Unofficial FAQ for alt.usenet.offline-reader.forte-agent

By William Guynes and Jeffrey Kaplan

v1.6 updated 7/28/99

This version is posted at http://loganact.com/agent/agentfaq.html

(March 2007: Many of the links herein are broken.  If you know where they should point to, please email ssl@loganact.com)

CONTENTS:
bullet[1] Introduction
bullet[1-1] Differences between Agent and Free Agent.
bullet[1-2] What are the latest versions of [Free]Agent?
bullet[1-3] Recent changes to this FAQ.
bullet[2] Obtaining [Free]Agent
bullet[2-1] How do I buy Agent?
bullet[2-1-1] Can I get Agent in stores?
bullet[2-1-2] How much does Agent cost? What do I get?
bullet[2-2] Where can I get [Free]Agent? bullet[3] Technical questions
bullet[3-1] Connectivity
bullet[3-1-1] My 16-bit version of [Free]Agent won't autodial my Win95/98 winsock. What's wrong?
bullet[3-1-2] I'm using [Free]Agent 32-bit with Win95/98 and keep getting "#10047 WSAEFNOSUPPORT" error when I try to connect.
bullet[3-1-3] How can I force [Free]Agent to connect to two news servers?
bullet[3-1-4] Why do I keep getting Winsock error #XXXXX?
bullet[3-1-5] Why won't [Free]Agent or Dial-Up Networking remember my dial-up password?
bullet[3-2] Email
bullet[3-2-1] Everyone is talking about "getting their email," but I can't find options for it in Free Agent, what gives?
bullet[3-2-2] Are there "return receipts" in [Free]Agent?
bullet[3-3] Posting
bullet[3-3-1] How do I crosspost using [Free]Agent?
bullet[3-3-2] I keep getting a "more included text than new text error."
bullet[3-3-3] How can I add an "X-No-Archive: yes" header?
bullet[3-3-4] How can I add "control:" and "approved:" headers?
bullet[3-3-5] How can I add a custom header?
bullet[3-4] Display
bullet[3-4-1] Why do all my Usenet messages have a 0 in front of them?
bullet[3-4-2] How can I make a folder in a folder? How can I move a newsgroup into a folder?
bullet[3-4-3] How can I sort my newsgroups list?
bullet[3-4-4] I want to sort/thread my headers by XXXXXXX.
bullet[3-4-5] Why are all the dates on my messages wrong?
bullet[3-4-6] My friend says my messages have "=20" all over them. I didn't type those!
bullet[3-5] Retrieval
bullet[3-5-1] I am getting an "operation timed out" error when retrieving my list of groups.
bullet[3-5-2] What are these little red Xs next to my messages? They say, "message no longer available."
bullet[3-5-3] Why is my news server always missing/repeating posts?
bullet[3-5-4] [Free]Agent crashes when refreshing groups. What can I do?
bullet[3-5-5] [Free]Agent tells me there are too many articles to retrieve. What can I do?
bullet[3-5-6] How can I automate news retrieval in [Free]Agent?
bullet[3-5-7] Why don't my newsgroups all act the same way?
bullet[3-5-8] How can I change my high message pointer for newsgroup message retrieval?
bullet[3-6] Attachments
bullet[3-6-1] I "attached" a text file in my email to a friend and it got sent as bunch of garbage characters.
bullet[3-6-2] Why is [Free]Agent using the wrong program when I launch an attachment?
bullet[3-6-3] When I try to decode a binary, Free Agent tells me there's no attachment. I know there is!
bullet[3-6-4] Where do my attachments go when I decode or launch in [Free]Agent?
bullet[3-7] Data Storage
bullet[3-7-1] What are all these IDX and DAT files on my disk? They're huge!
bullet[3-7-2] I've purged/deleted a lot of messages. But my IDX and DAT files aren't any smaller.
bullet[3-7-3] What format are the databases stored in?
bullet[3-7-4] How can I find out which IDX/DAT file pairs are for which newsgroup or folder?
bullet[3-8] ISP Specific
bullet[3-8-1] Netcom
bullet[3-8-1-1] I can't get [Free]Agent to work with Netcom, I keep getting repeated/lost messages. What's wrong?
bullet[3-8-2] Worldnet
bullet[3-8-2-1] How do I configure [Free]Agent for use with Worldnet?
bullet[3-8-3] Demon
bullet[3-8-3-1] [Free]Agent appears to lose messages with Demon.
bullet[3-8-4] America Online
bullet[3-8-4-1] Can I use [Free]Agent with AOL?
bullet[3-8-5] Microsoft Network
bullet[3-8-5-1] Can I use [Free]Agent with MSN?
bullet[3-8-6] MindSpring
bullet[3-8-6-1] How can I configure [Free]Agent for MindSpring?
bullet[3-8-7] Netscape News servers
bullet[3-8-7-1] Can I use [Free]Agent to connect with Netscape's secnews servers? I want to be able to access the netscape newsgroups.
bullet[3-9] Operating System specific
bullet[3-9-1] OS/2
bullet[3-9-2] Windows
bullet[3-9-2-1] Can I use [Free]Agent 32-bit under Windows 3.1 with Win32s?
bullet[3-10] Miscellaneous
bullet[3-10-1] How can I stop specific tasks?
bullet[3-10-2] When I edit a message, what I type covers up what was already on the screen. It's really getting annoying.
bullet[3-10-3] Whenever I close [Free]Agent I get a message "XXX e-mail and XXX usenet messages ready to send."
bullet[3-10-4] Is there any way for me to password protect [Free]Agent?
bullet[3-10-5] What are the differences in Properties and Default Properties in [Free]Agent?
bullet[3-11] Known Bugs
bullet[3-11-1] My cut and paste are grayed out! I need to use them.
bullet[3-11-2] Filter bug
bullet[4] Features
bullet[4-1] Does [Free]Agent have crosspost management?
bullet[4-2] Does [Free]Agent have kill/watch capability?
bullet[4-3] How can I do a (global) text search string of all messages?
bullet[4-4] In Free Agent, can I click on a URL to launch it?
bullet[5] Support
bullet[5-1] Where can I get support for [Free]Agent?
bullet[5-1-1] Help files
bullet[5-1-2] alt.usenet.offline-reader.forte-agent newsgroup
bullet[5-1-2-1] Binaries in the newsgroup
bullet[5-1-2-2] Crossposting in the newsgroup
bullet[5-1-2-3] Suggested message format in the newsgroup
bullet[5-1-2-4] Why did everyone ignore or scream at me when I asked for an email response?
bullet[5-1-3] Direct email support bullet[5-1-4] Other support resources bullet[5-2] Where can I get Internet help?
bullet[5-2-1] How do I create my own newsgroup?
bullet[5-3] Where can I find this FAQ? bullet[6] Conclusion
bullet[6-1] Credits
bullet[6-2] Copyright

[1] Introduction
[1-1] Differences between Agent and Free Agent.

Free Agent is a freeware off-line newsreader that is compatible with the Winsock (Windows Sockets) standard. It offers limited send email capability, but does not receive email.

Agent is the registered version of Free Agent and contains many new features, including POP3 or SMTP email reception, address books, kill/watch lists, URL launching, and crosspost management.

From here on, this FAQ will use "[Free]Agent" when the topic applies to both Agent and Free Agent.

[1-2] What are the latest versions of [Free]Agent?

Free Agent v1.11 is the latest release of the freeware version.

Agent is currently in version 1.5.

Both are available in 16 and 32-bit versions.

[1-3] Recent changes to this FAQ.

v1.43
bulletAdded [1-3]
bulletModified [1-2] to reflect new version of Agent

v1.44
bulletModified [2-2] to reflect new version of Agent
bulletModified [3-5-4] to show new information on group limits
bulletAdded [5-1-4]

v1.45
bulletModified [5-3] to reflect new FAQ web location

v1.5
bulletModified [1-2] to reflect new version of Agent
bulletModified [2-1-2] to reflect new release scheduling
bulletModified [2-2] to reflect new version of Agent
bulletModified [3-6-1] to better redirect binary questions
bulletModified [3-6-2] to include WindowsNT
bulletModified [3-8-5-1] to include new Agent/MSN abilities
bulletAdded [3-11-2]
bulletModified [4-3] to add Global Search for Agent
bulletModified [5-1-3] to reflect new Agent releases
bulletModified [5-3] for shorter html link

v1.6
bulletModified [1-2] to reflect new version of Agent
bulletChange in FAQ maintainer

[2] Obtaining [Free]Agent
[2-1] How do I buy Agent?

Go to this web site for the latest details on ordering Agent: http://www.forteinc.com/store/aghow.htm

[2-1-1] Can I get Agent in stores?

Agent is not available in stores.

[2-1-2] How much does Agent cost? What do I get?

$29.00 to download Agent from Forté's ftp site. The key to activate it is provided via email.

$40.00 for the "Shrink Wrap" version. Same as above, plus you will receive Agent on diskette, in 16-bit or 32-bit, along with a printed manual. If you choose cd-rom media, both bit versions will be included.

You also get limited direct email support. (see [5-1-3])

[2-2] Where can I get [Free]Agent?

A list of Free Agent ftp sites is available at: http://www.forteinc.com/getfa/download.htm

A list of Agent ftp sites is available at: http://www.forteinc.com/store/getagent.htm

Filenames to look for

Free Agent (16-bit) : fa16-111.exe
Free Agent (32-bit) : fa32-111.exe
Agent (16-bit) : a16-15.exe
Agent (32-bit) : a32-15.exe

[3] Technical questions
[3-1] Connectivity
[3-1-1] My 16-bit version of [Free]Agent won't autodial my Win95/98 winsock. What's wrong?

No 16-bit Windows application can auto-activate the Windows 95/98 Dial-Up Networking (DUN). You will have to make your connection manually or upgrade to the 32-bit version.

[3-1-2] I'm using [Free]Agent 32-bit with Win95/98 and keep getting "#10047 WSAEFNOSUPPORT" error when I try to connect.

Most likely problem, your [Free]Agent is 32-bit and your Operating System is also 32-bit, but your winsock is 16-bit. You need to talk with your provider about switching to a 32-bit winsock. The Win95/98 Dial-Up Networking (DUN) comes highly recommended.

[3-1-3] How can I force [Free]Agent to connect to two news servers?

First, let me point out the difference between multi-user and multi-instance.

Multi-user means two or more separate configurations for more than one person; or, can also be one person who desires multiple news servers. This is easily done using any version of [Free]Agent.
See...

Help | Search for Help on... | Multi-user configuration

for how to do this.

Multi-instance means more than one instance of a program actively running at the same time. For example, two copies, both downloading messages from separate servers while using the same Winsock stack.

"Agent Will Allow Multiple Instances Of Itself To Run, Provided Each Instance Is Using A Different Directory."

- Agent Help File

Important note to people with 16-bit operating systems: For multi-instance use, the .exe files must to renamed in order to be unique from each other.

[3-1-4] Why do I keep getting Winsock error #XXXXX?

A rather complete listing of Winsock errors, and what they mean, can be found at: http://www.sockets.com/a_c.htm

[3-1-5] Why won't [Free]Agent or Dial-Up Networking remember my dial-up password?

See http://www.creativelement.com/win95ann/win95ann5.html#10 for many possible fixes.

[3-2] Email
[3-2-1] Everyone is talking about "getting their email," but I can't find options for it in Free Agent, what gives?

Free Agent does not have email receive capability, but can send email.

Agent has both send and receive email capability. (see [1-1])

[3-2-2] Are there "return receipts" in [Free]Agent?

[Free]Agent does not support "return receipts." There are two arguments against this feature...

One. Return receipts are no guarantee that the reader has read your email message. Just verification that their system has accepted said email.

Two. There is no Internet standard for the format of return receipts. Anything devised by Forté would require that the recipient was also using [Free]Agent.

[3-3] Posting
[3-3-1] How do I crosspost using [Free]Agent?

[Free]Agent does not allow one to crosspost by highlighting groups in the newsgroups list. One must manually type in each newsgroup name, separated by commas and no spaces.

If you read somewhere in the [Free]Agent helpfiles that this is possible, it was a typo.

There is no expectation for this to change any time in the near future.

[3-3-2] I keep getting a "More included text than new text" error.

Your news server has set a limit on the amount of allowable quoted text and is rejecting the message. [Free]Agent is just passing the message on to you. There is nothing it can do about it.

Your options are:
bulletCut down on the excessive quoting. (preferred method!)
bulletAsk your news server administrator to remove/alter the limit.
bulletSubscribe to an alternate news service. (drastic)
bulletChange your quote character. (NOT recommended, it makes your messages look horrible)
bulletPad the message with characters at the end. (NOT recommended, will probably result in annoyed email responses)

[3-3-3] How can I add an "X-No-Archive: Yes" header?

In Free Agent this is not built in. (see [3-3-5])

For Agent users, this header may be toggled on using...

Group | Default Properties | Post
(see [3-10-5])

and checking the appropriate checkboxes.

[3-3-4] How can I add "Control:" and "Approved:" headers?

Help | Search for Help on... | Index | AGENT.INI
[Message] section
ShowAllFields variable

[3-3-5] How can I add a custom header?

[Free]Agent does not have facilities to add user-defined custom headers.

Workaround: Many people have hex-edited their Agent.exe file to remove existing, unused headers and replace them with a custom header. A problem with this is that the header string must not be longer than the existing string, or important code can be overwritten.

[3-4] Display
[3-4-1] Why do all my Usenet messages have a 0 in front of them?

"Agent doesn't set the lines field (the field that tells how many lines there are in the article) when posting an article, because we thought all news servers added it automatically. It turns out that some don't, so any article posted through them will end up with a header claiming that it has 0 lines. The article text is still there and can still be viewed, but many newsreaders will display it in the browser with a line count of 0.

This problem will be fixed in a later release."

- Lance Boehm, Agent Support team

FAQ note: Has not been fixed yet.

[3-4-2] How can I make a folder in a folder? How can I move a newsgroup into a folder?

[Free]Agent does not have nestable folders or newsgroups. It has been mentioned as a possible, future Agent feature.

[3-4-3] How can I sort my newsgroups list?

At the moment, sorting the newsgroups list is not possible within the program. Forté is aware of the desire for this feature, but has assigned it a low priority on "THE LIST" of new features.

There is a third party program called "AGENT GROUP ORDER (AGO)" that can currently reorder your groups and folders to your liking.

Agent Group Order can be found at: ftp://ftp.netcom.com/pub/jo/jonzonk/agent/ago.html

[3-4-4] I want to sort/thread my headers by XXXXXXX.

"In both Free Agent and Agent, there are settings (under options | preferences | navigation in Free Agent, under options | general preferences | message list in Agent) which control how threading is done.

Agent (not Free Agent) also has sorting capability, which can override the threading preferences. Clicking on the column titles in the header pane sorts headers by the title criterion (also available on the Group menu). Subject, Author, and Date are toggles, and Thread/Size rotate through the choices. The sort criterion in use is underlined.

If a newsgroup is not threading when you expect it to, in Agent first check which column is controlling sorting, changing as necessary, and in both programs doublecheck your threading preferences."

- Don Kirkman

[3-4-5] Why are all the dates on my messages wrong?

The Internet is a global network of computers and not everyone lives in your timezone. [Free]Agent comes preconfigured to use Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), also called Universal Time (UT), for timestamping messages.

Your computer's internal clock is, usually, set to your local time. [Free]Agent, by default, converts to GMT when posting and from GMT when reading.

If you desire your posts to be stamped with your local time, hand-edit "GMTDATES" field under [Message] section in the Agent.ini to a 0 value. Like so...

[Message]
GMTDates=0

[Free]Agent 16-bit has configurable options to set your time zone. Check under Options | Preferences | System Profile.

[Free]Agent 32-bit reads your local time zone off of the operating system. Check your OS configuration to correctly set these values.

For more information on time zones, web to http://tycho.usno.navy.mil/tzones.html

[3-4-6] My friend says my messages have "=20" all over them. I didn't type those!

This is an option in Agent called "MIME Quoted Printable" text.

The Internet, being a collection of different types of computers, is limited to 128 different possible characters. Now that the Internet has gone global, there has entered a need for foreign language support beyond the normal ASCII character set.

Since it is not efficient to upgrade all the hardware on the Internet at once, the "MIME Quoted Printable" system has been implemented to "encode" extended characters and "decode" them on the other end. Your friend's computer is not decoding.

Agent does MIME quoted printable. Free Agent does not.

Either your friend must get a program that correctly decodes, or you must turn off MIME quoted printable text in your copy of Agent.

The MIME quoted printable option can be configured separately for each language you have configured in Agent. See...

Options | General Preferences | Languages

under Usenet Text and Email Text.

[3-5] Retrieval
[3-5-1] I am getting an "Operation timed out" error when retrieving my list of groups.

This is a classic "lag" situation. Your news server is slow, or has unusually heavy traffic, so [Free]Agent thinks your link is dead and times out.

In Free Agent under...

Options | General Preferences | Online

Adjust the "Go offline automatically after XXX seconds of no activity" value to something higher.

In Agent under...

Options | User and System Profile | Online

Adjust the "Go offline automatically after XXX seconds of no activity" value to something higher.

[3-5-2] What are these little red Xs next to my messages? They say, "Message no longer available."

An out of synch server farm can cause this problem. (see [3-5-3])
If this is not the case, read on.

Your news server has limited space. Once a message has reached a predetermined age, it is purged and the space is made available for a new message.

If you get new headers, wait a while, and attempt to retrieve the bodies, they will have expired in the meantime. [Free]Agent is telling you that those messages have been deleted since you last got headers.

Your options are:
bulletQuit waiting so long to get the bodies.
bulletAsk your news server administrator to lengthen the purge time for that newsgroup.
bulletChange your news provider to one that retains the posts longer.

If using Agent and you have reason to believe a message previously marked with the red X is, in fact, available, use the Agent function...

Message | Mark Available

to allow the message to be marked available for downloading again.

[3-5-3] Why is my news server always missing/repeating posts?

First, make sure missing posts are not just being delayed. Usenet can sometimes take up to 5 days to fully propagate a posting. Just because your friend got it today doesn't mean you will.

Posts DO get lost on Usenet occasionally, so don't jump to conclusions.

If you're sure this is not the case, and it is truly a chronic problem, you probably belong to what is called a "News Farm." Large amounts of singly repeated posts are a sure sign of a news farm.

When the Internet was young, each news server was one machine. When you got headers, it had no problem "remembering" where you left off the last time. Today, with these new mega-providers appearing, one machine can't handle the load. They have large "farms" of machines and each time you logon you get a different, randomly assigned, machine. This machine might not be correctly synchronized with the others, so it does not give you messages you should be getting.

Some actions you can take are:
bulletFind out if there is a way to force a connection to the same machine every time.
bulletIf using Agent, Options | User and System Profile | System, check the box titled "Server creates messages out of order."
bulletIf using Free Agent, Group | Default Properties | Retrieving, check the box titled "Server creates messages out of order."
bulletGet a better news provider.

[3-5-4] [Free]Agent crashes when refreshing groups. What can I do?

The 32-bit versions of [Free]Agent are not a problem. Somewhere along the lines of 4 billion groups are allowable.

The 16-bit versions have a limit of 65535 (or 64k) groups.

[3-5-5] [Free]Agent tells me there are too many articles to retrieve. What can I do?

This problem is covered in Forté's own FAQ: http://www.forteinc.com/agsup/csfaqrd.htm#TooMany

"At this time, there are no plans to increase the 32k headers per group limit."

- Lance Boehm, Agent Support Team

[3-5-6] How can I automate news retrieval in [Free]Agent?

For an FAQ on automating [Free]Agent's operations, web to http://crash.ihug.co.nz/~geoff/agentfaq.htm

[3-5-7] Why don't my newsgroups all act the same way?

You have probably lost track of your individual newsgroup configurations. (see [3-10-5])

[3-5-8] How can I change my high message pointer for newsgroup message retrieval?

The term "High Message Pointer" is kind of out of date when referring to [Free]Agent.

With the advent of "news farms," (see [3-5-3]) messages no longer got received and posted in a nice, neat order. So an alternate, out-of-order, method has come into use. This screws up the "highest message retrieved" concept.

The high message pointer configuration has been replaced with the Sample Headers option...

Online | Sample Headers from Selected Groups...

[3-6] Attachments
[3-6-1] I "attached" a text file in my email to a friend and it got sent as bunch of garbage characters.

These files were encoded binaries.
Try taking this course on Usenet binaries to better understand the difference in binary and text postings: http://www.newbie-u.com/.

If you don't want the file encoded (works only for text files), try using File | Insert Text File instead of using Attachment. Encoding a text file creates unnecessary overhead.

Binaries (i.e. anything not text) MUST be encoded. Examples of binary files include graphics, sounds, spreadsheets and word processor documents.

[3-6-2] Why is [Free]Agent using the wrong program when I launch an attachment?

[Free]Agent does not know (or care) what type of program or file it is executing. All it knows is to pass the file on to the operating system, which uses the extension of the file to determine how to "run" it. These are commonly called "associations."

Under Win95/98 and WindowsNT, associations can be set in Windows Explorer under View | Options | File Types.

Older versions of Windows use File | Associations in the File Manager application

For Agent users only:

The introduction of MIME in Agent complicated things about filename extensions being used to determine the file type.

"(NOTE: This explanation excludes 'executables', which are handled somewhat differently in some sub-cases.) Agent checks the content-type (for uue it assumes 'application/octet-stream'):

  1. If there is an application named on the line of the MIME table corresponding with the content-type (real or assumed) that application is launched (regardless of the .ext of the attachment, if any).
  2. If the content-type (real or assumed) matches a line of the MIME table but #2 doesn't apply, the program associated in Windows with the .ext of the attachment (if any) will be launched.
  3. If the content-type (real or assumed) matches a line of the MIME table and neither #2 nor #3 applies, the application associated in Windows (if any) with the default .ext on the line of the MIME table (if any) will be launched.
  4. If none of the foregoing apply (that is, the content-type isn't in the table, or it is in the table but there is neither a default .ext nor an actual .ext on the attachment) Agent will pop a dialog box when the attachment is launched to allow the user to select a 'viewer'."

- Jim Bradley

[3-6-3] When I try to decode a binary, Free Agent tells me there's no attachment. I know there is!

There are different methods for encoding binary files. Free Agent only supports UUencode. Binaries using other encoding methods are not detected.

Base64 is one of these. MIME, although technically more than an encoding scheme, also can not be "seen" by Free Agent.

Agent decodes most all popular formats without problems.

Free Agent workarounds:
bulletGet WinZip (shareware). In addition to handling .zip files, it also decodes UUE and MIME encoded binary files. WinZip can be downloaded from http://www.winzip.com.
bulletGet Wincode (freeware). A 3rd party decoding program. The help files, on the contrary, are not freeware.
Wincode can be found at http://www.members.global2000.net/snappy/index.html.
bulletGet SJHB64 (freeware). SJHB64 can be downloaded from http://www.sjhdesign.com/.

[3-6-4] Where do my attachments go when I decode or launch in [Free]Agent?

Using Free Agent, when decoding (saving) a binary, it is decoded and saved to disk in the directory specified under...

Group | Default Properties | Attachments | Binary Attachments Directory
(see [3-10-5])

Launching under Free Agent first does a decode, then launches it from this location.

Agent separates these two functions further by allowing the user to specify a special temporary directory just for launching. The contents of this temp directory are deleted by Agent when Agent is closed.
Both settings can be found under...

Group | Default Properties | Directory
(see [3-10-5])

This was done because many people want to launch an attachment before deciding whether to keep it. (Myself, I like inspecting zip files before deciding on it's worthiness of my hard drive space.)

[3-7] Data Storage
[3-7-1] What are all these IDX and DAT files on my disk? They're huge!

Free(Agent) is an off-line newsreader. This means that the messages are transmitted from the news server and stored on the user's hard drive until purged or deleted. Those IDX and DAT files are your messages, stored in database format.

If you want to reduce their size, try adjusting...

Group | Default Properties | "What To Purge" and "When To Purge" options

Important: See [3-7-2] for important information on purging.

[3-7-2] I've purged/deleted a lot of messages. But my IDX and DAT files aren't any smaller.

Purging (or deleting) a message does not actually remove the message from the hard drive. Doing so would require a complete rewrite of the entire database file each time you deleted one message. Instead, each "deleted" message gets a little deleted flag on it, but the information contained in it is still present.

Compacting a database actually deletes all of these marked messages and rewrites the database without them. This is the only way to recover used space. In [Free]Agent, this is accomplished using File | Compact Databases.

[3-7-3] What format are the databases stored in?

The file format of the databases is proprietary and has not been published by Forté.

[3-7-4] How can I find out which IDX/DAT file pairs are for which newsgroup or folder?

Help | Search for Help on... | Index | AGENT.INI
[Debugging] section
ShowUID field

[3-8] ISP Specific

FAQ note: If anyone has provider specific solutions to FAQs, please email them to me.
[3-8-1] Netcom
[3-8-1-1] I can't get [Free]Agent to work with Netcom, I keep getting repeated/lost messages. What's wrong?

Netcom (in the US) is a news farm. (see [3-5-3])
UK Netcom does not seem to have these problems.

The problem is a synchronization error with Netcom's news servers. Try selecting a direct server.

ixnewsX.ix.netcom.com (X is any number between 2 and 9)

Further information is at http://www.webster-image.com/iis/PCsHelpPage/index.htm

[3-8-2] Worldnet
[3-8-2-1] How do I configure [Free]Agent for use with Worldnet?

"Run customer care tools, and click the account info button. Read/print/save the resulting text file and copy the info. That text file will have all the connection info needed: your local access number, ip addresses, your logon name/password and email name/password (note: these two +are+ different!), news server, email servers, etc.

Also, there is the Worldnet User's Reference Desk. The address for help configuring Free Agent to worldnet.att.net is: http://204.127.237.208/wurd/newsreaders/Agent.htm"

- Jeffrey Kaplan

[3-8-3] Demon
[3-8-3-1] [Free]Agent appears to lose messages with Demon.

Demon has long been a chronic news farm case. (see [3-5-3])

[3-8-4] America Online
[3-8-4-1] Can I use [Free]Agent with AOL?

[Free]Agent can be used with AOL, but not to access their news server. AOL users can use AOL to connect to the Internet, but must find some other 3rd party news server to access. This incompatibility resides on AOL's side.

Make sure, however, that you have AOL's 32-bit winsock before attempting to use 32-bit [Free]Agent.

[3-8-5] Microsoft Network
[3-8-5-1] Can I use [Free]Agent with MSN?

"MSN requires the use of a proprietary encrypted password authentication method to access their news servers."

- Lance Boehm, Agent Support Team

Free Agent does not support this method.

Agent now supports it. See Help | Release Notes | Secure News and Email Logons

[3-8-6] MindSpring
[3-8-6-1] How can I configure [Free]Agent for MindSpring?

Free Agent 32-bit:

http://help.mindspring.com/modules/w95/cfg/agent.htm

Free Agent 16-bit...

http://help.mindspring.com/modules/win/cfg/agent.htm

MindSpring has no Agent configuration pages, but one could safely assume the configurations would be similar to the Free Agent ones.

[3-8-7] Netscape News servers
[3-8-7-1] Can I use [Free]Agent to connect with Netscape's secnews servers? I want to be able to access the netscape newsgroups.

No. You cannot. Only Netscape and Microsoft News can currently connect to secnews servers.

Forté has indicated that they aren't planning to support secnews either. This is, possibly, due to steep licensing fees that Netscape might demand to make [Free]Agent secnews compatible.

[3-9] Operating System specific
[3-9-1] OS/2

"Our beta testers have given us mixed reports about running free agent under os/2 3.0 (warp). Some can't make it work at all, while others are able to get it working more or less smoothly. It's possible that at least some of the difficulties are caused by problems in agent, while others may be setup problems in warp. We intend to make agent work correctly under os/2, so we are setting up an os/2 installation ourselves to evaluate the compatibility issues."

- Forté Web Pages

[3-9-2] Windows

[3-9-2-1] Can I use [Free]Agent 32-bit under Windows 3.1 with Win32s?

During the first release of the 32-bit version of Agent, Forté specifically warned against expecting this combination to work without problems.

"Except for the known limitation on multiple threads version f/32 works fine under win3.1 here. There was one glitch in the installation: the ctl3d32.Dll distributed in the full f/32 .Zip replaced the version already in my \windows\system directory without warning. Until I restored the prior version from a backup, every win32s application which tried to use it popped the error message 'this version of ctl3d32.Dll will run only under nt' (or words to that effect)."

- Jim Bradley

[3-10] Miscellaneous
[3-10-1] How can I stop specific tasks?

[Free]Agent's tasks are currently an all-or-nothing affair. There is no way to stop certain tasks. This is a frequently requested enhancement. In other words, "We know... We know..."

[3-10-2] When I edit a message, what I type covers up what was already on the screen. It's really getting annoying.

"This is not really a [free]agent problem, but you've somehow bumped that 'ins' key to the right of the backspace key. Check the last block on your status line; if it says 'ovr' you're set to overwrite your previous text. Just hit the 'ins' key again, intentionally this time."

- Don Kirkman

[3-10-3] Whenever I close [Free]Agent I get a message "XXX E-mail and XXX usenet messages ready to send."

At some point, you attempted to send a message that did not get sent. [Free]Agent has buffered it in the Outbox and it is still waiting.

Go to Window | Open Outbox and find the message that does not have a yellow smiley face.

Either delete the offending message (highlight it and hit the Del key) or open it again (double click on it) and send it. You can, of course, re-edit the message to suit your needs.

[3-10-4] Is there any way for me to password protect [Free]Agent?

There is no built-in way to password protect [Free]Agent. There are a variety of 3rd-party programs that claim to be able to protect files, but this author recommends caution about relying on their security against a determined attack.

[3-10-5] What are the differences in Properties and Default Properties in [Free]Agent?

In [Free]Agent there are some settings that apply globally to the whole program and others that apply directly to the newsgroups.

Most all of the truly global settings are under the Options menu.

Other settings are more closely related to the newsgroups. These settings are under

Group | Default Properties

Almost all of these default settings can be overridden for specific groups if the user so desires. To do this, first highlight the group (or groups) you wish to override in the groups pane, then select

Groups | Properties

The dialog box that appears will look almost exactly like the Default Properties one, but with a few changes. Note that any changes you make in Properties will only affect the groups you had selected before opening it!

Warning:

Changing more that one group's property overrides at a time can become problematic. The settings for the various selected groups may differ, so [Free]Agent doesn't know how to show you what the "current settings" are. In this case, the "problem settings" will appear grayed out. The user can alter them, however; at which point they will turn white again.

Hint: Email uses the Default Properties configuration.

[3-11] Known Bugs
[3-11-1] My cut and paste are grayed out! I need to use them.

Menu options in general are context sensitive and will sometimes be activated or deactivated according to which pane/window has the focus.

It seems that, in certain situations where it would be useful, the cut and paste menu options are grayed out.

This bug, although annoying, is not insurmountable.

Try using Ctrl-x, Ctrl-c, and Ctrl-v for Cut, Copy, and Paste, respectively.

[3-11-2] Filter bug

Starting in Agent v1.5, the program seems to have a problem associating a filter with the other parts of a multipart post. The last part received is the only part that receives the action.

Forté has been notified and have acknowledged the problem.

[4] Features
[4-1] Does [Free]Agent have crosspost management?

Crosspost management is a common feature among newsreaders to help the reader avoid having to read the same message over and over.

Free Agent does not have crosspost management of any sort.

Agent has basic crosspost management. Once a message has been downloaded once, the user can configure Agent to either mark any further posts read or delete them entirely.

Agent can also detect multi-posts to an extent, by comparing the poster, post length, and subject header Agent will assume a multi-post to be a crosspost.

Crosspost management abilities that Agent does not have:
bulletthe ability to spot messages posted to more than a user-specified number of newsgroups
bulletthe ability to spot messages that are also crossposted to user-specified newsgroups

[4-2] Does [Free]Agent have kill/watch capability?

Free Agent does not have kill/watch capability.
It does have a limited ability to ignore or watch threads, though it is lacking in what most users think of as kill/watch.

Agent does have kill/watch filter capability.
Agent's kill/watch format is proprietary and is not compatible with other news reader's kill/watch formats.

[4-3] How can I do a (global) text search string of all messages?

Free Agent:

This frequently requested enhancement (FRE) is not an option inside the program.

There is an external utility "Agent global search" (AGlobS) that can do this. AGlobS can be found at ftp://ftp.netcom.com/pub/jo/jonzonk/agent/aglobs

Agent:

Edit | Global Search...
(or ctrl-g)

[4-4] In Free Agent, can I click on a URL to launch it?

Although Agent does this, there are no known plans to incorporate this into Free Agent.

[5] Support
[5-1] Where can I get support for [Free]Agent?

[5-1-1] Help files

[Free]Agent's help files are extensive. Before posting or emailing for help, make sure you have read them thoroughly.

[5-1-2] alt.usenet.offline-reader.forte-agent newsgroup

Public support for [Free]Agent can be found in the newsgroup alt.usenet.offline-reader.forte-agent . This group is not officially supported by Forté, although employees frequent the group.

All of the people there are donating their own time, for their own reasons.

[5-1-2-1] Binaries in the newsgroup

It is a non-binary newsgroup! Do not post files there. No attachment will get a positive reaction from people.

[5-1-2-2] Crossposting in the newsgroup

Do not post or crosspost your [Free]Agent questions to alt.usenet.offline-reader, unless absolutely necessary, as they are thoroughly sick of seeing [Free]Agent questions.

[5-1-2-3] Suggested message format in the newsgroup

Do not type your entire question in the subject header. You will miss out on lots of answers this way, as most readers will just ignore or flame you.

Summarize the problem in the header and elaborate in the body. Not everyone has time to read all the bodies every day, and they might just be the ones who can help you!

[5-1-2-4] Why did everyone ignore or scream at me when I asked for an email response?

Question:

Why is requesting an email-only response to questions considered unacceptable?

Answer:

First and foremost, it deprives others of possibly valuable information. The regulars are here for the benefit of the group. (The answer to the second question also applies to this one)

Question:

Why is requesting an email & posted response to questions considered unacceptable?

Answer:

This newsgroup is very active. Most everyone here is dedicating their private time to supporting and promoting the Forté products Agent and Free Agent. As these two programs have grown in popularity, the traffic has increased. This brings with it a responsibility for all potential posters to do a minimum level of research before posting.

This can consist of:

bulletreading help files
bulletsearching for and reading FAQs
bulletlurking (i.e. reading the newsgroup for a period of time to see what is considered an appropriate post)
bulleteven searching the Usenet archival services (e.g. Dejanews) for previous answers in the group

It stands to reason that if a person is too busy to read this newsgroup for answers to their question (a minimal thing compared to the effort we put into answering them), they certainly didn't take the "minimum" time or effort to find it via some other method.

The end result is that these hit-and-run type tactics really do get old and give the impression that the original poster wants their answers handed to them on a silver platter.

[5-1-3] Direct email support

Free Agent:

"Forté does not provide direct technical support to freeware users."

- Forté Web Pages

Agent:

Agent users get free email support for up to 90 days after their purchase.

To contact a member of the Agent Support Team, please post your question by choosing Post | Support Question from the Agent menu. Failure to do so will result in you being instructed by the technical supportster instruction you to use Post | Support Question.

When sending mail to agent-support, you must also use your correct email address in the "From:" field. Bogus email addresses will not receive a reply.

Please note: Forté does not offer telephone support to individual Agent customers.

Commercial sites should refer to your contract, or contact your Forté sales representative for the terms and conditions of your customer support agreement.

[5-1-4] Other support resources

Lance Boehm, as a member of the Forté support team, has set up his own web page with lots of Agent-links at http://sd.znet.com/~lance.

[5-2] Where can I get Internet help?
[5-2-1] How do I create my own newsgroup?

To create an alt group, check out the alt.config newsgroup and try to locate the "So you want to create an alt group" FAQ document.

To create a newsgroup in comp.*, rec.*, etc., read news.answers or news.admin.misc for the FAQ called "How to create a new usenet newsgroup."

[5-3] Where can I find this FAQ?

To view it via the World Wide Web, http://world.std.com/~gordol/agentfaq.html.

[6] Conclusion
[6-1] Credits

I would like to thank the following people for helping me compile and proofread this FAQ.

William Guynes, Don Kirkman, Walter Gould, Chris, Jim Bradley.

I have given them credit by placing their ideas in quotes when I was quoting them directly. In other cases, I needed to change their comments a little, which prevented me from quoting them directly. I apologize for this necessity.

[6-2] Copyright

Copyright (c) 1996, 1997 and 1998 by William Guynes, 1999 by Jeffrey Kaplan. All rights reserved.

This FAQ may be posted to any Usenet newsgroup, on-line service, or BBS as long as it is posted unaltered and in its entirety. The definition of "In Its Entirety" is "The included pgp signature and all text contained within it."

This FAQ may not be distributed for financial gain.

This FAQ may not be included in commercial collections or compilations without express permission from the current maintainer.

Jeffrey Kaplan