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XIII. TIN (USENET Newsgroups):

Unlike e-mail, which delivers your message to one person, Usenet (commonly referred to as news or newsgroups) delivers your message to thousands. It is the international meeting place where people gather to discuss current events, computer trends or their favorite games and hobbies. Jumping into a Usenet discussion group can be a liberating experience -- nobody knows what you look like, how old you are or what your background is. You are judged solely on the content of your message, your ability to make a point.

The basic building block of Usenet is the "newsgroup", which is a collection of messages with a related theme. There are currently thousands of newsgroups available covering every topic imaginable. Finding one of particular interest to you can be a simple task if you know where to look.

Newsgroups are divided into a hierarchy system, much like a database. These groups are then subdivided into several broader categories that contain more specific groups, or "headers". Below is a sample of how these groups are presented:

        biz             Business related topics
        comp            Computer related topics (including software)
        misc            Discussions that dont fit into any one category
        news            Discussions on Usenet itself
        rec             Hobbies, games, and recreational related topics
        sci             Sciences other than Research Biology
        soc             Social groups, often ethnically related
        talk            Politics and related topics
        alt             Alternative or controversial related topics

The Basics Of The TIN Newsreader

You may enter TIN using the short-cut key "g news". Before TIN actually appears, it reads the active newsgroups off the server, then offers you the choice of subscribing to any new newsgroups that have been added since your last log-in session. CCN loads a few newsgroups by default, including ccn.hot.topics, hfx.general, ns.forsale, etc. Scroll down the list using your UP and DOWN arrow keys, then enter the newsgroup using the RIGHT arrow key. The [ENTER] key performs the same function as the RIGHT arrow key throughout the menu choices.

From the screen of the selected newsgroup, you may read the message and any related "threads" (discussions); post your own message; reply to the author privately via e-mail or publicly to the group; or print the message. All of the available short-cut keys are visible along the bottom of the screen. The help key is at the top. Also at the top, TIN displays the group you are in and in brackets shows you how many articles and threads are currently available within the newsgroup.


A thread is a group of messages (or discussions) with a common topic. Someone posts the original message and anyone who posts a reply contributes to the thread. Depending on the subject matter, threads can become very long and involved, with many people commenting.


CCN offers you the basic newsgroups by default to get you going. Of course, you will want to explore and find groups that meet your specific interest. You do this with the "y" (for yank) key. This command "yanks" all the available newsgroups from the news server and displays them on your screen.

Since there are literally thousands of newsgroups available, use the spacebar or the CTRL-D key to move down through the pages and the 'b' or CTRL-U keys to move upward through the pages. Notice that the newsgroups have a "u" next to them, indicating that these groups are "un-subscribed".

To subscribe to a newsgroup, simply press the "s" ("subscribe") key. The "u" will be removed, and you will now be subscribed to that particular newsgroup. Using the capital 'S', you can subscribe to a certain pattern such as *.general, subscribing you to all of the general newsgroups. If in the future, you no longer want to continue with the subscribed group, simply press the "u" key next to the newsgroup and it will be removed. As well, using the capital 'U' will unsubscribe to a pattern of groups such as all the general newsgroups.

If you wish to subscribe to a particular newsgroup you have heard about from another source, you may use the "g" (for "goto") command. TIN will ask you the name of the newsgroup; just type it in and press Enter. This saves you the trouble of scrolling and yanking. You can also search for newsgroups that match some text you specify. To do this press the "/" key. You will then be prompted for the text you want to search for. This way you can find groups you might be interested in but didn't have the exact name (for example, you could search for automobiles this way).

Posting to a newsgroup is quite simple. With the message opened on your screen, use the "r" ("reply") command to respond privately to the author via E-mail. If you want to post a public response to a message or Thread, press "f" ("followup"). To post a brand new message, press "w" ("write"). Using the Pico editor (refer to the section on pico for more information), enter your message. When finished, use CTRL-X to save and exit the editor. Answer the confirmation questions and your message will be saved and sent to the group.

When posting a message remember:

While in the Newsgroups the following commands rather than the regular Keymap are available. These are case sensitive! Remember that, '^' means to hold down the Control key while using the other key.

            0  Read the base article in current thread
            4  Read response 4 in current thread
         ^D^U  Down (^U=up) a page
         ^F^B  Down (^B=up) a page
           ^H  Show articles header
           ^K  Kill / Auto select (hot) current article
           ^L  Redraw page
           ^R  Reset .Newsrc
          ^R$  Redisplay first ($=last) page of article
         (CR)  Goto to next thread
        (TAB)  Goto next unread article
     b(SPACE)  Back (<SPACE>=forward) a page
          aA   Author forward (A=backward) search
           B   Article body search
           c   Mark all articles as read and go to group selection menu
           C   Mark all articles as read and go to next unread group
           D   Delete (cancel) current article (must have been posted by you) 
           d   Toggle rot-13 encoding/decoding for current article
          fF   Post (f=copy text) a followup
          gG   Go to first (G=last) page of article
          hH   Command help (H=toggle mini help menu)
           I   Toggle inverse video
          kK   Mark article (K=thread) as read & advance to next unread
           m   Mail article/thread/hot/pattern/tagged articles to someone 
           M   Menu of configurable options
          nN   Goto to the next (N=unread) article
           o   Output article/thread/hot/pattern/tagged articles to printer 
          pP   Goto the previous (P=unread) article
           q   Return to previous level
           Q   Quit
          rR   Reply through mail (r=copy text) to author
           s   Save article/thread/hot/pattern/tagged articles to file
           t   Tag current article for crossposting/mailing/printing/saving
           T   Return to group selection level
           v   Show version information
           w   Post an article to current group
           W   List articles posted by user
           x   Crosspost current article to another group
          zZ   Mark article (Z=thread) as unread
           /   Article forward search
           -   Show last message
          <>   Goto first (>=last) article in current thread
           *   Select article
           .   Toggle article selection
           @   Reverse article selections

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