Usenet is an Internet classic for newsgroups established back in 1980. While the majority of the world might have moved on to websites, Napster, then peer-to-peer connections, Usenet persevered. In recent years, Usenet and seedboxes have been growing in popularity for sake of secure connections, bandwidth caps, and higher-quality, reputable files to download. In addition to newsgroup, threaded discussions, Usenet can offer binary files available for download like Linux distributions.
Unlike Torrents, which require enough peers available to download the full file, binaries come directly from a server which offers a fast, consistent connection and the full files. In exchange for the benefit, you will need to pay for a subscription to a Usenet server (Try SuperNews.). Once you have your connection information, you can use Sabnzbd+ as a free Newsreader written in Python. You provide it with a .nzb file and it will do the rest to download, extract, and repair the components to get the file. To automate the process further, a variety of other tools have been developed to automate the downloading of .nzb files and passing them along to Sabnzbd+.
CouchPotato – CouchPotato is one of the big names. You tell it what movies you are interested in and it will automatically grab them when they become available and pass them along to be downloaded. You can specify the quality you are looking for when you enter the movie and the rest is pretty automated.
Headphones – Headphones does the same thing but for music and is another popular program. You can list what artists you like and the system will automatically download the songs when they are released. Once it has some info on what artists you like, it can recommend others that you might also like.
Sick Beard – Sick Beard is the last of the big three but not alone. Its focus is on TV Shows. You enter the series you are interested in and it downloads the new episodes. It describes itself as a PVR, a personal video recorder, and it’s as easy as that.
NzbDrone – Same concept as Sick Beard but slightly different interfaces and features.
Media Rover – Same concept as Sick Beard but slightly different interfaces and features.
Episode Butler – Same concept as Sick Beard but slightly different interfaces and features.
Mylar – Mylar is an automated system to find cbr and cbz files, typically scanned comic books.
LazyLibrarian – Besides having an awesome name, Lazy Librarian is an automated system for eBooks. You can follow authors and get their new works as they come out. It bases a lot of information on GoogleBooks and Goodreads.
Gamez – Last, and probably the most complicated, Gamez manages video games. Wii, Xbox360, PS3, and PC games are supported in the current release.
While downloading copyrighted content is not legal, I find it very fascinating to see the Usenet infrastructure tied together with an automated downloader, the index sites that crawl the newsgroups, and the programs above that focus on the various categories of multimedia.