The NewsDemon Blog

Cable Company Admits To Data Caps On USENET Users

By Newsgroup Usenet January 28th, 2013

 

For years, the key rationale given by broadband providers for implementing data caps was that it was the only way they could deal with “congestion.” Of course, for years, independent researchers showed that this was bogus, and there was no data crunch coming. If you actually caught a technologist from a broadband provider, rather than a business person or lobbyist, they’d quietly admit that there was no congestion problem, and that basic upgrades and network maintenance could easily deal with the growth in usage. But, of course, that took away the broadband providers’ chief reason for crying about how they “need” data caps. The reality, of course, is that data caps are all about increasing revenue for broadband providers — in a market that is already quite profitable. But if they can hide behind the claims that they need to do this to deal with congestion, they can justify it to regulators and (they hope) the public.

Of course, enough people have been calling this explanation out as completely bogus that it appears that even the broadband companies’ own lobbyists may finally be dropping this line of reasoning. Former FCC boss Michael Powell, who is now the cable industry’s chief lobbyist has finally admitted caps aren’t about congestion:

A recent USENET post shows that Michael Powell told a Minority Media and Telecommunications Association audience that cable’s interest in usage-based pricing was not principally about network congestion, but instead about pricing fairness…Asked by MMTC president David Honig to weigh in on data caps, Powell said that while a lot of people had tried to label the cable industry’s interest in the issue as about congestion management. “That’s wrong,” he said. “Our principal purpose is how to fairly monetize a high fixed cost.”

Of course, as USENET notes, Powell is jumping from one myth (congestion) to another (fairness) that is just as ridiculous. If it was true, we’d see at least some prices going down. But we don’t.

Except the argument that usaged pricing is about fairness has been just as repeatedly debunked. If usage caps were about “fairness,” carriers would offer the nation’s grandmothers a $5-$15 a month tier that accurately reflected her twice weekly, several megabyte browsing of the Weather Channel website. Instead, what we most often see are low caps and high overages layered on top of already high existing flat rate pricing, raising rates for all users. Does raising rates on a product that already sees 90% profit margins sound like “fairness” to you?

Data caps are about one thing only: increasing profits for the broadband providers, who already have massive control over the market with limited competition. It’s nice to see them give up on one myth (even if we still see pundits repeating it without criticism), but it would be nice if we could get past the others as well.

NewsDemon.com Newsgroup members, on the other hand, enjoy full speed access to USENET Newsgroups and DOES NOT Throttle connections.



IBM Leads In Nanotube Technology

By Newsgroup Usenet October 30th, 2012


IBM’s researchers have made another breakthrough in their development of carbon nanotube technology, according to USENET newsgroups, packing more than 10,000 working transistors made of the substance onto a single chip.

The ability to fashion computer chips out of carbon nanotubes will allow the trend of ever smaller, faster and more powerful chips to keep apace for several more decades, according to researchers.

Traditionally, transistors — the switches on a chip that carry digital information — are made of silicon. Today’s silicon transistors are approaching the atomic scale — a physical limit — as their speed and performance gains are stalling due to the nature of the material.

Intel’s latest processors are built using silicon transistors with 22-nanometer technology, and simpler NAND flash storage chips have been demonstrated using “1X” technology somewhere below that, but modern manufacturing is nearing its physical limits. Intel has predicted it will produce chips using sizes in the single digits within the next decade.

For years now, technology has advanced very much in line with Moore’s Law, which states that computing power doubles about every two years. At the core of Moore’s Law is the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit, as this ultimately determines computing power.

Gordon Moore described this trend, which become known as Moore’s Law, back in 1965.  So it’s no surprise that, nearly 50 years hence, many have been predicting an end, or at least a slowing down, in the shrinking of the transistor. The slowing was expected to start showing up somewhere around 2015-2020.  The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors even predicted Moore’s Law to start slowing by the end of 2013.

Carbon nanotubes are both smaller and faster than the current materials used in chipmaking, and this breakthrough would allow manufacturers to mass-produce the miniscule structures. Advances in chip density and clock speed have slowed recently, making this development crucial if manufacturers hope to keep pace with Moore’s law. However, this new technology may not be available in consumer products for at least another decade, as researchers still need to find a way to further refine the carbon nanotube material in order to reach its full potential as a semiconductor.

Once the new technology has been fully perfected for use by the end of this decade, scientists anticipate future processors will feature much higher clock speeds in addition to even more transistors being crammed onto a single wafer.



Minnesotta Outlaws Online Education

By Newsgroup Usenet October 22nd, 2012

As controversy continues to swirl over the extreme amount of student loan debt that is being carried by a number of Americans, it seems that the state of Minnesota has come down on something that might help many: free online courses from a reputable company.

Minnesota officials have sent a you’re-not-welcome-here letter to Coursera, a California-based startup that partners with universities such as Princeton and the California Institute of Technology to offer free, online college courses.

Coursera is one of a growing number of sources of free college-level courses, often presented by top-shelf colleges themselves. The catch is that there’s little interaction with professors; students watch videos and take tests that are graded by computer or by other students.

A spokesperson for Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education defended the declaration by saying “This has been a longtime requirement in Minnesota (at least 20 years) and applies to online and brick-and-mortar postsecondary institutions that offer instruction to Minnesota residents as part of our overall responsibility to provide consumer protection for students.”

Stanford has been using the company for part of its online offerings since it launched its free online courses last year. More than 30 universities have partnered with the service, including the University of California, San Francisco, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University and Princeton University.

Adding to the odd nature of the decision, it’s entirely unclear how the state plans to enforce the new law. And it’s also unclear whether the state has included other similar online education services like edX and Udacity in its ban. It is also unclear if the hundreds of newsgroups on USENET that offer discussions and assistance to higher education will also be targeted by Minnesota.

NewsDemon.com Newsgroups offers access to over 200 education newsgroups and supports higher education learning.



UK Provider Virgin Media Offers Faster Speeds

By Newsgroup Usenet October 10th, 2012

First posted on UK Usenet newsgroups, Virgin Media has started boosting the speeds of its 100Mbit/s broadband customers up a notch to 120Mbit/s following promises to do so earlier this year.

Virgin has already upgraded 40 percent of its network for faster broadband speeds, giving its customers extra bandwidth for video streaming or sharing a connection between multiple users.

Instead of 10Mbps, 20Mbps, 30Mbps and 50Mbps connections, Virgin Media’s broadband service will offer speeds of 30Mbps, 60Mbps and up to 100Mbps/120Mbps, making it the only ISP in the UK with superfast speeds as standard. Of course, these numbers are a theoretical maximum, and your actual speeds may be much less. That said, Virgin Media has in the past managed to be the only ISP to not only deliver the speeds advertised but even exceed them

BT has also been busy and has doubled up the speed of its FTTC service (fiber-to-the-cabinet), which previously ran at 40Mbps but can now reach theoretical speeds of up to 80Mbps.

Virgin’s cable is more likely to hit closer to the maximum possible speed, of course, seeing as FTTC isn’t a full fiber service, as the last bit of the line still runs over copper to the cabinet. The company states that it’s double your speed program will be complete by the middle of next year. The recent advertising campaign for Virgin Media has focused on speed with its use of Olympic heroes Usain Bolt and Mo Farah both pretending to be Sir Richard Branson themselves.

Speaking of fast, NewsDemon USENET offers blazing speeds with any of their limited or unlimited packages. In accordance with this latest announcement, NewsDemon is offering Unlimited Usenet and Storage for as little as $7.00 for the first month.



NewsDemon Now Offers 1500 Days Binary Retention

By Newsgroup Usenet September 30th, 2012

We are thrilled to now provide our customers with 1,500 days of binary retention, allowing our Usenet newsgroup customers to access articles that are over four years old!

This is available to all of our customers no matter how long they’ve been a NewsDemon customer. Whether you signed up long ago or just signed up recently, you can now access articles that are 1,500 days old. We are proud of our premier Usenet newsgroup service and expect our features and benefits to continue to grow.

The higher retention comes at no additional price. Existing customers will not see their price increase, nor will they have to choose a more expensive plan to gain access to the new retention. New customers won’t face any price hike either and can sign up any time for our premier Usenet service.

We continue to offer trusted Usenet newsgroup service at unlimited speeds for premium access to all supported binary newsgroups. Keep an eye out for further announcements of expanded benefits of NewsDemon service!



New Computers Already Infected with a Virus?

By Newsgroup Usenet September 21st, 2012

Unfortunately, according to Microsoft USENET Newsgroups, some brand new PCs, particularly in China, have come preinstalled with a virus. The Nitol virus was introduced to new computers between somewhere in the supply chain before they were purchased by consumers.

Through Microsoft’s investigation, codenamed Operation b70, the company found that some retailers had loaded a counterfeit version of Windows software that contained the malware. Microsoft warned in its blog post that the malware could send fake email messages or post to social media from the victim’s accounts to infect others to whom the emails were sent or who accessed the messages via the victim’s social media accounts.

The company warned that consumers should be wary of deals that seem “too good to be true.” Still, some consumers may have purchased infected computers from retailers that seemed perfectly legitimate. The investigators found that one in five of the computers that were purchased from an “unsecured supply chain were infected with malware.” According to PCWorld.com, about 85% of the computers infected with the Nitol virus were found in China, while about 10% were found in the United States.

Perhaps most scary, the researchers found additional strains of malware, some of which was capable of turning on the microphone and camera of an infected computer. Some was even capable of recording the keystrokes made into an infected computer, according to the company’s researchers.

While some victims who purchased infected computers may have had no way of knowing that the computer was infected, the revelations should come as a reminder of the importance of cyber security. Microsoft notes that consumers should demand that they be provided non-counterfeit products from any resellers.

For a discussion about cyber security, head over to the relevant Usenet newsgroups. Usenet is full of tech professionals and enthusiasts who probably don’t mind answering your questions or having a more detailed discussion of the issue.



Canada Data Caps Affect Netflix and USENET Users

By Newsgroup Usenet September 17th, 2012

The Internet is serious business. Especially USENET. These days, a number of businesses absolutely require the Internet and USENET newsgroups to function. This is especially true if those companies are looking to stream media content to their customers or to access newsgroups to research and find information. When Internet service providers gouge their customers for bandwidth, they’re less likely to use said streaming services. It’s for this reason that Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer, isn’t a big fan of Canadian providers.

Sarandos talked of Canadian ISPs bandwidth limitations, saying “it’s almost a human rights violation what they’re charging for Internet access in Canada”. There are Canadian ISPs with download caps as low as 15GB for a month, with excess billing charges if you burst through the 15GB limit.

In Canada, Netflix has even been forced to change its model for streaming, offering SD video as the default option rather than HD. For those who don’t know, Canada’s ISPs enforce strict data caps that make U.S. ISPs look like saints. Many Canadian ISPs offer a measly 15GB a month and charge large overage fees for those who go over said cap. The ISPs that don’t use caps are actually much worse because they charge by use. The average HD stream from Netflix is a few GB of data which translates to a rather hefty bill each month.

Data caps from an ISP is a major inconvenience for its subscriber base, especially those who frequent USENET newsgroups. Thankfully, the concept hasn’t really taken off in the U.S. ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner Cable have dabbled in the idea of implementing data caps in some markets, but the moves have been met with a lot of resistance. Perhaps Canadian lawmakers should start looking out for their constituents’ best interests and ban low data caps.



Your ISP Could be Providing Faster Speeds than Advertised

By Newsgroup Usenet August 24th, 2012

Do you regularly curse your internet service provider? Well, you might want to pull back just a bit, as your ISP could be giving you faster speeds than they advertise. An FCC report indicates that ISPs in general have been meeting or exceeding advertised speeds.

The report indicates that ISPs deliver an average of 96% of the speeds they advertise at peak hours — from 7 – 11 PM. Test data was collected in April of this year, and the researchers found that most services were doing a better job of meeting advertised speeds compared to last year. Cablevision was the biggest riser from an average of 54% of advertised speeds in 2011, the lowest percentage of advertised speeds last year, to 120% of advertised speeds in 2012, tied with Verizon fiber service as the highest percentage.

Another big jumper was Mediacom, who rose from 75% in 2011 to 100% in 2012. Comcast came in at 103% of advertised speeds, while Verizon’s fiber service came in at 120%. Charter (98%), Cox (95%), and TimeWarner (96%) came in between 95% and 99%.

AT&T, while they rose six percentage points from 2011, still came in at under 90% of advertised speeds at 87%. Quest, Century Link, and Verizon DSL also saw a rise but failed to eclipse 90% of advertised speeds. Frontier dropped two percentage points from 81% to 79%, while Windstream dropped one point from 85% to 84%.

The report found that, as most would expect, the speeds dropped during peak hours when compared to other times of the day when fewer users are logging on. Fiber had the lowest slowdown at 0.8%, while DSL slowed 3.4% and cable slowed 4.1% during peak hours.

Most Usenet services do not limit speeds, but caution that speeds may be limited by the user’s ISP. When signing up for internet service, you might consider the speeds that the company advertises compared to the FCC data that was released this summer to see how they measured up.



NewsDemon Offers Header Compression On All Newsgroups

By Newsgroup Usenet August 11th, 2012

NewsDemon.com Newsgroups now allows header compression on all supported newsgroups and for all news servers, providing a faster USENET newsgroup experience.

 

A header for USENET articles provides the information of the subject, from and to lines of any given article. When browsing through a newsgroup through your client, the newsreader will load all of the headers for the articles in the newsgroup. Usually, this process takes some time as the majority of the process is downloading a lot of duplicate data.

 

With header compression enabled on supported newsreaders, the headers are compressed. This allows you to view only the unique data available on any newsgroup. This is especially helpful with the majority of newsreaders that download the full list of headers each time a newsgroup is accessed.

 

The new header compression will now allow users to download headers up a 100 times faster than downloading without this feature. Less data is downloaded and allows downloads to finish almost 15 times faster.

 

This option is fully available on all supported servers and over 107,000 newsgroups that NewsDemon.com Newsgroups support. In order to enable this option, configure your newsreader to enable header compression:

NewsLeecher – Automatically turned on. Check to make sure by going to:
Settings ->   Adv. Nerdy Tweaks -> Article Download Allow XFEAT Compression

NewsBin  – Automatically turned on. Check the settings by going to Utilities->Servers. Make sure “Disable XFeatures” is NOT checked.

News Rover – Automatically turned on.



Google Enters the ISP Game, Offering Fast Access to USENET

By Newsgroup Usenet August 6th, 2012

Google’s entry into the internet service provider market will allow customers in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri to take advantage of superfast internet and USENET newsgroup speeds, as well as the search engine giant’s new television service.

If you’re content with your current internet speeds, Google has something for you, too. Free internet at 5Mbps, which is more in-line with today’s standard broadband speeds. Just pay the $300 installation fee, and for at least 7 years you won’t have any more internet bills.

The supped-up 1Gbps connection comes with a $70/month fee, and the $300 installation fee is waived with the one-year contract. There are no data caps with this or any plan, and the internet service comes with a network box feature four ports and high-speed Wi-Fi.

For $120/month, you will get the 1Gbps internet speeds, two terabytes of storage to record television shows, and access to the Google Fiber cable service. You’ll also get a Nexus 7 tablet, which you will use to control the television service. The TV box features on-demand shows, and is already equipped with HD so you won’t pay any extra fee to watch your favorite shows in HD. You can even watch Google Fiber channels on the tablet. The $300 installation fee is waived with the two-year contract.

Following the unveiling of the new service packages to be offered to Kansas City residents, many started to wonder how it would affect the market for internet and television service. While the ultra-fast internet speeds could tempt a lot of customers, one of the concerns has been over the channel lineup provided with the television service.

So far, channels like Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon are on the lineup, but ESPN, CNN, TNT, TBS, and other Disney- or Time Warner-owned channels were not. However, in its fine print, Google has said that the channel lineup is subject to change, which could indicate that more channels could be added. AMC, which has attracted viewers with recent shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead, is also not on the lineup at this time.

As Usenet users are often interested in faster download and upload speeds, it will be interesting to see how users in the Kansas City area react to the availability of the new internet and cable service. While most Usenet providers do not limit speeds, users often find themselves limited by the speed provided by their ISP.