by Edward S. Baiz


Hello once again. I am here to talk about something I love most to do on my Hades, that is reading and answering messages on the various newsgroups. From the start, I chose to use Newsie which is one great program for doing this. It is also very easy to set up and use. As the years passed, I found myself upgrading lots of things on the Hades including the OS, NVDI and MagiC. Something must have happened because Newsie started giving me a bus error right in the middle of reading and saving messages. This did not happen all the time, but it started to become a very big nuisance. I do not blame this problem totally on Newsie since I believe it was made with the ST/Mega/TT in mind. When I heard Newsie was not going to be upgraded anymore, I decided to look for another way I could access the newsgroups. Newsie had served me well, but now it was time for a change.

Enter Okami. I had ran into Okami about the same time I first found Newsie. I chose Newsie after reading Okami's set-up instructions. To a person just starting out, Okami seemed too hard for me to install. I am hoping this little tutorial will help anyone wanting to set up and use Okami. I will also go into the installation and use of two other programs: Popwatch and NEWSwatch. You need these as they work with Okami to send/receive emails and responses.

The first thing to do is to download the latest version of Okami from The latest version at the writing of this article is 3.0B-11. The original author was Wolfram Roesler, but it has been taken over by Jos den Bekker who has done a great job in upgrading it.

Of course the next thing to do is to decompress the file. After that you will have all the files you need, but there are a lot of things that have to be done. You must decide where you are going to have Okami reside on your hard drive and what will be the folder name. The obvious name is "Okami" but anything will do. Next you must create some folders in the Okami folder. These would be BIGTMP, INFO, LOG, MAIL, SPOOL and TMP. In the SPOOL folder you should create three other folders: ARTICLES, MQUEUE AND NEWS. I created two others DOC and MAN. When you decompress the file you get alot of file with the extension "MAN" which is short for manual I believe. They are on a number of subjects like oexpire, oimport, alias and more. I just figured that they should have their own folder to make things less cumbersome. The DOC folder just has some files that I consider helpful to me in using Okami.

Before I go on I must make one thing perfectly clear and give credit where credit is due. I did not install Okami all by myself. I had help from two Atarians. First there was the author Jos den Bekker who solved some problems I was having. Then there was Martin Byttebier. Most of the things I will be telling you Martin told me. In the DOC folder I have all of his and Jos's emails where they answered my questions. I referred to them many times during the installation process just to make sure things were being done correctly. If it was not for these two gentlemen, I probably would not have Okami up and running. I owe them a great deal.

Some of the other folders should be discussed. The SPOOL folder and its three sub-folders are important to Okami's performance. The ARTICLES folder contains all incoming messages from the various newsgroups you have subscribed to. When you reply to a message, the outgoing response goes into the MQUEUE folder. The NEWS folder contains the BATCH.TXT file (will be discussed later) and history information. Also in this folder is a file which lists all of the newsgroups available from your ISP. If you decide to respond to a newsgroup message by way of email, then the response would go in the MAIL folder. The LOG folder contains a log file which contains all the activities concerning the past use of Okami. When you anything with Okami, the activity is put into this file. The INFO folder contains various information files which will be discussed later. Strangely enough the information file for Okami, O.inf, is not put in this folder.

Now it is time to run Okami. At first you will get some messages stating that the program cannot find this and that. Do not worry, we will get rid of those nasty messages as we go through the set-up. However, there is one message that you cannot get rid of until you register. Believe me, if you like Okami (and you will) you will want to register as this message appears almost everywhere when you do almost everything in Okami. Go over to SETUP and then click GENERAL on the drop-down menu display. You will get a window with some options to fill in.

[Screen-shot: General Setup dialog]

You can see my choices, but you can set things the way you want them. However, it is best to have the "Mode" as NOS and the "Display groups" as any. Under "display" I chose to activate everything. You see under "misc" I did not activate anything. If you click on "Own desktop" this will cause Okami to run on its own desktop. Since I use a multi-tasking environment, I thought it was not best not to use this function. That is my choice and my opinion. Others may like this function.

Next is the MESSAGE set-up area. I just left it as it was and have never changed it. You can experiment with it to see its effects, but I am going to skip it and go to the next part which is USER DATA. Clicking on this brings up a window that looks like this:

[Screen-shot: User Data dialog]

The "Real name", "Logname" and "Organization" are all self explanatory, but notice what I have for the "Site" and "Domain". My ISP is AT&T Broadband Internet of which the URL address is When I originally saw this screen, I took the word "Site" to mean web site, so I left it blank as my name is not associated to any web site. Under "Domain" I put This worked fine except I was getting some e-mails from people I had replied to saying my return address was all messed up. Instead of being listed as, what was showing was So unless people knew my return address, their messages would just come back to them. I had never noticed it and could not find any reason as to why this was happening, so I ask Jos and he told me what the "Site" and "Domain" should be. Now things are fine and I even changed my settings under MintNet and MagiCNet.

The next option is FORMAT STRINGS which I am going to skip as I left it the same as it was when I decompressed the Okami file. If you want to experiment here go ahead, but I would be sure you know what you are doing. Things could really get messed up unless you know what commands to put down. Essentially this area governs the way the message menu, message title, message information and edit format are displayed when you use Okami.

Now comes an important set-up option and that is PATHS.

[Screen-shot: Set Paths dialog]

Here is where you tell Okami where all your directories and external programs are. Clicking on the box next to each directory/program brings up a file selector which makes it easy to set each path. Notice I left the "NOS program" option blank. You do not need to set this if you are using STiK, STing or GlueStik to get connected. There are more internal paths and external programs to set other the ones displayed in my screen shot. Under "Internal paths" these are the TMP, BIGTMP and INFO directories. If you have not created these folders, do so and set the paths. "Passwd file" I would think you do not need unless you are running Okami in a Unix environment. Okami does support Unix-type mailboxes. I am not doing this, so I ignored it. Under "External programs" there are "Audio program" and "Image program" which are important if you want to display images and play sounds that are attached to certain messages. The "Compress" and "Diff" are not used unless you are using Soup which I elected not to use since it is mainly for a Unix environment. ARRAYS is the next set-up option.

[Screen-shot: Set Arrays dialog]

It is here you can set your X-headers. I have not used this option, but Martin does and pointed out its use. When you ever receive a message from someone, look at the message's information. Noticed that some lines contain information about the user (type of computer, programs used). By setting the X-headers you can also do this to let people know a little about yourself and your system. Actually, you can put anything in this area. I have not decided what I am going to put in this area as my personal information is in my SIG file.

[Screen-shots: Set list text effects dialog]

LIST EFFECTS comes next and is something nice when used. It is here that you can set the colors for the various kings of messages (read, unread, killed) and groups (no new, no unread, new, unread). This really adds a nice professional look to Okami and makes it very easy to keep track of the message read and the ones that have not been read. One thing I would like to see added in a future update is the option to change the background window color. From what I have heard from programmers, this would not be a hard feature to add. The last option in the drop-down set-up menu is OUTBOUND.

[Screen-shots: Outbound Setup dialog]

The only thing I changed here was the "Timezone" entry. This has to be correct for Okami to apply the correct time to all replies. Experimentation will help you find the correct information to type in or you can look it up. I left everything else the same. Make sure save the set-up by either hitting [Control]+[B] on your keyboard or else going under the "Setup" drop-down menu and then to "Save setup". This will create an o.inf file which will reside in the same directory path as the Okami program.

Ok, now with Okami set up it is time to choose which newsgroups you will subscribe to. I know most of you out there would know some names of the newsroups you will like to use, but I must assume some of you have not a clue. I was that way when I first started to use Newsie. It had a nice little feature that downloaded the full list of newsgroups present on an ISP. Okami does not have this feature as it is an off-line newsgroup/e-mail reader, but NEWSwatch does, so I must leave Okami for a moment and talk about the setup of NEWSwatch.

The first thing to do of course is download the NEWSwatch program from Gary Priest's web site at While you are at it, you can also download Popwatch as it was also written by Gary. Decompress it and put all the files in the folder where you want them to reside. Then you must make an ASCII file called "authinfo.dat". In this file you must put your sign-on information. The first line should be your logname and the second line should be your password. Use any text editor (I used QED) to do this and save it as a regular ASCII file. Make sure you put it in the same folder as the NEWSwatch program. Run the program, goto the drop-down menu "Preferences" and click on "Edit Program Preferences". You will get a screen that looks like this:

[Screen-shot: Program Perferences dialog]

You must set the directories the same as you did for Okami as I have done. The "History" and "Get/Head.out" should be set to go into the NEWS folder. "Retrieval Format" is of course NOS. "Retrieval Method" I set to Article Number as most ISPs use this type the most. The "GMT Difference" should be the same as set in Okami also. The "Post News Automatically" I set to yes. This means when you first run NEWSwatch if you have any posts ready to upload, it will ask you if want to that now. The rest of the set-up options you can set to your liking.

Now it is time to download the newsgroup list. Run NEWSwatch. Go to the drop-down menu "Connection" and click on "Get Full Newsgroups". This can also be done by just pushing down [Control]+[F] after NEWSwatch has loaded. If you have an internet connection and if your "authinfo.dat" is correct, NEWSwatch will start to download the full newsgroup list. This may take a while especially if you are not using a cable modem. The size of the resulting file may be at least 800 KB. After NEWSwatch is done, it is time to check to see if all went well. Go into your Okami folder, then go to into the SPOOL folder and finally the NEWS folder. You should have a file named NG and it should be large.  All right, it is time to choose which newsgroups you want to use. The best way is to use Okami. Bring it up and hit [Control]+[O] or go under the drop-down menu "File" and click on "Open File". Load the NG file. Now hit [Control]+[F] and you will get a search screen. You may want to type in "Atari" as I did and click on "OK. After a little while the list shifts and you will notice that the newsgroup at the top of the list will contain your search string. If you want to use this group, write it down exactly as it is. Then hit [Control]+[G] to search again. Each time you do this the list shifts and puts different newsgroups at the top of the list containing your search string. Once you have all the groups you want written down, you can close this file.

 Before Okami can do its thing, NEWSwatch needs to have its set-up completed. There is a file that tells NEWSwatch which news server to logon to and which newsgroups to download messages from. This is the "nttp.dat" file which must reside in the same NEWSwatch folder as the program file. My file looks like this:

[Screen-shot: Original contents of NTTP.DAT file]

Notice the space before each newsgroup. This must be there. You also must be sure the name of the newsgroup is typed in correctly, else nothing will be downloaded. After everything is in, the best way to begin is to type a "O" everywhere. The big drawback to this is that you download all the messages for each group that is left on your news server. This is a small price to pay to getting things set up correctly. I went through the same thing when I first started Newsie. The "nttp.dat" file will be automatically adjusted everytime you download newsgroup messages. When you first start using NEWSwatch, check this file to be sure it changes. If not, something is wrong with your set-up. There are three things to note. One is that the last number beside each newsgroup represents the last article downloaded. If I wanted to re-download the last 50 articles in the newsgroup, I would change the number "9502" to "9452". Two, the article numbers are not the same from ISP to ISP. And three, when NEWSwatch downloads the newsgroups articles, it puts them into a file (batch.txt) in the SPOOL\NEWS folder in the Okami directory. This is nice to know because if you have set up your "nttp.dat" file  incorrectly, you can adjust it, delete the "batch.txt" file and start over. Once you are sure everything is correct, it is time for the next step.

You have probably guessed by now, that Okami uses the "batch.txt" file. This file is basically put in a form that Okami will draw from to allow you to read and reply to articles in the various newsgroups you have elected to join. But when Okami starts to use the "batch.txt" file there must be another file with the same list of newsgroups that you entered in the "nttp.dat" file when you setup NEWSwatch. Enter the "active.dat" file which resides in the SPOOL\ARTICLES folder in your Okami directory. Mine looks like this:

[Screen-shot: Original contents of ARCHIVE.DATfile]

This ASCII file must be present and again have all the names of the various newsgroups you want to use typed in correctly. If not, the messages will go in another group labeled "junk". You can still read them and reply to them, but it makes it harder since you may have a mixture of messages from different newsgroups all under one heading. You do not have to type in all the names if some groups have parts that are similar. In others works, the first seven groups could be entered in the "active.dat" file as "comp.sys.atari*. Either way is fine.

One thing that you will notice when you first run Okami is that it will tell you that it cannot find the file "onews.def". This frustrated me since I could never figure out why it was happening. I thought that Okami would eventually make the file. That never happened. Without this file Okami will tell you that there are no newsgroups available eventhough it has extracted all the messages from the "batch.txt" file created by NEWSwatch. So I came up with something that worked. I used QED to create a blank ASCII file and I named it onews.def. Martin told me that the file should be in the Okami directory in the same path as the "active.dat" file which was SPOOL\ARTICLES. I re-ran Okami  and did not get the notice about the program not finding the "onews.def" file. However I did still get the notice about there not being any newsgroups available. I checked the "onews.def" file and was glad to see that it had been written to and looked like this: 

[Screen-shot: Original contents of ONEWS.DEF file]

Then I had Okami unpack some messages. After it was done I checked the "onews.def" again and it looked like this:

[Screen-shot: Contents of ONEWS.DEF file]

This lead me to believe things were fine. I also did not get the notice that no newsgroups were available. I realized that it was OK to get this notice since its meaning was the fact that there were no newsgroups containing messages available for Okami to use.

Another file you may want to put together is the ASCII "folds.inf" file which goes in the INFO folder in the Okami directory. Folds, in my opinion, would be short for folder. When you extract your messages into various newsgroups, you can group the newsgroups into various folds to your liking. For example, I put together a FOLDS.INF file that looks like this:

[Screen-shot: Contents of FOLDS.INF file]

The first line is the name of the folder and after that comes the names of the various newsgroups in that folder. Notice how I appreciated the newsgroups in the folder "Atari Computers". When you first extract the messages from the "batch.txt" file you get a screen listing all the folders and newsgroups which are not included in any folders. It will look something like this:

[Screen-shot: Extraction from batch.txt file]

If I click on the "Atari-Computers" folder I will get all the newsgroups in that folder with messages to read and it will look something like this:

[Screen-shot: Group selection from Atari-Computing folder]

In case I have not mentioned it yet, each of the three numbers preceding the names of the groups and folders have a meaning. The first one represents the total number of messages, the second is the total of unread messages and the third is the total of number of new messages. I like to start clean everytime, so my numbers are usually the same. If you want to have a sig attached to your messages you will have to create an ASCII sig file and put it also in the INFO folder. The name of file should be in the form of "logname.sig". Since my logname in the user data is "edbaizjr", my sig file would have the name "edbaizjr.sig". If you want the same sig for every message, like myself, you would type the file to look like this:

[Screen-shot: Standard sig file]

Notice the "*" at the beginning and the "\end" at the end. You can have different sigs for different newsgroups and/or mail. Here is a portion of Martin's sig file:

[Screen-shot: Contents of Martin's sig file]

Another feature in Okami is the ability to send/forward email. You will need to create an ASCII address book information file which again, goes in the INFO folder. I tried to bring up the address book under Okami when I first booted it up and go nothing, so Martin told me the name of the file so I again created a blank ASCII file. I then imported some names from the various Newsie address book files into the Okami file and it worked. However, if you do not have a list of names you can get things started by adding one name in following form:

Baiz-Edward S.,,

The dash between my last and first name is my own doing. You can put names in any way you want, but I would put the last name first as Okami's address book alphabetizes the real names as they are put in. Having at least one name in the address book will bring it up when you go under the drop-down menu "Windows" and then click on "address book". From there you can add more name/addresses.

Of course I should mention a little on the setting up of Popwatch. This program is needed if you intend to send e-mail while you are in an Okami session. A lot of times I have this need when someone leaves a message on a particular newsgroup, but wants his/her replies to be done by e-mail. I also like to forward myself messages with important info/data. Bring up the "User Preferences" screen and fill in the blanks.

[Screen-shot: User Preferences dialog]

Make sure the "Retrieval Format" and "Send Format" are set to "NOS". The path for the "Send Format" should be the MQUEUE folder in the Okami directory. Another thing that should be mentioned is that in the "General Preferences" screen, the "Check for Carries Detect" option should be highlighted if you are using a Modem with STiK/Sting, but not if you are using an Ethernet connection using GlueStiK.

Now that everything is set up, it is time to talk a little on the use of Okami. First thing to do is to run NEWSwatch and under the drop-down menu "Connection" to "Retrieve News". If NEWSwatch has been set up correctly, it should start downloading the messages from the various newsgroups you have selected and will stop when all messages are downloaded.

Now it is time to run Okami. Upon loading into memory, Okmai will inform you that there is new news and asks if it should import it. Just click on the "yes" button and Okami will start to read the batch.txt file produced by NEWSwatch. All the messages will be extracted and you will get a screen that looks like this:

[Screen-shot: Unpacked messages]

After the unpacking is done, you will get a list of all the folds, if you have created any, and any groups that are not in a fold.

[Screen-shot: List of newsgroups ]

Like I said before, clicking on a fold will bring up all groups in that fold.

[Screen-shot: List of folders]

Now when you click on a group you will get a listing of all messages in that particular group.

[Screen-shot: Newsgroup message]

[Screen-shot: Newsgroup message]

Now comes the best part of using Okami and that is replying to a message. First click on a message that you want to view. On my Hades the whole screen is taken up when a message is displayed. I would imagine that this would be the same with any computer that Okami is used on. Clicking on any web site address should allow you to bring up your browser and actually go to the address if you are on-line. If you want to reply to the message, just click on the word "reply" which is at the bottom. You will get a screen that looks like this:

[Screen-shot: Write message dialog]

At this screen you can do a lot of things. The word "News" at the bottom left means your reply will be posted on a newsgroup. If you click on the word "News", it will change to "Mail". Now your reply will be done by email. If you want to quote the message in your reply, you must click on the word "Quote". You will get another screen asking your to choose your quote character. I just left it like it was and used the ">" character. You can also choose when your sig is added. If you choose "now", your sig will be at the bottom of the message when you are typing your reply. If you choose "later", then it will be added sometime when the message is saved/exported. Now click on "Edit". Your ASCII editor that you have chosen should come up and it should either be displaying a quoted message (if you clicked on "Quote") or nothing (if you did not click on "Quote"). Type your reply, save it and get out of your ASCII editor. When using Qed, I just click on "Save and Quit" after I am done. Now you must click on "Send". This will get your message ready for export, but it will not actually send it.

If you want to attach a file to a reply you must go to the "Message" heading and then click on "Mime" in the drop-down menu. This will bring up your file selector to allow you to choose which file you want to attach. Of course you must do this before you click the "Send" button.

You will notice that when you are reading messages that have quoted messages in them, everything is black. Jos did has not yet put a feature in Okami for applying different colors for different levels of text. However, there is a way to get some color. You must add the following three lines EXACTLY as they are and in the same order anywhere in the O.INF file:

[Screen-shot: Contents of O.INF file]

This will give you black, blue and red lines.  Now if you are me you do not want to keep accumulating messages. When I am done replying, I want to get rid of all messages and start clean. To do this is simple. When you have all the messages list on your screen of a particular group, go under the "Message" heading in Okami and then click on "Set Msg Flags". Activate the flag "Kill" and also "Visible Messages". Clicking on "ok" will put red "X" to left of each message. Do this for all messages you do not want anymore. Then hit [F8] or go under "Access" heading and click on "Expire". This will get rid of all messages that you have set to be killed.

Now you must export your replies/emails. Again go under the "Access" heading and click on "Export" or else hit [F7]. You will get a screen that looks like this:

[Screen-shot: Exporting message window]

Now all that is left is to run POPwatch if you have any e-mail replies and/or NEWSwatch if you have any newsgroup replies. Both programs will tell you that they have news/emails that need to be sent. Just click on "yes" for each/both and that is it. Everything should be sent and now all there is to do is to wait for replies. I hope this article has opened your eyes on how good Okami, NEWSwatch and POPwatch are. This set-up has now made it fun to get on the newsgroups. I know I may have left things out or said some things that may not be totally correct, but I know this article will be of some great help in getting people started on the set-up of Okami. Remember that if you decide to use Okami, please register it.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me at care all until next time.

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MyAtari magazine - Feature #6, October 2002

Copyright 2002 MyAtari magazine