I’m a heavy usenet (newsgroups) user. I find it way faster than any other communication / collaboration method.
There’s one downside to using “fat clients” – every message is fetched from the server when you read it. It might have been a good solution when dialups ruled, but nowadays it would be much easier to just download everything and read afterwards – you wouldn’t have to wait a second or two for every message to be transferred. Unfortunately, you have to use tricks with “offline mode” to force such behaviour on regular usenet readers (e.g. Mozilla Thunderbird).
At some point in time I said “enough” to loosing those seconds and started looking for solution. I found one – I’ve set up a local proxy news (nntp) server. Yes, it sounds complicated and serious, but it’s not.
Messages download instantly and I can save a lot of time this way.
Just download hamster news server, copy folder to c:\program files (or wherever you keep your software) and run the main EXE. That’s it.
Apart from super-fast message reading, you also get resiliency to server failures – if one server fails, hamster will download messages from another server and you won’t have to change anything, won’t loose your read / ignored threads information etc.
Go to configuration -> News configuration, Newsserver tab and add at least one news server.
Then to News-Pulls and add your news groups, so hamster will fetch them.
Go to configuration -> Local users & passwords, add a local user to connect from the news client and a password.
Basically that’s it – play aroung with options a bit. Once you’re familiar with the menus and configs, it’s time to start using the server.
Click Online -> All servers. Hamster will fetch your newsgroups and all messages – it might take a while.
Then start your favorite news reader and add a new server, with localhost as address. You should be able to subscribe to the groups you’ve selected on hamster.
Now, let’s make hamster automatically download messages when it stays idle. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any setting for that – but hamster has a scripting interface itself – let’s use it!
Go to script -> Manage Scriptcs and Modules, add a new script. Let’s call it Fetch.
Edit it and put the following code inside:
#!load hamster.hsm ### begin script ### #!hs2 HamWaitIdle HamNewsJobsClear HamNewsJobsPostDef HamNewsJobsPullDef HamNewsJobsStart HamWaitIdle ### end script ### quit
Now, go to Configuration -> Automation, Actions tab and for Startup and EveryHour events set to run Fetch.hsc script.
That’s it. You have your own local news server operation in less than hour.
I would suggest to make it auto-run on Windows startup. It, sort of, makes sense ;)