Perhaps showing my age, I was so engrained in USENET since nearly the very beginning of the service in the early 80′s that I stayed using it long after most folks had moved to web forums. That was until around 2003 or 2004, when I found that splitting my time between dwindling USENET activity and climbing web activity was just too much. Yet even then I still lamented the loss – it was (and still is) incredibly inefficient to seek information about a given subject sprawled across dozens of websites and blogs when a single – or few – USENET groups used to contain loads of experts on the subject.
For example, I am a huge PC RPG fan, and so I would spend too much time on COMP.SYS.IBM.PC.GAMES.RPG. Then suddenly I was looking at RPGDot, GameBanshee, Sorcerer.net, RPGamer, and on and on. But over time the shift was inevitable.
Of course, since then much has changed in the USENET world – while Google Groups fully integrated everything related to general discussions by 2006 and pretty much killed off the traditional threaded USENET, it also dropped support for files. So gone too was the ability to preview new Newton or Psion apps by having authors put files into the appropriate group. Gone also was the burgeoning sea of ‘other’ material, much of which the copyright holders would rather not be available without paying.
The last time I looked at USENET services was when our ISP stopped hosting them and I wasn’t ready to stop using them yet, and found that amongst all the available Usenet services there was a broad range available with a huge range of groups and posting dates retained on the servers.
The kind folks at Binverse have provided me with an account to test out their USENET service – and better still, have provided 5 other accounts as part of a giveaway! More details at the end – now let’s take a look at Binverse:
Here is a snippet from the Binverseabout how their service relates to Usenet:
How to Use Usenet
In order to use Usenet, you must have the following:
- Usenet server access from a Usenet provider
- Usenet client software to read messages
- Usenet search tool to search the newsgroups
Usually, you would have to purchase each piece of your Usenet setup separately. However, with the Binverse free Usenet trial you get everything you need plus secure, unlimited and uncensored access at blazing fast speeds.
Binverse and Usenet
1. Binverse provides access to multiple Usenet super clusters to deliver speed and reliability not possible through any single Usenet cluster. We call this mutli-homed Usenet access and it is a great value to Binverse customers.
2. The Binverse software and search engine makes downloading from Usenet super easy. Simply search, download and enjoy. Binverse helps you take the complication out of Usenet downloads. Find out more by visiting Inside Binverse.
Binverse provides a fairlyon their site. Here is the main part:
What Is Usenet?
Usenet is a worldwide network of commercial grade servers where members post and download files and messages to more than 100,000 themed discussion groups called “newsgroups”.
Unlike peer based systems, Usenet is powered by commercial news servers connected through multi-gigabit Internet connections letting you to download as fast as your Internet connection will allow.
When a user uploads a new post it is shared with every other Usenet server. The result being that each server in the network has the exact same messages.
You are never required to upload files or make your computer available to other members. You simply log on to the Usenet servers, download or post what you want and log off.
Unlike a web forum, Usenet has no central server or administrator.
History of Usenet News
Usenet was developed in 1979 by two graduate students looking for a new way to communicate via the Internet. That makes Usenet more than 11 years older than the World Wide Web!
In addition to communicating through text based messages, members quickly learned how to incorporate special encoding algorithms to enable files called binaries to be posted as a newsgroup message.
This encoding allows members to post or download their own pictures, videos, or any other type of file.
Even looking at the description makes Usenet sound rather arcane, yet until the ‘Web 2.0′ style blogs similar to Gear Diary with comments tied to specific content, even website discussions spawned by articles resulted in a forum ‘thread’. Every site had a forum that was generally linked to the ‘front page’ articles, and in that forum there would be categories based on content. Discussion forums remain popular for specific types of content from RPG games to netbooks to quilting and more.
As mentioned, Binverse has a solution that provides a robust Usenet service, excellent group and thread retention, and a Mac and PC client. This combination allows you to do pretty much anything you want with Usenet groups – though too often what it done is rather questionable. As an example, simply searching ‘RPG’ using the Binverse software gives these results:
Looking at that list you see the breadth of Usenet – there are PSP games that are clearly not intended for public distribution, as well as Android games that ARE freely available. There are out-of-print classic games and some discussions. While as a Usenet mirror server Binverse is NOT responsible for the content of the groups, it is worth knowing that much of what happens on Usenet is easily classified as ‘copyright infringement’.
But while the Binverse client seems focused on the massive array of binary files on Usenet, it also provides access to text-based discussions. For me this aspect was rather disappointing, since all that is provided is a window that runs Google Groups in a frame as shown below:
As you can see, it is functional, but … provides nothing that wouldn’t be handled better through a normal web browser connection to Google Groups. But as I mentioned, Google Groups Usenet interface leaves much to be desired, chunking things down in a way to make them fit the typical Google search paradigm – but not useful for threaded discussions.
Fortunately, Binverse doesn’t force you to use their software! With your account you can use whatever client you want and configure it manually to utilize the speedy Binverse servers. I checked out Unison by Panic software, an excellent Mac Usenet client. Within minutes I had configured the client, downloaded all groups and started checking out some of my old haunts!
To see how threaded discussions USED to look, check out the screen below:
I immediately noticed that there were tons of groups, loads of articles, and an excellent sense of history preserved. Unison provides an interface that is at once familiar to a classic Usenet user and also thoroughly modern. I could quickly search for groups, add them to my preferred list, and the software would work to update the threaded discussions.
The reason I focus on Unison is that while it is nice software, it is ultimately a front-end. And while I had little desire to root around in the binaries offered up by the search engine of Binverse, the ability to use that powerful service to quickly work through the long history of RPG or Psion discussions is invaluable.
Binverse provides a comprehensive and robust means of utilizing Usenet resources for whatever reason you might have – discussions, research, binary files, and so on. With a massive list of groups, excellent long-term article retention and high-speed and high-availability service, it is bound to meet your needs!
Review: Binverse USENET Full Service Accounts
Where to Buy:
Price: $29.98 for one month, or $16.65 per month (one $99.90 payment) for six months
What I Like: Very fast connections; loads of groups; excellent retention; allows account use in any Usenet software
What Needs Improvement: Way too much USENET is a festering swamp of piracy and copyright infringement; Binverse software ‘Text’ implementation is
Source: Binverse provided me a review account to use for the review
THE GIVEAWAY I mentioned this at the top, but Binverse has provided FIVE accounts with a 50GB account usage that never expires!
How to win? Enter a comment below, and on next Sunday November 13th at 5PM I will choose 5 random comments as winners! So leave your comment and good luck!