Android Newsgroup Downloader: User's Manual

Copyright Scott M Baker

Click here to visit the Android website, where you can download the most recent version


QuickStart Tutorial: I've recently added a full illustrated quickstart tutorial that will get you up and running with Android Newsgroup Downloader in a hurry. I suggest you begin by viewing the quickstart tutorial before reading this manual. The quickstart will take you through setting up the program, configuring newsgroups, and downloading files. Click here to view the quickstart tutorial.


Purpose:

Android Newsgroup Downloader downloads files from Usenet newsgroups such as the alt.binaries newsgroups. Android is capable of downloading all types of attachments, including pictures (jpeg, jpg, gif, bmp, pcx, tga, png), movies (mpeg, mpg, avi, rm, vob), music (wav, mp3), applications & archives (rar, par, zip, exe), and much more. There is no limitation on what you can download with Android.

Android is an automatic newsgroup downloader. All you do is drag and drop the files you want to download, and Android will take it from there. Multi-part messages are automatically reassembled. Files are decoded using uudecode, mime, or yEnc. Android remembers your queue ("to-do" list) from one session to the next, caches headers, and keeps track of a history of what you've downloaded.

Android is also a newsgroup accelerator. Android uses multiple threads open multiple connections to your server. Android uses the multiple threads to download multiple parts of a message at the same time, improving performance 400% over less-sophisticated single threaded downloaders.

Requirements:

Distribution:

Android is a shareware program. This means that you can try the software before you buy it. This gives you the opportunity to get started with Android and make sure it works for you before you spend any money.

You can always download the most recent version of Android at http://www.sb-software.com/android/


Table Of Contents

Quick Start
The Android Interface
    Pages of the Interface
        Main Page
        Account Configuration
        Subscribed Groups
        Article Chooser
Tools
    Multi-Newsgroup Search
Advanced Configuration
Command-line options
NZB File Support
Registration
Contacting the Author
Revision History


Quick Start

The quick start is contained in an online tutorial, and will get you up and going fast. It's fully illustrated and shows you exactly what to do and how to do it.

Click here to go to the quick start.


The Android Interface

Let's take a look at the Android Interface, which is show below:

There are several important parts to the Interface. From top to bottom:

On thing that you should familiarize yourself with is how to operate the page interface in the center of the main window. The interface is operated by using the tab buttons. The interface displays many different pages of information, and you'll want to be able to flip through them quickly.

For example, if you press the "Main" tab button, you'll get the main page. If you press the "account settings" tab button, then you'll get the screen where you enter your account information. Pressing the "subscribed groups" button will let you choose what groups to subscribe from. etc.


The Main Page

The main page is the page in the tabbed view that Android always starts on when the software is first loaded. It contains several "large buttons" that will take you to the other pages of the Interface.

There's not a whole lot to see on the main page, it's really just a starting point to get to the other pages of the Interface.


Account Configuration

Account configuration is where you enter your account settings that go with your news server. Blow is a picture of the account settings page:

The most important pieces of information here are:

The "connection test" box is used to test your connection and verify that the above three settings are correct. It'll do a quick little routine of logging onto the server. The result will either be "Success", or an error code which will let you know what went wrong.

Optional -- support for encrypted usenet connections:

Android does support encrypted usenet connections. In order to use an encrypted newsgroup service, then your news server must support encrypted access. Beware that all news servers do not support encrypted access, and some that do require additional fees. Please be sure that your news server does support encryption before you try to enable the encryption checkbox, otherwise Android will be unable to connect to the server.


Subscribed Groups:

The subscribed groups page lists the newsgroups that you are subscribed to.

There are several buttons that are arrayed across the bottom of the page:


Article Chooser:

The article chooser is where you'll spend most of your time. It lists the articles that are available on the news server. You drag and drop articles from the chooser to the queue to cause them to be downloaded.

The chooser includes a bar of filter options that control what is displayed in the main portion of the chooser. Below is a picture of the bar.

The first option, and the one that you need to select is the Group. Each of your newsgroups will be listed in the drop down list next to the group. Select the one whose articles you wish to view.

The next option is the age filter. The age filter is useful as it lets you decide how recent articles are displayed in the chooser. It has the following settings:

all
Displays all of the articles in the newsgroup. No filter is performed based on age.
since-last-session
Only displays articles that are new since the last time that you viewed the newsgroup in a previous session of using the program.
today
Displays articles that were posted during the current day.
1-days old
Displays articles that were posted today and yesterday
...
....

The final filter is the Search Filter. It allows you to enter a search string and will display only articles whose headers (subject, author, etc) contain the search specification that you enter.


Configuration Wizard

The configuration wizard dialog is opened by using the "Settings: Configuration Wizard" menu option, or the "Advanced Settings" button on the main page of the Android interface. The advanced configuration dialog is shown below:

The configuration wizard dialog has several different pages that can be displayed. You select a page by clicking one of the labels in the panel on the left hand side of the page.

Download Settings: Download Directory

The download directory is the subdirectory (or "folder") where your downloaded files will be placed. You can select any folder on your computer.

Download Settings: Classification

Classification allows you to further classify the files that are downloaded. Rather than download all of the files into one single big directory (which can get very large and confusing), you can opt to have Android automatically place the files into separate directories depending on the groups that the files are downloaded from.

User Interface: Lists and Queue

The lists and queue settings allow you to customize how the Newsgroups, Article Chooser, and Queue lists work. You can customize the order of the fields, change the width of the fields, and even change the names of the fields.

User Interface: Misc

Miscellaneous is where any leftover user-interface options are placed.

User Interface: Skin

The skin options allow you to customize the look and feel of the Android interface. Five skins are provided, as well as a standard windows "unskinned" appearance. Which skin you use is entirely your choice -- just pick the one that looks best to you. If you experience any user interface glitches, then try the "windows stardard" option that does not use skins.

Article Retrieval: Threads and Parallelism

The thread options control how many simultaneous connections are created to the news server.

Be careful -- some servers will place limits on how many simultaneous connections you can open. If you exceed the maximum, then the server will start dropping connections, or issuing access denied errors. If you start experiencing these kinds of problems, then try adjusting your number of simultaneous threads back.

Advanced: Debugging Options

The debugging options are generally used when you experience a problem, and the author of the software (that would be me...) asks you to provide some additional information. If you're experiencing problems, and you're technically savvy, you can look in the debug windows and get an idea of what has gone wrong.

Advanced: Program Directories

Android uses several directories (or "folders") to store program information. Usually, you won't need to modify these directories, unless you have a specific need (for example, limited space on your C: drive).

Advanced: Timeouts and Retries

Timeouts and retries allow you to control how many times Android retries a failed operation. Setting the retries to a higher value will make the program more resilient in the face of errors, such as lost internet connections.


Multi-Newsgroup Search

The common way to perform a Search is using the Search feature in Android's Article Chooser. However, this assumes that you already know which newsgroup that you intend to search.

You can use the Multi-Newsgroup search feature to search all of your subscribed newsgroups at the same time. For example, if you subscribe to several different mp3 newsgroups, and you want to search for a "Blondie" song, then you could use the Multi-Newsgroup Search tool, type "Blondie" into the search specification, and then it would search all of your newsgroups for those songs. It can be a real time saver when there are several related groups that contain the item that you're looking for.

The Multi-Newsgroup Search only searches the newsgroups that you're subscribed to, and it can only perform the search after the headers for those groups have been downloaded. This is because the search is performed locally, using the headers that have been downloaded.


Command-line Options

Android supports some command line options to influence the behavior of the software. Command line options can be used when launching the program from the Windows command prompt, or can be entered into a Windows shortcut. Command-line options are generally an advanced feature and are not necessary for novice users.

Option Example Description
-regkey <key> and.exe -regkey foobar The -regkey option allows you to specify an alternate registry key to be used. This lets you set up multiple Android profiles that are independent. For example, if you used the command line "and.exe -regkey foobar", then you would launch a session of Android that used the registry key "foobar" instead of the default. This session could then receive it's own set of configuration options -- group names, download directories, etc.
-autostart and.exe -autostart Automatic start. Android will connect immediately after the program has loaded.
-delaystart <min> and.exe -delaystart 1 Automatic start after the selected number of minutes. Android will wait the selected number of minutes and then automatically connect to your news server.

NZB File Support

Android includes support for the popular NZB file format. NZB files are indices of newsgroup articles that you can download from various websites. Occasionally, NZB files are posted to a newsgroup along with the data files (for example, a poster may post a NZB files, a series of RAR files, and some PAR2 files all together). The NZB file is useful as it lists all of the individual posts that comprise a large multi-part file, so that you can be sure to download all of the parts.

If you have an NZB file, then it can be imported by using the command "import NZB file" from Android's file menu. There are also other ways to get ahold of an NZB file. If you download an NZB that was posted to a newsgroup, then you can use the <Open> button in the Queue to open and import the NZB file. You can do the same if you've downloaded it in a previous session and it's listed in Android's history list.

There are currently a few limitations on NZB files that will probably be addressed in later versions:


Registration:

Android Newsgroup Downloader is a shareware program. It is not free. You are allowed to use the program for a limited amount of time. However, if you decide that the software fits your needs, then you must register the software. Registering is the same as "buying" the software; we just use a little different terminology in the shareware business.

There are several ways to pay the registration fee. The easiest is online at the website. You can also pay via paypal or by sending a check or money order in the mail. Full details are posted online.

Once you've purchased the registration, a code will be emailed to you. When you receive the code, you need to enter the code into the software. This is done by using the "Register"/"Enter Registration Code" option on the main menu.


Contacting the author:

You may reach me at smbaker@sb-software.com


Revision History