The 3 main areas we need to address to get started...
1. News Reading client
There are many of these some people get by using outlook Express but as there are many free clients available with some great features it's advisable to download a decent one, the two i use are Xnews and Newsleecher. Xnews is very good for a free client with some great features Newsleecher is a step above Xnews (and all other clients imo) you can download Newsleecher and try it out for a month but if you like it then you will need to pay a small amount after the trial period to continue using it.
Newsleecher is very easy to use and understand with great user support so for someone new to usenet this is the 1 to try 1st. You can check out the tutorials i have made for both of these here which should be enough to get you on your way, all you need to know for now is that a news reading client is a must as this is the program that retrieves all the contents of the newsgroups you want to browse.
NewsLeecher and Xnews are just 2 news reading clients that are about but you can find links to all the other main clients here also (Newsbin pro is another popular 1) if you should so wish to try any of them. Hopefully in the near future i will add tutorials for some of them also.
2. Newsgroup Provider
Two ways to approach this you can either use your ISP newsgroups, nearly all ISP's have free newsgroups for their customers although many groups may be missing and retention and completion may be poor. Another problem i often hear concerning people wanting to try out their ISP newsgroup is that it isnt always easy to find out the details you need to connect to them, mainly the address (i.e mine is "news.ntlworld.com") the logon (username and password) should be the same 1 that your ISP gave you when you joined them. Some ISP's are more helpfull than others on this matter. So the preferred method is to use a premium newsgroup provider, for a small amount you get far superior service. You can find a comprehensive list of Premium providers with price comparisons and what they offer for your money on the "Newsgroup Providers" page.
3. Parity files
Parity files are an ingenious method devised to get around the problems that can occur when large files are transferred over the internet as sometimes files can arrive incomplete or corrupt, this is when parity files come to the rescue. Almost everyone that uses usenet will need to use par files at sometime so it's important to understand how these work and what they do. They come in 2 varieties..par 1 (largely redundant now) and par 2's which are the common method used today. Check out my "Par File Guide " for a more complete run down on what they are and how to use them.
So now we have gone over the basics and hopefully you have downloaded a news reading client and you are armed with your newgroup provider details and are ready to go lets move onto the tutorials.
Note: If i use any words or terms that you don't know or understand then check out the jargon busting section which should shed a little light on what is ment.