The NewsDemon Blog

Google Experiences Second Outage In A Week

By Newsgroup Usenet May 18th, 2009

165046-google-error_180After an initial service outage on Thursday, Google was dealt with another service outage this Monday morning which impacted users around the world. Beginning around 8:30AM, the primary Google service, Google News, had been inaccessible to many users, generating a “503 Server Error”.

The first outage on Thursday had already resulted in paniced users, including Usenet newsgroup users who also felt the affect as Google Groups was also down for the hour and a half it was reported being down. The net result was that not only did five percent of the traffic disappear, but it also jammed the rest of the web, as it slowed to a crawl. In a recent official company blog post, Google said that an error in one of its  systems caused it to direct some of our web traffic through Asia, which created a traffic jam. It claimed that only 14 per cent of its  users experienced slow services or even interruptions.

Traffic would have fallen even more if the outage had been wider, as it affected just 14 percent of Google’s users. Analysts said the outage demonstrated exactly how reliant the world has become on Google, which now handles nearly three out of four search queries in America each day. Google Groups, which many had considered a stable source of accessing Usenet, was also compromised.

The outage happened after Google accidentally routed online traffic through Asia, creating a massive backup. The slowdown peaked around mid-afternoon in Europe and morning in the US, affecting millions of users.

Usenet newsgroups lit up throughout the morning with comments and complaints about the outage and the company.

”An error in one of our systems caused us to direct some of our Web traffic through Asia,” Google said.

“We’ve been working hard to make our services ultrafast and always on, so it’s especially embarrassing when a glitch like this one happens.”

The disruption prevented users around the world from loading Google Group newsgroup pages, but the problems were in scattered areas. The outage was been reported by users from California to Massachusetts and as far away as Sydney, Australia, India, and the United Kingdom.

Although today’s outage is still being determined, only Google News has been reported to be affected this time around, versus the suite of applications and services affected at the end of last week.

Newsgroup Spotlight: Science and Physics Newsgroups

By Newsgroup Usenet May 13th, 2009

Angels & Demons, the sequel to the The DaVinci Code, debuts this week and early reviews describe the film as a lighter, quicker-paced film than its predecessor. Based on the novel by controversial author Dan Brown, the plot of the film centers around a plan to use anti-matter created at the Large Hadron Collider and stolen from the European particle physics laboratory CERN to destroy St. Peter’s Basilica.
But could the plot become reality? Scientists hope to use dramatic elements of the movie to raise interest in, and awareness of, the real science of anti-matter, the Large Hadron Collider (where anti-matter is created in Angels & Demons and in real life), and particle physics research.
The science in the plot both hits and misses, Erich Varnes, a University of Arizona associate professor of physics, who works alongside other UA physicists at the ATLAS detector, an experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. “Some is very accurate, and some is inaccurate.”
The USENET hierarchy contains a number of newsgroups dedicated to the discussion of physics and physics-related topics. These include sci.physics, sci.physics.research, sci.physics.cond-matter and  sci.physics.particle
USENET newsgroups are unique in topics such as sci.physics, an unmoderated newsgroup dedicated to the discussion of physics, dealing with news from the physics community, and physics-related social issues. Whereas sci.physics.research is a moderated newsgroup designed to offer an environment with less traffic and more opportunity for discussion of serious topics in physics among experts and beginners alike.
Other Physics related Usenet newsgroups such as sci.physics.fusion which has approached new discoveries and interest as of late and sci.physics.electromag dealing with a relative component of the Hadron Collider, Electromagnetism, is discussed.
The movie uses particle physics as the basis of its entire plot and has already spawned a growing interest in physics sparking new conversations from the novice to professors on the matter.

Free Wi-Fi Access To Usenet Newsgroups Announced By Qwest

By Newsgroup Usenet May 8th, 2009

The Denver-based telecom company, Qwest Communications, said it partnered with AT&T wireless to give Qwest’s residential and small-business broadband customers unlimited use of the wireless Internet hotspots at the three chains’ shops, including access to Usenet newsgroups. Qwest does not have a wireless service of its own.

Mimicking an increasingly popular practice among broadband service providers, Qwest Communications has struck a deal to offer AT&T’s Wi-Fi service to its own broadband customers. The Wall Street Journal reports that Qwest pursued the offering after a survey informed the company of the “strong demand” for wireless Internet service.

Starting today, millions of Qwest High-Speed Internet customers, including small-business customers, can enjoy free, unlimited nationwide access to Qwest Wi-Fi offered at 17,000 hotspots, including popular coffee shops, bookstores and restaurants and access Usenet newsgroups from these locations as well.

Free access to the AT&T Wi-Fi network is available to all current and new Qwest High-Speed Internet customers. To access the network customers simply need to look for the “QwestWiFi” SSID or service set identifier. More information regarding how to login and where Wi-Fi locations are located can be found through the Qwest Wi-Fi website. Once you are connected at a location, you can then use a newsreader in order to gain access to Usenet newsgroups.

Newsgroup Spotlight: Art and Entertainment Newsgroups

By Newsgroup Usenet May 6th, 2009

Devoted discussions of all aspects of theatre, art and entertainment follow the history of Usenet.  Split into specific sub-category newsgroups, Usenet is a source for community discussions, interactions, sharing and discovering aspects of their respective genres and fields.

Since the early days of Usenet, devoted newsgroups to particular art forms of theatre and entertainment have existed. A hub for those interested in both the result and the process has either found or created a group specific to their interests over the years.

For film buffs or those interested in the process of film making can join discussions on dedicated newsgroups such as rec.arts.cinema where they discuss everything from cinematic technique to film history on this newsgroup.

Additionally, rec.arts.movies and rec.arts.television cover generally the same aspects in their respective genres.

For theatre,, along sub-category newsgroups cover discussions of everything within the range of stage work, acting, directing, reviewing and production. Otherwise, covers other aspects of popular theatre as well.

The above examples are just some of the many newsgroups that Usenet provides in the field of theatre, art and entertainment. Other newsgroups that are much more specific to your interests are sure to also be part of the Usenet hierarchy.

US Government and Military Expand From Usenet Newsgroups To Social Networks

By Newsgroup Usenet May 5th, 2009

Government Expands Usenet To Include Social NetworksThe Obama administration now has feeds on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. The social networking sites are just the latest in the administration’s efforts to make information widely available, as they join YouTube, Flickr, iTunes and Vimeo in addition to their existing presence on Usenet newsgroups.

Each branch of the U.S. military continues to try and see how it can embrace Web 2.0.
The Pentagon is now using Web 2.0 services such as Facebook and Twitter to help relay the military’s message while also tracking down possible recruits online.

At a time when some Americans don’t believe mass media in the United States is portraying the correct message about the mission in Iraq, officials such as Gen Raymond Odierno, top U.S. commander in Iraq, have a Facebook page used to highlight things soldiers are doing in the Middle East. This is in compliment to many government newsgroups they also post to.

The social-networking sites are the latest in the administration’s and military’s efforts to make information widely available, as they join YouTube, Flickr, iTunes and Vimeo in appendum to the widely vast availability of specific government administration and US military newsgroups such as: sci.military.naval,, alt.military, and rec.aviation.military to name a few and not including internal mil. newsgroups

“Technology has profoundly impacted how — and where — we all consume information and communicate with one another,” wrote an administration official on “ is an important part of the administration’s effort to use the Internet to reach the public quickly and effectively — but it isn’t the only place.”

The Marine Corps has dabbled with Web 2.0 experimentation, although it mainly has been for recruiting only, using the practice for years on newsgroups. Both the Navy and Coast Guard are experimenting how to work in the Web 2.0 world, with even the Coast Guard commandant updating his Facebook status while he travels.

Some companies and organizations have been wary to launch official Web 2.0 services, though allowing select executives and employees to handle work-related business online. It’s not uncommon to find both employees and executives from companies such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and others sharing information online.

All of these companies and government sections however, have not only embraced, but have been part of the Usenet community for quite some time.

Newsgroup Spotlight: Government and Regional Newsgroups

By Newsgroup Usenet April 29th, 2009

With recent announcements, summits, conferences and happenings, governments all over the world have been sharing the media spotlight more than ever. Following stories on world government affairs can be daunting, let alone being part of communities that deal with specific regions and topics. USENET  have a variety of different newsgroups that deal directly with regional governments as well as specific issues.
Whether you wish to be part of and follow stories that affect China to Canada and back around to South Asia and the European Union, there are newsgroups for almost any region or country government in existence. Specific issues that affect these regions are also covered by topical newsgroups. Even if you’re planning a vacation to these regions, there are newsgroups specific for them.
Whatever the topic or issue, government newsgroups offer a way to connect and share with a community of those interested in similar topics and regions.

Samsung and Netbook Maker Announce Android Devices

By Newsgroup Usenet April 27th, 2009

Two Android powered devices have recently been announced, growing the exposure and the adoption of the Google OS. The open source operating system is being displayed in new phones and netbooks. The Android OS currently supports Usenet newsgroups by means of the mobile version of Google Groups as well as a 3rd party newsreader application.

Samsung released its first handset based on Google’s Android platform, the I7500. O2 Germany will launch the phone in June. The candybar handset will have tri-band 7.2 Mbps HSDPA (in the 900 MHz, 1700 MHz and 2100 MHz bands), WiFi, a 3.2-inch AMOLED touchscreen display, a 5-megapixel camera and 8GB of internal storage (with a microSD slot capable of holding up to an additional 32GB). It also has Bluetooth 2.0, GPS and a 3.5 mm headset jack. The phone does not have a physical keyboard.

This model will have a tablet shape and an HVGA display. Users will need to depend on the touchscreen for text input and dialing numbers, as there is no hardware keyboard.

With the introduction of the I7500, there are now two handset makers currently selling Android phones. HTC has unveiled both the G1 and the Magic, and plans on releasing at least two more Android handsets by the end of the year. LG Electronics and Motorola have also indicated their intentions to release Android phones this year, as have smaller firms such as Acer and Huawei.

In the netbook market, Skytone announced the first Android-powered netbook earlier this week, when the Alpha 680 quietly appeared on the company’s website. The Alpha 680 is to be the first netbook to carry the Google Android platform from Guangzhou Skytone Transmission Technologies Company LTD. The Alpha 680 will run a low cost ARM chip and is expected to become available possibly within the next 3 months.

Roughly priced at $250, the Alpha 680 will run on Google’s Android operating system, and will make use of the economical and energy-efficient ARM processor – used in mobile phones, including iPhone – rather than the commonly-used Atom processor used in most netbooks.

The current prototypes measure 8.5 inches long, 6 inches wide and 1.2 inches thick, which is small enough to inside a small bag. The unit will also be very lightweight at just 700g (1.5lbs) and between 2 to 4 hours of battery life out of the Alpha 680’s 2-cell battery. ARM 11 533MHz processor,128MB RAM and 1GB of flash storage are standard on the device. An optional upgrade to 256MB RAM and 4GB flash storage is possible. For those that want more, a SDHC slot is also supported.

They were showcased at Hongkong’s electronics trade show last week and will likely be readied by June, with the final product to become available within a couple of months after that.

Currently, the only supported newsreader for the Android OS is the Groundhog Newsreader.

Newsgroup Spotlight: Radio Hobbyists Newsgoups

By Newsgroup Usenet April 22nd, 2009

For as long as Usenet has been around and specialized newsgroups came to form on practically every subject, so did hobbyists. One large group that started to form were amateur and professional radio enthusiasts.
Radio newsgroups offer a variety of different topics and specifics to meet almost any need. From Ham Radio Newsgroups to Digital Radio Newsgroups If you’re a hobbyist at heart, this is the community for you.

These newsgroups are intended to be a place where any radio monitoring topic or hobbies can and should be discussed. The community of hobbyists like tohear from posters who listen to any part of the radio or microwave spectrum, from DC to daylight. Discussions range from shortwave broadcasting, DXing small or distant shortwave stations, utility and teletype monitoring, station schedules, spectrum usage, equipment design and modifications, antennas, receiver reviews and recommendations and many, many more.

Here are just some of the newsgroups to discover if you are a radio hobbyists enthusiast:



Stephen Hawking Seriously Ill in Cambridge University Hospital

By Newsgroup Usenet April 20th, 2009

Usenet Newsgroups are currently abuzz with the news that mathematician/cosmologist/theoretician Stephen Hawking who filled Sir Isaac Newton’s shoes at Cambridge University for several years is seriously ill in Cambridge. He has been fighting a chest infection for several weeks and is now undergoing tests at Addenbrooke’s Hospital on the outskirts of Cambridge.

Wheelchair-bound Hawking is perhaps most famous for ‘A Brief History of Time‘ which explored the origins of the universe in layman’s terms, is considered a modern classic. It was followed in 2001 by another book, “The Universe In A Nutshell“, television documentary appearances and even cameos in popular television shows like “The Simpsons” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. Professor Hawking was awarded a CBE in 1982, became a Companion of Honour in 1989 and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Hawking has Lou Gehrig’s Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS), which is usually fatal after three years. Hawking has survived for more than 40 years since his diagnosis. Hawking, 67, has achieved international fame despite being wheelchair-bound because of motor neurone disease and having to communicate through a voice synthesiser. He has received a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) as well as a string of honorary degrees.

His distinctive appearance and artificial speech have made him instantly recognisable world-wide, and he has never shirked the media spotlight.

Hawking has always insisted he is determined not to let his physical condition get in the way of his work. He has worked at Cambridge’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics for more than 30 years and since 1979 has been the University’s Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.

Time Warner Backs Out Of Download Limits

By Newsgroup Usenet April 17th, 2009

Time Warner’s new CEO, Glenn Britt, issued a statement yesterday saying the company had shelved the pricing trials in Rochester, N.Y.; Austin and San Antonio, Texas; and Greensboro, N.C. Those trials, which started only two weeks earlier, charged subscribers for the amount of bandwidth they used. Time Warner called it a “consumption-based” model.

The cable giant’s plan was to price its home broadband service by tiers according to how much data customers use. Critics of the plan said it would raise rates dramatically for those who use Internet video, phone and other bandwidth-heavy applications.

Time Warner Cable recently backed off from its attempt to impose “usage-based pricing” of its Road Runner service in several regions of New York, after Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer strenuously opposed such a plan. But cable companies will continue to push its heavy usage penalties, until regulation is in place to stop them, say consumer rights critics.

The Federal Communications Commission is preparing a study of cable companies for Congress, due next year. The commission will evaluate pricing, speed, affordability and availability, and the cable companies are terrified federal regulations are on the way.

Late last year, Time Warner Cable had dropped access to Usenet Newsgroups to its customers as well.

The cost of equipment to upgrade Internet capacity is falling rapidly and is about to fall more with new high-speed technology, called Docsis 3, which will increase capacity and offer speedier downloads.

To keep up with this growing demand, carriers have said that they have to enlarge their networks quickly and deploy more efficient technologies that increase capacity. It seems inevitable to all parties that Internet access will cost more, but making the transition to a new pricing scheme based on consumption can’t be done overnight.

Time Warner Cable said it was going to focus for now on making measurement tools available so consumers can learn how much bandwidth they consume.

Under the trial that was shelved, customers were asked to choose Internet usage plans that capped monthly uploads and downloads at 10GB, 20GB, 40GB or 60GB. Customers would pay $1 per gigabyte if they went over those caps, with overage fees limited to $75.

Time Warner will be charging $99 a month and Comcast $139 a month, for its new 50-megabit service. Comcast currently charges approximately $45 a month for 8-megabits-per-second downloads. Countries like Japan that have competition between its Internet providers, charge $60 a month for 160-megabits-per-second. All services and plans offered by these ISPs is supported by all Newsgroups membership.