setting up newsgroups in your favourite browser

Q I want to read Usenet newsgroups, but I'm having a problem linking to them. Every time I enter alt.whatever, an error message claims that I've entered the wrong DNS server. How do I find out what server to use?

- Kenny Tan

A Newsgroups are very handy if you have a technical problem to resolve, a special interest to discuss with other enthusiasts, or an issue to share with sympathetic listeners. And these days they are as easy to access as any Web page, since you don't need to install a separate newsreader program.

To set up a browser to read newsgroups, you must first tell it the name of the computer where your ISP stores newsgroup postings. For example, if your ISP's main address is, its newsgroup server may have a name like Contact your ISP to learn the actual name.

Once you've configured your browser to check the proper ISP server, download a complete list of current newsgroups. This process can take a few minutes -- more than 25,000 newsgroups exist in cyberspace. Next, search that list for groups you want to read, and then subscribe to them. Once you've done all that, you can log on to the server and retrieve messages in the groups you've subscribed to. Here's how to manage this task in Internet Explorer and Netscape Communicator.

Internet Explorer. A setup wizard helps you connect to your provider's newsreader and download newsgroups:

1. Click the Mail icon on the standard toolbar and select Read News from the drop-down list. The Internet Connection Wizard will prompt you for your name, your e-mail address, and the name of the dial-up connection you use to link to your ISP (unless you are on a PC at work with a constant Net connection). Most important, it will ask you the name of the server on your ISP where news messages are posted.

Read newsgroups from your browser by specifying the name of your ISP's newsgroup server
2. When the setup wizard has finished, Outlook Express launches. It asks if you want to view a list of available newsgroups. Click Yes.3. In the Newsgroups dialogue box, first make sure that the All tab is selected; then in the Display newsgroups which contain box, type a word describing the topic you're interested in -- orchids, for example. Next, pick a newsgroup from the resulting list, click Subscribe, and click Go to.

4. To read a message that's posted to the newsgroup, click its subject.

5. To read newsgroup messages in future sessions, click Internet Explorer's Mail icon, select Read News, and double-click the newsgroup name in Outlook Express.

Netscape Communicator. Follow these eight steps to identify where your ISP stores newsgroup messages, to subscribe to groups, and to download messages:

1. From the main menu, select Edit--Preferences. Click the plus sign next to Mail & Groups in the Categories list, select Groups Server, enter the name of your ISP's newsgroup server, and click OK.

2. Head to Netscape Mail by selecting Communicator--Messenger Mailbox.

3. To download a list of current newsgroups, select File--Subscribe to Discussion Groups from the menu and then click the Get Groups button. You'll observe that a Receiving discussion groups message appears at the bottom of the screen.

4. After downloading the list of newsgroups, you next have to click on the Search for a Group tab. In the Search for box, type a single word that describes the topic you're interested in or the name of a Usenet newsgroup you wish to read. Remember, your browser searches newsgroup names, not content descriptions. Next, click the Search Now button.

5. Scroll through the list of discussion groups that the searcher found, highlight the one you want to read, and click Subscribe. A check mark will appear in the Subscribe column. Click OK.

6. To read the newsgroup, click the drop-down list in the Location toolbar, select the newsgroup, select Download all headers if you want to read all messages that have been posted, and click Download. To download only a selection of messages, specify the number of headers, and check the Mark remaining headers as read box. The next time you download messages from the newsgroup, you will download only the newest ones.

7. To read a message, click its header.8. To read new messages in the future, simply choose Communicator--Messenger Mailbox, select a newsgroup, and click the Get Msg icon in the Navigation toolbar.

- Judy Heim

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