Mimo Usenet Browser Review Part 2

// 28th Nov '10 Mimo Usenet Browser Review Part 2

Giganews Adds New Mimo Browser + Golden Frog Search

BoDark Sees the Light

Wow,

I must say I am rather impressed with my new Mimo. No, Mimo is not my Gramma or some multi-antennae wireless router. Mimo is Giganews' latest Java-based multi-tabbed Usenet browser that runs on Windows and Mac OSX, and is offered free to folks with a Giganews Diamond Account. While Mimo is clearly a fully functional newsreader able to read and post a regular text message to a non-binaries group, Giganews and the developer Golden Frog prefer the descriptive "Browser". The word browser to me means; "search-capable", and that is exactly what Mimo delivers, the integrated ability to search and capture the 2+ years of Usenet text and binary retention stored on Giganews servers. Features that promise to make the Mimo browser a strategic value-add to the top-tier Giganews Diamond Account.

While I found one serious flaw, this Beta release of Mimo is not the typical crashy, bug-filled released-too-early POS. This is a Beta, but newsreaders have been perfected for decades, and Usenet design usability requirements are not news. To make customers happy, any newsreader needs to get the very complex job done with the least amount of hassle and cost, and in reality that's a tall order. Mimo delivers on all fronts, and more. So, why should you care to fork over $30 USD/month (~22.37 EU) for a Giganews Diamond Account just to get some "free" Beta newsreader? ...and "whadda ya mean Bo, you found a serious flaw?!" Well let's get to the flaw first, and get that out of the way.

The single complaint was my unattended Windows went to sleep, and Mimo stopped downloading. I would have hoped Mimo could have kept Windows "awake", since it was in the process of downloading. When I did manually resume from suspend, Mimo was logged off Giganews, so it needed to be closed and re-opened to reconnect to Giganews' server and restart from where it left off. For all my whining it did handle that perfectly, so really almost no problem at all. I just set my power-save time higher so I could allow it to run unattended for longer in the future. Solution? Maybe a checkbox to offer a stay-alive option? One of the best features of Mimo is light-weight operation, and I don't want to start bloating it with change requests. This Beta loads rather effortlessly, and the verbose splash screen details all the things happening during the brief wait ...very nice. I don't like mysteries. I do like fast.

Recanted Testimony

I had mentioned in Part 1 that I was unsure if Mimo could deliver search queries as "collections" like those presented on many NZB Indexing search sites. I promised to investigate further, and it turns out my initial Part 1 test query result did not have a compiled "Collection" on any other NZB sites either, so yes Mimo can display multiple posts as a single line item. Duh, actually it depends more on the post itself. With that out of the way, remember the competing Newzbin2 has an enhanced human element of Editors and a live Community, so they deliver a much more interactive view of the quality of what is available on Usenet, and virtually everything is delivered as a single NZB-based "collection". This is vital to understand as those Newzbin2 features can help insure you find the complete and un-infected, non-passworded, Ubuntu release in the shortest amount of time, every time, via their NZB function. However it also requires you be a paying member, have some other NZB-friendly Newsreader, and your own Usenet subscription.

While search results in Mimo do not display any such additional interactive information, Mimo's search results perform just like the other simple Usenet NZB search index sites. Most importantly, in Mimo, any "collection" results are precisely and instantly guaranteed to be available from Giganews with just one click. Unfortunately that find could also be passworded, or contain a virus, or be incomplete. Nothing new for Usenet Veterans. While you can search for free on Newsbin2 and avoid those pitfalls, you must also be a paying member of Newsbin2 to utilize their NZB feature, and that NZB result must also be available from your independent News service. Interestingly, once Mimo becomes associated to process .NZB and you obviously have Giganews, this threesome becomes a no-brainer. Meaning, no ideal single solution exists ...only opportunity!

Removing Steps

Step 5 of the Mimo install asks if you would like to associate .NZB with Mimo. Be careful how you answer, because you likely currently already have your old newsreader handling that task. I say go ahead and agree to allow Mimo to take over handling all your NZBs. I was pleased with my own full adoption ...which was a change from my beloved Newsbin (with a "s"). I also have to say I was able to get different search results using the same query, using both the Golden Frog Search and the NZBIndex.nl search options, both within Mimo ...hmmm interesting, and in my test evaluation, useful!

If a multi-threaded binary post is properly constructed, Mimo's search function easily displays them as a single click-able button, and therefore very much equal to what other sites refer to as a "collection". Mimo takes it to the next level because it removes (hides?) that next NZB download step and instead just starts downloading the binary post. It not only offers it's own Giganews/Golden Frog-powered Usenet search as the default, but you can also choose NZBIndex.nl as your search engine via drop-down menu. If you indeed did perform a NZB search with your Internet browser and manually downloaded an .NZB file from another site, the file association would cause it to open and be captured and successfully process to completion in your Mimo.

I cannot forget to highlight the multi-tabbed browsing feature, because for me that turned some primary search results into some very satisfying multiple tab Usenet "Surfing". Because Mimo seamlessly integrates NZB search and download as part of a Usenet Provider subscription, Mimo is bringing the competitive heat to NZB Search/Index sites, and software developers like the fine folks at Newsbin (with an "s") and all other Usenet subscription services. Hey, not only am I impressed by how well it works, the price was also right! That is about to change as Giganews' Diamond accounts are going up after Jan 1, 2011, so if you have been on the fence, you have till year's end to lock your Diamond account in at the current price.

My first review was based on my immediate excitement and first impression ...without reading the manual. A local copy of the manual installs with the product, but you can also see an online copy of Mimo's User Manual here. I will spare you reading my full description of Mimo's features, because it is covered very clearly and quickly in the Manual. Simply stated, Mimo has managed to integrate almost every core functionality most Usenet Consumers manually acquire from disparate sources. The usual (old!) process goes something like ...web-based NZB Index site search in your Internet browser (on multiple sites) , results in an NZB file download, associated to open with an NZB-enabled newsreader, triggering a specific download of multi-part postings ...then (if you are lucky enough to have a top-end newsreader like Newsbin) automated (or manual) file restoration via par2 parity checking software, and un-rar decompression (more software) to a final complete intended download. Mimo handles all this seamlessly and with as few as one mouse-click ...well after typing in your search. Hello? That's a big deal.

Smackdown!

I did more than just open and run Mimo, I tried to break it. This is one self-healing mofo. Opening and closing the running browser had little effect, especially in mid-download. The worst-case I had to click "Pause" ...wait a few seconds, and click "Restart Download". I could not trip this thing up! Well Mimo did crash one time in mid-Par-Rar, but honestly I did not wait long enough to see if Mimo could have recovered from my stop/restart brutality during this final step. As a fix, I simply browsed to the folder and manually ran Par2 recovery using non-Mimo tools. Another tiny complaint, as Mimo's final par2/un-rar process did not display any progress bar, and I could not really tell if it was able to recover or not (after I had maliciously crashed it on purpose). However, Mimo is not so seamless that the automated rebuild process is obscured, and I was easily able to complete the Par2/Rar manually.

So, why Mimo? Newsbin is an example of a competing Newsreader that is also already offered by Giganews as a bundled download supporting Giganews proprietary compression. Newsbin newsreader actually can likely do all of the same integration as Mimo, but the path to Customer adoption was not so thoughtfully Socially Engineered. Exactly how has Mimo bested the competition? I have found my own reaction to be surprising. Ask yourself a few questions, mostly focused on your process of finding items on Usenet and getting them to your local machine. Efficiency is easily measured by the number of mouse clicks, and almost always starts with a successful search.

As I said above, Mimo already offers two search engine options, but it also offers a third option, the old-school group search using the manual browsing of headers like any "newsreader". The multi-tabbed feature was something I would expect, and did use and enjoy ...it's very 2011. Being Java-based seemingly made it Modern, lightweight, and resilient. While automated par2 recovery and un-raring a multi-threaded post is nothing new, Mimo handles it invisibly in the background. Newsreader? Browser? Mimo is both! The only thing that did not seem apparent were any tools focused on uploading binaries, but that is not an area in need of new tools. Other than that Mimo has it all. Talking about Mimo's competition, the reality is that "adoption" is the key here, so the manner in which it was presented as something I could easily (freely!) adopt for my own process will drive it's success.

So, what didn't I like?

Actually the things I changed were purely customizations of the Window itself. Just a few menu clicks here and there to make it look and work the way I wanted. Be sure to check out the hotkeys, they mirror similar Internet browser hotkeys for opening and closing tabs etc. The multiple tab feature proved useful, and most menus/operations were accessible with simple context targeted left and right mouse clicks. Check out the "View" menu option in the toolbar for the ability to get more info on your downloads and status, or to browse the groups list. I found myself clicking the "View" -> "Downloads" to watch my progress and ETA ...I liked the ETA feature. When you first open Mimo it goes to a "Getting Started" home screen with a little advertising from Giganews ...a wee annoying. Obviously I couldn't give them any more money and I don't need to be sold VyprVPN, but it does add to the intuitive use ...the first couple times.

If you close Mimo with the Window maximized (full screen) it reopens to a non-maximized Windows position. This is not uncommon as screen resolution and Windows size/position have been factors in browser development from day one, but it causes one small problem. Every time I first opened it, the Mimo status bar (bottom) was under my Windows Taskbar, making it not visible ...and there's cool stuff on there! Basically it has those "View" toolbar options I mentioned above available as buttons below in Mimo's status bar. That's important because the buttons change the core delivery features of Mimo from a "newsreader" to a "NZB browser". Again an easy fix, just double-click your top Windows Titlebar to maximize. One quick click of the "Downloads" button on the bottom left and you are ready to go find a nice Open Source distro, or blah blah (Look! Ubuntu!) Click the "Groups List" or "New Conversation..." buttons and bing! it's a newsreader. In the lower right corner you have a network performance graph (sweet!) and file download counter, plus other icons to display Giganews connectivity, SSL status, and Giganews compression (on).

BoDark Reads a Manual!

The Manual? I did read it, and must confess it may be one of the best bits of technical brevity I have ever enjoyed. I will make it's Technical Writing style my own ...ok, seriously that's not possible as I love the sound of my own typing, and Mimo's User Guide is short and sweet. In the installed three PDF pages it delivers everything you need to get started and fully understand every feature and function of Mimo. The Web link above is even prettier. I know, I'm gushing over a manual ...but I did start this review with a "Wow". Mimo is best described as tight and slick, and will undoubtedly strike some degree of Fear into the competition. For one, because of it's full integration, and that "competition" is spread across multiple Markets. It's replaces your newsreader, and your NZB Index searching. Plus if you are deciding to switch to Giganews from another provider to get the bundle (don't forget VyprVPN is also in there!) that makes for some powerful persuasion. Competition is good. Fascinating how in a marketplace that has seen it's price-point being forced ever downward, Giganews has managed a reversal, but this is no Marketing flim-flam. This is giving Customers what they need and want. Kudos to Golden Frog ...I even dig the pinwheel spinner.

I mentioned in a comment on Part 1 of this series that some NZB Indexing and Usenet search engine sites have seemingly escaped legal persecution (and ultimately prosecution) because they did not make it so easy, as say the old former Newzbin, to successfully find and grab, what was available on Usenet. Did that Editor assisted browse list, and Community supported comments and NZB functionality make it perhaps too "point-and-click"?. Did working too well make the original Newsbin a target of prosecution? Do we have to give up hope that a similar "Look Out! That's Cr@p" warning system be incorporated into some future Mimo-like product? ...because that is the only process it does not address ...and maybe for good reason.

It's not rocket science to foresee a partnership that could deliver it all, but have we been forewarned? I mean if the folks at Golden Frog decided to incorporate the full automation of anonymous uploading (which they did NOT) to alt.binaries would it only guarantee their own demise? I mean, is making it too easy to access Usenet in all her glory painting a target on your back? Comments Below. I say "Obviously", which is sad, but that makes Mimo about as good as it gets [peering into crystal ball] ...for now.

Cheers!

Bo

BoDark posted by BoDark
This entry was posted in Industry News and tagged browser, giganews, indexer, mimo, nzb, search, usenet. Leave a comment. Header image by Julie Markee

17 Comments

  1. OBrun
    Posted Nov 29th, 2010 at 11:11 a.m.

    Sorry, but this is one of the most untrustworthy reviews I've ever seen. It has "shill" written all over itself.

    Mr "Tester", have you tried to do some actual group header loading with this Mimo usenet browser? It is totally impossible to load more than 10 days retention in semi-large groups, as Mimo simply stalls due to being unable to handle the load. Isn't it quite essential for a usenet "browser" to be able to browse usenet properly ?

    Also, have you tried reading the (overall negative) feedback posted in the Giganews.mimo usenet group? And have you tried to reproduce some of the show stopper bugs that many Mimo users consistently experience, before you finalized your review?

    Even the Goldenfrog search engine isn't working properply. And I can back that up with examples if you need that.

    I dont want to bash Mimo or you, just for the fun of it. But both Mimo and this "review" is seriously flawed in my opinion. Well, read the Mimo support newsgroup at Giganews.mimo, do some testing yourself and make up your own mind.

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  2. Posted Nov 29th, 2010 at 17:11 p.m.

    Thanks for the response! If I was a shill I would probably be more in tune with the Mimo Community. This was all written from my experience using Mimo and if you read it more carefully you can see I did have problems. I gave fair honest kudos to other competing Usenet tools with which I have enjoyed successful functioning and feel I gave a fair comparison.

    You are correct as I didn't try to download all the groups and browse manually ...it's been a long time. Downloading the millions of lines of new headers that propagate daily on Usenet stopped me from enjoying that about the time Usenet went over 80,000 groups. NZB indexing made that obsolete for me, many years ago.

    Your input is very valuable and appreciated, and Community input is the way things improve ...so is competition. I used the word "Beta" too many times in my review and gave some of my own suggestions. I am a writer for this site and my main goal is delivering content. For me this product is only weeks old and my goal doing this piece was using it myself and posting a review in a timely manner.

    It takes triple the time crafting my creative/technical writing as it does performing the testing. Try some of the tests I detailed and you may be more impressed by what Mimo can do, such as recover from killing it in mid-download. The simple ease of getting from search to file on my hard drive is undeniable. I also indicated a lack of search results consistency, but if you do alot of NZB searching that is status quo, so to me that is not a fail.

    I already have a Diamond account, so there's no need to give the fine peeps at Giganews an HJ. My review stands. For my purposes Mimo gets the job done in the most efficient manner I have experienced to date. While I look forward to updates and upgrades to Mimo, I likely won't be haunting their Usenet group. I appreciate that you do.

    Thanks for bringing attention to features I glossed over, but seriously with all the SPAM and disruptive posting you still look at the whole list of headers? I've watched my Newsbin download 100 megs of headers just for one group. You are taking me back though ...back to a more manageable time on Usenet.

    I said there's room for improvement in this Beta, but imagine the struggle making streaming sense of the Modern Usenet ...a tall order. Mimo gives me what I need, and still allows me to search elsewhere and use other sites NZBs no problem.

    We need folks like you with a real passionate interest in Usenet and the tools surrounding. There's a storm brewing. Your critique is heard and much appreciated, and a hearty "Welcome" to the SHACK!

    Bo

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  3. Posted Dec 6th, 2010 at 05:12 a.m.

    Damnit OBrun! You made me look [sigh] at Mimo's newsgroup. That's all I need, another orphan puppy to look after, thanks bro'seph. While I do see problems and complaints, another thing I see is a responsive developer. That Alec guy (Mimo dude) is pretty funny. Thanks again OBrun, seriously.

    To any of the other Mimo users just click on the left in your Mimo as the group has already been added to your built-in groups list giganews.mimo.

    I'm gonna go check back in there, I was pokin' around earlier. Looks like some standard beta issues, like no 64-bit version available ...which can be problematic for Windows7 and Vista/64 running 64-bit Java. One guy was complaining it didn't run on his work laptop where he didn't have admin to install apps. Mimo installed but didn't run, duh.

    All the problems are in the open, so I'm taking OBrun's advice and checking it for myself. You should too. Here's the link to a web page that describes how to submit issues related to your Mimo experience.

    Cheers! Bo

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  4. MimoUser
    Posted Dec 21st, 2010 at 23:12 p.m.

    To B.O. Dork...

    Big words from such a small mind!!!!

    I was able to figure out what the main problem was - it was the Mimo database being corrupted or otherwise all screwed up. I was able to figure out where Mimo kept the database files and I deleted them. When I did then Mimo functioned as normal as it did before - which is that it functions poorly but at least it's "normal" again.

    Pretty good for a NEWB - eh?

    So then I log on here and read these posts and guess what? It turns out Alec was right in his response - and you were way off base largely because you don't have a clue what you're talking about.

    Speaking of NEWBs - you seem to be a big NEWB yourself. I guess no one ever taught you NOT to jump to conclusions or to make so many assumptions. In your case, making so many assumptions just made an a$$ out of you and no one else - and for everyone to see. LOL.

    So my question to you - being such a NEWB: Has your mommy let you out of diapers yet? Are you making plans to quit sucking your thumb - or other body parts?

    Let's get a few facts out on the table - just one NEWB to another....

    I've been working on the Internet and Usenet probably longer than you've been alive, considering you appear to be about 12 or 13 years old. I've got more degrees in Computer Science than you could count, considering you probably can count only to about 3 or 4. So I'll challenge you on ANYTHING you claim to know about the Internet, Usenet, or computers, although that's probably an unfair challenge - kind of like if I were to arm-wrestle a 12 year old.

    And what about the laptop, Dork? Well, it looks like another poster already put you in your place about that, and he was totally correct. I may not have Admin rights to the laptop, but apparently I don't need that for Mimo which, if your had read carefully, you would have understood from the initial post. Notice that I had installed and was running Mimo, albeit poorly, before I went out of town. If Admin rights were the problem, then I would not have been able to install at all. I knew that already because I had tried to install my other newsreader on the laptop and guess what - it told me I needed Admin rights to install it! When I installed Mimo I did not get that message and Mimo installed and ran just fine. You remember I said I was excited that Mimo installed on the laptop don't you? Oh yeah - I forgot ... small mind - probably short attention span, poor comprehension, lack of initiative, poor hygiene, etc., etc.

    So the laptop's not the problem, B.O. Dork. The corrupt database was the problem. You do know what a database is, don't you? It's a set of files ... oh never mind, I forgot again - small mind...

    And what about being online, Dork? You seem to think everyone is as stupid as you by going online at work. Why would anyone with half a brain think they could get to Usenet AT ALL through a company VPN? Well, let me explain to someone who has less than half a brain - Most company networks, infrastructure, firewalls, and connection policies restrict and prevent anyone getting to Usenet groups with ANY newsreader, including one like Mimo. Anyone other than a NEWB knows that! So posting a comment about trying to do it just PROVES you're a NEWB! LOL.

    No, Dork - I use my company laptop at home through my own ISP. You do know, don't you, that you can use a company laptop at your own home and you DON'T have to connect to the company VPN in order to use it on the Internet? Well, I suppose you DON'T know that otherwise you wouldn't have embarassed yourself by posting such a stupid comment! LOL.

    Oh, BTW:

    I noticed you haven't posted anything since those other posters put you in your place and embarrassed you for the NEWB that you are. (You're probably cowering in a corner sucking your thumb again.) And I know - you'll probably post a response now just to try to "save face" but go ahead. Everyone already knows you for the micorcephalic that you are.

    ROTFLMAO.

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  5. Posted Dec 27th, 2010 at 02:12 a.m.

    Your expertise and brilliance are apparent to all. Welcome to the SHACK! What I meant was that if you were using VyprVPN to bypass security protocols on your workplace domain, that would meet the definition for hacking and be a actionable offense. If you're using your work laptop for anything other than work... I agree you are like many other people in forgetting it is not your laptop. Am I sounding like your Dad? That's no coincidence. I've been quiet cuz I'm on holiday, and many thanks for icing my cake. This post was AWESOME. You are clearly not only smarter than me but also funnier, seriously bro I'm rolling on the floor.

    PEACE!

    Bo

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  6. Vance
    Posted Mar 24th, 2011 at 04:03 a.m.

    It seems nice, but it has one MASSIVE flaw that sent me back to Agent. There does not seem to be any way to "block select" headers so I can either download all the posts in the block, or to delete them off the list when I'm done. If one poster puts up a series of 50 posts of jpegs, the only way to download them is to click on them one at a time! As for deleting, you can only clear the entire list. This is such a bizarre flaw I'm speechless.

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  7. Posted Mar 25th, 2011 at 17:03 p.m.

    It's a huge challenge to deliver an all-in-one newsreader. I'm not sure Mimo is trying to deliver that in the same way Newsbin is more (in their own words) a Robot to get the Binaries. I wouldn't use Newsbin to post to Usenet chat anymore than I would use Outlook Express to download binaries.

    Your complaint is another valid change request I hope you posted to giganews.mimo. I have experienced many recent changes moving from Mimo v0.1 to v0.2, some good some bad, but remember all software started out in Beta.

    As far as your complaint, I noticed it's more how the original post header is formated that speaks more to a lack of standards by posters. Handling the lack of consistency in the subjectline format issue is likely one of Mimo's Dev crew's biggest challenges. When you next hit upon one of those failing posts, do the same search on another (2-4) NZB sites and look at the results.

    Realize the headers are all the same on the servers, but what get's served up as .NZB search result on the various sites is not identical. These days more posters including their own .NZBs as a solution, but I see a that as a security risk in the fact it could contain links to unrelated and otherwise infected posts. NZB sites need repeat business, which raises my confidence they are creating fresh NZBs from the actual post.

    This again is one of the strengths of Newzbin2's human indexing, I think. It's giving me a Perl flashback thinking about attempting to bring automated consistency to the soup that is Usenet headers. It certainly has kept the public-at-large away from Usenet as a turn-key product for sure.

    Realize it's only from efforts like Mimo that Usenet can ever be made more tangible to the uninitiated (not you). If you are a Usenet provider, that sounds like a lot of new customers. To me a higher functioning, more efficient Newsreader looks like it's in the works.

    I have always been able to deal with Usenet posters' inconsistencies, but it's a struggle I'd be glad to lay to rest. That desire single-handedly gets my ongoing support for Mimo. I look forward to my v0.3 [heh] meanwhile I too have a planB and planC ...as has always been true.

    Thanks for the comments Vance, good lookin' out

    Bo

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