Frequently Asked Questions

From the 40tude Dialog Wiki

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I'm getting the error message

System Error. Code 6. The handle is invalid.

To run Dialog on Windows 95, you'll need the "Winsock 2" update from Microsoft. The download is free and 986 KB: Winsock 2 Update

Q: I'm updating Dialog, do I have to uninstall it first? Will I lose my settings/articles?

A: Unless Marcus explicitly says otherwise, you can update over the previous installation of Dialog. Your database and settings will not be affected. Update: When updating from Beta 35 to 36 there are some issues regarding scripts you should be aware of. Please see this page for more information. You must also be aware that there is no going back to a previous installation. The database structure is updated automatically. If you think you might want to revert to a previous version of Dialog, make sure you have a backup!

Q:After installing Dialog, I checked my registry and noticed some Dialog related keys, what are they for?

A: Here's what Marcus has to say on the subject (combined from two posts on the subject, text enhancing by me.):
Upon installation it writes to the following registry keys:

 HKLM\SOFTWARE\Clients\Mail\40tude Dialog
 HKLM\SOFTWARE\Clients\News\40tude Dialog
 HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\dialog.exe

If you register Dialog as the default email or news client the following will be written to, too:


Dialog will work without problems without these keys. On the contrary these keys should *not* be set when Dialog is only temporarily available on a USB stick.

The first two registry keys are there so that Dialog shows up an newsreader and email program on the "Programs" tab in the Windows Internet (Explorer) settings, so that the user can make Dialog the default email and newsreader program.

The third entry isn't used by Dialog itself. Dialog just leaves the path to where it is installed, so other programs looking for Dialog can quickly find it. Further, when you select Start->Run in Windows and type "dialog", Windows will start the dialog.exe at the path specified in this registry key.

Q: I just updated Dialog with the latest beta, and now I have no servers, no database, no sig, no identities

What did I do wrong?

A: A common cause is installing Dialog in a different directory than the previous installation. If this is the case, just re-install Dialog in the correct location. You can delete the un-needed installation using Windows Explorer or any other file manager.

Q: Will Dialog remain freeware? Will the final, freeware version be reduced in functionality? What's with the time limit?

A: This is already answered in the help file, but it still has to be answered by Marcus again and again and ag... Well, you get the idea. Here is the answer AGAIN:

There will always be a freeware version of Dialog. It will have the same functionality as the previously released beta version. The time limit is to prevent buggy beta versions from haunting Usenet for years to come. As with all software, Dialog has it's share of bugs. To prevent people from using these versions instead of a stable final, the beta versions have a time limit. There will be a final, freeware version with no time limit. And yes JC, regardless of what the definition of freeware is in JC land, Dialog is freeware. UPDATE!!! As of Version, Dialog no longer has a time limit. To quote Marcus:

With this version I removed the expiration, so this and all upcoming version
will work permanently.

Q: When will the next version of Dialog be released?

A: When it's ready. OK, seriously, Marcus works on Dialog by himself, and he also has a thing about not releasing a software that produces broken posts. There is always a very intensive closed beta process going on to make sure that bug fixes don't break essential Usenet standards. This all takes time. Also keep in mind that he has a Real Life[TM] and a wife that want a bit of his time. A rule of thumb to gauge the next release is to keep an eye on Mantis. The more bugs that go from red to green, the closer the next release is getting.

Q: Can I install Dialog on a network drive?

A: A lot of users in the German Dialog group have successfully installed Dialog on a mapped network drive. There have been problems reported with UNC paths.

Q: Can I install Dialog on a USB pen?

A: Yes, you can. You'll want to take a look here first.

Q: I like to keep my programs and data in separate locations, is this possible with Dialog?

A: Sorry, not at the moment. It has been logged into Mantis though.

Q: How can I move Dialog to a different location? How can I make a backup of my Dialog installation?

A: All you need to do is move the entire Dialog directory to where you want it. The most widely used method of backing up Dialog consists of zipping the entire Dialog directory and storing it someplace safe.

Q: When I import my Agent messages into Dialog some are dated 01/01/1980. What did I do wrong?

A: Nothing. For some reason Agent exports some messages incorrectly. The From header and the Date are joined together on one line. The 'Date:' header caption is missing entirely. So instead of the correct

From: somedude@someisp.com
Date: Mon Feb 02 22:29:24 2004

We get:

From somedude@someisp.com Mon Feb 02 22:29:24 2004

To solve this problem you'll need to manually correct the messages in question before importing them into Dialog. Just use your favorite text editor to correct the joined header lines.

Update: Possible solution According to a post by Robert Massey in nsr, there is a way to get around manually correcting the from header:

I had this problem importing from Agent, too, but I found a way around it.
When exporting from Agent, do not check "Save raw (unformatted) message)".

I also selected "All fields", but you might want to experiment with the
"Selected fields" options.


Q: How does the automatic subject change work?

A: Threads have a tendency to drift off the original subject. When this happens a subject change is in order. For this example, we'll assume our subject was "Old Subject" sans quotes. Standard Usenet procedure for a subject change would be "New Subject (was: Old Subject)" in the subject line. If you have the option Settings -> General Settings... -> Posting -> Automatically add "(was:...)when changing subject in followups" activated, then all you need to do is type "New Subject" in the subject line. Dialog will automagically add the rest. Note: Don't delete this additional text added by Dialog!
When replying to a subject change post, Dialog will strip out the "(was:...)" part, as it's supposed to.

An example of a simple subject change
Example of a simple subject change

Q: How can I post to two or more newsgroups at the same time? (Crossposting)

A: Click on the arrow next to the newsgroup list, then with the CTRL button pressed, pick the newsgroups you want to post to. Netiquette disclaimer: Sending a crosspost without setting a "follow-up to" is frowned upon in most civilized areas of Usenet. Repeat after me: Follow-up to is our friend.

Q: How can I keep a copy of sent items?

A: Make sure you've activated the option Keep copy of sent items under Settings -> General Settings... -> Posting, and Dialog will always file a copy of your posts in the Sent folder.

Scoring and Actions

The scoring syntax and actually most of the code is from Juergen Haible's
excellent local mail- and newsserver Hamster. Some features of it, like
expiration and combination, you will not find in Dialog's help but in the
Hamster help file or on the internet: Just search for "scores.hst". Other
features like assertions are not supported by Dialog allthough they work in
Hamster. Unfortunately there's no synopsis of the differences.

Q: How do I filter (move/copy) on the To: header?

A: In Dialog you can filter on any header in a post by using the Header keyword. Here is an example of filtering on the To: header

!move(My Mailing List) Header {^(To: mymailinglist@blahblah.com)}

This example moves posts addressed to mymailinglist@blahblah.com to a folder named My Mailing List.

Don't forget to tell Dialog that this filter is thought for emails, eg:
before the above line.

Q: How can I put a time limit on a scoring rule?

A: Although Dialog can't expire a scoring/plonk rule on a relative basis(i.e. 30 days), it can expire on an absolute basis(i.e. March 23, 2004). To do this you add the expiring date directly behind the rule using a 'yyyymmdd' format. In our example that would look something like this:

=+5000 Subject {^\[[Dialog\]].*} Expire:20040323

Notice there is no space after the colon. This is important, otherwise it won't work. Notice too that Dialog is not able to purge the score file automatically; you'll have to use the "Purge expired items" button in the scoring dialog manually.

Update! Thanks to MLC's new Script, Dialog now can also expire a rule on a relative basis! Thank you Maria Luisa!

Q: How do I set up a simple filter to mark read or delete all posts except the ones that interest me?

A: This question applies to newsgroups that use tags in the subject line to help people filter out posts that don't interest them. I usually see it being asked by Dialog users in nsr, so my example will cover that one.

Choose "scoring and actions" from the settings menu and then paste this line in your scorefile under the appropriate group header to mark non-Dialog messages read:

delete Subject -{^.*(Dial|40tude|d...og)}

If you only want to mark them read, you would change the !delete action to !markread instead.

Foxidrive suggested this alternative in nsr to match more mispellings of Dialog and items like 40-tude as well as 40tude.

!delete Subject -{^.*(40.*tude|d[ialog]*g)}

Q: How can I change the default Plonk! action?

A: You'll have to do some .ini diving for it. Open up the settings.ini in your favorite text editor (You'll find the settings.ini in your Dialog directory) and add a section called Scoring if it isn't already there. Now you can change the default values and actions for Adjust score for poster up, Adjust score for poster down, Add Plonk Rule and Add Subject Plonk Rule

Here is an example:


DefUp=+100                        # Value for 'Adjust score for poster up'
DefDown=-100                      # Value for 'Adjust score for poster down'
DefPlonk=!ignore,delete           # Action for 'Add Plonk Rule'
DefSubjectPlonk=!ignore,markread  # Action for 'Add Subject Plonk Rule'

Q: How do I add a global Plonk rule instead of a group Plonk?

A: Dialog's default behavior when adding a Plonk rule is to add it to the rules of the group you're currently in. If you want it to be used for all groups instead, just press the CTRL key while adding it.

Q: How can I combine two conditions in one score rule?

A: To combine two conditions you just have to append the second term with "-@" for "and not" or "+@" for "and".


-100 Subject "sex" "viagra" "enlargement" -@From:"My Girlfriend"
-100 Subject "help" "emergency" +@From:"My Boss"

Notice there is no space after the "@" and the colon. This is important, otherwise it won't work.


[levitra] [generic viagra] [cialis] [phentermine]

Identities, Automization and Add-Ons

The X-Headers don't seem to work.

They work for everyone else. ;-)

On the X-Headers page of the settings window you have to enter the __name__ of the X-Header only. After that you can enter the value/the content of the X-Header on the Identities page of the settings window.

E.g. when you want to have a X-Header line "X-Special: yes", create an X-Header "Special" on the X-Header page, and enter it's value "yes" on the Identities page.

Update: There is now an illustrated tutorial here to help you with your X-Header problems

Q: How can I make Dialog notify me when there's a reply to a post I made?

A: There are at least two reply notification scripts in the script library. One for an acoustic notification here and MLC's cool PostShow script. Both require you to have a FQDN and have Dialog generate Message-IDs from it. You can find that option under Settings -> Servers, Identities, Signatures... and then clicking on Identities in the left hand column. The two boxes in the bottom righthand corner need to be checked.

Turning on Message-ID geeration in Dialog

Q: What in the world

is a Paternoster?

A: Besides being a Dialog script and, starting with beta 35, an integral part of Dialog, a paternoster is an interesting type of elevator. The exact definition would be a continuous vertical passenger conveyor. For a more detailed explanation have a look here.

Q: How do I play a sound file on arrival of new email?

A: Add this script as an Event Script under OnEmailChecked

// Plays a sound file on arrival of new email
// thanks to Colin (http://www.colin-jones.co.uk) for the script

program OnEmailChecked;

function PlaySound( Filename: PChar; Options: LongWord ): Boolean;
         external 'sndPlaySoundA@winmm.dll stdcall';

procedure OnEmailChecked(Identity:string; FetchedCount, TotalOnServerBefore, TotalOnServerAfter: integer);
//If mail then play wav
if fetchedcount=0 then exit;

// modify the path and filename to your favourite .wav file
  PlaySound( 'c:\Internet\Dialog\mail.wav', 1 );


Q: How do I Download messages with a single mouse click?

A: By adding this script.

Q: How do I set up the random signature function?

A: First off, you need to create a text file for Dialog to pick your signature from. You can use plain old notepad for this, or any other text editor of your choice. Your sig file should look something like this one (IMPORTANT!: There must be no space after the % character, or it won't work).

My cool signature number 1
My cool signature number 2
My cool signature number 3

Save your file, and start up Dialog. In Dialog open up the 'Settings' menu and then 'Servers, Identities, Signatures'. From there you choose 'Signatures' from the left hand side. Hit the 'New' button and give your .sig a spiffy name. In the text field for 'Selected signature' type %randsig: and then the full path of the text file we made first. Close the line with a preceeding % and click the OK button. Here is an example of how it should look if we had saved our text file in C:\sigs with the name mysigfile.txt


That's all there is to it!

Q: Does Dialog have a trashbin?

A: Not built in, but if you don't like the idea of messages landing in byte-nirvana without chance of reprieve, then use Dirk Straka's script to add a trashbin folder.

Q: How can I make Dialog fetch mails and messages periodically?

A: By using this script

Q: How do I save files with the header as the filename?

A: At the moment, you can only do that by using this script from MLC.

Q: How can I move E-Mails from the sent folder?

A: You can't actually, but there is a way to have your correspondence put in a folder so you can work with it later. Under 'Settings'->'Servers, Identities, Signatures...'->'Identities'->'SMTP (Outgoing email)'->'Advanced SMTP-settings'->'Create a copy...' Choose the folder you want to have your mail copied to. If you don't want the original hanging around in the Sent folder you can also uncheck the 'Keep copy of sent items' under 'General settings'->'posting'

Q: I've set up a few identities, and Dialog keeps adding an inbox for each of them, I don't need them, so how do I get rid of them?

A: You can't, but you can make them invisible with this script. Another workaround would be to move them to the bottom of the list and adding a seperator so they don't distract you.

General Stuff (can be changed without notice)

Dialog has stopped downloading messages when I click them/is marking messages for download instead of downloading them

A: You have probably switched to offline mode. To get back in online mode, click on the lightbulb icon in the toolbar, or use ctrl and the letter 'O'.

I get an authentication error with the newsserver of my dialup ISP. I'm sure the login and password is correct and it does work with other newsreaders.

A: Try to not enter the login/password at all in Dialog. Your dialup ISP's newsserver might grant access to anyone who is connected through their dialup line. Dialog, in contrast to some other newsreaders, will always try to authenticate with the login/password that you enter in Dialog's setup, even if the newsserver doesn't expliticly request authentication.

Q: I notice that whenever I start Dialog I have to reload my (message) script (Settings-Scripting-Reload Scripts) to make it work. Is it possible to load the scripts automatically? How?

A: Yes, there was a bug in version Only message scripts are affected. Please upgrade to the latest version.

Help! my three panes are gone! For some reason only the Newsgroup/Header/Article pane are showing.

A: You probably hit the F8 key or clicked on one of the N H A fields in Dialog's status bar. Simply hit the F8 button again, or click on the field in the status bar that is active.

I used Dialog to download messages in my favorite binary group and it only downloaded 1000 messages. OE shows me around 10 times that much!

A: Dialog automatically combines multipart binaries; OE doesn't. A message split into ten parts will be only one post in Dialog, hence the smaller number of messages.

Q: How to drag and drop a message into a folder without using Copy/Move Articles option in the navigation menu?

A: You can drag and drop a message into a selected folder by holding the Alt key when dragging.

Q: How can I put my groups into folders?

A: You can't put groups into folders, but don't despair, Dialog has another way of bringing order to the newsgroup chaos: Categories!

Q: Dialog keeps underlining consecutive capital letters (i.E. PEBCAK), what's with that?

A: Dialog has a glossary of commonly(and not so commonly) used acronyms. If you hover your mouse above an underlined acronym for a second or two, a tooltip pops up with an explanation of what that acronym means. If you find yourself wanting to switch off this feature, it can be done by un-checking the 'Show acronyms' field under 'Settings' -> 'General Settings...' -> 'View'. You can also add your own acronyms by editing the acro.dat file in the 40tude Dialog directory. If you do add your own definitions, you'll want to save a copy of your modified acro.dat file someplace safe when you update Dialog. If you don't it will be overwritten by the default acro.dat file.

Q: Why does Dialog show me solid red blocks instead of text on some posts?

A: You've come across the spoiler function. Methods of hiding spoilers are used widely in film or book discussion groups so as to not spoil it for people that haven't seen the film or read the book in question. Newsreaders that honor the spoiler character (actually a form feed or CTRL-L) hide spoilers through various means. Dialog shows spoilered text as red letters on a red background. If you want to see the spoilered text, tap CTRL-L.
This is spoilered textThis is un-spoilered text
An example of spoilered vs. un-spoilered text

When posting your own spoilers you can toggle between spoilered and un-spoilered mode by using CTRL-L. The spoiler character shows up as a rectangle in the composition window.

I hate the spoiler function. How can I turn it off?

Well, you can't, but you can set the spoilered text color to match your normal article text, which amounts to about the same thing. You can find it under 'Settings'->'General Settings'->'Article colors'

Q: Where is the check box for Minimal blocking threads?

if not under Settings-> General settings->Misc?

A: You will find it under Settings->General settings->Connections.

Note:This question will probably be removed after the Help file has been updated to reflect the latest version of Dialog.

Q: Dialog always starts a new thread when the subject changes, how can I stop it? or How can I make Dialog start a new thread when the subject changes?

A: You can change this behavior by unchecking or checking the 'Start a new thread when the subject changes within a thread' box in 'Group' -> 'Default group options' -> 'Sorting/Scoring'. This can also be changed on a per group basis. Just use selected group options instead of default group options. Remember to uncheck the 'This group uses the default group options' box.

Q: Why do I always have to readjust the editor window size and position everytime I want to write an article?

A: To cure Dialog of its Alzheimer's, open the editor and arrange everything as you wish, then go to the options menu (not the options /tab/!) and choose "Save current window size and pos. as default"!

Q: Why do I suddenly see some articles with a different font and font size?

A: You're probably seeing Dialog's font fallback feature in action. Not all fonts have character glyphs for all characters, e.g. there is only a handful of fonts that have glyphs for Chinese characters. Font fallback means that Dialog will iterate through a list of fonts available on your computer and automatically pick the one that has most (perfectly all) of the character glyphs needed to display the text. The list of fallback fonts and their size can be arranged at 'Settings->General settings->Fonts/colors' page or the font fallback feature can be disabled fully.

Q: Why does the Paternoster function not jump up to a group with unread articles?

A: If it's enabled in the navigation settings in the general options ;-), it's probably that you are not using the space bar for navigation ('N' or any self defined key). Note that the paternoster function works exclusively with the space bar!

Q: I tried to download a message body, but it failed.

Now it just has a big red 'X' through the icon and Dialog won't let me download it again. Is there a way to work around this?

A: To force Dialog to try and retrieve the body, select the message header in the header pane, then select "Delete body"(NOT "Delete"!) from the Message menu, or click the Delete Body button in the toolbar. The 'X' will disappear and you can try to download the body again.

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