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Free Agent Newsgroup Offline Reader

Newsgroups: are one of the most useful of Internet resources. If you are new to Newsgroups you should lurk for a while before posting questions and make sure you have looked in all the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) files first. There are tens of thousands of different newsgroups not all of which will be accessable through any one Internet Service Provider. Some may only be accessible through particular manufacturers "servers" such as Microsoft although all the major ones will be accessible through the OU server and Compuserve. Browsers such as Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator contain Newsgroup Readers which can be used for an initial exploration. Readers will allow you to download the complete list of groups accessible through the server.

Offline Readers: Busy groups may have hundreds of postings each week so it is best to have an offline reader which downloads just the Headers (titles) of each posting so you can select which Bodies to download. In general postings are organised into threads and you can download the complete threads linking them. Offline readers will allow one to "subscribe" to several groups and download all the new headers and then all the selected bodies in each online sessions - it is very much like replicating with several conferences in FirstClass Personal except that the selection is done offline. Your postings are also uploaded in batches.

Free Agent: We have always used Free Agent available from Fort's Web site. as our Offline Newsgroup reader. It is free to download (1 Mbyte) and you do not even have to register. It works well and is easy to set up. The help files are more than adequate to use it with no further documentation - we have never looked further. When it is first run it will ask for a few pieces of information such as your name and Email address and the newsgroup and mailserver names so you should have them to hand. The Compuserve servers are news.compuserve.com and mail.compuserve.com, Freeserve's servers are smtp.freeserve.net and news.freeserve.net and the OU servers are NEWSHOST.OPEN.AC.UK and STGMAIL.OPEN.AC.UK. Other ISPs should tell you in their information. It should then be ready for use and at this point it is best to spend a few minutes looking at the help files and experimenting.

Configuring Free Agent. You will eventually want to use Free Agent in Offline mode and set it up to connect and disconnect automatically. This is all covered in the Help Files however there is so little to do that I will provide my settings. I only have settings on 4 of the tabs reached by Options -> General Preferences and 2 of those were set at the initial startup!

Happy Reading

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Copyright © Peter Curtis
Content revised: 17th October, 1998