More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

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More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby bill8647 » Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:16 pm

Okay guys, here we go. I'm hopping mad and here's why.

Just after 1 Sep I got this notice from Paypal:

Hello,

Your subscription payment to Searchtech Limited for Unlimited Plan failed on
01 Sep 2017 because of problems with Searchtech Limited's account. We will
try to make this subscription payment again on 04 Sep 2017.
.
.
.
Thanks,

Paypal

---

Got the same message just after 4 Sep when it "failed" again. I hadn't
been on the groups in a long time so I went to see if Agent could still
connect. It could, and I could still download from some alt groups like
alt.binaries.multimedia.cartoons.looneytunes.

But any attempt to D/L from a group in the alt.binaries.multimedia.erotica.*
hierarchy resulted in Agent giving that the group was not valid. In fact,
the entire alt.binaries.multimedia.erotica.* hierarchy was GONE from
the newsgroup directory.

I did a clean install of Agent on another machine just in case something
had gone wrong with Agent's database (as sometimes happens). Yep, the
entire alt.binaries.multimedia.erotica.* hierarchy was gone. Interestingly,
there was a group with the prefix "alt.binaries.multimedia.eroctica." Note the
misspelling. As if someone had done a deliberate sweep and delete.

On the Astraweb site I noticed that Paypal was no longer offered as a
payment type. Hmmm, coincidence? I started a ticket with Astraweb,
asking specifically why they were having problems with Paypal and
why an entire newsgroup hierarchy had disappeared. I got the following
response that "We have notified our supervisors regarding the group issue and
they are looking into it." Also that "We are currently working on the billing
issue with Paypal but we don't know when it will be resolved."

Astraweb wanted me to change payment methods, the only one of which
would work would be a credit card which I didn't want to do.

I then called Paypal, reached an actual human being, and very pointedly
asked if they could tell me why Astraweb had dropped them as a payment
option, something a company would not likely do. I asked it that way
on purpose, knowing that it was more likely that Paypal had dropped
Searchtech/Astraweb. The Paypal rep would "help me with any payment
disputes I have" but absolutely refused to give any info whatever on
what had happened.

During the next week there was no change, and my web reading suggested
that Paypal was pressuring clients to modify their products, services, or
contents. I learned that Paypal has a past history of denying or dumping
orgs and businesses who offer services and/or opinions Paypal doesn't
care for. Search on "Paypal blockin porn professional transactions"
and "Paypal tries to censor Smashwords", and "Paypal suspends Jihad Watch".
I wrote a more pointed query to
Astraweb that I thought the removal of Paypal as a payment option and the
disappearance of the entire alt.binaries.multimedia.erotica.* hierarchy were
related. I asked specifically if Paypal had dropped THEM.

The next day I got a notice from Paypal that my Searchtech (Astraweb)
subscription had been canceled. Hard to say which side actually canceled
it - Searchtech or Paypal.

---

Since I no longer have access to Astraweb, further investigation is
tough. So here's some questions for this forum:

1) Has anyone else had the same Paypal experience - denial of that
form of payment - and gotten similar payment failure emails from Paypal?
This is obviously directed toward those who were originally paying via Paypal
via subscription. New Astraweb customers won't even see Paypal as
an option.

2) Could someone check to see if your payment method affects the news
groups you can access? That is, can people who pay by card see the
alt.binaries.multimedia.erotica.* hierarchy? It's possible that Astraweb
has not yet restored those groups to those who pay by card and NO ONE
can see them yet. But it's something to watch.
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby Modoc » Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:18 pm

Thanks for the info. I use Paypal but I do not have a payment do till 9-30-17. I wounder if a prepaid credit card would work. If there is a problem they just need to say. This is whats going on. Its better then acting like they have no clue. That's how you lose your customer base.
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby bill8647 » Sun Sep 10, 2017 4:25 pm

Modoc wrote:Thanks for the info. I use Paypal but I do not have a payment do till 9-30-17. I wounder if a prepaid credit card would work. If there is a problem they just need to say. This is whats going on. Its better then acting like they have no clue. That's how you lose your customer base.


My thoughts exactly. It'll be interesting to see what happens on the 30th. I suspect it
will bomb and you'll get the same notice I did.

The reason I would rather not use a credit card is the problems I've had with fraud (three different
cards in 2 1/2 years). Not to mention Equifax dumping 143 million personal records (half the population
of the U.S!). Or my own state simultaneously issuing a letter saying someone could go on one of their websites
and glom SSNs, names, and DOBs. Their advice?: call Experian, TransUnion or, you guessed it....Equifax.

Not good.
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby Modoc » Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:53 am

I am seeing some areas that have been gone for over 18 days. At this point I am just looking for a new service. Right now I am looking at usenetserver.com or Eweka. I need to look for more info on them. But if you find out anything else let us know.
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby misterbigFL » Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:54 am

Same here. Paypal was rejected in beginning of month. Switched to Mastercard only to find majority of binary groups are gone. RIP Astaweb unless they get their act together ASAP.

Interesting how loss of paypal and binary groups happened right about same time.

I use Cubenet with good results and they run specials on both unlimited and block plans.
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby bill8647 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:44 pm

misterbigFL wrote:Same here. Paypal was rejected in beginning of month. Switched to Mastercard only to find majority of binary groups are gone. RIP Astaweb unless they get their act together ASAP.

Interesting how loss of paypal and binary groups happened right about same time.

I use Cubenet with good results and they run specials on both unlimited and block plans.



Thanks you guys.

Now that Astraweb has dumped Paypal (or more likely vice versa), it'll be interesting
to see if the "disappeared" groups (taken out by Argentinian hit squads?) come back.
I'm not holding my breath.

It looks from that top entry that an Astraweb rep once posted to this forum in 2012.
If Astraweb is still watching, stevef nailed it: they need to get their act together.
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby JayPea » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:57 am

bill8647 wrote:If Astraweb is still watching, stevef nailed it: they need to get their act together.


The time for Astraweb to get their act together has long since gone. The only thing they need to do is to go into administration, and if they're dropping their binary groups then I'm sure it won't be far behind.

Find another provider. Most have free trials so use them and find one that fits your needs. Don't give these Astraweb jokers any more of your money.

The Usenet landscape will be a better place once they're gone.
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby Quade » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:07 am

Find another provider. Most have free trials so use them and find one that fits your needs. Don't give these Astraweb jokers any more of your money.


I wonder if the data is still there but you just can't download headers? Many people are "Internet Search" and NZB files only so, then dropping headers downloads won't impact these people at all.
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby Modoc » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:33 pm

Quade wrote:I wonder if the data is still there but you just can't download headers? Many people are "Internet Search" and NZB files only so, then dropping headers downloads won't impact these people at all.


The old data seems to be there. It seems they are just not adding to it. So if you try and get a post from 30 days back it should be there.
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby Quade » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:48 pm

The old data seems to be there. It seems they are just not adding to it. So if you try and get a post from 30 days back it should be there.


How do you know? They could drop the headers while still having the file chunks. They're likely separate mechanisms.

Edit: Dex did some testing and was able to download 6 hour old files using our search engine as the source of the files. So no header downloads were needed.
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby mimauk » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:28 pm

I use two usenet providers - Virginmedia and Easynews and as far as I know they both use Highwinds for their Euro servers.

Last year Virginmedia deleted some groups from their list eg teevee and some XXX groups but Easynews still support them. When I download Headers for all my listed groups I don't get any from Virginmedia but I get them from Easynews. So as they both use Highwinds for the server farms - which has all the posts - they can pick and choose which groups to have on their lists and which headers to supply but all the actual posts are still on the same server farms used by both providers.

Hope this makes sense to you.
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby Modoc » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:55 pm

Quade wrote:
How do you know? They could drop the headers while still having the file chunks. They're likely separate mechanisms.


As for the old post I have pulled some. And as far as them not having the data. That's just a guess on my part. I have tried a .NZB file and it did not see the data on the server. Does not matter if they have the data if they are not passing it along. But being able to pull from the old data lets you know the group still exists on there servers. And you would think if they killed that area they would delete all the old data. It looks like some of the areas that are gone or some of the biggest areas and freeing up that disk space would help them out.

But keeping that in mind they may just be doing it to people on set accounts. I have been paying $7.50 a month for a long time. They may be trying to get people to have to quit and come back to the $15.0 a month price. It is hard to say what there thinking is.
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby Quicksilver » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:20 am

I have noticed some missing binary groups on Astra (see my thread here) but the groups don't get re-instated despite me opening several tickets over a few weeks.

I've never seen a Usenet provider drop an active group (unless there is something illegal going on which isn't the case here). And I have never seen a Usenet provider take so long to include new groups at a customer's request.

I kind of get a feeling there's some corporate problem going on at Astra causing this. Any day now, I would not be too surprised if the Astra server stopped working altogether. Image link not allowed for unregistered users
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby dexter » Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:16 pm

As Quade mentioned earlier, they are no longer feeding headers for these groups but the content is there. If you know what you are looking for, you can perform a search using Newsbin's Internet Search function and you can download the content from Astraweb as long as you have an active Search subscription with us.

You can perform searches without a subscription just to see what comes up. Click on the Search tab, type in a word or words matching content you are looking for, then hit enter. Easy.

Even if you don't know what you are looking for and you want to browse the group, enter the group name in the "Search in Groups" field on the Search tab, put an asterisk in the search field, and hit enter. Also easy.
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby hawklord » Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:21 pm

Binary groups seem to be mostly back now.....
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby Quicksilver » Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:11 am

hawklord wrote:Binary groups seem to be mostly back now.....


The support desk at Astra told me last week that they were backfilling the groups so maybe there won't be full retention.

I wonder what this glitch was all about. The lack of info has been a bit worrying. It would have been easy enough to put a service notice on the Astra web site explaining what was happening.

I use a block account at Astra but during this time made use of alternatives (such as Block News and Usenet-News) who performed very well and who I may use in preference to Astra when I next have to renew as they were no more expensive.
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Re: More info on Astraweb's dropping of groups

Postby Modoc » Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:12 pm

I dropped Astraweb when I could not find out what was happening. The new server I am using is about $1usd more a mouth so not bad. But I have been shocked with how much different the service has been. This is a post I made in a different area. This is part of that post.


> So I did some test. I am getting a good speed I only have a 60mbs connection and I was seeing a little latency but not bad and I was getting the full speed I
> was getting with Astraweb. So I decided to do a test. I have a newsgroup I have never deleted the old headers for. I was pulling some old post from
> Astraweb about 3000 days old. Getting a lot of missing parts. So with Eweka I decided to pull in post. At 3295 days old I pulled in about 1000 files and got
> no error’s or missing parts. I have not updated the headers for that area yet. That impresses me.


But I am happy they seem to be getting things back together. But I think they jacked up big time on this. If you have a problem let people know. Don't act like you have no clue what is going on.

One other thing I noticed. I use to be a lot of error's in my logs. But on the new server I think the only error I have seen was No group found error. I have not deleted groups from my old server yet.

You can find my full post at this url: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=42353

And I cover the only problem I have seen using a US ip setting up a account with Eweka.
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