The program is designed to download pictures from Usenet newsgroups. It will do this much more efficiently than your standard newsreader (Outlook or something), saving you precious time.
What is Usenet?
The Usenet is a discussion network, organized into newsgroups. It spans thousands of servers across the world. It is not known to all Internet users, because most of them never leave the web or their email. They will not see this unknown half, with so many treasures (and dangers) within it.
Everyone can post articles to the newsgroups, and they can be text messages but also binaries, like pictures. Once an article is uploaded to one server, the file is distributed throughout the rest of the Usenet network.
The Usenet is not located in one central place. Universities have news servers, individuals have them, and a lot of commercial services control news servers. There are newsgroups that are controlled by people (moderated), but in general the Usenet is a place where anarchy rules. No one owns the Usenet, nor has control over it.
If you have an account with an Internet Service Provider, you probably have access to their news server for free. Exceptions are America Online (AOL), which refuses access to their news servers from a NNTP client like Picture Patrol, and MSN, which has a news server that is only available if you use Outlook Express. If you happen to be with AOL or MSN, or not happy with the news services of your Internet Service Provider, we recommend the commercial news servers hosted by our favorite Premium Usenet Service Giganews.
Why do I need Picture Patrol to get the pictures?
Pictures in news articles are encoded to facilitate the transfer through the networks of providers. You can not just grab a news article and see the picture within it. Picture Patrol decodes the articles automatically, giving you a hard disk drive full of free images while asking you for almost no manual intervention.
Which file formats are supported by Picture Patrol?
The most common method of encoding pictures into news article attachments is called UUencoding. Picture Patrol supports this often used encoding since its first release.
Another way to encode pictures is called Base64. More often used for email traffic than Usenet postings, it is still often found in some newsgroups. Picture Patrol fully supports it.
yEnc is the third common way news clients use to encode attachments. There are lots of single segment yEnc encoded pictures these days, and Picture Patrol handles them alright. Bigger pictures are often split into more parts, and these multipart attachments are not yet supported.
Most pictures in newsgroups are in JPEG or GIF format. These two picture formats can be processed by Picture Patrol, but as some pictures will be corrupted not all files will come out alright. We try to skip them, because they can sometimes crash an application completely.
Picture Patrol 1.5.1 does not support the PNG picture format, nor the multi-segmented yEnc encoding. Both will be addressed in a future version.
Does the program download pictures only?
Yes, in its current state, Picture Patrol searches the Usenet for pictures only, but as we have received a few feature requests for saving music and video too, there might come an option that allows you to save those file formats as well. There are no promises on when to expect this feature, but we think it is a reasonable one that should make it through our development stages.
How can I buy a serial number?
Go to our "Buy now" page and choose your preferred way of paying US$19.
We will send you a serial number which you can enter in the preferences window of Picture Patrol.
Every picture downloaded from that moment on will be saved to your hard disk drive.
Why do I have to pay more than what you said?
We don't like it either, but for customers living in the European Union, we have to charge VAT, which makes the price higher (depending on the country you live in the percentage will vary).
On the other hand, there are very few tools that can do what Picture Patrol does for so little money...
I just bought through PayPal. Where is my license?
If you buy Picture Patrol through the PayPal system, we will be notified by them that your order has been processed, but it takes some manual intervention from us to create your serial number. We usually send it to new customers within a few hours, but because of different time zones it may take a business day before the license is sent to your email address.
Where can I find the downloaded pictures?
Since version 1.5 you are enabled to choose the download location yourself. You can use your preferred filing system, so we do not force you to store the pictures in one particular place anymore.
What are the system requirements for Picture Patrol?
You need an Apple Macintosh with Mac OS X or Mac OS 9 on it, or a PC with Windows 98, ME, NT4, 200, 2003 or XP.
50 megabytes of available memory is required, as is lots of diskspace to store the downloaded pictures.
You do not need QuickTime installed, but it makes the program even better. It is standard on most Macintosh systems, and can be downloaded for free from here.
Since 1.2, we support both broadband and modem (PPP) connections, so almost anyone should be able to join the fun...
Is the Mac OS X release a Universal Binary?
The current version is not a Universal Binary, so it will run under Rosetta (with quite a nice performance as far as we can tell). An upgrade might be a complete rewrite (currently under 'investigation') and will absolutely be Universal, to closer match the processor it will run on.
Universal or not, Picture Patrol 1.5.1 for Mac OS X does run on your new Intel Mac.
I bought a serial number for version 1.1. Why won't version 1.5 accept it?
Version 1.5 of Picture Patrol Officer uses a different licensing scheme than 1.1, making your 1.1(.1) serial number useless. That is why every licensed user of version 1.1(.1) receives a new - free - serial number for version 1.5.
What to do when I am not happy with the software?
We offer you a unique, risk-free experience: if you purchased a license for Picture Patrol, downloaded thousands of pictures with it, but you are still unhappy, dissatisfied, or you changed your mind within 60 days after the purchase, we will refund you the money.
You may tell us why you give up on it, but if you don't, we'll not feel angry about it. You are the customer, you make the decisions over here...
How does Picture Patrol 'talk' to my news server?
We implemented the Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP), a way of posting and retrieving news articles with attachments among central news databases across the Internet. This protocol is described in detail in RFC977.
I can't connect to any news server. What is wrong?
In most situations Picture Patrol communicates with the news server using TCP/IP port 119. When you're behind a firewall that has this port closed, you have no means of reaching the server. Open the port, or ask your system administrator to do so.
A lot of commercial news providers also offer their services through port 80, which is almost certainly open to you.
There are directories created by Picture Patrol, with no pictures in it. Why?
When you run Picture Patrol without a license, you're in demo mode. You can edit your preferences, read the built-in help, and even communicate and view incoming pictures in the preview area of the main window. Picture Patrol creates the directories to store the pictures it finds, but will not save them without a valid license, which you can buy here.
How do I circulate to the next group only after getting all articles in the current group?
If you want to download all articles from a newsgroup before automatically going to the next newsgroup, you can leave the circulate checkbox for your collection switched on, but the number of articles, minutes and pictures set to zero. This will make these settings inactive, but the circulation will continue at the end of each newsgroup.