Review: Newslook

Free while in beta

There are way too many different ways to hold electronic discussions these days: e-mail threads, mailing lists, newsgroups, online bulletin boards, weblog comments, and probably more that I'm forgetting about. For me, I find, one of the big barriers to participation is the need to run different tools for different conversations. In particular, I've been nursing a long-term grudge over Microsoft's insane decision to include NNTP newsgroup compatibility in Outlook Express but not in Outlook itself.

Well, if you're running Outlook XP or 2003, you can now coorect this oversight. NewsLook (currently free, though with an estimated price of $40 when it releases) integrates NNTP directly with your copy of Outlook. Set up your servers, specify how frequently you want them checkes, and newsgroup messages end up in Outlook next to your other mail. If you use Conversation view, threaded discussions are shown properly, which is a nice touch. Open a message, hit the "Post Reply" button, and a custom form lets you compose a reply to the group. It's that simple.

NewsLook supports multiple servers with authentication, and multiple newsgroups per server. You can specify how frequently the servers are checked, and set up a folder hierarchy in Outlook to hold the results. There's also a sort of super kill file built in. You can send messages from especially annoying users to the bit bucket, but you can also mark messages from selected people as having high or low importance, or as read the moment they come in.

Of course, as always, beware of beta software. This one seems very solid to me, but your mileage may vary. As for me, I might just add a few more newsgroups to my daily reading now that I can read them without extra hassle.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.


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