The NewsDemon Blog

Newsgroup Spotlight: April Fools and Humor Newsgroups

By Newsgroup Usenet April 1st, 2009

Newsdemon April Fools and Humor Newsgroup SpotlightJokes and pranks are everywhere today celebrating April Fools’ Day, traditionally celebrated on April 1. Whether you are the prankster or the gullible one who falls for a gag, you are sure to be one of millions who are part of some kind of April Fools’ Day prank on this lighthearted holiday.

Many Usenet newsgroups explain that while April Fools’ Day is connected to festivals held in ancient Rome on March 25, the Hilaria and a celebration on March 31 in India called the Holi. However, it is most closely related to All Fools’ Day in France. All Fools’ Day began in France when the Gregorian calendar moved New Year’s Day from March 25 to Jan. 1 in 1582. It is said that those who continued to celebrate the end of the year on April 1 were called fools.

Communication traveled slowly in those days and some people were only informed of the change several years later. Still others, who were more rebellious refused to acknowledge the change and continued to celebrate on the last day of the former celebration, April 1. These people were labeled “fools” by the general populace, were subject to ridicule and sent on “fool errands,” sent invitations to nonexistent parties and had other practical jokes played upon them. The butts of these pranks became known as a “poisson d’avril” or “April fish” because a young naive fish is easily caught. In addition, one common practice was to hook a paper fish on the back of someone as a joke.his tradition eventually spread elsewhere like to Britain and Scotland in the 18th century and was introduced to the American colonies by the English and the French. Because of this spread to other countries, April Fool’s Day has taken on an international flavor with each country celebrating the holiday in its own way.

By example:

England – Jokes are played only in the morning. Fools are called ‘gobs’ or ‘gobby’ and the victim of a joke is called a ‘noodle.’ It was considered back luck to play a practical joke on someone after noon.

Scotland – April Fool’s Day is devoted to spoofs involving the buttocks and as such is called Taily Day. The butts of these jokes are known as April ‘Gowk’, another name for cuckoo bird. The origins of the “Kick Me” sign can be traced back to the Scottish observance.

Portugal – April Fool’s Day falls on the Sunday and Monday before lent. In this celebration, many people throw flour at their friends.

Rome – the holiday is known as Festival of Hilaria, celebrating the resurrection of the god Attis, is on March 25 and is also referred to as “Roman Laughing Day”.

India – The Huli Festival is celebrated on March 31 in India. People play jokes on one another and smear colors on one another celebrating the arrival of Spring.

So, no matter where you happen to be in the world on April 1, don’t be surprised if April fools fall playfully upon you. April Fools’ Day, sometimes called All Fools’ Day, is one of the most light hearted days of the year.

For all things April Fools and general Humor, you can find out more about the history as well as historical pranks on newsgroups:



































Access Usenet Newsgroups Via Airline WiFi

By Newsgroup Usenet March 31st, 2009

It’s Cloud Computing to a whole new level. In a nod to the prevalence of Internet-ready mobile devices and stronger wireless services, American Airlines announced today that it’s poised to offer WiFi on 300 domestic aircraft over the next two years. The experiments they had been running before have been a success and airlines are scrambling to equip more planes with in flight Internet and Usenet access.

American Airlines began offering Wi-Fi aboard just over a dozen of its planes last year and charged varying fees from just under $8.00 for Internet and e-mail access via hand-held devices to just under $13.00 for laptop Internet and Usenet access to Newsgroups on longer flights.

The news from American should be welcomed by Usenet users, as more and more airlines expand WiFi capabilities to keep up with growing demand among Usenet members with mobile Web-ready iPhones, smartphones, Netbooks and other devices.

Your flight will probably have the service if you’re flying on an MD-80 aircraft because those planes will be outfitted with the technology first. You can check your e-ticket to see if you’ll be flying on an MD-80 aircraft. The only thing missing from the service is the ability to make in-flight phone calls via Skype or any other instant communications service. In flight phone calls, unless made with the airplane’s built-in equipment, are banned by the FCC.

The news follows a February announcement from Southwest Airlines saying it was testing in-flight WiFi on one of its jets. Should passengers find themselves on a WiFi plane during the trial, they can use the service for free.

Delta Airlines also announced last summer that it would be offering WiFi on all 330 planes in North America. Delta also operates on Aircell’s service and has identical pricing to the above prices listed for American Airlines, although there is no mention of a cheaper flat rate fee for handheld devices or if Usenet Newsgroup access would be supported.

Firefox Gains Share As Usenet User’s Browser Of Choice

By Newsgroup Usenet March 26th, 2009

It’s been around only since the end of 2004, but in that short period, Mozilla’s open-source, multiplatform Web browser Firefox has managed to dominate 43.13% percent of all visitors to Used by many as a more secure, dependable and standards-abiding alternative to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (which is still the most used browser by a considerable margin), Firefox seems to be on a continuing upward trend.

Despite Microsoft’s global domination, Firefox is a vastly more dominant browser. Between 2008 and 2009, Firefox was responsible for share gains of 5.47%, at the expense of other browsers, especially IE.

Firefox’s advances in the market against IE have been extremely impressive and at this point it’s impossible to tell whether 2009 results are the beginning of an upward trend for the open source market or a one-time anomaly, considering the new release of IE8 (although it has initially gained lack luster reviews), and forthcoming Windows 7.

Since Google’s entry into the web browser market last September, Chrome’s share has increased from to being non-existent to beating out Opera and closely bridging the gap with Safari with a 3.29% share.

For sure Google has got the word out big time, but real success and results will come when people actually stick to the browser rather than trying it out for a little while and going back to their usual browser of choice.

With the latest release of Safari, which proclaims itself as the fastest browser, as Google once held the title for, many reports have actually demonstrated a dip in usage than an increase. Many speculate this too is because of the Firefox dominance.

Below are the 2008 and 2009 comparisons of all the most popular browsers our site visitors use:

Internet Explorer 56.32% 46.16%
Firefox 37.66% 43.13%
Safari 3.23% 4.55%
Chrome 0.00% 3.29%
Opera 1.91% 2.00%
Mozilla 0.42% 0.45%
SeaMonkey 0.00% 0.11%
Netscape 0.21% 0.08%
Mozilla Compatible Agent 0.02% 0.06%
Camino 0.10% 0.05%

More information about these browsers and other browser related info, including open source browsers, can be found on newsgroups, such as:









































More after the jump

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Newsgroup Spotlight: Culture and Geography Newsgroups

By Newsgroup Usenet March 25th, 2009

Usenet has been home to communities for a long period of time that post questions, share information and learn about other cultures. There are many different newsgroups where you can learn about specific cultures and specific areas of the world. These culture and geography newsgroups are home to vast communities of those who wish to participate and share in discussions about their specific region.

The best place to look is in the soc hierarchy newsgroups, among all of the soc.culture.* newsgroups. In these newsgroups, you can ask about cities, languages, history, cultural traditions, and the like. In many cases, these newsgroups will have discussions in two or three different languages.

The purpose of these groups is to exchange news and information about its people, culture and history, and general geogrpahy of different regions.This newsgroups provide a place to talk and get information about practically any region of the world.

Topics of interest many of these newsgroups follow include:

  • Politics, new/old legislation, politicians
  • Culture, history, philosophy, ideology, geography
  • Educational issues
  • Business related issues
  • Societies, traditions, customs
  • Literature, poetry, art, music, folklore
  • Languages, books
  • Science, technology
  • Food, cookery
  • The media, popular entertainment, television, cinema
  • Local events, news, programs, economy
  • Communities abroad, problems, needs
  • Cultural interaction
  • Travel information
  • News from specific regions

Regions are specific, ranging from Africa to Yugoslavia. More information on these groups, including charter page information for each, can be found in our Cultures and Geography newsgroups section.

Newsdemon Increases Newsgroups Retention To 400 Days!

By Newsgroup Usenet March 20th, 2009, a leading premium USENET provider, is proud to announce retention is being increased to an unprecedented, industry leading, 400 days. This increase in retention will be available for both United States and Europe based members.

The one year and thirty five day retention follows an earlier announcement this year of a 175 day retention increase.

The retention rate of binaries translates into the longest amount of time an article would be available on any particular Newsgroup. The increase in retention does not require any modifications from members on either their newsreaders or account settings.

The 400 day binary retention increase will not affect the same level of superior service or speed provided by premium USENET access. is proud to be an industry leading USENET provider and is proud to be part of the global networking community it supports. USENET access has been committed to providing access to thousands of uncensored newsgroups at blazing speeds and affordable prices.

For more information regarding this upgrade, please view our USENET Newsgroups Retention Upgrade page.

Newsgroup Spotlight: General Education and Educator Newsgroups

By Newsgroup Usenet March 18th, 2009

Education is a fundamental factor in an individual’s prosperity, happiness, contribution to society, and impact on the future. Usenet newsgroups recognizes the vital role teachers play in education and the betterment of our culture.

In support of educators, many Education Newsgroups follow some simple principles:

1. To allow educators to contribute to the content and community that exists on newsgroups

2. To utilize the Usenet to harness the collective intellect and wisdom of the worldwide teaching community

Many special topic education related newsgroups have been formed to contribute to education policy through research and debate on the current issues, structures and expectations at all levels of education.

The mission for many of these newsgroups is to define the changing forces that are shaping how people learn, work, and live in  our contemporary world, and to demonstrate how individuals and educational institutions can apply new knowledge to thrive in the future. From College Newsgroups to Home Schooling Newsgroups, you can find a newsgroup dedicated to almost every grade and form of education.

Teachers are a great asset to society and deserve a great community to discuss, share and contribute, and thus, education newsgroups proceeded to create an online environment which places the needs of individual teachers at the forefront. With dedicated newsgroups on subjects such as English Newsgroups and Science Newsgroups by example demonstrate the variety of scholarly topics that these actively involved community newsgroups cover.

Teacher-created newsgroups are designed to help teachers find online resources more quickly and easily to find lesson plans, thematic units, teacher tips and discussion groups for teachers

6 Linux Based Newsgroup Newsreaders

By Newsgroup Usenet March 16th, 2009

In order to get the most from Usenet, you need a specialised program that must be (at least) a hybrid between an email client and a file download manager. A Usenet client also needs features that are unnecessary in the email world. Real Usenet geeks have to deal with multi-part articles; they want to read stuff from a newsgroup while also downloading files from several other newsgroups, on the same or on different servers.

In this Roundup we present six clients chosen according to two simple criteria. The programs must be developed mainly, if not exclusively, to deal with Usenet Newsgroups, and the application must be in active development, in order for it to run happily on a modern distro.

1. Gnus

There’s no way to escape from Emacs. No matter what you want to do with a computer, the “operating system that also includes a half-decent editor”, as somebody once called it, has a major or minor mode for it. When it comes to Usenet, Emacs has Gnus, the official GNU newsreader.

While Emacs isn’t exactly the friendliest editor on Earth, Gnus itself is much easier to use. First of all, installation is not an issue. Emacs packages exist for all Linux distributions, and Gnus is included in most of them. Moreover, almost all Gnus functions are accessible with the mouse, so don’t worry about shortcuts.

Gnus has many, many functions (it is Emacs, after all), from sophisticated scoring to sorting newsgroups by topic. You can define multiple servers, customise article formatting in many ways and use authenticated accounts. In that case, Gnus will prompt you for a username and password unless you write them in $HOME/.authinfo.

In spite of all these features, basic usage of Gnus is very quick and painless. Its minimal configuration is simple: you just need to remember to do it before you start using Gnus, to avoid confusing messages from Emacs.

Create the file $HOME/.gnus.el and add to it three lines like these:

(setq user-mail-address “[email protected]_”)
(setq user-full-name “Newsdemon User”)
(setq gnus-select-method ‘(nntp “ or similar”)

Save the file, type M-x gnus, press Return and lo!, Gnus will open the server specified in gnus-select-method.

To browse the list of newsgroups, type A A. To subscribe, type U and then the newsgroup name. For everything else, enter Ctrl-i gnus to open the manual. Documentation wise, Gnus wins this Roundup for completeness. Since the official manual is really thorough, however, you’d better start from the tutorial.


SLRN is is a console program that will work even if you need to run it via SSH on some remote server where Emacs isn’t available. It’s the smallest and lightest client in this Roundup, but this doesn’t mean that its functionality is limited.

The final way to make cool things with SLRN, or at least with the articles you read with it, is to pipe those articles to any external program with just one keystroke (|). In general, the behaviour of SLRN is controlled by one or more options that are clearly explained in the resource configuration file (slrn.rc) distributed with the program.

As with Gnus, SLRN needs a bit of manual setup before it starts in order to be happy, but it’s not a big deal. You can define as many servers as you like in the configuration file, but the default one should be written manually at the prompt or in the shell.rc file, in the environment variable NNTPSERVER.

Using predefined macros, you get: GnuPG signatures, one-key scoring, optional mouse support and basic support for binary postings. Using SLRN is easy: whenever you need help, type ? and the command list will appear. The only small issue is that when you hit Q after reading an article, SLRN closes the whole newsgroup, not just the article.

3. Thunderbird

Thunderbird is so good and so fulfilling as an email client that we wouldn’t be surprised to discover that many of its users never noticed that it can handle Usenet too. However, all you have to do to use Thunderbird as a newsreader is define a ‘newsgroup’ type account and associate to it a server name, port and email identity.

That’s all it takes to make the new account appear in the left pane. After that, if you click on its name you’ll open a configuration pane where you can manage your subscriptions, accounts parameters, message filters and offline settings.

As far as offline usage is concerned, what you can configure in Thunderbird is how long to keep old or read messages, if at all. You can even delete just the bodies to save disk space and keep the headers.

The availability of the tagging system is probably the greatest advantage of using Thunderbird to browse newsgroups, as you get to keep all the visual presentation gadgets you may be already using for email. Of course, the same applies to many other features of Thunderbird, from the spellchecker to the quick print preview function or any Thunderbird add-on you may have installed.

4. XPN

The X Python Newsreader runs on every operating system where Python and its GTK bindings are available. On Linux, all you need to do is unpack the tar file, place its folder wherever you like on your system and launch the script.

Unlike other newsreaders, in XPN you have to define at least one identity, even if you only want to read articles, before subscribing to any newsgroup. To set up an identity, click File > Preferences to open the configuration window. This interface has five tabs: Server, User, Display, Groups and Misc. In the last one you can tell XPN which web browser and external editor you want to use while reading or posting.

Article display is really flexible: you can independently colour the window background, headers, text and three levels of quotes. The panes layout is equally customisable. You get a matrix of 20 icons, each representing a different combination of the article, headers and groups list panes, and all you have to do is check one you like.

The scoring and filtering interface of XPN is as flexible as that of Thunderbird or Knode, but is organised in a different way. Scoring can depend on many fields, from From, Subject and Date to the number of newsgroups to which an article has been posted. Actions like marking an article as read, ignoring it and so on have their own panel and are always applied after scoring rules.

5. KNode

KNode is a powerful newsreader. It can handle an unlimited number of NNTP servers and it lets you define a different default identity and policy for article retention (which KNode calls cleanup) for each identity.

After you’ve subscribed to a newsgroup, you can override those default values with more appropriate ones if necessary. Just remember that, unlike Pan and other programs discussed in these pages, when you start using it KNode doesn’t ask you to define at least one server to connect to. It just sits happily in its window until you configure at least one account and tell it to go get the news.

Eventually, when you select a group you can only choose to download all new articles, without limiting it to those newer than N days. One of the biggest, if not the main strength of KNode is its scoring capabilities.

The Scoring Rule Editor is accessible from the top menu (Scoring > Edit Scoring Rules) after giving the rule a name. Next, you can enter all the newsgroups for which that rule is valid. After that, you can define as many conditions as you wish. There are several types of conditions: you can tell KNode to look for plain strings or regular expressions in the subject, author or Message-IDs headers.

Alternatively, you may look for articles posted before or after a given date, or whose references or line number exceed some threshold. When you’re done, you realise that ‘Scoring’ is a deceptive name for this function. ‘Adjust Score’ is, in fact, just one of the actions that KNode can perform when all the conditions match. The others are colouring the article subject in the article list, opening it in a separate window or marking it as read.

You can ‘copy’ existing rules, that is, use it as a base for a similar one with another name, instead of typing everything again. The rule list in the left-hand pane of the Rule editor has buttons to alter the order in which they are applied.

6. Pan

Pan is a fast, lightweight but very complete Usenet client originally developed for the Gnome desktop but now also available for Windows and Mac. There’s nothing special to report about the look and feel of the user interface, but don’t take this as a liability: Pan keeps everything you need in sight, without making a big deal of it or getting in the way. Almost all menus and functions are usable without the mouse.

The toolbar has two search boxes: one is for newsgroups on the server and the other is to find, inside the current newsgroup, all articles with a given string in the author or subject. The right half of the toolbar hosts several buttons to only view articles that are, for example, complete or already cached. During general configuration you can declare as many servers as you like and set the maximum number of simultaneous connections both on a per-server and on a per-session basis.

As in KNode, ‘Watch’ and ‘Ignore’ are just synonyms for ‘give a particularly high or low score to this thread’: the only difference is that Pan uses higher values for these two functions, namely -9,999 and +9,999. In all other other cases, you have plenty of matching criteria and scoring actions and can set the duration of a rule.

For non-Linux users and for other Newsreader suggestions, check out our Newsreader Guide

Newsgroup Spotlight: Health and Medicine Newsgroups

By Newsgroup Usenet March 11th, 2009

Dealing with a medical condition is often difficult. Connecting with others who are going through the same thing can make a world of difference. Usenet is a great place where you can make those connections. With a variety of newsgroups that are directly related to a number of different areas of the medical field, you can connect and share your experience.

Usenet provides a unique support group community offering topic specific newsgroups on various diseases, conditions, and health topics. Medical newsgroup communities span worldwide with thousands of contributions per month. With many of these newsgroups, topics are broken down to very specific subjects. You can find newsgroups that cater from ailments such as Lyme disease to Cancer

Usenet is also home to other medical newsgroups that deal with the medical profession itself. A wide range of newsgroups exist for almost every medical field such as Nursing, Dentisty and Pharmacy related professions. Many of these groups are based by professionals in these fields alongside other community contributors that are actively involved.

Newsgroups are a great source of information to find out more about an ailment or simply to research more about health and medicine. With hundreds of groups to choose from, chances are that a specific newsgroup relating to your topic already exists.

Newsgroup Spotlight: Astronomy Newsgroups

By Newsgroup Usenet March 4th, 2009

The fascination to unravel the mystery of the sky has been set alongside human history since the dawn of time. The technology and progress that has been made since is accredited to the collaborative effort of many, building upon each other.

Through discussion and sharing their findings we continue to discover new aspects of our expanding universe.

Usenet hosts a variety of newsgroups that cater to the discussion of astronomy. Designated groups ranging from amateur astronomy newsgroups to astronomical research are covered on Usenet.

Other newsgroups, such as the Hubble Telescope newsgroup that was in recent news of being in peril due to the debris from a destroyed satellite as well as Planetary and Planetarium newsgroups cover other aspects of astronomy as they cover a variety of glimpses inside our galaxy and universe.

By way of these discussions and discoveries by communities like these we can continue to anticipate new discoveries to be made.

Below are some other newsgroups related to Astronomy you may be interested in with a Usenet account:

Flexible Image Transport System (sci.astro.fits)

Miscellaneous (sci.astro)






















uk.sci.astronomy New Newsgroup Newsreader Information and Tutorials

By Newsgroup Usenet March 2nd, 2009

Usenet hosts thousands upon thousands of newsgroups that can be subscribed to with a newsreader. A newsreader client allows the user to subscribe to these newsgroups and download the headers and messages from Usenet.

There are a variety of newsreaders that fit most any operating system and user preferences by the amount of features each have. now offers tutorials and information on some of the most popular newsreaders. These newsreaders cover Windows, OSX and Linux platforms.

The tutorials are specifically made to go alongside your Usenet access account. members receive a free version of the award winning Newsrover newsreader. The version of Newsrover is preconfigured with your access account. You can find details in your member login page on how to download, set-up and configure your Newsreader. A video newsrover tutorial is also available.

Newsbin and Newsleecher have also been added as other supported Windows based newsreaders.

We want to be able to cater to all of our customers. If you have a newsreader you would like us to feature and offer a tutorial on, please send your request to your support department.