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Issue 11 - January 1994

BABBA Magazine - The
Bay Area Bulletin Board Advisor

About the Cover: A young modem enthusiast
(Shaun Shapiro, age 2).
Photo courtesy of the Roadkill Grill BBS.

Publisher/Editor: Mark Shapiro

Modems/Disks: Fred Townsend
Operating Systems: Randy Just
Copy Editor: Bryce Wolfson
Administration: Veronica Shapiro
Production: Steve Kong
Sales: Carl Bacani

Distribution: Leo Bounds, Phil Gantz, David & Lisa Janakes, Mark Murphy, Gary Ray, Alex Riggs, Lee Root, and the SLUGs.

Printed at: Fricke-Parks Press (510) 793-6543

The inside cover had a full-page ad for Wells Fargo bank (wellsfargo.com/home)

Pages 2 and 3 had full-page ads for Laitron Computers.

Editor's Opinions

Your continued support of our advertisers enables us to grow. We now deliver 35,000 BABBAs to our readers within and outside of California.

A request to BBS software companies:
It's time to expand the maximum message length. Many industrial-strength BBS packages still have arbitrary limits on messages. As more BBSs trade email with the Internet, these limits become annoying.

A request to local print media:
Local media is bending over backwards to fill pages with telecommunication articles. We wish they would learn more about BBSs before writing about them. Recently, several articles have hinted or "reported" bad things about local BBSs. These articles linked BBSs with illegal sex, hacking, viruses, racism, and bizarre activities. The headline of a particularly poorly-researched "BBS story" spotlighted computer sex. Not only did the long-winded story fail to explain what "computer sex" was, the article didn't mention sex at all.

Some "complete" overviews of online services fail to even mention BBSs. Are local publications ignorant on the subject of BBSs? This situation may be improving since at least one local newspaper has recently subscribed to BABBA.

When BBS bashing occurs in a less computer-literate area it can be rationalized that people are criticizing what they don't understand. This is Silicon Valley - there is no excuse for biased or inaccurate reporting on the local BBS scene. Why does the media consistently bash BBSs? Are they picking a few bad apples and presenting them as mainstream just to make colorful stories? Are they bashing BBSs to promote online services they have an interest in?

A Public BBS?
Some BBS callers are under the impression that a BBS must grant them access. This is incorrect, a Sysop has the right to deny service to any caller for any reason at any time. The same is true for restaurants, magazine subscriptions, and movie theatres.

Most of the time, when a Sysop denies access to a person, it is for a very good reason. If a caller's account is terminated, and they have paid in advance for access, the Sysop should refund a prorated amount.

A BBS is the property of the Sysop. The caller to any online system (be it one to 1000 lines) is a guest.

Questions Letters Comments

C: We are listed in your publication as a BBS. We are not a BBS, we are an online service. Please change your listings to show a distinction between BBSs and real online services.

A: The problem with your suggestion is deciding where to draw the line. What is the difference between on online service and a BBS? Is a 32-line system with 20 gigabytes of storage and 8 network connections (including the Internet) a BBS or an online service? If Compuserve wanted to list their local dial-up numbers here, we would list them as a BBS. In this publication, our definition of a BBS is any computer system connected to a communication link that allows some level of public access.

Q: Why won't you list my Excalibur software-based BBS?

A: Because we can't figure it out, and we think our readers will have trouble with it too. Like some other (non-standard) proprietary BBS packages - when you first call, Excalibur's default setup seems to offer only 2 choices - hang up or download their program. There wasn't an option to leave a message to the Sysop. We tried to download the mandatory terminal program, and our downloading attempts never succeeded, and your BBS hung up on us every time. We do list some Excalibur BBSs - the ones that let you leave a message to the Sysop and/or have a voice contact number on screen in case of trouble.

Not everyone uses an IBM-PC compatible computer. We prefer BBS software packages that work with any terminal. Our opinion: BBS software that requires proprietary (terminal program) client software, should include a simple front-end system to let Sysops and callers communicate.

Q: Is now a good time to buy a new (faster than 14.4k) modem?

A: When deciding when to buy, modems are no different than any other computer peripheral. If you are first to buy the latest and greatest, you have a better chance at buying something with bugs or that in the long term, is not very compatible. On the other side, it's a losing game to keep waiting for the best deal or technology. These new (faster) modems may have bugs, but the manufacturers will likely fix bugs and offer upgrades. Keep in mind that modems are downward compatible. If you buy a (faster than 14.4k) modem, it will connect fine to the millions of 14.4K modems out there. The biggest impact of these new (fast) modems will be to drive down the price of 14.4K (and lower speed) modems. If you have a 14.4 modem, perhaps wait for standards to settle. If you have a 2400, consider the new (faster than 14.4) models.

Q: I read and enjoyed your PCMCIA articles, but one question: Why cover PCMCIA when PCI is so much more important?

A: PCMCIA is a computer peripheral technology that end-users can see, touch, and use. PCI describes a motherboard electrical connection that is generally non-transportable. (For example, you would not swap a PCI connected device between your laptop and desktop computer.) We are considering an article on PCI in the future.

C: Partly because of the articles I read in BABBA, I joined an Internet service. Your articles made it sound real easy and it is not! After paying my fees, I find I am expected to learn UNIX and all the cryptic Internet commands. You should warn people of this.

A: If all you need from the Internet is a universal mailbox, you can get that from many local BBSs and all major online services. If you want all the features of the Internet, you need a full Internet Service Provider. Internet and Internet providers are currently Unix-based. The combination of Unix and the Internet features together can be a lot to learn. Luckily, you only need to know a few things to get started and have even fun. There is almost always (online) help available. Here is a very incomplete quick guide for someone logging onto a Unix-based Internet provider for the first time:

You don't need to read a book to benefit from a full-service Internet provider - but it will help you get more out of one. BIGDUMM.ZIP, discussed in our last issue, is a great place to start.

C: For months you have been listing a BBS that is run by a Sysop who hacks other BBSs with private information. Many Sysops know about this.

A: We checked and found you are correct. We no longer list that BBS. If any BABBA-listed BBS has a problem, let us know immediately! Although local BBS lists can be found everywhere, BABBA is the information center concerning quality Northern California BBSs and online services. BABBA is the single, continuously updated master list of high quality online systems.

Q: How safe is it to give a BBS your credit card number? Do the BBSs listed in BABBA require a credit card to log on?

A: Giving your credit card number to a BABBA-listed BBS is no more risky than giving your credit card to an unknown clerk at any store. Banks make BBS Sysops (and most small businesses in general) jump through many hoops to get a merchant card account. Abusing the privilege of a merchant credit card would instantly get the account revoked and open the Sysop or business to severe legal trouble. No BBS can make you divulge your credit card, and very few require a credit card to log-in. A credit card is just a convenient way to pay the nominal registration fees on a BBS.

Q: What do you think of BBSs that ask stupid questions like "Why should I validate you?" or "What are you looking for on this BBS?"

A: We agree - these kinds of questions are silly, similar to the "What do you want to do 5 years from now?" type of question sometimes asked on job interviews. Ideally a BBS should be set up to allow callers to register and leave messages when they want to. Forcing an essay-type response to a question is an annoyance. The best file uploads occur voluntarily and the best messages are voluntary.

Q1: Is there a BBS somewhere near North San Jose that carries the VGA Planets game?

A: To our knowledge, the only BBS local to BABBA Zone 1 that carries the VGA Planets game is the Roadkill Grill BBS in BABBA Zone 2.

Q2: Do you know of any (Internet style) MUD games for PC-based BBSs?

A: Anyone who knows the answer to this question, please contact BABBA.

Page 4 had an ad for the Pacific Exchange BBS

Reader's Responses

In issue 10, a reader asked for options on sending email among 20 company locations across the USA.

Nelson Bolyard emailed us another suggestion: I'd like to recommend MCImail. Each person can arrange to get an MCImail account for $35/year. You access MCImail using an 800-number from anywhere in the USA or Canada. MCImail users can mail each other text and files, as well as send email to and from the Internet. You can define mailing lists to send a email to all other users in their 20 companies, if they want to.

In issue 9, a reader asked if a modem could connect with a TDD device.

Tom Fowle emailed us this answer: Regarding "Telephone Device for the Deaf" modem specs: The TDD system was designed using surplus teletype machines in the late 1940's. Since nobody wants to obsolete the machines owned by all current users, the baud rate and format have not changed since then. About the best thing you can say about the TDD technology is that it is generally immune from line or acoustic noise.

The TDD system uses 45.5 (forty-five point five!) baud, 5 bit, baudot code. The space frequency is 1400Hz, the mark is 1800Hz. This is a half duplex system - only one end can transmit at a time. Not only that, you have to end each transmission with "ga" (go ahead) and end the call with "gask" (go ahead, stop keying).

Average Hayes-compatible modems can't emulate TDD, but some commercial modems can. The "Ultra-modem", sold by the Ultratech company of Madison WI, does both 2400 baud ASCII and TDD.

If you like to fiddle, there is at least one shareware ham radio "rtty" software package which can apparently be set up to simulate the TDD format. "Hamcomm" is widely available. It requires a simple connection to a serial port and the speaker terminals of the PC. I think you could rig a speaker, microphone, and a small pre-amp, and acoustically couple to the phone as many TDD machines still do. There is a TDD with a braille display for deaf-blind users, or blind folks who need TDD access. This is the "TeleBraille" from Telesensory, in Mountain View, CA.

I work for Smith-Kettlewell Rehabilitation Engineering Center. We are funded by the federal government to develop access technology for blind and deaf blind folks. I'm glad to answer any questions or direct people to someone else who might be able to.
Tom Fowle, WA6IVG, Smith-Kettlewell Rehabilitation Eng. Center, 2232 Webster Street, SF, CA 94115

Page 5 had an ad for IBBS West.


SF BBS Guide
For about 3 years, Danny Chan has been compiling and distributing his comprehensive guide to the San Francisco BBS scene. His ASCII text guide is about 150K big, and is distributed on BBSs as the archive file name of BBSGUIDE.ZIP. The guide covers everything from a graphic description of the SF adult BBS scene to a comprehensive list of computer vendor's BBS phone numbers. BBSGUIDE.ZIP identifies all major keepers of BBS lists and related publications in the Bay Area. Centered on SF-related information, BBSGUIDE.ZIP also contains information useful to BBS callers everywhere. If you can't find Danny's guide on your local BBS, it is available for download at the New Dork Sublime BBS, or the Tater Tot News and Mail BBS.

Internet Connection Help
The InterNIC Information Services Reference Desk responds to requests for information about the Internet or Internet addresses, via telephone, email, fax, and hard-copy mailings. The Reference Desk can provide listings of Internet Providers worldwide; books and documents to assist organizations and individuals in getting connected; and pointers to network tools and resources. Hours: M-F 6 AM - 6:00 PM PDT. Voice: (800) 444-4345, Email: info@internic.net, gopher to: is.internic.net, (www.internic.net).

Page 6 had ads for the Automobile Network, The Silicon Matchmaker (www.silicon.email.net), and the Tiger Team Information Network.

Child Safety

(By Diane Jones)

In the United States, a child becomes missing (or is abducted) every 40 seconds. Each year, nearly a million children, their families, and their communities, are irrevocably changed by a tragedy of loss or abuse. The serious issue of missing children affects families across all social, racial, and economic boundaries. Our children are our most valuable resource. It is our responsibility as adults to ensure their safety.

Alarming Statistics:
In 1988, the US Department of Justice issued a report on the categories, and estimated quantities, of missing children in the United States during 1988:

Missing children all too often become victims of sexual, physical, and/or emotional abuse, and all too often, murder. All missing children, no matter what category, are potentially in danger. The case of Polly Klaas of Petaluma, California is a particularly heart-wrenching example.

What to do:
What can we do to keep our own children safe from abduction? First, never assume that your child will not be abducted - always act as though it could happen.

Never leave young children unattended (at home, in a parked car, shopping cart, or in a public rest-room). Make certain your child knows his/her full name, as well as your name, address, and telephone number, including area code. Teach him/her to use the telephone and to dial for help by dialing "911" or "0".

Have pictures taken yearly; for preschoolers, four times a year. Keep records of fingerprints, footprints, dental and doctor information, birthmarks, and birth certificates. You should keep copies of x-rays, as hospitals do not keep such records for more than a few years. Get your child a passport. Once a passport has been issued, it is both difficult (and suspect) to attempt to get another for that person.

Teach your children:
Teach your child to avoid people they don't know. Teach your child that adults usually do not ask children for directions, and if someone in a car stops to ask directions, tell your child not to go near the car.

Caution children not to play in deserted places. Establish strict procedures regarding who will pick up your child from school - and be meticulously consistent. Have your school establish a "School Call-Back Program". (When your child fails to report to school, the school calls home to inform the parents within one hour.)

Teach your child not to go anywhere with anyone who doesn't know a family "Code" word. Make sure your child does not have his/her name on a visible place such as clothing or belongings. It makes it harder for strangers to be on a first name basis with your child. Children generally assume that if someone knows their name they must know the child.

Know who your child's friends are, where they live, and their telephone numbers. Beware of any adult that showers your child with an inordinate amount of attention and/or presents. No one should care more about your child than you.

Be aware that a pedophile (child molester) is usually an adult whose sexual preference is confined to youngsters. The classic pedophile preys on runaways or children from unhappy homes. A lack of normal and appropriate affection from parents can increase the chances a child will fall victim to a pedophile. The pedophile showers the child with affection. By the time sexual activity takes place, the child is often an uncomplaining partner and it goes unreported!

Teach your child not to hide behind bushes if they are being followed, but to go where there are other people. Also teach your child that it is appropriate to "make a scene" if he/she senses danger from an adult. Teach him/her to yell HELP!, not just to scream. I suggest teaching the child to yell "Help!, he/shes NOT my father/mother!" That way, the situation is immediately clear to anyone nearby.

Here are some specific types of lures that convicted child abductors have used in the past, and some suggested precautions you can take:

Lure: Emergency - "Mommy needs you. Come with me."
Precaution: Teach your children not to believe a stranger who says "Mommy needs you". Mommy would never send a stranger. She would always send a friend.

Lure: Bribery - "If you will go with me, I will give you some candy, gum, ice cream, a motorcycle ride, etc." or "Let's play hide-the-quarter game. If you find the quarter, you can keep it."
Precaution: Teach your children not to accept gifts from strangers, and not to go anywhere with people they don't know.

Lure: Assistance - "I have lost my puppy. Will you help me find him?" or "I am looking for a certain house. Will you show me where it is?" or "I have a broken arm. Will you help me carry these books?"
Precaution: Teach your child that sometimes people lie. Teach them not to talk to strangers, never to get in any car, or go with anyone without your permission.

Lure: Authority - "I am a policeman and I have been sent to take you to your parents."
Precaution: Teach your children to not always accept strangers as authentic just because of the way they are dressed or the showing of a badge. Clothing and other symbols of authority are easily obtained. Teach your children to ask another adult to accompany them, if a law officer (or other people in uniform) approaches them.

Be Prepared:
Teach your child about abduction early. If handled simply as another fact of life - another coping skill - children need not be inordinately frightened by the idea of abduction.

I have listed some of the things we can do to help protect our children from abduction. The most important things we can do as parents is to give our children the information and coping skills they need to protect themselves in this world. We also need to lobby for tougher laws and penalties for repeat offenders. The man who abducted and murdered Polly Klaas should never have been back on the streets. If the penalties for his prior crimes had been tougher, Polly would still be alive.

Editor's Opinion:
Our law enforcement and penalty systems need drastic reform. Priorities and punishments are similar for both victimless and violent crimes. Too many prisoners are drug users or other nonviolent civil criminals. Violent crimes are very serious, and victimless crimes are much less so. If you deal drugs, you violate a piece of paper. If you molest, hurt, or kill someone - you violate humanity. A drug dealer or prostitute should be educated, regulated, or perhaps even ignored. A kidnapper, murderer, assaulter, or rapist, should be punished severely, and not let out of prison prematurely.

Got a modem hardware or software configuration or setup problem? Then...

Ask Fred

(By Fred Townsend)

Q: My PC doesn't boot up with either MS-DOS version 5.00 or 6.00. Only DR-DOS 6.0 works. I have a year-old 386 40Mhz clone with an AMI BIOS. I have two hard drives, a Rodime 80 meg, and a Samsung 120 meg. The Rodime came with my PC.

When I try to install MS-DOS 5.0, it appears to install successfully. When I reboot my PC, it says "NON-SYSTEM DISK OR DISK ERROR. REPLACE AND STRIKE ANY KEY WHEN READY". I then tried reinstalling it. It still didn't work. I even tried MS-DOS 6.00 without success. I don't want DR-DOS because it doesn't work with MS-Windows 3.1 very well. Help!

A: First, let me compliment you on the way you described your system. It makes it a lot easier if I don't have to guess at too many parameters. Second, I'm a little surprised you don't like DR-DOS better. Most people that I have talked to like it better.

With version 5.0, MSDOS's FDISK program changed slightly. It no longer automatically makes the first partition bootable. This is because you can now make any partition bootable. It doesn't have to be the first partition on the C: drive. Since most of your utilities will expect C: to be your boot drive, I don't recommend using any other disk partition for booting.

If you have a 40-MHz 386, you must have one of the newer AMI BIOSs. The use of a Rodime hard disk on a newer system is a mystery to me since they have not been made in some time, and are usually found on older systems. I will guess it is an IDE. If it's SCSI, my suggestions may not work exactly the same.

Before you start, be sure everything is backed up. You may lose everything. Assuming you are wanting to boot from the Rodime, (disconnect your other disk to be safe) bring up FDISK and remove every partition on the drive. Be sure to use the same FDISK you installed the partition with. Reboot from a MSDOS floppy. Now bring up your MSDOS FDISK. Make sure that it does not see any partitions on the disk. Now, install your bootable partition and any others you want. Follow the FDISK directions to make your partition bootable. Again, cold boot from floppy and again bring up FDISK. Use the view partition feature to make sure your partition is still there and labeled bootable (A = Active).

If everything is OK, switch back to your floppy and issue the command "SYS C:" (This assumes SYS.COM or SYS.EXE is on your floppy). Your system should boot from C: now. If not, you may have to use the command FORMAT C: /U /S. (Of course this destroys all data.) Power off and reconnect your other drive. Everything should work now.

Q: A simple question from a non-electronics person - Is there a simple rule of thumb for calculating how many devices a power supply can handle? For instance, in my case, I have a 230 watt power supply with the following attached:

Can I safely add an internal CD-ROM drive and 2 more hard drives? (I have a special controller.) Rather than a yes or no answer, how does one calculate the capacity?

A: Yes, it's fairly easy to do. Power dissipations can just be added up. Here are some ball park estimates. Any one may be too high or too low, but on the average they will come pretty close. These numbers are for halves, that is, the half-high drives or half-wide cards. If you are dealing with full-wide or full-high components, just double the numbers:

Q: I'm using a Zoom 14400 modem and Procomm software set to 9600 baud. My modem connects at 9600 and then changes to "2400 error sensing modem", what can I do about it?

A: First a few modem basics. Modern modems can translate baud rate. This means the baud rate going into one side of the modem may not be the same as the baud rate going out the other side. On the telephone side, the modem must agree with the modem it connects to, on what baud rate they will use. The process of deciding the baud rate is called negotiation. It sounds as if your modem is not negotiating correctly. I'll get back to that point shortly. First, let's concentrate on setting your modem correctly. Don't worry. You can't hurt your modem, even if you don't know what you are doing.

Your modem will operate most efficiently if the baud rate the computer talks to the modem at (called the DTE rate) is faster than the baud rate the modem talks to the other modem (called the DCE rate). This point was covered in greater detail in the September 1993 issue of BABBA.

Look at your ZOOM modem documentation to find the part covering "Locked DTE" setup. You will want to set your DTE rate to as high a rate as your modem and serial port will allow. Normally this is 19,200 for a 8250 UART chip; 38,400 for a 16450; or 57,600 for a 16550 UART.

Sometimes this takes a little experimentation to discover what the maximum baud rate is for your equipment. You can use the "ALT-P" command within Procomm to temporarily set your DTE baud rate. If you set your modem to a baud rate higher than the modem can accept, the modem will stop answering "OK" when you issue the command "+++AT". If this happens, just turn your modem off, count to five, and then back on again. Then use the "ALT-P" command to again set your modem to the last (highest) successful DTE baud rate.

After the experimentation phase, go into Procomm's configuration menu and make your highest working baud rate your default baud rate. Also, set "AUTO BAUD DETECT" to OFF. Save your new Procomm configuration. Then examine your modem "S7" setting by issuing the command "+++ATS7?". The number should be at least 45, I use 60. If necessary, set the register by using the command "+++ATS7=60". When you are satisfied everything is set up correctly, save the setting using the command "+++AT&W".

Finally, use the "ALT-D" command to access your dialing directory. Edit all your dialing directory entries to make the baud rate for each entry the same as your default baud rate. Save your edits, and you are ready to start calling your favorite BBSs.

Now your modem will automatically negotiate the highest possible baud rate. You should not need to specify the baud rate when initiating your modem calls.

Page 9 had ads for PhoeniX Software Solutions, the Cutting Edge BBS, and the MCA Financial Group (www.interest.com/mca).

End of page 9. Go back or go to page 10 or to Mark's home page.