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PINE -- An even better way

Pine is based on elm but includes a number of improvements that make it an ideal mail system for beginners. Like elm, pine starts you with a menu. It also has an "address book" feature that is handy for people with long or complex e-mail addresses. Hitting A at the main menu puts you in the address book, where you can type in the person's first name (or nickname) followed by her address. Then, when you want to send that person a message, you only have to type in her first name or nickname, and pine automatically inserts her actual address. The address book also lets you set up a mailing list. This feature allows you to send the same message to a number of people at once.

What really sets pine apart is its built-in text editor, which looks and feels a lot more like word-processing programs available for MS-DOS and Macintosh users. Not only does it have word wrap (a revolutionary concept if ever there was one), it also has a rwspell-checker and a search command. Best of all, all of the commands you need are listed in a two-line mini-menu at the bottom of each screen. The commands look like this:

^W Where is

The little caret is a synonym for the key marked "control" on your keyboard. To find where a particular word is in your document, you'd hit your control key and your W key at the same time, which would bring up a prompt asking you for the word to look for.

Some of pine's commands are a tad peculiar (control-V for "page down" for example), which comes from being based on a variant of emacs (which is utterly peculiar). But again, all of the commands you need are listed on that two-line mini-menu, so it shouldn't take you more than a couple of seconds to find the right one.

To use pine, type


at the command line and hit enter. It's a relatively new program, so many systems may not yet have it online. But it's so easy to use, you should probably send e-mail to your system administrator urging him to get it!

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