Setting-up Forté Agent:

This page is intended to help people new to the Forté Agent news reader program to begin using it to download binary files from Usenet.  More than likely you have heard that Outlook Express is not really suitable for use in the binary news groups or that someone has recommended that you get a copy of Agent from Forté Inc.  Now that you have it, you're probably wondering how to get it set-up to download binary files.  Well, you've come to the right page.

Agent is by far the most widely-used news-reader for text purposes in these groups, and it is also great for downloading binaries, once you have it set up correctly.  The following text and screen-shots should help you through the process

Agent has an extensive menu system. After you've installed and launched it for the first time, the top header-bar will look something like this

agent-setup 1

Agent also has an excellent embedded help system and on-line manual as well.  If there is something outside the scope of this document, just click on help and do a topic search.  It's that easy.


Note that Agent 1.93 was used for the screenshots. With newer versions of Agent the screen layout is slightly different, especially with version 3.X, but the data you need to enter and the actions you will need to take remain the same. This guide will show you what to enter, and what is some times even more important what not to enter. Once you know all that you can set-up any news-reader.

Setting-up the User and System Profile.

 When you click on Options on the menu-bar noted above, a drop down window will appear.

agent-setup 2Select the first option in the menu: User and System Profile.









User and System Profile: User

agent-setup 3



Organization and Reply To are both optional fields and either or both of them may be left blank without causing a problem.

News Server Login:  Your news server may or may not require a login ID along with a password.  Check with your ISP or News Service Provider (NSP) for their particular requirements.  Should you require one, you will need to click on the Login with a username and password radio button to activate the areas for you to enter the information, as in the example.

With everything in this area complete, click on the next tab - System.


Some of the fields shown in the picture at the left can be filled with asterisks, but we've filled them in here with phony entries.  Note that the Email Address is clearly bogus and should never really be your true real email address while you're using Usenet.
For Full Name, enter the "nym" (from ano'nym'ous) that you feel you want folks to know you by while on Usenet.  This can be anything you like and can even include extended characters such as: ř and ë, etc.  Do a check of the groups you intend to read and post-into frequently, and try to chose a nym that is unique and not one that someone else is already using, to help avoid confusion.


User and System Profile: System


agent-setup 4
























Next tab: Online


The News Server field is where you will enter the actual name of your news server.  As mentioned, you'll need to get the specifics from your ISP or NSP.  We've filled it in with a phony entry as an example.


Server Creates messages out of order: Leave this unchecked, as most servers don't do that any longer.


Agent is also capable of retrieving and sending mail from your regular ISP or NSP email account.  If you wish to do so with Agent, you can enter the necessary information here, otherwise enter something bogus, like the one in our example.  Send email messages with SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is the standard mail protocol used by almost every ISP.

Title Bar: This is what will be displayed on the title bar in the main Agent window.  Enter anything you like here





User and System Profile: Online

agent-setup 5 These are standard online defaults, which you can change if you desire. They are explained in detail in the Agent help file, so needn't be gone into here.  This screenshot is presented to give you a working set-up to start with.

Groups menu, Default Properties:

agent-setup 6 From the top menu bar, select Groups and the drop down menu shown at the left will appear.  Select Default Properties.



Groups/Default Properties for All Groups: 'Post' tab

agent-setup 7 Most of the tabs here deal largely with personal preferences, so we won't go into detail.  One point that should be stressed is that both the X-No-Archive and Observe X-No-Archive requests option boxes should be checked.  This minimizes the logging and archiving of your posting activities in the binary groups, and we highly recommend that you ensure both these options are checked (enabled.)



Getting newsgroups:

agent-setup 12

With those tasks out of the way, you're finally ready to connect and retrieve the list of newsgroups available on your news server, and then "subscribe" to the ones that you're interested in.  Additional information and explanations are conveniently available in the Agent help file should you need it, so we won't go into detail here. Regardless, it's very straight forward and simple.  After you connect and have logged in to your news server, click the Online menu button and then click Refresh Groups List and Agent will then retrieve all the newsgroups available on your news server.  When it has finished you can pick your favorite ones from the alphabetical listing in the All Groups display pane.  When you see one you like, left click to highlight it and then right mouse click;  choose Subscribe in the menu that appears, to add that group to your 'Subscribed Groups' list.




Downloading binary files.

Large files are automatically broken into smaller parts by the posting program, and posted in multiple "parts" or "sections", the size of which is determined by the poster in the set-up of the posting program. Additionally, large posts can include multiple files, and very large posts may span several days. The examples in the 'Selecting a post'-section explain all that in greater detail. In order to receive files we need to have the proper settings in the newsreader.


Groups/Default Groups:  Receive Files tab.

agent-setup 8

These are typical settings, yours may differ as you "tune" Agent to operate the way you like best.. Some people don't like to save attachments automatically, for example. One of the key settings is "Join multipart messages when retrieving headers" This may not be appropriate if you are on a dial-up connection where you have frequent time-outs. You may wish to download each segment individually, so that in the event of a time-out or disconnect you don't have to start at the beginning of a large file, but can simply restart after the last segment retrieved.


Many of these settings are personal preferences, you will have to experiment to discover your personal favorites. These example settings work well generally,  but Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV.)



This example saves the attachments automatically, and it will also remove the attachment from the message, after saving it to disk! Agent maintains a data-file for each group, containing all the messages you have downloaded. That data-file holds a copy of the file which has been saved to disk. When you have it set to "remove attachment from message", you are deleting that copy in Agent's data-file. That is an option which conserves disk space, as once the file is saved to disk you don't need another copy in Agent's data- file for that group.


Note that the "Double-clicking launches attachments" is a potentially dangerous setting, and is one that a beginner may well want to change by clearing that check-box. Sometimes you don't know if a virus or Trojan-horse has managed to creep into the poster's system and has been unintentionally included with the file.  Experienced users will always virus and Trojan-scan their downloads before launching anything — just in case. 


Also, be sure you know where your downloaded files are going!  On the Directory tab, you can select a default folder for all your saved attachments (files.)  To take things a step further, from the Group menu you can select individual properties which will pertain to each one of your Subscribed Groups, by telling Agent to save the files for that particular group to any particular directory  (e.g. all MP3 groups  to an MP3 directory. Similarly you can have "theme" directories for all Movie groups, Application groups, Game groups, etc.)



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