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Illustrated Hands-On Guide to Usenet

Consultez la version française de ce guide.

Starting to Use Usenet

Usenet is complex and newsreader programs can take a while to master. So don't be frustrated if it takes you a while to figure out how everything works. To get you started, I'll take you through the process of performing three basic Usenet activities:

• Searching for photos
• Reading messages from other people
• File sharing

In a previous section, I suggested that you use one of the recommended Usenet service providers (Thundernews, Newsdemon, Binverse, Usenext, Giganews, Astraweb, or Easynews). And in our examples, we'll use one particular newsreader (NewsBin). Nevertheless, the general principles we will discuss will work with any Usenet provider and any newsreader.

Before we start, I want to take a moment to go over a few important ideas.

As we discussed earlier, Usenet is a worldwide system of newsgroups used for both discussions and file sharing. Newsgroups contain ARTICLES (often referred to as POSTINGS or POSTS) sent in by people around the world.

To have a discussion, people send articles — consisting of text — to a particular newsgroup. Other people read the articles and send replies of their own to the same newsgroup. This is a lot like having an email discussion, except that all the articles are sent to a newsgroup where anyone can see them.

To share files, people send articles containing binary data, rather than text. A small file can be uploaded as a single article. Larger files must be broken into parts, which are then sent out separately, one part per article. A large file, such as a DVD, can require of a great many separate articles. (Fortunately, the software does all of the work.) At the other end, the various parts are downloaded and the newsreader program puts them back together to recreate the original file. (Again, the software does all of the work.)

Thus, when you look at the contents of a newsgroup, you will see mostly text or files, depending on the purpose of that newsgroup. Modern newsreaders know how to handle such files automatically, so you don't need to concern yourself with a lot of details. As you will see, this is the case with NewsBin. (For more details, see the Usenet tutorial.)

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