ABOUT the R.C.M. newsgroup

The lazy mans answer to newsgroup access via the web - CLICK HERE

R.C.M. stands for the rec.crafts.metalworking newsgroup on the Usenet portion of the Internet. Most Internet service providers provide their subscribers with access to a Usenet news server. A good tutorial about the Internet including USENET structure and history can be found at: http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/9504/Meltsner-9504.html.

While most serious readers of newsgroups use a dedicated newsreader program that directly access a news server, it is possible to participate in newsgroups via the WEB. One of the most popular sites which support this method of access was DEJA.COM now owned by Google.com and available under their groups feature. Deja had one of  the best searchable on-line archive of postings to newsgroups and Google has retained this valuable resource. You should be able to go directly to the rec.crafts.metalworking list by clicking here.

Other free services that provide a WEB gateway to newsgroups and allow posting are listed below. There are many ongoing changes to the services available, so if one does not work for you, try another. In some cases the services may be supported by advertising. Sometimes the posting option may not be obvious, try looking at a message to see if there is a "reply" or "new message" button.

    Mailgate. Click HERE to go directly to RCM.

    InternetBulletin - Click HERE to go directly to RCM.

If your Internet service provider does not offer Usenet news server access, you can obtain it separately from an independent provider such as http://www.newsguy.com or  http://www.supernews.com . These companies specialize in news server access and their servers are often have quite a bit better coverage that those operated by regular Internet service providers.

The Usenet was originally intended for "text only" messages. While some newsgroups (those with "binaries" as part of the name and a few others appearing in groups beginning with alt.*) now carry messages with non-text content, the rec.crafts.metalworking newsgroup has remained true to the original concept of the Usenet. This is because many users and the systems to which they are connected cannot take the burden of the large files resulting from non-text content. A significant number of systems simply do not carry newsgroups that contain non-text traffic. It was a desire to provide readers of R.C.M. with a way of sharing non-text items that resulted in the creation of the MWDropBox.com site with it's "Dropbox" concept. Now the files can be available to those who desire them, without putting a burden on everyone who reads the newsgroup.

HTML is the language that is used to transmit WEB pages. Many newsreader programs will not understand HTML and will just display the underlying format codes as text. HTML can also contain many non-text items. Even when only text is being sent, HTML formatting results in files that are 3 to 4 times larger than plain text files. Some news servers will filter out any messages containing HTML. For all of these reasons it is bad practice to send newsgroup messages in HTML. Unfortunately some graphical systems think that HTML should be used everywhere. If you find that your messages contain HTML, look for an option setting in your newsreader which will force plain text posting of your messages.

While Usenet newsgroups are one of the most wonderful parts of the Internet, news servers can be one of the most troublesome parts of the Internet. Most of us see responses for which we never saw the original question. We may post something and wonder if it really got out onto the net. Sometimes your news server seems to have impossibly little traffic posted. Most of these problems result from news servers having problems with their connection to the network or with the sometimes overwhelming quantity of messages. Unlike a WEB page, the messages on the Usenet are not stored on one central computer. They are instead distributed by a kind of "tell the next guy" system.  Inevitably some messages get lost before they get to your Internet provider's news servers.

There are also problems with unequal propagation times across the net. Sometimes an answer may show up before a question does. Also many senders may not have their local clocks set accurately. No news server can solve these problems.

If you want to find something that you saw mentioned as having been discussed in the past or you would like to search the newsgroup history for a topic or author, then try groups at Google (formerly Deja.com and before that Dejanews). This can be very useful for finding out more about the poster of messages before engaging in business transactions or flame wars with the poster. 

The AltaVista search site no longer supports searching Usenet postings.

If you would like to be a paying subscriber to a really good news service, try NEWSGUY which is the new subscription service from the folks who started ZIPPO, the now deceased public access WEB to newsgroup gateway.

The Yahoo web site also includes a page dedicated to news providers, software, and other access methods. Click here to go to Yahoo's Usenet Support page.

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