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Get the most out of Usenet humour! Back to tutorial index  

Usenet is THE mother network of Internet discussion groups. It is the best place to go to if you are looking for help on topics ranging from programming problems to potted plants. Besides being a valuable source of information and opinions, it is also a good source of entertainment. One of my favourite newsgroups is rec.humor.funny. Everyday, people from all over the Internet submit jokes to the moderator of this newsgroup. The moderator is the person who goes through all the joke submissions and posts the best ones for everyone to read.

The quality of the jokes in rec.humor.funny is usually very high, because of this moderation process, which is why I always look forward to any new postings. But at the same time, the moderation process also means that there is no guarantee of new jokes appearing everyday, since the moderator may feel that none of the submissions on that day are funny enough! So some days I become disappointed when I visit the newsgroup and find no new jokes. :(

But thanks to TrackEngine, I found a solution to my problem. Let me show you what I did.

Prerequisite: Enable your web browser with the "Track me!" button.
If you're not a TrackEngine user yet, then sign up for a free account by clicking here. The registration process is simple and you'll receive your username and password by email shortly after you've signed up. There are a few places where you can enable your web browser with the "Track me!" button.

  • At the QuickStart page, which briefly outlines the workings of TrackEngine for new users upon their first sign-in.
  • At the My Bookmarks page, which gives existing users a quick means of enabling any web browser with the "Track me!" button.

Next, go to the rec.humor.funny site, and click on the Track me! button that you just installed in your browser. A dialog box will appear showing the title of the web page and some options about how often you wish to track the page and keywords. Just leave these at their default settings and click on the 'Expert' link near the top left-hand corner of the dialog box to show a further list of options. Scroll down to the one titled 'Please analyze and format:' and change the default setting to 'Summarize new content and send me the page'. Finally, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the 'Ok' button to save the settings.

That's all to it! From now on, you don't have to go back to the rec.humor.funny site to check for new postings. That is because TrackEngine will check the newsgroup and email any new jokes to you once the moderator puts them up!

If you are a seasoned Usenet user and, like me, you read Usenet using a web- based news reader, then you might be a little surprised that I chose Mailgate instead of the more popular Google Groups (formerly DejaNews). Well, the good news is that the steps I've described above for tracking rec.humor.funny works equally well on Google Groups' rec.humor.funny archive too. In fact, why don't I leave that as an exercise for you? ;)

Do you have a tip to share with other TrackEngine users? If so, pick up your virtual pen now and write to us at!

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