March 5, 2005

Advice concerning usenet:

      You need to find a good nntp feed

                        This should be free if you've
                        got a good ISP/DSL provider.

      You need a good newsreader, of which
      there are many candidates.

                         I get by with gnus for the moment; I
                         like nn when I can get it. The google
                         groups interface started weak and never
                         seems to get much better.  Most of us
                         don't use it for anything but searches of
                         the old deja archive.

                         You micro-softies: consider the fact that
                         you can run a text-based newsreader in a
                         ssh session.

      From a technical point of view, usenet
      has a number of advantages over the web:

        o  it's far more decentralized:
           it can't be slashdotted, it
           doesn't get nailed by a           It was funny watching the
           single server outage.             livejournal crowd slinking
                                             back to alt.gothic for
                                             their net-fix back during
                                             a livejournal outage.

        o  Because it's text based, it's
           much lighter-weight than the        In a unix environment, you're
           web: it often responds more         expected to set your EDITOR
           quickly, and it can be more         environment variable to point at
           customizeable.                      whatever you're used to
                                               writing with.

                                               With Firefox, there's an
                                               extension to do this ("It's
                                               All Text") but you discover
                                               it if you're lucky.

                                                  And cross-your-fingers and
                                                  hope it keeps working, eh?

                                                     Mozilla plug-ins have
                                                     a history of breaking
                                                     on upgrade. (Bye bye,

      As far as social dynamics goes:
      the bad news is that the web is where
      the action is, and the good news is
      that the web is where the action is.

      The eternal September has definitely
      ended. Usenet is a place you can go
      for the wisdom of the elders without
      being too annoyed by silly kid stuff.

      But the social standards are collegiate
      rather than corporate, so if you're the
      kind of twit that gets bent out of shape
      by someone calling you a twit, you might
      as well stay off. Grow some skin, and        BURDEN_OF_SKIN
      learn to ignore insults, or stick to a
      moderated forum.