Trainer's Outline for User Training 2 - Email, Editor and News


Instructions for Trainers

Email a welcome message to participants so they have some mail to read.

Please mail any comments on length of material, content, etc. to aa043. I am wondering if there is too much material to cover in an hour. If so, we should consider moving some topics to another course or leaving them out altogether.

Time Limit: 1 hour

Suggested Outline


What we'll be covering in this session:

If users not familiar with concept of email, explain that email is a way of sending messages electronically, from one computer to another through a computer network. Mention that CFN users can mail to anyone in the world with an Internet mail address.
Text editor
"As a registered user of CFN, you have a place to store your files on the system. This is your home directory. You can create and modify files by using the text editor on CFN. We will be learning more about managing your files in next week's session, User Training 3."
"What is news? Not the same as in news on the radio, TV, or newspaper, USENET news, sometimes called Net news, refers to a number of 'discussion groups' on the Internet. People write articles, or messages, to the newsgroups, which are distributed to computers all over the Internet. There are thousands of newsgroups, each having its own main topic of interest. CFN gives you access to many Usenet newsgroups through a program called TIN. You can both read and post (i.e. send) messages."

Email - The basics of PINE

Have participants log into their own CFN accounts. To start the mail program, [go mail].

Note that when they start mail, they are in the INBOX, which is where the incoming mail is put. Pine displays a list of messages they have received.

N indicates New mail (you haven't read it yet).

+ indicates the mail was addressed to your user id directly (i.e. not as part of a mailing list or as a CC from someone else)

You can use the cursor keys (up and down arrows) to move your highlight (cursor) from one message to the next. When you press return, the mail message is displayed.

Type I to get back to the Index (the list of messages).

Composing email

Type C for Compose.

Fill in the To: field with the email address of the person you're writing to. If the person is on Chebucto Freenet, just use the user id (e.g. aa043). If the person is elsewhere on the Internet, you would type in something like "afriend@computer.domain.xx" (without the quotes). Note that you can put more than one address in here if you separate them with commas.

Have the participants address mail to each other.

The CC: field indicates who will get a copy of the letter. Again, you can put in more than one email address in this field, if you separate them with commas.

Now fill in the Subject: field. Picking the subject line is important in good communication. You want the subject line to be informative but short.

Now write the body of the message (it goes below the ------ Message Text----- line). Type at least a couple of lines of message.

Some useful editing commands:

Arrow keys for cursor movement (up, down, back, forward)
^y Up a page or to the top of the message
^v Down a page or to the bottom of the message
^a To the beginning of the line the cursor is in
^e To the end of the line the cursor is in
Backspace key (and the delete key too!) backspaces while erasing
^^ (i.e hold down the ctrl key while pressing the "^" key) Set a blocking mark. Use cursor control to highlight a block. ^^ again to un-mark and/or un-block
^k to cut block
^u to paste block
As you edit, you may create lines that are longer than the screen is wide. The $ at the end of the line means continuation (the line is longer than the screen is wide). If you type a space in the middle, it will wrap.

^j Justify paragraph. Wraps and fills the current paragraph. Observe that Pico interprets a paragraph as having a blank line or tab before and after the paragraph.

Sending the message

^X to send: When you are satisfied with your message, you can type ^X to send it. It asks for confirmation (in case you were a butterfingers and didn't mean to hit ^X). Type "y". It sends the message.

^C to cancel: Note that if you decided not to send the message after all, and you want to cancel out of composing the message, type ^C to cancel the message. Again, it asks for confirmation.

The Main menu in PINE

While we wait for the mail to arrive, we can have a look at the main menu in Pine. Type M for main menu. This shows you some of the main commands available in Pine. We have already mentioned C for compose message and I for folder index. We'll just mention that you can create folders to organize your mail messages. If you have a look at the folder list, you'll see that you already have a folder called "sent-mail" which contains a copies of all the mail messages that you send.

Back to the main menu. One more thing to mention is that Pine has an address book. This is where you can record the email addresses of people that you write to frequently. We don't have time to go over the full functions of the address book just now, but if you go into the Address book and type ? for help, you will be able to read about how to use it.

More things to do with a mail message

Let's go back to the INBOX. Type I to see the list of messages.

Read the message that your classmate just sent you. If you wanted to reply, you type R for reply. [Go through what happens when you reply]

You can also forward a message by typing F for forward. [Go through forwarding a message.]

Now that we've replied and forwarded this message, we may want to save it. What this does is move the message from your inbox into a folder. Press S to save. It will ask where you want to save it. You can either accept the default folder name "saved-messages" or type in another folder name. PINE will create a new folder if you give it a name of a folder which doesn't already exist.

One more thing you can do with this message: You can put the address in your address book. Press T for Take address. [go through this procedure]

If you don't want to save a message, you should delete it. Press D for delete.

To quit PINE, type Q.

Text Editor - PICO

The next part of the session deals with text files. The text editor on CFN is called PICO and it has almost the same commands which are used for editing email. In this session, we'll edit a file called "signature". The signature file contains text which is automatically added to the end of your email messages. Usually what you want to put into your signature file is your name and email address. Some people also put their business affiliations, or their geographical location (e.g. Halifax, Nova Scotia).

To edit your signature file, [go files] to get to the File Manager. Choose the link labeled "signature". It will display a blank page because the file is empty. Now type E for edit. Now you are in the PICO editor. This uses the same commands as when you were composing a message in PINE (except for a few exceptions, which we'll go over).

Type in a signature for yourself.

The commands are the same as for PINE, except for

^X exits in PICO (sends message in PINE)
^C shows cursor position in PICO (cancels message in PINE)
^O saves edited file without exiting in PICO (postpones message in PINE)
When you are ready to exit, type ^X to exit and write out the file. When it asks you to save modified buffer, type Y. Accept the file name it gives you by hitting return.

Now if you view the signature file, you should see what you typed in.

The next time you compose or reply to mail, this text will be automatically inserted into your message.


The newsreader on CFN is called TIN. To get to it, [go news].

Once you're in TIN, you will see a list of the newsgroups that you are subscribed to. This means the newsgroups that you can read the messages for. There are thousands of newsgroups available to you, if you want. We'll have a look at how to subscribe to them in a moment.

To look at the contents of a newsgroup, use the arrow keys to move your cursor to the newsgroup name and then press [return]. This will show you a list of which subjects are currently being discussed. These are known as 'threads'. If you move your cursor to the name of a thread and press [return], it will show you the articles (messages) in that thread.

(Read a few articles) Note that the next time you read news, you will not be shown the articles you have already read. If you want to save an article, press s for save. (Go through an example)

Pressing h will give you a brief help screen.

Back up to the newsgroup list by hitting the left-arrow a couple of times, or type q a couple of times.

To see which other newsgroups you can subscribe to, press y for "yank".

To subscribe to a particular newsgroup, move your cursor to the name of the group and type s for subscribe.

To unsubscribe to a newsgroup, move the cursor to the name of the group and type u for unsubscribe.

To post a message to a newsgroup, pick that newsgroup and type w. You can use the PICO editing commands as you compose your message.

Post to a test newsgroup like misc.test. Point out that:

  1. When you exit from PICO in a posting, accept all defaults (i.e. DO save contents of modified buffer, accept the suggested name), otherwise your message won't be posted.
  2. for a test posting, put 'ignore' or 'no reply' in subject line, otherwise you will be receiving confirmation mail from all over the world.
  3. it takes a little while for postings to show up, so don't post again if you don't see your post immediately. Wait a day or so.



A generally accepted code of polite behaviour on Usenet.

What happens if you violate Netiquette?

It depends. If you are just nasty in your postings, you may just get nasty email. If you post some commercial advertising in inappropriate newsgroups, you may get a *lot* of nasty email and the system manager will get a lot of complaints. If this happens more than once for you, you could possible lose access to the system (i.e. be denied the use of your account).


  1. be polite in your postings
  2. don't post to multiple newsgroups. If you absolutely must post to more than one, cross-post (specify more than one newsgroup, separated by commas, in the newsgroup field) instead of multiple- posting
  3. make sure you post to the appropriate newsgroups
  4. do NOT post advertising except in .forsale newsgroups and even then, commercial postings are frowned upon (controversial subject, but many people don't approve of it and will let you know)
  5. do not create a long signature - limit it to 4 or 5 lines
Explain the term "waste of bandwidth".