(Well, more of a questions-that-people-might-asked than Frequently Asked Questions;)
Please send questions to me at mark dot harman at ntlworld dot com.
1. Introduction, Updates, System Requirements, etc
1.1 What are the system requirements of NewsCoaster?
NewsCoaster requires at least a 68020 CPU, 4MB RAM, OS3.0, MUI installed and a TCP/IP stack. More RAM is recommended for newsgroups with lots of messages, and plenty of hard disk space is useful for keeping messages. NewsCoaster also runs fine under WinUAE.
1.2 Help! NewsCoaster doesn't run on my machine!
I have tested NewsCoaster on an A1200 with Blizzard A1230-IV and OS3.0 using Miami, and a PC running WinUAE (OS3.1 and OS3.9). I have had no reports of it crashing on any specific setup (apart from general bugs;) so it should work with all Amigas.. but I cannot be sure. If it doesn't run, then please email me, giving details of your system, and the problem which occurs. Make sure you have MUI, and the required custom classes, installed on your machine.
1.3 What MUI Custom Classes are Required?
These are all provided in the main archive so you don't have to worry. They are: Betterstring, TextEditor, NList, NListtree and Toolbar. Version 15.7 of TextEditor is required for rot13 decoding to work (so you can select the text). Also note that NewsCoaster will run without NListtree, you just won't be able to use the 'tree' views for folders and messages (it's a bit slow and buggy at the moment anyway).
1.4 Does NewsCoaster work with UAE?
NewsCoaster has been tested with WinUAE, and works fine. This should be the case with UAE for other platforms, too. Make sure you have 'BSD socket library emulation' ticked under Misc.
1.5 Does NewsCoaster work with Amithlon/AmigaXL?
I have been told NewsCoaster works fine with AmigaXL. I have no idea about Amithlon, but I hope it would (NewsCoaster has no special custom chip requirements, and MUI/Internet type applications seem to run fine with it). If you have tried it on Amithlon, please let me know if it does or doesn't work.
1.6 How stable are the beta versions? Should I run them?
A beta version is one that I haven't tested that well. Generally it means that it will be running okay on my machine, but there may be (possibly quite serious) bugs that I didn't notice when releasing, or it may be extremely unstable on some systems. As soon as I am aware of problems, I will indicate next this on the download page. On the other hand, a beta may work fine so feel free to try. Please make a back up of your current NewsCoaster executable in case the new beta is too unstable.
1.7 NewsCoaster no longer works on my machine. It used to work.
It sometimes happens that bugs get introduced into new versions. Firstly, please try to work out whether it stopped working (or became unstable or whatever) with a new version of NewsCoaster, or whether it was something that changed with your system (new hardware, new patch installed or whatever) and let me know accordingly. If it comes to it, I keep several old versions of NewsCoaster on the download page, so you can revert back to an older version.
2. General Usage
2.1 Help! NewsCoaster crashed/whatever, and now the message list window just displays gibberish, or if I click on a message, the message cannot be found, or the wrong message appears! What do I do?
Ideally such an event will never happen, but should it happen (and this is more likely if NewsCoaster or AmigaOS crashes at a critical moment), then select 'Update Index' from the 'Newsgroups' menu for the corrupted newsgroup. This will scan the folder, and rebuild the index from the messages found there. This may take some time for large newsgroups. Please note that you shouldn't use the 'Update Index' unless there is a problem - using it means that flags such as 'Unread', 'Replied to' and 'Held' (for outgoing) are lost.
3.1 How long are you going to update/support NewsCoaster for?
I'll update it as long as there is it interests me to develop it. If ever there comes a time when I am no longer interested, I will at least release the source code for others to continue work on it.
3.2 Do you intend to make NewsCoaster an email client too?
No, never. There is still quite a bit of extra work for this - and YAM is a perfectly good mail reader that I couldn't hope to beat. You can still send emails from NewsCoaster if you wish to reply to news items via email.
3.3 Will you ever release the source code?
This is something I am considering. If a time comes when I am no longer developing NewsCoaster, I shall release the source code - however I may consider doign this before that time comes.
3.4 Will you release a PowerPC version (be it PowerUp/MorphOS/AmigaOne/whatever)?
I'll be doing no such thing since I don't have the required hardware. If Amiga ever release a standalone PPC machine then it's something I will consider, and if I were to buy such a machine, I'd certainly want to develop it, including hopefully a port of NewsCoaster. In the meantime, the most likely way to see a NewsCoaster port if is someone else wants to do it.. please email me if you are interested.
3.5 Will you release a version optimised for x86 code under Amithlon?
Amithlon is something I am certainly considering getting, and I'd be very interested in optimising NewsCoaster in x86 code. However, AFAIK such development can only currently happen on Linux, and realistically one would therefore need two machines to avoid constant rebooting. So this will either have to wait until it's possible to compile for x86/Amithlon under AmigaOS/Amithlon itself, or I have acquired Amithlon, installed Linux, and bought a second machine, or someone else offers to do the job for me (please email me if you are interested..)
4.1 What do you use to develop NewsCoaster?
For the first few months, I wrote NewsCoaster on an A1200T with Blizzard A1230 accelerator, 18MB RAM, AGA and 33.6k modem. Then for various reasons I bought a PC - at first I thought it would be no more NewsCoaster, but WinUAE proved to be good enough to continue development.
4.2 You use WinUAE to program NewsCoaster??
Yes, and in many ways it's better than my old setup, since I now have graphics card resolutions. Another useful ability was being able to use cheap PC ethernet cards, meaning I can test NewsCoaster over high speed networks rather than remaining with slow dialup modems, or having to purchase an expensive ethernet card. For a long while compiling was slow, about half the speed of my 50MHz machine, but the JIT version is much faster. The biggest downside is a lack of MMU, which makes hunting down enforcer hits somewhat difficult:(