nternet Adventurer (sometimes called 'IA' for short) is a complete suite of programs for the Internet, all neatly integrated into one smart interface that includes web browsing (using either its own built in browser, or alongside a currently running copy of Netscape), Internet Relay Chat, e-mail, a web-site watcher, telnet and FTP. But even though each of these modules is worth talking pages about, this review will cover the Newsreader part of the Internet Adventurer suite only.
Internet Adventurer comes with it's own installation program (GIF, 21K) that gives a first hint at the colorful embellishments the author has sprinkled throughout the suite. Documentation comes as a set of HTML files that are viewed with its own built-in web browser (based on the IBM WebExplorer engine) or with Netscape. Unfortunately the help files were not very complete at the time of writing and many sections were marked as being under construction. Perhaps as a helpful side effect of being in HTML format, they included links to the help pages section on the Internet Adventurer web site itself, but at the time of this review even they were not complete yet.
User support could be considered differently, however, as Kim Rasmussen -- Internet Adventurer's author -- has a good reputation for timely responses to user queries. Indeed, Internet Adventurer installs with a shortcut to chat one-on-one with Kim through the program's own IRC (chat) module, and the toolbar of the Newsreader has buttons for directly reporting bugs and making suggestions.
Internet Adventurer is a little patchy here and there with regards to visuals. The intro screen (GIF, 31K) has a nice set of thumbnail drawings that represent each module, but the icons in the toolbar that runs across the top look a bit scratchy, like they were pulled from a stock icon collection somewhere. But one note about this toolbar is that it is very easily configurable with a right-click over a button or blank area. You can set up a button to perform anything from launch a program or URL to several of Internet Adventurer's built in functions and modules. You can assign your own icons to buttons or use the built-in set.
For the Newsreader module (GIF, 32K), everything is set out in three windows similar to the Agent scheme, one for subscriptions, one for the article list, and another for the article body. Each window is independently resizable though, instead of being 'panes' that influence the sizes of adjacent ones. Click on 'Tile' from the Window menu and they're all snapped into an optimal arrangement.
Decorative elements such as '3D' or graduated titlebars with scrolling text can be toggled on or off as the user pleases.
Like ProNews/2, Internet Adventurer supports colorization and syntax highlighting of articles to make it easier to tell where quoted text begins and ends, what are valid e-mail addresses and URLs etc. When you double-click on an e-mail, Internet Adventurer begins composing a new message that can be sent privately or posted to the newsgroup. Double-clicking on a URL will either open it in IA's built-in web browser or send it to the currently running copy of Netscape, depending on how you configured the suite.
Threading of articles does not seem to be that intelligent, however, and doesn't go further than one level deep. Plus, at first appearance, there wasn't any option to download an entire thread automatically. However, if you collapse the thread first, and mark the root article for download, the remaining articles in the thread will be marked for download too and give you the same effect.
A unique and useful feature is the Search tool, which after specifying some criteria, will send Internet Adventurer searching through all or selected newsgroups for matching articles. Found articles will then be placed in a "Search Results" folder, which is kind of a virtual newsgroup. Regardless of which newsgroup each article was originally found in, you can browse them all at your leisure. I didn't find anything like this in other newsreaders and was quite impressed by it.
While not as powerful as the filtering capabilities of PMINews, Internet Adventurer is still quite strong in this area. Filters (GIF, 14K) are easy and intuitive to set up, and each filter can support any number of criteria to match on. It was quite easy for me to create a simple "No Spam" filter that scanned for obvious giveaways (too many exclamation marks, occurrences of 'FREE!' etc.) and deleted the message before I could be bothered by it. It is also possible to detect and delete cross-posted articles with IA's filtering too.
While there did not seem to be any support for boolean operations ('AND', 'OR', 'NOT' etc.) the string matching and wildcard support was good.
In Internet Adventurer, multiple news servers don't seem to be as elegantly handled as they are in PMINews. When you subscribe to a newsgroup from the master list you have the option of typing in a different news server to pull that particular group's feed from. But there doesn't seem to be a way to keep lists of newsgroups for each server separate and instantly accessible. To get the list from a new server you need to go back to IA's master settings, change the server there and tell IA to refresh the list again. Since IA keeps server settings separate for each newsgroup, changing the server to get a new list won't affect your current subscriptions.
Internet Adventurer will automatically decode any binary attachments it finds in a message and allow the user to save or view them later. But it cannot handle multipart binary postings yet.
Internet Adventurer didn't originally start with a Newsreader and the lack of full maturity shows in its rough edges. It is, however, excellently integrated with the rest of the suite, supports multiple e-mail accounts (the interface for IA's e-mail and news reader is actually the same) and has intuitively assigned keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl + down-arrow or up-arrow keys to move back and forth through messages, for example).
Performance was a bit slow in places, with excessive disk activity after closing the master settings dialog, for example. But overall the newsreader works well, if still in a limited way, and gave no major hassles when setting up for the first-time user.
Internet Adventurer 1.21
Chris Wenham is the Senior Editor of OS/2 e-Zine! -- a promotion from Assistant Editor which means his parking spot will now be wide enough to keep his bicycle and a trailer.
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