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Wayback Machine Celebrates Milestones on USENET
May 27th, 2014

Thee Internet Archive today announced a massive milestone for its Wayback Machine: 400 billion indexed webpages. The data encompasses the Web as it looked anytime from late 1996 up until a few hours ago.

To celebrate the milestone, the Internet Archive has provided a list of The Wayback Machine highlights over the years on USENET newsgroups:

2001 – The Wayback Machine launches.
2006 – Archive-It launches, allowing libraries that subscribe to the service to create curated collections of Web content.
March 25, 2009 – The Internet Archive and Sun Microsystems launch a new datacenter that stores the whole Web archive and serves the Wayback Machine. This 3 petabyte data center handled 500 requests per second from its home in a shipping container.
June 15, 2011 – The HTTP Archive becomes part of the Internet Archive, adding data about the performance of websites to the collection of website content.
May 28, 2012 – The Wayback Machine is available in China again, after being blocked for a few years without notice.
October 26, 2012 – the Internet Archive makes 80 terabytes of archived Web crawl data from 2011 available for researchers, to explore how others might be able to interact with or learn from this content.
October 2013 – New features for the Wayback Machine are launched, including the ability to see newly crawled content an hour after it’s archived, a “Save Page” feature so that anyone can archive a page on demand, and an effort to fix broken links on the Web starting with WordPress.com and Wikipedia.org.
Also in October 2013 – The Wayback Machine provides access to important Federal Government sites that go dark during the Federal Government Shutdown.

Onwards and upwards! Will The Way Back Machine have 500 billion webpages indexed by 2015? We wouldn’t be surprised if it happened sooner.

USENET still considerably pre-dates any of the milestones of the Wayback Machine but is many of the USENET community are proud to be part of the evolution that has occurred from its USENET roots.

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SSD Technology Is Getting Faster According To USENET
May 23rd, 2014

A post on technology USENET newsgroups details the announcement of the Japanese team at Chuo University that have made a breakthrough in SSD technology which will make a great drive all the better. The team has found a software/firmware solution for the major drawback inherit in all SSDs.

This could enable high-end devices to easily reach transfer speeds of 1.5GB/s as current models achieve around 500MB/s typically; 60% less power was also used in the lab tests due to the lack of additional drive writes.

The team has overcome the issue by changing the middleware that controls storage for database applications. The new method uses a “logical block address scrambler” which basically stops data being written to a new page and places it in a block to be erased in the next sweep. That means fewer pages, less copying and ultimately a better drive.

Current NAND flash drives can be adapted to work in this way meaning 55 per cent fewer write and erase cycles, extending the device’s life. Since the changes are so small but have such a huge effect we’d expect to see them appear very soon.

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Corning Releases 5Gbps USB 3.0 Cables
April 12th, 2014

Move over, eSATA. Corning’s new optical USB 3.0 cables are finally on sale as discussed on popular newsgroups, and they can move data faster than you could ever hope to. Almost twice as fast, as a matter of fact. eSATA peaks at about 3Gbps, while Corning’s USB3.Optical cables can achieve throughput of up to 5Gbps.

Better still, they’re capable of doing it over distances of 30 meters. That’s not quite as good as Corning’s Thunderbolt 2 version, which can handle runs of 100 meters, but USB 3.0 ports are a whole lot more common. The big downside here is that retail pricing for the USB3.Optical cables starts at about $109.99.

Price is one major reason optical cables haven’t taken off with consumers, but it certainly won’t deter professionals who work with massive files that are stored on external devices. Things like raw 1080p video and massive data sets can move at an absolutely blistering pace over Corning’s cables.

At 5Gbps, USB3.Optical cables max out the USB 3.0 spec. USB 3.1 was finalized last August, however, and it raises the speed limit to a whopping 10Gbps. Corning hasn’t commented on whether the current batch of cables will be able to keep up with USB 3.1 controllers, but they’ll at least be compatible — and it’s not like 5Gbps is slow or anything.

Still, the additional 5Gbps would provide the kind of speed necessary for USENET users working with uncompressed 4K video stored on enterprise-grade RAID devices. It seems unlikely that Corning — who first showed off the 5Gbps cables more than a year ago — won’t be ready for the big debut of SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps.

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Windows Update Comes Out Earlier For USENET Users
March 7th, 2014

Microsoft won’t be officially releasing Windows 8.1 Update 1 until after their conference in April, but late on Thursday the company accidentally leaked the update to the public. Posted on USENET newsgroups, eager users were able to make a small registry change that made the updates show up in Windows Update, or download it all through direct links to Microsoft’s servers.

Most of the changes found in the Windows 8.1 Update 1 are said to be focussed on keyboard and mouse users, as we see a desktop taskbar placed above the Metro UI-style apps, and options that enable the user to minimise, close or snap Metro UI-style apps. The Redmond-based firm is also said to add a ‘shut down’ button on the Start screen for non-touch user machines. A new search button is also seen on the top-right corner.

The Windows Update method is tricky, as it involves tweaking a setting in the Registry. And while some newsgroups members report success using it, others say that Microsoft appears to have already blocked it, such that not all of the required updates appear in Windows Update any longer.

Separate packages are available for 32-bit x86, x86-64, and ARM versions of Windows – yes, even the unloved Windows RT gets to share the Update 1 wealth – so make sure you only download the ones for the architecture you need, and don’t try to mix and match.

The date on the update file corresponds with recent reports that Microsoft had finalized this release. It’s possible that there will be additional minor changes between now and April 8, when the update is scheduled for general release.

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Internet Inventor Advocates For More Open Web on USENET
February 25th, 2014

Speaking with Wired editor David Rowan at an event launching the magazine’s March issue and later posted to USENET, Tim Berners-Lee said that although part of this is about keeping an eye on for-profit internet monopolies such as search engines and social networks, the greatest danger is the emergence of a balkanised web.

“I want a web that’s open, works internationally, works as well as possible and is not nation-based,” Berners-Lee told the audience, which included Martha Lane Fox, Jake Davis (AKA Topiary) and Lily Cole. He suggested one example to the contrary: “What I don’t want is a web where the Brazilian government has every social network’s data stored on servers on Brazilian soil. That would make it so difficult to set one up.”

Brazilian lawmakers have been debating a bill that would require companies such as Google and Facebook to maintain their own data servers in the country, USENET reported in December. Designed to ensure that user information remains in Brazil, the bill is considered a response to reports that the US National Security Agency snooped on Brazil’s president and many of the country’s citizens.

The distrust that has surfaced following the reports of NSA spying also presents a threat to the open Web, and one even greater than censorship, Berners-Lee said. That’s one reason why he believes certain whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden who leak information only in “extreme circumstances” need to be protected, Wired reported. And that need extends beyond just whistleblowers.

Tim Berners-Lee, arguably the inventor of the web, made his first announcement of the www on USENET newsgroups.

At ThunderNews, we strongly suggest that all USENET members also have some form of VPN access, such as those provided by our partner, OctaneVPN. It allows the most amount of security to keep your online usage private.

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From USENET: Microsoft To Release Office For iOS
February 15th, 2014

Microsoft is still working on Office for iPad, and it could debut before July, reports USENET newsgroups. While newsgroups had reported that Microsoft was working on Office for iPhone and iPad some time ago, it ultimately only rolled out an iPhone version and pointed tablet users to Office Web Apps.  However, USENET newsgroup subscribers now reports that development on Office for iPad has both continued and been sped up in order to bring it to market fairly soon.

The product is “likely” to arrive before the touch-optimized version of Office that will run in the Windows 8.1 Start screen environment. Sources suggest that Office for iPad is codenamed ‘Miramar’ and was made a priority late last year. While no fixed release date has been given, it’s rumored to be in the first half of 2014.

As stated in newsgroups, Microsoft has found success on Apple’s platforms historically. The original version of Excel worked on a Mac before it was ready for Windows. Apple had a graphical interface before Microsoft, so Excel was on Apple computers first. Going iPad before Windows would just repeat the past.

The catch is that these USENET sources still don’t know if this will be an Office 365 app, just like we have for the iPhone, or if it will be a true Office suite of apps. Give the fact that the biggest factor that differentiates Windows on a tablet is Office, many newsgroup subscribers biggest bet is for this to require an Office 365 subscription, but we’ll hopefully know soon, as the sources claim that the launch will happen in the first-half of this year.

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ThunderNews Reaches 2000 Days Of Binary Retention
February 10th, 2014

ThunderNews is now able to provide even further retention benefits to its customers with 2,000 days of binary retention on more than 140,000 active newsgroups.

With over five and a half years of retention, it serves as a new mildstone for ThunderNews and the USENET industry. This allows users to research and access information on all discussion and binary newsgroups from more than 5 years ago.

Now users can dig up info from when “How I Met Your Mother” started, the death and legacy of Michael Jackson and even the first stories and discussions about the Maersk Alabama hijacking that resulted in the movie “Captain Phillips”.

The increase of retention has been achieved by our never ending pursuit in delivering the very best features and capabilities we can offer our USENET members. We hope you enjoy the service as we continue our improvements.

The increase is automatically accessible to all ThunderNews members. Stay tuned for other retention and service upgrades in the near future!

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Asus Chromebox Could Be Your Best USENET On The Go Device
February 6th, 2014

Google’s Chrome OS continues to show up on more and more devices, and while the majority of them are laptops, it looks like desktop users are going to have quite a few options as well. Joining LG’s upcoming Chromebase all-in-one is the Asus Chromebox, a headless mini-PC that goes on sale in March for $179. At 4.88″ by 4.88″ by 1.65″, it’s similar to but slightly larger than Intel’s more versatile NUC desktop in every dimension.
The Asus Chromebox is incredibly small, measuring 4.9×4.9×1.65 inches. The Intel NUC is marginally smaller, but they’re both incredibly small computers. Other than its incredibly low price, the main advantage of the Asus Chromebox is that it’s fanless — so, plug in an external hard drive, or connect it up to your NAS, and you have a fairly plucky home theater PC. It’s also a pretty solid choice if you’re looking for a small, inoffensive piece of technology to get a friend or family member onto the internet. The lack of internal storage is always going to be a bit of an issue with Chromebooks and boxes, but Google’s free-100GB-of-cloud-storage-for-two-years does ameliorate some of the pain.

A benefit that USENET members may enjoys is that the ASUS Chromebox will attach to the back-end of a VESA-based monitor, making it look like the popular all-in-one Windows 8.1 machines at the big box stores. It will also hook up to more than one display, making it a nice tool for plugging into the family TV and a computer at the same time. Watch movies on Google Play Movies or Netflix and then switch over to a computer to access the thousands of newsgroups that ThunderNews offers its members.

The box itself is a little bigger than Intel’s Haswell NUC, but we’re still talking about an extremely small form factor computer. You can expect availability sometime in March. Google will throw in 100GB of space on Google Drive for 2 years to make up for the limited internal storage.

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Apple Celebrates 30th Anniversary Of The Mac
January 27th, 2014

Apple’s homepage is paying respects to a computer that’s credited with revolutionizing personal computing 30 years ago.

The Macintosh computer, released on Jan. 24, 1984, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Though it has evolved greatly since its initial release, the Macintosh has retained its place as one of the most influential personal computers available.

Apple has had a long history on USENET. The first announcment of the Apple iMac was on May 6th, 1998 on an intel pentium newsgroup. Later, in 1993, the Power Macintosh was announced on a mac newsgroup. Since then, there have been dozens of newsgroups that are dedicated to each of their products and services.

Although Jobs himself would later admit that the Mac struggled to compete with Microsoft Windows-based PCs, the machines brought innovation and flare to the computing landscape, with future iterations including the colourful iMac, the Mac Mini, and the new Mac Pro.

The Mac introduced us to the first true commercial version of a graphical user interface and mouse, and popularised the 3.5in floppy disk. But the combined package of the OS design, developer program, and innovative hardware also made it feasible to launch some very important advancements that drove the PC market forward and in some cases even disrupted some industries.

A rare prototype of the first Apple Macintosh appeared on eBay in 2012, with a starting price of almost $100,000 (£63,000).

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USENET Uncovers Windows 9 Release Date
January 14th, 2014

The next major Windows release is likely to be called Windows 9 and will be launched in April 2015 according to posts on Microsft related USENET newsgroups.

The website reports that Microsoft will shed more light on Windows 9, currently codenamed “Threshold”, at its BUILD conference in April.

Microsoft is also set to introduce the ability for Metro apps to run in a window on the desktop and a tweaked start menu, the website claims. Although, as many point out on newsgroups, Metro was the least liked feature of Windows 8.

However, before Windows 9 is out of the door, Microsoft will issue Windows 8.1 Update 1, a comparatively minor update that is set for release later this year.

Windows 8 saw a mixed reception upon its release in 2012. On the one hand, it was praised for its speed and reduced system requirements but it was also criticised for omitting the start button and introducing a new touch-enabled UI.

How Windows 9 will pan out and how easy it will be to install and use newsreaders and the like to access USENET is still be to be seen.

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