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Updated: May 04, 2013 at 18:12Simply aim your newsreader at news.grc.com!

Reading Newsgroups with
Netscape Communicator

This page provides step-by-step instructions for anyone not familiar with the newsreading capabilities of Netscape's Communicator's eMail and News "Messenger" component. You are invited to read the entire page, or jump directly to any of the following sections for quick instructions performing the specific task:

 Setup NEWS.GRC.COM News Server Account
 Managing Your Newsgroup Subscriptions
 Interacting with the Newsgroups

Please note that this graphic-rich page may take some time to fully load since it contains many screen shots. Therefore, we designed this page to display "incrementally" and to be used before it has finished loading.


Setup NEWS.GRC.COM News Server:
Netscape Messenger allows multiple Mail and News servers to be added and used. So we need to add the news.grc.com news server to the existing list.

 From the main menu, choose Edit / Preferences ... to open the "Preferences" dialog shown below. If the "Mail & Newsgroups" item is not already open (as shown below) click the [+] plus sign in front of it to open and display its sub-items. Select the display of Newsgroup Servers by clicking that item as shown below:

Any existing news servers will be displayed in the list near the center of the dialog box. Netscape Messenger seems to insist upon creating an entry for a bogus server called "news" for no apparent reason. Since it returns after it's deleted the only solution is to simply ignore it.

To add the news.grc.com news server, click the "Add..." button near the top/left to open the Newsgroup Server Properties dialog:

 
 

Fill-in the name of our server "news.grc.com" as shown above.

Leave the port set to its default of "119" and leave both checkboxes not checked, also as shown above.

Click "OK" to accept these settings and close the Server Properties dialog. The "news.grc.com server will now be added to the list of defined news servers.

 
 Next, click the "Formatting" item under "Mail & Newsgroups" to display the message formatting preferences:

In my opinion, and that of many other well-informed users of the Internet, promoting the use of HTML formatting in eMail and Newsgroups is one of the worst things Microsoft has ever done. Due to the SERIOUS security and privacy risks associated with HTML eMail, it is a sure way to flag yourself to the world as a "newbie" or junk eMail spammer. Due to the recent HTML-based virus and eMail-tracking problems associated with this never through-out technology, many corporate firewalls and personal eMail clients are blocking and rejecting HTML-based eMail.

The good news is that turning it off is easy. On the "Formatting" page shown above, select the "Use the plain text editor to compose messages" and "Convert the message into plain text" options.

 
 Next, click on the "Disk Space" item under "Mail & Newsgroups" to display the Disk Space preferences:

Your choices here are very much a matter of personal preference. However we suggest the settings shown above. The removal of all newsgroup messages older than 28 days corresponds with their expiration from our main newsgroups and the removal of message bodies — which can consume significant storage space — after 5 days prevents their endless accumulation in your system.

 
 Finally, click "OK" to accept your changes and close the preferences dialog.

You will next need to establish your initial newsgroup subscriptions. So continue with the next section "Managing Your Newsgroup Subscriptions".

 


Managing Your Newsgroup Subscriptions:
If you have just defined a new news server (probably news.grc.com), or if you are looking for new newsgroups which will appear on the news.grc.com news server from time to time, you'll want to manage your newsgroup subscriptions.

 To open the "Newsgroup Subscriptions" dialog (if it's not already being displayed), right-click the mouse on the "news.grc.com" folder in the left-hand pane, then choose the "Newsgroups..." selection from the pop-up menu:

 
 The "Subscribe to Newsgroups" dialog (shown below) will be displayed:

In order to view and edit your subscriptions to newsgroups on the news.grc.com server, verify that news.grc.com is the server shown in the first "Server" field.
 
Since we will add new newsgroups from time to time, it's always best to start off by "Refreshing" the newsgroup list. Click the "Refresh List" button to retrieve the current newsgroup list from the news.grc.com server. Please note that the list will be changing and it will probably NOT appear exactly like the one shown above.
 
With the "All" tab chosen at the top/left of the dialog, you will be presented with a list of the newsgroups available from our server. Detailed descriptions for each group are provided on our "discussions" page.
 
Choose which newsgroups you wish to monitor and "subscribe to" by double-clicking the newsgroup's line to change the subscription choice, or by highlighting the line with a single-click then clicking on the "Subscribe" or "Unsubscribe" buttons to the right of the newsgroup list. Subscribed newsgroups are shown with a checkmark in the "Subscribe" column which follows the newsgroup names.
 
Your newsgroup subscription choices may be freely changed at ANY time. So don't worry about needing to make all of the right decisions the first time. You can easily change your mind by returning to this dialog and double-clicking any newsgroup name to change its subscription status.
 
When you have subscribed to the groups you desire, click "Ok" to confirm your subscriptions and close the dialog.
 


Interacting with the Newsgroups:
With your account established and newsgroups subscribed you are ready to begin reading and, if you choose, posting your own messages into our newsgroups. You'll see that the subscribed newsgroups now appear underneath the news server's name in the left pane:

The subscribed newsgroup names are shown in bold when they contain unread messages. You can right-click on the news.grc.com server name and select "Update Message Count" to see whether any new messages have been posted since your last update.
 
At this point interacting with the newsgroups will be very reminiscent of eMail: When a "folder" (newsgroup) is chosen from the pane on the left the message subjects and other information is shown in the pane on the upper-right. When individual messages are selected the newsreader will retrieve that message and display it in the lower-right pane.
 
The column headings in the upper/right pane can be customized to display more useful information. First use the left sideways arrow at the right of the column headers to bring hidden columns onto the screen. Then use the mouse to drag the columns you wish to see into the proper order on the left. Finally, use the right sideways arrow to re-hide the columns you don't wish to see. The sample column header below shows each message's line count which can be useful.
 

Messages that have been replied to will show a [+] which you can click to "open" and see the message's discussion thread. Clicking individual message subjects will pull successive massages from the server to display the messages.
 
You should not feel overwhelmed by the number of "unread" messages. Unlike eMail, where every message is uniquely addressed to you, it is unlikely that you will, or should, ever be interested in reading every message. If you want to start reading only new postings you can right-click on the newsgroup folder name in the left pane then select "Mark Newsgroup Read". This will mark all previously downloaded headers as if you had already read them. In this way any new messages — posted after you "marked them all read" — will be marked as unread and you can follow the various conversations forward.
 
Also unlike eMail, you do not need to explicitly delete messages you have read and, in fact, there's no way to do so! The Disk Space settings shown above will cause the system to automatically delete any message five days after it is downloaded, so the system maintains itself without you needing to delete messages that you have read.
 
Now that you have some sense for the way this all works you should probably use it for a few days then perhaps revisit your settings to see if there's anything you want to tune or tweak.
 

If you have questions about the operation of your newsreader
you may post questions into the "Ten-Forward" newsgroup
which is the "Cyber Community Lounge" at news.grc.com.


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Last Edit: Oct 06, 2003 at 14:29 (4,916.12 days ago)Viewed 3 times per day