • Give us a short summary of the problem you are experiencing with the Online Player.

Erratic response during HD playback - frequent pauses and video/audio dropouts.

  • Affected Show Title(s) - is it happening to a particular show, certain shows or everything?

Everything I try to play in HD.

  • Affected Episode Number(s) - is it happening to a particular episode, certain episodes or all episodes?

N/A - see above

  • Affected Language Version - if the show is Dual Language, is it the dubbed, dubbed or both versions that are affected?

N/A - see above

  • Affected Video Format - is it the SD, HD or both versions that are affected?

HD playback is affected. If there are problems with SD playback, I haven’t seen or noticed them.

  • What Operating System are you using? Which version is it? (Windows Vista, Mac 10.4, etc)

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 x32

  • What Browser are you using? Which version is it? (Chrome, Internet Explorer 7, FireFox 3.6, etc)

FireFox 19.0.2 (note: 20.0.1 has bugs being addressed in the Mozilla support forums)
IE 10
Chrome 24.0.1312.57 m

  • Is it happening in just one Browser or multiple browsers?

See above

  • Is your Flash Player/Plugin up to date?

Yes, according to FireFox 19.0.2 and Avast Internet Security, which also advises me of critical updates affecting online security.

If you are having trouble with smooth video playback, tell us about your internet connection:

  • Are you accessing this website on your home network or public network?

Home

  • Is the connection shared?

It’s on a home LAN, shared by other PCs and smart media devices in the household. When I attempt HD playback on theanimenetwork.com, I verify that none of those other devices are accessing the internet. I do not allow “auto-update” or any other scheduled internet accessing tasks to run on any of my devices.

  • What type of connection are you using? (Cable, DSL, WiFI, ect)

Cable - Comcast broadband

Speed results depend on which servers I use in the speedtest.net tests. If I use the default servers for my ISP as identified by speedtest.com, I get results of 20+ Mbps on a consistent basis.

First, here is a typical speedtest result using the default server:

However, since the problem reported by TraceRt and VisualRoute is with a server in Seattle WA, a test using my default server doesn’t accomplish much. In fact I don’t see how the download/upload speed of a local server can be of any use at all in debugging this problem. The local server is not the one that’s unresponsive.

Unfortunately I couldn’t figure out a way to do a speed test with that Seattle server, 205.251.245.63 owned by Amazon.com. The available servers in Seattle to do not correspond to that one.

So next I tried to ID theanimenetwork.com server using the IP address reported by both programs, 104.73.204.245. WHOIS reported a server in Chantilly PA. This too is not on Speedtest’s preferred server list.

I’ve run Speedtest for servers in the same areas as those in theanimenetwork route, such as Seattle WA and PA. These tests typically return less than 10 Mbps, but are they valid just because they’re in the same areas? I don’t know.

So what do I do to test the speed of that Seattle server’s response, or the response of theanimenetwork.com server? I’m open to suggestions.

All I know is, the connection to my local server is consistently fast, 20+ Mbps. The connection to theanimenetwork.com server is lousy, seemingly the result of poor response by that Seattle server, and can’t support HD playback.

Thanks for your time,
Alan Mintaka


#2

Access to the forums on Thursday afternoon was taking 88.36 seconds, then it stopped completely at 4:30pm PDT. When I tried again around 9pm, some page loads were fast, one took 75.42 seconds, then “no data received; server reset connection”.

-Joe


#3

We were having loading problems all day yesterday. But I will be passing this info on.

Alan, is this the first time you’ve run a speed test?


#4

Thank you Alan and Joe for reporting the slowdown.

-Mo-


#6

[quote=“Slowhand” post=139641]We were having loading problems all day yesterday. But I will be passing this info on.

Alan, is this the first time you’ve run a speed test?[/quote]

Hey Slowhand,
What a coincidence. I had loading problems yesterday too, but I doubt they were the same kind. Ouch!

I have run the SpeetTest.Net tools before, on those occasions when something goes awry with my LAN setup. This is the first time (I think) I ran one for ANO. That’s because I just got one of those premuim subscriptions a few weeks ago and have been experimenting with SD and HD playback of subscriber-only online content. I’ve been getting mixed results in playback quality, but never as bad as the last few days.

Before I run SpeedTest.Net tools, I usually run TraceRt or Visual Route (I like the latter better because it has pictures!). I got in the habit of doing this when I got Comcast for my broadband ISP and wanted to ID whose servers were doing what. That was how I saw the slowdown at or after that Amazon server in Seattle.

I should point out that while both of those trace programs report IP addresses accurately, they sometimes foul up the location labels. There were 3 or 4 servers located in Seattle in that route, but so was Washington DC. The two Washingtons made me a little suspicious about the labels.

So I did a trace on Amazon.com and got the same mix of servers in Seattle and DC. I also got high packet losses, but the web page did load. It’s just that I’m not looking for real-time video response from Amazon, so the slow loading didn’t bother me.

From the hack perspective, I think that means that regardless of where those servers are, the problems with response from theanimenetwork.com started with the Amazon servers.

Uh-oh, just got an error when I tried to post this message in the forum:

The message was posted anyway, even though there was no confirmation and no sign of it after I used the “back” button to retrieve it. I deleted the extra post.

That’s the report from Merrimack NH, in the Boston War Zone.


#7

[quote=“SpaceCobraJoe” post=139639]Access to the forums on Thursday afternoon was taking 88.36 seconds, then it stopped completely at 4:30pm PDT. When I tried again around 9pm, some page loads were fast, one took 75.42 seconds, then “no data received; server reset connection”.
-Joe[/quote]

Hi Joe,

Refer to the error I got when I tried to post my earlier message today.

Yesterday there was at least one other report of server slowdowns posted on The Anime Network Facebook page. I left a few poison pen letters there too, because my regular emails to Anime Network support were also bouncing. It looks like both HTTP and POP servers were incommunicado on a frequent basis, at least for me.


#8

Yea, I was getting that 503 around 4:20PM EDT today, but that 503 kept popping up once in a while as well. Something really weird is going on with the servers.


#9

With Amazon servers in the loop, anything is possible. They do a lot of bandwidth to begin with and now a many of us are streaming online videos through them.

I keep thinking “denial of service” attacks, but I’m a little on the paranoid side after the events in my area. Watertown is only an hour’s drive from this section of southern NH. With bombs and bullets being exchanged down there, and one guy still on the run, well… I think you get the idea.

It does seem like a bad choice to route streaming videos through any of Amazon’s servers, regardless of how dedicated Amazon claims the service to be. I was never impressed by their own “Live Video”. Those “Live” streams suffered from the same problems of erratic playback that I’ve been reporting with ANO. I always wound up downloading them to my DVR and watching them later.

It wouldn’t be the first time that The Anime Network had problems with content providers. Remember when the Anime Channel switched to inDemand? The changeover was certainly a fiasco but now it looks as though they’ve worked out the kinks. Maybe they need to reconsider a similar change for their online content.

UPDATE: 04/19/2013 10:30p EDT

I’m still getting “503 Service Unavailable” errors when I try to access theanimenetwork.com to do anything, whether it’s attempting streaming video playback or viewing messages in this forum.

Whatever the problem(s) is(are), nothing has changed. The Anime Network Online is still broken.


#10

I had big problems this morning (at 1am) with constant guru meditation (503) errors trying to access the watch online webpages. Gave up and went to bed. Just tried logging in now and only a very limited number of shows are being listed on the online player page. Looks like there is a problem with the front end web server too.


#11

I was having that issue as well just getting to the site around 11 am, and when I go to the forums, it says my session expired and I’m logged out. I have to log back in (I’m using the forum’s login as I’m already there) and today, it said invalid token when I logged in. Refreshing that page fixed it though.


#13

I’ve been getting some home page and forum response since around 6:00PM EDT. It’s very slow, over a minute to load any page I try to access.

Meanwhile, real-time video streaming in either SD or HD is still impossible. Playback in either mode sometimes never starts when an episode is selected, and when it does start it’s erratic and impossible to watch.

I’ve been sampling various series episodes to rule out problems with specific programs. It doesn’t matter which program I try.

Yesterday I requested cancellation of my premium subscription and a refund of the first month’s charges. No acknowledgement or other responses have been received.

Crunchyroll is delivering content with no problems. Why can’t ANO do this?

It’s been a very disappointing experience. I wanted to expand program viewing options beyond what’s available on The Anime Channel VOD by accessing ANO’s online-only content. It’s not going to happen without a major rebuild of ANO’s content delivery.

What are Amazon servers doing in this loop anyway? They can’t reliably deliver their own “Live Video” streams. The folks at ANO really ought to look into other options. Maybe they can take a lesson from outfits like Crunchyroll.

Multiple TraceRt and Visual Route analyses of Crunchyroll.com show servers owned by Cogent Communications and PSINet. Amazon is nowhere to be seen.

ANO, read the clues.


#14

No one works on subscriptions on the weekend. You’ll have to wait until working hours during the week.


#15

[quote=“Slowhand” post=139765]

No one works on subscriptions on the weekend. You’ll have to wait until working hours during the week.[/quote]

Hi Slowhand,

So there’s no weekend subscription support for a 24/7 service. Why, oh why, am I not surprised?

You continue to amaze me with your patience and diligence in dealing with these people, especially from the perspective of a volunteer. They could use a Slowhand or two on the paid staff, and that’s no lip service. Just a simple observation of performance vs. what the Anime Network does.

They eventually cancelled my paid ANO subscription with a crow-eating form letter that really didn’t eat crow, and a promise to refund my first month’s fee that I haven’t seen yet.

In other words, things will continue as usual at the Anime Network, but with apologies all around.

Naturally, as luck would have it, since I’ve taken this action I’ve missed two episodes of Amagami SS and one of Psychic Squad. So far the only way I’ve found to get access to those episodes is to buy the DVDs or sign up for another ANO subscription.

It’s too bad that decent shows like this are held hostage by a bunch of, er, “colorful hostage-takers.”


#16

[quote=“AlanMintaka” post=140845]Hi Slowhand,

So there’s no weekend subscription support for a 24/7 service. Why, oh why, am I not surprised?

You continue to amaze me with your patience and diligence in dealing with these people, especially from the perspective of a volunteer. They could use a Slowhand or two on the paid staff, and that’s no lip service. Just a simple observation of performance vs. what the Anime Network does.

They eventually cancelled my paid ANO subscription with a crow-eating form letter that really didn’t eat crow, and a promise to refund my first month’s fee that I haven’t seen yet.

In other words, things will continue as usual at the Anime Network, but with apologies all around.

Naturally, as luck would have it, since I’ve taken this action I’ve missed two episodes of Amagami SS and one of Psychic Squad. So far the only way I’ve found to get access to those episodes is to buy the DVDs or sign up for another ANO subscription.

It’s too bad that decent shows like this are held hostage by a bunch of, er, “colorful hostage-takers.”[/quote]

If you don’t receive your refund in the next couple of weeks, remind me again and I’ll look into it.

And, thanks. :blush:


#17