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Chapter 1: General Information About News Xpress

What is News Xpress

News Xpress is a Windows application for accessing articles on the UseNet. Of the various types of newsreaders, NX is online, threaded, and requires a winsock compliant interface for TCP/IP. However, NX can be operated as a one-pass offline reader and can list article headers completely unthreaded. NX uses NNTP (Network News Transfer Protocol), a standard for the distribution, inquiry, retrieval, and posting of articles within the Internet community. NX also takes advantage of the NNTP extension, XOVER, for accessing the overview database at the newsserver.

An additional function of News Xpress is the ability to send (and send only) e-mail via SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), a standard for the distribution of e-mail traffic within the Internet community.

The basic unit of UseNet newsgroups is the article (although the terms message and post are used interchangeably but incorrectly). Articles take the form of simple, readable text. That is, only those characters that you would find on a typewriter. (For those who do not know what a typewriter is, go ask your mother.) Collections of articles are placed in newsgroups when out in CyberSpace, and are placed in folders when stored on your computer (for later processing). Collections of newsgroups form a net and the net of interest here is the UseNet. Other nets include FidoNet, BITNet, CERFNet, and more. A lot of information accompanies an article but for all practical purposes, an article is identified by the newsgroup into which it was placed, its date (GMT), its author (or nom-de-plume), and its subject. Articles are also given ID numbers.

News Xpress 1.0b4 is the fourth beta version for Windows 3.1 and is freeware. The author, Ng Wang Lui (Ken, to his friends) attended City University in Hong Kong. NX was written as part of Mr.Ng's Computer Science graduate project and was never meant to be released to the general public. However, on the advice of his project advisor, Mr.Ng fleshed it out and put it up for general distribution, which he occasionally regrets. NX was simply an exercise... something to show he learned how to program. Therefore, replies from him to questions by users are sparse at best. Mr.Ng currently resides in San Diego, California, USA.

There was no guarantee that once Mr.Ng received his degree, that he would continue developing NX to the point of marketability (even though several have expressed the sentiment that they are willing to recompense Mr.Ng for their use of NX right now). It is unknown if Mr.Ng (or City University, Hong Kong) will eventually distribute News Xpress (gold-code) in the retail or shareware markets, or to have it remain as freeware. He has also developed and released NX2.0 for Microsoft's Windows95 (not including Windows 3.1 with 32bit extensions).

Some of the key features of NX are:

  • An integrated MDI application
  • Support XOVER to access overview database from news server
  • Support AUTHINFO for authorization
  • Support threads
  • Support signature
  • Built-in uuencode/decode and MIME decode to file
  • Support kill/autoselect using regular expressions for specifying patterns
  • Local folders for storing articles
    Manuals and Upgrades?

    The News Xpress FAQ documents (dated 31 May 1995 and a proposed document dated 4 July 1995) have been re-written into this manual. This manual is a work-in-progress and is released with no guarantee to its accuracy, validity, or completeness. News Xpress is widely available from well-stocked winsock sites such as the TUCOWS site and it's also available at Malcolm Hoar's site.


    Reporting Bugs

    The best avenue for submitting and reading interesting articles, comments, and bug reports about NX is in the UseNet newsgroups news.software.readers or alt.winsock. For problems, please describe the steps necessary to reproduce the situation and any other information that might help other readers locate and correct the problem. As mentioned above, don't be upset if acknowledgments or explanations are scarce. The beta testing team will forward necessary correspondence to Mr.Ng.

    Conventions Used in This Manual

    Hopefully, the user is familiar with the standard MicroSoft Windows environment.

    Full menu paths for News Xpress functions are of the form: Main, Sub, [Region], "Item"

  • Example: Config, Setup, [Hosts and Ports Information], "NNTP Server".

  • Pushbuttons, wherever they may be, are {NAMED} thusly.

    The primary mouse button is MB1, the secondary mouse button is MB2, and if there are other mouse buttons available, consider yourself over-endowed.

    Key/mouse combinations are expressed as ALT+F1, for example.

    "Connection" is where News Xpress, as a client, is able to exchange information with the server/host/provider.

    "Communications" is the electronic/physical datalink, usually by modem, between the client machine and the server/host/provider's machine.

    "Windows", "Win3.1", and "W95" denote MicroSoft Windows 3.1x and where it is appropriate, Windows 95.

    Trademarked names are used throughout this manual and are assumed to belong to whomever they belong to.

    Executing News Xpress functions can be accomplished by any of the standard Windows protocols: pressing pushbuttons (use MB1 to click on the button image); selecting from the drop-down menus; or typing the assigned keystroke combination for the function directly.

    NX and all its windows follow standard Windows opening and closing protocols as well as a few additional methods.

    For example, to open the Article Text window for a particular article header:

    1. double click on that article header or,
    2. move the highlight bar to that article header, then press enter.

    NX then opens the Article Text window, retrieves the article from the server, and displays the text.

    To close the Article Text window, in addition to standard Windows methods, ESC also works. To open and close most other windows, follow the same procedures.

    Q. News Xpress doesn't seem to remember the positions of the various windows between sessions, it always forgets them. Messing about in the NX.INI section "Geometry" caused instant mayhem. There doesn't seem to be a "Save Window Positions" menu item.
    A. Position and size the windows as desired (including minimized or maximized). Then select File, Exit. Everything should be updated, including the windows geometry. The position and size of each type of window get saved in NX.INI but some have reported that NX has, on the rare occasion, failed to update these parameters.


    [ Contents | Chapter 2 ]

    Most recent revision: March 31, 1997
    Copyright © 1997 , Brian H. Smither.
    All Rights Reserved.
    E-MAIL: Brian Smither