The NewsDemon Blog

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 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 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.

No Office 2013 Availability for XP, Vista, Mac Users

By Newsgroup Usenet July 19th, 2012

Unveiled on USENET earlier this week, the new Microsoft Office 2013 will not be available to users who are still running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or using a Mac. The new software will limit availability to users running Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Other requirements for the new Office software, as revealed on the Microsoft TechNet site, include a 1GHz processor, 1GB RAM for 32-bit, 2GB RAM for 64-bit, and 3GB disk space.

The software will also feature touch capability. For example, OneNote will feature touch capability, while only certain aspects of some programs will have touch capability. Of course, to use any touch features you must use a device that is touch-enabled. You’re able to turn the touch feature on and off, too. When it’s on, certain aspects of the program will become larger to make touch easier to use.

The new software will also allow cloud-based file storage through SkyDrive.  What’s more, while Office 2013 will not be available for OS X users, an update to Office for Mac 2011 will include SkyDrive cloud compatibility. The company also announced that the new Office version will work in its full form with tablet devices rather than releasing a scaled down version of the full version.

Keeping up with the latest advancements in the technology and computer consumer industries, the new cloud feature and touch capability should go over nicely with consumers. However, some see limiting availability to Windows 7 and 8 users as a gamble by the company hoping to get users to switch to more recent operating systems.

As with any new announcement affecting the technology or computer industry, especially when it deals with a consumer product, several discussions of the topic are sure to be found in the various related Usenet newsgroups. Usenet boasts a vibrant tech community, many members of which are active participants and innovators in the industry.

Potential Breakthrough in Likely Discovery of Higgs Boson Particle

By Newsgroup Usenet July 10th, 2012

In what is perhaps the biggest discovery in the physical sciences in years, scientists at CERN say that they likely have discovered the Higgs boson particle, considered by many a major key to furthering our understanding of the universe as reported on USENET Newsgroups.

Two teams worked separately in arriving at their results, discovering what may be a new subatomic particle. The researchers expressed optimism that the new discovery is, in fact, the Higgs boson particle that could explain how particles obtain their mass. “As a layman, I think I would say, ‘we have it,'” Rolf-Dieter Heuer of CERN said at a press conference announcing the findings, “but as a scientist I have to say, ‘what do we have?'”

Further research is needed to better understand the results and what they mean, but the research teams described their results as ‘five sigma’, which puts the chance that their results were simply an abnormality at extremely minute to say the least. The science world erupted in excitement at the announcement with many evaluating what the new discovery could mean for our understanding of the physical universe.

“This is indeed a new particle,” said Joe Incandela, a spokesman for one of the research teams. “We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found. The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks.”

Sometimes called the ‘God particle’, the Higgs boson is named after Peter Higgs, one of the scientists who theorized of its existence in the 1960s. He was on hand for the announcement in Geneva.

The possible discovery of the Higgs boson has generated a renewed interest in the field as media outlets from around the world reported and discussed the new findings. ‘Higgs’ was even trending on Twitter on the day of the announcement. The new findings will surely generate plenty of discussion in Usenet newsgroups and other forums designated for the discussion of such scientific discoveries.

New USENET Posted Study Looks at Teen Activity Online

By Newsgroup Usenet June 26th, 2012

A recent study posted on newsgroups recently examined the behavior and activity of teenagers between the ages of 13 to 17, finding that 70% of teens hide their internet activity and behavior from their parents. The report also reveals a gap between what parents believe their children are (or are not) doing online, and what their teens are actually doing.

The new study saw a major rise in the percentage of surveyed teens who admit to hiding their online activity from their parents, jumping 25 percentage points from 45% in 2010. Some of the tricks teens used to hide their online activity included minimizing their browser window (at least, presumably, the windows containing the content they don’t want their parents to see), hiding/deleting IMs and videos, and clearing their browser’s history.

A number of teens (23%) even admitted to lying about or omitting details regarding their online behavior. But there are several others ways that teens got around their parents’ efforts to monitor their online behavior as well. Some take advantage of privacy settings so their parents could not see some of their information; some use their mobile device to access the internet; and some use private browsing options to conceal their activity.

The report also revealed that three of every four parents trust their children to avoid content that is not considered appropriate.  Still, nearly half of parents surveyed have installed parental controls, and 44.3% say they are aware of their teen’s passwords.

In the report, it recommends talking with teens so they understand the risks and consequences of certain activities, and taking advantage of parental controls and then monitoring to determine if their teen has figured a way around them. It also recommends informing teens of the monitors and controls, as this may help alter their online behavior.

The Internet and Usenet, which actually predates the World Wide Web, are great resources for sharing information, ideas, and more. However, there are also dangers, both physical and emotional, in teens accessing certain content or sharing personal information online. Usenet features, in addition to a vast expanse of other topics, newsgroups dedicated to parenting. You’ll also find newsgroups dedicated to the discussion of social behavior and trends, to which the recent study also applies.

Internet Conceptualized in 1934?

By Newsgroup Usenet June 8th, 2012

The World Science Festival recently took place in New York City, and one of the discussions centered around the invention of the Internet. While most recognize the contributions of Vinton Cerf, who was on hand at the event, and others in creating the Internet, one rather obscure name was mentioned by one of the panelists for the role he played in conceptualizing the Internet as far back as 1934: Paul Otlet.

One of the panel members at the event, Alex Wright, took note of Otlet’s ideas about the potential of communication technology that would incorporate several of the modern technologies of his time. Otlet considered the potential of technologies like radio waves, telephones, and television, and how they may one day connect people to information from all over the world.

Otlet imagined calling a large database by telephone, where the requested information would be transmitted by an individual working at the database (or library, as you might call it) to a screen in the user’s home. What’s more, his vision included dividing the screen into several sections to allow multiple documents to be viewed at the same time, which is very similar to the use of tabs on a typical browser today.

He even imagined a loud speaker to accompany the images if audio was required in addition to the image displayed on the screen. Otlet imagined cinema, phonograph, television, radio, and telephone combining to become ‘the new book’ that allowed easier and more direct sharing of the world’s knowledge and information.

His vision is remarkably similar to today’s reality of the Internet. Most in need of information consult the Internet before they consult books, and cinema, music, text, and other mediums combine to create a vast information sharing network that connects people to other cultures, knowledge, and ideas. Perhaps nowhere is this vision better represented than in the Usenet newsgroups, where ideas, information, and files are shared and discussed among users from countries and cultures all over the globe.

More Bits and Pieces from the Star Trek Sequel on USENET

By Newsgroup Usenet May 24th, 2012

Who doesn’t love a good movie rumor? It’s a sort of hold-over that keeps us sane as we eagerly anticipate some of Hollywood’s biggest pictures. Users on Usenet and across the Internet scour for rumors of some of their favorite films and series, and the Star Trek sequel has been no exception. Now, the latest rumors have been making the rounds in Usenet newsgroups and on other forums.

No Nimoy Cameo

Leonard Nimoy, who had a good-size role in the first film, will not be returning for the sequel, which is yet to be named. Posteed on Star Trek related USENET newsgroups, Nimoy told in an interview that he will not appear in the new film despite rumors that propagated when he visited the set of the movie. “I visited the set one day and that started some speculation about whether I was doing the film,” Nimoy said. “It’s all speculation.” Nimoy expressed optimism regarding the new movie, and has praised Zachary Quinto’s portrayal of the character he made famous.

Nolan North in Undisclosed Role

Nolan North, whose credits include voice work for the popular video games Uncharted (Nathan Drake) and Assassins’ Creed (Desmond Miles), will make an appearance in the new movie, although his specific role is not known. It was his work as Nathan Drake in Uncharted that caught director J.J. Abrams’ attention, as both he and his son are fans of the game.

Another rumor making the rounds in the newsgroups and other forums is the shoot location for some of the scenes. While the cast of the sequel is not expected appear in them, the crew traveled to Iceland to shoot some of the scenes for the new film.

The sequel, expected to be released in mid-May 2013, is now in post-production.

Solutions to Avoid Constantly Resetting Your Router

By Newsgroup Usenet May 21st, 2012

Router problems are a common complaint, and such issues may be the result of a number of causes. It could be the result of too many connections if you download a lot of files. In other cases, it may simply be a problem with overheating or your IP address may change.

If you find yourself constantly resetting your router, first make sure that the problem actually stems from your router. Plug the computer into the modem to see if your connection still becomes interrupted. If it works fine, it’s probably your router. If it doesn’t, the problem could be with the modem itself. In such cases seek support from the manufacturer of the modem. If your internet service provider (ISP) provides you with the modem, contact the ISP. They may just send you a new one.

If after doing the modem test you still believe it’s the router, the following are some solutions that may help.

Is it overheating?

The simplest solution is to ensure that the router is kept in an area in which heat is allowed to escape. The router produces heat, just like any other piece of hardware. When the heat is not allowed to escape the immediate area, the router may overheat. To remedy this, keep it out of enclosed places and away from other electronics. Raise it off of the surface, or even consider putting it around a fan or air source.

Is your firmware up to date?

Try updating the firmware on the router. You’ll have to first find the router’s configuration information; you may have to consult the router’s manual if you’re unsure of how to find this information. Some find this information by typing into a browser, although this isn’t always the case. When you find the information, write down the firmware version currently installed.

Once you take note of the current firmware, visit the manufacturer’s website. There should be an option for support and then you may have to find your router model from a list. Once you find it, you should be provided a list of all available downloads. Check to see if the latest firmware download available is the same as the one your router is currently using. If it is not, download it and follow the instructions.

Are you downloading too fast?

As most are looking for faster and faster download speeds, it may seem odd to suggest slowing them down. But services such as Usenet and other file sharing networks may use multiple connections to achieve high download speeds. If you download a lot of files at the same time, the many connections may overwhelm the router. Slow down the download speed by heading into the settings of the file sharing client and looking for the option to reduce maximum download speed and connections.

Try flashing third-party firmware, i.e. DD-WRT

You might also try flashing third-party firmware such as DD-WRT. It’s free, but it can be a little cumbersome, especially for the inexperienced computer user. If you can do it, though, it may solve your problems. There is even an option that allows you to reset the router on a schedule so you can set it to reset when you’re sleeping or away at work when you won’t even notice it. For information about installing DD-WRT, search Usenet or Google and you’re sure to find plenty of information that walks you through the process.

Upgrade your router: buy a new one

In some cases, you may just have to break down and buy a new router. If the solutions mentioned above are not helping, consider whether your router is of poor quality. Do your homework and choose a router that receives high ratings not just from tech critics, but from regular, everyday users. Take some of the negative reviews with a grain of salt (some of the problems mentioned on user reviews may be user-inflicted), but if you notice a pattern, it may be worth it to move onto the next one.

While it’s always great to buy from the store offering the lowest price, be sure that you can return it if you have to. If you bring it home, set it up, and the problem persists, it may not have been your router after all. In this case you may call a tech support to fix the problem or find it yourself.  If the IT guy—or you—are able to remedy the problem while keeping your old router, you may choose to return the new one and get your money back.