Using E-Mail and News

by Yosef Mendelsohn

1.0 Introduction

For those who have little or no computer experience, this workshop and handout may seem like a large amount of material to absorb. If this is the case, try to follow along during the workshop without worrying about any of the specific steps involved in the procedures. You can keep this handout and use at it your leisure to review and practice. The end of this document points you to further help. The main thing to realize is that while this material may be overwhelming at first, most of the procedures discussed here will become increasingly comfortable over time. It is our belief that those who invest the energy in learning how to use these tools will find them extremely beneficial.

1.1 What is E-mail?

While we are all very familiar with telephones, faxes and the US Postal Service, another powerful and rapidly emerging force in the world of interpersonal communications is the utility known as e-mail. E-mail is a tool that allows you and anyone else in the world who has it, to communicate via messages that you type into your computer. These messages are transmitted throughout various networks until they reach their destination. Destinations can vary from a computer located in the adjoining office to another computer residing on a desktop in Switzerland. To you, the user, the difference is transparent. Even in terms of time the differences are often negligible. On a good day a simple message can reach any part of the world in a matter of seconds. But e-mail has quickly become an even more resourceful utility. You can use e-mail to send things besides plain typed messages. You can for example, mail your cousin a scanned picture of your new car, or e-mail your professor your latest assignment literally seconds before it is due-and have it arrive on time!


2.0 Accessing Your Account

In order to send and receive mail, students at DePaul have been provided with an account on a machine named Shrike. Faculty and staff have accounts on a machine called Condor. These machines should not be confused with the Macs and PCs you are familiar with at home. You will quickly notice that they have a very different feel to them.


2.1 How do I get to use these machines?

Well actually you can't-at least not directly. Because thousands of people have accounts on the same machine, it would be somewhat impractical to require everyone to reserve time on it. Therefore, the shrike and condor computers use an operating system that allows very large numbers of people to use the computer simultaneously. The standard procedure at DePaul for accessing shrike is to use an application (a computer program) called Ewan, a brand-name for a family of applications generically referred to as Telnet. Once you start up Ewan you will be prompted for your user-name and then your password. This procedure is called logging in. The steps for logging in are detailed in the next section.


2.2 Logging In:

1. In Windows 3.1, double-click on the program group called Internet Applications.

2. Double click on the item labeled Telnet Shrike or Telnet DPO.

You will be prompted with a line that says login.

3. Enter your user-name and press ENTER.

NB: Be sure that you do NOT capitalize anything.*

You will then be prompted with a line that says password.

4. Enter your password and press ENTER. Note that as you type your password, you will not see the characters appear on the screen.

You have now successfully logged into your account. If this is your first time ever logging in, you will be prompted with a series of questions to answer. When you are done, you will automatically be logged out, and will have to log in one more time. Because this is a one-time only procedure, we will cover this step during the workshop and not detail it in this handout.


2.3 Changing Your Password: (optional)

You probably have a computer generated password that you use to log in to your account. If you would like to change your password to something a little easier, follow these steps:

1. At the unix prompt, type passwd and press ENTER

The system will ask you for your old password. This is to ensure that it is really you that is requesting a password change.

2. Type your old password and press ENTER.

The system will prompt you for a new password. Your new password should be 7-10 characters long and should contain a combination of letters and numbers. We recommend that you NOT use your name or your friend's names or using birthdays or phone numbers.

3. Type the new password and press ENTER.

After entering the password, if the computer accepts it, you will be asked to reenter the password one more time to confirm. If you do not enter it exactly the same way, the computer will not complete the password change and you will have to repeat the above procedure again.

4. Retype the new password and press ENTER.

The UNIX system prompt will appear, indicating that your password has been successfully changed.
Once the above steps have been completed, you are ready to send and receive e-mail. Most Unix operating systems come packaged with various programs dedicated to the use of e-mail. However, these applications while powerful, can be confusing and difficult to use. For this reason, the Unix system administrators at shrike installed a mail utility called Pine.


3.0 Reading Mail in Pine

Anyone who has a standard e-mail account on the internet can send you mail. When you have mail you will be notified by the message: "You have mail" when you log in.

3.1 Reading Your Mail

  1. At the unix prompt, type pine and press ENTER
  2. When Pine starts up, you will see a screen like the one below.

To use the various functions in Pine, you need only type the letter corresponding to the command you wish to execute.

3. Press the letter i to enter the Folder Index.

This will bring you to your virtual mailbox; the place where all e-mail messages are stored waiting for you to read them.

Notice the letters A and N next to messages 3 and 4 respectively. The A signifies you have responded to that particular message. The letter N tells you that you that that particular message has not been read.

4. Scroll up and down the list by using the letters p (move to Previous message), and n (move to Next message). You can also use the arrow keys.
Notice that the highlighted bar moves up and down in response to your commands.

5. Move to the message you would like to read and press v to view it.

  • Press SPACE to move down one screen and the dash key '-' to move up a screen.
  • Press i to take you back to the Index once you have finished reading your message.

    3.2 Saving and Deleting Messages

    When you have finished reading an e-mail message you have several options. The most commonly used options are deleting the message or saving it in a folder.

    1. To delete a message, highlight it using the arrow keys and press d .

    This will delete that message and automatically move you to the next one. Messages that you delete will only be erased after you have exited Pine.

    2. To save a message, highlight it and press s.

    You will be prompted for a folder to save the message in. The default is a folder called saved-messages.

    3. If that is the folder you wish to use, press RETURN.

    If you wish to use other folders, see the next section.


    3.3 Using Folders

    If you end up using e-mail for any period of time, you will probably find yourself viewing it as an invaluable and even indispensable tool in your work. However over time you will notice that you are receiving messages from a wide variety of sources. Throughout your tenure at the university you will likely get mail from parents, friends, professors, classmates, university officials, mailing-lists and others. You will also consider many of these messages worth saving. When this happens you will probably see a need to organize these messages within your account. You can do this through the use of folders.


    For example, you may want to keep all messages from your friends and family in a folder called 'personal-stuff'. Jokes are another commonly forwarded e-mail message and you might want to keep those together as well. School work could go in another. Let's say that you have just received your first joke by e-mail. If you decide that it is a keeper you would follow these steps:

    1. While reading the message, press s to save it.

    2. When prompted with the line Save message to folder 'saved-messages'?, type the name of the folder you wish to create (in this case you might choose to name it humor) and press ENTER.

    If you do not type the name of a folder, Pine will assume that you want the message saved to a generic folder called 'saved-messages'.

    3. The computer will respond with Folder 'humor' doesn't exist. Create? Type y and press ENTER.



    3.4 Accessing Different Folders

    1. To access different folders, go to the main index in Pine (press m ) and then press l .

    This takes you to the your Folder Index.

    When the folder screen comes up you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move to the desired folder. Pressing return will open that folder. Here is an example of the folder list from my account:


    2. Highlight the folder you wish to enter and press ENTER.

    You can now read any message that has been saved to that folder.


    3.5 Replying to or forwarding messages

    Sometimes you will want to forward a message that someone has sent you. Forwarding sends the person an exact copy of the message you have just received. You can also include a preface of your own at the beginning if you so wish.

    To forward a message:

    1. Press f for (forward).

    You will be prompted for an address and the usual info.

    2. Press ^x to send.


    To reply to a message:

    1. Press r (for reply).

    You will be asked if you wish to include the original message in your reply. If you answer yes, a copy of the entire message that was sent to you will be placed in the message area. Please do not feel obligated to include the entire message though-you can erase the portions of the letter that are not pertinent to your response. A little trial and error will make you more comfortable and familiar with this procedure.


    4.0 Sending E-Mail in Pine

    1. At the % prompt, type pine

    2. When you get to the main menu in Pine, type c to take you to the composition window.

    1. In the field labeled "To:" enter the e-mail address of the person you are writing to.

    The field labeled "CC:" stands for carbon-copy and allows you to send a copy of the message to other people. "Attachments" is used to include files that you wish to send.­ You will usually ignore these fields.

    4. In the field labeled "Subject" enter a few words describing the content of your message. Entering a subject is not required, but is considered good form in the e-mail world.

    5. Type your message in the area that follows.

    6. When you are done typing your message, press Control-x (that is, hold down the key labeled 'Control' and press 'x'). Pine will ask you to confirm that you do indeed want to send the message. Assuming that you are sure, press y .


    A note about the 'Compose Message' window:


    4.1 A Word about User Names

    You can usually figure out someone's e-mail address at DePaul without having to ask them. The format is the first initial of the person's first name, followed by the first seven letters of their last name. If they are students, their account will be on the shrike machine. If they are staff or faculty, their account will be on condor. Some examples:



    4.2 Using the Address Book

    Pine includes a very convenient feature for use with sending mail. You can replace long, complicated e-mail addresses with one word nicknames. Once a nickname has been set up, you need only enter the nickname in the To: field of your message and Pine will automatically enter the correct e-mail address. Here are the steps to follow:

    1. When you are in the main menu of Pine, type a .

    2. You will be prompted for a nickname, full name and e-mail address. Enter this information in the format used below:

    3. Press ^x to save the nickname and exit from the address book.


    5.0 What are Newsgroups?

    Newsgroups or Discussion Groups are another popular and immensely useful tool accessed via the internet. There exists upwards of 8000 well-established newsgroups and countless more lesser known ones that DePaul students can access via their Shrike accounts. Discussion groups might be called virtual meeting-rooms where individuals that share a specific interest discuss issues and trends, debate topics, and ask questions of other users. For example, there is a newsgroup that deals specifically with recordings of classical music. In this group, individuals might debate the relative merits of the latest recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as recorded by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra compared to the recording of the same symphony made by the Berlin Philharmonic. Then there is a group dedicated to fans of the Dallas Cowboys football team. In this group another group of people might bemoan the team's poor defensive work this season and debate the intelligence and legitimacy of dramatic trade rumors. The following illustration shows a few of the subject headings posted to the dpu.general newsgroup.

    As you can probably tell, these discussion groups cover a tremendously wide range of subjects. The subjects run the gamut from discourse on the rock group Nirvana to the mating habits of the drosophila fruit fly to self-help groups for recovering drug addicts. Closer to home, however, many instructors at DePaul have requested newsgroups to be set up for their courses. Instructors can post answers to assignments, tests and quizzes to these newsgroups. Further, students can post messages to these groups asking for help on various topics, trying to set up studying sessions with others, and anything else that might be of interest. DePaul also has a newsgroup devoted to more miscellaneous purposes such as buying and selling equipment, asking questions of other DePaul students or commenting on university-related issues.

    Here is a sample posting from the dpu.general newsgroup:

    You can use the Pine mail utility to read messages that others have posted to the newsgroups as well as post messages yourself. To read and post messages in Pine you first need to go through a brief one-time procedure. Please note that users with newly generated accounts may not need to carry out the following procedure.


    5.1 Preparing Pine to Allow you to Access Newsgroups

    Here is the first and only really cryptic command that you will have to enter in this workshop. At the prompt type the following and then press ENTER.

    (Note: It is very important that you respect all spaces and punctuation)

    You are now ready to setup Pine to access newsgroups.

    1. At the prompt, type pine to start the program.

    2. At the main screen, type s for setup.

    3. Type c for configuration.

    4. Use the arrow keys to move down to the line that says NNTP Server.

    5. Press c for change-value

    6. Type (exactly as you see here),

  • Press e to exit the setup.
  • Press q to exit from Pine.

    You have now set up Pine to allow you to read and post to newsgroups.


    5.2 Using Pine to Read News Messages:

    1. At the prompt type pine to start the program.

    2. At the main menu press l to go to the folder list.

    3. Press the down arrow key to go to the line that says 'Select Here to See Expanded List' under the News-collection heading, and press return.

    4. Use the arrow keys to move to the newsgroup you would like to enter (read).

    5. You can then read the different posts to the newsgroup just as you would an e-mail message.

    There will of course be times when you will want to post messages of your own to a newsgroup. Before you do, however, there are some things you must be alert to. The first is to always be sure to read many previous posts to the group, and in general "follow along with it" for several days before actually posting yourself. The reason for this is that you should get a feel for the types of content that the newsgroup is devoted to before posting to it. Most new users of Usenet groups want to 'practice' a post before attempting the real thing. However please do not post test messages to a newsgroup unless it is a newsgroup created specifically for test messages. If you would like to post test messages, post to the newsgroup alt.test.

    Another very important procedure is to read the Frequently Asked Questions or "FAQs" (pronounced 'faks'). Most newsgroups have an FAQ associated with them. The FAQ contains questions and information pertaining to that particular newsgroup. FAQs help avoid redundancy in postings to the newsgroup since the most commonly asked questions are addressed there. They will also help clarify the kinds of issues that the newsgroup deals with. You can look to the FAQ to decide whether or not a given group is appropriate for the subject that you wish to discuss. If you have a relatively simple or common question on a given newsgroup subject, you may often find it answered or commented upon in the FAQ. FAQs are usually posted to the newsgroup once every week or two. *


    5.3 Subscribing and Unsubscribing to Newsgroups

    Due to the tremendous number of newsgroups in existence (well over 8000), it would be impractical to subscribe to them all. By default, you will be subscribed to 5 newsgroups four of which are DePaul affiliated. These are: dpu.general, dpu.for-sale and dpu.sublet and dpu.test. There is also a newsgroup called news.newusers which is devoted to users who are still unfamiliar with newsgroups. However, please do NOT post test messages to this group. The dpu.general newsgroup is used to post questions and commentary about nearly anything to do with DePaul. You can use dpu.for-sale to advertise to the DePaul community things you would like to sell or are looking to buy. Dpu.sublet is a great place to look to sublet from someone from the university or to advertise a place you would yourself like to sublet out. The dpu.test newsgroup is the place to practice posting messages. If you are new to newsgroups, practicing posting messages here might be a good idea.

    As stated earlier, there is a seemingly infinite number and variety of newsgroups on the internet.

    When you do discover a newsgroup that suits your interest, complete the following steps to subscribe to it:

    1. Enter pine and type l to go to the Folder List.
    2. Press the down arrow to go the 'Expanded News List' option and press ENTER.
    3. Press a to add a group.
    4. When prompted, enter the name of the group you wish to subscribe to. Eg:
    This would subscribe you to a newsgroup devoted to an organic chemistry course at DePaul.

    To unsubscribe to a newsgroup, you would follow the same procedure as above, except that in step 3 you would press d (for delete newsgroup) instead of a .


    6.0 Further Assistance

    There are many resources available around DePaul for help with the material covered in this workshop and for developing increased computer skills.

    Trained student employees will respond to questions related to using your university provided shrike accounts. You can also contact them via e-mail a They are very good about responding to questions within one to two days.

    The people at DePaul online have put together an impressive array of introductions and tutorials on a fairly wide variety of subjects.

    The university offers workshops on a variety of topics including word processors, spreadsheets, database applications, using the Internet, creating a web page and others. Most assume little or no prior computer experience. You can find out more by checking out their web page at . Click on Students then on Training.




    The internet community has evolved certain informal standards which while not legally binding are nevertheless at times strictly enforced. Sometimes the unwitting net-surfer will inadvertently violate one of these standards and will find their e-mailbox flooded with letters from irate netizens. Here are a few dos and don'ts when sending e-mail or posting news:

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