How Do I Figure Out What Cryptically Named Files on Usenet Mean?
April 28, 2004 5:03 PM   Subscribe

When downloading multi-part binary posts from the VCD/SVCD groups on Usenet, there's always a zillion of them labelled only with gibberish like: "vcd-gnd1.r01" or "ctk-2.part01.rar" I know how to join and decode rar files. I just don't know what the heck's been posted, and don't want to blow 100s of megs of bandwidth to find out. I'm sure these are codes for something. Posting "clans" perhaps? Do I have to lurk on some 12-year old's IRC channel to figure out what these are?

I mean, the whole copyright debate is kinda moot until you know what it is, right?
posted by scarabic to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by dragstroke at 5:24 PM on April 28, 2004

usually there is an initial plain text post that describes the binary first, if the poster is courteous. or, they could be a private request. who knows.
posted by Hackworth at 5:26 PM on April 28, 2004

dragstroke: he knows what a rar is already.
posted by Hackworth at 5:27 PM on April 28, 2004

Argh. Aren't I the helpful one.
posted by dragstroke at 5:31 PM on April 28, 2004

Any files with a .rar .r01 or .rxx are part of a multi part RAR Archive and a program like WinRAR should be able to assemble them automatically once you have all the parts. If you get multi part files like movie.avi.001 & movie.avi.002 these are most likely split files that can be reassembled with HJSplit. You didn’t mention it but you’ll see them once you head down this path - .par & .pxx are parity files and they can be used to repair damaged or missing parts of an archive using SmartPar. There are also .par2 that work similar to .par files and can repair archives with QuickPar.
posted by Tenuki at 5:33 PM on April 28, 2004

Like Hackworth saidm there's usually an .nfo file which is just a plain text discription of the post and hopefully it contains all important information you need like archiver used, audio & video codecs etc.
posted by Tenuki at 5:39 PM on April 28, 2004

Download one rar file and open it? Usually the file name is more descriptive, like "Kill Bill Volume 2.avi" or something as oppos eto "KBV-2.r01". There also should be a rar file or some kind of allusion to the file if you strip off te extension and search for that in the group.

Another way would be to reverse search it on sites like Newzbin to see what files are being posted and see if you can match the name.

Or try the friendly google, I typed in 'ctk vcd' and came up with some Asian porn video (NSFW, duh) with a usenet link on the site.

So yeah there's no magic bullet if there's no REQ: or NFO or some kind of file. Google is your best bet, but you'll have to play around with the file name to get a good hit. Especially with something obscure like that.
posted by geoff. at 5:44 PM on April 28, 2004

Response by poster: geoff. - what does "NFO" stand for anyway? REQ?

I'm getting some Google hits on certain filenames, like this, for example: ftf.johnson2

--> Johnson Family Vacation < -- cd 2 par 2sbr>
That's actually just the post subject line in a slightly easier to read format. So now I have "Johnson Family Vacation" to go on. Another Google search receals that this is a Cedric the Entertainer movie. Okay. That answers that one. 90,000 to go!

I guess what would be better would be an enhanced directory of what's been posted. It would be fab to see a real-names list of everything that's in a certain group right now.

There are some sites that attempt this, by posting "what's new on usenet today." See NFOnews. But the listings are kinda sparse, and usually the postings people have reported there are the easiest ones to figure out. In other words, the people who post the "what's new today" items seem to have the same limitations I do: unwillingness to dl everything just to see what it is.

Any similar but more complete sites anyone wants to recommend?

More confusing to me are these NFO index sites, like VCDQuality, that host NFO files like this, but offer no clue where the "release" can be found or what the file name will be. What use are sites like that? There must be some reason people post these things.

*** Just to repeat, I don't need any help with RARs, PARs, codecs, recipes for margaritas, etc.

posted by scarabic at 6:20 PM on April 28, 2004

Response by poster: Well, there is one thing, geoff. - how do you "open" a single rar file from a set? I thought that was impossible.
posted by scarabic at 6:22 PM on April 28, 2004

NFO stands for "information," and "REQ" is used when someone is requesting a file that hasn't been posted yet. The file naming format can change, but it's usually a releasing group's abbreviation followed by a short abbreviation for the filename. In an example like "fts-bamprp.r03", FTS is the group initials, "BAMPRP" is the name of the release, and it's probably the fifth archive of the set (after rar, r00, r01, r02).

By opening the NFO text file that was bundled with it, I can see that its full name is "Bruce.Almighty.2003.PROPER.DVDRip.XViD-FTS." Either the full name or some other indicator is usually in the subject field of the newsgroup posting, but it's often not.

Another site like VCDQuality that I've used is NForce. Their search function and database are very good.

As for single RARs, you can open any RAR file in a set, but you won't be able to extract anything... But you'll at least be able to read the more descriptive filename in the archive, which should help you figure out what the contents are.
posted by waxpancake at 6:51 PM on April 28, 2004

Open NFO files with notepad, don't just double-click. Windows designates .nfo files as system info files and does not open them correctly by default.
posted by monkeyman at 8:57 PM on April 28, 2004

I'm not going to spell it all out for you because it's kind of shady, but there are services online that help you find files on usenet. Think of a web app that can read a par file, and then go find every single rar piece for you, and allow you to make a single zip file containing all parts, which you then download. This all takes place in just a few clicks. It's out there, you just need to go a bit farther down the rabbit hole.
posted by mathowie at 10:21 PM on April 28, 2004 [1 favorite]

Related question—often people make posts like this: filepart01.rar, filepart02.rar, ... filepartNN.rar ... though rar-extractors expect one .rar and then .r00, .r01, etc. Why the alternate format?
posted by kenko at 7:42 AM on April 29, 2004

par & .pxx are parity files and they can be used to repair damaged or missing parts of an archive using SmartPar. There are also .par2 that work similar to .par files and can repair archives with QuickPar.

par and par2 files are your best friend on usenet. Even on servers with good file retention, there will inevitably be at least a couple of incomplete parts of large downloads like dvd iso's. As long as you have enough par files, the missing pieces can be reconstructed.

Its kinda amazing how much technical effort has gone into making text based usenet an efficient method of distributing multi-gigabyte binaries.
posted by jsonic at 8:23 AM on April 29, 2004

kenko: The latest version of WinRAR does multi-part archives that way now. If you upgrade your compression software you should be able to extract them.
posted by zsazsa at 8:39 AM on April 29, 2004

There are instructions on this page (scroll down) on "Viewing a Movie when you don't have (or may not Want to download) all the Rars." Pretty handy.

I have a killer recipe for margaritas too, but I guess you're not interested (sniff).
posted by Otis at 10:41 AM on April 29, 2004

« Older Free file transferring web site?   |   Pocket PC WiFi Connection Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.