Sixteen Bits Online

APRIL 1996

Navigating with Netscape 2.0

by Malcolm Morrison

It began in early March with a comment in the Sydney Morning Herald computer pages to the effect that a trial version of Netscape 2.0 could be downloaded from Comtech's Web site at

I was comfortable using Netscape 1 to bumble around the Web, handle a little Email and read the News-groups including PCUG's Tip. I even looked at tip.general occasionally when I felt strong enough. (Who are these people and why are they always saying awful things about each other and why in public as it were? Are they living proof that Canberra is populated by socially dysfunctional people?)

But I wanted to move my Web access from a 386 to a 486 PC with more RAM so I thought I might try to upgrade at the same time.

I tried the Web site in the Sydney Morning Herald article and downloaded the software. Then it just sat there. It would not self extract or UnZip whatever I did to it - 2.4 Mb of junk.

So I shifted my Telix modem software over to the new computer by floppy and hooked up the modem. To my relief it all still worked. I then went where I should have gone in the first place - the PCUG BBS. In Area 72 lie all kind of goodies for the Web including Netscape Navigator 2.0 in both 16 bit and 32 bit format. Look for for the 16 bit version to use with windows 3.1. But by the time I had trawled through Area 72, the BBS would not let me tag the file I wanted. It seems the BBS now looks at how much of your one hour a day you have left and won't let you tag and download the file if it would take too long - very neat, and fair!

So next morning I tried again, and down came the file, no worries although it took about 40 minutes.

This one UnZipped OK - if you need it PKZIP files are also available from the BBS. And once UnZipped there was an .exe file. So, a double click on the .exe file in File Manager, set off the installation procedure without a hitch. Lovely colours and graphics, and clear explanations. Once installed, if you get it right, it automatically takes you through to the Netscape Home Page and asks you to register. And you are entered in a draw for a T-shirt. Wow! It does take about 7Mb but what is that nowadays? The smallest hard disk in my hardware catalogue is over 500 Mb.

In my case, Navigator lets me know that it still needs Trumpet Winsock to link to the Net. So I had to copy that directory of files over from the old PC by floppy. After that it said that it wanted a WINSOCK.DLL file somewhere different, so I put a copy where it said. Then I worked through the options and preferences in the Netscape Navigator 2.0 menu putting in addresses and proxies as advised by PCUG for Netscape 1.0 - I'll bet you didn't keep all the instructions did you?

I also copied my Bookmark file from Netscape 1.0 and substituted it for the new empty one in Netscape Navigator 2.0 (I simply deleted the new, empty one). Netscape accepted the change happily so you don't have to lose all these Bookmarks that you thought important even if you can't remember why! And the new Bookmark presentation is great.

Navigator 2.0 ran right away and I checked it out by picking up some vegetarian recipes from Indiana State University and some ideas for school science fair projects from California.

I also transferred over Eudora (the Email package) and Trumpet Newsreader (for newsgroups access). Only later did I find the menu options which let you open windows within the main Navigator window to run Mail and Newsgroups from within Navigator 2.0 as an integrated package - magic stuff!

At first Navigator's Mail window would do everything except let me open my incoming mail. After lots of trial and error the solution proved simple. The default Mail window is quite small, just small enough in fact to conceal the message display area at the bottom. Drag and drop the bottom of the Mail window, or maximise it, and away you go. Lovely presentation and even hypertext links to referenced messages.

Well, away you don't go at first, unless you have your options, in my case my POP address, set correctly. I didn't. So, I went back to the Netscape Home Page, followed the hypertext links through the technical advice and in the Handbook, picked up good, clear guidance on how to enter the required addresses.

I then spent half an hour trying to Subscribe to Newsgroups including the dreaded tip.general. A menu item, Add Newsgroups, said it was adding them but didn't. I could load the master list of all Newsgroups (some strange things in alt. aren't there?) and access them, including tip.general, where some new, cryptic, abusive messages had appeared. (Can anyone remember what the original argument was about?) But I could not Subscribe, which is boring and time consuming as the full list takes several minutes to load. Finally, back to the Netscape Home Page Handbook and there was the answer. Click once in an innocuous little plain black square which sits next to each individual newsgroup in the master list, and a little yellow tick appears. You are subscribed.

So now everything is working. And fast. I am using a 486 instead of a 386, 8 Mb of RAM instead of 4 Mb, and Netscape 2.0 instead of 1.0. The combination makes my old set up look embarrassingly slow. Now all I need is a 28 Kbps Modem - or is it? Mark Andreessen of Netscape is quoted in the papers as saying we are really going to need to use 32-bit systems with "powerful" multimedia to enjoy all the coming features including Java applets. And he has Netscape Navigator 3, 4 and 5 in the design pipeline which no doubt will need even more. Well, maybe next year.

But for the moment do try Netscape Navigator 2.0, and do register it. These guys really should be encouraged.

Sixteen Bits Online - April 1996