what is better/faster/less cpu intensive, to call visitor's number from mysql and write it to image with imagemick or maybe gd library
have small pictures of every number, then group them together into a single image file, so I get one image with visitor number.
In both cases we ahve only 1 file to load.
on 1st example we covert a number into a picture;
in 2nd we group small pics on server together into one picture, then send it to site. In 2nd option we can have nicer counters.
I would generate the images on the fly. Storing every single number is a bit absurd. Especially if you become popular.
Something to look into would be creating an image for 000-999, 00-99, 0-9 and then appending them to each other using a delimeter ("," in the US). That way you can have your nice antialiased, spaced images without having 4 million files to sift through.