he EmTec News client has been around for several years, originally as part of the NeoLogic NetSuite product. Last year the suite of products, which includes FTP and Gopher clients, was transferred to EmTec, the makers of the very popular ZOC terminal program, and renamed the EmTec Network Suite. The EmTec News client has proven itself to be a stable, full-featured product and is currently at version v4.6e.
The installation is done with the IBM installer, so there are no surprises lurking to cause problems. If you have a previous version installed, you can update it and make a backup copy of the old version should any problems arise with the new version. EmTec frequently creates updates to the news client, and makes them available on their web site.
The first step to using the EmTec New client is configuring it with all of the information pertinent to your system. Configuration is done with a standard notebook interface (GIF, 11k). Besides the basic configuration issues like your news and e-mail servers, you can also configure things like the sorting of messages, program toolbars, and window views (i.e., which fields are visible when viewing message lists).
Once you have everything configured, you're ready to start reading and replying to newsgroups. When you start the program it will try to connect to the currently selected news server and download the list of newsgroups that are available on your server. This can be a time-consuming process when using a dialup connection as there are over 20,000 newsgroups these days. But once you have all of them, you can subscribe to the ones you are interested in via the Available Groups window (GIF, 15k). Given the large number of groups available, it would be nice to have them presented in a tree view rather than having all 20,000 dumped into a list box and requiring scrolling through the list to find a particular newsgroup.
Now that you are subscribed to the newsgroups you want to read, you will see the number of messages available in each newsgroup in the Current Subscriptions window (GIF, 20k). (The program automatically downloads the headers of the new messages for all of your newsgroups when you subscribe and also when you start the program.) Double clicking a particular newsgroup entry opens the message list window (GIF, 33k) that displays the titles, authors, etc. for the individual messages. The EmTec newsreader can group related messages (threads) together in a tree view so you can expand and collapse threads (individually or all at once). The messages can also be sorted in other ways: by subject, author, date, or message number. You can also control which messages are shown: only unread ones, all messages, messages that have activated your killfile (by subject or author), and those that contain keywords you have defined in your configuration.
Reading a message is a matter of double clicking a particular one in the message list, which opens the message window (GIF, 28k). A click of a button on the toolbar toggles the view of the message header information. With the toolbar you can also navigate to the next/previous message or the next/previous thread. Unfortunately there is no way to launch a web browser or e-mail client by selecting an address in a message, as this program is completely ignorant of URLs and e-mail addresses. One handy utility is the "Jargon Demystifier" which enables you to highlight expressions like "YMMV" and have them explained. Posting a follow-up to a message is straightforward. You can post the reply to the newsgroup, by e-mail to the author, or both.
The alt.binaries hierarchy is very popular. In these groups encoded binary files (software, images, audio files, etc.) are posted. To make use of them, your news client has to be able to decode them. The EmTec news client can decode messages encoded with UUEncode or Base-64 (MIME) encoding, by far the two most popular methods. If the encoded file is contained in one message, you simply select it and press D (or select "Decode" from the pop-up menu that appears with a right-click on the message). For multipart messages, you simply select them in order and press Shift+D (or use the pop-up menu). The message is then placed in the Decoder Window list and decoded. You can, of course, specify the location where decoded binary files should be placed.
Some people prefer to do their news reading offline to avoid online charges or having their phone line tied up for long periods. The EmTec news client sports a variety of features for offline reading. If you download the list of messages and then go offline, you can double click messages like you normally would to read them. The program will mark that message for download when you go online. You can also select messages by thread or select all of the messages for later downloading. Replying to messages is done the same way. You simply read and reply to messages offline, and the program queues your responses for upload when you go online. Although I am now spoiled by a permanent connection, in the past I found the EmTec news client's offline features very useful.
The EmTec news client is a stable and very configurable news reader. Although its filtering and killfile support are not quite as sophisticated as some of the other OS/2 news clients, I find it to be quite adequate for my use. What matters most to me is stability and responsiveness, and the EmTec client has both. I have never had the program crash even when reading groups that had thousands of messages available. It is a well-designed program that makes effective use of multithreading. It is available as shareware, with a very reasonable $30 price tag for registration.
EmTec Newsreader v4.6e
Dr. Dirk Terrell is an astronomer at the University of Florida specializing in interacting binary stars. His hobbies include cave diving, martial arts, painting and writing OS/2 software such as HTML Wizard.
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