Frequently Asked Questions

Important Note: Your humble authors got tired of writing dry formal technical prose in the rest of this document, and succumbed to the temptation to try to be funny in parts of this appendix. Sarcasm abounds here. Please do not take any of this personally! The humor-impaired should interpret my comments not as attacks on them, but as an attempt to make fun of myself for being impatient with you, my devoted and valued, if sometimes demanding, users.

  1. yEnc support?

    Does MT-NewsWatcher support the yEnc encoding that is showing up on binary groups a lot now?

    MT-NW 3.1 does not support yEnc, even via external decoders. The main issue here is that yEnc-encoded messages contain non-ASCII characters that MT-NW 3.1 strips out when saving the messages to disk. An ugly workaround is to use the 'Export' command, but then you have to drag the saved file onto a helper app manually.

    MT-NW 3.2 (on OS X) does support decoding of yEnc posts (but not posting of yEnc). I have not committed to releasing a version of MT-NW that supports yEnc on OS 9, simply because I do not have the time to develop and test on two different operating systems.

  2. Subject lists appear in the wrong font.

    Sometimes, when I open a group, MT-NewsWatcher uses a different font to display the subject list. Why does it do this?

    This happens when MT-NewsWatcher detects that there is an article in the group whose subject or author headers are in a different language, like Japanese. So it chooses to display with a font that can display Japanese, according to your Font preferences. If you don't care about reading Japanese, then set the fonts for all the different languages to use your preferred Western fonts.

    To read more about MT-NewsWatcher international text handling, see the chapter on International language support.

  3. Articles appear in a strange font

    Some articles appear with a different font that's not the one I normally use to view articles. Why?

    Such articles almost certainly have a header that specifies a character set other than ISO-8859-1, so MT-NewsWatcher is choosing a different font for display according to your Font preferences. To see what character set MT-NewsWatcher thinks the article is in, look at the Decode As submenu on the Edit menu, or show the article headers, and look for the Content-Type header.

    It may also be that the article has no Content-Type header with a charset declaration, but MT-NewsWatcher auto-detection code has kicked in, and decided that the article contains Chinese, Japanese or whatever. This sometimes happens with Western articles in which some dumb user has pasted a string of high-ASCII characters.

    To 'fix up' such an article so that it is readable, choose an appropriate character set (like "Western (ISO Latin 1)") from the Decode As submenu. The article will be re-decoded.

    To read more about MT-NewsWatcher international text handling, see the chapter on International language support.

  4. Too much quoted text error on posting

    Sometimes when I post, I get an error message complaining that there is more included (quoted) text than new text. Is this some kind of fascist restriction imposed by MT-NewsWatcher, and if so, how can I get rid of it?

    No, it is a fascist restriction imposed by your news server. Your friendly local news administrator configured your news server to do this, probably just so he or she could ruin your day. Quoting a large section of an article and adding only a few lines of your own comments is considered a very bad thing on Usenet. Many news servers are configured to reject postings which contain more quoted text than new text. To fix this, try trimming the quoted text, or add more new text of your own when you post. If you just can't manage to do this, change your quote string to something else. You can do that for just this message by doing a Show Details on the message window, typing a new quote string into the Quote String field, and hit the Change button.

    If one server always gives this error when you don't think it should, you can use a different quote string for this server, by entering a different one in the Other options panel of the News Servers dialog.

  5. My posts don't show up right away.

    I posted a message to the newsgroup, but it doesn't show up right away. What's wrong?

    First, you have to understand how MT-NewsWatcher works with the server when opening newsgroups. The subject window does not show a 'live' view of a newsgroup; it displays a snapshot of the articles on the server when the group was opened. So when you post a new article, it won't show up in the subject window until you reopen the group.

    Also, before close the subject window and you reopen the group, you'll need to do a Check for new articles on that group (to check just the selected group(s), hold down the option key when choosing this menu command). When you do this, you should see the number of unread articles for that group increase. If not, wait a few minutes and try again. Once it goes up, open the group, and your new article should be there.

    On some servers, it may take several minutes for your post to show up.

  6. Posting is very slow

    Posting takes forever. The status window appears, and the stupid beach ball cursor just spins and spins and spins. If I wait a bit and then cancel, my posting seems to go through OK. What's wrong with this brain-dead program, anyway?

    While MT-NewsWatcher has not yet achieved artificial sentience, it is not completely brain-dead either. This is a server problem, not a MT-NewsWatcher problem. Your server is very, very slow. This is a fairly common problem at some sites which run old versions of servers or misconfigured servers or seriously overloaded servers. MT-NewsWatcher takes only a few seconds to send your posting to the server, then it waits for the server to send back the final response that says "OK-posting complete" or "Error-something went wrong". MT-NewsWatcher has to wait for this final response so that it can tell you if something went wrong. Things can and do go wrong with postings, like disk full errors on the server or any of a number of other problems. MT-NewsWatcher has to let you know if there's a problem, because otherwise your posting would disappear into a big black hole without your ever realizing it, and that would not be nice. Only your server administrator can fix this problem.

  7. Posting never completes

    When I post, the progress window shows "Posting Message", but never finishes. Eventually, I get an error message saying that the server dropped the connection. What's wrong?

    If you are connected to the net via a router of some kind, like a Linksys box, then the problem could be a bug in the router firmware, which causes the sending of large packets to fail. Make sure you have the latest firmware update.

  8. The server won't let me in!

    When I try to run MT-NewsWatcher, I get a server error message saying "I can't talk to you". What does this mean? Who can't talk to me? Who wants to talk to me? I don't want to talk -- I just want to read the news, damnit!

    Almost all news servers are configured to only accept connections from local users. Running a news server is quite expensive, and letting just anyone connect would quickly swamp a server. The error message "I can't talk to you" means that your Mac's address is not in the list of addresses permitted to use the server.

    Another common cause of this problem is that your Mac does not have a domain name. Many servers are configured to require domain names. Check with your local network administrator to make certain your Mac has a domain name.

  9. Error about XOVER sometimes

    Sometimes I get this error that says "This news server fails to respond to a command which provides information about the format of XOVER request results." What does this mean?

    XOVER is a command that MT-NewsWatcher sends to the news server to get headers for articles in chunks. There is another command, list overview.fmt, which the news client is supposed to use to find out what headers are included in the XOVER data. However, some news servers which do support XOVER fail to implement list overview.fmt. The first time that MT-NewsWatcher detects this situation, it shows you this alert just in case something bad is about to happen. Normally, you can just go ahead and use XOVER anyway.

  10. Some filters just don't work

    I've made a filter on the NNTP-Posting-Host header, but it just doesn't work. When I open individual articles, the header is there. Why does this not work?

    Unfortunately, some news servers are configured so that they don't sent out any data for less common headers like NNTP-Posting-Host header, when a news client requests them. So MT-NewsWatcher just thinks that all the headers are empty. Servers are configured this way to reduce the overhead on the server.

    You can see what data your server is sending back for headers like this using a trick in the subject window. Open a group for which this filter should act, with the filter in place. Then, in the subject window, hold down the Command and Control keys, and click on the top of the Subject column. You should get a popup menu listing the various headers that were downloaded. Pick the one you are trying to filter on, and the information for that header will be displayed in the Subject column. Now you can see if you got any data from the server.

    If you find that your server behaves this way, complain to your news server provider, and consider changing ISPs.

  11. Filters file not found errors

    I reinstalled my system software/copied my MT-NewsWatcher files to a different machine, and just about have everything running smoothly again. But now when I run MT-NewsWatcher, it complains because it cannot find the filters file. How do I fix this?

    MT-NewsWatcher keeps track of the filters file using an internal alias, which is stored in the preferences file. If you move files around, it can lose track of where the file is that this alias points to. When that happens, you'll get an error on startup.

    To fix this, go to the Filtering options preferences panel, and click the Set button. Choose your filters file in the file dialog, and OK the preferences. If you don't have a filters file anywhere, simply make a new filter, and MT-NewsWatcher will create a new filters file for you.

  12. 'Server not found' errors

    When I move my user group lists between two machines, I get a 'Server not found' dialog every time I open them. Why does this happen?

    MT-NewsWatcher stores a unique identity for each news server in the user group list, as a check that the server being used is the one that the list was created with. When you move user group lists between two machines, the server IDs do not match, and MT-NewsWatcher shows this dialog.

    If MT-NewsWatcher cannot find the news server for a user group list by ID, it then searches for a matching server by the server address and name. If a matching server is found by these methods, then it will be used. Otherwise, you'll get options to create a new server using the information in the user group list, open the groups on the default server, or cancel opening the user group list.

  13. Public news servers?

    My organization is too cheap to run its own news server. Are there any public servers I can use?

    Yes, a few sites permit anyone to use their servers, usually by mistake. You can often find lists of such servers by doing a web search for "public news servers", though you'll be lucky to find one which is publicly accessible, and has a good news feed.

    An alternative is to subscribe to one of the commercial news services, such as NewsGuy or These provide superior news feeds, generally have long retention times, and some of them actively filter spam.

  14. Can't find helper program error.

    MT-NewsWatcher complains that it can't find a helper program. I know I installed it -- I can see it right there in my Finder window. What's wrong?

    You need to rebuild your desktop. See Appendix A for details.

  15. What's that padlock icon for?

    What's the funky little icon in the bottom left corner of my article and message windows?

    It's a little padlock, and it's used to lock window positions. See the sections titled Article Windows and Subject Windows for details.

  16. Why don't spoiler characters do anything?

    I open an article which I know has a spoiler character in, but MT-NewsWatcher doesn't do the normal sections thing with it. What's up?

    This is one feature that has been left out of MT-NewsWatcher 3.0. MT-NewsWatcher 3.0 now treats articles as MIME messages, so it can do all the cool MIME stuff like separate out inline binaries, detect HTML sections and so on. Unfortunately, spoiler characters don't fit nicely into this picture, as it would require the message to be split up in a way which makes no sense from a MIME perspective.

    This feature may reappear in an update to MT-NewsWatcher 3.0. If it's important to you, then let your voice be heard.

  17. How do I go back and reread an old article?

    How do I go back and reread an old article?

    There are several ways to do this. See the section titled Reading Old Articles in the Getting Started chapter for details. You could also use the Query Article Index command if you remember some of the contents of the article.

  18. Sharing between several users

    Can more than one person use MT-NewsWatcher on my Mac? Can I use MT-NewsWatcher in the Mac lab at my school? Can I use MT-NewsWatcher with more than one news server?

    Yes, yes, and yes. These questions are all related, which is why they have been cleverly grouped together into a single FAQ. The basic trick is described in the section titled The MT-NewsWatcher Prefs File. Using MT-NewsWatcher on a shared Mac or in a lab is discussed in detail in the section titled Installing and Configuring MT-NewsWatcher.

  19. Offline news reading

    How do I read the news offline? My phone bills are killing me.

    Use some other program. Sorry to be so blunt, but MT-NewsWatcher does not support offline newsreading. It's strictly an online reader.

    There is a very nice offline newsreader named MacSOUP. It's shareware.

  20. Not all articles in a group are fetched.

    I open a subject window, but it doesn't display all the articles in the group. What's wrong?

    Check the Maximum number of articles to fetch option in the Newsreading Options preferences topic. Is it set to small number like 400? If it is, that's the problem. See the description of this option in the Preferences chapter for details.

  21. The group list shows more articles than I get.

    My user group list window claims that there are lots of unread articles in a group, but when I open the group, the number goes way down. How come?

    Because the world isn't perfect, that's how come. That number MT-NewsWatcher shows you in your user group list is just an estimate based on imperfect information it gets from your news server. News servers are stupid, and seem to be constitutionally incapable of counting. This is especially common with poorly maintained servers, and it is especially noticeable right after you subscribe to a new group. Your server administrator can help minimize this problem. Ask him or her to check to make certain that the "low article numbers" in the "active file" are being updated properly.

    In MT-NewsWatcher 3.1, you can address this problem by checking the 'Use accurate (but slow) article counts' checkbox in the Options panel of the News servers dialog.

  22. How do I create a new group?

    There's an elaborate process of discussion and voting which is supposed to precede the creation of a new group. This issue is discussed in the news.announce.newusers and news.announce.newgroups groups. After everything has been discussed and approved according to the rules, get your news server administrator to create the group for you.

  23. Searching article bodies

    Why don't you let me search the bodies of articles? That would be way cool.

    Yeah, it would be way cool. Unfortunately, the standard NNTP protocol used by news servers and news clients like MT-NewsWatcher doesn't have any features for body searches. Thus, to do this, MT-NewsWatcher would have to fetch the full bodies of all the articles in the entire group over the network and search them locally on your Mac. While this is possible in theory, it would be an enormous waste of valuable network resources. Encouraging people to do this by adding such a feature to the program would be irresponsible.

    If you absolutely must do this, you can easily save all the articles in a group to a file on your Mac, then use your favorite word processor or text editor to do the searching.

    However, you can search in the bodies of articles that you have read, by using the Query Article Index command. See the chapter on Searching for more information.

  24. They won't let me use MT-NewsWatcher!

    My service provider/computing center/IS department/network administrator/news administrator says that MT-NewsWatcher is evil and they will never support it. They tell me to use nn/rn/trn/strn/tin on UNIX and like it or lump it.

    If you wish, ask your administrators to send me email if they have questions or complaints about my program. I'll try to reason with them. I can't install or configure or repair their news server for them, but I can talk to them about the general philosophy of remote newsreading and about my program.

    Are they still using VT100 terminals at your site? Punch cards, perhaps? Sigh.

    If you can't convince your service provider to support MT-NewsWatcher, try finding a new service provider (like NewsGuy). That will send a message.

  25. Why all the empty space when I scroll to the bottom?

    I'd like to report an error in MT-NewsWatcher. When I scroll to the bottom of a window, usually there's lots of extra white space at the bottom of the window.

    You've been playing with the preferences again, haven't you? You must have turned on the Scroll by whole pages preference.

    This is a feature. When you scroll down by a page, MT-NewsWatcher always makes the previous bottom line in the window the new top line in the window, even at the end of the text or list. This makes it much easier for the eye to pick up reading where it left off. Most people like this feature. And no, it does not violate Apple's human interface guidelines.

  26. Not enough memory!

    MT-NewsWatcher complains that it cannot complete an operation because there isn't enough memory. I have 512 megs of RAM on my spanking new G3. Isn't that enough? What's wrong? What should I do?

    Quit MT-NewsWatcher. Select the MT-NewsWatcher program icon. Use the Finder's Get Info command. Give MT-NewsWatcher more memory. This is the same way you give any Mac program more memory.

    MT-NewsWatcher does try to make use of temporary memory when it can, but under some circumstances you might still need to increase its memory allocation. Two things that can use a lot of memory are keeping the full groups list for a server open, and opening very large newsgroups.

    Tip: To close a full groups window and free the memory that it uses, hold down the option key when closing the window. Closing the window normally just hides it, and does not free the memory that it uses.

  27. Sharing with a UNIX .newsrc file

    I use both MT-NewsWatcher and a UNIX newsreader with a shared .newsrc file over a dialup connection, and it takes a really long time to transfer my .newsrc file. I only subscribe to a few groups. What's wrong?

    Some UNIX newsreaders are really stupid, and insist on storing entries in your .newsrc file for unsubscribed groups as well as subscribed groups. There's a trick you can use to fix this in some cases. See the chapter on Sharing Newsrc Files for details.

  28. Can't connect to server.

    MT-NewsWatcher complains that it can't connect to the server when I run it. It was working fine yesterday. What's wrong with my Mac?

    Relax -- nothing's wrong with your Mac, at least probably not. This just means that your news server is down or unreachable. MT-NewsWatcher tried to connect to it, but got no answer. Check with your local network administrator.

    The other possibility is that your news server only allows connections from some internet addresses, and you are trying to connect from elsewhere (like from home). If you're not trying to abuse your news server provider, then perhaps they'll give you access from alternative locations.

  29. Will it run on System 7/my old 68k machine?

    I need to use MT-NewsWatcher under System 7. I have 42 reasons why I can't upgrade to System 7.

    Give me a break. It's impossible to do everything and support everything. MT-NewsWatcher doesn't support System 6 or Sytem 7 and it never will. If you're still using System 7, there's tons of stuff you can't do, and running MT-NewsWatcher is only one of them.

    MT-NewsWatcher requires Mac OS 8.1 or later, with version 1.0.3 or later of the Appearance Manager extension installed. Earlier versions had bugs, or too limited functionality to be useful.

    MT-NewsWatcher 3.0 and later don't run on 68k Macs either. Apple hasn't released a 68k machine for a number of years now, and the additional work required to support 68k cannot be justified given the small number of remaining users.

  30. Opening some groups is really slow.

    MT-NewsWatcher takes a really, really long time to open subject windows -- several minutes. Is this normal?

    No, it is not normal, except for really huge groups. It should only take a few seconds to open small groups (<100 articles), even over dialup connections (well, maybe 10-15 seconds for 100 articles with a dialup connection). The most likely cause of this problem is a really old news server which doesn't support what's called the "overview database". The only solution to this problem is to nag your news administrator to upgrade to a modern news server like INN.

    An alternative is that you a reading habit that leads to lots of discontiguous chunks of unread articles, that can also be slow to fetch. This is described in the chapter on fetching speed.

  31. Windows version?

    Can you recommend a good newsreader for Windows? Will MT-NewsWatcher ever be available for Windows?

    No, and no.

    Do you mean that (1) you aren't familiar with them, so you can't recommend one, or (2) there aren't any good ones, or (3) Windows is a cheap inferior rip-off that should be avoided at all costs?

    (1) and (3).

  32. Where do I get the helper programs?

    Most of the helper programs are available at your favorite Info-Mac or Umich FTP archive mirror site, or you can try using your favorite web search site. One good source of Mac networking programs is the Mac Orchard" site.

  33. How do I cross-post?

    Are you sure you want to cross-post? Does your message really have to go to more than one newsgroup? You're not spamming, are you?

    Use command-click to select the groups to which you want to post, then use the New Posting command. You can also type additional group names in the Newsgroups field separated by commas or returns, and you can drag additional groups from any group list window to the Newsgroups field.

  34. Server gives error about "XHDR"

    When I try to open a subject window, I get a server error message telling me that "XHDR" is not a legal command. What's wrong?

    "XHDR" is a common extension to the standard NNTP protocol which MT-NewsWatcher uses to communicate with news servers. MT-NewsWatcher requires this extension. All modern news servers implement this extension. Your news server must be very, very old indeed. The only solution is to nag your server administrator to upgrade to a modern server like INN. There's just no way to make MT-NewsWatcher work without "XHDR".

  35. Server gives error about "header not in index"

    When I try to open a subject window, I get a server error message that is something like "501 header 'newsgroups' not in index". What's wrong?

    This error indicates that the news server that you use has been configured so that it doesn't index some headers (in this case, the "newsgroups" header), and so cannot send back newsgroup headers in resonse to an "XHDR" request from MT-NewsWatcher. Some servers (e.g. Supernews) are configured this way to reduce server load.

    MT-NewsWatcher tries to shield you from this problem, and should in most cases succeed. If you still see it, try disabling any filters that are using the header that the server is complaining about.

  36. Losing server connection on check for new groups

    Whenever MT-NewsWatcher tries to check for new groups, I get the error message "Lost connection to server". What's the problem?

    Your news server is not properly configured. Ask your news server administrator what kind of server you are using. If it's an ancient "Bnews" server, check to make certain that the server was properly built with the "ACTIVE_TIMES_FILE" symbol defined. Better yet, nag your server administrator to upgrade to a modern news server like INN.

  37. Server error when checking for new groups

    Whenever MT-NewsWatcher tries to check for new groups, I get the error message "Cannot open newsgroup date file". What's the problem?

    Your news server is not properly configured. Ask your news server administrator to make certain that the "active.times" file exists and is being updated properly.

  38. Check for new articles does not work.

    MT-NewsWatcher never finds any new articles when I use the "Check for New Articles" command. I know there are new articles, because if I quit and rerun MT-NewsWatcher, it finds them. How can I fix this?

    Try turning off the Don't open new connection when checking for new articles option in the Server Options news servers panel. Better yet, nag your server administrator to upgrade to a modern news server like INN.

  39. Sharing group lists between machines.

    Can I use MT-NewsWatcher on more than one Mac and have it somehow magically synchronize my user group lists?

    Yes. Here's two ways to do this: The first way is to use a personal MT-NewsWatcher floppy disk which contains your prefs file and user group list file, and carry the floppy around with you. The second way is to store your user group list file as a .newsrc file on a remote host and use the MT-NewsWatcher feature which fetches and puts back the .newsrc file for you. See the chapter on Sharing Newsrc Files for details.

  40. Other NewsWatchers

    I've heard rumors that there are other versions of NewsWatcher which have different features. Is this true? Where can I get them? What do they do? Why don't you just combine all of them? What's the history of NewsWatcher? Is it a group programming project?

    MT-NewsWatcher is one of a small family of programs based on John Norstad's original NewsWatcher source code. The three major derived versions of NewsWatcher are Value-Added NewsWatcher (VA-NewsWatcher) by David Brewster, Bob Boonstra, and Brian Clark, Yet Another NewsWatcher (YA-NewsWatcher) by Brian Clark, and MT-NewsWatcher.

    The genealogy looks something like this (time goes to the right)

       ------------------ NewsWatcher
         \         \
          \         ------------------------ MT-NewsWatcher
           \          /
            --------------- VA-NewsWatcher
                ---------------------------- YA-NewsWatcher
                                     ---------------------------- Thoth?

    The bridge between VA-NewsWatcher and MT-NewsWatcher represents a small chunk of filtering code which was used as the start of the MT-NewsWatcher's filtering code. Other than that, MT-NewsWatcher has been developed in parallel to YA-NewsWatcher, rather than being a derivative of it.

  41. Development and beta versions

    What do the letters "d" and "b" stand for in MT-NewsWatcher version numbers?

    "d" stands for "development". "b" stands for "beta test". For example, version 3.0b12 is "the 12th beta test version of MT-NewsWatcher 3.0". In general, all development versions precede all beta versions. So, for example, version 3.0d17 is earlier than 3.0b15. Version 3.0 final has no letter, and is just plain "3.0". All of the development and beta versions are earlier (older) than version 3.0 final. This is a standard version numbering convention in the Mac world, not something made up just for MT-NewsWatcher.

  42. French version

    Je suis francophone. MT-NewsWatcher existe-t-il en français ?

    Oui, Jean-Pierre Kuypers traduit MT-NewsWatcher en français. La version française est disponible sur

  43. Other translations

    Is MT-NewsWatcher available in any other languages?

    Not currently, If you'd like to do a translation to a different language, please contact the author.

  44. Corrupted binaries from Stuffit Expander

    When I extract uuencode binaries, the resulting decoded files are often corrupt. What's wrong?

    Are you using StuffIt Expander with DSEE as your uudecode helper? Try uuUndo instead -- it does a better job with some of the uuencode formats commonly found on Usenet.

    Stuffit Expander can also get confused by the way that MT-NewsWatcher uniquifies file names to avoid duplicates (e.g. it will call a file NicePicture-1.gif). Stuffit sometimes thinks that the numerals on the end of the file name indicate that this is a multipart Stuffit archive. Renaming the files in the Finder usually fixes this.

  45. AppleScript support

    Can I use MT-NewsWatcher with AppleScript?

    Yes, and the degree of AppleScript support is increasing with every release.

    MT-NewsWatcher supports the four required core events to open the program, open saved user group list and message files, print saved message files, and quit.

    MT-NewsWatcher also supports a standard URL suite for news, nntp, and mailto URLs. You can tell MT-NewsWatcher to get a news article and display it in an article window. You can also tell MT-NewsWatcher to open a mail message window addressed to someone.

    The program includes an Apple event terminology resource, so you can get more information by using the Open Dictionary command in Apple's Script Editor program.

    For documentation on the extensive AppleScript support in other areas of the program, see the chapter on AppleScripting MT-NewsWatcher.

  46. Supporting URL events in other applications

    I'm a programmer, and I'm writing a Mac networking program. I'd like to make my program work as a MT-NewsWatcher helper. Are there any standards for the Apple Events I should support?

    Yes, the Mac Internet developer community has a standard URL Apple event suite. If your program implements this simple suite, it will work with MT-NewsWatcher.

    For details on the standard URL suite, get the following documents:

  47. Using MT-NewsWatcher to handle news URLs

    I'm a programmer, and I'm writing a Mac networking program. I'd like to use MT-NewsWatcher as a helper program for when people command-click news and nntp URLs in my program. Can I do this?

    Yes! Please do it! Use our new URL suite. See the documents mentioned in the previous item for details. You might also find the plain NewsWatcher source code helpful for figuring out how to implement URL support in your program. Get the source code from our NU FTP site and look at the url.c module. See the next item for more information. Or, better yet, use the newer built-in features in Internet Config to do this for you. See the Internet Config programmer's kit for details.

  48. Source code availability

    I'm a Mac programmer. Do you have any source code I can learn from or use in my program?

    The source code for MT-NewsWatcher is not currently available, mainly because I don't have time to keep a source distribution up to date and building with the latest tools, or to deal with technical questions regarding the source. Neither do I want to encourage a rash of minor derivative programs appearing, which would also increase my support load.

    However, the complete CodeWarrior C source code for the original NewsWatcher (on which MT-NewsWatcher is based) is available at <URL:>.

    This is all plain ANSI C code. Many of the modules are reusable, including the low level TCP/IP, news, mail, and ftp networking modules.

  49. Including MT-NewsWatcher on CD-ROMs etc

    I'd like to include MT-NewsWatcher with the book I'm writing, on a CD-ROM disk I'm publishing, or with some commercial software or other materials my company sells for a profit. Can I do this?

    Please write. We'll talk about it.

    Please note that MT-NewsWatcher is copyright by Simon Fraser (parts copyright Northwestern University), and the copyright notice explicitly prohibits redistributing the program for a profit or together with other software, products, publications, or services which are sold for a profit without our permission. MT-NewsWatcher is "freeware", but it is not "public domain" software.

  50. How much memory should I give it?

    How much memory should I give MT-NewsWatcher?

    That's not an easy question. The answer depends on many factors, including whether have virtual memory turned on, how many groups your server carries, how many large article and subject windows you need to have open at the same time, and whether you frequently read groups with binaries.s

    MT-NewsWatcher ships with a 4Mb partition, which should be plenty for normal use. You might want to increase this to 6Mb or 8Mb if you regularly do one of the following:

    Have one or more Full Group Lists open.
    Many servers carry more than 32,000 groups, so the full groups list is very large, and can take up 1Mb or more of memory. MT-NewsWatcher only loads the full groups list when you have the window open, so closing these windows will save you some memory.
    Open groups with lots of articles
    Some groups, especially the binaries groups, can be very large, containing 10,000 articles or more. If regularly open groups of this size, MT-NewsWatcher might need more memory.
    Read groups with large images or other binaries
    When MT-NewsWatcher decodes and displays images, it tries to use temporary memory when it can, and will also use temporary files on disk for binaries when it is low on memory. To avoid hitting the disk, allocate more memory to the program, and image viewing will be faster.

    If you get frequent 'Out of memory' errors, then quit MT-NewsWatcher, select the application's icon in the Finder, and use the Get Info command. In the window that comes up, switch to the memory panel if necessary (Mac OS 8.5 and later). Increase the number in the 'Preferred size' field by 500k or so, and close the window.

  51. My posts don't appear in some groups

    Is there an error in MT-NewsWatcher's cross-posting feature? I cross-posted an article to several groups, but it never showed up in any of the groups.

    Was one of the groups moderated? That's most likely the problem. When any of the groups to which you post an article is moderated, your news server mails the article to the moderator instead of posting it immediately. It doesn't even get posted to the other unmoderated groups until the moderator approves it. This is how news servers work. There's nothing MT-NewsWatcher can do about this problem.

    It may also be that your news server is slow to show newly posted articles in a group. Wait for a few minutes, and try opening the groups again.

  52. Filtering out adult groups

    I'm a parent or a teacher, and I don't want my children or students to be able to read the sex groups. Is there anything I can do to lock out these groups?

    This is a big problem on the Internet in general, not just with Usenet news. Even if you manage to block the sex groups on Usenet, you still have the problem of keeping the kids out of the sex FTP sites, mailing lists, web sites, chat sessions, etc..

    For news, there are ways to block selected groups at the news server end. News administrators can configure the server to require special "authentication" usernames and passwords for selected groups. MT-NewsWatcher fully supports this kind of server authentication. News administrators can also block selected groups altogether based on the IP address or domain name of the client. Some service providers offer such filtered news service for parents and teachers. Check with your provider to see if they offer such a service.

    MT-NewsWatcher currently does not offer any special features to block access to selected groups in the MT-NewsWatcher program itself. Many people have requested such a feature. They usually suggest some kind of password protection they can set up to keep their kids out of the groups they consider to be objectionable.

    I hesitate to try to implement such a feature. The main reason is that any scheme I come up with has to be undoable. If a parent or teacher forgets their password, there has to be some way for them to fix the problem. For example, if I were to implement such a feature, the way to undo it would probably be to simply delete the "MT-NewsWatcher Prefs" file. I would have to mention this fact prominently in the documentation.

    It's clear that any mechanism which parents and teachers can use to undo password protection can also be used by the kids themselves! This is the fundamental problem. In my experience, kids are generally much smarter about computers than are their parents or teachers.

    Parents and teachers can tell their kids and students that they are simply prohibited from reading certain groups. If you don't trust them to obey you, why do you think they will obey you when you tell them not to try to break easily broken password schemes?

    In short, there are fundamental architectural problems with trying to implement any kind of security features inside MT-NewsWatcher proper. The only sound architecture for security is at the server end, and these mechanisms already exist. For this reason, I have no plans to attempt to implement any additional kind of security in MT-NewsWatcher proper.

    Having said all this, if you feel you absolutely must do something about this problem, and your service provider doesn't have any filtering service, you can try using a text editor or word processor to edit the full group list which is stored on the "MT-NewsWatcher Prefs" file. Delete the groups you don't like so they don't appear in the full group list window. However, all the kids have to do to get these groups back is use the Rebuild Full Group List command in the Special menu. In addition, any kid who knows how to read and has even a moderate amount of computer skills can easily get this MT-NewsWatcher user document and figure out how to build their own personal preferences file which bypasses your "protected" full group list altogether. It's ridiculously simple. So don't fool yourself and think that you have found an adequate solution to the problem. Again, the only adequate solution to this problem is to use the existing filtering mechanisms at the server end. Even then, this only solves the problem for Usenet news, not for other Internet services.

    There are a number of commercial products available on the market which claim to block objectionable Internet material in general, both for news and for other Internet services like the web. You might like to check into these products. I've never used any of them, and therefore cannot give you any advice in this area. You're on your own.

  53. HTML in news

    I like to put ASCII pictures and quote full song lyrics from my favorite Garth Brooks tunes in my signature. I can't do this in MT-NewsWatcher, because of your stupid "McQuary limit". I also get a perverse thrill out of posting news articles hardly anyone else can read because they're so mangled. I'm a big fan of HTML, quoted printable encoding, and random line breaks for this reason. Your stupid program doesn't support these things either, as far as I can tell. In general, I'm just the fun-loving kind of person who really enjoys annoying other people. What should I do?

    Use Netscape Communicator. It's exactly what you need.

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