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
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
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
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.