Let me first apologize for not posting for some time. I am in the process of selling my home and moving. We had a contract for this home but the buyers did not perform their requirements and we had to end that contract and re-list the house. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, and I’m sure it is not over.

I am also going to be investigating freeware that’s floating about and bringing you information regarding their usefulness.

I will make every attempt to continue posting helpful articles regarding the use of your computer.

As the title states, this article relates to Newsgroups. We very rarely hear about newsgroups anymore. There are several reasons for this. I believe that more and more people are getting information from online forum groups, helpful Web sites, and, of course, Googling.

I would like to make the case that there is still room for the good old-fashioned newsgroup. Using a news reader rather than a browser can make the experience faster for many depending on the speed of their particular computer.

Most, if not all ISPs will give you an address to access the main newsgroups. It is usually the word “news” and your particular ISP, but check with them. Also, some corporations may have newsgroups relating to their products such as Microsoft. You can access the MS newsgroups by going to msnews.microsoft.com with your newsreader, or use your browser. There are many helpful people answering questions in those groups. I have saved myself a lot of grief by checking into a newsgroup prior to putting a new program or hardware on my computer. Many times any issues you may experience have already been experienced by others and the fixes are posted.

You can use a stand alone newsreader such as Xananews to access the newsgroups. If you are using Microsoft Outlook, click on the “GO” menu item and then on news and it will bring up the newsgroup reader in Outlook Express. Add the address for the particular news service you wish to use and you are on your way.

There are many good support groups online that many people can benefit from. I have a particular condition that has a newsgroup online and it has been helpful for support and/or questions regarding the disease and medications that are used. Of course, if you access medical groups, please consult your doctor prior to following any advise from a stranger. I have also used newsgroups to find out the status of certain products such as DVD players. I simply went to the newsgroup that had discussions regarding players and picked out the one I wanted by what was said in the group.

The reverse of the above is also true. You can search for a newsgroup that pertains to a particular group, program, or item and find out if there are problems associated with them.

Now, to end this, I have a very large caveat. If you post in a newsgroup, chances are that your junk mail will increase dramatically. Spammers will take the names from newsgroups and use them to make up lists. The other issue that can affect you is “flames.” There are just some contrary folks out there that spend their time showering newsgroups with rude and crude messages and if you post they may even e-mail you directly. It is very unfortunate that this has occurred, but there are ways to utilize the groups without being affected. You can use an alias and no spam address, or you can read and not post. I try to utilize both of these measures.

I would recommend that you take a look and see if these groups can be of benefit. If you are interested in getting information regarding a particular product, check and see if the manufacturer has an open forum on its Web site.