Full Sail: Power User Tips

The Key(s) to Usenet with beta-tin


          Editor's note 20/04/1999: Tin has been returned to active status after all - use the g)o tin shortcut in Lynx - and questions may be directed to userhelp@chebucto.ns.ca. Readers wanting to go straight to the commands list can skip ahead.

          There is now a version of the tin newsreader on CCN. Please note: this beta-tin program is being offered as-is, is not supported by either Userhelp or CCN-Tech and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. There is no current plan to make tin the CCN default newsreader again. Userhelp and CCN-Tech offer support for reading news for PINE, the CCN mail program.

          To put yourself on the beta-tin list, send an email to majordomo@chebucto.ns.ca with this in the message body, exactly as written:

subscribe beta-tin

Do not drop this down a line, indent it, or capitalize anything. You are sending it to a computer program that doesn't understand too much. If you have a signature file you are using, delete it from your message.

          You will get a response from majordomo within a few minutes if the system isn't busy. Save this email so you can unsubscribe if necessary. You will be added to the beta-tin mailing list and any questions you have about beta-tin get sent there, NOT to Userhelp and NOT to CCN-Tech.

          Put this link somewhere you can access it; your x-welcome.html page, your bookmarks file, or a web page:

<a href="lynxprog:/csuite/lynxexec/news">Beta-tin newsreader</a>

          You can then use this link to access beta-tin once you have gotten a positive response from majordomo.


          The beta-tin program has a bewildering array of commands. This article might help sort them out. While we are on the subject of beta-tin, you might also be interested in a way to reduce the amount of junk email you get when you post with beta-tin.

          There are two important things to remember about the commands in beta-tin:

  1. The commands are case sensitive. For example, "h" is one command (get help for current context) and "H" is a completely different command (toggle mini-help menu on or off).
  2. There are three different sets of commands depending on whether you are viewing
    1. the list of newsgroups,
    2. the list of threads in one newsgroup, or
    3. an article in a thread.

(The commands used by the editor invoked by beta-tin when editing an article to post or a reply to mail to someone are completely separate and are not covered here.) Also important to note is that almost every key you can press will do something. Noise on the line can therefore do strange things when you are in beta-tin.

          Below are listed the command keys used by beta-tin, along with an indication of the context(s) each command operates in.

Command Categories:

G - -
Group Selection Commands (when viewing list of newsgroups)
- I -
Index Page Commands (when viewing list of threads in a newsgroup)
- - A
Article Pager Commands (when viewing an article)


Category   Key
Command description
G - -      <TAB>
Goto next group with unread news and enter it
- I -      <TAB>
Goto next unread article or group
- - A      <TAB>
Goto next unread article
G - -      <CR> (<ENTER> or <RETURN> key)
Read current group
- I -      <CR> (<ENTER> or <RETURN> key)
Read current article
- - A      <CR> (<ENTER> or <RETURN> key)
Goto to next thread
G I A      <SPACE>
Forward a page
- - A      0 (followed by <ENTER> or <RETURN> key)
Read the base article in current thread
G - -      4 (followed by <ENTER> or <RETURN> key)
Select group 4 (substitute other number as necessary)
- I -      4 (followed by <ENTER> or <RETURN> key)
Goto article 4 (substitute other number as necessary)
- - A      4 (followed by <ENTER> or <RETURN> key)
Read response 4 in current thread (substitute other number as necessary)
G - -      $
Select last group
- I -      $
Goto last article
- - A      $
Redisplay last page of article
G - -      /
Group forward search
- I -      /
Subject forward search
- - A      /
Article forward search
G - -      ?
Group backward search
- I -      ?
Subject backward search
- I A      -
Show last message
- I -      *
Select thread
- - A      *
Select article
- I -      .
Toggle selection of thread
- - A      .
Toggle article selection
- I -      @
Reverse all selections (all articles)
- - A      @
Reverse article selections
- I -      ~
Undo all selections (all articles)
- - A      ~
Undo all selections in thread
- I -      +
Perform auto-selection on group
- I -      =
Mark threads selected if at least one unread art is selected
- I -      ;
Mark threads selected if at least one unread art is selected
- - A      <
Goto first article in current thread
- - A      >
Goto last article in current thread
- I A      a
Author forward search
- I A      A
Author backward search
G I A      ^B (Control-B)
Up a page (backward)
G I A      b
Back a page
- I A      B
Article body search
G - -      c
Mark group read
- I A      c
Mark all articles as read and goto group selection menu
G - -      C
Mark group read and goto next unread group
- I A      C
Mark all articles as read and goto next unread group
G I A      ^D (Control-D)
Down a page (down)
G - -      d
Toggle display of groupname or groupname and description
- I -      d
Toggle display of subject or subject & author
- - A      d
Toggle rot-13 decoding for current article (see footnote 1)
- - A      D
Delete (cancel) current article that must have been posted by you
G I A      ^F (Control-F)
Down a page (forward)
- - A      f
Post a followup and quote original post
- - A      F
Post a followup
G I -      g
Choose a new group by name
- - A      g
Goto first page of article
- - A      G
Goto last page of article
- - A      ^H (Control-H)
Show articles header
G I A      h
Command help
G I A      H
Toggle mini help menu
(You may want to make a note of this one. CCN userhelp received more than one query saying "The help menu at the bottom of the tin display has disappeared and I don't know how to get it back.")
G I A      I
Toggle inverse video
G I -      j
Down a line
G - -      ^K (Control-K)
Delete group from .newsrc
- I A      ^K (Control-K)
Kill / Auto select (hot) current article
G I -      k
Up a line (note: "k" is different command in Article mode)
- - A      k
Mark article as read & advance to next unread
- I -      K
Mark article/thread as read & goto next unread
- - A      K
Mark thread as read & advance to next unread
G I A      ^L (Control-L)
Redraw page
G - -      l
List & select another spooldir
- I -      l
List articles within current thread
G - -      m
Move current group within group selection list
- I A      m
Mail article/thread/hot/pattern/tagged articles to someone
G I A      M
Menu of configurable options
G - -      n
Goto next group with unread news and enter it
- I -      n
Goto next group
- - A      n
Goto to the next article
G - -      N
Goto next group with unread news
- I -      N
Goto next unread article
- - A      N
Goto to the next unread article
- I A      o
Output article/thread/hot/pattern/tagged articles to printer
- I -      p
Goto previous group
- - A      p
Goto the previous article
- I -      P
Goto previous unread article
- - A      P
Goto the previous unread article
G - -      q
- I -      q
Return to previous level (level G)
- - A      q
Return to previous level (level I)
G I A      Q
G - -      ^R (Control-R)
Reset .newsrc
- - A      ^R (Control-R)
Redisplay first page of article
G - -      r
Toggle display to show all/only unread subscribed to groups
- I -      r
Toggle display to show all/only unread articles
- - A      r
Reply through mail to author quoting original post
G I -      R
Report bug/comment via mail to iain.lea@erlm.siemens.de
- - A      R
Reply through mail
G - -      s
Subscribe to current group
- I A      s
Save article/thread/hot/pattern/tagged articles to file
G - -      S
Subscribe to groups that match pattern
- I A      t
Tag current article for crossposting/mailing/piping/printing/saving
- - A      T
Return to group selection level
G I A      ^U (Control-U)
Up a page (up)
G - -      u
Unsubscribe from current group
- I -      u
Toggle display of unthreaded & threaded articles
G - -      U
Unsubscribe from groups that match pattern
- I -      U
Untag all tagged articles
G I A      v
Show version information
G I A      w
Post an article to current group
G I A      W
List articles posted by user
- I A      x
Crosspost current article to another group
- I -      X
Mark all unread articles that have not been selected as read
G - -      y
Yank in subscribed/unsubscribed from .newsrc
G - -      Y
Yank in active file to see any new news
G - -      z
Mark current group as unread
- I A      z
Mark article as unread
G - -      Z
Undelete group from .newsrc
- I A      Z
Mark thread as unread


(footnote 1) rot-13

          "rot-13" is a method of encoding text to make it unreadable unless the reader takes special action to decode it (in this case, by pressing "d"). Characters are rotated 13 places in the alphabet. This is not for encryption as such (since anyone who knows how can read the text) but to prevent someone from seeing what he or she may not want to see. Examples include sexually explicit language that may be offensive to some people or discussions of events in a work of fiction where such discussion may reveal something that may spoil the suspense for someone who has not yet read the book or story -- such as revealing "who dunnit" in a murder mystery. Rot-13 or other techniques used for the purpose of preventing accidentally revealing something that would spoil the suspense of a story are often called "anti-spoiler" techniques. Other such techniques include displaying a


or similar message and then adding enough blank lines that the "spoiler" or revealing passage is not visible without scrolling further down the screen or adding "[SPOILER]" to the subject of the posting. I have also seen rot-13 used as "secret" writing in newsgroups with the sarcastic or satirical implication that those not in the "secret" group are too stupid to figure out how to read the text (such as anti-spammers poking fun at spammers by using the "sekret code" of the Lumber Cartel (TINLC) (see footnote 2).

          There is no provision in beta-tin for encoding rot-13 text when posting, just changing the display when viewing an article such that rot-13 text is now decoded (and normal text is temporarily displayed as rot-13). The encoding and/or decoding merely exchange the letters in the top line of each pair below with the line immediately under it: (numbers and punctuation marks are unchanged)

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
n o p q r s t u v w x y z a b c d e f g h i j k l m


The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Gur dhvpx oebja sbk whzcf bire gur ynml qbt.

          If you wish to include rot-13-encoded text in a posting, you will have to encode it yourself. It isn't too difficult, especially if you make a chart similar the the four lines above.

(footnote 2) There Is No Lumber Cartel. (TINLC)

          Any one who posts to usenet regularly is familiar with one of the scourges of the Internet, junk email and newspostings, also known as "spam". (To do something about it see footnote 3). There are several newsgroups devoted entirely to combatting this with one of the most prolific newsgroups, news.admin.net-abuse.email (over six hundred postings per day) devoted entirely to combatting abuse of the email system.

          Junk emailers (also known as "spammers" and other (unprintable) things) have used many arguments to condemn anti-spammers, some sounding reasonable at first until you look at the consequences of adopting their argument and some so patently ridiculous that your immediate reaction to someone expressing the argument is "What has this guy been smoking?"

          One argument that is obviously a paranoid conspiracy fantasy of the junk mailers' imagination is the claim that anti-spammers are in the pay of a secret "Lumber Cartel" that wants to prevent the proliferation of junk email so that junk postal mail usage will continue to be the unsolicited medium of choice and continue to generate heavy revenue for the lumber companies who supply the wood-chips for making the paper.

          Realizing that the harder you try to deny something the more some people are going to suspect you are hiding something, a number of anti-spammers have adopted the technique of poking fun at these claims by satirically claiming membership in this fictitious "Lumber Cartel" (TINLC) while, at the same time denying that such an organization exists.

          Of course there is no such cartel (and I must remember to find out where the next meeting isn't going to be held and how many people won't be there and whether it won't be my turn to buy the beer).

(footnote 3) New Anti-spam Feature for beta-tin on CCN.

          A new feature that is considered to be for "advanced" users (so you are on your own if it doesn't work for you) is the ability to post to Usenet with "nospam" added to your username. The original instructions from James Fifield are available at:


          For example, my postings are posted with af380nospam@chebucto.ns.ca as the "From:" address. The use of this feature might reduce the rate at which your address is harvested by the spammers. To implement this feature:

  1. Create an HTML file with the following line in your home directory or add such a line to your bookmarks file by editing it directly. (If any lines in your bookmark file are wrapped by the editor when it is accessed, you will have to find the lines and remove the line-breaks before saving the file or some links may not work or may not be removed properly if you try to remove them later.) If you use a new file, ensure its name ends with ".html" (without the quotes).
    <LI><A HREF=".tin">.tin/ directory</A>
  2. Follow the link in the file and it will take you into your hidden .tin directory. You should see four files there named "attributes", "kill", "posted", and "tinrc". WHATEVER YOU DO, do NOT try to edit the "attributes" file or the "tinrc" file. The formats and contents of these files are critical for the proper operation of the newsreader. Invalid lines, invalid entries, or missing entries can prevent you from accessing news.
  3. Type "cfmunge" (without quotes) and press the ENTER key to (C)reate a (F)ile named "munge" in this directory. The file can be left empty. Only its existance is checked for.
  4. Use your left-arrow key to exit from the directory and then follow your usual procedure for accessing news with the tin newsreader. You should now see a new line added to the list of things read when entering news that informs you that address munging is being performed.

          Note that you may have to temporarily delete or rename the munge file if you wish to post to some moderated newsgroups that require valid addresses so you may wish to keep the link to the .tin directory. (You might also find it useful to edit out your old posts from the "posted" file if it is using up too much of your quota.)

          I have run across evidence that the munging has already saved my mailbox. Apparently a mailbombing was carried out against a lot of the regulars who post to news.admin.net-abuse.email with someone else's site being "advertised" in an attempt to get that site shut down. Some people received over a hundred messages. Each message apparently had a large number of addresses in the (hidden) "Bcc:" field and one recipient chosen at random to go in the "To:" field. A few postings listed the recipients in the "To:" headers of the messages received by the poster. In three cases, my munged address showed up. I never even knew there had been any mailbombing attempt until I read about it a week later in the newsgroup. That's fifty to a hundred messages I never got. :-)


You may direct comments or suggestions about this column to:

Norman L. De Forest,  af380@chebucto.ns.ca


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