I have a suggestion. Signing up for a decent newsfeed (like Supernews, usenetnews, etc.) that has better retention time (the time binaries stay on the server) and better propogation (the amount of articles that you can actually obtain). You can expect to pay between $6 to $20 per month for this service and I guarantee you it is worth it.
As for the confusing side of usenet, it's really quite simple. I would recommend Agent for usenet client (on the PC); not sure what's out there for the Mac. I would highly recommend NOT using Outlook Express or browsers for usenet binaries.
IMO, usenet is easier than irc. The only quibble lately is the introduction of yenc encoding, but hopefully this will be resolved soon when Forte upgrades Agent.