[ Contents | Chapter 5 ]


Chapter 4: Let's Read!

If you haven't been operating NX while reading the Guided Tour section, take the time now to start winsock and establish communications with your provider. This section illustrates key functions and concepts.

Selecting Specific Newsgroups

Even if you've chosen to not subscribe to any of the thousands of newsgroups available on the news server, NX, and most other newsreaders, automatically subscribe to at least three newsgroups: news.answers, news.newusers.questions, and news.announce.newusers. These newsgroups are recognized to be essential to new readers of UseNET newsgroups. After you have connected to the server, NX eventually displays the Newsgroups window with all subscribed newsgroups. Select a newsgroup.

NX requests a packet of article headers. If {Stop} isn't pressed by the time the last article header is retrieved, NX asks for another packet. This cycle continues until all headers are retrieved or until {Stop} is pressed.

Q. {Stop} and selecting File, Stop doesn't work.
A. It certainly doesn't work as expected. NX does not stop in the middle of retrieving the text of an article. Also, NX does not stop retrieving article headers in the middle of a packet. Please select Config, Preferences, [Articles], "Max Hdrs per Read" and set the value here to how many article headers per packet you wish NX to request from the server. For example, if the number is 50, and 162 headers have been retrieved when {Stop} was pressed, NX finishes the current packet of 50 headers for a total of 200 headers retrieved (there may be many more headers still available). Setting this value to zero or one will defeat the capability to stop retrieving headers. If stopping the retrieval process is important, set this value to five.

Q. The darn thing reads in all 12,000+ newsgroups each and every session!
A. In Config, Preferences, [Groups], make sure that "Retrieve all active groups" is not checked.

Article Selection

Once the headers have been retrieved and are listed in the Article Headers window, select an interesting article using the same method used to select the newsgroup. (NX does not show the article, even though the Article window opens immediately, until the entire text of the article has been retrieved.)

From this point on, you may leave this article and get either the previous/next article in the list, the next unread article, or any other article in the list.

< will retrieve the previous article in the list unless you are already at the top of the list,
> will retrieve the next article in the list unless you are already at the bottom of the list,
n will retrieve the next unread article in the list and will wrap-around the list until no more unread articles are available,
ESC to close the current window and use the highlight bar to select another.

The space bar acts like a special read next article command. When the article text is longer than the window displaying it, you may either press Cursor Down to scroll a line at a time, Page Down to scroll a visible page at a time, or Space to scroll a visible page at a time and when the last lines have been displayed, retrieve and display the next article.

The column headers in the Article Headers window are clickable buttons. To sort the articles by Subject, Lines, Date, or From, press the appropriate button.

Q. When reading a newsgroup, Space and N can be used to read through articles, but when finished with a particular newsgroup, is there an easy way of automatically switching to the next newsgroup with unread articles? As it is now, one must close the just finished Article Headers window then select and open the next newsgroup.
A. Unfortunately, there isn't a way of batch selecting newsgroups to open nor will NX directly fetch article headers from the next newsgroup with unread articles.

Q. Is there a way of having only one window to read articles, instead of opening a new window for each article retrieved? When reading 200 articles in a newsgroup, the Main window gets pretty messy.
A. Select Config, Preferences, Articles and uncheck "New Window for Each Article."

Q. If a newsgroup hasn't been checked for a week and there are 5000 articles, how can you select how many articles you want to read?
A. Start retrieving headers from the selected newsgroup. Press {stop} when the status bar indicates approximately, but less than, the number of article headers desired. The article headers retrieved will be from the oldest to those forward in time. Read the desired articles. Select Edit, Select-All then select Article, Mark Read. When NX is told to update NEWSRC (as when NX is shutdown), only the marked as read articles will not be retrieved during the next session.
A. Highlight the newsgroup and press {Catch-up} so that it zeros out, then select Group, Reload Old Articles. When the status bar indicates the number of article headers desired, press {Stop}. Select Reload Old Articles again to retrieve article headers earlier than the ones already retrieved. The article headers retrieved will be from the newest to those backward in time.

Q. When a subscribed newsgroup is selected, NX sits there for the next 15, 20 minutes and grinds away retrieving all the headers (or whatever). Is something not set up right?
A. Select Config, Preferences, [Articles], and check "Skip Old Articles".

Q. NX is used at two locations but operated identically. One, however, removes article headers which have been read whenever the Article Headers window is changed in any way. The other keeps article headers; the ones which were read remain as greyed-out icons. What is the difference between the two?
A. The most likely difference is View, All Articles is switched on for one NX and switched off for the other. View All Articles will keep, in the Article Headers window, all article headers retrieved during this online session, read or not.

Batch Article Selection

NX allows for the marking (tagging) of more than one article header (works in the Newsgroups window, too) for further processing. There are several ways to tag and untag articles one at a time:

  1. Use MB2 or SHIFT+MB1,
  2. Press Space then CRSRUP/DN to tag (or if tagged, Space to untag).

Additionally, several headers can be tagged by "swiping" across them:

  1. Press MB2 or SHIFT+MB1 and hold it while dragging the cursor across a range of headers,
  2. Press shift+CRSRUP/DN to move the highlight bar across a range of headers,
  3. Press CTRL+A to tag all headers in sequence using the current sort, top to bottom.

Once article headers are tagged, other NX functions will operate only on those so tagged. Notice that tagged headers have a sequence number at the far right side of the window. All functions will be executed on those headers in that sequence.

Find Articles

Using the Find Article tool is valid from the Newsgroups window. It will be greyed-out otherwise. Highlight one or more newsgroup names then press {Find Article}. In the dialog box, specify the search string in the desired header line. For example: Subject: NX will cause NX to scan all highlighted newsgroups searching for articles that have "NX" in the subject line. You must also specify into which folder the "hits" will be transferred. If you don't have any folders already set up, NX informs you that one must be created first before Find Article will work (and you can't create a new folder unless you are connected). The window shows only 5 possible folder selections but actually does contain all available folders. What's missing is the scroll bar along the right edge of the window. Use the cursor keys to scoot the highlight bar further down beyond the bottom of the list (and back up). The list will scroll. Find Again or F3, from beta#3, is missing, but NX has a much improved Find or F2 functionality. For example, the steps to grab FAQs in several groups are:

  1. Select the newsgroup window and tag the desired groups,
  2. Press {Find article},
  3. Select "Subject" for header field,
  4. Enter [fF][aA][qQ] in the pattern field,
  5. Specify the destination folder,
  6. Press {OK}.

It appears that Find Article is case-sensitive.

Filters: Kill and Auto-Select

NX has one of the more crucial features necessary for any newsgroup reader, the ability to filter in and out of the article header list those articles of supreme interest and those articles of supreme disinterest. The auto-select and killfile filters, for the most part, follow the standard UNIX regular expressions coding and so the characters \[]^$* and the period have special meanings. The auto-select and killfile criteria are case-insensitive. When you see the Article Header window, all article headers that match your criteria will be selected. You can use MB2 to deselect some or to add others. You can also use {Find} to tag additional articles that match the new Find search string specified. The actual killing and selecting processes are performed during article header retrieval. When retrieving headers, NX will compare each of the Subject and From lines with the pattern specified. If the header matches and Kill is selected, this particular article header will be disposed of immediately. On the other hand, if Auto-Select is selected, the header will be automatically marked and highlighted. This feature can be very powerful when you learn how to use it. For a guide to regular expressions (or regex) and a sample set of filters to eliminate spam, see Appendix C.

Q. NX is set up with some auto-select filters to follow threads. When a newsgroup is opened, sure enough, several threads are marked. Now what? If an article is opened, the other marks go away.
A. In the Article Headers window, type n (next unread), > (next article), < (previous article), or Spacebar (page down or next unread) to cycle through the highlighted articles. Or, if you want to save them all in a folder to read later, click on {Transfer}, then select or create the folder. Only the selected articles will be retrieved and stored.

Q. How would one autoselect all articles containing "News Xpress" or "NX" in the subject header.
A. Use "xpress" and "nx", since that would autoselect all the articles with those strings in their subject even if someone misspelled the name as "News Express".

Q. How would I automatically highlight all articles that I wrote?
A. Just add your name to the From field in the Kill/Auto-Select dialog. If you first open an article you wrote, your name will appear in the dialog automatically. Just make sure you click {Auto-select} before you add the criterion, because the default is Kill. If you click on {Edit>>}, you can edit the items in the list like any other Windows text. When you close the Kill/Auto-Select dialog window, the entire article header list will be re-scanned with the new criteria.

Q. How would you kill articles written by an individual whose variable machine names are included in the From header. That is: login@machine.domain.com so that this person's articles posted from the machine machine get killed. What is the proper syntax to set the machine name as a wildcard in the pattern?
A. It should be: login@.*\.domain\.com, where the period stands for any character and an asterisk stands for zero or more occurances of the preceeding character. The slash character causes the real periods to be interpreted literally. Therefore, this address must start with the string login@ and end with the string .domain.com with anything, including nothing, between them. But there are easier ways of accomplishing the same thing.

Q. Can Auto-Select always load certain articles and override "Skip old articles"?
A. Auto-Select happens when the article headers are being retrieved. However, the function Config, Preferences, Articles, "Skip old articles" takes precedence by retrieving the header of the first unread article.

Q. How does one kill any and all files with the one-letter word "f" or "F" in the subject? If [f] is put in the subject area of the kill file dialog for that newsgroup, NX then goes through the current list and marks as read much more than it should. Eveything with an "f" anywhere in the subject is killed. For example: "I got an F in calculus" is killed, but so is "A new format for C++ header files." What would be the regex way of killing this?
A. First, using square brackets to delineate a string isn't correct. Try \ which matches the character to the beginning of the word and to the ending of the word.

Saving Articles

News Xpress can store articles to several destinations: to a unique file, appended to an existing file, or to a folder. The first time an article is Save'd to a file, the Save As.. dialog box comes up. Once NX has a filename to work with, File, Save and {Save} for this session will append following articles to this file. In order to begin saving articles to a separate file, you must use File, Save As.. once again.

NX has built in "folders" into which you may transfer articles. The articles appear to the user as any other list of article headers. See the section on Transfers for more information.

Decoding Articles

To decode multipart files and/or multiple files, you must first tag the article headers in the desired order. (See the section on Batch Article Selection.) Once you have tagged all relevant headers, press {Decode} or select Article, Decode from the menu.

NX will truncate long filenames automatically and retain the extension if possible. If the filename already exists, a sequence number will be appended within the filename. For example: baseball.jpg, baseba00.jpg, etc.

Q. Please explain how to combine several files into one for decoding?
A. Tag each article in the order that they are to be assembled. Make sure you tag them in the correct order. Press {Decode}. This procedure also works in concatenating and saving articles. If a thread (several articles having the same subject, collected together on one line with a folder icon instead of a document icon) is selected in this manner, the thread is assigned the sequence number but all articles contained in that thread are retrieved and processed using the current sort order. NX can handle multiple files, each with multiple parts and it doesn't matter if the parts are not listed in their proper order. For example:

  1. file A (1/3)
  2. file B (1/4)
  3. file A (2/3)
  4. file A (3/3)
  5. file B (3/4)
  6. file B (4/4)
  7. file B (2/4)

To decode both file A and file B, tag lines 1, 3, 4, 2, 7, 5, 6, in that order. (But in all actuality, NX usually first sorts the articles alphabetically, so a swipe usually suffices.)

Transferring Articles (to folders)

The folders that NX manage include: Newsgroup, Outbox, Copy-Self, and the various named folders. NX allows for drag-n-drop'ing of articles between the various named folders, to and from the Copy-Self folder, and from the Article Headers window. Unfortunately, you cannot drop the articles onto any of the action buttons on the toolbar.

Q. How do articles of a particular newsgroup get into a folder?
A. Highlight the desired article header(s) using the various methods of marking articles (see Selecting Articles), then select Transfer,<folder name> (creating a new one if necessary). NX does not have the capability to automatically distribute articles that match Find Article criterion or Kill/Auto-Select criterion into respective folders.

Q. News Xpress allows one to create more than 25 folders which can be seen and scrolled to in the Config, Folders dialog box. However, only the first 25 on the Transfer pop-down menu are visible. How does one get more than the first 25 to show up on the Transfer pop-down menu or more than the first 23 on the Folder pop-down menu? There are no scroll bars on these two pop-down menus. A. Use the cursor keys to slide the highlight bar down to the bottom of the list and keep on going with it. Try also sliding the highlight bar using the click-drag method with MB1.

Offline Reading

NX is more of an online reader than offline. NX does not automatically retrieve the actual articles, nor does it easily allow you to mark articles while offline for later retrieval online. Folders were created to accomplish offline reading. Select the desired articles (or all articles) for a particular newsgroup, then transfer them to an appropriate folder. Later, after having dropped communications with your provider, open the folders and read the articles. You may follow-up with, reply to, and forward articles just as if you were online. Your responses will be stored in the Outbox until your next online session. To send them, select Folder, Outbox during the next session.

Q. To read ten groups offline means that ten Article Header windows have to be opened, then Edit, Select-All (or CTRL+A) each in turn, then Transfer to retrieve all those articles to their respective folders. Is there any way to do that in one single operation?
A. No.

Q. How do I purge the articles in the folders? How do I padlock some of the articles from purge?
A. To delete articles in folders, for example, by date: Press {Date} in the window header, swipe across all articles that fall within the date range, select Article, Delete or press CTRL-D or just the delete key. To keep articles from a general delete, transfer them to a new folder before-hand.


[ Contents | Chapter 5 ]

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