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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Please note: this beta-tin program is being offered as-is, is not supported by either Userhelp or CCN-Tech and may be withdrawn at any time without notice.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 email@example.com with this in the message body, exactly as written:
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>
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:
(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.
(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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
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. :-)
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