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Fred Koschara

This page is a very brief introduction to Usenet newsgroups - but the links below have more extensive information.

Usenet newsgroups have been around longer than the World Wide Web, but most people (from my observation) know practically nothing about them. In the news, you can find just about anything you're looking for - if you know where to look and have the right software.

The first thing you have to do is get access to a news server. Most ISP's have a news server as part of the setup they supply, but they really don't advertise it. Ask your ISP for the hostname of their news server. Quite often it's similar to "news.yourISP.com" but it could be just about anything.

If your ISP doesn't have a news server, there are lots of public access ones, but you'll probably have to pay a subscription fee. Use your favorite search engine to look for "public access news servers" or something similar.

Once you have the address of a news server to use, you need software to access the newsgroups. While your Web browser undoubtably can access the newsgroups, my experience is it's a clumsy way to do it: Web browsers just aren't set up for exploring newsgroups, they're built for exploring the Web. You're better off using software built for the task.

My favorite newsreader is WinVN used with yProxy from Brawny Lads Software. You have to watch out for spaces in filenames when saving files from the newsgroups, but the program is pretty straight-forward and includes a decent online manual. You need yProxy to handle the new "yEnc" encoding scheme that's designed to reduce the amount of traffic on the Internet, but the directions are so simple you won't even know it's there.


For more information, try these links:

 

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