Once you have set up your account and newsgroup settings, you are ready to fetch some news. Go online, and then select 'Fetch News' from the Project menu. A status window appears giving you information on the progress. You may choose to abort at any time. If this is the first time you have downloaded for one or more newsgroups, you may be asked how many messages you wish to download. In particular, if you set the group to 'Unlimited messages per Download', then you will be asked whether to download all available messages, or just the 100 most recent ones. In this situation, you are strongly recommended to choose the latter, since there are be hundreds or even thousands of messages on some newsgroups at any one time.
From then on, each time you fetch news, NewsCoaster will download the ones which have appeared since you last downloaded (for that newsgroup). Either all of these messages will be downloaded, or if you set a maximum which is less than the number of new messages, then only the most recent of those new messages will be downloaded.
When you select a newsgroup in the left hand list of the main window, the messages inside appear in the right hand list. A 'N' indicates the message is new, ie, you haven't read it yet. By default, messages are sorted by date; most recent are at the bottom. By clicking on the column headings, you can change the sorting, eg, click on 'Subject' to sort by subject.
To view a message, simply doubleclick on it (or select it, and select 'Read Message' from the Messages menu). The View window appears displaying the message, see here for a description of the various buttons.
At the top is the message header, which contains information about the message. The message itself (the 'body') is given below that. A '>' at the left of the message indicates that what follows is quoted text, ie, it was written not by the author of this message, but by whoever she replied to. For example:
Hello, what is written here is written by the author of the message you are reading.
> But this was written by the person the author
> was replying to
> > And this is text quoted for the message before that
and back to the author of this message again.
Sometimes in can be difficult to work out who said what when there is lots of different levels of quoting, especially when text has over spilled. For example:
> Written by the person being replied to
> > The person before that. But this line is a very long line, so when
> quoted it spilled over. So
> > all of this is still the 'person before that'!
So be careful you don't accuse someone of writing something that they didn't!
NewsCoaster (well, TextEditor.mcc actually) attempts to colour in the quoted text in different colours, but of course it will get confused in examples such as those above, so don't assume the colouring to be correct either - it's only going by the number of '>'s on each line.
Note that some messages will use characters other than '>' just to be confusing - common examples are '|', ':' and '!'. Some people use annoying newsreaders which post messages using an entirely different system to indicate who wrote what.