The NewsDemon Blog

Happy Binary Day USENET

By Newsgroup Usenet November 10th, 2011

Today, 11/01/11 (or 11/1/11 – the choice is yours) is one of a select few dates solely composed of only 0s and 1s. In fact, the year 2011 has 9 binary days, just like every other binary date-capable year.

But enjoy it while it lasts. After November 11, which is perhaps one of the most booked days for weddings ever, you’ll have to wait a whole century before the calendar hits a binary date. (If you can make it until January 1, 2100, we’ll be impressed.)

As some USENET newsgroup subscribers are quick to describe, binary is a numbering scheme in which there are only two possible values for each digit: 0 and 1. The term also refers to any digital encoding/decoding system in which there are exactly two possible states. In digital data memory, storage, processing, and communications, the 0 and 1 values are sometimes called “low” and “high,” respectively.

In any case, the date is a great excuse to play with the code that lies at the core of modern computing. Though the fundamental coding method has been replaced by much more sophisticated and functional coding languages like Java, C++ and Python, that doesn’t mean it’s lost its place in the hearts and minds of nerds everywhere.

We use the decimal system in everyday life because it seems more natural (we have ten fingers and ten toes). For the computer, the binary system is more natural because of its electrical nature (charged versus uncharged).

Speaking of binary, did you know that Newsgroups supports over 1,179 days of binary retention on all 107,000 active uncensored newsgroups?


Windows XP Turns 10 On USENET

By Newsgroup Usenet October 25th, 2011

Windows XP officially turned 10 years old on USENET newsgroups on Tuesday. Microsoft introduced the software back in 2001, following development under the code name Whistler. It featured numerous enhancements compared to its most immediate predecessor, Windows 2000. XP introduced a streamlined, task-based user interface that allowed advanced users like USENET newsgroup subscribers to more quickly find their go-to applications and files through the Start Menu or lockable Taskbar.

Windows XP didn’t boast exciting new features or radical changes, but it was nonetheless a pivotal moment in Microsoft’s history. It was Microsoft‘s first mass-market operating system in the Windows NT family. It was also Microsoft’s first consumer operating system that offered true protected memory, preemptive multitasking, multiprocessor support, and multiuser security.

When it launched, Windows XP was brilliant. It looked cool and modern compared to Windows 95, 98 and – yikes! – Windows Me, and it introduced a whole bunch of important improvements.

Windows Explorer was overhauled, the system was made much more reliable, driver support was massively improved, ClearType improved legibility for incoming LCD displays, the networking was beefed up, security was tightened, the graphics system was improved… upgrading to XP especially for USENET newsgroup subscribers was a big deal.

By 2006, XP had reached a milestone of 400 million active copies, according to an IDC analyst. The successor Windows Vista was launched in January of 2006, but enthusiasts as well as the notebook segment held on to XP and widely rejected Vista. Microsoft announced the discontinuance of Windows XP several times, but delayed the end of retail sales until June 30, 2008. OEM distribution of XP ended on October 22, 2010. Extended support for XP users is still available until April 8, 2014.

Even if it is a decade old, Windows XP is far from being dead. Industry discussion groups on USENET suggests that Windows XP lost its OS market share leadership position to Windows 7 this month. Windows 7 has 40.41 percent of the market, while XP has fallen to 38.51 percent. This is still far more than Vista ever reached; Vista peaked at 23.60 percent in October of 2009. The new and revised Windows 8 is due out sometime early next year.

Is Microsoft Manipulating Ratings to Call IE the Safest Browser?

By Newsgroup Usenet October 18th, 2011

At risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, could Microsoft manipulate browser ratings so that its Internet Explorer always comes out on top? USENET newsgroup subscribers are noting the point in many Microsoft related newsgroups.

“Microsoft has always been fond of paying analysts to say that its products are best,” one USENET post reads, “or having partners release reports showing how their rivals’ products are second-rate, and, now, Web sites that ‘show’ how Internet Explorer (IE) is better than Chrome and Firefox when it comes to security.”

They argue that Microsoft manipulates the important aspects of rating browsers. Explorer was given high marks for including the SmartScreen malware detection program that allows software signed using a trusted certificate will be allowed to run, while Chrome allows unknown dangerous programs to be saved but stored in a sandbox to make it difficult to attack the system. Automatic updates with Chrome keep security at a high level, though. Microsoft does not, yet no points were deducted for this shortcoming.

Just as browsers should take security seriously, so should Usenet providers. If you’re in the market for a Usenet provider, make sure they offer SSL encryption security technology to protect your data and system while you browse and share on Usenet. Newsgroups offers SSL security encryption for its subscribers.

FCC Plans to Bring Broadband to Rural Areas

By Newsgroup Usenet October 11th, 2011

The Federal Communications Commission plans to bring access to broadband service to Americans currently unable to take advantage of the service. The plan is to adapt the Universal Service Fund to allow the FCC to bring broadband to those who do not have access.

The fund is a 14-year-old government fund worth about $8 billion that helps to bring telecom services to low income and rural areas. The new plan would transfer some of that money dedicated to phone services to a broadband fund. The idea is that by making broadband access more readily available in these areas it will help the country keep pace with the growing technological market.

“If we want the United States to be the world’s leading market for innovative new products and services that drive economic growth, job creation and opportunity, we need to embrace the essential goal of universal broadband, and reform outdated programs so that we are investing in 21st century communications infrastructure all over the country,” said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski.

The FCC will vote on the new plan at the end of October. It would help to bring broadband access to hundreds of thousands of homes in 2012, and would help to cut in half the number of Americans that are currently unable to access broadband internet over the next five years. The goal is to achieve universal broadband access within the next ten years.

With greater broadband access, business in the area would be better connected, which could allow for business growth in those areas. The FCC also points out the job creation that could take place in the construction industry from building the new infrastructure in the areas.

Usenet, an active community of sharing, debate and discussion of varying topics, could see an increase in its community as more people have access to high-speed internet. Premium providers such as NewsDemon typically allow users connection speeds as high as is allowable by their internet provider. With higher speeds, files download faster and activity could increase in those areas.

Usenet has been around since before the Internet and continues to benefit from the new technologies and greater internet access around the world.

25th In Internet Speed Makes United States USENET Slower

By Steve Schwartz September 23rd, 2011

According to a post found on USENET Newsgroups, Pando Networks has released a study of internet speeds in different countries. South Korea came in first, while the United States finished 26th according to the study. The researchers looked at 27 million downloads by 20 million computers located around the world in 224 countries. The research was collected from January to June of this year.

The study showed that the average download speed among all countries is 580 KBps. The US came in with an average download speed of 616 KBps. In contrast, South Korea had an average download speed of 2,202 KBps, while Romania and Bulgaria finished second and third with 1,909 KBps and 1,611 KBps, respectively.

The Congo finished last in the study with average download speeds of 13 KBps, followed by the Central African Republic at 14 KBps.

Some blame a lack of competition thanks to tossing out of “competitive broadband safeguards such as open-access requirements, which opened lines to other providers,” according to aFree Press Campaign Director Tim Karr in an article on Karr argues that this “went against the long-held assumption that open communications in competitive markets were essential to economic growth and innovation.” Meanwhile, competition in Europe and Asia has led to better service, availability and speed.

Usenet is an open communications forum in which people around the world may share ideas and communicate across cultures. In the United States, download speeds on Usenet are only limited by the connection speed of the internet service provider (ISP).

Large Reward to Define Large Internet

By Daniel Li 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.

eBook Inventor Passes Away, Remembered on USENET

By Newsgroup Usenet September 11th, 2011

Michael Hart, who invented the eBook in 1971, passed away on Tuesday, September 6 at the age of 64. You’ve probably heard of Amazon’s Kindle, or Apple’s iPad. Those products got their idea from Hart’s idea, which he hoped would lead to free books, which would eventually lead to greater literacy. With greater literacy comes greater opportunity for a larger number of people, a long tradition that USENET newsgroup subscriber community have long promoted.

Hart was the founder of Project Gutenberg, which makes available thousands of free texts including classics such as Moby Dick and Jane Eyre, as well as the Declaration of Independence, released an obituary for Hart. Part of its obituary read:

“The invention of t eBooks was not simply a technology innovation or precursor to the modern information environment. A more correct understanding is that eBooks are an efficient and effective way of unlimited free distribution of literature. Access to eBooks can thus provide opportunity for increased literacy. Literacy, and the ideas contained in literature, creates opportunity.

Today, of course, products such as the Kindle and iPad charge plenty for the actual product, and then charge for most digitally delivered books as well. Sometimes, prices of digital books run parallel to their printed counterparts, or more in some cases. Hart digitized and distributed the Declaration of Independence in 1971 after he found a free printed copy of the document at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was more interested in making literature and important text available free of commercial complications than turning the eBook into a cash cow. Today Project Gutenberg offers more than 36,000 free eBooks. Newsgroup Access allow users to connect with others across the globe, sharing ideas and new technology.

Microsoft Windows 8 Explorer to Include Ribbons

By Newsgroup Usenet September 2nd, 2011

According to reports on Microsoft related newsgroups, Windows Explorer in Windows 8, will utilize the Ribbons interface currently used in Microsoft Office 2007 and beyond. The decision has been met with hostility from many power users and tech savvy individuals, but Microsoft has indicated that after evaluation and analysis, they decided that the ribbon interface was the best way to go.

According to a post on the General Microsoft Newsgroup “We evaluated several different UI [user interface] command affordances including expanded versions of the Vista/Windows 7 command bar, Windows 95/Windows XP style toolbars and menus, several entirely new UI approaches, and the Office style ribbon,” Microsoft’s Alex Simons explained.  “Of these, the ribbon approach offered benefits in line with our goals.”

The ribbon display was used with Microsoft Office 2007 to replace the traditionally-used drop-down menus. The idea is that it allows certain functions that may otherwise be hidden to be easily accessible to the user.

Critics complain that the ribbon interface takes up too much real estate, especially when using a notebook or other mobile computing devices. However, Simons cited data that Microsoft obtained from millions of users that indicated that a vast majority use Windows 7 on a widescreen display.

There will be four tabs in Windows Explorer—Home, Share, View and Manage. The new format will also bring back the ‘up’ button that allows the user to jump a level higher in their folders. The new design is said to allow users easier access to the most-used commands such as copy, cut and paste, which are said to account for more than a third of the functions in Explorer. Microsoft indicated that, according to its data, users used the same 10 functions in Explorer over 80 percent of the time.

New USENET and Online Slang Terms Enter Dictionary

By Daniel Li 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.

World Wide Web Turns 20 On USENET

By Newsgroup Usenet August 8th, 2011

On Saturday, the World Wide Web celebrated its 20th anniversary on USENET, marking two decades of the openness of the internet to the public.

Way back in 1991, Tim Berners-Lee, who has since been knighted, took to Usenet to post a summary of the World Wide Web in the alt.hypertext newsgroup, describing the project. He noted at the time that “[t]he WWW project aims to allow all links to be made to any information anywhere.” Previously the web was used by those technologically-inclined few, but opening the web to the public allowed it to grow and expand into what it’s become today.

The web has grown so much that for those born in the eighties or nineties, it’s difficult to imagine a world without access to the internet. Now you will find web access on phones, blu-Ray or DVD players, and even televisions. The spread of information was made simpler and quicker than ever with the introduction of the web to the public.

It’s hard to imagine that Berners-Lee imagined that his post on Usenet twenty years ago would help to spark such a revolution in information sharing and access. Usenet continues to be a forum for the announcement of new technology projects twenty years after Berners-Lee introduced a summary of the web. There are countless newsgroups dedicated to the discussion of technology both new and old.