POV-Ray : Resources : Outlook Express Newsgroup Tutorial
  Outlook Express Newsgroup Tutorial  

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Table of Contents

Introduction

The purpose of this document is to give a basic tutorial on how to subscribe to newsgroups using Microsoft Outlook Express. Topics covered include finding and opening Outlook, connecting to a news server for the first time (setting up a news account), subscribing to individual news groups and configuration for offline reading.

It is suggested that you read all the relevant parts of this document before you start, then keep this page open and refer to it as you're preparing Outlook Express for action.

All examples given below refer to the POV-Ray news server at news.povray.org, but the principles laid out here can be used to connect to your ISP's Usenet server and other private news servers that permit public access.

Note: you do not have to be online to read this document, you may wait until the page has finished loading and then disconnect from the internet, all the information you need is contained in this page.

Some Basics

The first thing you need to do is open Outlook Express, the easiest and usually the most convenient way to do this is to click on the Outlook Express desktop icon as displayed to the right of this text.

The Microsoft Outlook Express icon on the desktop.

Figure 1, The Microsoft Outlook Express desktop icon.

If you don't have an Outlook Express icon on your desktop then you can create a shortcut to the executable file which is named msimn.exe on my system this is located in the directory C:\Program Files\Outlook Express\.

At any time that you have Internet Explorer open there is an alternative method that you may use to open Outlook Express. Open the Tools menu, select Mail and News and then select Read News.

When making this selection the screen should look something like figure 2:

Opening Outlook Express from within Internet Explorer

Figure 2, Opening Outlook Express from within Internet Explorer.

Note: From now on in this document we will use the following notation for selecting menu items:Tools --> Mail and News --> Read News. You can also do this from the keyboard by pressing the ALT key followed by the letters that are underlined so ALT-tmn would open Outlook Express from within Internet Explorer.

Adding a News Server

When you open Outlook Express you should see a window similar to that displayed below in figure 3. If you are offline then you'll get a message box that comes up and asks, "You are currently working offline. Would you like to go online now?", just click on No, as you don't need to be online to add a news server. If you are online just continue as normal, you will need to be online later on in order to subscribe to news groups.

The Outlook Express Default start up view.

Figure 3, The Outlook Express Default start up view.

Now with the mouse select Tools --> Accounts... (or ALT-ta). This sequence opens up the "Internet Accounts" window for Outlook Express as displayed below in figure 4.

The Outlook Express Internet Accounts window.

Figure 4, The Outlook Express Internet Accounts window

Now with the mouse select the "News" tab as displayed in figure 4. You may already have a news account set up for a news server, most internet installation programs also set an account up with your ISP's Usenet server.

Now with the mouse click on the Add button in the top right hand corner of the "Internet Accounts" window, and then select News from the new menu that appears as shown in figure 5.

This selection differs slightly from earlier selections, the Add button acts like a menu and the various tabs can't be selected from the keyboard using the common menu selection method hence the need to use the mouse and for the illustration in figure 5.

Selecting Add News with the mouse.

Figure 5, Selecting Add News with the mouse

Now the "Internet Connection Wizard" window will open as shown below in figure 6. Here you are prompted for your Display name, this is then name that appears in the summarized From line in the news messages that you post. For this most people use either their first name, their nick name or their full name. Complete this box then with the mouse click on the Next button, alternatively you can just press the Return/Enter key after completing your entry in the Display name box.

The Your Name window.

Figure 6, The Your Name window

Now the "Internet News E-mail Address" window will appear and prompt you for your e-mail address as displayed below in figure 7. Other visitors to the news groups may wish to use this to contact you in order to answer a question in detail or to continue a conversation that has gone off topic.

Complete the E-mail address box and then click on the Next button or press the Return/Enter key to continue.

The Internet News E-mail Address window.

Figure 7, The Internet News E-mail Address window

Next the "Internet News Server Name" window will appear as in figure 8 below. Here you must type news.povray.org in the box marked News (NNTP) Server as demonstrated in figure 8.

There is also a check box marked My news server requires me to log on. Leave this box blank, it is not needed for connecting to the POV-Ray news server.

The Internet News Server Name window.

Figure 8, The Internet News Server Name window

Now your "Internet News Server Name" window should look the same as the one displayed in figure 8. Click on the Next button or press the Return/Enter key to continue.

Now you'll see the "Congratulations" window telling you that the news account has been added.

The Congratulations window.

Figure 9, The Congratulations window

Now click on the Finish button or press the Return/Enter key to return to the "Internet Accounts" window where you should now see the server news.povray.org listed along with any other news servers that were there previously as displayed in figure 10 below.

The Revised Internet Accounts window.

Figure 10, The Revised Internet Accounts window

Now click on the Close button, and if you are offline you will be prompted to go online as displayed in figure 11 below. For now click on No, downloading the newsgroups will be dealt with in the next section of this tutorial.

Offline warning message.

Figure 11, Offline warning message

If you are online you will be prompted to download the newsgroups from the server as displayed in figure 12 below. For now click on No, downloading the newsgroups will be dealt with in the next section of this tutorial.

Download newsgroups prompt.

Figure 12, Download newsgroups prompt

When you return to the Outlook Express default view as displayed below in figure 13 you will see the server news.povray.org listed in the left hand panel.

Default view after adding the news server account.

Figure 13, Default view after adding the news server account

Now we're ready to proceed to the next stage and subscribe to newsgroups.

Subscribing to Newsgroups

Having added the news server as described in the above section the next step is to subscribe to some newsgroups.

First use your usual method to connect to the internet, and ensure that Outlook Express knows that you want to work online, go to the menu item File --> Work Offline and make sure that it is unchecked as displayed in figure 14 to the right of this text.

Working Online.

Figure 14, Working Online

Next click on news.povray.org in the left hand panel, and you will be prompted to download and view a list of news groups, click on Yes as displayed below in figure 15.

Getting a list of newsgroups from the server.

Figure 15, Getting a list of newsgroups from the server

Next you will see a window telling you that the newsgroup list is being downloaded as displayed below in figure 16. For the POV-Ray news server this only takes a few seconds even on a slow connection like my own 56k modem, but the list from my ISP takes about half an hour to download.

This window will close automatically when the complete newsgroup list has been downloaded.

Downloading the newsgroup list.
Figure 16, Downloading the newsgroup list

When this window closes you will see the "Newsgroup Subscriptions" window as displayed below in figure 17.

The Newsgroup Subscriptions window.
Figure 17, The Newsgroup Subscriptions window

Here make sure that you have the All tab selected as shown in figure 17, this ensures that you can see the full list of newsgroups available.

To select a newsgroup for subscription click on it with the mouse pointer, this will highlight the group that you are interested in as shown in figure 18 below, then click on the Subscribe button.

Subscribing to newsgroups.

Figure 18, Subscribing to newsgroups

Repeat this for each newsgroup that you wan to subscribe to, highlight the group in the list, then click on Subscribe.

An icon will appear to the left of each newsgroup that you are subscribed to as shown below in figure 19.

Closing the Newsgroup Subscriptions window.

Figure 19, Closing the Newsgroup Subscriptions window

When you have been through the list and chosen all the groups that you want to subscribe to and have an icon displayed to the left of each one then click on the OK button as displayed above in figure 19.

Next you will see the revised default view of Outlook Express, with the newsgroups that you have subscribed to listed below the server named news.povray.org.

The default view including subscribed newsgroups.

Figure 20, The default view including subscribed newsgroups.

In order to download some message headers (summary information about the messages on the server), hold the mouse pointer over a newsgroup name and double click. By default Outlook Express downloads the headers for the three hundred newest messages in the group. This behavior can be changed, altering the number of headers downloaded and even downloading complete messages to facilitate offline reading, these subjects will be described in a later section.

While the headers are being downloaded a meter bar will be displayed in the status bar at the bottom of Outlook Express.

Downloading message headers.

Figure 21, Downloading message headers

Once you have downloaded the headers or messages from a newsgroup you will see a number to the right of that newsgroup in the left hand panel of outlook express, telling you how many unread messages are in that group. When you highlight a group you will see a more comprehensive summary of message numbers in the status bar to the bottom left hand corner of the Outlook Express window.

At this stage you will probably find it easier to work in Outlook Express if you maximise the window.

Now to start reading a thread/discussion, click on the plus sign to the left of the thread in order to expand that thread, and then double click on the first message. You can also use the right mouse button to get a context menu that offers some of the most commonly used commands.

You can subscribe to additional newsgroups at any time by going to Tools --> Newsgroups, and repeating the steps described above.

Fine Tuning

Plain Text not HTML: One of the first things that you'll want to do before you start posting to newsgroups is to set Outlook Express to use plain text when it posts rather than HTML. There are various reasons for this including the fact that some news readers can't read HTML automatically, and also HTML takes up much more server space than plain text and leads to longer download time per message.

Go to Tools --> Options which will open the Options window, then select the Send tab with the mouse as displayed below in figure 22.

Selecting the Send tab in the Options window.

Figure 22, Selecting the Send tab in the Options window

Next go to the bottom of the "Options" window and ensure that plain text is selected as displayed in figure 23 below, here it's also a good idea to set plain text for email too. You can never predict the capabilities of the mail reading software of the recipients of your messages but all mail clients can read plain text.

Selecting plain text.

Figure 23, Selecting plain text

Now to confirm the changes that you have just made click on the OK button at the bottom of the "Options" window as displayed below in figure 24.

Saving the changes.

Figure 24, Saving the changes

Now that you've added a news server, subscribed to newsgroups and set Outlook Express to use plain text you're ready to start taking part in newsgroup discussions.

Reading News Offline

If you have the type of internet connection where you pay by the minute to be online, or if your time online is restricted to a few particular hours per day, than you may want to download all the newsgroup messages at once then disconnect and read the messages offline. You can then reconnect later on to send any replies and to retrieve any new messages.

With the mouse, highlight a newsgroup in the left hand window of Outlook Express by clicking the right button of the mouse once while the mouse pointer is hovering over the newsgroup name, then go to the menu item File --> Properties and select the Synchronize tab as displayed below in figure 25.

Newsgroup synchronize properties.

Figure 25, Newsgroup synchronize properties

Here you will see that three of the options are grayed out meaning that they can not be selected. First you must check the checkbox marked "When synchronizing this newsgroup, download:" as displayed below in figure 26.

Newsgroup synchronize properties.

Figure 26, Newsgroup synchronize properties

Now there will be three more options to chose from:

  • New headers this option only downloads the headers of the messages which includes information about the author, subject and date of the message. You may consider using this option for binary groups, then you can select the discussions that you are interested in and they will be download the next time you synchronize the newsgroups.
  • New messages (headers and bodies) this option downloads all of the new messages in this newsgroup, including the header information and the bodies of the messages. You'll probably want to use this option for the text based groups such as povray.general and povry.newusers etc.
  • All messages (headers and bodies) this option will download all available messages in the group, so if you have set a download limit of 500 messages in Tools --> Options on the Read tab, then this limit will be overridden.
When you have made your selection either press the Return/Enter key or with the mouse click on OK.

Make sure these properties are set for each group that you are subscribed to and then to synchronize/download the newsgroup messages select Tools --> Synchronize All. At this point if you are not connected to the internet you will be prompted to connect, follow these prompts and you will see the newsgroups downloading as displayed below in figure 27.

Downloading messages.

Figure 27, Downloading messages

Here you can check the Hang up when finished box and Outlook Express will automatically drop the internet connection when all of your messages have been downloaded. Alternatively you can leave the box unchecked and disconnect using your usual method.

To download individual threads/discussions highlight a message in that thread, then select the menu item Tools --> Mark for Offline --> Download Conversation Later, you will see a blue arrow appear next to that thread and the thread will be downloaded next time you synchronize.





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