Dueling Modems

Member's Handbook - Newsreaders


Getting Started
  News Screen
Getting More Help


You may choose to read DM's BBS Discussion Groups using any Internet newsreader that supports user authentication (including Agent, FreeAgent, Multi-Threaded NewsWatcher, Newswatcher, Netscape News and Microsoft Internet News). Several newsreaders for PCs and Macs are available from our Software Warehouse.

Choosing Between a Newsreader and the Gateway

Choosing to read the BBS Discussion Groups with a newsreader or the Web gateway is mostly a matter of personal preference. Here are some tips:

  • If you do not want to download, install, and configure newsreader software, try the Web Gateway, which will allow you read and post messages using your web browser.

  • Newsreaders display messages one-at-a-time, each in a separate window. Typically, a newsreader will give you more flexibility in reading, marking, and managing messages. (Free Agent has fewer of these advanced features than the other recommended newsreaders.)

  • The Web Gateway will display messages in a linear, non-threaded fashion, with all new messages in a conversation displayed on one continuous page. It doesn't have the advanced message-marking and management options that fully-featured newsreaders have.

  • If you are used to reading Genie and you have not used a newsreader before, you should probably use the Web Gateway.


To connect your newsreader, use these options:

Server Name: news.dm.net

To connect from Netscape News only, click on this link:


Getting Started

The many newsreaders on the market all support the same basic set of functions, but the menus, icons, and advanced options vary from vendor to vendor.

These instructions apply to Free Agent and Netscape News under Windows 95, but you should be able to "translate" them for other newsreaders.

In this document, select means to pick a file or group of files (usually with your mouse). Choose means to pick an option from the menu. Most newsreaders allow you to choose options from the menu, the icon (button) bar, or via hot keys. We'll give you the basics for working with the menu, to get you started. Refer to your software's help files for instructions on using the button bar and hot keys.

When you first install your newsreader, you will need to set preferences. Free Agent will ask for server information the first time you open the program.
Free Agent Configuration Screen

1. Free Agent Configuration Screen

Setting Preferences

You will also need to set up your user information, including your userid and password. Netscape News will prompt you for your userid and password when you connect through port 120.

In Free Agent, select OPTIONS, PREFERENCES, GENERAL and enter your user information on the USER panel: Free Agent Preferences Screen

2. Free Agent Preferences Screen

In Netscape News, configure your user information under OPTIONS, MAIL AND NEWS PREFERENCES, IDENTITY Netscape News Configuration Screen

3. Netscape News Preferences Screen

The Newsreader Screen

The default view in most newsreaders displays a menu, a toolbar, and three windows or panes corresponding to the list of Groups (upper left), the list of messages in the selected Group (upper right), and the text of the currently selected message (bottom). Note how similar the two screens for Free Agent and Netscape News are:

  Free Agent News Screen
4. Free Agent News Screen

Netscape News Screen

5. Netscape News Screen

Working with Groups

Most newsreaders organize groups into the categories SUBSCRIBED, UNSUBSCRIBED and NEW. Another option, ALL, typically shows you both subscribed and unsubscribed Groups.

Some newsreaders also have an option to display ACTIVE Groups, which are subscribed Groups with new messages in them.

Because there are over 2000 Groups at DM, you'll want to subscribe to the Forums or Groups that interest you and ignore the rest.

Subscribing to Groups

When you first connect with your newsreader, all groups will be new.

In Free Agent, choose ONLINE, REFRESH GROUPS LIST in order to subscribe. This may take a few minutes. If Free Agent times out before retrieving all newsgroups, try again later.

To subscribe to Groups, double-click the group name and choose the SUBSCRIBE TO GROUP button, or select the Group(s) and choose GROUP, SUBSCRIBE from the menu. Subscribed Groups are marked with the "newspaper" icon Icon.

In Netscape News, choose OPTIONS, SHOW ALL NEWSGROUPS. Click on a Forum name (dm.admin, for example) to display the available Groups. Subscribed groups are marked with a check Checkmark Icon. Check the box to subscribe to a Group.

Be sure to subscribe to dm.admin.announce; this is where important announcements such as maintenance outages will be posted.

To display only subscribed Groups instead of all Groups, in Free Agent choose GROUP, SHOW, SUBSCRIBED GROUPS; in Netscape News choose OPTIONS, SHOW SUBSCRIBED NEWSGROUPS. Netscape will let you display only subscribed Groups with new messages; choose OPTIONS, SHOW ACTIVE NEWSGROUPS.

Unsubscribing from Groups

In Free Agent, double-click the group name and choose the UNSUBSCRIBE FROM GROUP button.

In Netscape News, click on the check mark Checkmark Icon next to a Group to unsubscribe.

Refreshing the Group List

Some newsreaders will automatically tell you if there are new Groups when you sign on; Netscape News does this. With other readers, you need to ask to see new Groups (in Free Agent, choose GROUP, SHOW, NEW GROUPS). (You may also choose OPTIONS, SHOW NEW NEWSGROUPS in Netscape).

Refreshing the Group list will show you new Groups and will also get rid of any groups that may have been closed. In Free Agent, choose ONLINE, REFRESH GROUPS LIST. In Netscape News, choose VIEW, REFRESH.

Working with Messages

Once you have subscribed to Groups, you can read and post messages.

Reading Messages

Your newsreader will highlight messages that are new (unread). In Free Agent, unread messages are displayed in bold color; in Netscape News, unread messages are displayed in bold and have a green ball icon next to them. (See Figures 4 and 5.)

Select a message to read it.

If you want to skip a message, you can mark it as read. If you've read it but you want it to appear as unread later (for example, so you can reply when you have more time), you can mark it as unread. In Free Agent and Netscape, these options are on the MESSAGE menu.
Free Agent Message Menu
6. Free Agent Message Menu
Netscape Message Menu
7. Netscape News Message Menu

About Headers. Message Headers include information about a news message, including the poster, subject, date, and time. Newsreaders download the message headers (without the text of the messages) to create the list of available messages. The actual text (or body) of the message is not downloaded until you choose to read the message.

Most newsreaders can be configured to download a maximum number of headers at one time (typically 30, 50, or 100). If there are more messages to read, you will need to choose the option get more headers to display the rest of the messages. In Free Agent, the header options are on the ONLINE menu. In Netscape News, the option is FILE, GET MORE MESSAGES.

Posting Messages

Message posting terminology in newsreaders can be confusing at first. Typically:

  • Post a Follow-up or Post a Reply means to post an answer or comment to an existing message. (In Free Agent, choose POST, FOLLOW-UP USENET MESSAGE; in Netscape, choose MESSAGE, POST REPLY.)

  • Post a New Message means to post a message that isn't a reply to an existing message; this option starts a new thread or conversation in the currently selected Group. (In Free Agent, choose POST, NEW USENET MESSAGE; in Netscape, choose FILE, NEW NEWS MESSAGE.)

  • Most newsreaders allow you to post a reply and send the same reply via email to the poster, or reply via email without posting in the Group. It's easy to do this by mistake when you first learn your software (watch that REPLY button in Netscape - the one with the envelope is reply via email).

Getting More Help

The best sources for detailed instructions on your specific software are the online help screens, the vendor manual, or the vendor's tech support desk.

To get more help with your newsreader:



Reviewed 15 February 2000, nz