USENET is a global discussion group system. Discussion groups were the main communication tool way back before the World Wide Web became what it is today.
Imagine a conversation that lasts for hours and days, as if people left messages on a message board. Or imagine the electronic analog of a normal conversation, where everyone can express himself (or herself) and no one needs to wait.
Unlike e-mail, which is a conversation between two people, Usenet is a conversation between many people. Usenet is an international place for a meeting, where people get together to discuss various events, where one can learn the latest computer world news and discuss anything of interest. You do not know your company's appearance, age, etc. You will be judged by your words and your ability to express and formulate your point of view. Users themselves follow the newsgroups etiquette based on worked out rules. A moderator (a newsgroup administrator and supervisor) keeps the order.
The Usenet's main unit is a newsgroup: a number of messages on the same topic. Other names include online discussion groups, Web forums, message boards and conferences. Newsgroups are sometimes the only source of information on a topic.
Discussion groups can include two network services: newsgroups and mailing lists. Discussion groups based on so called 'mail robots' (list servers) send messages to their subscribers. To use a discussion group based on a mailing list, the common e-mail client is sufficient. Unlike mailing lists, you do not need to subscribe to Usenet newsgroups. Newsgroups are based on the Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP).
News is sent between special so called 'news servers' via the NNTP protocol. Newsgroup system software consists of two parts: an NNTP server and a newsgroup client. The Newsgroup server is a program that manages discussion groups and delivers messages to other computers (if the network is available). You can read news by connecting to one of news servers using special software called a newsgroup reader (or a usenet client). Using a usenet client, it is also possible to send your own messages. This software has something in common with e-mail clients.
For example, the popular Newsgroup Commander Pro allows you to search, read, reply, and send new messages using a simple, yet handy, interface.
A main benefit of NNTP is speed: after all the news is downloaded, you can read it offline. Alternatively, when using a web forum, you have to manually open each branch or topic to view new messages, which takes a lot of time.
Nowadays, there are many newsgroup servers. The availability of newsgroups for viewing is determined by the owner of the ISP you are dealing with.
News servers content, required passwords and authentication are all under the control of the administrators. For example, the forums.borland.com newsgroup was created for developers who use Borland software products.
Newsgroups have hierarchical content structure. This allows you to display articles more conveniently, as compared to common mailing lists. Each news server has a list of topics that can be discussed. Topics may vary greatly from server to server: humor, entertainment, style and fashion, jobs, sports, computers, software, hobbies, music, science, world news, marketing, politics and more. Many topics are connected with a local geographic district, this allows you, say, to send an ad about selling your car and be sure that only people from your district will receive it. If you send a message unrelated to the topic of the particular newsgroup, it is called 'off-topic' and your message is most likely to be deleted by the moderator.
Usenet news is a very popular method of communication on the Net.
How the program works
Add a new server
Run the program. Add a new Newsgroup Server and enter its NNTP host, user id/password authentication, and other info.
Downloading newsgroup list
After saving the settings on the newsgroup servers list panel, you should see the server name you have just entered. Select page "Newsgroup" and then click "Get List".
The program will connect to the server first, and then download a list of available groups. Please note that different servers may use different commands to get a groups list. You may need to adjust the NNTP Server Properties for proper operation.
After you click "Get List", the program will download the list of groups available on this server and display them as a "tree". You can add or delete a group manually using the context menu or the "Add" and "Delete" buttons on the toolbar.
To download articles, please select a group and click "Check News". The program starts downloading the headers and then the message bodies. In the bottom of the window, there is a progress bar to show you the current status of the download.
Newsgroup Commander Pro allows you to download all articles or new articles only. Choose your preference: "Get New Articles" or "Get All Articles".
An article can be viewed in the main program's window or in a separate window (please click the "View Article" button). You can view articles as plain text or as HTML, with or without attachments.
Use the "Reply" button to reply to the article.
Sending a new article
To send a new article, please select a discussion group in the groups "tree" in the left and click "Post".
Use the "Headers" button to view the message headers, and "Decode" to adjust the encoding (Windows 1251, Koi8-r and other encodings).
Search and Filter
Newsgroups contain large amounts of information. Therefore, the Search function will make working with NNTP servers more efficient. Newsgroup Commander Pro features two search modes: online and offline.
When using online searching, Newsgroup Commander Pro downloads only those articles which contain the specified keywords. When using offline searching, it searches messages that have already been saved to the local hard disk. If the number of messages in the group is not too large (less than five thousand) and you search this group rather often, it will be more convenient to use the offline mode. To use it, you need to download all the messages of this newsgroup to your hard drive. In addition, the offline mode differs from the online mode in that the online mode searches article subjects only, whereas the offline mode also searches the article bodies.
This applies to articles which have already been downloaded and saved to the hard drive. When this mode is applied, the downloaded messages are not deleted, they are displayed when clicking on the offline search results tab. To use the offline mode, enter keywords as desired in the "Offline Filter Keywords" and click "Apply Filter".
If you search a large number of unknown discussion groups, it don't really want to download gigabytes of information to your hard disk. It would be wiser and easier to specify the list of keywords and then download and save only those messages which contain some of these keywords.
Select the menu, click "Online Filter Keywords" and enter the keywords you wish to include or exclude. Newsgroup Commander Pro will search the article subjects for matches. Note: when the program searches for exclusions, it will find articles whose subjects to do NOT contain any of the specified keywords.
After you have entered keywords for search and filtering, you can use the common functions: "Get New Articles" or "Get All Articles". Newsgroup Commander Pro will download only those articles whose subjects fit the filter settings.
Below the articles tree panel, there are two items:
* Online search results
* Offine search results
Click on them to see recent search results.
Use the "Find" button to search downloaded messages and find the desired message. Messages which contain the keyword will be highlighted.
Articles view interface settings
Using "Layout" you can set up various message list view modes as well as toolbars and buttons
Search results can be exported to a text file or an Excel file. To do this, please use the corresponding main menu item or the button on the special toolbar.
General program settings
Please pay attention to the general program settings (the "Options" button).
Download only last X articles
This allows you to choose between downloading all the articles of this group or only the specified number of the last articles. Your discussion group may contain hundreds of thousands of articles, so it may be inconvenient for you to view such a great number of articles. Therefore we recommend that you download only several thousand of the last messages.
Automatically load article body on a mouse click
Since discussions groups may contain literally gigabytes of text, loading it may take a lot of time, traffic and increase the loading on a network. To avoid this, you can download only selected articles. You can download only the message headers (which does not take a lot of time) and download the article body after clicking on an article. Alternatively, you can download the selected messages using the "Re-download selected messages" local menu. This is only possible if you are connected to a server. To determine whether you are connected or not, please look at the "Connected" label...it changes to "Disconnected" when you are connected to the server. Before exiting the program or connecting to another server, please click "Stop All".
Download only article titles
Check this to download article lists only. You can download article bodies later, by selecting a desired article and selecting the "Redownload" menu item.
Do not show headers
If this checkbox is checked, Newsgroup Commander Pro does not display a message title in the message view window.
Searches for keywords when downloading articles.
The operation is performed as follows:
1. Run the program.
2. Click "New NNTP" on the server list panel.
3. Specify NNTP server settings. You can learn them from your ISP or from the administrator or the NNTP server to which you wish to connect.
4. Click "Get List". Wait while the program is downloading the discussion groups list. When downloaded, the list is saved by the program, so you do not need to download it again. Please note that the groups download command may vary from server to server. Therefore please select the proper command for the current server in the program settings.
5. Save the settings.
6. Select the newly added server.
7. Choose a desired group and click the "Check News" button. Wait while Newsgroup Commander Pro is downloading the articles list and then starts downloading article bodies.
Wait while the program is connecting to the server and the "Stop All" button lights up. If the "Stop All" button does not light up, check the NNTP server settings and your computer settings. It is possible that you have a firewall installed on your computer to protect from viruses or unauthorized network connections. Configure your firewall so that Newsgroup Commander Pro has privileges when working through the corresponding port. Usually it is port 119.
8. You can stop the process using the "Stop" button and proceed with viewing articles offline.