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Appendix A—Helper Programs

Note:Much of what is written here is now obsolete on Mac OS X. MT-NewsWatcher does its own internal binary decoding, obviating the need for binary decoder applications, and URLs which are not FTP or HTTP URLs are rarely encountered on Usenet these days.

MT-NewsWatcher uses "helper programs" to open URLs and decode extracted binary files. These programs are also very useful for other purposes, and should be part of every Mac Internet user's collection of tools.

The helper programs are available at the usual locations on the Internet for Mac shareware and freeware. Check your favorite info-mac or umich mirror site or use your favorite web search site. One nice site for Mac networking software and information is the Mac Orchard web site.

Please note that these programs were not written at and are not supported by the author of MT-NewsWatcher. If you have questions about them or want to report errors, please write directly to their authors.

Some of these programs are shareware. Please send your shareware payments to the authors of the programs.

Tip: If you get an error message telling you that MT-NewsWatcher could not find a helper program, and you know that you have the helper program installed, you probably need to rebuild your desktop. To do this, restart your Mac with the Option and Command keys held down. Keep these keys held down throughout the startup process until you see a dialog asking if you "really want to rebuild the desktop". Click the OK button when you see the dialog.

Binary Decoding Helpers

These are the helper applications that are used to decode binaries, and are called when you use the 'Extract Binaries' command.

uuUndo (Mac OS 8/9)

uuUndo is a free program written by Aaron Giles of Cornell University Medical College. It was written specifically for use with NewsWatcher, although it is also useful on its own for doing uudecoding.

uuUndo is MT-NewsWatcher's default helper program for extracting uuencode attached binaries.

uuUndo has preferences to automatically delete or move the temporary input file to the trash after decoding it. To set one of these options, use the Preferences command in the File menu.

Alternative helpers that can decode uuencoded files include Decoder ($20 shareware), YA-Decoder ($15 shareware), StUU (freeware) and uucd (freeware). For download locations, see the Mac Orchard helpers page.

Rosetta (Mac OS 8/9 and OS X)

Rosetta is a $15 shareware program by Brian Clark, that supersedes YA-Decoder, and is Carbonized, so will run on Mac OS 8/9 and X. It decodes downloaded articles in a number of common encoding formats, and has some MPEG post-processing abilities to allow some times of downloaded MPEGs to be played by QuickTime.

StuffIt Expander® (Mac OS 8/9 and OS X)

StuffIt Expander® is a free program written by Leonard Rosenthol of Aladdin Systems. It is used to deBinHex files and expand both StuffIt and Compact Pro archives. This is MT-NewsWatcher's default helper program for extracting BinHex attached binaries.

StuffIt Expander® has several preferences. To set them, use the Preferences command in the File menu. The following options are particularly important with MT-NewsWatcher, and most people like to set them as follows:

Expanding topic
Expand Archives
Delete after expanding
Expand Encoded Files
Delete after expanding
Continue to expand (if possible)
Destination topic
Same as original

There is a companion Aladdin product named DropStuff® with Expander Enhancer (DSEE). DSEE is $30 shareware. When DSEE is installed, StuffIt Expander® is able to decode uuencode files as well as BinHex files. If you have this product, you can configure MT-NewsWatcher to use StuffIt Expander® as your uudecode helper as well as your BinHex helper. We recommend uuUndo for the uudecode helper, however, since it is faster than StuffIt Expander and can handle more of the goofy formats commonly found on Usenet.

URL Helper Applications

The following is a list of helper applications that handle various URL types. These applications will be invoked when you command-click on a URL in MT-NewsWatcher. To configure which application gets called for each type of URL, open the MT-NewsWatcher preferences, go to the "Helper Applications" panel, and click on the "Edit IC Helpers" button.

Note: It is recommended that you use this button in the MT-NewsWatcher preferences to go to the correct Internet Config panel, because it works around a restriction in the Internet Control Panel, which is that the relevant panel is not visible when in the 'Basic' user mode.

Note: In Mac OS X, there is no user interface for setting up Internet Config's Helper Applications. The only way to change these currently is to run Internet Explorer, and edit the helpers in its preferences dialog

Fetch is a shareware FTP client for the Mac written by Jim Matthews of Dartmouth College.

Most people like to configure Fetch to use a default download folder. When you fetch a referenced file, MT-NewsWatcher runs Fetch, and Fetch automatically transfers the file to your download folder. If you don't configure a download folder, you have to bring Fetch to the front and use a standard file dialog to specify where you want the file to be saved.

To set a download folder in Fetch, use the Preferences command in the Customize menu, then go to the Downloading topic.

Interarchy is an Archie and FTP client for the Mac written by Peter Lewis in Australia. It is a $35 shareware program.

You can use Interarchy instead of Fetch as your helper program for fetching referenced files.

As with Fetch, most people like to configure Interarchy to use a default download folder. By default, Interarchy downloads files to the Finder desktop. If you want to change this, use the Preferences command in the Settings menu.

Netscape Communicator is a World Wide Web client developed at Netscape Communications Corporation. It is available as a free download. Any recent version will work well (4.5 or later recommended).

Internet Explorer is a World Wide Web client developed at Microsoft. It is available as a free download. Version 4.0 or later is recommended.

NCSA Telnet is a free telnet client developed by Jim Browne and others at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. It is MT-NewsWatcher's default helper for opening telnet URLs. You need version 2.4 or later of NCSA Telnet. A derivating of NCSA Telnet called BetterTelnet is also available.

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