Google
 

Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 23rd year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2017 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

Recent Columns

Youtube content creators are revolting
No, I'm not suggesting that those who create content for YouTube inspire feelings of revulsion...

Why so slow MPAA?
I recall a few years ago that the MPAA and other groups representing copyright owners were hot on the heels of anyone using a P2P network to pilfer content...

Fantastic news from SkyTV
Yesterday was a fantastic day for shareholders in Sky Television...

Finally, drone collides with airliner?
If a drone and a plane collide the result is bound to be death and destruction. If a drone and a helicopter collide, the same outcome is inevitable, only more-so...

Elon Musk's Hype-loop
It's going to change the world; apparently...

A stroke of genius
What is it about anti-virus software that attracts so many rogues and bad actors?...

News from your ISP and power company?
I think it's fair to say that the news publishing industry has been adversely affected by the power of the Net...

From the road, for the road
Tesla are pouring gargantuan sums of money into building a factory dedicated to manufacturing the type of 18650 Li-Ion cells used in the growing range of EVs that the company plans to make...

The harder we work, the slower we go?
The transistor was first invented back in 1947 or 48 and took a good 15 or 20 years to find its way from laboratory breakthrough to use in every-day products such as radios, amplifiers, etc...

Doing my bit
Your daily dose is a bit late today because I've been out doing my bit for the community...

The global warming ice-age
A regular reader sent me a link to an interesting piece on climate change, aka global warming, aka climate disruption...