Archive for December, 2011
I always liked nzb.su. They’re the best alternative to nzbs.org and you can actually get in. Popularity has lead them to make some changes. Now they have a VIP member tier that allows you more nzb downloads per day and more API hits.
Free tier lets you have 15 nzb downloads and 120 API hits.
VIP tier lets you have 400 nzb downloads and 5000 API hits.
Their pricing is a lot like newzbin, paid access in time blocks. 30 days is $1.60 USD. All the way to 360 days for $6.75 USD. Not a bad deal. If you already have VIP at Nzbmatrix, hard to say if spending the extra money is worth it. Nzb.su is based on newznab, and it definitely has a cleaner design than Nzbmatrix.
With raw search engines still out there for free, nzbmatrix holders might not be so pressed into signing up. Even a free account is enough to supplement.
Although, if I was a big time nzb.su user, I would look into making my own Newznab server. You’d then have your own private autoindexer. Granted, it is more expensive. Newznab plus is $15 USD, classic is free. But you’d only have to pay for your own VPS/dedicated, or even simply run it at home. I’ve really been tempted into doing this lately. Less practical, but not out of reach for most people. If you’re already running Sickbeard and Couchpotato on your own server, it might be worth it to have your own private indexer.
Sky has become the latest UK ISP to block access to Newzbin. The Motion Picture Association won a legal battle that forced BT to block access to Newzbin. Now other ISPs are doing the same.
The blocking is SOPA-esque. If you know the IP address or even just edit your host file, the blocking in ineffective. Already we can see how ineffective this style of blocking is at keeping people from accessing black listed sites. The blocking is so simple to get around, that you don’t even need to get a VPN to get around the block.
Honestly, this only serves to give Newzbin free marketing. With newer, better, and automatic indexers already out there, there is little reason to even use Newzbin. But now that it’s been black listed, everyone will want to see what the fuss is about and that can only add to more money to Newzbin’s account.
Giganews is seen as the best Usenet provider in the market. They have the longest retention, big data centers, and high completion. At least high completion of articles that haven’t been hit with DMCA take-down notices. Giganews resellers, such as SuperNews, do very well by reselling the Giganews feed. Everyone knows that their servers are good and stable. On the other hand, they’re the prime target for DMCA take-downs. These are so rampant that many popular uploads are taken down from Giganews servers within a week or two of being posted on Usenet.
Although, Giganews doesn’t take down all of the posts. They only take down 1 to 2 parts of each segment. On the surface, this would seemingly allow downloaders to repair the files. Except that isn’t what is happening. People who are uploading files are not adding enough PAR2s to repair the corrupted RAR files.
Everyone suggests that 10-20% redundancy is what we should be aiming for with PAR2s. Many posters are only going as high as 5%. If you have a backup server, this isn’t the end of the world. Your NZB downloader will just pick up the blocks that are missing on Giganews. Granted, you’re kinda wasting money by having to constantly rely on your block account. It’s usually pretty easy to just jump ship anyways.
What really confuses me is that many uploaders seem to know that their posts will be subject to this kind of take-down. So they’ll add enough PAR2 blocks to repair having 2 parts of every file taken down. The only problem is that they don’t take into account that 2 parts of every PAR2 file will also be taken down. So you end up with not enough pars to fix everything.
When you’re making PAR2s, just set it for 12% redundancy and be done with it. Maybe people will just make the switch to another Usenet provider that isn’t a prime target for DMCA take-down notices. No one wants to see their block account dwindle away.
Privacy is important to everyone. No one wants their ISP, or anyone else, snooping their Usenet traffic. Giganews offers a VyprVPN as a perk with their top tier Diamond plan. It’s definitely a nice perk. But I’m not completely convinced that it’s very useful for Usenet.
Giganews’ Diamond plan, like most Usenet providers, already has SSL encrypted connections. Your connections are already secured and private between your computer and the Giganews servers. A VPN from the same company seems both redundant and unnecessary.
VPN connections are useful, but not in the context of browsing Usenet. If you’re frequently using public WiFi hotspots, then a VPN is exactly what you need. In this case, all of your none SSL connections are out in the open for anyone to snoop on. FireSheep is a well known example of a tool that can do this. You don’t want someone at your coffee shop to hijack your Facebook profile.
Some ISPs will snoop on your browsing traffic and feed you ads. I for one wouldn’t want my ISP to do that. A VPN will keep your ISP from snooping on your traffic. They’ll never know what websites your visiting. Since a VPN encrypts all of your traffic even services like AIM will be private from your ISP.
Although your ISP won’t be able to monitor your traffic, you shouldn’t expect a VPN to completely keep you anonymous. The VPN service has the ability to monitor your traffic. If you abuse the service they’ll know its you. So for anyone thinking that they can use a VPN to get anonymously use BitTorrent, the VPN service has the ability to know who is abusing their service. If they get a DMCA letter, they’ll still know it’s you.
Keeping all of this in mind, if you do need a VPN service Giganews is worth a look. It’s a nice perk for their top tier plan. Plus with the new DumpTruck online storage service, the Diamond Plan is looking attractive for anyone who needs a VPN and online storage. But understand the limitations of the privacy and anonymity a VPN provides.
Everyone is getting worried about SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) that is in congress at the moment. The main threat is using Chinese style DNS hijacking by ISPs to keep people from accessing sites that the MPAA/RIAA don’t want you to access. Sites like MediaFire seem to be the primary, at least the first, targets of this legislation.
If Mediafire, and the likes, are on the target list, then Usenet can’t be too far behind. On the surface there isn’t that much of a difference between the two services. Except that Usenet is heavily indexed. Many Usenet providers don’t seem to comply with DMCA requests, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte seems to think that DMCA take-down notices shouldn’t be relied on anymore.
Astraweb is based in Singapore, outside US jurisdiction. It will be interesting how the respond to pressure if SOPA passes. The MPAA/RIAA won’t be able to take down any Usenet provider, but they would be able to force your ISP to poison the DNS results so that you wouldn’t be able to access the site.
This is exactly how other countries, like China, try to block social media sites to squelch dissent. Thankfully, there are easy ways around this problem. The easiest would be to simply enter in the IP to access the site, bypassing the need for a DNS server. You could even edit your host file for the same effect. The other option is to not use your ISP’s DNS servers. I’m not sure if all US based DNS services would have to poison their DNS results. Using a foreign DNS server would get around the problem. I’ve always liked to use this list of public DNS servers.
Many people wonder if Giganews censors Usenet. They wrote in their blog a few years ago about how they have deleted whole newsgroups because of pressure coming from the New York Attorney General. At the time, the Attorny General had been pressuring ISPs about their usenet access, and was threatening to hold them accountable for any criminal activity. Naturally, ISPs took the easy way out and just dump access to Usenet. Very few ISPs still give free access to Usenet. Now most people rely on a premium provider.
As far as I know, there have been no piracy related newsgroup deletions. So I don’t think that it will effect most people. There are worries that SOPA related legal pressure could result in newsgroups being deleted for piracy related reasons. I think that will be like playing whack-a-mole. Even in that blogpost, Giganews mentions that it is too easy to simple change where you post.
Posting from the CLI in Linux has its advantages. If you have a small VPS, you can quickly upload content. There is only one client that I’ve used that seems to still work.
Newsmangler is an easy to use program just for this purpose. Runs in python and there is little set up needed. Newsmangler is a simple little program written in Python that I’ve come to love.
It’ll create PAR2s and NZBs for you easily enough. And is multithreaded so you can take advantage of your full speed.
Use a text editor to fill in the sample.conf file with your posting name, email, and server information.
When executing the program, I found that you have to include the the subject flag, or the program won’t run. The only other error I ran across was during the middle of uploading a collection of files the program crashed. I think it was due to having so many files in the que, including a bunch of JPEGs. When I just had PAR2s and RARs queued up, it ran fine everytime.
This great little program is located on GitHub
Like everything. It depends.
Usenet providers don’t log connections. No matter what anyone tells you, there is no point in logging connections. They don’t have the space to spare and it serves no point. They don’t log downloads because they have no legal reason.
Uploading to Usenet is a slightly different matter. The big Usenet providers might not want to log connections, but they still need to fight abuse and spam. So instead of logging everything, most Usenet providers insert a special X-Trace code into the header of your post such as this:
The string of text includes the account name and IP of the poster. When someone sends in an abuse complaint of DMCA take-down notice, they have to include all headers of the offending post. Each header will have these X-Trace lines in them. The provider that the poster used can decrypt this line and then give a warning to the poster. Many providers will give users 3 warnings before they either cancle the account or block uploading access. Your results may vary.
If you’re wanting to post content, keep that in mind. I haven’t heard of any uploader getting into legal trouble. But there are plenty of people who have lost their usenet accounts.
For these reasons, block accounts are a good resource for uploading. They’re fairly cheap, as low as $2.75, and they’ll never expire. European, particularly Dutch providers, block accounts are ideal since they generally more forgiving towards posters.
The community has been clamoring for NZB completion checkers. With occasional, yet predictable, completion issues many people are wanting a way to check NZBs before they waste time and bandwidth.
The only one I’ve seen that seems to be worth using is NZBcc by Zoon.
Completion rates across all major providers are all pretty high. Unfortunately, even a small amount of missing articles can cause problems since many uploaders don’t always bother to create an acceptable amount of PAR2, even when they know completion will be a problem after a week or two.
It’s not the only NZB checker around, but it is the only one worth your time. Everyone should check out Zoon’s latest release.
Block accounts seem like the neglected redheaded step child of the Usenet world. Most people jump on the cheapest unlimited Usenet subscription, like SuperNews or Astraweb, and hope for the best. The problem is that many of the big Usenet providers have holes in their completions. Either due to DMCA take-downs or just random missing articles.
You need to have a block account on a totally different feed. People on GigaNews and Astraweb typically like to use BlockNews. By having a different provider for your block account, you at least get around completion holes of your primary Usenet provider.
It’s always good to have a backup just in case. A 5 gig block account is typically more than enough. Since you’ll only need to download missing parts and not the wholes files, 5 gigs could last years.