Google
 

Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 19th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2016 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

alt.usenet.almost.dead

5 March 2007

As the Net grows and evolves, new bits are added (VOIP, P2P, etc) as old bits start breaking down and falling off (Archie, Telnet, etc).

It would appear that another of the Net's long-standing services is also about to go the way of the dodo, at least in New Zealand.

I'm talking about usenet (NNTP) of course.

The beginning of the end was when Xtra dumped its usenet news-server a while back, much to the outrage of a small group of regular users.

Those affected complained that this was a breach of Telecom's terms of service but the telco replied that this had always been a "free" and complimentary service so it was entirely within its rights to pull it.

And now it looks as if TelstraClear makes noises about dropping its own support for this useful, albeit declining arm of the net.

According to this Computerworld story, TelstraClear says it's considering dropping or at least significantly reducing its support for usenet.

No doubt another few hundred folks will be outraged at this prospect - but does it make sense for ISPs to bother with usenet any more?

For those who simply must have access to newsgroups targeting their own specific interests or professional areas, there's always Google Groups, although they don't carry the binaries.

If alt.sex.bestiality.hamster.ducttape is more your scene (why?) then you can still subscribe to any number of other news-servers that will provide this and tens of thousands of other groups.

OurRegion - Manawatu
Please visit the sponsor!
But even then, you'd have to wonder whether it's worth it.

Many of these groups are enveloped in waves of spam which, just like the spam in your inbox, is hawking everything from potions to enhance your dangly bits through to friendly "buy now" advice on trading in penny-stocks.

Yes, the signal to noise ratio is becoming pretty low in many of the previously useful groups -- to the point that I think usenet may soon collapse completely.

As more and more people turn away from usenet, the signal to noise ratio will deteriorate even further -- which will in turn drive more people away.

This death-spiral has already begun and will only get worse, despite Google's best attempts to sanitise and conveniently package this previously wonderful resource.

I suspect that even those sharing porn and commercial music through groups such as alt.binaries.erotica.* and alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.* will eventually give up on usenet.

As a vehicle for distributing large binary files it's slow and unreliable.

The fact that only ASCII characters can be handled means that it takes more than eight bits to encode a byte, thus inflating the size of any binary file.

What's more, because there are message-size limitations, large files (already bloated by having to encode 8-bit values) must be broken up into a number of smaller chunks. If any one of these chunks fails to make its way to the usenet server you're using, the entire file can be rendered useless -- although there are things such as PAR files that mitigate this problem to a small degree.

So it's old, it's slow, it's unreliable and it's almost dead.

Alas poor usenet, I knew you well and will shed a tear at your grave -- but time and technology moves on.

The "conversational" groups such as nz.general have been replaced with online forums. The file sharing groups such as alt.binaries.* have now been largely replaced in function by P2P.

Usenet past it's best-by date.

You bet.

So what were/are your favourite usenet newsgroups and why?

Will you miss it when it's gone?

Or are you one of the younger Net-users who've never used usenet at all?

Have your say on this...

Oh, and don't forget today's sci/tech news headlines


Rank This Aardvark Page

 

Change Font

Sci-Tech headlines

 


Features:

Beware The Alternative Energy Scammers

The Great "Run Your Car On Water" Scam

 

The Missile Man The Missile Man book

Previous Columns

No Facebook, no entry into the USA?
There has been an increasing trend within the halls of power, to incorporate RFID or NFC technology into important documents such as passports and driver's licenses...

The end of ownership
When I was a young lad with long hair and pimples, I'd rush down to the local music shop on a Friday night with my hard-earned cash in-hand...

Are Apple fanbois smelling the coffee?
Apple has come out with some real kick-arse products over the years and the late Steve Jobs' ability to add style to geek was always the company's greatest strength...

Brexit (and normal service is resumed)
As those who have kept up with development in the relevant thread on the forums will already know, things are almost back to normal around here...

The Net-itinerant blogger
The past couple of weeks have been hell around here!...

Retail, done properly
A few weeks ago, the old sheila's Bluray/DVD player packed a sad and refused to play any disks....

Why I can't get my phone/Net connection moved
As regular readers will have already noticed, your daily dose of Aardvark has been missing for a week or so...

Psst... wanna buy a bridge?
If you're planning on using the Huntly bypass route it might pay to ensure that you've emptied the boot and glove-box of your car first...

Micro Bit trumps Raspberry Pi?
As far as single board computers (SBCs) go, the Raspberry Pi (RP) has to be perhaps the single most successful product ever sold...

The New Top Gear
Over four million Pommes and probably more than a handful of others around the world, sat down to watch the long-awaited new version of Top Gear...

If it ain't broke...
The world seemed to be absolutely shocked to learn that the USA's nuclear weapons arsenal is still under the control of a decades-old computer system which uses 8-inch floppy disk drives...