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NeoLogic News for OS/2- by Stephen Turk

One of the centerpieces of NeoLogic's Network Suite v4.5 is NeoLogic News for OS/2. This highly capable, threaded, on-line or off-line news reader is the efficient workhorse that any Usenet news addict needs to get through his or her day.

Setting Up

Installing NeoLogic News, like the rest of the suite, is accomplished from the standard IBM OS/2 installation program. While not the most elegant solution, it is standard and efficient. Once you've installed the base files to their own directory, you're ready to fire up NeoLogic News and customize it to your own server and preferences.

All the standard options are here including the ability to set up multiple news servers, news server authentication (user name and password), a default signature, and tons of configurable items like fields displayed in news windows and how to sort/display articles. Suffice to say, this is a very configurable program and will probably meet most people's needs. As with all NeoLogic products, colors and fonts can be customized by drag and drop from default OS/2 palettes.

Reading and Writing

Once you've set up your basic information such as your news server, e-mail address and real name, you're ready to select some of the thousands of Usenet newsgroups and start reading. Of course, your first stop will be the comp.os.os2.* hierarchy.

A word of warning here though, NeoLogic uses the strategy of loading all the headers for all the messages in all the news groups you subscribe to when you start it up (or when you subscribe to the groups). This works great for day to day reading because all the headers are stored on your local HD and you only need to retrieve new ones. But the first time you load a newsgroup it can take a long time to get all the headers. For example, if you only subscribe to comp.os.os2.advocacy there are likely to be between 1000 and 2000 messages in that newsgroup at any give time. Downloading these headers for the first time will take a while, especially on slower connections. If you subscribe to 5 or 6 groups of any size expect to wait a while.

You should also be warned that although this is a multi-threaded application, attempting to share bandwidth between threads across a 14.4 modem is not overly productive. Just opening NeoLogic News (and therefore having it access your news server and collect the news) opens a couple threads, both retrieving info through your modem. If you want to send e-mail or do some other 'net stuff while this is going on, expect it to be slow.

That aside, the program is quite good at what it is made to do. From the list of newsgroups (GIF, 8.5k) you can jump directly into a group or perform various tasks either from the toolbar or pull-down menus. For example, you can open a list of all available groups (for subscribing to them), unsubscribe a group, mark a group as all read or all unread, post a new message, or refresh the headers in the groups.

Opening a group presents you with an ordered list of all the messages in that group. Messages of the same subject matter are grouped together in threads (GIF, 14.5k). Display of this message list can be configured in many ways (GIF, 5k) to suit your individual preferences. Once again, there are convenient buttons and menu choices for posting, marking messages read and unread, searching and other options.

Off-line Use

The really great feature of NeoLogic's newsreader as opposed to the Newsreader/2 that ships with OS/2 is its ability to work off-line. If you open NeoLogic News without being connected to the 'net it defaults to off-line mode (there is also a toggle button on the main control panel to go on and off-line). While off-line, any messages you write are queued for sending to the server the next time you log on. Likewise, any messages you attempt to open are queued for loading at the next connection.

Reading messages is also possible off-line but not quite as rewarding. This is not due to any shortcoming on NeoLogic's part, but simply because to read off-line, you have to download messages in the first place. If you don't want to download all available messages (which would take longer than most people would spend on-line) you have to go through the message list and select messages for later reading. In practice I find this to be more or less as time consuming as just reading them on-line. Of course, your mileage may vary. And again, this is no fault of NeoLogic's; it's simply the way it is.

Bells and Whistles

For those of you who like to frequent binaries groups (news groups where people post binary files such as programs and pictures), NeoLogic supports automatic decoding of single or multi-part UUEncoded or MIME (Base 64) encoded messages. In brief testing, this feature seemed to work nearly flawlessly. The occasional glitch was most likely due to other people's bad posts. Users can also post binary messages in UUEncoded format and choose the size of each part if binary posts should be broken into separate messages.

A neat feature is NeoLogic's Jargon Demystifier. This is really just a convenient macro function that "translates" common Usenet jargon such as YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary), IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) or FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). However, it could be better implemented so that if turned on all instances of these acronyms would be automatically replaced when a message is opened. As it is, the user must highlight the text he or she wants converted and press a key sequence. Still, it's a nice touch.

Other pleasant features include support for other code pages, the ability to toggle toolbars on or off for individual windows, plenty of keyboard shortcuts, and the great configurability (mentioned above) of all windows.

Conclusions

Overall this version of NeoLogic News for OS/2 seems much more stable than earlier versions. The implementation of its various features are all efficient and pleasant and the interface is simple without being ugly. For a stand-alone registration fee of US$30, NeoLogic News is a good bargain. With discounts available if registering as part of the whole suite, it's even more attractive.
 * NeoLogic News for OS/2
by NeoLogic Inc.
MSRP: US$30
Stephen Turk is a salesman at a small computer retailer and part time trouble shooter. He has been using OS/2 for over a year and is an avid Usenet lurker.

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