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Alden Bates' Weblog

Feigning normality since 1973

Losing Usenet

Filed in: Internet.

Back in '92, when I was attending Victoria University in Wellington, my very first contact with the Internet was reading a feed of rec.arts.drwho on the University's BBS system. A year later in the newer labs, I was finally able to post to the newsgroup, and find other newsgroups to read. Before the web, Usenet was the first time I was able to read the thoughts of people on the other side of the world.

I was a bit of a terror on rec.arts.drwho during the early-mid 90s, and at one point even went to the trouble of writing a program to calculate weekly posting stats for the group. I stopped that after it became clear it was encouraging people to post large amounts of noise, though the "Weekly Stats 03/08" thread became a RADW legend. I've seen a few people from that period turn up again, especially on LiveJournal.

Fast foward to, well, now, and my ISP, Xtra, have announced that they're going to ditch their Usenet server. I haven't really read the newsgroups regularly for a while now. Occasionally I fire up Forte Agent (no relation to the annoying Microsoft characters) to see what's being talked about, but with the new Doctor Who series I've been avoiding rec.arts.drwho.moderated to avoid spoilers and many of the other groups I read are pretty quiet.

Still, I'll miss it when it's gone, even though I can theoretically read it through Google Groups. Usenet is, after all, one of the Internet's oldest services.

(See previously: Xtra Broadband speeds, and I'd like to reiterate that they should change their name from 'Xtra' to 'Less')

Posted May 1, 2006 11:36 PM

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