How to Access RADP via Usenet
By Rodney T. Grill

RADP is an acronym for "rec.arts.disney.parks" which is a Usenet newsgroup where fans have online discussions about everything and anything related to Disney parks.  Usenet is basically an electronic bulletin board where people can read and post messages.  RADP is an unmoderated, text-only newsgroup. 

Since RADP is unmoderated, anyone can read and post messages and no one else can cancel the posts of others or "ban" them from participation (well, at least not without some due process).  Text-only newsgroups like RADP are only supposed to contain written text messages and most servers will reject any graphics or other "binary" data submitted to them.

Being unmoderated, there is always the chance that some people might post things that are unrelated to the topic of Disney parks.  Off-topic posts might be harmless items of interest exchanged between regular members, but not related to Disney parks.  Unfortunately, some of the off-topic posts might contain unsolicited advertisements, also called "spam", and inflammatory posts by people called "trolls" who seek to cause turmoil, shock, and arguments.  Because of the unmoderated and open nature of the newsgroup, discretion should be used when allowing access to children.

In the past, most Internet Service Providers offered "Usenet" servers to their subscribers.  Because some bad people have turned Usenet into a way to share pirated software and post distasteful and even illegal content, many ISP's have stopped offering Usenet.  Google offers web-based access to Usenet through its "Google Groups" service, but that can be unreliable and it also lacks some features that can make Usenet easier and more enjoyable to use.  For example, Google Groups has no way for users to filter messages based on who posted them or their content.  Because of the spam and trolls that can sometimes clutter the groups, filtering is really a necessity.

Even though many ISP's have dropped Usenet, and Google Groups is not so great, there are still ways to join in at RADP.  You really only need two things: an NNTP-complaint Usenet server and NNTP-compliant news reader software.  By the way, NNTP is just the name for the network protocol that Usenet "speaks".  As for Usenet servers, if your ISP no longer offers one, then you'll need to find one elsewhere.  There are many servers that allow access for a small fee, often based on bandwidth or download allotments.  If you just want to participate in text-based newgroups like RADP, there are several free servers available.

The two Usenet servers that we will discuss are Eternal-September (formerly called Eternal-September) and AIOE.  Both of these servers are completely free, but they only offer a limited number of text-only newsgroups.  Luckily, though, they both offer RADP!  There is only one differences between these services, which is that Eternal-September requires you to sign-up for an account, but AIOE does not.   Choosing one over the other is just a personal preference as both seem to be quite stable.

If you choose Eternal-September, you will need to sign-up for an account.  If you choose AIOE, there is no registration process to follow so you can skip to the next page.

To sign-up for and account at Eternal-September, point your browser here:  http://www.Eternal-September.org and then click on the User Registration link on the left side of the page:

Home Page

You will be prompted to enter your first and last names, your e-mail address, your desired userid, and the letters and numbers in the validation box:

Register

Note that if your desired userid has already been used by someone else, you will be prompted to select another one.  Don't worry if your first choice is taken.  Your userid is only used as your login to Eternal-September and is not the name displayed when you post to Usenet.  Once you have completed the registration, Eternal-September will e-mail a confirmation to the address you provided.  The e-mail will contain your userid and a randomly assigned password.  You can use the assigned password or you can follow the link in the e-mail to login to your Eternal-September account and change it.

Now that you have a Usenet server, you will need software for accessing it.  There are many good freeware and shareware programs for accessing NNTP-compliant news servers.  For Windows PC users, Microsoft includes a built-in mail and news reader called Outlook Express (it's called Microsoft Mail if you are running Windows Vista).

While there is nothing inherently wrong with these built-in programs, some people prefer something with a little more versatility.  One that you might consider is Thunderbird, from the makers of the popular Firefox web browser.  One great thing about Thunderbird is that it's available for Windows PC's, Mac's and computers running Linux.  With such widespread availability, there will be plenty of people who can lend a hand if you need help.

Linux users can quickly install Thunderbird from the Applications menu using the Add/Remove option.  Once installed, it's identical to the Mac and Windows PC versions, so you can skip to the next page and follow along with the configuration.

For PC and Mac, you will need to download Thunderbird from http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird.  Click on the "Download Thunderbird" link:

Download Thunderbird

The installation process on the Mac is fairly automated.  The program files will be downloaded and then you will be prompted to drag the Thunderbird icon to your applications folder.  Once that's done, skip to the next page to begin the configuration.

Windows PC users will be prompted to run or save the file.  If you have a relatively fast and stable Internet connection, go ahead and click the Run button.  If your Internet service is slow or prone to interruptions (such as a dial-up connection), you might choose to save the file and run it from its saved location (such as your desktop or "documents" folder) when the download completes:

File Download

Once the download is completed and you run the Thunderbird Setup program, you might get some security warnings.  If so, go ahead and answer them accordingly to allow the program to continue.  You will then see the Thunderbird Welcome screen.  Click the Next button to continue:

Thunderbird Welcome

You will be presented with the Thunderbird License Agreement screen.  If you agree to the terms and want to continue the installation, choose the I Accept the terms... option and then click the Next button:

Thunderbird License

On the next screen, choose the Standard setup and click Next:

Thunderbird Setup

After the setup process is completed, check the Launch Thunderbird... box and then click Finish:

Thunderbird Welcome

NEXT PAGE...

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