Is Usnet Dying?

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On 27 Nov 2003 02:26:40 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) reminisced:

Ah, dot commands! I wrote my Master's thesis - all 200 pages of it - on a similar system called MUSIC (McGill University System for Interactive Computing) Script on an IBM 370 mainframe. Real pain trying to get columns aligned for tables of numbers (it was an economics thesis). So when PCs and WordStar came along, I was already pretty far up on the learning curve.
Incidentally, I ended finishing off my thesis in Edmonton. Even in 1981, I could use the AES word processor as a terminal, so I dialled up McGill's computer, ran the program that turned my thesis into paragraphs and pages, and downloaded (although it wasn't called that then) my thesis to the word processor. It cost me about $19.00 in data transfer charges. I still have the 9" floppy disks my thesis was saved on.

I guess you couldn't afford a dedicated word processor such as an AES (although I think that was a Canadian company) or a Wang before the PCs came along.
I also remember using C/PM machines and falling in love with Supercalc. Of course, I quickly ran up my spreadsheets to 64K, so it was back to FORTRAN or SAS to do lots of arithmetic.
Luigi Replace "no" with "yk" for real email address
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Luigi Zanasi writes:

You got that right.

You know, to this day, I haven't got a clue as to how to operate ANY spreadsheet. Don't want one, either.
Charlie Self
"Say what you will about the ten commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them." H. L. Mencken
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"Not Exactly". <grin>
From IBM, you could get the base box, with BASIC in ROM, or, _IF_ you shelled out the big bucks for a floppy drive, you could get IBM's "PC-DOS" for a moderate additional cost. At "day one", those were the -only- options.
CP/M-86 appeared on the scene a few months later, *NOT*SUPPORTED* by IBM, but as a 'third party' product -- the CP/M people had to wait and buy a 'retail' machine, to have the 'porting platform' to work on. "Concurrent CP/M 86" (multi-user) was also ported --soon after they got the 'base' system out the door. There was also MP/M-86, a competing multi-user system, but it didn't come along till some time later.
Gates had purchased _exlcusive_ marketing rights for a period of several years from Seattle Computing.
MS then licensed it to IBM, with a fairly "short" period where it was marketed exclusively under the IBM label. After that exclusive marketing period expired, MS offered the product directly to customers under their own label, as well as collecting royalties on every copy IBM sold.
About this point, the 'compatible' market started to develop -- with varying degrees of compatibility to the 'genuine IBM' product. Oddly enough, IBM would -not- license PC-DOS to the other hardware manufacturers. MS, on the other hand, had no such reservations. And they were the "*only* other game in town" as far as a low-cost O/S for the 8088 platform went.
And the war was on. IBM tried to hamstring the software it sold, so it would run on *only* a genuine IBM manufactured machine, and the 3rd-party manufacturers got better and better at being 'compatible' -- to the point of being 'virtually indistinguishable'.
When the 'next generation' microprocessors came along -- the 80286, with it's rudimentary 'protected mode', *large* address-space, and memory- management, other, more powerful/sophisticated O/S options became available. Including several early UNIX derivitives (e.g. Xenix and Venix), some "looks like UNIX, but _not_ based on it (e.g. Chromix, Coherent), and other 'specialized' systems (e.g. QNX, OS/2). All these products filled "niche" markets, with MS-DOS being the 'de facto standard' for the 'typical' single-user desktop system. There were several others systems as well, whose names escape me at this remove. The "UCSD 'p-system'" deserves mention, it was a 'laudable attempt' to *really* insulate the application from the hardware it ran on. It defined a 'virtual machine', and implemented a 'simulator' for that machine. Applications were written in the 'pseudo-code' for that 'virtual machine'. By simply implementing that simulator on any specific platform, *regardless* of the actual processor used, you could run *any* "p-system" application on that machine. It didn't matter whether it was a "genuine IBM PC", a "clone", a "more-or-less compatible", or something *totally* different, like a Motorola-68000 based box -- you could copy the actual executable from one box to another, and *IT*WOULD*RUN*!
While the design was laudable, it suffered in execution. the 'virtual machine' was, of necessity, implemented as an _interpreter_, with the associated performance penalties. And, because it _was_ "hardware independant", you only had a basic set of "generic" device capabilities available. This put it at a *definite* "glitz" disadvantage, vs. anything that 'took advantage' of 'device specific' capabilities on a particular platform. Primarily for those reasons, it never reached 'critical mass', to the point of being self-sustaining in the marketplace.
In the mean time, Seattle Computing had transformed itself into "Digital Research", and after the 'exclusive' period of the license to MS expired, offered their own 'compatible' verson of a Disk Operating Ssystem, based on their 'original' QDOS (with enhancements to offer features comparable to the then-current MS offering).
Unfortunately for them, MS had sewn up the 'brand recognition' issue, and effectively 'owned' the low end single-user O/S market.
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On Thu, 27 Nov 2003 14:48:18 +0000, snipped-for-privacy@host122.r-bonomi.com (Robert Bonomi) wrote:

Nice post, Bob...thanks.
Wishing you and yours a happy Thanksgiving season...
Trent
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On Thu, 27 Nov 2003 14:48:18 +0000, snipped-for-privacy@host122.r-bonomi.com (Robert Bonomi) wrote:

Sorry Robert, you missed it here. Digital Research and Seattle Computing were two completely different companies, in different states. Gary Kildall's DRI sold CP/M and derivitives until it was bought by Novell, which later sold the DRI properties to Caldera. SC sold cheap computers, and later bare CPU chips, each with a licensed copy of MS-DOS, until Bill Gates went back and bought out the original license agreement. Last I checked, they were still in business, but I have no idea what they are doing these days.
See the comp.os.cpm newsgroup for more details. Yes, it is still active, averaging about 10 on-topic posts each day.
Bob McConnell N2SPP
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Hi Tom,
The "Techs" from SNiP have said the same thing to me many times, I am one of the "few" usenet users on their system.
The Voicenet server seems to be working better than when they attempted to host their own servers. I currently use a free news server out of Berlin, Germany. They are strictly a text server and do not carry binary newsgroups. http://news.cis.dfn.de /
Wayne
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Mark Jerde wrote:

Grrrr.... For "newsreads" read "newsreaders"
-- Mark
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snipped-for-privacy@here.now wrote:

Lock up your computer with popup adds? Yeesh. I sure don't miss Windows.
I haven't seen a popup in years, and my computer hasn't locked up since I finally figured out and tweaked a BIOS setting around 18 months ago or so.
I miss the games sometimes though. Linux games universally suck.
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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On Mon, 24 Nov 2003 01:18:18 -0500, Silvan
Neither have I, _with_ windows. <G>
Zone Alarm and the Google tool bar as a team do a wonderful job of canning pop-ups.
Barry
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On Mon, 24 Nov 2003 11:53:28 GMT, B a r r y B u r k e J r .

Well goo for you.:) Neither have I, that wasn't my point. Shut off your firewall and popup killers and see what happens to the great unwashed when they are foolish enough to attempt to find free clipart via the web. Besides the popups, so much spy ware is installed it grinds systems to almost a standstill.

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On Mon, 24 Nov 2003 08:27:17 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@here.now wrote:

That's exactly the point! <G>
To me, using a computer without proper firewall / spyware / pop-up killer / antivirus protection is like trying to rip lumber on a fenceless tablesaw.
You may be able to do it for a while, but sooner or later, it's going to cause problems. <G>
Barry
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B a r r y B u r k e J r . wrote:

Yeah, don't ever try that either... I was in a hurry, didn't need a precise cut... WHAM. At least I wasn't standing in front of it.
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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snipped-for-privacy@here.now wrote:

It would be annoying, but it *still* wouldn't crash my computer. :)
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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Brian Henderson wrote:

That's not really true. Back before the doors were opened to the public at large, spammers got kicked off the net after just one or two transgressions. When the net was purely for academic purposes, anything smacking of commercialism was dealt with swiftly, and with a very heavy hand. We hadn't even invented the term "spam" yet, I don't think. No one had ever seen a top post either.
OTOH, the revolution got me back online, so I can't complain too loudly. Plus now that the web has matured, there's a lot of stuff out there that just wasn't around a decade ago. Kids today have it easy when it comes to doing research. Want to know about the JPL? Go to their web site...
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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On Mon, 24 Nov 2003 10:03:43 -0500, Silvan

Since the net has been open to the general public then. You're right, when I first got access to Usenet back in '86, it wasn't like this, but there weren't that many of us out there either. Far too many people point to the 'good old days' just a couple years ago and seem to have very selective memories.
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Brian Henderson wrote:

Right indeed. Not that many of us here, and traffic volume was a tiny fraction of what it is today. I used to use rn to read news, because that's what my university had installed. I had to go through newsgroups reading the articles sequentially. It sucked then, but it would *really* suck now.

Oh, don't get me wrong. The good old days weren't that good in some ways. We didn't have spammers, but we didn't have the web either. Everybody was also much less relaxed in those days. There was still a military air hanging about the place.
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
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snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net says...

I'd always taken it as more of a university climate, anti-anything- even-remotely-resembling-commercial air.
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"Tom Watson" wrote ...

I wouldn't be surprised if the recent growth in number and type of these PHP MySQL based forum web sites (like sawmillcreek.org) and other forums like woodcentral.com began stealing people away from USENET. Younger people seem to prefer them. The tech types that run them like to play with pretty colors and emoticons so they are a lot flashier and, being web based, may be easier to find for the computer challenged. I don't think they will kill off USENET but the ISP's will continue to ignore it and save $$$, favoring the forums because they don't have to worry about monitoring abuse and troll activity - the web site owner will have to do that. Simplifies their job and saves money.
--
Cheers,
Howard
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I think the ISPs in some cases just don't want to be bothered with usenet. I haven't seen any figures but I'd be surprised if there were not more newsgroups and people reading news than ever before.
--

Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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On Mon, 24 Nov 2003 18:48:50 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@fellspt.charm.net (Lawrence Wasserman) wrote:

There are more people reading usenet. But there are a hell of a lot more people on the net as well. The percentage of their total customer base using Usenet has dropped from around 10% to in most cases well under 5%. Usenet customers are generally heavy bandwidth users as well. Several ISPs are already trying to block their customers access to www.easynews.com for this very reason. Usenet users also generate complaints completely out of proportion to their numbers.
Usenet is not a winner for ANY ISP these days.
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