The NewsDemon Blog

Usenet is Dead…Really?

By Newsgroup Usenet January 12th, 2009

Recently, an article was published for PC Magazine that made the claim that Usenet, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2009, is supposedly dead. The article goes on to write presumptuous claims on the direction that Usenet has taken as well as the impact that both Usenet and its Newsgroups represent.

Usenet Dead?

First off – Usenet is not dead, and far from it, as facts provide. As evidence, Newsdemon.com as well as other 3rd party Usenet service providers alone have users in the hundreds of thousands that use newsgroups in both HTML translated base and NNTP.

The article fails to reflect that Usenet is not part of, nor can be compared to other internet services that may exist. Usenet may not be the prevailing discussion system that exists on the internet today, but its popularity has proven only to be increasing once again.

Just because it may not be integrated into your “MySpace” or “Facebook” profile yet does not mean it does not exist anymore. Usenet is still vital and useful.

Usenet In Use

Usenet’s technological underpinnings predate its association with the Internet, resting on dial-up-based store-and-forward e-mail BBS systems and UUCP protocols and programs. Usenet is perhaps best described as a huge, loose collection of informal information-exchange communities that have little in common beyond their naming convention and their reliance on the Network News Transfer Protocol used to manage Usenet messages.

People had been predicting the death of Usenet almost from the beginning by those that have not comprehended the conception or the value of the protocol. However, almost 30 years later, tons of intelligent, meaningful, and important conversations still take place in just a couple megabytes worth of text-based posts.

Consider that Microsoft uses Usenet for community discussion and support. Realize that Google Groups makes Usenet searchable for people who may not have Usenet access. Google Groups alone has a high traffic volume and promotes considerable community participation off this channel of access alone.

Usenet is constantly evolving. Unlike most technologies, Usenet continues to surpass the longevity of most decentralized networks. There are, of course, online communities and massive acts of collaborative authorships today, but Usenet has always been the first.

To this day, Universities and Colleges alike actively use Usenet for studies and group discussions.

Usenet vs. The Web

 While it’s fair to characterize it as a series of bulletin boards, it is much more. The thousands of newsgroups on arcane topics was the first place that collective authorship really shined in the form of FAQ’s and tutorials. A role that Wikipedia itself models itself after. For many of us, this was the closest thing to a reference on rapidly changing technologies. Follow groups like comp.lang.c.moderated, microsoft.public.development.device.drivers, microsoft.public.platformsdk.msi to see that Usenet is still vital for power users.

 Sifting through Usenet has become increasingly easier over the years with feature rich Newsreaders such as Newsrover and many others that allow multiple Newsgroup results on search terms. These methods rival, if not surpass, the searches found on Google or Google Groups as the extension of Newsgroups that are not carried on either of the Google services are easily accessible with a Usenet account and a multitude of Newsreaders. Additionally, unlike many web forums, reading through posts do not require authentication on the part of the user to access the content.

 Usenet is doing quite well. The programming-related newsgroups are in fine shape. “comp.lang.python”, “comp.lang.javascript”, and “comp.databases.mysql” have heavy traffic from knowledgeable people, including developers of the underlying systems. It’s much faster to see the day’s updates on Usenet than to search through a half dozen archaic PHP-based forum systems. Usenet in comparison to even Web 2.0 standards still stands with an advantage.

 Usenet is fast, being a simple text protocol with built-in multicasting that can support communities of millions with virtually no drain on resources. Web forums and sites frequently rich limits when they start to become popular because the centralized hardware requirements and the use of a database mean that once it starts getting more than a few readers per second, specialized solutions are a priority. Otherwise, there is a great chance of losing the community to database overload crashes and general slowness. As long as there’s a Usenet, there will be service providers such as Newsdemon.com who disseminate and maintain it. If anything, Usenet may actually return to a more usable medium again, now that it won’t be free for all the spammers and trolls anymore. There are some things that no Web site can offer that you can only find on Usenet.

 The Future of Usenet

The bitterness that this is not “your fathers” Usenet is not relative. Usenet should be noted as a champion by surviving the dot com crashes that continue to plague the Web today. The geek paradise is still the utopia known as Usenet. The society of Usenet still thrives and continues to grow. Although it may have turned off some, Usenet remains consistent on bridging the gap with new members on a daily basis, contributing to the growth that Usenet continues to exhibit.

 Usenet is far from dead. The fact is, the evolution of what Usenet has become is greater and stronger than it has even been before. Since its inception, we have seen factual technological growth of Usenet over the years. Newsdemon.com serves as a great example as a 3rd party Usenet provider that continues to grow retention rates, completion of articles, bandwidth limits and capacity 100 times more than it was in 1993. Usenet follows a variant of Moore’s law and as time progresses, these values will only increase. With any technology, it is better to understand and realize the evolution as progress, rather than making ill assumptions of its demise by presumptions.

Even as the author states:

“It’s hard to completely kill off something as totally decentralized as Usenet; as long as two servers agree to share the NNTP protocol, it’ll continue on in some fashion.”

The fact of the matter is that Usenet will always in exist in a certain capacity. As it stands now, Usenet has evolved and grown by catering to the community it represents. Besides the protocol, Usenet will continue to exist as long as there is an interest in the conversations that take place on Newsgroups. Usenet is well alive and more capable than it has ever been.

Usenet hosts a robust and vital discussion community. Other internet based services capture a limited site-specific audience. Same topic groups may be found on other sites, but unifying these sites the way Newsgroups operate on the Usenet global distribution network for unified discussion groups is a limitation that internet services still cannot duplicate.



CES 2009 Top 5 Best Gadgets

By Newsgroup Usenet January 10th, 2009

The tech world’s focus shifted to Las Vegas from January 8th through the 11th as the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show kicked off. Expectantly, a parade of shiny, tiny, and wireless gadgets from CES exhibitors–including a 3G watch-phone from LG Electronics, a wafer-thin Samsung TV that’s 6.5 millimeters thick, and an emphasis on emerging fields such as environmentally friendly green technologies and Wi-Tricity, a technology that allows wire-free power charging of small devices.

As CES 2009 comes to a close, exhibitors presented some fantastic new products coming out throughout the year. Our top 5 favorites we’re watching are:

The Palm Pre – The Palm Pre goes well beyond updating the stale Palm OS platform, and brings an entirely new interface and hardware paradigm in the form of the Palm WebOS. The WebOS is a jewel of a touchscreen interface, and it includes some interesting synchronization options to allow users to seamlessly navigate between corporate mail, personal e-mail on Google as well as social networking on Facebook. The Palm Pre hardware itself packs all the high-end features you’d expect from a modern smartphone, all in a slim, rounded design

Ultra-thin TVs –  As expected, CES 2009 is awash with ultra-skinny TVs. All the top brands – Samsung, Phillips, Sharp and Sony – represented their own versions of their waife tvs.

Dishwasher-Safe Gadgets –  Seal Shield’s line of dishwasher-friendly gadgets and computer peripherals featured at CES 2009 is another collection that is long overdue. Not only are all of the products in the Seal Shield line boast antimicrobial properties, they come with a three-year warranty. Keyboards and mice come in both wireless and corded forms, and there are two remotes from which to choose. All are guaranteed to be waterproof and can even be tossed in the dishwasher to clean. Seal Shield keyboards and mice are meant for hospital settings, but I think they’re perfect for bloggers, students, gamers, and Internet fiends.

Next-Gen GPS – Ford showed off what its SYNC system might one day look like at the 2009 CES in Las Vegas. The video demos configurable controls and a personal assistant “avatar” named Eva. This is definitely targeted to a female marketplace, which is smart given the fact that women participate in a whopping 80% of purchases for all goods and services.Ford and Microsoft’s 3.0 version of Sync, due to be in every Ford by 2011, gives users true hands-free control of their phones. In addition to making hands-free calls over a Bluetooth connection, Sync can manipulate any smartphone applications compatible with it. So if your phone maker got on board with Sync’s open API, you could, for instance, have your new email read to you (in that reassuring GPS lady voice), get feed updates, or have anything else voiced out for you. For anyone who’s been tempted to geek while driving, it’s also a safety upgrade. Speaking of Microsoft products..

Windows 7 – Windows 7 is going to be big in 2009. From the millions of early adopters who’ll try out the public beta to the monumental Microsoft marketing machine that will continue to drive the point home – there will be no escape. Windows 7 already looks like it will be a lot better than Vista.



Newsdemon Credit Card Outtage Fixed

By Newsgroup Usenet January 2nd, 2009

On January 2nd, between the hours of 11:00 AM and 6:00 PM, Newsdemon.com experienced a critical error with their credit card processor which prevented successful checkout for those who had attempted to pay via Credit Card.

We at Newsdemon.com have since repaired this issue, and we are happy to report that credit card methods of payment are now fully operational.

This had only effected those customers who attempted to pay by credit card only. All PayPal methods of payment, including PayPal transactions that are paid by credit card, are not related to and have not been affected by this error as they are separate payment processors and systems.

The issue that caused this error involved a dropped communication between our server to our payment processor. No information gathered or stored on our servers were ever at risk of being compromised. The error solely caused an unsuccessful transaction.

At 6:00 PM today, after extensive testing, Newsdemon.com has taken measures to remove the error, allowing customers to checkout via credit card.

Any questions or concerns regarding this matter specifically can be directed via email at [email protected] We apprecitate your patronage and greatly apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused.



What’s the deal with Usenet Newsgroups Retention?

By WebMaster January 1st, 2009

Recently, NewsDemon.com’s Usenet Newsgroups had made several retention upgrades.  We had been waiting on these upgrades for some time now and we were happy to finally be able to pass the extra days along to our customers.

Now, we are getting customers who have seen that several of our competitors are following suit and increasing their retention above and beyond what we currently show.  So, we thought we would clear the air about NewsDemon.com retention.

It is NewsDemon.com’s internal policy to NOT report retention increases until we are able to actually provide and verify these days of retention on our servers.  Often, our retention numbers posted are only the amount of days available through use of article ids and exclude additional days that might be available in a group.  This mostly occurs on some of the larger groups with over a billion articles.

With that in mind, we would like our customers to know we are currently showing slightly over 200 days of retention in most of our core groups we use for measurement.  We will be updating the numbers on our website later this week.  And although we do not choose to provide an actual number of days we are building up to, we will share that we do not intend to stop growing our retention in the near future.  Building retention is a very costly and time consuming endeavor and we at NewsDemon.com hope you will understand our efforts to provide accurate information regarding our continuing upgrades on our Premium Usenet Access services.

From all of us at NewsDemon.com, we wish you a happy and prosperous 2009.



Google Earth Makes Discovery Possible

By Newsgroup Usenet December 22nd, 2008

Google Earth is fantastic, but this might be its most amazing feat yet: A scientist stumbled across an unknown green patch that turned out to be an unexplored forest home to brand new undiscovered species.

Julian Bayliss was looking around Google Earth for a new conservation project when he came across patches of green in Mozambique that appeared to be previously unexplored. Sure enough, those green patches were “7,000 hectares of forest, rich in biodiversity” that had been left untouched by scientists thanks to minor blips like miserable terrain and constant civil war.

An expedition launched in the fall to Mount Mabu discovered three new species of butterflies, a new Gaboon viper than can kill a human in a single bite, along with all kinds of other wildlife, like 200 types of butterflies and tropical plants, all in a matter of weeks.

The expedition leader, Jonathan Timberlake, says that this could just be the beginning—Google Earth might help scientists find other undiscovered pockets of biodiversity in areas like Mozambique and Papua New Guinea that haven’t been fully explored. I’ve got my fingers crossed for hobbits and Big Foot



Newsdemon.com 10% Off Discount Coupon Limited Time Offer

By Newsgroup Usenet December 19th, 2008

Newsdemon.com is currently offering new members 10% Off on any price plan. From December 19th through January 1st, customers who purchase any of the available price plans ranging from $8.99 tp $22.99 will receive an additional 10% off!

This holiday promotion is only available for a limited time. In order for new members to access this discount, simply include the following coupon discount code at checkout:
ndblog10

New members will immediately see the discount applied to their service at checkout. Code must be entered in order for the discount to be applied.

Newsdemon.com offers blazing speed on simultaneous connections with over 175 days of retention on binary files. SSL connections, 99.9% completion rates, high limits per month and a FREE Newsreader ($29.95 value) is also included.

Take advantage of all of the premium Usenet access features Newsdemon.com offers with an added discount. Customers must redeem this offer by January 1st, so act now, as this special promotion will be over after the holidays.

Remember, enter the coupon code ndblog10 at checkout to guarantee your discount!

From all of us at Newsdemon.com, we wish you a safe and joyous holiday season.



Yahoo Lowers Data Retention, Promotes Privacy

By Newsgroup Usenet December 18th, 2008

In an ongoing battle to give users the most privacy, Yahoo has set their data retention threshold at 90 days. This means that “Yahoo! will anonymize user log data within 90 days with limited exceptions for fraud, security and legal obligations. Yahoo! will also expand the policy to apply not only to search log data but also page views, page clicks, ad views and ad clicks.”

Google is currently sitting at 9 months before data is made anonymous, down from 18 months. That was in response to Yahoo! dropping down to 13 months in July 2007.

As for the exceptions Yahoo said:

“To protect users and our business partners, there will be some specific and limited exceptions to the anonymization policy. In order to fight fraud and preserve system security, Yahoo will retain system specific data in identifiable form for no more than 6 months — but only for this purpose. Yahoo may have to retain data for longer periods to meet other legal obligations.”

It remains to be seen if Google will fire back with an even shorter time frame, but Yahoo! claims that 90 days is a minimum for business purposes.



Thoughts Now Available in Technicolor

By Newsgroup Usenet December 16th, 2008

Researchers from Japan’s ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have developed new brain analysis technology that can reconstruct the images inside a person’s mind and display them on a computer monitor, as it was announced on December 11. According to the researchers, further development of the technology may soon make it possible to view other people’s dreams while they sleep.

The scientists were able to reconstruct various images viewed by a person by analyzing changes in their cerebral blood flow. Using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, the researchers first mapped the blood flow changes that occurred in the cerebral visual cortex as subjects viewed various images held in front of their eyes. Subjects were shown 400 random 10 x 10 pixel black-and-white images for a period of 12 seconds each. While the fMRI machine monitored the changes in brain activity, a computer crunched the data and learned to associate the various changes in brain activity with the different image designs.

Then, when the test subjects were shown a completely new set of images, such as the letters N-E-U-R-O-N, the system was able to reconstruct and display what the test subjects were viewing based solely on their brain activity.

For now, the system is only able to reproduce simple black-and-white images. But Dr. Kang Cheng, a researcher from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, suggests that improving the measurement accuracy will make it possible to reproduce images in color.

“These results are a breakthrough in terms of understanding brain activity,” says Dr. Cheng. “In as little as 10 years, advances in this field of research may make it possible to read a person’s thoughts with some degree of accuracy.”

The researchers suggest a future version of this technology could be applied in the fields of art and design — particularly if it becomes possible to quickly and accurately access images existing inside an artist’s head. The technology might also lead to new treatments for conditions such as psychiatric disorders involving hallucinations, by providing doctors a direct window into the mind of the patient.

ATR chief researcher Yukiyasu Kamitani says, “This technology can also be applied to senses other than vision. In the future, it may also become possible to read feelings and complicated emotional states.”

Congratulations, Mr. Orwell. Your Thought Police have arrived.

You can find out more about this subject, and much more, on Newsgroups:

rec.arts.sf.science
clari.tw.science
clari.web.tw.science
bionet.neuroscience
alt.brain
alt.human-brain



Microsoft Sits On Thumbstack

By Newsgroup Usenet December 11th, 2008

Microsoft Thumbstack

Microsoft Thumbstack

Microsoft’s Live Labs has just released Thumbtack, a web clipping service that allows users to compile links, media, and text snippets into online storage bins for future reference. Users can also share their Thumbtack collections with their peers, allowing them to collaborate by adding new clips and notations.

According to Microsoft, Thumbtack was developed based on user feedback the company received after releasing Listas in 2007. Unlike Listas, however, Thumbtack does not focus on social bookmarking but rather on creating online research collections. Thumbtack supports both IE7 and Firefox, though Firefox users miss out an a few interesting features.

Thumbtack is an “easy way to gather and share links, photos, and text, from different Web sites and save all of the data in the form of a collection to a single place,” a Microsoft spokesperson stated. “Thumbtack allows users to share and collaborate with others on collections, by providing the ability to directly email the content or by allowing them to publish their collection to the Web with a number of options including RSS, Atom, HTML, and Internet Explorer 8 Web Slices. Thumbtack collections can also be embedded in personal websites and blogs.”

At this point in time Microsoft is not ready to reveal the direction in which it will take Thumbtack, as the Live Labs incubation projects are essentially designed to test ideas and technologies, more than actual solutions. In this regard, users familiar with Live Labs will notice similarities between the new tool and concepts tested with the Listas Technology Preview.

You can find more information on Listas and Thumbstack on Newsgroups:

microsoft.public.deployment
microsoft.public.design
microsoft.public.developer
microsoft.public.development
microsoft.public.applicationcenter
microsoft.public.access



Newsdemon Now Reaches 175 Day Retention on Binaries

By Newsgroup Usenet December 5th, 2008

Once again, Newsdemon.com has announced yet another increase in retention in less than a month! Newsdemon.com members can now access over binaries over 175 days old. The 175 day binary retention is now available to both US and EU members. Newdemon.com had previously announced a 70% increase on binary retenion in mid-November.

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 Newsdemon.com members on either their newsreaders or account settings. Members should immediately see an increase in the age of headers available on any particular binary newsgroup.

This benefit is for all existing and potential new members of Newsdemon.com at no additional cost. Newsdemon.com will also continue to provide the same blazing speed through simultaneous, SSL encrypted Usenet access while being completely uncensored as before.

Continuing on progress, Newsdemon.com works deligently to surpass expectations by delivering premium Usenet access to all of its customers.