Technical Support Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQ's about tin

What is tin ?
The Group Selection screen ?
Subscribing to groups ?
Unsubscribing from groups ?
Other useful commands ?
Reading news ?
Replying to an article ?
Posting an original message ?
Kill files and select files ?
Create a kill file ?
Create a select file ?
Binary files ?
Edit your .newsrc ?

Q. What is tin ?

A. tin is a newsreader in UNIX.

tin is easy for a new user to learn, but it also has a lot of commands that make it more powerful if you want to learn more. This section covers the basic commands you need. To learn more about tin type "help tin.faq". For a more detailed description of what NEWS is and for more general information about NEWS, see the "news" help file.

Note: Commands in tin are case sensitive, meaning the same command means different things in upper and lower case. "s" and "S" are NOT the same command!

Q. The Group Selection screen ?

A. When you open tin, the Group Selection screen appears.

The number at the top, in parentheses after "", tells how many newsgroups you are subscribed to.

Note: The first time you open tin you will already be subscribed to several newsgroups.

The number next to each newsgroup name tells how many unread articles the group contains.

There are several commands for moving through the list
   down arrow or j   - move down a line
   up arrow or k     - move up a line
   /                 - search forward for a particular pattern (e.g., "bio", "India", etc.)
   ?                 - search backward for a particular pattern

Some commands move you to a particular newsgroup and open it
   x       - go to and open newsgroup number "x"
   $       - go to and open last newsgroup in the list
   n       - go to and open the next newsgroup with unread news
   g       - go to and open a particular newsgroup

Q. Subscribing to groups ?


  1. Choose the "y)ank" command. This opens a full list of newsgroups.
  2. Scroll or search through the list looking for interesting topics.
  3. When you find a newsgroup you want, use the "s)ubscribe" command.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 to subscribe more newsgroups.
  5. Use the "y)ank" command to return to the Group Select screen.

Note: The newsgroups you just subscribed have been added to the list.

Q. Unsubscribing from groups ?


  1. Select the newsgroup you want to unsubscribe from.
  2. Type "u".

If you are unsubscribing a large number of newsgroups, see the "Editing your .newsrc" section below to learn a faster method.

Q. Other useful commands ?


S       - subscribe to every newsgroup that matches a pattern

A pattern is a particular string of characters. For example, type "educat" if you are looking for "education" and "educate" and "educator".

U       - unsubscribe from every newsgroup that matches a pattern
d       - (toggle) - show names only, or show names and descriptions
r       - (toggle) - show all subscribed newsgroups, or only those that have unread articles

Q. Reading news ?

A. To read news

  1. Select a newsgroup and press return.

    The newsgroup opens. The top of the screen shows information including

    - what newsgroup you are reading
    - how many threads the group contains
    - how many articles the group contains

    For example, if you open "" and it contains 8 threads and 15 articles, the information at the top of the screen looks like this: " (8T 15A 0K 0H R)"

    The number next to the thread tells how many articles the thread contains.

    A "+" next to the thread means you have not read that thread yet.

  2. Use the arrow keys move up and down the list until you select a thread that interests you.
  3. Type the thread number or select the thread and press return.

    The first article in the thread opens.

    In addition to the message, the article screen contains information about the article and the thread:

    - the time and date the article was posted
    - the group or groups to which it was posted
    - which thread the article is part of
    - how many lines the article contains
    - the article's subject line
    - how many responses there are to the article
    - who posted the article

    Note: that the lower right corner tells what percentage of the article you have seen. When you reach the last article in a thread, this changes to say "Last Response."

  4. Use the following commands

       space bar    - page down
       n            - go to the next unread article
       tab          - go to the next unread thread
       p            - go back to the previous article
       k            - mark the article as read and go to the next unread article
       K            - mark the entire thread as read and go to the next unread thread
       s            - save the file
       m            - mail the file to yourself or someone else

  5. Use "q" to exit an article, a thread, or tin.

Q. Replying to an article ?


  1. Type "f" for "f)ollowup"
  2. Your text editor opens, with the newsgroup's address in the header and a copy of the original article in the text section.
  3. Add your own comments. You can leave the copy, or delete it. It is polite to only include those parts of the original article that are relevant to your response, but to give credit to the original author.
  4. Type ^X to exit the text editor.
  5. Choose one of the following options

    a) "q)uit" to quit without posting the article
    b) "e)dit" to edit the article
    c) "i)spell" to spell-check the article
    d) "p)ost" to post the article

Q. Posting an original message ?


  1. Choose "3. Post a news article" from the News Menu.
  2. Type the name of the group(s) you want to post to.

    If post your article to more than one group, list them now rather than posting separately to each group. (For information on why, please see the "cross-post" help file.)

  3. You are asked what level of distribution you want. Type an appropriate level. An article announcing a picnic in Portland should not be posted to the entire United States.
  4. Type your article's title or subject.

    Put as much information in as little space as possible. The more specific you are, the more likely interested people are to notice and read your article.

  5. You are warned that posting your article will cost people money, and asked if you are absolutely sure you want to do it. Don't let this scare you off from posting completely. Just think before you post.
  6. Next you are asked if you want to include a file.

    This refers to a file on Access, not on your computer. You need to have prepared a file on your computer and uploaded it to Access before you can include it in a message when you post.

  7. The text editor opens. Write your article.
  8. Type "^X" to exit the text editor.

  9. Choose one of the following options

    a) "q)uit" to quit without posting the article
    b) "e)dit" to edit the article
    c) "i)spell" to spell-check the article
    d) "p)ost" to post the article

    Note: If you have a .signature file in your home directory, it will automatically be appended to any article you post.

Q. Kill files and select files ?

A. Kill files tell your newsreader to not show you articles with a particular topic or by a particular author. You can create a kill file that filters out a topic or an author in one newsgroup only (a "local kill file") or in all newsgroups (a "global kill file").

Q. To create a kill file ?

  1. Open an article with the topic or author you want to "kill".
  2. Type ^K. The kill/select screen opens.

    Note: You can use this screen to select certain topics or authors as well. This is explained below.

  3. Leave the Kill type" as "Kill". Press return.
  4. If the text in the "Kill Subject" field is not the exact subject or author you want to filter out:

    a) Type the subject or name to kill in the "Kill text pattern" field.
    b) Press return.
    c) Apply the pattern (the subject or name you just typed) to the "Subject" line only, the "From" line only, or to both.

    In other words, if you are creating a kill file for the subject "agamemnon" you can filter out any article with the subject "agamemnon".

    If you are creating a kill file for the name "agamemnon" you can filter out any article written by ""agamemnon".

    Or if you want to filter everything by "agamemnon" or about "agamemnon" you can set the kill for both the subject or the author.

    d) Decide whether you want the kill file to be local (apply only to one newsgroup) or global (apply to all newsgroups).
    e) Type "q" to quit without creating the kill file, or "s" to save the file.

  5. If the text in in the "Kill Subject" or the "Kill From" field is the exact subject or author you want to filter out

    a) Press return until the cursor is at the "Kill Subject" field. Press return to set the subject. Press the space bar if you do not want to filter by subject, then press return.
    b) Press return to set the author. Press the space bar to not filter by author, then press return.
    c) Decide whether you want the kill file to be local (apply only to one newsgroup) or global (apply to all newsgroups).
    d) Type "q" to quit without creating the kill file, or "s" to save the file.

Q. To create a select file ?

A. Creating a select file is very similar to creating a kill file. Follow the steps above, with one exception. For "Kill type", press the space bar to change from "Kill" to "Auto Select". The rest of the fields will still say "kill" instead of "select", but the file will function as a select file. Tin marks topics or authors you choose this way to call them to your attention.

Note: Editing a kill or select file is confusing enough that if you make a mistake you should simply quit without saving the file, then start again at step 2.

Q. Binary files ?

A. Many newsgroups contain binary files. Binary files are non-text files - graphics files, sound files, spreadsheets, programs, etc. Since only text files can be posted, binary files have to be encoded to look like text files before they can be posted. When you get a binary file from a newsgroup, you need to decode it before you can look at or use it.

For information on how to decode binaries yourself, see the "uudecode" help file.

Q. Edit your .newsrc ?

A. Your .newsrc file keeps track of what you have read, and what newsgroups you want (or don't want) to follow. Each time you start your newsreader, it compares your personal control files to the master control files at Access. If groups have been added or deleted since the last time you connected to Access, your newsreader asks you if you want to add them to your .newsrc.

You can also use your .newsrc to control the order in which you are shown newsgroups.

The best way to edit your .newsrc file is with a program called "eep". To open eep, either select the "Edit your .newsrc" command in the News Menu, or type "eep" and press return.

Eep opens a list of available newsgroups, starting with those you are subscribed to. The help command, "?", brings up a list of the commands you can use in eep:
   t - go to the top of the file
   b - go to the bottom of the file 
   i - show info 
   j - select the next line
   k - select the previous line
   p - change the pointer
   q - quit and go to the main menu
   r - redraw the screen
  ^D - page down
  ^U - page up
Other commands not listed in the help file are
   d - delete the newsgroup from the list    
   s - subscribe to the newsgroup
   u - unsubscribe from the newsgroup
   / - search
   n - find the last search item again