The Text Based Internet
Part 4b: Accessing Newsgroups Through Tin

Getting In

The first thing that you need to do is type tin -r at the unix prompt. It will go through basically the credits, who wrote it, when, what version this is. Next, it may take you through a list of news groups and ask if you want to join them. Then it should take you to this screen:

       1    34  alt.barney.dinosaur.die.die.die   "There's enough hatred 
       2    95  alt.books.kurt-vonnegut           Discussion of Kurt
       3   267  alt.cyberpunk                     High-tech low-life.
       4   197  alt.destroy.microsoft             Do it, and do it NOW!
       5    54  alt.education.alternative         School doesn't have to
       6   790  alt.education.distance            Learning from teachers
       7    14  alt.etext                         Texts made available for
       8   123  alt.fan.jello-biafra              The Dead Kennedys' lead
       9   462  alt.games.vampire.the.masquerade  A World of Dark game.
      10    38  alt.music.dead-kennedys           Art is not bound by the
      11  1696  alt.parenting.solutions           Use misc.kids.* instead.
      12   351  alt.snail-mail                    Mail sent on paper.
      13    29  alt.tv.forever-knight             The Forever Knight
      14     9  alt.tv.the-jihad                  No description.
      15    21  alt.tv.tv-nation                  Some show called "TV
      16   100  alt.unix.wizards                  Like comp.unix.wizards,

       =set current to n, TAB=next unread, /=search pattern, c)atchup,
    g)oto, j=line down, k=line up, h)elp, m)ove, q)uit, r=toggle
      s)ubscribe, S)ub pattern, u)nsubscribe, U)nsub pattern, y)ank in/out     

If you don't have the last part, the command cheat sheet, then push capital H.

Okay, here's where the arrow keys come in. Use your down arrow to select the group you want. Then push your right arrow to go into that group. If the arrow keys don't work, use k to go up a line and j to go down. When you get to the group you want, press enter.

You can also navigate by typing the number of the group you want. For example, if I want to jump to the Forever Knight group, I just press 13 then enter. The tab takes you to the next group that has unread messages.

Now it lists the threads:

     1   +   5   21 movie endings                           cyndismith@m
     2   +      101 FK and Related Voting Booths            Anne Gargac
     3   +   2   11 noticed something                       Tish
     4   +   2   19 Sci-fi Network?                         Cyrille V.
     5   +   2   16 Mean Sci-fi!!!                          Cyrille V.
     6   +       10 Two Things                              Given Moricia
     7   +   2   13 MP3Exchanger v1.13 New Internet utilit  mp3_exchanger
     8   +        9 $1,000 a month this way?  7734          uijwbh@thebr
     9   +   4    7 We're a happy family?                   Deborah
    10   +       10 Two Things Feedback                     Given Moricia
    11   +       11 We're a happy familly re others Lacroi  Tim Van Dyke
    12   +        7 Tran-what epsiode was he in?            BeckBJD2
    13   +       49 FREE! Guaranteed Approval for Visa &    Mcreditsolutio
    14   +   2   11 beta read this!                         Deborah

    =set current to n, TAB=next unread, /=search pattern,^K)ill/select,
  a)uthor search, c)atchup, j=line down, k=line up, K=mark read,
    |=pipe, m)ail, o=print, q)uit, r=toggle all/unread, s)ave, t)ag,w=post

                            *** End of articles ***                    

The first column is the message number. The second is a plus sign showing that I haven't read the most recent follow up to this thread. The third column is how many follow ups there are followed by the size and subject of the message. Last is the name or e-mail address of the person who posted it.

Notice messages 7, 8 and 13. These are spam, and largely should be ignored. Don't reply to them, or you will most likely get yourself on a mailing list of some kind. Don't believe them, any company that would send ads to unrelated news groups should be considered disreputable. This is an ongoing problem. If you are interested in working on a solution, you may want to pick up Stopping Spam published by O'Reilly press, or join one of the many internet based anti-spam groups.

Now, what's this about the Sci-fi network? Have they stopped showing Forever Knight?

Type the number 4 and hit enter twice, this is what you get:

Mon, 24 Jan 2000 10:53:20       alt.tv.forever-knight       Thread    4
Lines 19                      Sci-fi Network?               1 Response

Newsgroups: alt.tv.forever-knight

Pardon my ignorance but I've been away for a while....

My parents just got digital cable, which about the only way to get Sci-fi
network in West Michigan, but now that I have that, is the network no
longer showing it?? I can't seem to find it!

Thank you,
*    "That's your problem, you know: you haven't seen enough            *
*    movies.   All of life's riddles are answered in the movies."       *

    =set current to n, TAB=next unread, /=search pattern,^K)ill/select,
        a)uthor search, B)ody search, c)atchup, f)ollowup, K=mark read,
        |=pipe, m)ail, o=print, q)uit, r)eply mail, s)ave, t)ag, w=post  

Okay, you happen to know that the Sci-fi channel did cancel Forever Knight and want to start a letter writing campaign to get it back on the air. After reading all the responses (by pushing the space bar to go to the next page and enter to go to the next message) and making sure that no one else has made a similar suggestion, type the letter f for follow up and type the message. The interface is a lot like pine. When you are done press ctrl-x and type y when it asks you if you want to save it. Then press enter for the save location. The next screen will have some simple reminders (Don't use long quotes, use a small signature...) and at the bottom it will say

q)uit, e)dit, i)spell, p)ost, p(o)stpone: p 

As p)ost is the default, simply press enter.

If you want to e-mail it to a friend who thinks she's the only person mourning the loss of her favorite vampire show, type m. It will ask you how you want to send the message.

Mail a)rticle, t)hread, h)ot, p)attern, T)agged articles, q)uit: t
Choose a for article, hit return and enter her e-mail address. Remember, the default is sending the thread, but threads can get very long and many times can stray off topic. You will want to read through the entire thread and consider if the follow up messages add any important information. Your friendship may be at stake.

Should you want to post a new message, instead of replying to old ones, press w. Hit enter a couple of times and type your message. From there, it is just like typing a follow up. Push ctrl-x when you are done. It will ask you if you want to q)uit, e)dit, i)spell, p)ost or p(o)spone. Choose p to post. Remember, you should only post to one group at a time.

To get out of the group, either push the left arrow or q. Both will work and get you, first out of the message, then out of the group. If you press it again, you get back to the UNIX prompt.

Remember, when you leave the newsgroup, the read messages will disappear.

Subscribing and Unsubscribing

You will not have the same interests for the rest of your life. Also, you may subscribe to a group that you later decide is too low/high traffic or you don't agree with a lot of people on the list. This is when you unsubscribe. Unsubscribing has a couple of benefits. It will speed up the time it takes to load tin and make it easier to navigate through your group list. To unsubscribe to a group, you simply use your arrow keys or type in the group number and then enter to select it and press u. This will not make the group go away automatically, but if you go into another group or quit the program and come back to the list, it will be gone.

Don't worry, this is not permanant. You can bring in the complete list of newsgroups that you have to access by pressing y for "yank in all news groups." This list is often very long and hard to manage, but you can search it. Type the slash (/) and it will ask you

Search forwards [2600]>
Here you type in the word that you are looking for, let's say punk, and take you to the next group with a reference to punk in the name or description.

This is not exactly what you were looking for, so you search again by pressing the slash.

Search forwards [punk]>

Now, punk is the default, and all you have to do is press enter. Here are some other news groups I found.


Notice that alt.music.blink-182 does not have the word punk in it. That means that it probably has the word "punk" in the description.

To subscribe to a group, select it then press s. Then, yank out all of the groups you are not subscribed to and you're ready to go.

  • You can check your mail through Pine.
  • You may want to download some files with ftp.
  • While you're at it, you should fiddle around with some miscellaneous commands and programs.

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