Welcome to the abbywinters.com Frequently Asked Questions. Here you can find answers to how our site works and operates, how to sign up as well as billing and account related questions. Browse our frequently asked questions, if you still can't find an answer you can try contacting us or post your question on the discussion boards.
We aim to have a combination of video formats that allow all users to enjoy our content on a range of devices (phone, tablet, desktop/laptop, home cinema), and allow several download options. It can be a bit confusing to know which video format is best for you,
so we have made this guide. Our aim is to provide several options for
everyone, regardless of your:
Like many things in life, video formats on the web involve trade-offs. If you want to get a video really fast, the quality might not be so good... the converse being, wait a little longer and get much higher quality video.
Before we make recommendations, we should be clear on what "streaming" and "downloadable" videos are. Both are very useful, but it depends on your personal preferences and circumstances.
In a nutshell, we recommend:
Flash videos are streaming (like youtube).
The h.264/MP4 format (Wikipedia page for technical info):
We have most videos in WMV, Windows Media format:
All our videos are available in MPEG-1 format, an older codec deliberately chosen because:
The most common problems with video playback are:
If Streaming: The internet connection between our servers and yourself is not fast enough.
If Download: There's a problem with your computer.
Apple's decision not to support Adobe Flash has caused tremendous problems for video sites all over, and we're no different. However, we have taken a few steps to make this work well, but the iPad is very finicky, so you need to follow these instructions precisely. There are two methods, that give similar results.
Starting from April 2007, abbywinters.com supports streaming video in Flash Video (FLV) format. Flash Video provides near-instant playback of videos right in your browser window - no more waiting for an entire video to download before you can watch it.
Naturally, we will continue to offer high-quality versions of all of our videos in WMV and MPG formats (and mp4 for videos added to the site since October 2008) for downloading. Even if you prefer to download your video, you will find Flash Video useful for previewing videos before downloading.
In order to make a video streamable, certain compromises must be made. Regardless of format, streaming video is generally of a smaller resolution and of lower quality than downloadable video. See the section on "Quality Settings" below for details on how you can fine-tune your settings to get the best streaming video experience.
Unfortunately, Apple's iOS (the operating system for iPhones and iPads, and possibly Apple TV) will never be able to playback Flash files, cos they are having some kind of family feud with Adobe. Check out our FAQ entry on streaming videos to iOS devices.
Flash videos work just fine on modern Apple computers (eg, iMac, Macbook).
However, some older (pre-intel, PowerPC) Mac computers - even with newer browsers - may not playback Flash properly or at all. There's no easy fix for this issue however research on the help pages of the browser you are using may help. We would suggest Firefox v3 and the legacy flash-10 plugin obtainable from here and here. However, we do not officially support this.
The good news is that most abbywinters.com members will already have everything they need to watch Flash Video. All you need is the latest Adobe Flash Player plugin installed on your browser of choice.
If you do not have the Flash Player plugin installed on your browser, you will be provided with a download link when you try and play a Flash Video.
To start playing the Flash videos, just click the thumbnail in the 'Video' pane on the shoot page you wish to view.
The player page that opens is part of the Flash file itself, and will begin playing as soon as it has "buffered" enough content, which should only be a matter of seconds, depending on your connection speed. See the progress meter which indicates how many percent complete the buffering process is.
You are able to pause the video, which will continue to download while paused until the file is complete.
You can navigate, or "seek", through the video, by simply clicking where you want it to play back from on the progress bar below the image. The video needs to rebuffer from that point (takes a few seconds), then it plays as normal. You can jump forward or backwards. Note, there is no fast-forward or rewind - you need to click where you want to play back from.
Flash Video provides cross-platform, fast streaming, instant video playback, but the compromise comes in resolution, image quality and framerate. To ensure that each of our members get the best possible streaming video experience, each video is supplied in a range of quality settings to suit different internet connection speeds.
When you first visit an abbywinters.com page containing streaming video, we run a "speed test" that automatically determines the optimal quality setting for your particular internet connection. This may not be optimal for you, or to your preference.
You can manually change the quality setting on your My Account page. Note that this setting is made on your browser, so if you access abbywinters.com from different machines, each will have their own quality setting.
The different video dimensions (image size) and bitrates (rate of data transfer) we provide are as follows:
384px by 288px = 120kbps Best for low-speed DSL
384px by 288px = 400kbps Best for medium-speed DSL
576px by 432px = 900kbps Best for high-speed DSL or Cable
512px by 288px = 120kbps Best for low-speed DSL
512px by 288px = 400kbps Best for medium-speed DSL
768px by 432px = 900kbps Best for high-speed DSL or Cable
If you experience problems trying to watch Flash Videos on abbywinters.com, please ensure that you have the most recent version of the Flash Player plugin.
In rare instance there may be no newer version of Flash available for your particular blend of OS and browser. You will be unable to play our Flash files at all until a newer version of the plugin is written for your system. In this case, download the WMVs, MPGs, or mp4s instead; they are all still available for you, so you are never forced to go without.
If the video plays, but stutters badly, first make sure you have no other video downloading at the same time, including a second Flash file. If all is fine there, then your Download speed may not be enough to handle the size of the video file. Please go to the My Account page and choose a lower bandwidth setting for the Flash videos.
We have had reports from people who have found problems playing our Flash Video with Norton Internet Security enabled. We are working on a solution to this problem, but in the meantime we suggest that you temporarily disable Norton Internet Security if you want to watch Flash Video on abbywinters.com
If you experience any other problems with our Flash Video, please contact our support team.
In December 2008 we added the h.264 format (file extension mp4) as an option for downloading our videos. In a nutshell, the h.264/mp4 format allows us to make higher quality videos without making the file sizes so large no one can download them.
Some media players lack the required codec to play back h.264 encoded videos. Over time, this will change, as h.264 is becoming the de-facto standard of web videos. For example, when we went live with our h.264/mp4 videos, Windows Media Player didn't have the codec (maybe it will by the time you read this), and Quicktime versions before 7.0 won't play them.
There's an easy solution for this - download VideoLAN's VLC multimedia player from here:
It's free; it has all the proper codecs for almost every audio and video format (not just ours); there are versions for Windows, Mac OS X, BeOS, and Linux; and it will play just about anything.
The term "codec" comes from "code/decode". When a video is created, a codec is used to encode specifics such as bitrate and frame size (the aspect ratio of the playback on your screen). On your computer, the codec is a file that provides your media player with this info so it can properly play (or, decode) the video. Think of it like the instructions for Ikea furniture. The factory flat packs the table for you to assemble at home. The instructions that come with it are like the codec. Without the codec, all you have is a bunch of timber, screws and fighting with your wife.
Joining our MPEG1 or WMV videos is quite easy. There are several ways to do it.
There are many kinds of software available to do it, usually shareware with a free trial, such as mpegjoiner, or TMPGEnc. Or for WMVs you could check out ASFTools. Instructions vary, but are included in the software's documentation.
Windows command line:
An easier way is to do it straight from a DOS console (Start -> Run -> cmd):
Example:copy /b g_anneke_chloe_bvid2.mpg+g_anneke_chloe_bvid3.mpg will join
g_anneke_chloe_bvid2.mpg and g_anneke_chloe_bvid3.mpg
Or make a text file: "copy.bat" in the directory where you have your aw Videos.
Thanks to Newfie3 in this thread on our messageboards.
For WMVs we have had little success using the DOS method, we recommend you try some of the tools designed specifically for joining WMV files.
For Macintosh Users:
There is a powerful software package for Mac OS X available. It's name is mpgtx GUI mpeg editor and it is able to join, split and demultiplex mpeg1, mpeg2, mp2 and mp3 video/audio files. It is actually a very stable beta version and downloadable for free.
Some of our older videos do not have live sound, for a few reasons (detailed below). All our new videos (most of our total library) do have live sound. We go to a lot of trouble to record high quality sound with our videos.
Anyway, that's history now. We record and use high quality sound on pretty much all our videos. Rather than take down all our old ones, we have left them on the site because they are not awful. If you have comments on our videos, we're keen to hear them, but if you're writing to let us know we should have live sound, please, lay off.
We fucked up. We know. Let's move on and enjoy the new ones, eh?
Sometimes we get speed complaints that relate specifically to streaming videos intended for downloading. Because our WMV, MPG and most MP4 videos are very high quality, they do not stream well - you'll notice them shuddering, stop-start. These videos are designed to be downloaded, then viewed, and not streamed. We recommend you use a Download Manager to help you manage your downloads. Use the Flash videos for streaming!
Download speed on the internet is a very complex matter, so we have written the info below to help you understand the factors involved, and so you can provide us with more info specific to your problem.This article is long and detailed, but there is a lot of ground to cover.
If you're not a network engineering geek, don't ignore this! We've written it with you in mind.
If you ARE a network engineer, our intent is not to insult with this info, but a lot of our members don't know as much as you do about how the internet works, so we have taken a lowest common denominator approach. Please allow us some license to simplify concepts to make them easier to comprehend! (If you'd like to contact us with clarification of any points, that would certainly be awesome).
If you're finding our site slow, it's possible there is an issue on our end (we have issues, very rarely and usually related to hackers). When there's a problem at our end, we'll mention it on our news page and the discussion boards, and respond to emails you send with info on when we expect it to be fixed.
Much more likely, is that there is a routing issue between you and us. If AW support staff have directed you to this page, this will be the reason.
We need to identify the exact nature of the problem you're having. To do that, you need to understand some of the background.
Because we're a big site, we have a "cluster" of servers that host this website (as opposed to one computer, this is around 40 of them, linked together). Some of our servers are located in North Carolina, USA, with a mirror site in the Netherlands. Both are directly connected to several major internet backbones. These are a very high quality connections (and are extremely expensive for us!).
Our site has tens of thousands of members, and most members (and potential members) choose to browse on weekends. We ensure that our servers and internet connection can withstand these peak loads, and many times more just in case. We add new servers to our cluster as soon as there is an indication of maxing out our capacity. That means that at any time of the week, there is plenty of capacity available.
Very occasionally (once every few years), we have problems with the configuration of our servers that may affect download speed. While this is our fault, you need to know that we're not the kind of company that "sets and forgets". We're always working to improve the site - not just the models and shoots, but back-end stuff as well. This means we are constantly monitoring our servers at the deepest level to ensure they are running as best as possible, updating parts that are old or inefficient, and adding features that make the site more useful for you.
On rare occasions, hackers using a network of thousands of computers whose power they steal using trojan code (commonly called a "malware") attack us (the owners of these computers may never know it's happenning). These are called DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks - the hackers are denying paying customers from using our service.
With improved server and security technology these attacks have become very infrequent (once since 2006), but when they do occur, they're beyond our control. In fact, they are beyond any one person's or company's control. Large companies like banks and Microsoft have to deal with these more often than we do.
Should one of these attacks occur, you will find the site slow to browse, and may see error messages. If this does happen, we will post a message on the news page to alert you of it.
The only thing we can do, is ride out the storm. They get bored in a day or two, and move on to someone else.
Browsing speed ("latency")
In lay terms, that's how fast your computer and our server can talk. This is how long it takes for you to browse from one page to another on our site, or how fast a page of thumbnails takes to download. As a rough guide, on a regular broadband connection, you should see at least several dozen thumbnails per second appear on a page (more commonly, 100 thumbnails in under two seconds). As a web page consists of many small elements, "latency" becomes an issue. A low latency connection will appear to “browse fast” to you. As an example, the website of your ISP would usually browse fast - because you're directly connected to them, you'll have low latency.
Higher latency connections will usually be further away from the host (for example, accessing our site from Australia, with the servers in the US), and go through more "hops".
A hop is a node (a computer of some kind) on the internet path that the data between you and us travels. There may be as few as five hops between you and our servers, or as many as 40, but 15 to 30 is most common. More hops usually means higher latency (slower browsing).
Please note that traceroute (a command line line to report on each hop) results have very limited value as a diagnostic tool, and they don't support reliable inferences about download speeds in the context of our servers and members. One obvious factor is the small number (usually 3) of a typical traceroute's packets returned by each router. Essentially, "good" traceroute results only indicate that a path exists between you and our servers which can be traversed by 3 relatively small packets. That doesn't provide a basis for determining the time it would, or should, take to download one of our video files.
However, you can use the traceroute tool to see how many hops there are between us and you, and how long each hop takes, as a rough guide.
Raw download speed ("throughput")
This is how fast you can download a single large file, say, a 40Mb zip or 250Mb video. Your web browser will probably display this figure as it downloads, measured in kilobytes per second. A typical broadband user should be able to get 50 to 100 Kb/sec from us. Our servers support a much higher load - some people get from 400Kb/sec to 30,000 Kb/sec (!) but that due to their own faster internet connections.
As a dialup user, you should see the maximum your modem connects at. A 56k modem should be able to download a video or zip file from us at around 5 kilobytes per second.
It's difficult to check throughput on files under a certain size, as it takes the first few minutes of a transfer for a connection to be solidly negotiated and the speed to settle. 40Mbytes is a good size for broadband users, 5Mbytes is good for dialup modem users.
Both "latency" and "throughput" are affected by other activity your internet connection is undergoing. If you're actively downloading stuff from other sites (or browsing lots of web pages, sharing torrents, your virus program or operating system is updating itself, etc), our site may appear slow, because it's sharing your connection with the other streams of data. To assess our site specifically, please ensure you are only downloading from us.
If you use filesharing software for BitTorrent or eDonkey, please make sure these programs do not use more than 80% of your upload speed, or your browser will have a hard time requesting files from us - if your software does not have the ability to limit bandwidth usage, install software that does.
"slow" and "fast"
Speed is relative! If you don't usually browse adult sites, most (and abbywinters.com especially) are extremely graphics heavy, which means stuff will take a lot longer to download than, say, a news website.
It's your connection to the internet that matters the most, however. If you have a dialup connection, our site is going to be slow, there is no question. We try to design it so it's functional for modem users, but you make up around 1% of our customer base, so we're not going to make the site boring for 99% of our customers just for you, sorry!
We need to establish if your download speed problems happens all the time, or just right now. We know that download troubles are frustrating, that you want someone to blame, and you have emailed us as soon as you have a problem with the service you're paying for... but it's probably it's not our fault!
The internet is an extremely complex system, but it works well most of the time. Sometimes, parts of it break, so the stream of data has to be routed through a different, less efficient path. This can mean a system that usually does not handle much traffic suddenly finds itself inundated, and struggles to keep up. The path your data takes may go through anywhere from 10 to 40 computers ("hops"), so there is plenty of room for things to break.
Luckily, problems are often fixed quickly - sometimes you might not even notice, other times, it might be slow for a few hours, then right itself. It might be days, it could even be months; it's usually a matter of hours.
Comparing us to other sites
If you say that our site is slow, but "all" other sites you try are fast, that's a useful test, but not the end of the story. It means that there is most likely not a problem with your connection to the internet, which is good.
Say your path to us is 30 hops (the stream of data passes through 30 separate computers to reach us, 30 is a realistic number). The first 10 hops are from your computer, your ISP, your ISP's head office, your ISP's supplier, your country's backbone supplier (and a few other machines in the middle). After that, the stream of data could go in one route to google.com, but a totally different route to abbywinters.com. Just because Google is fast, does not mean there is a problem at our end - there are 20 other computers that could be causing the problem!
To help you further...
All of this info may have helped you resolve the problem (or, the problem may have resolved itself by now). If not, we can offer some advice, but we will need some more info from you.
Absolutely, we encourage and support the use of Download Managers.
Download managers (DLM's) are useful in many situations:
These are applications that provide a feature called Keep-Alive, which should maintain an open connection and continuous download that overrides any unexpected interruption, and also can resume interrupted downloads should you be disconnected midway through (some can even re-dial your ISP if the connection drops out).
When you set up your DLM, please note these points:
Leechget is freeware, meaning you do not have to pay for it, but you cannot get support from them until you pay. That's not a big deal, as this app is well made and has a great user interface. Seems to work well for IE6, but not for Firefox.
If you're willing to put up with reminders to buy it, Get Right is free. It's one of the older more established download managers out there, and works for our site as long as you have cookies enabled. You should be able to use any browser with it, even Firefox as long as the cookie is set via IE originally.
Firefox has an awesome addon download manager called DownThemAll. Free, simple to install, effective.
Lightning Download Shareware (after 30 days some features are disabled) but inexpensive anyway, Lightning Download seems to work well as long as you have installed a cookie via IE and then set the app to allow cookies.
Wget (Linux) (http://www.gnu.org/software/wget/wget.html) The following, simple option for the Linux/Unix wget command will allow the download of files.wget --header "Cookie: user=[value]" [file_to_download]
Replace the [value] with the cookie value for user, which you can find with your browser's cookie manager. Of course, replace [file_to_download] with the zip file or video you want to download.
It will also work if you tell it to load your Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox cookie file (cookies.txt).
All the images on this site are around 1280x960 or 1470x980 pixels, and should show up as quite large (and high quality) on your screen... sometimes, a little too big! Web browsers are made to browse web pages, NOT view image files, and they do the latter badly.
However, there are some crude hacks in modern web browsers that you may wish to take advantage of. By default, Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) automatically "fits images to window" (auto resize), if the image is displayed in a blank page. You can set this under "Change Personal Settings" on the My Account page. You want to display images "directly" (as opposed to "in a page").
If you chose "in a page", you'll have handy "previous" and "next" links, and a link back to the models gallery... But you cannot have it both ways (previous/next links, and auto resize).
In Internet Explorer, you may need to confirm the resize setting is correct: Go to tools menu -> internet options -> advanced -> multimedia -> check "enable automatic image resizing". Then click OK.
Resizing images in a browser will result in lower quality images - they distort and cause jaggy edges - so we recommend you download the images first (by zip, if you want more than several), and use an image viewing program on your computer.
Image viewers have many advantages over a web browser. There are many viewers to choose from, but we recommend ACDSee (paid version), or there's IrfanView (free), or WinXP's inbuilt viewer (free if you have XP). Some other suggestions from our members can be found in this thread on our discussion boards.
The simplest way to see the complete picture in your chosen image viewer is to use "Fit Image To Screen". Most viewers can achieve this "on the fly" using a keyboard shortcut (e.g. in ACDSee it's Ctrl and Numpad minus), and you can set this to be the default.
Your chosen image viewing application should come with a comprehensive Help file that will guide you through everything, but we have a lot of very knowledgeable members who will be happy to help you if you post on our discussion boards.
For a brief while, we got our models to say "you have new mail" into a mic for us, so that you can and each time you get new email, your email program will play that sound. Instead of that boring "ding ding" chime, you can have a gorgeous model saying "you have new mail". It's fun, and effective.
In Outlook Express, setting up a sound for mail is pretty easy - but it's not where you'd expect.
In Eudora the process is a little easier (tho quite similar to OE)
If you have problems, contact us.