The NewsDemon Blog

Cool article about saving the USENET.

By WebMaster October 10th, 2008

The article is a little aged, but its still a great read.  Highly recommended!

http://www.boutell.com/boutell/usenet.html



Bug Fix for Mozilla Thunderbird

By Newsgroup Usenet September 30th, 2008

Mozilla pushed out an update to its e-mail client Thunderbird last friday. The 2.0.0.17 update, for both Windows and Mac versions, corrects two potential exploits. Centered around Newsgroup functionality and an obscure UTF-8 hyperlink spoof, they could’ve allowed an attacker to execute arbitrary code.

A spate of bug fixes, memory leaks, and other less severe tweaks were addressed, too. The full changelog can be read here.

We encourage all users of Thunderbird to update as soon as possible.



Our Dancing Galaxy

By Newsgroup Usenet September 27th, 2008

milky_way_spiral_arms_2.pngIs there a genocidal countdown built into the motion of our solar system?  Recent work at Cardiff University suggests that our system’s orbit through the Milky Way encounters regular speedbumps – and by “speedbumps” we mean “potentially extinction-causing asteroids”.

Milky_way_spiral_arms_2 Professor William Napier and Dr Janaki Wickramasinghe have completed computer simulations of the motion of the Sun in our outer spiral-arm location in the Milky Way (image left of spiral arms).

These models reveal a regular oscillation through the central galactic plane, where the surrounding dust clouds are the densest.  The solar system is a non-trivial object, so its gravitational effects set off a far-reaching planetoid-pinball machine which often ends with comets hurled into the intruding system.

The sun is about 26,000 light-years from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, which is about 80,000 to 120,000 light-years across (and less than 7,000 light-years thick). We are located on on one of its spiral arms, out towards the edge. It takes the sun -and our solar system- roughly 200-250 million years to orbit once around the Milky Way. In this orbit, we are traveling at a velocity of about 155 miles/sec (250 km/sec).

Many of the ricocheted rocks collide with planets on their way through our system, including Earth.  Impact craters recorded worldwide show correlations with the ~37 million year-cycle of these journeys through the galactic plane – including the vast impact craters thought to have put an end to the dinosaurs two cycles ago.

Almost exactly two cycles ago, in fact.  The figures show that we’re very close to another danger zone, when the odds of asteroid impact on Earth go up by a factor of ten.  Ten times a tiny chance might not seem like much, but when “Risk of Extinction” is on the table that single order of magnitude can look much more imposing.  Worse, Bruce Willis will only be available to save us for another fifty years at most.  But you have to remember that ten times a very small number is still a very small number – and Earth has been struck by thousands of asteroids without any exciting extinction events.  A rock doesn’t just have to hit us, it has to be large enough to survive the truly fearsome forces that cause most to burn up on re-entry.

Professors Medvedev and Melott of the University of Kansas have a different theory based on the same regular motion.  As the Sun ventures out “above” the galactic plane, it becomes increasingly exposed to the cosmic ray generating shock front that the Milky Way creates as it ploughs through space.  As we get closer to this point of maximum exposure, leaving the shielding of the thick galactic disk behind, the Kansas researchers hold that the increasing radiation destroys many higher species, forcing another evolutionary epoch.  This theory also matches in time with the dinosaur extinction – and it’s nice to see theories for that from Kansas not based on “an angry bearded man in the sky did it”.

Either way, don’t go letting your VISA bill run up just yet.  “Very close” in astronomical terms is very, very different to “close” in shaved-monkey time.



Newsdemon.com Upgrades Data Center

By WebMaster September 23rd, 2008

Newsdemon.com will be upgrading all users currently using the following nntp addresses to our new data center:

·         us-east.newsdemon.com

·         us-secure.newsdemon.com

With this change, which will take place between midnight and 1am on September 24th, 2008, the Newsdemon.com US based data center will be better equipped with new equipment, better stability, increased retention and redundancy.New members will automatically be routed to these new servers. Existing customers will be notified before being automatically transferred over to the upgraded servers.

The new data center also represents a change in article numbers for each newsgroup. Only current users that have stored their headers in their newsreader will be affected and will have to re-subscribe to their newsgroups to retrieve the newly numbered headers. This represents the only change current users will experience.

All other changes are automatic and will not affect Newsdemon.com member’s configuration or any other user access. All members should immediately notice better stability and a higher quality of service in this release.

The new Newsdemon.com data center extends current capabilities and will be a positive change in the end user experience. Further details on the increased retention and redundancy will be updated here throughout and after the transition.At Newsdemon.com, we appreciate your patronage as we continue to demonstrate our dedication in providing our customers with superior service and support. Any inquiries, questions or concerns regarding this matter can be directed to our technical support team.

Newsreader Instructions Can Be Found Here



Rover Caters to Mars Crater

By Newsgroup Usenet September 23rd, 2008

NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity is about to set off on what may be its final odyssey – a seven-mile  jaunt to a crater around 20 times larger than the Victoria Crater from which it extricated itself earlier this month.

The distant feature, dubbed Endeavour, is 13.7 miles across and 1,000 ft deep. It’s described by Steve Squyres, principal investigator for the science instruments on Opportunity and twin rover Spirit, as “staggeringly large compared to anything we’ve seen before”.

However, before scientists can catch the view from the ridge, Opportunity must crawl around 110 yards a day – an estimated top speed which would mean it could take two years to reach its destination.

Squyres cautioned: “We may not get there, but it is scientifically the right direction to go anyway.” He added: “But even if we never get there, as we move southward we expect to be getting to younger and younger layers of rock on the surface. Also, there are large craters to the south that we think are sources of cobbles that we want to examine out on the plain. Some of the cobbles are samples of layers deeper than Opportunity will ever see, and we expect to find more cobbles as we head toward the south.”

Opportunity does have a couple of advantages it didn’t enjoy during its four-mile hike to Victoria in 2005-6: the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; and a new version of “flight software” uploaded to the rover and its twin in 2006.

The former “allows us to identify drive paths and potential hazards on the scale of the rover along the route”, Callas explained, while the latter helps the rovers “autonomously choose routes and avoid hazards such as sand dunes”.

Opportunity and Spirit landed on Mars back in January 2004, since when they’ve explored the Red Planet’s surface with a resilience which has seen them survive long beyond their expected endurance.



Discover Your Future with a DNA Fortune Teller

By Newsgroup Usenet September 19th, 2008

Want to know what you might die of? The company, called 23andMe, uses DNA to predict health risks and provide ancestry information to consumers.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is just one of many that, with a bit of saliva, can help you Google your DNA. But 23andMe has drawn more attention than most because co-founder Anne Wojcicki is married to Sergey Brin, who helped launch Google. The search giant is one of 23andMe’s investors.

Google invested $3.9 million in 23andMe, which Wojcicki, a former healthcare industry analyst, and Avey, a biopharmaceutical industry veteran, started in 2006. Brin and Wojcicki met after her sister rented her garage to him and Larry Page as office space for their then-budding search engine.

In the name, 23 refers to the number of pairs of chromosomes in the human body. The company hopes that by encouraging people to learn about their genetic information, it can help propel understanding of the human genome, bring the promise of personalized medicine and accelerate the discovery of new drugs.

With the launch of the new blog by a founding member of google whose wife works with 23and me, it was revealed that Sergey Brin has a greater than average risk of Parkinson’s disease.

In a way, this method is a farewell to guessing what ailments you might suffer if you have the opportunity to grow old.

We’re waiting for the next science breakthrough that exacts the how, the hour and the location.



Newsdemon.com Extends T-Shirt Program

By Newsgroup Usenet September 17th, 2008

banner2.jpgNewsdemon.com announced today that it will extend it’s current T-Shirt program until October 31st. Any new users who sign up for select unlimited plans are automatically eligible to choose t-shirts between three colors and a variety of sizes.  T-Shirts are also shipped free to new customers.

The original promotion, which began on September 1st, was originally scheduled to end by September 31st. Due to the enormous demand and success, Newsdemon.com has extended the free t-shirt program until October 31st. Simply a sign-up for one of Newsdemon.com’s flexible unlimited plans automatically qualifies new members for the t-shirt alongside free shipping .

Coupled with this offer, you also receive all of Newsdemon.com’s member benefits including:

-Blazing Speed
-20 Simultaneous Connections
-SSL Encrypted
-115 Day Binary Retention
-700+ Text Retention
-Excellent Support
-99.9% Completion

Others can qualify as well by assisting in Newsdemon.com’s Free Usenet Program. The program was created to grow awareness of Usenet specifically for Universities and Charities. Qualifying candidates include webmasters, active members of forums, social networks, blogs and others. Details are located in the Newsdemon.com Free Usenet Program offer.

These incentives are all part of the Newsdemon.com campaign to expand awareness of Usenet and to help expand the community. Newsdemon continues to push ahead as a leading provider of Usenet services and Newsgroup access. With this extended offer, Newsdemon.com expects a continuing success in maintaining customer satisfaction.



DRM through DECE without Mickey

By Newsgroup Usenet September 15th, 2008

A consortium of leading studios, including Warner Bros, Sony, NBC Universal, Fox Entertainment, Paramount and Lionsgate, has teamed up with Microsoft to develop an industry-standard digital media framework – excluding Disney because of its association with Apple.

Initially, more than 20 companies will be involved in the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) – a digital rights management initiative to standardise the acquisition and playback of content across a range of services and devices. This could lead to the development of a rival to Apple’s digital entertainment retail store iTunes.

In addition to the above studios, other DECE launch partners will include Alcatel-Lucent, Best Buy, Cisco, Comcast, Hewlett Packard, Intel, Philips, Toshiba and VeriSign.

The consortium will aim to “address growing consumer confusion around buying, downloading and playing digital content offered by multiple services by working towards a simple, uniform digital media experience.”

Over time, DECE will issue a licensable specification, along with a recognisable brand and logo for compliant products and services, which it says will “assure consumers that content they download will play on their devices.” The specification, based on mutually agreed industry standards, will outline the hardware and software requirements for companies to follow.



New Zune Software Slated For Release

By Newsgroup Usenet September 12th, 2008

A significant software upgrade for Microsoft’s Zune music player will be available next week. It will not garner the attention of Apple’s recent iPod news, but the changes are notable and worth consideration if you want a new portable music option.

Zune and other music competitors remain well behind the iPod in market share, yet Microsoft is doing some interesting things and have a more robust view of music that Apple has so far overlooked. Zune’s software upgrade will be available to download and shipped on new devices starting Sept. 16.

Here’s what’s new:

Buy from FM. The Zune has a built-in FM radio. So if you hear a song you like while listening to the Zune’s radio, you can tag it and the song will download to the Zune the next time you dock the device. This is similar to the HD Radio feature called iTunes tagging. I’ve tested that and it works great.

Zune Pass improved. Microsoft has always embraced the music subscription approach (Apple does not), and if you pay $15 a month for the Zune Pass, you’ll find that the feature for discovering new music has been significantly enhanced. You can download songs that stay on your device, as always; but with a subscription, you also can choose among 3.5 million songs to listen to at anytime.

Channels. These are programmed playlists that will change regularly. Channels will include songs suggested by top music programmers at radio stations, a selection from the Billboard Top 100, genre categories like folk, rock, hip-hop, etc., and even music for workouts. If you have Zune Pass, these channels will be refreshed with new music weekly.

Picks. These are songs recommended for you, based on what you like. In one respect, this is similar to the Genius program Apple offers on iTunes 8, but the difference is that when Apple suggests a song you like, you need to buy it. If you have Zune Pass (yes, you pay $15 a month), you can download and listen to full versions of as many songs as you want.

Social. You can listen to what your friends like. If one of your buddies always is the first to listen to some cool music, Zune can deliver those songs to your device.

There are more capabilities, but the real news is that Microsoft continues to distinguish Zune as an alternative approach to music. It’s a fine player if you take the traditional approach — load your CD collection onto the player or buy digital music online — but if you really like music discovery, Microsoft’s subscription plan is a great bonus.



A Kirk-less Star Trek

By Newsgroup Usenet September 12th, 2008

If you’ve been waiting for the announcement that William Shatner’s James T. Kirk would be making an appearance in the upcoming new Star Trek flick…er, don’t hold your breath.According to a recent interview with Star Trek director J.J. Abrams, Shatner was written into the film for a cameo, but refused to agree to anything but a pivotal co-starring role so it was nixed.

“It was very tricky,” Abrams said. “We actually had written a scene with him in it that was a flashback kind of thing, but the truth is, it didn’t quite feel right. The bigger thing was that he was very vocal that he didn’t want to do a cameo. We tried desperately to put him in the movie, but he was making it very clear that he wanted the movie to focus on him significantly, which, frankly, he deserves. The truth is, the story that we were telling required a certain adherence to the Trek canon and consistency of storytelling. It’s funny — a lot of the people who were proclaiming that he must be in this movie were the same people saying it must adhere to canon. Well, his character died on screen. Maybe a smarter group of filmmakers could have figured out how to resolve that.”