Thoth Newsreader for Mac OS X
Thoth is a trialware ($25.00 to register at this writing)
newsreader for Mac OS X. I tried it out under rather adverse
circumstances but in spite of some small difficulties I did
purchase the registered version.
First, the adverse circumstances. We had a 14.5 inch snowstorm
here in February. Light and fluffy, but even so that's a lot of
snow. I spent about an hour shovelling our driveway. I do it by
hand because I just don't like the noise and pollution of
snowblowers. After finishing the driveway, I stepped into the
street to get to our front walk, slipped on hidden ice, and a moment later I was on my
back in tremendous pain. After a minute I managed to get up and,
using the shovel as a crutch, somehow made it back into my house,
but that was the end of being erect: from then on even crawling was
horribly painful and slow. Being a typical stubborn male, I
insisted that I'd be all right, and just crawled to the couch to
rest. When I still wasn't able to stand up the next morning, I gave
in to my wife and had an uncomfortable trip to the hospital by
Well, nothing was broken and eventually they got enough drugs
into me that I could go a short distance with crutches, and I
returned to the couch at home. I had my wife run a 50 foot patch
cable from my office so I could at least do some work and it was in
this painful and drugged condition that I decided to evaluate
Thoth was, after all, the Egyptian patron god of all arts,
sciences, and intellectual pursuits. I certainly wasn't up to any
physical activity, so intellectual pursuits seemed like the right
track, but more to the point I have been unhappy with Mozilla as a
Mac Newsreader. It just takes too darn much memory on my iBook. The
iBook maxes out at 640 MB so this is more of an issue than it was
on my Linux machine where I have happily used Mozilla for years. I
though about looking for a Trn port because I do like that also,
but I had seen a number of recommendations for Thoth so I decided
to give it a try.
Before I get into the details, you should know that when all was
said and done I decided to fork over the $25.00 to register it.
There are things about it I would like to see done differently, but
overall it does meet my needs in a smaller memory footprint, and
the price is more than reasonable. Most of the time I still use Trn
on another server I can ssh to, but this is OK too.
I found this the most confusing and difficult part. In fairness,
part of that may have been from the pain and the drugs, but I do
think this could be improved considerably. The procedures detailed
in the "Getting Started" pulldown under help will get you going.
The oddest part to me was having to drag a newsgroup from the full
listing to the subscribed groups listing. It surprised me that
there was no shortcut key for that, but the reason has to do with
the design: you can have multiple sets of newsgroups defined. With
that in mind, dragging makes perfect sense.
Having been a Trn user for many years, I'm used to using TAB to
move from article to article. The equivalent in Thoth is Apple-I,
which is two fingers. That distinction is meaningless to a touch
typist, but for a one or two finger hunt and peck typist like me, a
simple TAB is a little easier. But you can't begin to compare Thoth
to Trn: this is a very different animal.
The initial version I tried was 1.60, and I had some problems
with unexpected crashing at inopportune times. More recently I
downloaded the 1.70 version, which seems to be much more stable. Of
course Mac OS X has moved from 10.2.4 to 10.2.6 in the same time
period; Thoth's difficulties could have been helped by OS fixes
too. By the way, the upgrade was as simple and painless as it
possibly could have been: just copy the new files right on top of
the old. I didn't have to re-register and no settings were
Thoth contains just about all the News reading features you
would ever want. I only say "just about" because somewhere there
must be someone who needs some feature it doesn't already have,
though I have to say it has everything I need and more. The
preferences pane just goes on and on and on: very few people will
need even a small percentage of what is there. The vast number of
features and settings does mean that Thoth can sometimes be
confusing: I had defined a newserver I no longer use, and had an
awful time finding out how to get rid of it. The trick was the
select it in Edit->News Server Settings; a button therein lets
you delete it. You are bound to have difficulties like this with
something so feature rich; but the common every-day features are
easy to find.
Thoth lets you define multiple "personalities" which lets you
easily use different signatures, mail settings, header lines, etc.
As I use slightly different signatures in different newsgroups, I
found this very helpful.
I haven't looked at binary newsgroups in years. The alt.binary
hierarchy is mostly junk now. I have no philosophical objection to
*redacted* in general if it's not violent or appealing to pedophiles, but
neither do I have any interest in it. Nevertheless, I selected
alt.binaries.erotica.pornstar to see how Thoth could handle images
automatically. Sure enough, as advertised, simply Apple-I'ing would
automatically download and display any images. Simple settings can
cause downloaded images to be automatically removed when the
newsgroup is closed (Preferences->Viewing attachments->New
Images Default to Trashed).
Thoth also apparently has extensive support for posting
binaries; I didn't try it.
A nice feature of Thoth is that it allows articles or entire
newsgroups to be "Kept": downloaded and made available for offline
reading. This is just as simple as it sounds: mark whatever you
want as "Kept" and then select "Go Offline" from the "Special"
menu. On-line articles disappear; but those you marked "Kept" will
still be available.
No question about the value
Many a time I have spent $30.00 or more on shareware distributed
software and have been more than mildly disappointed. That's not
the case here: Thoth would have been quite satisfactory even if it
had cost quite a bit more. At $25.00, it's a definite bargain.
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