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news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

Proxy or packet sniffer, which is simpler for grabbing my HTTP?

posted: Mar 23, 2004 3:27:00 PM

One thing that I have in mind, a little further down the line with the iCite net, is a little application (running on my desktop) that will monitor all of the HTTP traffic from my browser and post various views of it as iCites. A simple example: a list of all the websites I visit on any given day, which could be viewed as a kind of web log.

Update: Check out Carlos E. Perez's Open Source Personal Proxy Servers Written In Java (via Don Park). Looks like there is a good foundation of open source choices for me to build on.

My idea has been that this little application would be a HTTP proxy through which one directs all of their HTTP traffic, but proxies have to handle a lot of details in order to not to goof things up. Recently it occurred to me that perhaps the same ends could be met even more simply through a HTTP packet sniffer (again, running on the same desktop as the browser—although either a sniffer or proxy could be run on a LAN as well, of course).

If you have experience with both proxies and HTTP packet sniffing, what do you think about these options? If I want to, for example, extract URLs from web browsing sessions as simply as possible with the most minimal impact on those sessions, which is a better approach: a proxy or a packet sniffer? Why?


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