Binary Vortex

User’s Guide

Binary Vortex


Binary Vortex is a tool designed to allow you to download files (or pictures) from Binary Newsgroups. BinaryVortex is designed to perform this task automatically without user intervention. It can run in a fully unattended configuration, or if you are present, you can watch files as they are downloaded with the built in thumbnail viewer.

Binary Vortex is intended to be easy to use, as well as powerful. It is shareware, and has no delays, limits, crippled features, or other nags that would deter your enjoyment of this product.

Step-by-Step Installation Instructions:

[Note: We've added an illustrated howto on the web with pictures showing the installation and setup]

  1. Run the Setup Program (Setup.Exe). This will install all of the Binary Vortex files into a subdirectory of your choice and create a windows program group and desktop icon for them.
  2. Load Binary Vortex
    1. Locate the Binary Vortex icon on your desktop. It looks like a big blue “V”.
    2. Click the icon
    3. The Binary Vortex program should launch and display the main window
  3. Configure your news host identity. You will need to know some specific information about your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to complete this section of the Installation. You will need to know your News Host Name, User Name, and Password. If you are unsure of these items, then you should contact your ISP. You may also be able to find the information in an existing program, such as Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer, which you have already configured to receive newsgroups.
    1. The first option is your News Host Name. This is the Internet Name of the computer that you must connect with to receive usenet news. It is usually “” or “” (ispname being the name of your Internet Service Provider). For example, if you were using Supernews, the name is “”. If you are unsure about this name, then contact your ISP; They will be happy to give you the information.
    2. The next option is your User Name. This is usually the name that you use to logon to the Internet. Again, your ISP may be able to give you this information if you don’t know it. Note: A User Name (and Password) is not always required. Many ISP’s will grant access to normal newsgroups, but not the alt.binary hierarchy unless you specify a name and password.
    3. The final option is your Password. The password corresponds to the User Name in the above step, and if you know one, then you probably already know the other.
    4. There’s also a checkbox that lets you select Secure SSL usenet service. This is being offered by several providers, such as Giganews, and encrypts the traffic between the news server and your computer. Make sure your ISP or news service does support SSL before trying to use it, or Vortex will not be able to connect.
  4. Set your download path. By default, Binary Vortex will download into the current directory. If this is what you want, then leave it alone. If not, then designate a directory of your choice.
  5. Press the “Groups” Tab at the top of the dialog to configure your newsgroups
    1. Use the <Add> button to add a new newsgroup.
    2. If you know the name of the newsgroup you want to add, then just type it into the dialog and hit ok.
    3. Otherwise, you can get a list of groups from your News Server.
      1. Press the <Refresh> button in the add newsgroup dialog.
      2. Binary Vortex will connect to your news server and download a group list. This will take several minutes.
      3. Numerous things can go wrong here if you have something misconfigured (i.e. the wrong news host name, a bad password, etc). If something does go wrong, then get the correct info (contact your ISP!), enter it into the setup tab, and try again.
    4. Once the newsgroup list is downloaded, you can scroll through it and pick the groups you want.
    5. Repeat 1-4 until you’ve added all the groups you desire.
  6. Click the “Download!” tab at the top of the dialog to begin downloading.
    1. On the download page, there is a button with the caption “Click to Start!”. Click this button.
    2. Congratulations! Your are now downloading binary news!

Program Features and Options

The program is organized in a tabular fashion.

  • The “Setup” tab contains information for configuring the program to your ISP and hard drive. You should only need to use it once.
  • The “Groups” tab is where you add and remove newsgroups from the download list. You can tell BinaryVortex to switch to a new newsgroup (after the current file has finished processing) by using the Set-Next button. The Enable button will let you turn a group on or off without actually removing the group.
  • The “Download!” tab is where all the action occurs. Various message information is presented on the left, while a thumbnail image (for jpeg files) is displayed to the right. The “Click to Start!” button starts and stops everything.
    • You can push “Skip” to skip and delete the current image
    • “View” will view the current directory in a big full-screen viewer
    • “Kill String” will enter the current author and/or poster into the kill string database
  • The “Filter” tab is where you configure kill strings. A kill string is just a batch of text that if it appears in a message, will prevent that message from being downloaded. For example, enter “Phone Sex” into the kill string database, and BinaryVortex will avoid any messages with the phrase “Phone Sex” in the subject or author.
  • The “Diagnostics” tab is where you go when something bad happens. The status window shows a play-by-play listing of what is being communicated to your news server, and the kill-string log shows what messages have been zapped by kill strings.
  • The “Registration” tab is where you go to pay the hard-working author of this software for all his effort.
  • The “Help” tab includes links to the program documentation and howtos.

The Boss Key Setting

Several people have asked for a way to place Binary Vortex on the system tray (taskbar) and password protect it. This let’s Binary Vortex run in the background, and prevents people from inadvertently being able to access it.

The “Boss Key” is a special key that you can press to do this. The term “Boss Key” goes back to the 1980s where many games included a special key that you could press if the boss came around to hide the game and make it look like you are working. Here is how the Boss Key works:

  1. Press ALT-F10 (i.e. hold down the “Alt” key and press the “F10″ key)
  2. The Binary Vortex main window will disappear, and be replaced by a blue “V” icon in your windows system tray. (the system tray is that area with little icons usually on the right hand side of the windows taskbar)
  3. To restore Binary Vortex, click the blue “V” icon in the system tray.

You can also password-protect Binary Vortex when it is on the system tray to prevent people from being able to restore it without a password. To do this, Use the “Advanced” tab in the Binary Vortex main window, and find the <settings> button next to the “enable boss key” option.

Advanced options:

The advanced options tab contains several “expert user” type settings. Generally I don’t recommend messing with them unless you have a pretty good idea of what you are doing. However, you really won’t break anything significant by playing with the settings, so feel free to experiment with them if you wish.

Auto-restart. Normally when vortex finishes processing all of your newsgroups, it’ll just stop and sit there. The auto-restart setting will cause vortex to continually scan for new messages.

ZIP filter. Somebody asked for a filter that would prevent .ZIP archives from being downloaded. Maybe he just wasn’t a big fan of ZIP archive files…. It sounded like a good idea, so I threw it in.

Save settings every 100 messages. This checkpoints Vortex’s settings. It’s useful in case your computer gets shutdown unexpectedly, so that vortex remembers where it left off.

Pause for x seconds between messages. If you have a DSL or cable modem, then Vortex will often download pictures so fast that it’s hard for you to keep track of what’s going on (and in particular, to hit the kill or lockout buttons when an undesirable picture flies by). The delay setting lets you slow things back down.

Enable the boss key. See the boss-key section above.

Enable JPEG auto-commenter. The JPEG auto-commenter is a handy feature that will store the subject, author, and other information in the JPEG comment block. If you have a viewer that displays jpeg comments (like sortpics), then this can be a handy way to get additional info on your images sometime down the road.

Automatically rename filename collisions. It’s a fact of life that there are many files named “1.jpg”. Vortex can be configured to either overwrite these files, or to rename the new file as it’s downloaded.

Simple duplicate check and delete. Vortex includes a fairly simple duplicate checker that works by comparing downloaded files to existing files in the same directory. It first compares file size, and if the size matches then it will compare the file contents. If you have a large directory (tens of thousands of files), then the checker may cause vortex to slow down.


We offer a couple of different registration packages. You can buy binary vortex by itself for $15, or you can buy Binary Vortex plus a whole suite of other programs for $26.95. For full details, see

Contacting the Author:

You may email me at or

Details on contacting me via US Mail are available at:

Revision History:

  • Version 1.0
    • Initial Public Release
  • Version 1.1
    • Widened group list
    • Made skip button also delete the file
    • Changed to Borland C++ Builder 3.0 (What a pain in the ass!)
    • Added register button to registration page
    • Added version number to registration page
    • Hid news password
    • Robustized bmp support in viewer
    • Added filter-by-message-lines
    • Vortex now remembers it’s previous screen coordinates
    • Child dialog boxes now auto-center in their parents
    • Error dialog and auto-restart on remote server disconnect
    • Better handling of authentication problems
    • Deactivated following of ThreadPrev
  • Version 1.2
    • Fixed problem with group list not working when >32000 groups
    • Added search box to newsgroup listing
    • Added progress bar to newsgroup listing
  • Version 1.3
    • Fixed wrong dialog box size on systems with large fonts
    • Recompiled with BCB 3.0
    • Fixed problem with kernel32 crash if date > 2033
  • Version 1.4
    • Prevented blank groups from being added via add dialog
    • Viewer now remembers previous mode and slideshow delay
    • Viewer remembers previous position
    • Updates to viewer
  • Version 1.5
    • Switch from XHDR to XOVER
    • Misc updates to image viewers
    • Added rename (F2) command to viewer
    • I think I forgot to release this version to the general public
  • Version 1.6
    • Minor y2k update to date parsing code
    • Transparent gif support in viewer
    • Fixed memory leaks in viewer
    • Many updates to viewer — http://see
    • Compiled with borland c++ builder 5
    • Updated to radiate adsoftware version 3
  • Version 1.7
    • Fix problem where pressign Refresh while newsrc was being displayed would cause crash
  • Version 1.8
    • Removed adsoftware; vortex is now a shareware program
    • Fixed a strange problem with win2k, stretchbitmap, and every other thumbnail not displaying
  • Version 1.9
    • Fixed problem with debug listbox filling up with entries and causing fault
    • Fixed GPF due to excessively long file names
    • Made window resize-able and maximize-able
    • Added splitted between message info and thumbnail
    • Inrcreased thumbnail buffer to 4MB
    • More precise scaling control
    • Fix window size problem with large fonts
  • Version 2.0
    • Registration fee changed to $29.95
    • More tolerant of bad jpeg files
    • Fixed some GPFs
    • Fixed window size screwed up if registered ?!
  • Version 2.1
    • Fixed excessively long subject lines causing crash
  • Version 2.2
    • Various updates to built in image viewer
    • Added virus filter
    • Fixed newsgroup list to add multiple groups
    • Multiselect for delete/enable/disable buttons
    • Prevent adding groups that already exist
    • Added advanced settings tab
    • Added filter zip option
    • Added auto restart option
  • Version 2.3
    • Added Yenc support
  • Version 2.4
    • Added 90-second timeout mechanism
  • Version 2.5
    • Fixed minimum and maximum line number settings
  • Version 2.6
    • Added checkpoint every 100 messages option
    • Added save-now option
  • Version 2.7
    • Updates to built in image viewer (see
    • Fix viewer mask getting stuck on filename
    • Fix viewer no displaying the file it’s supposed to
    • 2.7a: minor modification to registration codes
  • Version 2.8
    • Support for product-specific registration codes
    • Widened entry spot for registration codes
    • Made startup register button go to express_register page
    • Ignore leading spaces in reg code
  • Version 2.9
    • Prevent bug with long xover lines
    • Display error message and stop when disk space low
  • Version 3.0
    • Added jpeg virus filter
  • Version 3.0a
    • Fix disk space warning popping up multiple times
    • Minor change to initialization of jpeg virus filter
  • Version 3.1
    • Better crash resistance when downloading bad jpeg images
  • Version 3.2
    • Added note not to enter registration code into setup page
    • Added boss key
  • Version 3.3
    • Added option to enter registration code at please wait screen
  • Version 3.4
    • Added command to set message pointer
  • Version 3.5
    • Added JPEG auto-commenter feature
    • Viewer now displays comments in title bar
    • Enable panning in JPEG viewer when full size image displayed
    • Added alt.binaries only option to group browser
  • Version 3.6
    • Update to new pricing scheme
  • Version 3.7
    • Fix pointer button not properly anchored
    • Fix glitch in reg algm
  • Version 3.8
    • Experimental support for secure usenet
    • Added status bar with message totals
    • Socket IO core replaced with and/quad version (TSBSocket/AsyncSocket)
    • Set minimum size of main form to prevent it from getting resized too small
    • New version of setup program
  • Version 3.9
    • Additional locking in SSL code
    • Fix GPF when deleting groups while downloader is active
  • Version 4.1
    • More verbosity in diagnostic message during connection
    • Automatically rename filename collisions
  • Version 4.2
    • Switch to BCB6
    • Added explore button to download screen
    • Verify download path before starting downloader
    • Change default download directory to be vista compliant

Current Release

Ver 5.0, 1/13/2010

All software is certified to contain No Adware, No Spyware, and No Viruses.

Download the Self-extracting automatic installation program. The software will be automatically installed to your computer.
Register your software. Registering is how you pay for the software. It eliminates the nag screen and startup delay. Registering supports the author and enables software development and support.

This software is compatible with Windows version 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, and Windows 7.

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