|Yarn and Souper||- by Jon F. Kaminsky|
This review is intended to introduce the OS/2 user to a very productive off-line reading system which is sometimes overlooked because of difficulty getting the pieces installed (neither Souper nor Yarn have very explicit help), or because they are text-mode applications. Because of space restrictions, an extensive "how-to" guide won't be presented here, but to accompany this review I have created an on-line install/tip guide to the OS/2 Yarn-Souper combination. This guide is in INF book format and is downloadable here. It is my intent that as I become better skilled in Yarn and Souper, or as users send me tips, I'll keep updating this INF resource so if you are reading this article months after it was originally published, don't hesitate to contact me or check the on-line version (if you are reading an off-line copy of OS/2 e-Zine! ) for the latest update.
I'll beg the question -- why would anyone want to use a text mode program when we have this wonderful graphical interface under OS/2? The answer to this is two-part -- Souper is simply a utility that goes and gets your mail and news and in my opinion, looks don't make any difference or provide any added functionality to perform that task. It might be nice, however, to have a small PM interface to Souper with some menus to the various options you can send Souper out with (perhaps I'll write one soon).
And as far as Yarn goes, text mode can be an advantage. First, and foremost, it's fast. Yarn is also very easy on your eyes and when I'm ready for a good hour or so of off-line reading I want a program that will not result in eye strain. Changing the displayed font size is as easy as choosing the system menu of an OS/2 window and clicking on "Font Size". Or if you prefer, Yarn can be run in a fullscreen OS/2 session for even easier readability. And you can easily navigate Yarn with one hand on the keyboard (no mousing under Yarn as of version 0.90).
Once inside Yarn, you can create e-mail, news replies, or original articles using an editor of your choice. When you have created an "upload packet" consisting of articles or e-mail, Souper then provides the means to upload the packet.
pop3 110/tcpIf the line is not present, you'll have create it in the "Network services, Internet style" portion of the Services file.
souper -m -k 4096which tells Souper to get the news, leave the mail, and don't exceed a 4096 KB packet size. The on-line install/tip guide includes a few more examples of command files you can create to retrieve and upload your correspondence. Once you have a bevy of command files in your X:\tcpip\yarn directory, shadow them to a folder on your desktop, and after you're connected to your ISP, click on the appropriate icon to launch your Souper task. You can get as involved as you wish with command files and you can even accomplish several tasks consecutively in one command file (like upload mail/news, then get more news, import the downloaded news, and then start Yarn -- you get the idea). Souper also supports kill files to zap any unwanted material at the source so you never have to see it.
And one of the nice features about running a robust multi-tasking system such as OS/2 is that you can be productive by going about your other tasks while Souper runs in the background.
Import -u YarnThis command file imports the soup packets and starts Yarn with the newly downloaded messages. Yarn operates in three levels: The Newsgroup Selection level (GIF, 6.6k), which greets you when you first open the program, the Article Selection Level, and the Article Reading Level. Upon starting, Yarn will immediately notify you if any mail is present in your mailbox (assuming you sent Souper after it). You can read news or mail, and reply to either as in any other mail or news program, and you can store and retrieve your correspondents' addresses in Yarn's built-in address book.
At the Article Selection Level, depending on your configuration, you'll see something like a list of subjects by thread, with the corresponding author, and whether you have previously read the article or not (useful for those pesky cross-posts). You simply highlight an article of interest and press Enter. This brings you into the Article Reading Level (GIF, 13k) where you normally read, create replies to the thread, or e-mail responses to an individual. Yarn includes many other built-in features to navigate/kill threads, sort articles, mark articles as read or unread, extract UUencoded files, etc.
For those more dedicated to the art rather than the concept, there is even a Yarn mailing list. To join, send an e-mail to listproc@lists.Colorado.edu consisting only of the words:
SUBSCRIBE YARN-LIST Your name
Author's note: I gratefully acknowledge the help of OS/2 newsgroup regular Richard Steiner for providing the original encouragement and help in getting the Yarn-Souper combo going on my desktop. Also, Steve Withers with IBM New Zealand deserves recognition for providing some of these tips, originally included in his Yarn-Souper installation note.
by Chin Huang
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