Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Usenet, VM's and Pan

Like most people who were in at the beginnings of the internet as something widespread (I'll say sometime around 1991 when JANET connected to the Internet and abandoned Coloured Books for TCP/IP for me) Usenet News filled the niche taken nowadays by twitter and blog feeds.

Usenet news fell apart and lost popularity in the main due to it being hijacked by trolls and other malefactors with the result that people walked away from it when the signal to noise ratio got too high.

In fact I closed down work's usenet news server a few years ago. It was quite an interesting experience as we had a couple of downstream servers elsewhere that we provided a feed to under an SLA. Finding someone at the downstream sites who could remember what a usenet news server was and why we should agree to terminate the SLA (and the feed) was a task in itself. People really don't use it anymore.

However, despite that there's still a couple of technical newsgroups I still find useful, especially now the trolls have abandoned it for twitter and facebook, making the experience kind of like the old days.

To access them I use pan running on a minimal crunchbang linux vm.

This of course has the problem of getting the information out of pan and into somewhere useful - having that useful post sitting on a vm you run up once a week isn't really that useful.

There's lots of ways of solving that problem, but I didn't want to spend a lot of time installing extra software such as dropbox on the vm. My answer is incredibly simple and incredibly old school - install alpine on the vm, set up a dummy account on outlook.com, manually attach the usenet posts as text file and email them to my evernote account, my work account, or where ever suits.

Remarkably old school, but remarkably efficient ...

Written with StackEdit.

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