On the 30th of June, my Internet service provider (rhymes with “box”) killed its newsgroup servers. It wasn’t like they didn’t warn us or anything; I think I received four emails to announce the change, and I posted about it here.
To some extent, I don’t blame them: Usenet isn’t quite as useful today as it was when I started wandering through various groups back in ’96, and it costs money to maintain a decent NNTP server. On the other hand, I hate to give up anything I’ve been using if I can help it.
For most of those fourteen years, I’ve been using Forté’s newsreader Agent. (Actually, I started with the freebie version, which was called Free Agent, but about release 1.92, they went to a full-version-with-trial product, and I started paying for it.)
A couple of years ago, Forté began offering its own Usenet service, which at full tilt runs $14.75 a month for unlimited access. I figured I didn’t need that much, so I’m trying out their absolute-rock-bottom plan, which serves up 12 GB per month for a measly $2.95. In two weeks not quite eight hours of connection time I’ve come nowhere close to using half that, so I figure this will be my plan of choice. (I read about three dozen newsgroups of the 107,000 or so offered.) One reason I’m running this low volume is that I generally download headers only, and then cherry-pick the actual articles I want; I have only one group set to download all new articles in full.
The only downside, so far, is that Agent doesn’t seem to incorporate a gadget to keep track of my usage, though Forté will send me an email when I get within 20 percent of my monthly maximum. I can live with that.