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Once you have installed NewsCoaster, run it by doubleclicking on its icon.

Firstly, virtually every gadget has a 'help bubble'. If you want to find out what something does, move the mouse over it, leave it still, and after a few seconds a bubble will pop up, telling you what it does. This is sometimes easier than continually consulting this documentation.

When loading NewsCoaster for the first time, you will be asked to set up a new user. Users are covered in more detail here, but for now, enter in a user name for yourself (eg, your name or initials - must be at least 3 characters long), and click 'Okay'. If you are going to be the only person using this program, you need never worry about users again, but it is possible set up NewsCoaster for multiple users, each with their own news messages, settings, and optional password protection.

(Note 1 - you may decide to set up a password for yourself. If so, simply tick the 'Use Password?' box, and then enter a password (at least 4 characters). Everytime you run NewsCoaster in future, you will be required to enter your login and password. Your password (and whether the password protection is on or off) can be changed by selecting the 'Change Password' option from the 'Preferences' menu.)

(Note 2 - NewsCoaster as a default stores its news messages in the NewsCoaster directory (designated as 'PROGDIR:'). You can change the directory by selecting any folder for 'News Directory'.)

(Note 3 - If you are upgrading from a version previous to 1.23, then you will already have new messages being stored in 'PROGDIR:', so do *not* change this if you still want to access your old news items and settings. If you wish to store news items elsewhere, then see later.)

After this, the NewsCoaster main window will open.

You now need to set up your account details so the NewsCoaster can operate properly. To do this, select Program Settings from the Preferences menu, and enter the following information:

Accounts page

Your Name: Your name which will appear in the 'From' field of outgoing messages.

Email for Posting: Your email address; again this will appear in the 'From' field. This doesn't have to be a correct one, in particular, you may wish to apply a 'spam block'. Eg, my address is mdwh2@cheerful.com, but I enter mdwh2@NOSPAM.cheerful.com - the reason for this is that readers of the newsgroup can realise that you have to edit the 'NOSPAM.' out (and it is wise to put instructions to do this in my .sig - see later), but I avoid automatic spamming. If you are unsure, just put your real email address. Whatever you do, you must specify an email address of the form user@domain (ie, it must have the '@' character).

Real Email for Emailing: If you wish to send email with NewsCoaster, enter your email address (ie, without any 'spam blocks').

Select your time zone, and tick the DST ('Daylight Summer Time') if relevant (if you are currently one hour ahead of your normal time zone, then this box should be ticked).

Now go to the Servers page.

NewsCoaster can cope with multiple servers, but for now you need to enter at least one for it to connect to. Click on the text 'news' in the list, then click 'Edit Server'. In the window that appears, enter in the newsserver - you should have been given one to use by your ISP. If you don't know the address ask your ISP. Alternatively, there are public ones available.

If your newsserver requires authentication (most don't!), the tick the 'NNTP-Auth?' box, and enter your user name and password into the relevant boxes.

Click okay - a requester will appear just click either for now (it doesn't matter since you haven't downloaded any news yet).

Now go to the Write page.

If you wish, you may specify some signatures ('.sigs'), you can have up to eight. Signatures are automatically appended at the end of every message you write, and you can specify a default one for each individual newsgroup. This might include your name, address, URLs, quotes or whatever. You should avoid making .sigs too big, in particular, it should be smaller than 80 characters wide, and 4 characters deep - people don't want to have to download you .sig everytime you post a message!

You don't have to specify .sigs if you don't want to - you can always add/edit them later. The other options in this window aren't essential for now, but you can read about them here if you wish.

When you are done, select 'Okay' - the changes are automatically saved to disk (under the file '.prefs' in the NewsCoaster folder).

You now need to subscribe to some newsgroups. Either you will know the name of the newsgroup you want to subscribe to (eg, comp.sys.amiga.misc), or you can download an entire group listing for your newsserver. Note that newsservers don't carry every newsgroup, but if it is a common (as in comp.sys.amiga.misc), you can be reasonably sure of it existing on your server.

Read Downloading a group list before continuing, if you wish to do so.

To subscribe to a newsgroup, you must set up a folder in the NewsCoaster settings (and on your hard drive, to store messages). Select New Newsgroup, and enter the newsgroup name in the 'Newsgroup Name' field. If you want to limit the number of messages downloaded each time, then change the cycle gadget which says 'Unlimited Messages per Download' to say 'Maximum # of Messages to Download', and then enter the number in the text box below this gadget. If I'm not interested much in a newsgroup, I will usually choose this option with a value of 50 to 100. Choose whether you want online or offline reading (offline will fetch the entire messages, which you can then read when offline; online will only download the headers, telling you the message subject, who sent it etc, and you must be online to read the message).

Make sure the 'Subscribe' checkbox is ticked (it is by default), and click 'Okay'. An entry for your group will appear in the groups listing on the left hand side of the main window. An 'S' in the right-most column means you are currently subscribed to that group, ie, news items will be downloaded when you select 'Fetch News'. To change the newsgroup settings, doubleclick on its entry, or select it and then select 'Edit Newsgroup' from the Newsgroups menu, and
the Edit Newsgroup window will appear. If you decide later you want to stop downloading news messages for this group, but don't want to delete the messages you have already, you simply untick the 'Subscribe' box. If you wish to delete the newsgroup entry, along with all the news messages it contains, then select 'Delete Newsgroups' from the Newsgroups menu.

Lastly, you should not turn off your computer without quitting NewsCoaster properly first. It won't be a disaster if you do, but some settings may be lost. Always select 'Quit' from the Project menu (or click the close button of the main window).