The NewsDemon Blog

Microsoft Pulls The Plug On Windows XP

April 10th, 2012

For many who have used a newsreader for a number of years to access newsgroups will remember the transformation many of them made and how capable they grew to be once Windows XP was released. Many still use the most popular OS today as it had been the most stable release Microsoft had achieved by that point.

However, as of today, you have exactly two years left to get support on your Windows XP-powered computers. The same goes for Microsoft Office 2003. Okay, so it’s not exactly time to flip over the sand timer, but it is finally a real milestone that points to the death of an operating system that, for years and years and years, simply would not die. And it means that hordes of companies around the country are finally going to need to upgrade.

Okay, so it isn’t the most radical move we’ve ever seen, but it looks like this time, Microsoft won’t change its mind and end up extending the support deadline.

Microsoft stopped selling retail copies of XP in 2008. Just like XP, support for Office 2003 will also end in April 2014, so Microsoft is also using this occasion to remind these users that Office 2010 is indeed a viable alternative to an office suite that was released.

When Microsoft pulls XP’s plug, it will have maintained the OS for 12 years and 5 months, or about two-and-a-half years longer than its usual practice and a year longer than the previous record holder, Windows NT, which was supported for 11 years and 5 months.

Without a doubt the most significant base that is driving this shift is the enterprise market. For companies and organizations that own hundreds, or even thousands, of computers, upgrading is not an easy or affordable process.

But Microsoft is now finally ending support for XP users, and Windows 7 is much more user-friendly and upgrade-worthy than its predecessors.


Microsoft Build Online Time Machine

March 21st, 2012


Mining personal data to discover what people care about has become big business for companies such as Facebook and Google. Now a project from Microsoft Research is trying to bring that kind of data mining back home to help people explore their own piles of personal digital data according to Microsoft USENET newsgroups.

Software called Lifebrowser processes photos, e-mails, Web browsing and search history, calendar events, and other documents stored on a person’s computer and identifies landmark events. Its timeline interface can explore, search, and discover those landmarks as a kind of memory aid.

Lifebrowser’s interactive timeline looks like a less polished version of Facebook’s recently introduced Timeline feature. However, as USENET posts point out, the design predates Facebook’s and doesn’t rely on a user to manually curate it. Photos, e-mails, and other documents and data points appear in chronological order, but Lifebrowser’s timeline only shows those judged to be associated with “landmark” events by artificial intelligence algorithms. A user can slide a “volume control” to change how significant data has to be if it is to appear on the timeline. A search feature can pull up landmark events on a certain topic.

Behind the scenes, Lifebrowser uses several machine-learning techniques to sift through personal data and determine what is important to its owner. When judging photos, Lifebrowser looks at properties of an image file for clues, including whether the file name was modified or the flash had fired. It even examines the contents of a photo using machine-vision algorithms to learn how many people were captured in the image and whether it was taken inside or outdoors. The “session” of photos taken at one time is also considered as a group, for cues such as how long an event was and how frequently photos were taken.

Lifebrowser looks for clues about whether a file is especially significant, and asks for extra hints if it’s unsure. A screen saver prompts a user to inform Lifebrowser if certain photos are of “landmark” events or not, and a simple dialogue does the same for calendar invitations. Over time, the system learns what’s important to you, and adapts.

The technology is fairly new and its still to be seen whether or not it will also pull up posts and topics pulled from USENET newsgroups over time.


Large Reward to Define Large Internet

September 16th, 2011

Google wonders, ‘how expansive is the world wide web?‘ They’re giving a $1 million grant to a group to answer just that question.

Founded by Tim Berners-Lee, who actually created the Internet and first announced it on USENET newsgroups, the World Wide Web Foundation is the recipient of the grant which will involve a compiling the World Wide Web Index. This will be a ‘multi-dimensional measure of the Web and its impact on people and nations’.

The group’s study will be revealed as a series of annual reports and will hopefully help improve the impact that the web has on the human race. This could help to settle theories regarding the web’s influence around the world, and may help answer the question of whether a nation’s investment in internet infrastructure really helps grow the gross domestic product (GDP) of that nation.

The study is expected to be a useful resource as policy makers and investors analyze the web’s impact, which will allow them to make better decisions and form more effective strategies for investment and growth. It’s expected that the first edition of the World Wide Web Index will be released early next year.

Meanwhile, regardless of how many pages are currently on the internet, Nielsen has found that time spent on social media and blogs accounts for about a quarter of the time Americans spend on the web. The results revealed that in May of 2011, Americans spent over 53 billion minutes on Facebook, which accounted for more time than any other website.

If you’re beginning to conjure up images of teenagers sitting in front of their computer at all waking hours, hold on just a minute. The Nielsen report indicates that about 40 percent of social media users access such content using their mobile phones, and internet users who are over 55 years old are the group ‘driving the growth of social networking through the Mobile Internet.’

So as Google looks at how large and far-reaching the internet really is, Nielsen reveals that Americans are spending a good deal of their time using the world wide web connecting with others on social media. The findings of the World Wide Web Foundation will be interesting as we learn of the impact social media has had on American society.

Meanwhile, Usenet continues to be a useful tool for connecting with others across the globe. Usenet actually preceded the internet and for a while was the chief way that people connected with others and shared ideas and new projects. Despite its age, however, Usenet continues to be a popular means of sharing new technology projects and unveiling innovative new services and products. Newsgroups is a premium service that provides access to Usenet at connection speeds as fast as your internet speed allows. It features high retention rates, numerous connections, and other premium features.


New USENET and Online Slang Terms Enter Dictionary

August 24th, 2011

By now everybody knows full well what the USENET born terms like ‘OMG’, ‘LOL’ and ‘FYI’ mean, and this year the Oxford English Dictionary caught up by adding these to the dictionary. Now, newsgroup subscribers report that in the dictionary’s latest update, more words from the Internet age will appear in the well-respected dictionary.

USENET subscribers report that the latest update, which take place four times per year, will include words like ‘retweet’, ‘cyberbullying’, ‘sexting’, ‘woot’ and ‘jeggings’.

In case you’re unfamiliar with some of the terms, to “retweet’ means to forward another Twitter user’s message, while ‘cyberbulling’ means to bully somebody via online means. ‘Sexting’ is to send a sexually explicit text message to another person, and ‘jeggings’ are tight leggings meant to look like jeans. ‘Woot’ is a commonly used term to express excitement. ‘Mankini’ was also added. This is a very revealing male bathing suit similar to what was worn by Sacha Baron Cohen in the movie Borat.

Say what you will about adding these terms to the respected dictionary, but they’re commonly used terms and including them will make the dictionary more helpful to its users unsure of one of these words’ meanings. These terms are commonly found on internet forums and message boards, as well as on Usenet, where many users rely on terms such as these to communicate their ideas and points of view.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first edition of the dictionary, released in 1911 and compiled by Henry and George Fowler. Angus Stevenson of the Oxford University Press noted that they were interested “in setting out new meanings for words. Some of the subjects now as well as then are new technology and slang.”

So it is only fitting that the dictionary continues to adapt to the new slang and new words used in our everyday lives.


CDC Zombie Guide Takes Down Website

May 19th, 2011

A Centers for Disease Control blog post mentioning a “zombie apocalypse” as a lighthearted way to get Americans to read about preparing for the hurricane season drove so much traffic that it crashed the website, the center said on Thursday.

The CDC has decided that if you’re prepared for a Zombie Apocalypse, you’re prepared for any emergency. Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan wrote a blog that includes a series of badges and recommendations on what to do in case flesh-eating zombies take over the world. The steps are pretty simple: prepare an emergency kit, make a plan for evacuation routes and family meeting spots, and be prepared by following CDC alerts on Twitter and expectedly, USENET.

Turns out the steps you would take to prepare for a zombie apocalypse are remarkably similar to the steps you should take to prepare for any disaster. You’ll need food, water, medicine, blankets and other stuff to help you survive until you can get to an evacuation shelter (or a zombie free zone).

Here is a list of items you should include in an emergency kit, according to the Zombie Apocalypse article:

• Water (1 gallon per person per day)
• Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
• Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
• Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
• Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
• Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
• Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport and birth certificate to name a few)
• First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane.)

The surge of traffic from the post took out their whole blog. And it’s still down this morning! (It’s since been cross-posted here on a different area of the CDC site.) Now, the power of the web to destroy the will of servers is well documented. But this is actually somewhat sobering. It makes you wonder if the CDC would be ready for a real outbreak or if their server would melt the moment they posted the life-saving solutions for surviving the next ferret-flu attack. Luckily, if an apocalyptic situation does occur today (or more likely, on Saturday), the main CDC site is still available.

The most traffic on record had been a post that saw around 10,000 visits. By the end of Wednesday, with servers down, the page had 60,000. By Thursday, it was a trending topic on Twitter and shared around many USENET newsgroups.

The CDC has some experience with zombies, if only in fiction. Its Atlanta headquarters was blown up during an episode of AMC’s hit zombie show “The Walking Dead.”


AT&T Begins Capping USENET Customers

May 3rd, 2011

Attention American USENET newsgroup subscribers: today marks the beginning of AT&T’s limited monthly data allotments for subscribers to its DSL and U-Verse broadband Internet services.


AT&T announced that it would be imposing the data caps last month and becomes the second American telecom company to do so after Comcast launched its own metering policy nearly three years ago. This comes on the heels of Virgin Media imposing bandwidth caps in the UK as well.


U-Verse — AT&T’s high-speed broadband, television and telephone network — now limits customers to 250 gigabytes of Internet usage each month. DSL users are capped at 150 GB. Customers who exceed the limits will have to pay $10 for each additional 50 GB.

Though typical broadband users don’t come close to approaching the caps now, the increase in average video consumption will undoubtedly cause a greater number of users to exceed their limits in the coming years. That could force broadband providers to raise their caps in the future if customers begin to complain.


To head off a backlash, AT&T is sending customers alerts when they reached 65%, 90% and 100% of their data allotment each month. The company is also giving customers an undefined grace period before it charges them for another 50 GB. AT&T also is allowing customers to check their data usage online.


AT&T is making a bandwidth meter available to all of its customers to track monthly usage at There are numerous reports of customers, who haven’t been able to access the meter yet, but others have been more successful, and customer representatives have reportedly said the meter should be available to everyone by today. Once it’s available, it will also display usage from previous months, giving customers an idea of what’s in store for them.


Comcast had come under fire in 2007 for cutting off service to customers who consumed a large amount of bandwidth but refusing to provide those customers with information on how much bandwidth they were able to use. That led to accusations of Comcast cutting off access to certain services including USENET, an FCC enforcement action, and a net neutrality debate that continues today.


That year, Time Warner Cable also experimented with bandwidth caps, but a public backlash prompted the provider to scrap the test in April 2009. Time Warner took some heat because its caps were relatively low – between 5GB and 40GB. The company eventually announced it would also offer a 100GB “super tier” and unlimited service for $150 per month, but by then, Congress was already up in arms and interest groups were circulating online petitions against the caps.


Some Internet companies fed up with the state of American broadband are taking matters into their own hands. Google, for instance, is deploying a 1-gigabit-per-second network in Kansas City, Kansas, without any bandwidth cap or limiting access to any services such as USENET newsgroups.


Free XBox 360 Game Console Contest Winner Announced!

April 4th, 2011

Mr. Ackert is the winner of our Newsgroups Free XBox 360 Game Console for the month of March!


The drawing for the Grand Prize was chosen at random from the hundreds of entries to the contest on April 2nd. Mr. Ackert has been notified and has been shipped the new XBox 360 console.


The Newsgroups Free XBox 360 Console Giveaway ran from March 1st to March 31st and allowed users to enter once per day to increase their chances of winning.


As a tribute to all of our gamers on USENET newsgroups, Newsgroups has created these incentives to give back to the USENET gaming newsgroups community.


Thank you to all of our participants who had entered our contest.  Keep an eye out for other promotions and giveaways on the Newsgroups blog for other opportunities to win great prizes and other awards!


FCC Launches New Net Neutrality Rules

December 22nd, 2010

Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission voted upon –and passed by a 3-2 margin– the Open Internet Order, the revised net neutrality rules which seek to establish more formal codes of conduct for broadband network operators.

The order has caused a great deal of sturm and drang among newsgroup subscribers, who feared that there would be a shift in power for ISPs based upon loopholes it opens. The order has raised a great deal of concern from both sides of the political spectrum: from those who believe the FCC oversteps its boundaries by trying to create rules for the Web, and from those who believe the FCC isn’t going far enough to prevent future problems.

As expected, FCC Commissioners Baker and McDowell voted against the Order, while Commissioners Clyburn and Copps and Chairman Genachowski voted in favor of the Order. “Over 90% of our actions are not only bi-partisan, but unanimous,” Commissioner Robert McDowell said on Tuesday. “We agree that the Internet should remain open and freedom-enhancing…Beyond that, we disagree. The contrast between our perspectives could not be sharper.”

The Order lays down just a few basic rules for fixed broadband services, and a few more for mobile broadband services.

Basic Rules for fixed Broadband

Transparency: Carriers must clearly express to consumers how their traffic is handled and how charges are derived.

“A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service shall publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding use of such services and for content, application, service, and device providers to develop, market, and maintain Internet offerings.”

No Blocking: This refers to services which may compete directly with the network operator, such as VoIP and streaming video.

“A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.

No Unreasonable Discrimination: This general rule means paid traffic prioritization will not be allowed, but “reasonable” network management practices are acceptable. What is “reasonable” can be determined on a case by case basis.

“A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic over a consumer’s broadband Internet access service. Reasonable network management shall not constitute unreasonable discrimination.”

Basic Rules for Mobile Broadband

Transparency: Like fixed broadband providers, mobile network operators must also be open and transparent about their policies.

No Blocking: Network owners cannot block access to lawful Websites or applications that compete with voice and video telephony services such as Google Voice. This, however, does not generally apply to providers engaged in the operation of their own app stores.

The problem here arises in the lack of language covering paid prioritization for mobile broadband traffic. Commissioner Clyburn, who believed there should have been some protections against paid mobile prioritization, said “Bear in mind, this does not mean we are not pre-approving any behavior by mobile broadband providers.”

As a part of the Order, the FCC will allow anyone to file both formal and informal complaints that alert the FCC of operator violations. Consumers can submit free informal complaints at, or go through traditional methods to file formal complaints. Based upon these complaints, the FCC can move to initiate investigation into the carrier’s practices, and ultimately block the actions that violate the Open Internet Order. The FCC’s power to preside over the Internet in such a way is supported in the Order by Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and Titles II, III, and IV of the Communications Act.

“In key respects, the interests of edge innovators — the entrepreneurs creating Internet content, services, and applications — broadband providers, and American consumers are aligned,” Chairman Genachowski said on Tuesday. “I believe our action today will foster an ongoing cycle of massive investment, innovation and consumer demand both at the edge and in the core of our broadband networks.” The Order will not take effect until next year, and it could face opposition from Congress or the Judicial branch. As Commissioner McDowell was almost proud to point out, “The FCC’s last net neutrality order was met with a spectacular failure in the appellate court.”


NewsDemon Discount Coupon Giveaway

November 23rd, 2010

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Happy 41st Birthday To ARPANET

November 1st, 2010

ARPANET 41st Birthday

We take the Internet and USENET for granted, and it has become so integral to daily life that even people who can remember the time before it was everywhere can’t really fathom how we got along without it. But when you think about it, the online universe has only really been something we consider a normal component of everyday existence for about 30years or so. Online communication existed long before that, but it took several decades for the average person to catch up. In fact, the first steps toward the Internet began on this day in 1969, when the first online transmission was sent via ARPANET.

The Internet was born on October 29, 1969, when the first data traveled between two nodes of the ARPANET, an ancestor of today’s Internet, according to the Computer History Museum.

On 29 October 1969, two letters – LO – were typed on a keyboard in the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and appeared on a screen at the Stanford Research Institute, 314 miles away.

The computer scientists had intended to type LOGIN, but the connection was lost just before the G. Nonetheless, this was the first time a message had been sent over a telephone line between two computers.

ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) was a cooperative project between a research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the United States Department of Defense. The idea was to design a network that would allow simple communication between computers. Though millions of computers are currently connected via the Internet today, that first network consisted of only four systems, one each at UCLA, Stanford, the University of Utah and the University of California Santa Barbara. The system had been in development since 1962, and by 1969 it was ready to transmit.

Two two young programmers responsible for this historic moment were Charley Kline at UCLA and Bill Duvall at SRI in Northern California. Their idea was radical at the time: to network computers to each other.

Since then, online communication has made major leaps forward every few years or so. The first e-mail was sent by 1971, and by 1980 the number of linked computers had grown exponentially. The personal computer represented another leap forward, and when America Online became a must-have program for everybody in suburbia, the online world finally took over most of our daily lives. For USENET though, it spawned a mass see also “Eternal Semptember

Now we’re free to keep tabs on people from high school, read news about Mel Gibson and trade “Weird Al” Yankovic songs with each other. The future is now!

Just like the early days of USENET, ARPANET was not developed for commercial use, Duvall said. The computers of the 1960s were viewed as “information repositories” but lacked a network to share this information.