BioBit No 16 (ANU NEWS)

Mon Mar 26 06:54:00 EST 1990

     1616161616                       1616161616
     1616161616                       1616161616
     1616  1616   1616   1616161616   1616  1616   1616   161616161616
     16161616            1616161616   16161616            161616161616
     16161616     1616   1616  1616   16161616     1616       1616
     1616  1616   1616   1616  1616   1616  1616   1616       1616
     1616161616   1616   1616161616   1616161616   1616       1616
     1616161616   1616   1616161616   1616161616   1616       1616

                               No 16
                     << EDITED BY ROBERT HARPER >>

     Whenever anybody  subscribes to the BIOSCI lists at IRLEARN I get
     some notification that a new member has joined. It often  happens
     that this  new  user  will  then  pass  on the good news to other
     people at  his  computer  center  and  then  LISTSERV  gets  more
     subscriptions from the same NODE.

To illustrate this graphically:

     %             %<----------->  User1 at NODE  | Listserv sends the
     %             %<----------->  User2 at NODE  | same message to
     %   LISTSERV  %<----------->  User3 at NODE  | five different people
     %             %<----------->  User4 at NODE  | at the same NODE.
     %             %<----------->  User5 at NODE  |

     Each individual  receives the message in their PERSONAL mail box.
     They have to maintain their mailbox... deleting  old  messages...
     sometimes their  disk  quota  becomes  full and when this happens
     messages get bounced back to the LISTSERV, and  then  it  is  the
     duty of  the  moderator  of  the  lists  to  remove the offending
     USER at NODE from the distribution lists.

     Recently however I have been seeing new types of subscriptions to

To illustrate this graphically:

     %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%     %%%%%%%%%%%%%%
     %             %     %            %<------->  User1 at NODE
     %             %     %            %<------->  User2 at NODE
     %   LISTSERV  %<--->% NEWSREADER %<------->  User3 at NODE
     %             %     %            %<------->  User4 at NODE
     %             %     %            %<------->  User5 at NODE
     %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%     %%%%%%%%%%%%%%

     With this situation  LISTSERV  only  sends  ONE  message  to  the
     NEWSREADER, and  the  local  users use the NEWSREADER software to
     keep track of what is going on in the BIOSCI  lists.  This  would
     seem to be a more economic use of network bandwidth... and besides
     the individual  no  longer  needs to worry about their disk quota
     since the newsreader has its  own  diskspace  allocated  for  the
     collection of  messages, and automatic expiry dates can be set so
     that old message  just  simply  disappear  over  the  blue  event
     horizon and cause nobody any more trouble.

     The LISTSERV/NEWSREADER option is only one  way  of  economically
     handling the  distribution  of  messages  to  different  NODES on
     BITNET/EARN. The USENET option  is  another  way.  Basically  the
     principal is  the  same...  messages are delivered to NEWSREADING
     programmes rather than to individual POSTBOXES... this would seem
     to be the most sensible way to  proceed  when  it  comes  to  the
     distribution of messages.

     Recently Don  Gilbert  has written in BIOSOFT about VNEWS and ANU
     NEWS and where to get the source codes for these NEWSREADERS.  He
     dealt with the technical side of how to install these programmes.
     In this  addition  of  BioBit I will look at the "visual" side of
     ANU NEWS and briefly look at some "cosmetic" details.

     Basically ANU  NEWS  through  a  NNTP  feed  provides  a means of
     reading NEWSGROUPS from USENET, The main newsgroups that  are  of
     interest to life scientists are the BIONET newsgroups.

     At the  moment  there  are  21 BIONET newsgroups. Now USENET has
     about 700-800 different newsgroups, so the first thing to  do  is
     to be  selective  about what you want to read. You can filter off
     all the newsgroups that you are not interested in and REGISTER in
     those newsgroups that you want to read.

     So with ANU NEWS first of all a DIR/ALL will give you a  list  of
     all the USENET newsgroups that are available. With the cursor you
     then move  to  the  BIONET  newsgroups  that you want to read and
     write REGISTER... that newsgroup will  then  become  HIGHLIGHTED.

     Proceed in  this  way  until  you  have  registered  in  all  the
     newsgroups that you want to read. ANU NEWS will now remember that
     these are the special newsgroups that you  have  chosen  and  the
     next time you login to ANU NEWS it will only present you with the
     newsgroups that you have registered yourself in.

     You can  observe this in action if you write DIR/REG at the NEWS>
     prompt, and instead of getting  the  complete  list  of  ALL  the
     newsgroups you  only get the ones you are interested in. ANU NEWS
     allows you to be selective about  what  newsgroups  you  want  to
     read, and  thus  saves  you alot of time hunting through loads of
     messages to find the articles that you  are  interested  in.

     The third option is DIR/NEW  which  will  show  you  if  any  NEW
     messages have  come  into the newsgroups that you have REGISTERED

     Here is a  DIR/NEW  from  inside  ANU  NEWS.  You  are  told  the
     newsgroup name,  the  number  of  entries  recently  made  in the
     newsgroup, and the number of unread entries.  At a glance you can
     see which of the newsgroups are the most active.

     This example is from the BIONET newsgroups.

 NEWSGROUPS  NEW, 35 Newsgroups
            Newsgroup                                    Count    Unread
   1       bionet.general                                34        7
   2                                   11        6
   3       bionet.journals.contents                       6        4
   4       bionet.molbio.embldatabank                     3        2
   5       bionet.molbio.evolution                        4        4
   6       bionet.molbio.genbank                         14        6
-->7       bionet.molbio.genome-program                  29        2
   8       bionet.molbio.methds-reagnts                  19       16
   9       bionet.molbio.proteins                         2        2
   10      bionet.population-bio                          7        7
   11      bionet.sci-resources                           6        6
   12                               23       16

     To read the entries in a specific newsgroup you just  "point  and
     shoot" with the cursor. The newsgroup then "opens up" and you get
     a listing  of  the  messages  within the newsgroup giving you the
     title and the number of lines in the message, as well as the date
     when the message was written.

     This is an example from the Human Genome Newsgroup.

bionet.molbio.genome-program: 29 Items (#18 - #46) Reg:1 Prot:RW
        -<Discussion of Human Genome Project issues.>-
           Title                                               Lines Date
   29      Important announcement                                 87 16-Mar-90
   30      What we need is roadmaps... not more roads.            56 16-Mar-90
   31      Re: JITF Information Dissemination                     38 16-Mar-90
   32      Re: JITF information on Bionet                         41 17-Mar-90
   33      Re: JITF information on Bionet                         24 18-Mar-90
   34      Re: JITF information on Bionet                         59 18-Mar-90
   35      USENet and GenBank Updates                             87 18-Mar-90
   36      Re: JITF information on Bionet                         84 20-Mar-90
   37      Re: USENet and GenBank Updates                        117 20-Mar-90
   38      Re: local copies of genbank                            50 20-Mar-90
   39      Re: local copies of genbank                            68 20-Mar-90
   40      local copies of genbank                                78 21-Mar-90
   41      Central vrs Local databases                            70 21-Mar-90
   42      Re: bionet/biosci popularity                           19 21-Mar-90
   43      Re: bionet/biosci popularity                           16 21-Mar-90
   44      GenBank, FASTA, life and the universe.                 46 23-Mar-90
   45      Re: GenBank and FASTA                                  61 23-Mar-90
-> 46      COMPUTATIONAL GENETICS ISSUES                         141 24-Mar-90

     Now   the  beauty  of  ANU  NEWS  is  that  it  gives  you  three
     possibilities of entering a message.

     When you want to write a completely NEW message into a  newsgroup
     then you  use  the  command POST. The VAX then kicks you into the
     EVE editor and you write your message and then send it off.

     When you  want  to  reply to an already existing message then you
     use the FOLLOWUP command. This will put the old message into your
     EVE editor and put those arrows down the left hand margin so  you
     can refer  to it when you are making your comments. When you send
     the message off it goes into the newsgroup so that  everyone  can
     read it.

     And thirdly if you do a REPLY to a message then the reply will be
     sent PRIVATELY and PERSONALLY to the original poster and will not
     appear in the newsgroup at all.

     In addition  there  are  the usual VAX MAIL commands which allows
     you to EXTRACT messages to a FILE or FORWARD messages to  another
     user. ANU  NEWS  is also set up so that when you give the command
     OPEN MAIL you can use the newsreader for  looking  at  your  MAIL
     folders, since they appear as separate newsgroups.

     I find this a very useful interface for handling  personal  mail.
     Here is what the mail interface looks like inside ANU NEWS, after
     giving the command OPEN MAIL. (Hmmmm... when is BIONAUTS going to
     be ready? ED)

            Newsgroup                                       Count    Unread
-> 1       harper.mail.bionauts                            69        0
   2       harper.mail.canada                              14        0
   3       harper.mail.finland                             16        0
   4       harper.mail.japan                                4        0
   5       harper.mail.laser                                4        0
   6       harper.mail.mail                                60        0
   7                                6        0
   8                                  17        0
   9       harper.mail.usa                                 29        0

     On the  "cosmetic"  side  ANU  NEWS allows you to set up personal
     headers and signatures. For example I can change my  mail  header
     so that  the  organization  is  Rob  "BioBit" Harper, and set the
     PROFILE so that a signature will be appended to the end of  every
     text that  I  write. You alter your NEWS PROFILE with the command
     SET PROFILE and to see what it is like, you use the command  SHOW
     PROFILE. My present profile is:

NEWS PROFILE for user: harper
Profile Personal Name:  Rob 'BioBit' Harper

     This calls  up  the  WPU  version  of EVE which is an editor that
     allows you to put in right justification  on  your  text,  always
     appends the  file  TAIL.TXT  (a  signature  to  the bottom of any
     message you write from ANU NEWS) and gives your mail  messages  a
     "personal name". Just cosmetics... but nice all the same.

     Well that is a short visual peek into ANU NEWS. The next question
     to be  asked is where is it available from? Don Gilbert has it on
     his server at and it is also available from via FTP. When I checked these sources  out  it
     was revealed  that ANU NEWS is rather a large programme so if you
     are ordering it make sure you have enough disk space  to  receive

To quote Don Gilbert:

> The ANU-News software, with C source and executables, can obtained by
> anonymous ftp to or to, in
> directory archive.util.vms.netnews as anunews*.*.  These files are
> compressed, backup sets.  You will need lzdcmp.exe to decompress these,
> as from archive.util.vms.

     One final word of information  is  that  on  USENET  there  is  a
     newsgroup called which specifically deals
     with ANU NEWS, and  if  you  have  any  questions  regarding  the
     installation or  running  of  the  programme  there are a host of
     knowledgeable people who are willing to share  their  experiences
     with you.

          * Robert Harper        *   Internet: HARPER at CC.HELSINKI.FI  *
-=ROB=-  * Helsinki University  *   Earn/Bitnet HARPER at FINUHA.BITNET *
        * Finland              *   Tel:358-0-7085300                *

More information about the Bioforum mailing list