[TAG] Usenet (was Re: [Fwd:] In RI federal court -- Harvard vs. the RIAA)
rick at linuxmafia.com
Sun Dec 28 13:55:19 MSK 2008
Quoting Kapil Hari Paranjape (kapil at imsc.res.in):
> Dear Ben and Rick,
> There is a lot of acrimony on this thread *and* a lot of information
> about USENET.
I'm glad it's been in part useful. I should point out -- as I've
attempted to mention, passim, that Usenet is merely the _largest_
example of a distributed discussion system using newsgroup technology.
Other clusters of one or more newsservers do exist for various purposes,
here and there. E.g., Corel used to operate a phenomenally successful
standalone news server at cnews.corel.com for discussion among users of
that firm's products -- with that server unfortunately suffering lossage
of postings during one of Corel's business reorganisations. (I mention
this in my WordPerfect for Linux FAQ that I've maintained for the Linux
Documentation Project for many years.)
And I've already mentioned the famous, and greatly missed
forum.linuxworld.com newsgroups that Nick Petreley operated, many years
back. Neither of those had any connection to or from Usenet: They were
merely standalone discussion forums using the same underlying technology
that built Usenet (but not using, obviously, the parts of that
technology that support peering between news servers).
A small quibble: I'm following the modern convention of typing "Usenet"
in upper-and-lower lettercase, reflecting the fact that it is _not_ an
acronym of any sort, but rather a simple portmanteau coinage from user +
network. Thus, the all-caps rendition ("USENET") really doesn't make
Back in early days, many proper nouns were written in all capital
letters for no clear reason: e.g., BITNET, UNIX, USENET. Over time,
people gradually realised the practice was pretty silly and made you
look like you're SHOUTING ALL THE TIME. Thus, in more-recent decades,
we have corrected that usage to Bitnet, Unix, Usenet, et alii.
> In such a context is it possible to read/post usenet over here?
Well, if you have a shell account on a machine anywhere on the planet
whose IP is permitted to connect to a suitable news server, e.g., an IP
within the netblock of an ISP that pays for access (for its customers)
to one of the major firms that operate large, reliable, well run news
servers professionally (UsenetServer.com, Supernews, Giganews, Usenet.com).
describes this situation, and the article in general's pretty good.
Thus, for example, anyone with a shell account on any of the machines on
the Internet-facing side of my household's Internet connection has
access to _two_ such external services. Ah, I just re-found the ISP's
Rawbandwidth has 3 different news servers to chose from:
nntp.tsoft.net ---> local news groups
nntp2.tsoft.net ---> outsourced to ISP News
nntp3.tsoft.net ---> outsourced to Super News
Rawbandwidth.com is my local ISP, run by a superb technician named Mike
Durkin. On the really rare occasions when there is a service outage,
almost invariably caused by the telco, SBC Communications, shooting his
firm in the foot, Mike immediately goes up and posts an explanation to
one of the low-traffic local-only newsgroups on the local news server,
nntp.tsoft.net. (He always sounds mortified and/or outraged that
something has caused him to have less than perfect service. It's quite
heartwarming, though I worry sometimes about the stress on his health.
If you inquire with your local ISP, you _might_ find that they either
have a contract with one of the large server-operators or (not likely,
these days) operates a news server itself.
Getting individual access to the large providers seems to be offered but
the rates aren't very favourable, e.g., see http://www.supernews.com/ .
(I'll bet they have to price their individual personal accounts on the
basis of the assumption that most people seeking out such service are
going to camp out 24x7 on the binaries newsgroups, attempting to build
the world's largest collection of anime clips, or something -- and/or
that the user will be constantly filing bizarre trouble tickets like
"Hey, why does the alt.fan.celine.dion newsgroup have poor propagation?",
chewing up staff time to answer them.)
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