The NewsDemon Blog

CDC Zombie Guide Takes Down Website

By Daniel Li 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.”



Many USENET Newsreaders Get Updates

By Newsgroup Usenet May 18th, 2011

Changes are happening to a number of USENET newreaders that may tempt many newsgroup subscribers to break away from the traditional ones they’re used to in order to try out new features.

Just recently, News Rover had rolled out the new version 16, which is available free to NewsDemon.com Newsgroup members. The News Rover newsreader offers a host of changes ranging from performance, additional options and integration with other USENET tools.

NewsBin has been busy with a completely new user interface in version 6 (currently in beta). The newsreader is expected to come out with a solid force of features, including the way it handles and displays headers to other integrated functions to keep everything USENET related centralized within the newsreader. Additionally, NewsBin has dropped their current purchase price down to just $15.00.

 

NewsLeecher, who had been on version 4 since 2009 is starting to deliver a more polished version 5 which was first released in the beginning of 2011. With each beta release of version 5, the NewsLeecher newsreader has been getting a serious facelift in design and functionality with each release. The movement in each release, now up to Beta 6, has been much more frequent than ever with a better GUI and features, including in their SuperSearch Watchdog functions.

Lastly, Grabit has been rumored to be releasing a new beta, 1.7.2 beta 4, which has been long overdue. Just like NewsLeecher, updates and releases have been few and far in between over the last couple of years. The new release from Grabit should address a number of bug fixes and some minor new features.

The newsreaders arena is starting to see much more action lately, much to delight of hardcore newsgroup subscribers, who have longed for better releases to integrate with newer technologies and functions that come along with accessing USENET newsgroups.

Stay tuned, as NewsDemon.com Newsgroups will soon be updating all of our guides on these new releases for our members.



NewsDemon Reaches 1000 Days Binary Retention

By Steve Schwartz May 12th, 2011

NewsDemon.com Newsgroups is proud to announce another milestone in binary retention which now supports over 1000 days of retention across all supported binary newsgroups.

Recent upgrades to NewsDemon.com Newsgroup servers located in both the US and EU locations now spool over a full 1000 days of binary retention and well over three years of text retention with a full 99.9% completion rate.

USENET Newsgroup retention reflects the length of time that a binary and/or text article is accessible to subscribers. The new increase in retention means that NewsDemon.com Newsgroup subscribers may access binary newsgroup articles that were posted over 1000 days ago! Find out more about USENET newsgroup retention increase here.

It doesn’t stop here! NewsDemon.com Newsgroups expects the retention rate to only increase over time, allowing members even more articles available in all binary and text newsgroups.

With blazing fast access with up to 50 simultaneous connections and a combination of affordable subscription or block plans to choose from, NewsDemon.com Newsgroups 1000 day binary retention increase joins our efforts to consistently provide members with industry leading premium USENET access.



AT&T Begins Capping USENET Customers

By Daniel Li 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 Myusage.att.com. 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.



USENET Access Speeds On The Rise Worldwide

By Lionel Dietz April 26th, 2011

Connections to USENET newsgroups are on the rise with faster connections reported worldwide. According to the latest Akamai State of the Internet report, global broadband adoption and speeds continued to grow in the fourth quarter of 2010. Asia continues to dominate the list of the fastest countries, but the U.S. is also showing improvement.

The technology newsgroups report, the data was collected from hundreds of millions of connections made to 84,000 Akamai Internet Platform servers in 72 countries every quarter, shows that the average connection speed in the U.S was 5.1 Mb/s, which was up about 9.2 percent from the same period in 2009. Also, more than 75 percent of U.S. connections to Akamai during the quarter were above 2 Mb/s.

Some of the highlights and figures from the report include:

  • Taegu, South Korea ranked as city with fastest connection speed across the globe
  • Russia was source of largest percentage of observed attack traffic in fourth quarter, 2010
  • Average connection speeds increased in 162 countries year over year
  • Average connection speeds on surveyed mobile networks fastest in Greece

 

In the fourth quarter of 2010, the report’s analysis of the top 100 fastest cities around the world, based on average connection speeds, reflected the following:

  • Cities in Asia dominate the list, which includes 60 cities in Japan and 16 cities in South Korea
  • Constanta, Romania remained the fastest city in Europe (#56 out of 100)
  • Only 8 U.S. cities made the list. The state with the fastest average connection was Delaware at 7.2 Mb/s, and the U.S. city with the fastest average broadband connections was Riverside, Calif., at 7.58 Mb/s.

 

Because Akamai’s numbers are derived from a vastly deployed platform, they have been viewed as a trusted source for speed data, a much-debated aspect of the broadband reform discussion. Overall, Akamai reports that the UK showed a 9% quarterly increase on the highest recorded broadband connection speed at 16.1Mbps (30th in the world rankings). Akamai’s report shows that 22% of broadband connection speeds were above 5Mbps, ranking the UK 28th globally.

 

NewsDemon.com Newsgroups offers its members blazing fast connections to USENET newsgroups that usually cap many speeds available by their ISP. With constant upgrades to our multiple server locations to many of the countries fastest growing connections, NewsDemon.com Newsgroups continue to be a leader in providing the fastest connections for browsing and accessing newsgroups.



ESRB Changes Ratings For Download Games

By Steve Schwartz April 18th, 2011

Reported on gaming newsgroups, the ESRB won’t look at downloadable games until after release, following a change in its the rating procedure.

Gaming newsgroups report that the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) which is responsible for rating all of the games released and judging which age group is appropriate for the content of each game has been flooded by the availability of new downloadable games available each week. The system, up to now, has relied on ESRB employees personally rating each game before release. The flood of downloadable video games being created every week has become too much for the ESRB and in an attempt to streamline the ratings process a computer program will now be used to decide a game’s rating.

Previously, every game was vetted by a independent panel, and a report would then be written detailing exactly why a game received a rating. Now, publishers will be given much more power, as they will have to fill out a digital questionnaire which will then be used to determine the rating the game receives.

The computer then analyzes the readings and awards the game a rating based on the answers that were given. At the moment, only games on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network will be scrutinized by the computer. The system is designed to have no human beings to help out with the rating process.

For now, mobile, Facebook and all other types of games will continue to undergo the traditional rating process, which involves completion of a more open-ended questionnaire and review of a content DVD by a minimum of three raters who reach consensus on the appropriate rating.



Top 10 Golden Rules of USENET

By Lionel Dietz April 6th, 2011

NewsDemon.com Newsgroups celebrates the diversity of our newsgroups subscribers and the longevity of the thousands of newsgroups that exist on USENET today. In order to facilitate a better USENET experience, there are some rules of USENET that should be considered. Below are 10 of the most important USENET newsgroup rules to abide by.

Thou Shall Not Spam

USENET newsgroup subscribers are pretty crafty. Intelligent too. Spamming newsgroups with products, services or any other material that is both unrelated and unsupportive of any particular newsgroup is greatly shunned upon. Respect the newsgroups you subscribe to and chances are you’ll receive equal respect. By spamming newsgroups, you’ll quickly be dismissed by other subscribers and other penalties can be given, including losing your membership to USENET by the access provider.

Thou Shall Not Troll

A “troll” is someone who deliberately posts a message to cause disruption, argues or otherwise harasses another for either self promotion or to disrespect fellow newsgroup subscribers. It is important to note that this type of behavior is greatly discouraged and should not be engaged at any point in time.

Thou Shall Not Provide Personal Information

Newsgroups are a great place for discussion on a number of topics. As they are one of the oldest and largest community driven portals online, it’s common for them to foster friendships and even trust. However, as a rule of thumb, it’s advised to never divulge any personal information you would not want the world to know. As most USENET newsgroups allow public access, your information may be used in ways that you would not intentionally want to be used against you. Although NewsDemon.com Newsgroups employs secure, 256 BIT SSL connections for secure connections, what you post on newsgroups do not offer the same protection. Therefore, restrain from posting information such as personal financials, residence or other private information to insure your security online.

Thou Shall Not Post Off Topic

The thousands of newsgroups available cater to just about every topic imaginable. Because of this, posting material of any kind that is not relative or on topic to the newsgroup should simply not be done. Off topic messages, especially nowadays, are simply ignored and can also be considered spam. When considering posting a message to a newsgroup, be considerate and take the time to be sure that the newsgroup you are posting to is relative to the material. NewsDemon.com Newsgroups offers an extensive directory of newsgroups that can help you on your way.

Thou Shall Not Write In Caps

DO NOT POST IN ALL CAPS WHEN POSTING TO NEWSGROUPS. Newsgroup subscribers and newsgroups themselves consider this a negative practice and should be refrained upon.

 

Thou Shall Not Cross-Post

 

With the thousands of newsgroups available, there are some that are very similar to others. Because of this, in some cases, newsgroup subscribers find the material they want to post relative to a section of newsgroups versus just one. With most newsreaders nowadays, to cross-post to several newsgroups is easy and convenient. Although it may seem like a good idea, be weary. Cross-posting to several newsgroups automatically grow suspicion by subscribers and may flag the post as spam. Before cross-posting, read the FAQ for each newsgroup if available to check the spam policy and the rules of the particular newsgroup. Some newsgroups discourage cross-posting specifically. Try one newsgroup at a time for your material that is most relative. If you receive a positive response, or no response at all after a few days, then cautiously consider posting it again on another relative newsgroup. If you are new to cross-posting, this rule is imperative to make sure your reputation on these newsgroups is saved from subscribers flagging your posts as spam by the veteran subscribers which may result in your access termination.

Thou Shall Not Ignore The Newsgroup FAQ

 

Each important newsgroup usually entails a sometimes lengthy but all important rules of conduct for subscribers. By adhering to the rules of the newsgroup, a better sense of community is achieved and postings on that newsgroup follow an easy to read format allowing users to best utilize the newsgroup for the topic and content that are posted. It’s important to take a look at and examine the FAQ for each newsgroup you subscribe to and may consider posting to. General posts and replies are especially important in order to follow the certain guidelines that the FAQ sets forth in order to gain the response you are looking for. Most newsgroup communities follow these FAQ terms seriously and so should you.

 

Thou Shall Not Hijack

 

With the many threads and posts on newsgroups, it’s encouraged to engage the conversation with relative material. However, using the popularity of these posts to share information that is not relative to the material or to engage subscribers directly is discouraged. Do not use these posts to popularize, grab attention to or bring the subject away from the content of the conversation. Consider what you post and how relative it is to the ongoing messages. If it is questionable whether your material is relative, instead post a new topic of the material in order to gain a proper response.

 

Thou Shall Not Flood Newsgroups

 

Flooding newsgroups involves the act of consistently and continuously posting material on newsgroups by one individual.  Although there are rare instances where it may considered acceptable, flooding newsgroups with even the most relevant material for a particular newsgroup is not one that should be engaged. This is not an acceptable method of posting on most newsgroups and goes against the policies of the majority of newsgroups FAQ. Refrain from continuously posting the same or relevant information or material. Practice netiquette and allow for some time to pass before posting additional or relevant material from the time your initial post was made. This will allow users to review the content that you have posted and save you from a negative reputation on these USENET newsgroups as it may very well be considered spam.

Thou Shall Not Flame

Everyone has an opinion about something. With the thousands of subscribers on newsgroups, those opinions often times are not the same as others. The culture of newsgroups is to accept, discuss and share these differences of opinions respectfully with either like minded or those with contrasting points of view. It’s important in these newsgroups to respect others with other opinions and not engage in “Flame Wars“. Flame wars are heated arguments online that attack, belittle or otherwise disrespect other USENET newsgroup subscribers. There are strict penalties of engaging in Flame Wars and can result in permanent banning from these newsgroups and by your USENET access provider.

 

Following these rules of USENET will result in a better experience overall while engaging newsgroup subscribers and create a better community overall. Do you have any other rules that you feel that we’ve missed? Leave a comment below to have us add them along.



Free XBox 360 Game Console Contest Winner Announced!

By Daniel Li April 4th, 2011

Mr. Ackert is the winner of our NewsDemon.com 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 NewsDemon.com 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, NewsDemon.com 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 NewsDemon.com Newsgroups blog for other opportunities to win great prizes and other awards!



In-Car WiFi Allows USENET Access On The Go

By Newsgroup Usenet March 28th, 2011

Need to access USENET on the go? More cars are hitting the information superhighway thanks to new automotive Wi-Fi technology that allows vehicles to become rolling “hot spots”. You’re next red light may be an opportunity to some to check out their favorite newsgroups.

“Initially, putting Internet access in the car sounds like a distraction and frivolous but as time passes it will become a part of our lives and we will feel uncomfortable not having access,” said Jeff Kagan, an independent telecoms analyst on a post in technology newsgroups. “I think this is going to grow into a vibrant sector.”

While some manufacturers already include optional Wi-Fi hot-spot technology in their higher-end offerings, industry analysts claim that Internet connectivity will become a standard feature among most mid- to high-end vehicles in the near future.

Ford Motor Company has offered wi-fi in selected vehicle models since 2010 and some form of internet access is an option for many other automakers including General Motors, BMW, Audi, Saab and Chrysler. The technology allows users to access online channels with most mobile devices, including enabled phones, laptops and now tablets – all of them which offer mobile newsreaders to access USENET newsgroups.

Market watcher iSuppli claims that shipments of in-car Wi-Fi systems will reach 7.2 million in 2017, up from a mere 174,000 last year.

The majority of in-car Wi-Fi systems act as a Wi-Fi to 3G gateway, allowing passengers’ smartphones, tablets, and laptops to connect to the Internet even while the car is in motion. Future systems will also integrate with in-car entertainment and navigation systems, allowing the driver to benefit from instantly-updated traffic information and passengers from streamed entertainment.

Analysts expect the market to grow as more entertainment, navigation and vehicle diagnostic applications become available. However, one hurdle for developers of the technology is knowing whether to offer wi-fi as a separate data system or allow consumers to connect their own.



Virgin Media Imposes Bandwidth Cap

By Steve Schwartz March 17th, 2011

UK ISP Virgin Media has been trialling a new traffic management system that throttles upstream speeds on P2P networks and USENET newsgroups, upsetting a number of users in the process.

The ISP has long restricted download P2P traffic during peak hours to ensure a more consistent service for all customers, but the change to its terms marks a harder line approach and has already angered some customers – particularly USENET newsgroup subscribers.

Virgin said in a post that the new traffic management policy would be trialled for a period of one week starting March 2nd between 17:00 PM and 00:00 AM (12:00 and 00:00 at weekends).

“Between these times, P2P and newsgroup upstream traffic will be managed in a similar way to our current downstream traffic management. If the trial is successful we’ll launch the new policy immediately,” the company explained.

Virgin Media also invited users to give their feedback about the trials and let the company know if their online USENET experience was being affected.

It was clear that after a while newsgroup subscribers in particular were not at all happy about the trials and expressed their displeasure on the company’s user forums.

The clamp down will apply on top of the existing traffic shaping Virgin Media has in place and will affect all packages, including the previously unmanaged 100mb deal.