Interview with Team R Dogs May 28, 2010Posted by deepsharer in NZB, usenet.
Tags: newzbin, nzb, usenet
I secured an interview with Mr White via IRC last night (the conversation has been tidied up a bit).
DS: How are you Mr White? May I call you Caesium/Freaky/Kalante now?
W: You can, but I think they might be a bit upset & I’d get confused, but I like the Bond reference 😉 Srsly, we are not the Newzbin guys, I mean, the old Newzbin guys. But I guess you’ll never believe me till you get my phone number?
DS: which is?
W: (202) 456-1414
DS: yea, right. So how did you get the code?
W: We liberated it. Code just wants to be free. Specifics don’t matter.
DS: So you’ll opensource it?
W: No. That said, if we have to shut down at any stage we’ll try to opensource it.
DS: Why did you steal the code?
W: I nicked it initially just because I could, that was a while back. There was no real ‘plan’, I just kinda did it, but I didn’t want to copy the site and didn’t even really plan to use it. Then when I saw the legal news I thought Newzbin was looking like it really might fold. Since they didn’t say they would opensource the code I chatted to a couple of mates and we talked about running a site ourselves. We didn’t do anything for ages but when Newzbin suddenly closed without any warning at all we decided to make a move.
DS: So when are you going open this site? What’s the url going to be?
W: We’ll let you know the domain name later. The site is gonna open really really soon.
DS: Are you planning to change the way Newzbin works or is it going to be a straight clone?
W: We’ll be running a straight clone to start with but we want to change it eventually. Unfortunately the site backend is mega mega complicated so we’re concentrating on just getting the systems running with a minimum of falling over in the beginning. Plus, we also greatly underestimated the number & power of the servers needed to run this stuff so we’ve been trying to raise a metric fuckload of cash to buy gear.
DS: Doesn’t sound promising…
W: no it’ll be fine but I’m just saying that for a while it may all be a bit wobbly 🙂
DS: what are the longer term plans for the site?
W: we want to raise retention time. 240 days is a bit crap. We want to get it to at least 400 days soon and then up to 600+ days within the next 9 months. Kinda pulling figures outta my ass but something like that. Plus I want to do a redesign of the site. I reckon some people wanted the old site to have lots of features so it’s become complicated as thy added them in, but others want it simple & less confusing. It’s a tough design issue and we need to think how we can do this. We’ll probably do A/B testing on the site and maybe do polls, start a design/features discussion with users. We’ve also discussed adding non-Usenet search results to the site like torrent or Rapidshare results, but we’ve just kinda floated that idea and we don’t know how we’d incorporate it. Should all be fun.
DS: The MPA are gonna come after you. You got a plan?
W: 😦 yea, it’s inevitable, we’ll just do a Piratebay on them. We can run faster than them and shapeshift.
DS: Do you reckon users will return?
W: we hope to hell they do or we’re in a money hole. I reckon we’ll lose a few users of Newzbin1 but I’m hoping over time many will join us and if we can get increased retention and more services I think we may even improve over the old site in time. I’m certainly appealing to the editors and editor admins to join us, purty purty please!
DS: Good luck. I’m rooting for you. Make it come back soon.
W: a lot sooner than you think I expect 😉
Mr White will try to answer polite questions below.
Newzbin: ex-owner Caesium’s comments May 21, 2010Posted by deepsharer in NZB, usenet.
Just got this press release from the old owner of Newzbin:
Caesium has volunteered to answer (polite!) questions in the comments.
What are you looking for in a Usenet NZB indexer May 20, 2010Posted by deepsharer in NZB, usenet.
Now Newzbin is gone I’m looking for somewhere else and I see a lot of commentators saying “nzbrus sucks” or “nzbmatrix doesn’t have what it takes”. Most people seem to think Newzbin was the best site. I always thought the site was dog ugly and complicated; brilliant content & the reports were great, but a usability nightmare. Is that bullshit? Why do some nzb sites suck so badly? Who’s the best and the worst, and why?
If you were designing a site what features would you add? Or for that matter lose?
refunds, source code, privacy May 19, 2010Posted by deepsharer in Uncategorized, usenet.
Reading the comments on the Newzbin story three issues seem to crop up repeatedly. I’ve asked the right people and here’s the score:
I reckon it’s a bit cheesy wanting a few dollars back but maybe some people are poor and others are cheap. Some people have said Newzbin ‘ripped off’ customers but Newzbin always did the right thing. Caesium, Freaky & Kalante didn’t start Newzbin to make money, they did it because they were geeks with a good idea for the technology, the NZB format, and accidentally started a profitable business. All the way through they were about the community and doing the right thing: they didn’t let people buy large credits just in case this situation ever arose; they gave refunds to people who asked for them – whereas other site operators would just have told them to screw off (I’ve never tried asking Giganews for money back for a month when I didn’t use it, I’m guessing I’d not get a very receptive response); at the end Newzbin stopped taking any more money when they knew how it was going – they could have been taking money right up to the day the site closed if they were scammers. Yea, the guys made good money, but they earnt it for the valuable service they performed and for the risks they took: I guess if you’re a bit of a commie you might not like people making a profit from a useful service, but I dont care.
Anyway, if you want your money back the liquidators are Bennett Verby, ask them for claim form. My guess is that after the bills are paid you’ll get nada, but it’s your call.
Liquidation doesn’t put anyone at risk. As was said on the site news at the time, and as some people have repeated in the comment to my original story, Newzbin kept almost no logs (other than for DoS prevention) and that was one of the things that upset the judge. There are no weblogs to tell who downloaded what or when.
Credit card records are irrelevant since they only say you were a member of the site, they don’t say what you downloaded or even if you downloaded anything at all. There was plenty of legal content indexed on the site.
The liquidator may sell Newzbin’s servers but the data disks will be probably be reformatted so even the minimal information that is on them will be trashed.
This is where it gets intriguing. I mentioned the rumours that the site had been hacked and the code and databases stolen. Usenetshack have suggested that the timing is fishy and they seem to be suggesting it’s a put up job. As I understand it the hack was several months ago not recent. I PM’d Caesium on irc and he denies it’s an inside job either by him or the new owner. I believe him for no reason other than he is simply too worried about getting back into the MPA’s crosshairs to pull a stunt like that. Also Caesium, as I understand it, has a new squeaky clean project to work on and is out of the Usenet game.
More importantly, I may have been contacted by the code thief/liberator: ‘may‘ being the operative word. I was PM’d on irc by someone who said that my hack rumour was right and they’d grabbed the code plus database of reports and other operations files. He claimed they’d done a simple SQL injection attack that got them an account on the server, and that a privilege escalation had got them root on their account. I don’t know if this is true or if I am being bullshitted by some clown. I asked Caesium and he was sceptical, though he no longer ran the server at the time of the attack. Mr Hacker would not say what he intended to do with the code. I’ve asked him to prove that he has it by giving me a few lines of code that Caesium or the guys can verify. I’ve heard nothing yet.
It may be that I am an optimist, or engaged in wishful thinking, but the guy was convincing and I reckon that the code is out there and a clone will pop up sometime in the next few months; fingers crossed. Question is: will you return to Newzbin if it resurfaces? I’d be an editor again like a shot if a new site asked me. Any other ex-editors with an opinion on that?
Interesting update: 19th May
Had interesting side channel discussions on irc with Mr Code Thief. Initially, yesterday, he approached me and said he had the site code and databases. I thought he was probably a clown. Today he PM’d me with several lines of code. Caesium has just confirmed that these lines of code ARE from the site source code:
Bottom line is that my guess is one or more clones will be popping up sooner or later.
Newzbin gossip May 18, 2010Posted by deepsharer in usenet.
Things are moving fast at everyones favourite Usenet indexer Newzbin. A Newzbin Editor let slip some interesting gossip to me on IRC. Apparently Newzbin has been put into administration yesterday because it couldn’t pay its debts. Word is that they owe the MPA £230,000 just in interim costs, and that’s without a full costs ruling or a decision on damages. Apparently they also owe a software development house over £500k. They also stopped taking payments a few weeks back. Fucking ouch.
I predict Newzbin is toast.
Does it mean the end of the service for users? Maybe not. While I can’t see how Newzbin can dig themselves out of this hole or carry on, there have been odd developments. Users have been pressing Newzbin to Opensource the site code but they’ve refused. However the rumour is that someone hacked their servers and grabbed the code and several databases. I PM’d a Newzbin guy and he denied knowing anything about this but the rumours are strong. Added to which Newzbin have been hacked before: about 5 years ago a database of their Paypal transactions ended up on Usenet! (Oh the irony) And another Usenet indexer also turned up running, ahem, similar looking code.
If that is right I’m guessing a clone site will spring up soon, or maybe several.
Wow. Slightly freaked that Newzbin has both closed AND linked to this blogpost to give an explanation. Just to say, I am nothing to do with Newzbin but I am (OK, was, it would seem) an editor and I knew the original guys fairly well via IRC.
I’ll see if I can get answers to questions asked below and post the replies in new blogposts.
As someone in comments said, there is a newzbin users group on irc.freenode.net #newzbin
Update 2 – 19th May
New story: privacy, source code refunds.
Update 3 – 19th May
The original site owners have confirmed that, based on source code fragments examined by them, and supplied by a third party, the site source code does appear to have been stolen and is in the hands of unknown parties. An Attack of the Clones imminent?
update 4 – 28th May
Mr White – code ‘thief’ interview
update 4 – 1 June
Newzbin is back
PirateBay takedown injunction May 16, 2010Posted by deepsharer in lawsuits, p2p, torrent.
It looks like the Gang of Six have been flogging a dead horse in Germany, according to TorrentFreaks, by getting an injunction against a German ISP, CB3ROB, forcing them to hoik TPB’s Intarwebs connection. As CB3ROB point out, the ruling is at odds with other court rulings in Germany and seems to be inconsistent with EU law. That said, I’m no lawyer but it does seem pointless. Every time this happens TPB pop up somewhere else.
An interesting question is just how long they can keep that up. Is there an inexhaustible pool of ISPs willing to take the risk? or will the GoS’s inexhaustible supply of cash wear down an entire industry? We all know the aphorism of the unstoppable object meeting the immovable one: I’m just not sure which is which here.