Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner. Two persons may exchange messages, conduct business, and negotiate electronic contracts without ever knowing the true name, or legal identity, of the other.
Interactions over networks will be untraceable, via extensive re-routing of encrypted packets and tamper-proof boxes which implement cryptographic protocols with nearly perfect assurance against any tampering. Reputations will be of central importance, far more important in dealings than even the credit ratings of today.
These developments will alter completely the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation.
The technology for this revolution - and it surely will be both a social and economic revolution - has existed in theory for the past decade. The methods are based upon public-key encryption, zero-knowledge interactive proof systems, and various software protocols for interaction, authentication, and verification.
Until now, the focus has been on academic conferences in Europe and the U.S., conferences monitored closely by the National Security Agency. Recently, computer networks and personal computers attained sufficient speed to make these ideas practically realizable. And the next ten years will bring enough additional speed to make the ideas economically feasible and essentially unstoppable.
High-speed networks, ISDN, tamper proof boxes, smart cards, satellites, Ku-band transmitters, multi-MIPS personal computers, and encryption chips under development will be some of the enabling technologies.
The State will of course try to slow or halt the spread of this technology, citing national security concerns, use of the technology by drug dealers and tax evaders, and fears of societal disintegration. Many of these concerns will be valid; crypto anarchy will allow national secrets to be traded freely and will allow illicit and stolen materials to be traded. An anonymous computerized market will even make possible abhorrent markets for assassinations and extortion. Various criminal and foreign elements will be active users of CryptoNet. But this will not halt the spread of crypto anarchy.
Just as the technology of printing altered and reduced the power of medieval guilds and the social power structure, so too will cryptologic methods fundamentally alter the nature of corporations and of government interference in economic transactions. Combined with emerging information markets, crypto anarchy will create a liquid market for any and all material which can be put into words and pictures.
Just as a seemingly minor invention like barbed wire made possible the fencing off of vast ranches and farms, thus altering forever the concepts of land and property rights in the frontier West, so too will the seemingly minor discovery out of an arcane branch of mathematics come to be the wire clippers which dismantle the barbed wire around intellectual property. Arise, you have nothing to lose but your barbed wire fences!
Page 13 had ads for Accelerated Voice, Digital Catalog, and the Monterey Gaming System and Mookie's Place (mookie.relay.net) BBSs.
I have always envied the do-it-yourself types that recount their successful projects in Popular Science (www.popsci.com) and Popular Mechanics (www.popularmechanics.com) magazines. You know, "How I built my solar heating system and saved thousands", or "How I built an automobile air conditioning system from spare parts salvaged from a junk yard." The prospect of saving big money is always attractive. In this same spirit, I devised a way to become a Certified Netware Engineer for thousands less.
I searched user groups and trade associations for a way to become certified at a lower cost and found nothing until the president of the Silicon Valley Netware User's Group mentioned that a CNE study group had formed recently. Study groups help each member learn, and save money by sharing the cost of the official Novell training materials. I learned it was feasible for someone with practical network experience to undertake the certification process via self study.
I attended a meeting of the Silicon Valley Novell Users Group and suggested that we form another CNE study group. It was apparent that if I wanted to see this happen, somebody would have to be the group organizer (even if it had to be me). The interest at the user group was high. I found enough potential members to hold an organizational meeting.
Some members of the group had problems with some of my dictatorial positions. We used this meeting to come to some compromises. The key issue was to get agreement from the members so they would invest money for their share of the materials cost.
Our basic rules: The group would have 10 members, each paying 1/10th of the total cost of the materials. We would collect an extra $50 (refundable if not used) to cover the chance that a book would be lost, stolen, or leave for parts unknown.
The final step was to collect the money, which is when some original members dropped out. All was not lost. We received several calls a week from other user group members that were interested in joining our group. Getting 10 members did not turn out to be a problem.
I find students need to devote 20 hours per week for serious study (as in cramming for college finals) for each course. This schedule prepares the student for each test. Five hours a week for 4 weeks is much less effective.
The tests provide a good measure of how well the student understands the material. There is an aspect of trivial pursuit to the tests. Certain bits of trivial information appear in the course materials and in the tests. Our group chalked it up to paying our dues to get where we want to go.
The tests are administered by computer as a series of adaptive multiple choice questions. No two people see the same tests, and if you have to take the test again it will be different. If you miss questions, the tests adapt and ask you more questions on that particular area. Many people are surprised at how quickly the tests go. A prepared student can complete each test in 15 to 20 minutes.
Page 14 had ads for Express Mechanical and Bill Lauer & Associates.
Facsimile has become a nearly inescapable part of communications technology. Just try to buy a modem for your PC that doesn't include some form of fax capability! As an intercomputer communications medium, fax technology has its good and bad points.
On the good side, fax has a high speed synchronous communications protocol, handshaking standards for unattended transmission, and the ability to send the image of a formatted document to a machine that doesn't have the fonts used to create the document.
On the bad side, fax image files are big, and the faxed document is "dead on arrival". A fax is only a picture of the document; you can't load it into a word processor or spreadsheet program without using OCR or some other technological equivalent of voodoo to resurrect it as a live file.
Fax transmissions are mostly half-duplex and synchronous in nature. The system knows that almost all of the information will be going in one direction. It allocates most of the transmission capacity (bandwidth) to one direction, and only a little bit in the reverse direction for handshaking and error correction. In fax mode, the modem can move information faster.
Microsoft and Intel each have standards (alas they're incompatible standards) for moving live files through fax modems. It's called binary transfer, and you'll be hearing more about it over the next few months.
There is no way to tell whether a given phone number will ring a voice phone, a data modem, or a fax machine, without dialing it. We're left with no way to build error traps into automated systems that would prevent modems from dialing voice lines.
A single misdirected fax call is a minor annoyance, but repeated retries and periodic dialing schedules can turn the problem into true telephone harassment. A standardized go-away code would give volume fax users confidence they are not engaging in inadvertent telephone harassment, save toll charges, and would minimize annoyed individuals.
One solution would be for modem vendors to select a standard sequence of touch-tone digits. The hardware would return a "cancelled by voice recipient" error if it detects these tones during the connection hand shake period. We suggest three pound signs ("###") as the go away code. (This is a great idea for all fax machines and automated assault dialers pitching recorded messages, etc.)
If the go away code were standardized, it would work with any manufacturer's products and could be publicized by phone companies and the press. Technically, this would not be hard to implement. Modem manufacturers may wish to implement this now, before the government steps in and mandates a more expensive solution that will make it harder to use modern fax technology effectively.
So, your 14.4 kbps modem doesn't seem so speedy anymore? Hayes now has a cure for those blues - The Optima 288 V.FC. I have been using this modem for more than a month, and I am thoroughly pleased with it. Hayes has aggressively targeted the BBS Sysop community, pricing the 288 at $288 (cute, huh?) and the Optima 144 at $179.
Hayes includes Smartcom for Windows and Smartcom Fax for Windows. For me, Smartcom was such a nightmare to use that it didn't last long. If you really like a Windows telecommunications environment, I highly recommend looking at other Windows terminal programs such as Procomm Plus, Qmodem Pro, or Telix. These commercial programs are much easier to use than Smartcom.
Smartcom Fax for Windows is functional, but like most fax software bundled with modems, it has no OCR support. It's ok for sending and receiving an occasional fax, but if you do a lot of faxing, look at Eclipse Fax (my favorite) or WinFax Pro.
1. The documentation stinks. I've seen better manuals come with a $100 VCR. Hayes needs to look at the manuals that come with US Robotics modems. USR's documentation for their Courier line of modems is the best in the industry. There is no excuse for Hayes to have terrible documentation.
2. ZyXel and Practical Peripherals pushed the envelope on features when they added an LCD display to their low-cost modems. I like this feature, but Hayes decided not to implement it on the Optima. This confuses me, since Hayes owns Practical Peripherals. The physical design of the Optima is almost exactly the same as the SmartModem 300 - a design over 15 years old. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" can be taken a little too far.
3. The fax support on the Optima 288 is only Class 1, while most other modems now support Class 2 or Class 2.0. (Class 2.0 is an 'official' specification, while Class 2 is a nonstandard interim specification.) This doesn't affect compatibility with fax software or with other fax machines. However, if you have fax software that supports the Class 2.0 command set, rasterization of a fax is handled in hardware instead of software. Class 2.0 really makes a difference if you have fax software running as a background task in Windows.
4. No DOS fax software is included. A lot of Sysops are implementing some kind of fax capability into their BBS, and some ultra-simple fax software that works from the DOS command line would come in real handy. A good example is ZyXel's ZFax software. I don't think it would be too difficult or expensive for Hayes to develop a simple DOS based fax package, but as of this moment they have no plans to do so.
What I like about this modem:
Getting the Optima 288 to work with any communications software (including BBS software) is a breeze. The extended AT Command Set is virtually unchanged from the Optima 144. In over a month of operation, I have not had the modem lock up or go 'brain dead' even once. I can't make the same claim of any other modem that I have used, with the possible exception of my USR Courier.
I compared both standard 16550-based serial ports and the Hayes ESP Enhanced Serial Port adapter. I saw no advantage in using the ESP in DOS. However, in Windows, it made a big difference. I was able to download in the background (using Procomm Plus for Windows) while printing a document in Word for Windows v6.0 - pretty impressive. Trying that with a standard 16550-based serial port resulted in an aborted download every time.
As of yet, I have not run into any compatibility problems with other modems. I have been calling many different BBSs, and the only times I had problems were with systems that had noisy lines. (I also had problems with these same BBSs with my old USR 16.8 Dual Standard and my Digicom Scout Plus modems.)
The 28.8 kbps Hayes Optima/Accura modems will be upgradable to V.34 via a ROM chip upgrade. Hayes has stated this will cost "less than $100". If you are looking at purchasing a V.FC modem, check the V.34 upgrade policy. Companies sometimes change policies, so it's a good idea to call once in awhile for the latest policies.
When will the final V.34 happen? Your guess is as good as mine. The latest information I have (mostly rumors from comp.bbs.misc) is that ITU-T will release the specification in late July. However, I don't know if they meant July of this year.
I can recommend the Hayes Optima 288 modem to Sysops running anything from a 1-line BBS to a large multinode system. It's a modem that you can plug in and forget. Sysops interested in purchasing an Optima 288 from Hayes should call their BBS at 800-US-HAYES and download the text file describing their Sysop discount program. If you can't take advantage of the special Sysop price on the Optima, you may want to take a look at the Hayes Accura 288. Similar to the Optima line, the Accura modem lacks the following features:
Page 16 had ads for the Liberty (www.liberty.com), Party Wherehouse, and the Olde Stuff BBSs.
Improper transportation procedures are a common cause of drive damage. Always transport drives in anti static bags, even across your office. Although you do not need to park the read/write heads of a hard disk, you should ship disks in proper shipping containers - not merely bubble wrap and/or sponge rubber. Improper transportation can dramatically increase a repair bill. A drive with a (inexpensive) passive component failure (e.g., a capacitor) may end up costing $200 to repair if the drive suffers platter damage on the way back to the factory. Whenever possible, transport the drive in proper packaging as supplied by the hard disk manufacturer.
1. Never handle the drive by touching any part of the PC board assembly, even when using an anti static strap. Pressure on the PC board assembly could crack components. Always handle the drive by the sides.
2. Never touch the pins on the cable interface connector.
3. Never stand a drive on its side; it can be knocked down and sustain head shift or platter damage.
4. Never move a drive until it has spun down completely. Just because you cannot hear it spinning does not mean that it has completely spun down.
5. Before running a drive upside down or on the side check with the manufacturer to see if the drive can perform in this orientation.
6. Check that your power supply is suited to the number and type of drives that are present. Some large capacity (or older model) drives require as much as 40 watts to spin up.
We invite all Bay Area Sysops and their users to join us. Fido Sysops frequently use this gathering as a place to educate new members and discuss network issues. Sysops are encouraged to bring registrations for their BBSs, and to distribute material about their systems.
There will be a softball game of some sort. There are facilities for volleyball, tennis, and even a dog run. The playground is well equipped and safe, including a huge sandbox for the little ones! There might be a role playing game or two for those into RPGs!
We'll provide music, ice chests for drinks, and fire up at least one big BBQ pit. Look for our 'Techno Weenie Roast' banner. The picnic area has seating for only 90, so bring a ground cover. This event is "Bring Your Own", and you are responsible for your own lunch and drinks. Each picnic area has a grill; Bring a sufficient amount of charcoal to cook your meal. For more information, call the BABBA BBS, or the NiteLite BBS.
Page 18 had ads for CD Optix, California Online, The Silicon Matchmaker (www.silicon.email.net), and the Lincoln's Cabin, PRiME MERiDiAN, and Tiger Team BBSs.
Page 19 had ads for a2i Communications (www.rahul.net), Atlantis BBS/Internet service, Springboard (www.wbs.net), and CCnet Communications.
Arkuat's handle is pronounced with either three syllables (AR-KOO-AHT) or two (AR-quaht). Arkuat says that he usually pronounces it with two syllables, because he is lazy, speaks rapidly, and slurs his speech horrendously. However, he thinks the three-syllable pronunciation is charming and encourages you to use it. "Arkuat" is an anagram for "U R a kat."
The Beastie BBS features:
The focus on this system seems to revolve around ExI, cryptology, and short messages. What's ExI? What's Extropian? The definitions can be found on Beastie's bulletins:
Extropy Institute (ExI) seeks to guide humanity into an unbounded future, by encouraging the public, through education and example, to use technology to overcome historically unchallenged limits to full human flourishing. The Extropy Institute focuses the most creative, forward thinking intellects in working to overcome traditional, genetic, biological, and neurological limits to the pursuit of life, liberty, and boundless achievement.
Since 1988, when Extropy first appeared, the Extropian philosophy has attracted those wanting to be their best, those who are bold enough to challenge entrenched dogmas concerning the inevitability of death, centralized, coercive government, and fixed limits to human achievement and ability. The Extropy Institute is building a culture favoring physical and intellectual augmentation, life extension, and a free and responsible society (here, in cyberspace, or off Earth), by means of publications, meetings, and special projects.
The bulletin then goes on to list some of the special projects started by ExI, all of them thought provoking. ExI contact information is provided on the BBS. The cryptology sections include the latest versions of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) software for a number of different computer platforms. Tim May's "Crypto Anarchist Manifesto" is prominently posted in the bulletins section. Also from the bulletins:
The Beastie welcomes Extropians, bisexuals, scientists, anarchists, perverts, engineers, all races, queers, skeptics, libertarians, atheists, druggies, drunkards, tough-minded pagans, capitalist pigs, leatherfolk, mathematicians, tough-minded Buddhists, and people who are good at explaining Austrian economic theory to ignoramuses. The Beastie also welcomes anyone who enjoys email conversation with any of the varieties of people listed above.
Greens, ecofascists, Christians, Communists, socialists, Republicans, prohibitionists, Democrats, religious fundamentalists of any persuasion, soft-minded Buddhists, prudes, puritans, drug warriors, and soft-minded pagans can expect excellent disputatious entertainment in conversing with people whose world views are utterly alien to you.
Be warned: The Beastie is an Extropian recruiting post and you may endanger the salvation of your immortal soul if you read too much stuff here. Extropians are known capitalist pigs, are 80% likely to be atheists and 20% likely to be pagans. You will be encouraged to get your head frozen if you die. You have been warned.
Arkuat implemented The Beastie on a dirt cheap 80286 MSDOS clone of late 1989 vintage, an even cheaper 2400 bps modem, and TAG BBS software version 2.5g. It is low-budget, skunky, and funky. This is not your typical BBS!
Page 20 had ads for Just Computers! (www.justcomp.com), Party Line (www.partyline.com), and the Eyes on the Skies (http://sunmil1.uml.edu/tvs/), UFO, Terminal One, and Weasel Den 2 BBSs.
Page 36 had ads for the Bust Out and Burn This Flag BBSs.
Page 37 had a full page ad for Mustang Software (www.mustang.com).
Page 30 (back cover) had a full page ad for