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XNews - A Free Binary Newsreader
version 1.0.2 - by the entity known as PolarBear
Please note the "usenethelp@codeccorner.com" address above. This primer will be relocating there during the summer.

XNews Features Use The Queue, Luke!
Setting Up XNews Filters, Filters Everywhere.
Grab Those Newsgroups! Saving and Decoding Partial Binaries
Open Your Favorite Group Decoding Parts From Multiple Servers
Gaak! - What're all the Icons? Queue Folders - Another Multiple Server Tool
The Lower Toolbars And Finally



So What Is XNews?

Xnews is a free, full-featured on-line Usenet newsreader for Windows 9x/NT. Written in Delphi by Luu Tran, it is similar in appearance to an earlier program called News Express - the two programs are not otherwise related. Luu Tran has a full website for XNews, link located here.

XNews is primarily designed as an on-line newsreader - that is to say, it is mainly for use when connected to Usenet. Although both headers and articles can be stored, temporarily or permanently (in addition to downloading and decoding), on-line news reading and binary downloading are what it does best. The program allows you to have multiple news servers open at once, and allows multiple newsgroup windows for each server. Thus, you can have several downloads from different groups happening simultaneously - you're limited only by your connection speed and bandwidth.

XNews has a lot of great tools, and is (mostly) very intuitive to use. There are a few functions that are not well documented in the manual, (such as partial binary downloads, and dealing with parts from multiple servers) so some helper tips are included below. Some sections of this "quickie" guide are extracts/quotes from the Xnews and web site documentation.

As Luu Tran says on the XNews Web Site,

"Behold, I send thee forth as newbies in the midst of wolves, so RTFM! (read the fine manual)"



So What Features Does This Thing Have? 

Operation

Setting Up XNews 
Xnews is pretty simple to configure. Use [CTRL][F1] or, from the menu bar, "Special" "Setup Xnews" to access the config menu. You will need to enter the name of your news server(s), along with username and password if needed (most ISP news servers don't require this; subscription services always do). For most other things, the default settings work just fine, and if changes are needed the settings are self-explanatory. Under the "Files" tab, you can change the default download directory to whatever you wish.

Get Some Newsgroups, Grasshopper! 
When you start up Xnews for the first time, the first thing it does is to get a complete list of all newsgroups available on your server. After the list is downloaded, you can then select the groups you are interested in from the list. When you're done, your screen looks like this.


Double click on the image to enlarge it.
HINT: use the "regex" filter (REGular EXpression) window at the bottom of the screen to type in your interest keywords. Eg.: "multimedia", or "trains", or "sex". This will narrow the list to only those newsgroups that have that word in the name.

A group that is not "Subscribed" has an icon next to it that looks like a blue ball.

A group that is "Subscribed" has an icon that looks like a green arrow, pointing right.

To Subscribe to a newsgroup, click on the blue ball. It should change to a green arrow. To Unsubscribe, click on the green arrow, changing it to a blue ball. You can also use the menu bar commands "Group" "Subscribe" and "Group" "Unsubscribe".
If you need to get a list of newsgroups at another time, or to update your newsgroup list, use the menu bar commands "Group" "Get Entire Newsgroup List". You can see the complete list of newsgroups at any time, by clicking on the "All" button at the bottom of the window. XNews normally opens showing only your "Subscribed" newsgroups.


Open Your Favorite Newsgroup 
From the opening window, you can enter any newsgroup simply by double-clicking on the group name. The newsgroup window will open (below), and a list of all current headers will load up (this can take a bit of time if there are a lot of headers). Next to each header is an icon, showing what type of article it is, and whether or not it is complete.

Double click on the image to enlarge it.

So, What do the Icons Mean? 
"4-blue-cube" indicates a complete binary article. Multi-part binaries will have this icon next to each part, if they're complete.
"3-blue-cube" indicates an incomplete binary article. Double-clicking on the header under the "Subject" sorting bar will show a list of available parts, by number (xx/yy). If you ask nicely in the "d" group (alt.binaries.multimedia.erotica.d), most posters will re-send the missing parts to fill in what you're missing.
"white note" indicates a text-only article. Double click on the header to read the article. If you're reading a binary group, and want to filter out the text posts, use the "Filter" "Hide Non-Binaries" menu bar command.
"yellow folder" indicates a thread. Thread folders can include both binary and text posts. Double-click on the header under the "Subject" bar to expand the thread.
If you click on any of these icons, a green ball will appear over it. This marks the article as "Read". To change this to "Unread", click on the icon again. 

Toolbar Icons 

The Newsgroup Window Lower Tool Bar

and Server Window Lower Tool Bar also have some icons - click for a description. Normally in XNews, a text description comes up if you place your mouse pointer on top of them.
These are the most common icons; there's a full listing in the manual that comes in the program.

Use The Queue, Luke!
  Xnews uses a queuing system. To put an article into the queue, highlight the header and press Space.


Double click on the image to enlarge it.
Pressing space again removes it from the queue. When you queue an article, you will see a number indicating its queue order in the Queue column. Now, select Article | Decode/Save as... or Transfer | (folder). You can also queue/dequeue an entire thread at a time.
To decode several binaries, you have to first queue them by pressing space or mouse-click the article header in the Queue column. Then, hit F4 (decode), or click on the "Lower Toolbar Menu (above)". The usual Microsoft multiple-file keystrokes (mouse-click, followed by[CTRL]-mouse-click, and mouse-click, followed by [SHIFT]-mouse-click) also work for selecting multiple articles.

Filters, Filters Everywhere... 
XNews has several predefined filters you can apply. They are:

The "Plonk" or "Kill" filter.
Highlight an offending poster, and hit "k". XNews will killfile all posts from this poster, in all groups. Use with caution; if you plonk someone by accident, you can remove them from the killfile by [CTRL-K] or the menu-bar commands "Special" "View Plonk File".
The "score" filter - use to highlight posters, keywords, or threads you want to track, or to kill posters, subjects, threads, or keywords within an individual group. For more on the "Score" system, see the manual.

Hide incomplete binaries: hide binaries with missing parts. [Filter Menu Bar]

Show binaries only: only show single-part of complete multipart binaries. [Filter Menu Bar]

Show queued articles only: show only articles that are currently in the queue. Note: previously queued articles that have been processed will not be shown. [Filter Menu Bar]

Show cached articles only: show only articles whose bodies have been cached, i.e., they are available on your hard disk and don't have to be fetched from the server. [Filter Menu Bar]

Show new headers only: This is only meaningful with storage turned on. When you're storing headers, you will have a lot of headers and it may be hard to tell which are new. This filter will show you only headers that are new since the last session, or more precisely, since last time you opened the newsgroup. [Filter Menu Bar]

Show unread articles only: obvious. [Filter Menu Bar]

Show threads with (new headers/queued articles/unread): this is similar to the above filters, except that the filter is done at the thread level rather than on individual articles. To elaborate: when you select "Show unread articles only", Xnews removes all read articles from the current list then threads the result. With "Show threads with unread", it threads the current list (if it's not already threaded) and eliminates all threads that do not have at least one unread article in them. (Articles not part of a thread are considered threads unto themselves.) The advantage of filtering at the thread level is you get to see the articles in their context. [Filter Menu Bar]

Saving and Decoding Partial Binaries From a Single Server 
01) Open the XNews window. Open your news server, if not already open [Under the "Server" menu bar].

02) Double click on selected newsgroup to open. Headers will load from server. Highlight the partial article to be downloaded by clicking one on the header line with the mouse. Hit the "Space" bar (or mouse-click in the "Queue" column) to select the article for downloading.

03) Click on "Article" menu bar & slide down to "Archive -> Binaries". Click on it.

04) The available segments will start downloading, by default to a folder inside the XNews directory. [You don't need to worry about where they're going - the program knows]. What it's doing is storing the actual, un-decoded parts of the binary file.

05) After the available parts have been downloaded, wait until the remaining parts are available on your news server. Open up the same newsgroup (or another newsgroup where the same article has been crossposted).

06) Find the same article (sorting by "From" or using the text window at the bottom to search by a word or words in the header speeds things up).

07) Highlight the partial article to be downloaded by clicking one on the header line with the mouse. Hit the "Space" bar (or mouse-click in the "Queue" column) to select the article for downloading.

08) Click on "Article" menu bar & slide down to "Archive -> Binaries". Click on it. The segments available from server #2 will download.

09) When downloading is complete, go to "Folder" on the menu bar, and slide down to/click on "Binaries".

10) The binary folder will open. If you downloaded your binary's different parts with _exactly_ the same header, a complete article will show in this folder window (4 blue cube icon). Queue the article by highlighting the header & clicking on the space bar. Then hit "F4" to decode.

11) If you downloaded your binary parts with two (or more) different headers, you will need to manually select the decoding order of the parts. Double-click on each binary header to expand the parts inside. Queue the parts in order (e.g. 1/35, 2/35, etc.). When you come to a missing section in the first binary part, select it from those available in the other binary header. When all are selected, hit "F4".

Saving and Decoding Parts of Articles From Multiple Servers 
1) Open the window for your first news server. [Under the "Server" menu bar].

2) Double click on selected newsgroup to open. Headers will load from server. Highlight the partial article to be downloaded by clicking one on the header line with the mouse. Hit the "Space" bar (or mouse-click in the "Queue" column) to select the article for downloading.

3) Click on "Article" menu bar & slide down to "Archive -> Binaries". Click on it

4) The available segments will start downloading, by default to a folder inside the XNews directory. [You don't need to worry about where they're going - the program knows]. What it's doing is storing the actual, un-decoded parts of the binary file.

USING 2 OR MORE NEWS SERVERS
When the available parts have been downloaded,
5) go to your second news server. Open up the same newsgroup (or another newsgroup where the same article has been crossposted).

6) Find the same article (sorting by "From" or using the text window at the bottom to search by a word or words in the header speeds things up).

7) Highlight the partial article to be downloaded by clicking one on the header line with the mouse. Hit the "Space" bar (or mouse-click in the "Queue" column) to select the article for downloading.

8) Click on "Article" menu bar & slide down to "Archive -> Binaries". Click on it. The segments available from server #2 will download.

9) When downloading is complete, go to "Folder" on the menu bar, and slide down to/click on "Binaries".

10) The binary folder will open. If you downloaded your binary's different parts with _exactly_ the same header, a complete article will show in this folder window (4 blue cube icon). Queue the article by highlighting the header & clicking on the space bar. Then hit "F4" to decode.

11) If you downloaded your binary parts with two (or more) different headers, you will need to manually select the decoding order of the parts. Double-click on each binary header to expand the parts inside. Queue the parts in order (e.g. 1/35, 2/35, etc.). When you come to a missing section in the first binary part, select it from those available in the other binary header. When all are selected, hit "F4".

Queue Folders - Another Way of Queueing Articles From Multiple Servers 

Queue folders.
Version Y2K-SE introduces a new type of folders called Queue folders. Unlike the regular (archive) folder, a queue folder stores only the headers when you transfer articles into it. Then when you read or decode the articles, Xnews gets the articles from the server, just as if you're in a newsgroup.
What can you do with such an animal? You can use it as a global queue. You can use it to collect multipart binaries from different servers. Because you can switch what server you want to pull articles from in queue folders, you can pull down headers from one server then retrieve from a different server. If you're one of the lucky dogs with a broadband connection and your server is throttling your speed, you can split your download into two separate queue folders and download simultaneously.


Final Word

This XNews FAQ is by no means a complete manual for the program, and users should consult the available documentation if problems are encountered. Thanks to Luu Tran for developing, and continuing to improve such a great newsreader, and for making it freely available.
No cute furry animal were abused during the writing of this page, although several were consumed as light snacks.



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