UseNet - News Reader Setup and Use
UseNet News Groups are an aspect of the Internet many people find helpful and fun. These groups are similar to discussion lists but don't require that you "join," the information disappears after a period of time, and they are generally available for browsing by anyone. The UseNet News groups are organized by categories and locations, and can be viewed from within Netscape Navigator or with other news-reader software. This activity describes how to browse UseNet groups from within Netscape Navigator as well as where to download other news reader programs.
- Learn to use the Netscape Navigator news reader.
- Learn where to find alternative news reader programs.
Materials and Resources
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about the hardware and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the LETSNet Website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or activities have a computer (PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components (mouse, keyboard, and monitor) as well as software (operating system, TCP/IP software, networking or dial-up software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape, but perhaps Mosaic or Lynx). In the section below, we specify any "special" hardware or software requirements for a lesson or activity (in addition to those described above) and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.
- Special hardware requirements: none.
- Special software requirements: none.
- Internet access: Medium-speed (28,800 BPS via phone) or High-speed (greater than 1 MBPS via network).
Special interest groups have forums that are available on the Internet in the form of UseNet or news groups. These groups are similar to e-mail discussion groups, but don't require you to subscribe, the information disappears after a period of time, and you can browse the news groups at your leisure by selecting them from any news reader program. Netscape Navigator includes a news reader window that is easy to use and converts most news group file types automatically for viewing. In this activity, you will learn how to specify your news server within Netscape Navigator, how to open the news reader, how to navigate in the news groups, and how to download alternative news reader programs available on-line
- Setting up Your News Server Within Netscape Navigator
From within Netscape Navigator, as with all the other news reader programs, you must define your designated news server location or address before you can use the news group program. Do this by selecting the Mail and News Preferences option from the Options menu in Netscape Navigator 2.0 or later. This opens a dialog box where you select the Servers button which displays fields where you must specify your mail and news server, as well as the number of news messages to download at a time (usually set to 3500). Type in your news server in the appropriate field and press the OK button to save the entry.
- Hands-on Example: If you don't have a specified news server from your Internet provider, you can use one of the publically available sites in the Internet Resources below. Start by using Netscape Navigator to go to one of the open news sites and then click on one of the open news sites. This will open your news-reader window and contact the site. If the site is unavailable, try another. Keep trying until you get the message
Before viewing all newsgroups, Netscape saves a copy of the newsgroup list. On a modem or slow connection, this may take a few minutes.
- Opening the Netscape News Reader Window
Once you have established your news server in Netscape Navigator, open the Netscape News window by selecting that option from the Netscape Window menu. [Newsgroups have the naming convention news.something.somethingelse, where something is underneath news, and somethingelse is under something.] This will open a new window overlaying the Netscape Web window and displaying the news groups that are already automatically subscribed for you, usually news.announce.newusers, news.newusers.questions, and news.answers. Notice the news reader window has three sections-one for selecting the news groups you want to browse or view, one that will display the messages in the news group (the upper-right-hand quadrant), and one that displays messages you select to view or read.
- Hands-on Example: Try clicking on the news.announce.newusers group and you should see a message titled Welcome to Usenet! in the upper-right-hand quadrant. Click on this message with your mouse and you should see the following:
Subject: Welcome to Usenet!
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 1996 07:00:04 GMT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark Moraes)
Newsgroups: news.announce.newusers, news.answers
Last-change: 5 Dec 1995 by email@example.com (Mark Moraes)
Welcome to Usenet! The newsgroup news.announce.newusers contains a lot of introductory information about Usenet. All new users should read and fully understand all the documents in news.announce.newusers before trying to post messages to Usenet or create new Usenet groups. This may take a while, but it will help you find your way around Usenet much more easily.
- Navigating within the News Groups
To open the list of available news groups on your server, select the Show All Newsgroups option from the Options menu. This will either display a message "Before viewing all newsgroups, Netscape saves a copy of the newsgroup list. On a modem or slow connection, this may take a few minutes" or display the list of available news groups. If the message appears, click on the OK button to continue. In the upper-left-hand quadrant of the screen you should eventually see all the major newsgroups, from alt.* through zer.*. [Note: The * represents all the news groups underneath the one specified. So, for example, if you see alt.*, that represents all the news groups under the alt group.] By clicking on an entry, for example, alt.*, you will see the next lower-level news groups under that heading. If you select alt.*, you might see alt.0d through alt.zorch.
- Hands-on Example: Try clicking on the alt.* entry and then scroll down until you find the alt.education.* entry. Click on this group and you should see about 16 entries, from alt.education.alternative through alt.education.university.vision2020. (Note: You may not see these exact groups, but similar ones.) If the news group alt.education.email-project is available, try clicking on it. In the upper-right-hand quadrant you should see all the messages available in this group. Clicking on a message causes its' contents to be displayed in the bottom-half of the window.
- To subscribe to a News Group
If you want to have specific news groups available to you, and you are using your own computer (not one in a lab), whenever you load the news reader, you can subscribe to them by checking the box or entry which results in a checkbox or checkmark showing up for that news group. These groups are automatically listed when you open that news server.
- Alternatives to the Netscape Navigator News Reader
If you don't want to use the Nescape Navigator news reader, you can use any of the other avilable news reader programs (see Internet Resources below). These programs are similar to the Netscape Navigator news-reader, but are run outside of Netscape.
- Open News Sites
A list of open or public news server sites you can use.
- Zippo Dot Com
Zippo offers an alternative to traditional news readers, a direct-read for news groups (for a fee) from within any Web browser program.
- Usenet Newsgroups: Resources
A complete set of resources and materials on News Groups.
- News Reader Programs for the Macintosh
A list of Macintosh news reader programs maintained by Charles Boley.
A news reader program for the Macintosh.
- News Reader Programs for IBM PC/Windows
A list of news reader programs for IBM PC's running Windows.
- WinVN for Windows
WinVN is a news reader program for IBM PC's running Windows.
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