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giganews blog

Corporate culture, personal experiences, and unique observations about Giganews, Usenet, Newsgroups, and Usenet related technologies.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Usenet on the Go

At Giganews, we love to try all sorts of gadgets and applications to make our day a little easier. Which is why when we learned about an application that allows you to access Usenet away from your desktop/laptop using any computer and a USB thumb-drive, we were itching to try it.

How does it work?

For starters, you need to download a program called MojoPac and have access to a USB thumb-drive (my drive was a twenty dollar 1GB Memorex USB thumb-drive). Note: MojoPac will ONLY run off of flash-based removable storage devices. Also, MojoPac only works on 32-bit Windows XP based OS's, sorry Mac.

After downloading MojoPac you need to run the install and point it to your thumb-drive. MojoPac will create a profile setting for you similar to creating a new user profile in Windows XP. All of your personal settings, shortcuts and … installed programs are accessed via your MojoPac "virtual desktop" stored on the thumb-drive. Awesome!

Usenet Testing

To test Usenet access, I installed NewsBin Pro and Newsleecher from my MojoPac desktop portal on my thumb-drive, and after configuring the servers, subscribing to my favorite newsgroups and some last minute tweaking, I was browsing Usenet Newsgroups without any noticeable drop in speed or performance. Pretty cool! Better yet, all of my subscribed groups, server settings, etc, are retained every time I start my news client within MojoPac. Security isn't a problem using Giganews' SSL feature and the stealthy ability of MojoPac to secure your files apart from the host computer. After unplugging my drive, no trace of my activity was left on the host computer. That's because everything resides within my MojoPac profile stored on my thumb-drive. Simple and Powerful!

With MojoPac, access Usenet Newsgroups anywhere using any Windows XP host computer and flash-based portable USB thumb-drive, now that's cool.

If you have any suggestions or tips on unique ways of accessing Usenet, comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

SSL Can Increase Your Download Speeds

Giganews recently announced the deployment of Encrypted Usenet Access. This service enables Giganews customers to transfer all authentication, header, and article data over an SSL encrypted connection.

The obvious benefits of this service are increased security, anonymity, and privacy; however, there seems to be one more...

Securing your connection with SSL typically slows down your download speeds. The reason for this is that it takes a little bit of extra time and CPU power to encrypt and decrypt the data on each end. This extra latency in turn decreases your throughput rate; however, many of Giganews' customers are actually reporting faster download speeds.

How can this be?

SSL encryption helps beat ISP traffic shaping!

Through Giganews' newsgroups and support lists we have seen that many ISPs have implemented traffic shaping measures over the last year to curb usage on their networks.

This is typically done at the protocol or port level. For example, if your ISP wanted to curb your newsgroup usage, they could say that any traffic being transferred over the NNTP protocol on port 119 cannot exceed 500 kilobits per second per customer.

In the past the best work around for this problem was switching to port 80 (typically used for HTTP), but if your ISP is filtering on the protocol level (all NNTP traffic for example) switching to port 80 would not do you any good. Your ISP might be looking for NNTP commands and limit your connection when it sees them.

This is where SSL comes in.

Because SSL is encrypting the authentication, header, article, and protocol data passed between your computer and Giganews any protocol-based filtering measures will be ineffective. The speed difference can be very dramatic. Many Giganews customers have already commented that downloading over SSL has made a huge improvement in their Usenet performance.

If you've recently experienced slow download speeds with any NNTP based downloading (Giganews or other) which you suspect is being caused by ISP traffic shaping, try out our new encrypted Usenet service to see if you can get around it.

If you're a new customer, you can try out our 3 day free trial. If you're already an existing Giganews customer, log on to your control panel and select "Manage Service" for special offers just for you.

We're glad so many of our customers are seeing this additional benefit to our SSL service, and we're looking forward to offering even more advanced tools to improve your Giganews experience. If you have any other tips for avoiding troublesome traffic shaping, leave us a comment!

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