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Part VII: Unleashing Windows 98 for the ... > Outlook Express and Usenet News

Chapter 35. Outlook Express and Usenet News


“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things: Of shoes—and ships—and sealing wax—Of cabbages—and kings—And why the sea is boiling hot—And whether pigs have wings.”

Lewis Carroll

The vast majority of the attention, buzz, and hype about the Internet is centered on the World Wide Web. That's not surprising because it's the easiest Net service for novices to use, and it's where all the cutting-edge development is taking place. The rest of the Internet services fall into two categories: those that have fallen more or less into disuse (Gopher, for example) and those that just keep on keeping on.

A good example of the latter type of service is Usenet. Usenet is, in essence, a collection of topics available for discussion. These discussion groups (or newsgroups, as they're normally called) are open to all and sundry, and they won't cost you a dime (aside from the usual connection charges, of course).

Will you find anything interesting in these discussion groups? Well, let's put it this with way: with more than 25,000 (that's right, twenty-five thousand) groups to choose from, if you can't find anything that strikes your fancy, you'd better check your pulse. (Not all service providers offer the complete menu of Usenet groups, so the number available to you might be considerably less than 25,000.) On the other hand, most of Usenet has no central control, which means that many newsgroups have degenerated into a collection of rambling, off-topic posts and unsolicited commercial email. (One wag likened Usenet to a “verbal landfill.”) Not all groups are this bad, but you need to be cautious when choosing which discussions you join.

In this chapter, I turn your attention to the Usenet service. I give you some background about Usenet and then show you how to wield the newsreader portion of the Outlook Express show.


Usenet began its life back in 1979 at Duke University. A couple of resident computer whizzes (James Elliot and Tom Truscott) needed a way to easily share research, knowledge, and smart-aleck opinions among Duke students and faculty. So, in true hacker fashion, they built a program that would do just that. Eventually, other universities joined in, and the thing just mushroomed. Today, it's estimated that more than 20 million people participate in Usenet, sending a whopping 150,000 messages a day.



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