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Learn the Secrets of Usenet in 3 Easy Steps

Learn the Secrets of Usenet in 3 Easy Steps

If you waste too much time on the Internet like I do, you have probably torrented all sorts of files such as movies or other forms of media. But what if I told you that there is a faster alternative to BitTorrent which can also protect your privacy?

That is precisely what Usenet is. Usenet is not some newfangled prototype. In fact, it is older than what most people believe when they think of the Internet. Usenet was originally created during the late 1970s to late 1980s essentially as a series of disconnected discussion boards and groups. But today, these groups contain huge amounts of data and files which anyone can download.

So why don’t corporations and the government crackdown on Usenet? To some extent, they have. But Usenet has been able to stay under the radar because there are a few catches with it such as that it can seem trickier to use. But it really is not that hard. Here are some key steps which even the least tech-savvy person can use to start downloading all sorts of files through Usenet.

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  1. Pay for your Usenet provider

When you download files through Usenet, you are downloading through server farms and not through peer-to-peer sharing. This better protects your privacy and also allows you to download more obscure files which do not have enough seeders. But it does mean that you have to pay a fee so that those servers can be maintained.

The fee is not that much, and most Usenet providers are willing to provide a free trial while you understand how Usenet works. NewsHosting, one of the most popular Usenet services, charges just $13 per month for their standard plan, which places no limit on the amount of data that can be transferred. That is an exceptional price considering the kinds and amount of data which can be downloaded.

Most Usenet providers will charge roughly the same amount, so users should look at other aspects to determine which provider is best for them. One of the biggest keys is data retention – because Usenet providers receive so much data, they have to periodically expunge older data to make room. Aim for a provider with a longer retention period. Other things to check for include how much data you can download and how many connections you can have at the same time.

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  1. Use SABnzbd

In addition to a Usenet provider, you need a Usenet client. But what kind of client you get depends on why you intend to use Usenet.

The two reasons to use Usenet are to get access to interesting discussion groups via comp.* or news.*, or to download files. Essentially, you can get a client which can do one or the other, or you can pay for a client that can do both. If you are interested in a paid client, then I would recommend Newsbin.

If your primary interest in Usenet is to download files and you do not want to pay for a client, then the best choice by far is SABnzd. This client is very easy to install, especially because it now comes with a wizard which guides you on the steps.

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One key point here is that when you sign up with a provider, you will receive via e-mail the provider’s server details as well as a password. Also, enter the number of connections which your providers allows.

SABnzd will restart at least once so that you can test the server’s connection, but once it is finished you will have the address you can use to get access it from your web browser.

  1. How to Find the Files

So you have your Usenet client and provider, which are the tools needed to download files. But you cannot just type in “find usenet files” on Google and expect to get anywhere. You will have to find a dedicated indexer to find the location point from which you can find Usenet files, which are normally called NZBs.

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Some indexes charge an incredibly small fee like $1 per year to run, and you should be willing to scrounge that little cash. But one of the big challenges with indexes is that major ones such as NZBMatrix have been forced to close down. Binsearch.info, for now, is one of the better indexes and it is free.

When you search with Binsearch, just type in the kind of file you want to find. It should be noted that the naming sense of Usenet files can be peculiar, so it can take you a while to get the hang of it. But once you find the file you want, click on the checkmark and the click the “Create NZB” button at the bottom. Your computer will download the NZB file.

From there, you can add the NZB file to SAB, and SAB will download the files, unzip them, and place them in your directory. From there, you can do it again, downloading and using all the downloaded information you can get.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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