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Duke University Shuts Down Usenet Server
May 24th, 2010

A sad day for some as today Duke University, home of Usenet, has shut down their Usenet servers.

It was in 1979 that students Tom Truscot and Jim Ellis first developed a system that became the standard method of online communication between schools and quickly spread to the masses. Predating the World Wide Web, Usenet has been active for over 30 years.

Over those years, in order to support Usenet, maintaining servers had become costly. In the last few months, Duke University had decided to finally pull the plug of the heart of Usenet history. Despite a petition to encourage Duke University to change their mind, they proceeded as planned. Originally scheduled for May 20th, the final plug was pulled today.

Despite their decision, Usenet still flourishes with activity today. Newsgroup subscribers are very much active on the over 107,000 newsgroups available. Due to Usenet being decentralized, it continues to thrive with activity even after its founders and Duke University leaves the scene. Usenet lives.

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Cox Communications and Atlantic Broadband Discontinue Usenet Access
April 27th, 2010

With recent news that both Atlantic Broadband and Cox Communications are dropping USENET access for customers, ThunderNews has responded with 20% discounts for all former customers of the Usenet Newsgroup access providers.

Cox Communications recently announced that they will discontinue Usenet access to customers by June 30th. Coincidentally, ISP Atlantic Broadband is also discontinuing Usenet Newsgroup access to its customers all along the east coast of the United States.

With the rising costs of offering and maintaining Usenet newsgroup servers, both companies have long offered the service as part of their online packages. Unable to continue providing access, both Internet Service Providers have made June cutoff date announcements.

ThunderNews welcomes all customers of both Altantic Broadband and Cox Communications. Details and coupon code of the special are available on our website. The current special is applicable to all monthly plans and only available for a limited time.

ThunderNews offers lightning speed access to over 106,000 active Usenet newsgroups with over 600 days of binary retention and still growing daily. With servers in both the United States and Europe, ThunderNews offers 50 simultaneous connections and a free newsreader with any monthly subscription.

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Best Usenet Newsgroup AntiVirus 2010
April 19th, 2010

With so many anti-virus solutions and complete system maintenance packages out on the web, it’s hard to figure out what’s best.  In ever changing landscape of threats including malware, spyware, viruses, trojans and a slew of others – ranging nowadays on multiple operating systems – require a program that can both monitor and catch them before they inflict any harm.

While browsing through Usenet newsgroups and accessing articles, a secure system offers piece of mind to make sure that the accessed post won’t make your system roast.

So what’s the best out there? Here at ThunderNews, we’ve compiled our best picks for 2010:

Best Free Solution

Microsoft Security Essentials – Great detection rates and pretty light on resources, Microsoft has come back with a free solution that works better than many of its competitors, including paid versions. The simple controls limit some of the functionalities that pros would like to see, it still scores higher at monitoring, detecting and killing most variants of viruses for Windows PCs with out of the box settings.

Runner Up: Avira Personal Edition

Best Paid Solution

Norton Antivirus 2010 – One of the top rated solutions out, the 2010 version is much different than previous slow versions from the years before. A complete rewrite of the software which creates a small footprint on resources while protecting your entire system tops our choice for a reliable and customer supported paid solution. It’s also budget minded.

Runner Up: ESET NOD32

What about Linux and Mac OS X Usenet Newsgroup subscribers? An antivirus really is not needed with the way the operating systems are designed; however, there still may be a need. With emails you forward and windows attached storage devices that may be on your network, it may be good to have something just to scan files so you’re not a carrier. Especially when accessing or replying to a Usenet newsgroup article, it may help from spreading a possible virus. For both operating systems, the free solution, ClamAV may be worth a look at.

Some newsgroup newsreaders such as NewsRover and Newsbin offer integration with some antivirus solutions. However, even if the newsreader you use does not have complete integration, the above solutions will keep your entire system monitored constantly.

Whichever you use, updating your anti-virus should be done routinely if not daily. It’s also advised to check out free cloud storage such as DropBox that allows you to store a backup of your most important files on the cloud just in case a worm slips through whatever solution you have.

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Coalition Targets Online And USENET Privacy Laws
March 30th, 2010

A broad coalition of privacy groups and technology companies, calling itself Digital Due Process, sent a set of principles to Capitol Hill Tuesday to try and convince Congress to update digital communications  privacy laws.  The companies have teamed with more than 20 other technology providers and lobby groups from the right and left of US politics to update a US privacy law. The members cited the need to preserve traditional privacy rights in the face of technological change, while also ensuring that law-enforcement agencies can carry out investigations and the industry has the clarity needed to innovate.

The law the companies are targeting, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, is 24 years old and was created ages before the Internet became mainstream. As a result, there isn’t a lot of clarity about whether documents stored in the cloud or location data from cellphones are protected communications that require search warrants to access. The organizers argue that ECPA, which provides the framework for government access to electronic communications in criminal investigations, needs to address e-mail and private files stored in the online cloud – which would include USENET.

Members of the coalition include: ACLU, American Library Association, Americans for Tax Reform, AOL, Association of Research Libraries, AT&T, Center for Democracy & Technology, Citizens Against Government Waste, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Computer and Communications Industry Association, eBay, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Google, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Integra Telecom, Intel, Loopt, Microsoft, NetCoalition, The Progress & Freedom Foundation and Salesforce.com.

According to the coalition, technology has advanced to the point that the act in its current form is no longer enough. They point out email, cell phones, mobile Internet devices and social networking – including USENET newsgroups –  as some of the most pressing issues for the need for revision.

Currently, all communications with ThunderNews.com USENET access is 256-BIT encrypted, secure and private.

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Neilson: TV Watching On Par With Online Access
March 21st, 2010

The number of US TV watchers that also cruise the internet and USENET is up more than 35 percent from a year ago, according to a new report released Monday. The advertising firm Nielsen Co. said Monday that people who multitask this way spent an average of three and a half hours doing so in December. That’s up sharply from the two hours, 29 minutes that Nielsen reported only six months earlier.

The study reported by media newsgroups says  the number of Americans who “multitask” by watching TV and using the Internet continues to grow by reaching three and a half hours per month in the most recent quarter, with nearly 60% of viewers now using the Internet once a month while also watching TV.

Indeed more consumers watched TV while simultaneously surfing the Web in December ’09 , but these figures shouldn’t really come as a surprise if you take in mind the upward trend in simultaneous media consumption. People did admit to using the Internet around 34% of the time that they were watching television – 14% more than a year ago. These numbers don’t count those who are watching TV on the Internet itself or using to utilize both for the same purpose.  This is some decent news for the TV industry, since the fear is that Internet time is eating into boob tube viewing. Overall, TV viewing is up 1%, year over year, according to the report.

The original fear was that the internet, mobile video, and entertainment would slowly draw viewers away from the TV. However, TV viewership expanded simultaneously with internet usage.

“The rise in simultaneous use of the web and TV gives the viewer a unique on-screen and off-screen relationship with TV programming,” said Nielsen Company media product leader Matt O’Grady. “The initial fear was that Internet and mobile video and entertainment would slowly cannibalize traditional TV viewing, but the steady trend of increased TV viewership alongside expanded simultaneous usage argues something quite different.”

Here are the top 5 website according to Neilson that people are accessing while online:

1. Google
2. Yahoo
3. Facebook
4. MSN or Microsoft Bing
5. YouTube.

Online video consumption is up 16 percent year over year, with close to half (44 percent) of all online video being consumed at the workplace. “Online video is used essentially like DVR and not typically a replacement for watching TV,” notes Nielsen’s semi-annual Three Screen Report, which analyzes TV, internet and mobile video usage. Approximately 44 percent of all online video viewing is happening in the workplace, according to Nielsen, a stat that probably won’t be too surprising for those who follow events like March Madness on Demand, which has been made available live online by CBS Sports.

The use and access to USENET had not been measured in this survey; rather it’s combined with the total amount of time they spend online. With such a great increase in usage, and the ties with other mediums with Usenet, it’s considered that it had a certain impact on the final numbers.

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FCC Releases Mobile Usenet Access Speed Tester
March 12th, 2010

Today, telecom and ISP related newsgroups are discussing the latest announcement from the The Federal Communications Commission of a mobile tool to help consumers test the wireless broadband coverage in their area. The mobile version of the Consumer Broadband Test is available in the Apple iPhone App Store and the Android App Market. Using this tool alongside your portable newsreader can help determine and tweak Usenet access speeds.

Essentially, the app clocks how long it takes to download and upload data to the phone. The release of the two apps come just days before the Commission is set to release its new national broadband plan on March 16, which will heavily stress the need for mobile data networks.   One of the more outstanding recommendations has been to:

“Consider use of spectrum for a free or very low cost wireless broadband service.” The FCC didn’t detail where the spectrum would come from, but it falls in line with the government’s February 2010 request  for 500MHz of additional wireless spectrum to help improve wireless broadband in the U.S.

The app does automatically send the test information to the FCC, but the FCC says this is a voluntary initiative to get help collecting that data, and adds that it will protect the identity of its users. “The FCC is committed to protecting the personal privacy of consumers utilizing these tools, and will not publicly release any individual personal information gathered,” the FCC said in announcing the new app.

The FCC has been criticized for being too reliant on independently unverified data provided by carriers — instead of going out into the field and collecting data first hand. They’ve also been criticized as an agency that hasn’t been very good about using quality data to shape policy decisions. While these tools may help the few users not familiar with speedtests, it’s not clear how much they’ll help the FCC on the accurate data front.

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Survey Says: Online Newsgroups Popular Platform For News
March 1st, 2010

If you’re like us, you catch up on news in multiple ways – thru TV, mobile, web and of course, Usenet newsgroups.  If you are, then you are also one of today’s archetypal news consumers, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life and the Project for Excellence in Journalism. The study reported and being discussed on newsgroups, shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans — more than 90 percent — use multiple platforms to get their daily news.

The wider availability of nearly instantaneous micro newsfeeds like newsgroups present has changed the very notion of our news consumption over time. Younger generations and technological savvy individuals are relying on news sources that are delivered in the form of community-sourced information.

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism asked more than 2,200 people where they get their news.  Local and national TV news remain the leading news sources with online portals such as the USENET the third most popular and ahead of radio and national and local newspapers. Figuring out where users get their news is not as easy, however. Six in 10 said they have used Usenet like online portals in combination with other platforms.

“In the digital era, news has become omnipresent. Americans access it in multiple formats on multiple platforms on myriad devices,” reads the report. “The days of loyalty to a particular news organization on a particular piece of technology in a particular form are gone.”

In the digital era, humans have turned to news platforms that let them customize information according to their personal tastes. Twenty-eight percent of online users have created a personalized homepage that delivers news and information about topics that interest them or subscribe to newsgroups. They also expect to be able to access news headlines from their mobile phones when they are away from their computer. More than 30 percent of mobile phone owners use their device to read news headlines.

Pew pointed out that the Internet has become the third-most-used source for news but there was a clear sign that U.S. news consumers are using more than one news source. The Pew poll was conducted via telephone contact with 2,259 U.S. adults form Dec. 28-Jan. 19. The data carry a margin of error of 2.3 percentage points.

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Netflix Leads Newsgroup Inquiry on Comcast-NBC Merger
February 8th, 2010

Netflix, the Web’s hottest video service, is voicing the worry that many media related newsgroups have that bandwidth providers could abuse their position as the gatekeepers of Internet access and purposely damage competing Web-video distributors.

With a strong voice coming from USENET newsgroups, Netflix has echoed the cause and is asking the FCC to look a little closer at its proposed net neutrality rules. They warn of a major loophole that would allow Comcast (especially if its NBCU merger is approved and other major cable and satellite companies) a major advantage in giving their own content a delivery edge.

Netflix’s comments to the FCC, first reported by The Washington Post on Monday, is a signal that the company sees a showdown coming with Comcast, Time Warner, and other broadband providers over the distribution of online video. According to the FCC filing:

“Netflix believes that the codification of the existing network neutrality principles, together with the addition of nondiscrimination and transparency, create an effective framework for preserving an open Internet. These rules will allow all parts of the industry — network operators, consumer electronics manufacturers, and edge providers of content, applications, and services — to continue to innovate at a rapid pace, unburdened by the unnecessary intervention of network operators or government regulators.”

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts responded in House and Senate hearings last week that the company has had no incentive to withhold NBC content from competitors. But did not speak specifically about how content would be offered and if (as one competing ISP said) the company would make NBC shows and movies available at such steep prices and conditions that it would be difficult for competitors to lease rights to the content.

Cable companies are seeing services like Netflix, which often are delivered “over-the-top” on devices like Sony’s PS3 and other gaming consoles, on Blu-ray players and, increasingly, on Internet-connected televisions, as a major threat. The recent merger between Comcast and NBC may seem imminent, but getting the ground rules in place for what would be allowed by these two media goliaths could severely impact the content available online in general. USENET newsgroup posts about the matter tend to genuinely disapprove about the move and believe that due to the history of both companies, scrutiny on the details need to be addressed.

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LTE Technology Brings Faster Wireless Broadband Speeds
January 28th, 2010

The Long Term Evolution wireless broadband technology which initially boasted speeds of 20-80Mbps is expanding to new markets.

The technology which benefits mostly mobile devices has been reported be different newsgroups of having mixed end results in speeds depending on the area and ISP that is used. That won’t stop the LTE tech to go live in places like Sweden, Europe and The United States throughout 2010. The 3GPP technology is a project.

What is LTE?

LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the project name of a new high performance air interface for cellular mobile communication systems. It is the last step toward the 4th generation (4G) of radio technologies designed to increase the capacity and speed of mobile telephone networks. Where the current generation of mobile telecommunication networks are collectively known as 3G (for “third generation”), LTE is marketed as 4G.

The broadband technology is expected to debut in the United States later this year by Verizon. Verizon looks to introduce the new wireless broadband technology to over 25 different markets. Unfortunately, speeds won’t be as fast as those in Sweden. Verizon has already stated that the stream will hover around 5 to 12Mbps at peak performances. Markets with the most congestion will only be able to max 3 to 8Mbps instead.

With the rise of mobile computing going on, timing couldn’t have been better. With increased wireless speeds, subscribing to newsgroups on the go will be faster and easier than ever.

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Apple iPad Tablet To Support Newsreader?
January 25th, 2010

ipadThe long-rumored Apple iPad, iSlate, iWhateveritsnameis Tablet PC is widely expected to make its debut in San Francisco on Jan. 27.  Although Apple has never confirmed that such a device is in the works, many Apple/Mac newsgroups agree that the Apple Tablet is imminent. Steve Jobs has recently been overheard and quoted as stating that the Apple Tablet may be the “most important thing I ever do” that further ignites these rumors and newsgroup speculation.

Many Apple newsgroup subscribers agree that Apple wants to change the way television, news, and books are distributed once and for all, and it’s going to use its soon to be unveiled tablet to try and do it. It already has seen this success with both the iPod becoming THE mp3 player of choice, not to mention the grand army of iPhone aficionados. With an Apple tablet, it may finally put the nail in the coffin as the mobile computing device of choice for many.

Lots of guesses are being put forward as a name: iTablet, iSlate, iPad. If it is the latter, Apple has a quick fight to the finish line to win. Whilst a company called Slate Computing — thought to be a front company for Apple — registered the iPad trademark in Canada, Europe and Hong Kong in July last year, Fujitsu still owns the iPad trademark for handheld computing in the U.S., although appeared less than committed to keeping it. Apple has now filed three petitions to extend the deadline to February 28 to take the name away from Fujitsu. Apple has until that date to submit evidence it is the rightful owner of the iPad trademark.

Unique to USENET newsgroups, mac newsgroups have been posting that this would not be the first time Steve Jobs attempted such a thing. Mac communities in nearby parallel universes have been playing with Apple tablets since the Reagan administration. The tablet was called “Bashful,” in reference to the dwarf in the fairy tale Snow White. Bashful was created alongside the Apple extension of the Snow White industrial-design language that Apple used from 1984 to 1990. This past week, Frog Design released pictures of the “Bashful” tablet, which was on the drawing boards in 1983, but never made it to the shipping stage. The Bashful looks like the top half of a PowerBook Duo combined with a keyboard stolen from an Apple IIc; a stylus rounded out the Bashful’s user interface. Variations of the Bashful tablet included one with an attached keyboard and one with a floppy-disk drive and a handle for portability. Some of the tablet prototypes included a stylus. And one concept even had an attached phone. Unfortunately, we’ll never know how the Bashful would have done on the market; Steve Jobs was more interested in another computer called the “Macintosh” at the time, and relations between Apple and Frog Design broke down when Jobs left Apple in 1985.

2010-01-25-170911No matter what form it finally takes, an Apple tablet is likely to have a drastic impact on the media world. Apple’s vision is supposedly of a tablet in every home—a shared device between family members that allow them to quickly check their e-mail or read the news. The device, which will sport a virtual keyboard, could have virtual sticky notes to leave for other family members or user identification using the device’s built-in camera. Although it’s unclear whether these features will make it into the final product, they do seem to have a family-oriented focus. The company has also been working with EA to show off the tablet’s gaming potential. No word on what applications will be able to run with it or if it will even be running an existing OS X operating system. Because of the lack of details of both the software as well as what capabilities of storage leaves little to speculate about a possible compatible newsgroup newsreader for the device.

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