The NewsDemon Blog

Finland Right To Broadband Makes Newsgroup Access Easier

By Newsgroup Usenet July 1st, 2010

Starting today, Finland has made it a legal right for everyone in the country to be connected to basic Internet broadband service of 1 megabit per second downlink speed, and has vowed to give everyone a 100 Mbps connection by 2015.

The move came considering internet had become an integral part of everyone’s life, which the government also acknowledged. 96 percent of the Finnish population is online and around 4,000 homes are left that needs to comply with the minimum speed.

“Internet services are no longer just for entertainment,” Finland’s communication minister Suvi Linden. “Finland has worked hard to develop an information society and a couple of years ago we realised not everyone had access. From now on a reasonable priced broadband connection will be everyone’s basic right in Finland.”

This could save many Finland Usenet newsgroup subscribers a lot of money yearly for their ISP broadband access to get on Usenet.

Finland is the first to make this a legal right, with Spain to follow suite. The UK has also passed legislation regarding broadband, guaranteeing 2Mbps connections to all citizens by 2012. They have not actually made broadband a legal right, though. Spain has said it will introduce a plan next year to allow citizens to buy at least 1Mbps of broadband at a regulated price, and telecommunications companies will be required to make the “universal service” available to everyone, no matter where they live.

The “universal service obligation” would be handled by about 26 different nationwide providers who would offer service around the country. It should not be too difficult: Finland is one of the world’s most wired countries, but only about 26 percent have a broadband connection–about the same as the United States.

As covered before, although the FCC has attempted to offer free broadband, it still a hazy dream that remains questionable if it will truly come into existence.



School Libraries Cutting Librarian Jobs

By Newsgroup Usenet June 24th, 2010

After summer is over, many students across the country may have a hard time to find help at their libraries. Based on a survey this past spring, the American Association of School Administrators project that 19% of all of the nation school districts will have fewer librarians next school year.

As many states face severe budget cuts, the loss of librarian jobs are on the chopping block for some in order to save on costs.  Administrators across the country have viewed libraries as luxuries rather than a haven for those to read, learn and research. Since only a few states have any laws to mandate libraries or librarians, layoffs seem as a minor inconvenience to some observers. Those that share this view neglect the importance and significance they are in fundamental learning and technology.

Unlike the overflowing bookshelves of wealthier families, 61 percent of low-income families own no age-appropriate books, according to a 2009 study commissioned by Jumpstart on “America’s Early Childhood Literacy Gap.”

Recently, the FCC promoted and had begun to deliver free broadband to libraries to help. Since early last year, NewsDemon.com Newsgroups began and continues to provide free Usenet access to librarians and libraries as well to help.

Unfortunately, some jobs will be lost and although the total damage seems small, it has been a slow trickling down process that further negatively impacts these great learning centers.

Dedicated newsgroups to libraries and librarians have long been a discussion forum for library enthusiasts who’ve shared concern of the impact this will make. “Information literacy is just so important for kids to be more successful in college,” said Livingston, 66, who worked in the Sammamish High School library for about a decade. “The kids are being hurt.”



New US Broadband Advisory Group Introduced

By Newsgroup Usenet June 9th, 2010

Major players in the Internet and telecommunication industries, including Google, AT&T and Verizon, are forming an advisory group on network management practices for  online services.

The forum will be overseen by Dale Hatfield, a well-respected former FCC Chief Technologist and current director of the Silicon Flatirons Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Government staffers are welcome to observe the group’s works.

The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group intend to study and educate lawmakers on broadband network management practices and could help the industry form a consensus on these network management practices as the FCC examines net neutrality regulations that could affect network operators’ ability to control Web-based applications and content running on their networks. That’s a fancy way of saying that the forum allows engineers to seek consensus on proper network management practices in a less adversarial forum than FCC rulemaking. The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG) is still in its infancy and an organizational structure will be announced in the coming weeks.

The new group would work to “inform federal agencies in their industry oversight functions.” This after many complaints about Comcast’s ISP side blocking and throttling of certain ports and services. The worry now is whether BITAG is an attempt to undermine the FCC and replace “public interest” regulation with corporate-focused rules. The Advisory Group is still incubating. Operational and organizational structure is under development, as are specific functions such as outreach, identification of best practices safe harbor issues online. You can also check out more about this and more on a variety to technical and online newsgroups that are following and discussing the story.



US Oblivious To USENET Broadband Speed

By Newsgroup Usenet June 2nd, 2010

A new survey indicates that most Americans are pretty clueless when it comes to the speed of their Internet subscription. Four out of five have absolutely no idea what it is.

The survey comes after separate findings by the agency that the actual speeds experienced by consumers are as low as half of what providers advertised. Those results, from a ComScore survey early this year, were announced by the FCC’s task force assigned to create its national broadband plan. In an effort to keep broadband providers honest, the agency through its broadband speed initiative plans to compare the speeds consumers get against what broadband providers actually advertise.

But apparently this did not stop that same vast majority of consumers who answered the agency’s questionnaire from reporting that they were either “very satisfied” (50 percent) or “somewhat satisfied” (41 percent) with their connections. Despite the fact that they couldn’t even disclose the speed of that very or somewhat satisfying link, 71 percent assured the government that their connection is “as fast as the provider promises at least most of the time.

These reported plateaus of technological savvy seem to cross all demographic boundaries. Seventy-one percent of men did not know their advertised speed, the FCC says; neither did 90 percent of women. Seventy-three percent of 18-29 year olds were in the dark regarding this matter; so were 88 percent of those 65 years and older. Same for the 79 percent of whites and 87 percent of African Americans. Income had little effect on the numbers.

After ranking third in the world a decade ago, the U.S. has dropped to 15th in the proportion of citizens receiving fast Web service, or broadband, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. South Korea, Iceland and Germany are among the countries that ranked higher in 2009, the Paris-based group says. Connections were both faster and cheaper in 12 countries, including Hungary and Denmark.

Countries that rank higher than the U.S. tend to be densely populated, use subsidies, and promote computer use, said Robert D. Atkinson, president of the Washington-based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, which studies innovation policy. “The U.S. is behind because we’re a big, spread-out country with lots of people who don’t own computers,” Atkinson said in an interview.

The FCC has been stepping up its efforts in the regulation and understanding of data connection and communication usage in the US. It recently launched a new initiative to get mobile service providers to provide more info to customers that are in danger of receiving huge cell phone bills. In March, the FCC unveiled an Internet speed test tool at www.broadband.gov for consumers to clock the speed of their connection.

This study will become the foundation for the FCC’s “State of Broadband” report later this year.



ATT Offers Free Online Access In Times Square

By Newsgroup Usenet May 25th, 2010

Good news for AT&T and Usenet newsgroup subscribers who hang around Times Square often, as the carrier has confirmed that it would be launching its first-ever outdoor Wi-Fi hotspot in Times Square. The hotspot will give anybody with an iPhone or AT&T smartphone unlimited online use as part of this pilot project.

Instead of thousands and thousands of people simultaneously accessing the gigs of data on Usenet over AT&T’s bruised, congested cellular network, they can use free Wi-Fi, offloading traffic and reducing the strain on the network thousands of other people are trying to make phone calls over. The company acknowledged that the network was primarily there to offset the burden on AT&T’s 3G service in New York City, which even after a deliberate upgrade plan has been oversaturated primarily by the sheer amount of use from iPhone owners. Key cities such as San Francisco have also been overwhelmed by usage to this day and, while slightly improved, may be prime candidates for the next stages of the pilot.

“With this pilot AT&T Wi-Fi hotzone, we’re examining new ways to combine our Wi-Fi and 3G networks to help ensure that AT&T customers in Times Square always have a fast mobile broadband connection to do what matters most to them,” said John Donovan, AT&T chief technology officer, in a statement.

AT&T currently offers Wi-Fi at over 20,000 locations and reports 53.1 million Wi-Fi connections on its network in the first quarter alone.



NBC Replaces Heroes With Other Caped Crusader

By Newsgroup Usenet May 17th, 2010


TV series HEROES has been grounded from all future time travel after its 4th final season. As reported on comic book and television related newsgroups, the cause lies in dismal ratings after a confusing HEROES Season 3 and 4 that lost most everyone along the way.

Not even all the heroes powers combined could save the cheerleader or the network from the inevitable.

After the first season hooked the world into wanting to save a cheerleader and launched comic book heroe style culture into primetime, the show shimmered with hope and promise. Unfortunately, the shine wore off as Heroes went backwards with both its storyline and following as the numbers of viewing fans have slowly abandoned the series every season since. Many Usenet newsgroup subscribers wonder: Is it any surprise that the network would pull it from finishing the season?

NBC had a lot initially riding on this show – investing heavily in both the marketing and production of the show – which could explain the track it took. Heavy pressure to gain viewers, the storyline ironically attempted to capture more viewers, but lost more instead.

This does not mean that NBC has lost interest into the comic book genre though. In its place, a new comic book drama, “The Cape” is looking to replace and is rumored to debut during the would-be Heroes’ season 5 premiere. A mixture between Batman, The Punisher and Westley from the Princess Bride, “The Cape” keeps in the tradition of the dark tragic hero storyline.  Trailer below:



Space Newsgroups Report Mysterious Messages From Space

By Newsgroup Usenet May 13th, 2010

Touring the outer reaches of our galaxy the Voyager 2 spacecraft has begun sending back messages to Earth that even scientists cannot interpret. Some experts online and on newsgroups believe it may be the work of aliens.

Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, were launched in 1977 to explore Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Three decades on, they are the most distant human-made objects in outer space. Voyager 2 holds various information about the human species, including sound recordings of children singing, waves crashing on the ocean, babies crying and the signatures of the President of the United States and UN Secretary General.

Voyager 1 is currently more than 8.5 billion miles from Earth. It will soon travel beyond the heliosphere – a bubble the sun creates around the solar system – into interstellar space, scientists say.

Both probes were installed with a Golden Record. Simultaneously a greeting card, map and time capsule, these devices contained images and sounds from Planet Earth and voice greetings in more than 50 languages. The records’ content describing our home was selected and assembled by the late USENET subscriber Carl Sagan, just in case someone out there might be listening as the Voyagers passed through.

Space related newsgroups report that while it tries to work out what’s going on, NASA has instructed the spacecraft to only send data on its own status, but says the problem can probably be fixed with a simple software patch. All NASA has said of the glitch is that Voyager 2 suddenly began transmitting data in a completely different format.

Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are investigating the cause of the change. The probe is 8.6 billion miles from earth and will eventually leave the solar system. NASA equipped the probe with music and multilingual greetings for any intelligent life it encounters.

Many on newsgroups believe it’s just a matter of the fact that after 33 years in the cold dark vacuum of space, the antiquated hardware may simply be malfunctioning. NASA scientists have, not surprisingly, not weighed in on the matter of aliens having hacked our space probe, choosing to keep collective nose to the grindstone in determining cause and solution.



FCC Attempts Third Way To Regulate ISPs

By Newsgroup Usenet May 10th, 2010

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced his third attempt at gaining acceptance for online neutrality last week, sparking yet another furor over the issue as it could affect USENET newsgroup access. This time, he’s proposing a narrower approach toward reclassifying broadband access services as telecommunications services, in the hope that this might win over the industry.

The move comes in the wake a federal appeals court ruling that concluded the FCC overstepped its authority in attempting to prevent Comcast’s Internet throttling, an action that has thrown into disarray the commission’s plans to codify net neutrality regulations.

The basis of the FCC’s general broadband plan is to provide broadband Internet access to more Americans, in part by limiting the ability of ISPs to restrict the amount of bandwidth users consume, and by barring them from showing preference to their own traffic or to traffic generated by users who pay a premium for bandwidth.

Grouping ISPs with telephone companies would give the FCC the authority to impose so-called net neutrality—prohibiting an ISP from slowing or denying user access to an application or service–a say-so it sought but was denied in the Comcast ruling.  Currently, companies like Comcast have no restriction on bandwidth throttling, which can result in drastic reductions in speed and access time.

The opposition consisting of most ISPS minus Sprint, has been lining up to criticize the proposal, arguing that any type of regulation will stifle investment because complying with the regulation is expensive and onerous.

Carriers don’t like FCC chairman Julius Genachowski’s “Third Way” proposal for net neutrality because it would bring them under increased regulation by classifying broadband as a “telecommunications service.” Public interest groups generally maintain Gonachowski’s approach would lead to delivery of faster broadband services to more Americans including many who have been shortchanged in rural areas.

“We believe this is without legal basis. Make no mistake—when it regulates the networks that comprise the Internet, the FCC is in fact, and for the first time, regulating the Internet itself… We feel confident that if the FCC proceeds down this path, the federal courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion.” – from ATT

Many newsgroup subscribers say that they didn’t trust the notion that the FCC would take only a limited approach to the new regulations, and that the “Trojan Horse” of this good intention is to choke ISPs on other issues and matters down the line.



Duke University Usenet Newsgroup Server Decommission Discount

By Newsgroup Usenet May 5th, 2010

After thirty years of providing Usenet access, Duke University has recently announced they may have to decommission the newsgroup servers on campus. As a special discount to Duke University students, NewsDemon.com Newsgroups is offering a 40% discount on any of our monthly plans.

Dubbed by many as the original “Home of Usenet” since its inception in 1979, The Duke University servers have long provided students and faculty free access to Usenet newsgroups. Bridged between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, grad students Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the oldest and most widely used online communications systems that are still actively used today. Predating the World Wide Web, USENET newsgroups are responsible for creating the architecture in which social networks, forums and blogs are based upon today.

For all Duke University students that are looking to continue their subscription to USENET newsgroups, simply provide your duke issued email address at checkout to automatically discount 40% off your monthly subscription membership on any of our plans.

The cost and resources to continue free USENET newsgroups access has been increasingly difficult for schools to provide on campus. With rising costs and maintenance to be provided for the expanding world of USENET has left many to consider alternatives. As a root to the heart of USENET and the campus, some are questioning the plans on cutting off access at Duke. NewsgroupReviews has provided information to ask the school to reconsider.

We continue here at NewsDemon.com Newsgroups to provide a resource and alternative to Duke and other Colleges and Universities with our Free Usenet Access Program. For more than a year, the charity has and continues to provide Free Usenet newsgroup access to faculty and staff and also provides 25% off discounts to all students on any of our monthly newsgroup subscriptions. Increasing the offer, we now offer a whopping 40% off for students with a duke email address.



Usenet Reports: Adobe CS5 Released

By Newsgroup Usenet April 30th, 2010

adobe-cs5

Adobe announced that its anticipated Creative Suite 5 product family is now available for shipping or immediate download, with more than 250 new features and, for the first time ever, native 64-bit support for Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects.

Adobe CS 5 comes 18 months after CS4 was released and brings 250 new features among all the products included. Enhancements and improvements should be noticeable across the board and go beyond the few features that have been touted so far, like the impressive Content Aware fill in Photoshop CS5.

Adobe sells these programs alone or packages them up into suites tailored for various market segments. At the very top end is the $2,599 Master Collection, which includes everything. The designer-oriented Design Standard costs $1,299.

For Mac users, the CS5 will require an Intel-based Mac running the latest versions of Mac OS 10.5 or Mac OS X 10.6. Some applications, such as Photoshop, Premiere, and After Effects are 64-bit native.

Newsgroups related to Adobe products, such as adobe.acrobat.newsgroups and adobe.photoshop.newsgroups will expectedly provide reviews and tricks from the subscriber community.