Describing Network News to someone who has never encountered it before is exceedingly difficult. For this reason I choose not to and will instead give you a brief overview of trade restraints within the Hansa League in the Middle Ages.
The Hansa League, as most of you at this seminar well know, became one of the major economic forces of the Middle Ages. Much of Scandinavia, the Baltic states, northern Germany and Poland had their foreign trade controlled by the League; an assemblage of merchants who combined for their common good in order to control exports and imports...
OK, back to the news. Really, news isn't that hard to understand. It is the propagation of articles of general or specialised interest to a worldwide audience through the medium of the Internet (and understanding news administrators). Through it you, gentle reader, may garner access to all manner of information, be it useful news, useless arguements, theses, press releases, apologies from Microsoft (I don't think so..), apologies to Microsoft (never!), source code, binaries of that code, binaries of a more prurient nature, images (of a suprising range of subjects), politics, and a myriad of diuerse obiects.
The groups that you've heard about in Google Groups are in fact news groups.15.1 This is where it all started.
You can use Pine to read news. I wouldn't; the interface is terrible and most ordinary news actions other than reading are difficult to perform. The only person I know who uses it does so only for saving articles as standard mailbox items (You may wish to read about mail elsewhere to understand what the hell I'm talking about). Actually, it's good for Base64 encoded files, if they're in one part.
At the Faculty of IT you can find both tin and nn on the Unix machines (including the progsoc machines and the ITD). These cater for different kinds of Unix users:
tin is highly configurable, and your average geek will spend hours, days, even months tweaking his/her tin configuration to get the most out of it. S/he will probably never actually get around to reading any news with it, but will have fun anyway. My major complaint about tin is that it seems to create fictitous news groups which you enter only to find that there are no articles in them, despite the main index's claim that it has 7193 articles in it. tin arranges articles by thread, and you have to read all of it to read any of it.
nn is plain nice. It starts up by just throwing you into a news group, and you can read whatever you want. Threads are not collated as in tin, which means you have pages of articles to wade through, but at least you can see them, and choose those you want to read. You can configure nn to collect articles in the way that tin does. Any newly created groups which have appeared at your site are automatically subscribed to, so you will find your range of groups changing slightly each time you read. You can always unsubscribe from these new groups when you enter them by typing U.
The first time you read news will be slow. Don't do it when you have an assignment due. More importantly, don't do it when other people have an assignment due - angry Computing students are not very pleasant. Most importantly, NEVER PRINT NEWS ARTICLES - your account will be locked. Getting started with news is easy: type the command for your preferred news reader, and away you go! Subscribed newsgroups will automatically be presented for your perusal whenever you read news. When you first read news, all newsgroups will be subscribed to and you will have the choice of either unsubscribing from them one by one, or using the option nn -a0, if you use nn, to update newsgroups (you will have had to have read news at least once to be able to do this), or you can edit the .newsrc file which appears in your home directory using your favourite editor. Or by typing:
mv .newsrc .newsrc.bak sed 's/:.*/\!/' .newsrc.bak > .newsrc
Most news readers let you do the same things:15.2
Here follows a recording of an nn session, followed by a tin session; the two annotated for your greater edification:
charlie:~ :3 >nn Connecting to NNTP server news ... Connecting to NNTP server news ... ok (posting is allowed)[brief pause while nn gets its head together, drinks some coffee and wakes up] If you've never used nn before, or have thoughtlessly deleted your .newsrc files and the .nn/ directory, you'll see this:
Welcome to the nn news reader Release 6.5.0 (NOV) Unlike the other news readers you might be familiar with, the ultimate goal of nn is "not to read news"; actually, "nn" is an acronym for "No News", and the motto of nn is: No news is good news, but nn is better. I hope that you will enjoy using nn. Three levels of online help is available: ? gives a quick reference guide for the current mode. :help explains how to get help on specific subjects. :man opens the online manual. Use Q to quit nn. Have fun, Kim Fabricius Storm Texas Instruments A/S Denmark Hit any key to continue
After that introductory screen, you will enter news as normal, and see something a bit like this:
Release 6.5.0 (NOV), Kim F. Storm, 1991
[blank space deleted]
Enter alt.usage.english (193 unread)?
nn is asking me if I want to continue reading the group I was reading when last I read some news. If I type y, I would see the following:
Newsgroup: alt.usage.english Articles: 194 of 7080/57 READ a.Truly Donovan 21 >Nouns becoming verbs b.Steve Hayes 20 >> c.Geist 8 sick as a dog d.J.M.King 13 > e.Dave Gardner 88 >>>Political Use of Language etc.
However, I didn't want to do that, so I typed n, and was taken to the first group in the index which I am subscribed to and has at least one unread article:
Newsgroup: alt.activism Articles: 1 of 10551/142 a Jeremiah A Blatz 59 Dangerous Gun thoughts lose On InterNet -- 11:38 -- SELECT -- help:? -----All-----
But! I didn't actually want to read this, so I decide to GOTO another group, so I press G [note upper case]. The bottom line of the news (-- 11:38...) changes to:
Group or Folder (+./~ %=sneN) alt.fan.tarantino
I've typed in the name of the group in full above, but I could have truncated it. (e.g. taran ) nn in this case would have prompted me with: Goto alt.fan.tarantino ? If I pressed n, I would have been given the message: No more groups matching `taran' If I pressed y the bottom line would change to: Number of articles (juasne) (j)
and at the bottom of the shell there would be:
Use: j)ump u)nread a)ll @)archive s)ubject n)ame e)ither or number
I chose j to see only unread articles, and move the current group marker:
Newsgroup: alt.fan.tarantino Articles: 46 of 10505/135 a Skander Halim 27 >Serious Discussion!!!!! b Nigel Floyd 8 >Pulp Fiction is art c JOHN MCDONALD 8 bubbles in syringe -- 11:42 -- SELECT -- help:? -----Top 20%-----
[A short time later, I'm reading food groups..]
Newsgroup: alt.food.chocolate Articles: 24 of 10459/134 a M Al-nuaimy 32 >>can anyone id this chocolate bar? b Peter Gainsford 7 > c M Al-nuaimy 84 >Still Looking for DOWN UNDER d Jenna Bishop 14 >*REAL* Chocolate covered cookies. etc.
I'm going to forward through groups one by one expilictly now. I press A (to advance to the next group, even if unsubscribed). The bottom line becomes:
Enter alt.food.cocacola (UNSUB) ? (ABGNPy)
The options in brackets are A - advance to next group B - back to previous group G - enter name of group (Goto - see above) N - advance to next SUBSCRIBED group P - go to SUBSCRIBED group before that listed y - go to the listed group. If you press ESC, you will return to reading. return is the same as y.
You can always press ? for a context-sensitive help screen.
I then press Q to leave nn (I could use :x to quit without saving any updates, or start with nn -x to start in No Update Mode). Read the man page for nn - it will tell you all about the command line options.
[shortly afterwards, I start a tin session...]
charlie:~ :5 >tin rtin 1.2 PL0 (c) Copyright 1991-93 Iain Lea. Connecting to news.it.uts.EDU.AU... Reading news active file... Reading attributes file... Reading newsgroups file... rtin 1.2 PL0 (c) Copyright 1991-93 Iain Lea. Welcome to tin, a full screen threaded Netnews reader. It can read news locally (ie.Upon pressing a key, I am presented with the main index screen, below:
/news) or remotely (-r option) from a NNTP (Network News Transport Protocol) server. tin -h lists the available command line options. Tin has five newsreading levels, the newsgroup selection page, the spooldir selection page, the group index page, the thread listing page and the article viewer. Help is available at each level by pressing the 'h' command. Move up/down by using the terminal arrow keys or 'j' and 'k'. Use PgUp/PgDn or Ctrl-U and Ctrl-D to page up/down. Enter a newsgroup by pressing RETURN. Articles, threads, tagged articles or articles matching a pattern can be mailed ('m' command), printed ('o' command), saved ('s' command), piped ('|' command). Use the 'w' command to post a news article, the 'f'/'F' commands to post a follow-up to an existing news article and the 'r'/'R' commands to reply via mail to an existing news articles author. The 'M' command allows the operation of tin to be configured via a menu. For more information read the manual page, README, INSTALL, TODO and FTP files. Please send bug reports/comments to the programs author with the 'R' command. -- Press any key to continue --
Group Selection (news.it.uts.EDU.AU 241) h=help 1 alt.activism Activities for activi 2 alt.artcom Artistic Community, a 3 alt.boostagogo 4 81 alt.cult-movies Movies with a cult fo
=set current to n, TAB=next unread, /=search pattern, c)atchup, g)oto, j=line down, k=line up, h)elp, m)ove, q)uit, r=toggle all/unread, s)ubscribe, S)ub pattern, u)nsubscribe, U)nsub pattern, y)ank in/out
I see that alt.cult-movies has some articles in it (the second column reads '81'), so I decide to read them. I move my cursor down to that line, and press return.
alt.cult-movies (69T 81A 0K 0H R) h=help 1 + Most Depressing Film Ken Merrell 2 + Blood Sucking Freaks. thomas conroy 3 + 2 I'm on my way home to watch Suspiria thomas conroy 4 + Pulp Briefcase Gregory Paul Boeme
=set current to n, TAB=next unread, /=search pattern, ^K)ill/select, a)uthor search, c)atchup, j=line down, k=line up, K=mark read, l)ist thread, |=pipe, m)ail, o=print, q)uit, r=toggle all/unread, s)ave, t)ag, w=post
The cryptic top line, "(69T 81A 0K 0H R)" means that there are 69 threads in 81 articles, and some other stuff nobody seems to understand15.3. Don't worry about it. I don't.
I decide to read thread 3 I'm on my way home to watch Suspira. I move my cursor, and press return. If I wished to read more than one thread, I could tag the index entries (using t), and press return when I wanted to read them all. I see the first message in the thread15.4:
Tue, 31 Jan 1995 13:25:14 alt.cult-movies Thread 3 of 69 Lines 3 I'm on my way home to watch Suspiria 8 Responses firstname.lastname@example.org thomas conroy at Boston University I am really excited to have found this at the video store since it is said to be brilliant. I'll certainly post my reaction, but feel free, one and all, to say anything about this flick.
=set current to n, TAB=next unread, /=search pattern, ^K)ill/select, a)uthor search, B)ody search, c)atchup, f)ollowup, K=mark read, |=pipe, m)ail, o=print, q)uit, r)eply mail, s)ave, t)ag, w=post
The bottom lines show you (some) options. There are more than these; I tend to use n to read the next article, rather than TAB.
You can press h at any time in tin to get a help screen. The general screen you would get here is two pages long, so I shan't include it here.
I now finish reading the thread. I then return to the group index. Notice that it has changed slightly:
alt.cult-movies (68T 77A 0K 0H R) You have mail 1 + Blood Sucking Freaks. thomas conroy 2 I'm on my way home to watch Suspiria thomas conroy 3 Pulp Briefcase Gregory Paul Boeme
The + 2 for Suspira has disappeared, because I've read the thread. The top line has changed to indicated how many threads and articles have been dispensed with. Strangely, one other thread, Most Depressing Film, which had one article in it, has also disappeared, which is why Suspira is now No. 2 instead of No. 3. tin just does this stuff by itself - articles vanish without trace before your eyes, and that spammed article will not go away no matter how many times you delete it. Maybe I should send them a bug report...
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