West Coast Online Magazine - issue 24 - page 10


Are you looking SCSI Lately?
Part 5: AIDE Systems

(By Fred Townsend)

Enhanced IDE... best thing since sliced bread, or burnt toast?

The competition between SCSI and IDE disk systems has become more intense with the introduction of Enhanced IDE (EIDE) peripherals. EIDE, under many names, including the so called Advanced IDE (AIDE), offers features that look very similar to SCSI. Let's contrast SCSI and IDE systems in the past, present, and future.

SCSI has always offered the richest feature set for any peripheral. The trouble was, it was difficult to install on systems not specifically designed for it. MAC and UNIX people got along fine, but IBM users found the short-sighted BIOS design a difficult obstacle when installing SCSI.

In 1986, several drive manufacturers knocked the fenders off their SCSI offerings and replaced them with a simpler interface. The engines were the same, only the circuit board changed. Since the drives shared common SCSI roots, there was a certain degree of standardization, but there never was a formal standard for the economy drives. There wasn't even a standard name for the stripped-down drives.

First on the scene, Western Digital (WD), copyrighted their Intelligent Disk Interface (IDE) name. Other companies refused to use the copyrighted name. Since the interface was specifically designed for the IBM using the ISA bus, the industry unofficially adopted the term, ATA interface drives. Very few people recognized the term ATA, so the dealers always called them IDE - even if the manufacturers outside of Western Digital refused to label the drives IDE. WD has not defended the copyright of IDE, so perhaps one day, everyone will officially use the term IDE.

History repeats itself. Enhanced IDE manufacturers haven't settled on a single name. Worse, there is still no standard, so no guarantee of compatibility. Such terms as AIDE, Fast ATA, Fast ATA2, ATA3, ATAPI, Mode 0, Mode 2, Mode 3, Mode 27, and Bus Mastering IDE have been used. Confused? It only gets worse. The only thing you can bet on is IDE continuing to offer lower cost SCSI features that don't work like SCSI features.

The good news is EIDE improvements offer remedies to many IDE problems. For instance, it cracks the 540 MB limit so the gigabyte drives can use the economy interface. Some interfaces connect up to four drives, so the two drive limit is also broached. Finally, CDROMs and perhaps even tape drives, can share the new interface.

At what cost?

First, EIDE drives fight with the existing AT BIOS, just like SCSI. An overlaid BIOS like SCSI uses, would be the most efficient, but a more expensive and difficult remedy. The cheaper and less efficient, but field upgradable remedy, is to use drivers. This means sending software with the peripheral, and hoping the non-standardized drive interface will understand the software. A safer remedy is to use new hardware, but unless the BIOS is rewritten, drivers will still be needed. Any of these remedies should keep the "Plain Jane" user happy for a while.

What about the Power User?

WINDOWS is a great multi-tasking OS, as long as only one window is attempting to do any real work. WINDOWS programs put a tremendous burden on all memory resources, particularly the hard drive. This translates into poor performance. Users needing real multitasking rely on OS/2, Desqview, or UNIX. To the peripherals, multitasking translates to multi-threading. Disk drives, CDROMs, and caches of all kinds must be designed for multi-threading, or suffer a tremendous performance hit.

WINDOWS has tried to improve performance by adding caching programs like SMARTDRV, but performance is still abysmal for most power users - so they optimize their systems by tuning. Tuning is the process of setting WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI and such programs as SMARTDRV to the optimal parameters to match the motherboard, RAM and disk capacities, and the peripherals.

Tuning of this kind may offer substantial performance improvement, but it is still painful, static tuning. Once the programs are running, it's too late to change parameters, so it is necessary to optimize toward the centerline applications. It would be better, particularly when multitasking, if the system could be dynamically optimized. That way each program could be tuned to meet the current environment.

Some Operating Systems, such as OS/2, can dynamically optimize, but can't do much with IDE peripherals. Why? The IDE peripherals have all their smarts onboard, but can't share their intelligence with the CPU or other peripherals because they use dumb interfaces. So far, EIDE has done nothing to change this.

For instance, with IDE, if a seek operation is started on a slow device like a CDROM, the entire system, including the CPU, is idled until the seek operation is completed. Conversely, when the same operation is performed on the SCSI bus, the host adapter can still exchange information with the hard drive, and more importantly, the CPU can still multitask. This enables dynamic tuning. Furthermore, the smart interface SCSI host adapter, and if necessary, the CPU, can act as smart arbiters because they know the characteristics of the peripherals. More importantly, the CPU can participate in the tuning process. In fact, the CPU can participate in the installation process so Plug and Play installations are now possible.

Speaking of Plug and Play

Where have you heard the term Plug and Play lately? Was it in the OS/2 WARP commercial or perhaps the WINDOWS 96 sneak preview? Ever wonder why they don't demo a Plug and Play IDE installation?

Best bets

In 1986, when IDE was born, you were probably nursing your 286 while eyeing a 386. You had the choice of a 386SX-16 or 25MHz, or a 386DX-25 or 33 MHz processor. Today, there are over twenty processors choices. Tomorrow, even more. If you were one of the many that succumbed to the Intel Inside upgradables, that next chip might be an Intel Overdrive. Pentium Overdrives will be appearing shortly. However, a prudent buyer will notice that a whole new motherboard and processor can be purchased for less money than an Overdrive. A golden opportunity.

The best performance is obtained with local bus, host adapters. As you might guess, the most difficult installations are also with local bus adapters. PCI local bus host adapters are also among the most expensive; and after all, it was the economy, not performance, that peaked interest in IDE. So why talk about local buses?

Motherboards have shrunk in size and price because all the glue chip functions have been collapsed into a few VLSI chips. For many years, National Semiconductor has been making a single chip; with a parallel and two 16450, 550, or 650 serial ports, a game port, a floppy controller and an IDE interface. This makes it easy to incorporate these features into a motherboard made barren by VLSI chips. The best part is, these chips can reside on the local bus, and since the BIOS is fitted to the motherboard, a seamless overlaid BIOS can be used for either EIDE or SCSI host adapters. Now the installation problems are minimized without a cost penalty. A win-win situation.

The careful shopper will find a lot of options and a lot of bang for the buck. Besides EIDE on the motherboard, you'll find SCSI as well. Already, PCI motherboards that accept any 486, a parallel, two 16550s, a floppy controller, an IDE, and a SCSI bus, are available for less than $150. This would enable migrating the existing IDE drives with boot tracks and data intact, while stepping up to the finest multi-session (as in multi-threading) SCSI CDROM drive. Up to six more SCSI hard or tape drives could be added without touching the two previously existing IDE drives. Something to think about?

EIDE may solve some problems for the present user, but will turn into big grief with tomorrow's new Operating Systems. EIDE designers have not noted the lessons painfully wrought by SCSI designers. Offering many SCSI features will also require many of the SCSI remedies. The smart user will not experience the reinventing of the wheel. Rather, they will look for a graceful migration path to SCSI.

Pages 10 and 11 had ads for Lincoln's Cabin, Atlantis Online, SF Hotel Reservations (www.hotelres.com), The Virtual Mirror (www.vmirror.com), and a2i Communications (www.rahul.net).

The Virtual Valley Community Network

(By Jeff Brock)

With the debut of the Virtual Valley Community Network (VVCN), modem users can now access a wealth of information about Silicon Valley and its communities. VVCN is a free network, and is a joint project of local PBS station KTEH (Channel 54) and Virtual Valley Inc., a subsidiary of Metro Newspapers. The VVCN can be used to send and receive electronic mail, find out about KTEH and KNTV (Channel 11) programming, keep tabs on a variety of arts groups, business associations and neighborhood groups, read movie reviews and debate local school and government issues.

In October, the San Jose City Council chose Virtual Valley as its official online service. City staffers will soon start posting council agendas and minutes, job listings, recreation schedules, and other information online. The Town of Los Gatos is involved with the system, and other communities are expected to follow.

"We chose Virtual Valley because they had good local content, it was easy to use, and since the service is free, it was a good entry for the public," said Gary Zouzoulas, the city's Assistant Director of Information Systems. KTEH's Vice President of Broadcasting, Dann Parks, the project director, called Virtual Valley "...a one-stop place for everything, and an extension of KTEH's community service into the information age. It's a way to reach beyond the box."

Parks said that KTEH had been trying to develop an online service for more than a year, but wanted to form a partnership with another organization. When PBS announced that it would create its nationwide, online network with FirstClass communications software, KTEH looked for a partner using the same software, and found Metro Newspapers. Metro Newspapers debuted its LiveWire (www.livewire.com) system in December. That system, which borrows its alternative tone from Metro, currently has about 2,600 users.

Modem users who dial into Virtual Valley (408-999-0966), with any telecommunications package, will receive a command-line text interface that instructs them how to download the free Macintosh or Windows Virtual Valley client software. Using an on-screen map, users can double-click a pushpin over any of Silicon Valley's cities to access information about schools, governments and local organizations.

Weekly newspapers online include: Metro (www.metroactive.com), Willow Glen Resident, Los Gatos Weekly-Times, and Metro Santa Cruz. Other publications online include Exodus and newsletters from groups such as Amnesty International and Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility.

Local conferences include the San Jose Cleveland Ballet, SJ Civic Light Opera, SJ Museum of Art, SJ Symphony, and the SJ Repertory Theater. The listings include Arts and entertainment, the Heritage Council of Santa Clara County, the Tropical Rainforest Coalition of the South Bay, the Emergency Housing Consortium, and volunteer opportunities and activity notices.

Users can log on to Virtual Valley for free for 15 to 25 minutes a day, and with a $7.50 monthly membership, can access the system for 100 minutes per day and take advantage of other online features - such as chat and Internet mail. The Virtual Valley system also offers hundreds of downloadable files, games and applications. The Corner Store includes online advertising. San Jose's Referral Realty posts pictures of downtown and Willow Glen homes for sale in this section.

"Our mission is to create a friendly place where people can come together to learn about, and participate in their communities," said Dan Pulcrano, President of Virtual Valley Inc. "We have invited numerous groups to participate in the building of this system, and we are encouraged by the response. There has been tremendous support for these efforts, because many people believe that a local system is important to our area and the people who live here."


FAQ: Anonymous Remailers

(By Andre Bacard)

An anonymous remailer (also called an "anonymous server") is a free computer service that privatizes your email. A remailer allows you to send electronic mail to a Usenet news group or to a person without the recipient knowing your name or your email address.

Why would YOU use remailers?

Maybe you're a computer engineer who wants to express opinions about computer products - opinions that your employer might hold against you. Possibly, you live in a community that is violently intolerant of your social, political, or religious views. Perhaps you're seeking employment via the Internet and you don't want to jeopardize your present job. Possibly you want to place personal ads. Perchance, you're a whistle-blower afraid of retaliation. Conceivably you feel that, if you criticize your government, Big Brother will monitor you. Maybe you don't want people "flaming" your corporate email address. In short, there are many legitimate reasons why you, a law abiding person, might use remailers.

How does a remailer work?

Let's take an example - a popular Internet remailer is run by Johan Helsingius, President of a Helsinki, Finland company - that helps businesses connect to the Internet. His "an@anon.penet.fi" addresses are common in controversial news groups. Suppose you read a post from a battered woman (an123@anon.penet.fi) crying out for help. You can write her at (an123@anon.penet.fi).

Helsingius's computer will strip away your real name and address (the header at the top of your email), replace this data with a dummy address, and forward your message to the battered woman. Helsingius's computer will notify you of your new anonymous address; e.g., an345@anon.penet.fi. You can use Helsingius's free service to forward letters to anyone, even to persons who do not use his service. His computer sends each user detailed instructions about his system.

Are there many remailers?
Currently, there are roughly a dozen active, public remailers on the Internet. (Undoubtedly, there are many private remailers that restrict who may use their system.) Remailers tend to come and go. First, they require equipment and labor to set up and maintain; second, they produce zero revenue.

Why are remailers free? - and why do people operate remailers, if not for money?
There is a simple answer. How can remailer administrators charge people who want maximum privacy? Administrators can't ask for a VISA number or take checks. People set up remailers for their personal use, which they may or may not care to share with the rest of us.

An "ideal" anonymous remailer is:

Responsible remailer use? A responsible user:

How safe are anonymous remailers?
(for paranoids only :-)

For most low-security tasks, such as responding to personal ads, remailers are undoubtedly safer than using real email addresses. However, all the best made plans of mice and men have weaknesses. Suppose, for example, that you are a government employee, who just discovered that your boss is taking bribes. Is it safe to use an anonymous remailer to send evidence to a government whistle-blower's email hot line? Here are a few points to ponder:

Hard-core privacy people do not trust individual remailers. These people write programs that send their messages through several remailers. This way only the first remailer knows their real address, and the first remailer cannot know the final destination of the email message. In addition, they PGP encrypt all messages.

Where can I learn more? - and where can I get a list of current remailers?

Go to the Usenet news group alt.privacy.anon-server. Pay special attention to posts by Raph Levien, "The Remailer Guru." Raph Levien generously runs a remailer pinging service which collects details about remailer features and reliability. To read Levien's data, finger: remailer-list@kiwi.cs.berkeley.edu. A Web version of the same information is at: www.cs.berkeley.edu/~raph/remailer-list.html. In addition, Raph Levien (raph@kiwi.cs.berkeley.edu) regularly posts his "List of Reliable Remailers" on alt.privacy.anon-server.

Andre Bacard wrote the book "The Computer Privacy Handbook". The Introduction was written by Mitch Kapor, Creator of Lotus 1-2-3.

Page 12 and 13 had ads for Liberty (www.liberty.com), Black Tie Records (www.wco.com/~blacktie), Compass Rose Publishing, and the Catalina Avenue, Sacramento Pacific Exchange, and Searchlight of San Luis Obispo BBSs.

Issue 24 - February 1995, West Coast Online Magazine

Publisher/Editor: Mark Shapiro

Administration: Veronica Shapiro
BBS list maintainer: Steve Thoemke
Cartoonist: Peter Conrad
Connectivity: Chris Ward
Contributing Editors: Robert Holland and Tom Pitre
Everything Else: Alicia Farnsworth and Laurie Grey
Hardware: Fred Townsend
Internet: Eric Theise
Memory: Kevin Lynn
Operating Systems: Randy Just
Proofreaders: David Hayr and David Stafford
Public Relations: Steve Pomerantz
Unix: Paul Theodoropoulos
Wireless: Jesus Monroy, Jr .

Distribution: Robert Escamilla, Mark Murphy, Pete Nelson, City Racks, Lee Root, Rochelle Skwarla, and Tiger Team.

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

Why is It? A businessperson sleeps under an advertised blanket on an advertised mattress and showers with advertised soap and uses advertised toothpaste and wears advertised clothes and drinks advertised beverages and buys advertised food and drives an advertised car on advertised gas, yet refuses to advertise; believing it doesn't pay, only later to find business so poor the business is advertised for sale - Why is it?


BOB - The Social Interface

(By Kevin Lynn)

I wasn't able to attend the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, but I read about Microsoft's presentation of a new user-friendly interface called BOB.

According to a spokesperson for Bill Gates, "BOB is a foundation product for us. For us, it's a breakthrough in ease-of-use and recognizing the inherently social interaction people have with computers. This is an effort to provide a whole new approach to getting everyday tasks done at home."

It seems that every new product from Microsoft requires a lot more DRAM (remember when 64K was all you could have?), and a larger hard disk. Could it be that they have an interest in the DRAM and hard disk business? Bob requires a PC with Windows 3.1 or higher, 8 Megabytes of DRAM and at least a 486SX CPU. It has animated agents to help you balance your checkbook, send electronic (voice or email) or snail mail, and schedule your calendar.

BOB's logo is a pair of horn-rimmed glasses on a noseless "smiley" face, with big capital-B ears on each side. The graphical user interface (GUI) has been replaced by a cartoon representation of a home, with cartoon "personal guides" who take you to various programs in different rooms. These include a rat, rabbit, coffee-drinking dragon, and Rover the dog. As you learn how to navigate, you will see less and less of these creatures.

Why is it named BOB? Here's a quote from USA Today, 1/3/95, about how Microsoft's ad agency, Wieden & Kennedy, wanted a regular-guy, trust-me sheen on the software: "When I first heard the name, I sort of covered my head and asked "Can I really name a software product Bob?'" says Patty Stoneseifer, senior vice president of Microsoft's consumer division. "It's a different name for a different product." When she told CEO Bill Gates and other senior executives the name, there was brief silence, "then Bill started laughing. He got it," she recalls. (I'm glad someone got it, if you get it, let me know what it is.)

I like animation as much as the next guy. One of the fun things about the Amiga computer was its cartoon screen-saver. It depicted a little man walking around his home, occasionally banging on the glass of the CRT (with audible knocks) to get your attention.

When BOB is released "...sometime this Spring" it will probably dis-improve the productivity of the home computer again. Anything which is so animation-intensive is bound to slow down your PC, unless you spring for a complete upgrade and jump to an 8 Meg, 486DX2-66 with two 540-MB hard drives, quad-speed CD-ROM, 17" .25 pitch SVGA Green monitor, etc., just to watch Rover romp across it.

By the way, for those who have thought about replacing their CPU with a faster chip, be careful! The new AMD 486DX2-80 clock-doubled 40-MHz chips run on 3.3 volts, while most older motherboards supply 5 volts to the CPU socket. If you are going to upgrade your processor, you're probably better off buying a motherboard designed for the new CPU's speed and voltage. Aries has an adapter socket with a 5-volt to 3.3-volt DC to DC converter built-in, but the motherboard crystal oscillator is probably too slow for the new CPU.

I haven't yet figured out why anyone needs more than a 386SX-33 machine at home, to do homework, go online, balance the checkbook and do your taxes one month a year.


Jan. 4, 1995: In response to customer inquiries, Microsoft clarified the naming policy for BOBTM, its new software product designed for computer novices. Contrary to rumors, Microsoft will not demand that all persons named "Bob" select new first names, immediately.

"I don't know where these rumors come from," commented Steve Balmer, Microsoft Executive Vice-President for Worldwide Sales and Support. "It's ridiculous to think Microsoft would force people outside the computer industry to change their names. We won't. Our licensing policies for people within the industry will be so reasonable, that the Justice Department could never question them."

Balmer said employees of other computer companies will be given the opportunity to select new names, and will also be offered a licensing option, allowing them to continue using their former names for a small fee. The new licensing program, called Microsoft TrueNameTM, offers persons who want to continue being known by the name, Bob, the option of doing so, with the payment of a small monthly licensing fee, and signing a release.

Persons choosing not to license the Bob name will have a 60-day grace period. During this period, they can select another, related name. "We're being very lenient in our enforcement of the trademark," said Bill Newkom, Microsoft's Sr. VP of Law and Corporate Affairs. "People are free to call themselves Robert, Robby, or even Rob. Bobby, however, is derivative of Microsoft's trademark and obviously cannot be allowed."

Page 14 had and ad for GTEK (www.gtek.com)

PNLInfoBrowser, a Gopher+ Client

(By Eric S. Theise)

If you're new to the Internet, you may think that Netscape and the World-Wide Web are the only games in town. While it's true that the multimedia, hypertext possibilities of the WWW make it the Internet's information space of choice, you shouldn't be blind to the Web's precedents: telnet, ftp, and gopher. Pacific Northwest Laboratory has recently released a gopher+ client for Windows and the Macintosh called PNLInfoBrowser that's well worth a look.

Gopher was developed at the University of Minnesota during 1991 as an attempt to make their campus-wide information service easier to use. Rather than expecting net newbies to learn the Unix commands required to log in remotely or transfer files, the gopher team created a suite of tools that let system administrators tuck the commands behind menus. GUI-users could point and click on items of interest, and command-line users could do the same with their cursor and Return keys.

Gopher clients and servers were made available to the Internet via anonymous ftp, and the number of servers quickly climbed from the dozens to the hundreds, and from the hundreds into the thousands. Gopher was the information space of choice in 1992 and 1993 when the WWW was still largely a gleam in Tim Berners-Lee's eye.

System administrators - the studly gophermeisters - wanted more from gopher: fill-in dialogue boxes, password authentication, and the ability to tag information with abstracts, revision dates, multiple views (e.g, different languages, Postscript and Rich Text versions), file sizes, and more. These features were added in the gopher+ specification. Due to a number of factors - the Web started to get interesting, the maintenance took a lot more work - most gophermeisters never made full use of the possibilities of gopher+.

Virtually all of the gopher clients available today are compliant with the classic gopher protocol, and have add-on features for gopher+. The best of these are Dave Brooks' WSgopher for Windows, University of MN's Turbo-Gopher for the Macintosh, and the U of MN's standard Unix/VMS client, all available from the central gopher software distribution on boombox.micro.umn.edu. But a relatively new tool from Pacific Northwest Laboratory - PNLInfoBrowser - is gopher+ from the get go, and as a result, is like no other.

The distribution site is the /pub/pnlinfo directory of ftp.pnl.gov. The software is kept in mac and win subdirectories. Macintosh users will want to get the BinHexed, self-extracting archive and drop the infobrws_pref file into their Preferences folder before getting started. Windows users will want to get the self-extracting .EXE file, move the .DLL files to their \WINDOWS\SYSTEM directory, and move the .INI file to \WINDOWS before getting started.

The interface is more Mac-like than Windows, but is remarkably consistent and clear on both platforms. The things you'd expect from a classic gopher client - the ability to open an arbitrary gopher, to manage bookmarks, and to configure helper applications for viewing non-ASCII text, graphics, and playing sounds - are straightforward and simple. What sets PNLInfoBrowser above the rest are its gopher+ emphasis, and its subscription and find features.

The gopher+ features are best seen by connecting to a server rich in gopher+ attributes, such as PNL's own gopher server (gopher.pnl.gov) or Don Gilbert's IUBio gopher (ftp.bio.indiana. edu). Again, many gophermeisters have not included much in the way of gopher+ attributes, which is unfortunate now that this fine tool is available.

PNLInfoBrowser's subscribe feature is novel. You can choose to subscribe to any gopher item. Once you do so, it'll be tagged with a red exclamation mark icon. If you access that item, the icon will disappear until it's been replaced with a newer version and you choose Show Subscriptions from the File menu. It's a quick and convenient way to see if a favorite site has updated its information since the last time you visited.

PNLInfoBrowser's Find feature is equally novel. Rather than doing what you might expect (searching a current gopher item for a given string), Find gives you direct access to several Internet sources of meta information such as the InterNIC's Directory of Directories, a Jughead-based collection of information servers, and the University of Minnesota's mother of all gophers.

Whether the availability of this fine gopher+ client will encourage the use of gopher+ attributes remains to be seen; one can only hope. PNLInfo-Browser makes sense if you run a facility where both Macs and Windows machines are present and you'd like your users to be able to learn a single interface to gopherspace. And, if it's been a while since you've explored gopherspace - did you know that Steve Foster now has a Simplified Veronica interface that queries multiple servers for you? - PNLInfoBrowser is a nice, robust vehicle for your journey.

Eric S. Theise, Ph.D, is principal of Liberty Hill Cyberwerks (www.cyberwerks.com), a San Francisco-based Internet education, consulting, and storefront services firm. This article was inspired by "Squealing and Hissing: A Roundup of Gopher Clients", Theise's contribution to Levine and Baroudi's Internet Secrets, forthcoming in March from IDG.

Page 15 had an ad for LiveWire (www.livewire.com).

POP: Windows Email Made Easy

(By Bob Stewart)

Post Office Protocol (POP) is an Internet protocol that allows your computer to read mail from your Internet Service Provider's computer. If, like me, you've had to struggle with convoluted email programs (like the ones requiring you to memorize thirty or so arcane commands just to cut and paste), you will really appreciate how easy it is to use these new-generation, MS-Windows POP applications.

Many POP email programs are bundled in complete TCP/IP packages like Chameleon and Internet-in-a-Box. Others are designed for Web browsers and other applications. Here, I'll review four stand-alone packages: RFD Mail, Eudora (both freeware and commercial), Pegasus Mail, and Ipswitch's Imail.

Keeping all that Mail Together

RFD Mail (v1.23) offers some unique features that make it almost ideal for those with a high volume of email. It's easy to set up, and even easier to use. RFD Mail is the only one of these applications that allows you to drag-and-drop messages to and from folders.

Where RFD Mail really stands out, is in its ability to handle a variety of accounts in any combination. RFD Mail can retrieve mail from multiple POP servers and, with the use of scripts, it can download mail from commercial accounts (MCI Mail, Compuserve, Genie, etc.), and shell accounts on Unix and VMS systems. This is an asset for those who have several accounts, and would like to keep all their mail together in one application.

The one problem with RFD Mail is that it can't handle or decode attachments to messages. If you use email to send files, this is a big disadvantage. You can use another application to uuencode a file and cut and paste it into your email message, but this is much less convenient than clicking on a file in a dialog box. David Yon, the author of RFD Mail, told me that v2.0, to be released soon, will add support for Mime and uuencoded documents.

If you have accounts with several services, you should definitely check out RFD Mail. With the addition of automatic attachment decoding, I think version 2.0 will be very popular. RFD Mail is shareware, available at ftp.std.com (customers/software/rfdmail).

The People's Choice

By far, the most popular package is the freeware version of Qualcomm's Eudora (v1.4), and this is deservedly so. No other package offers an easier setup. This is invariably the one application that newbie Slip/PPP users can get up and running quickly. It can perform almost any task the average user will probably require, such as: transferring messages between mailboxes, automatic mail retrieval, and the handling of attachments in Mime, BinHex, and uuencode formats. It also has some more advanced features, like blind carbon copies, and the ability to create mailing lists. Mailing lists are assembled in the "Nicknames" window, which is Eudora's equivalent of an address book. This caused some confusion on my part. Why it couldn't be called "Address Book," I don't know.

This is how Eudora's Nickname feature is intended to work: you put a nickname in the left-hand window and then place one or more addresses that relate to that name in the right hand window. So, you might use "Lucy" as a nickname for "lucy@bobaloo.com" and "Ricky" as a nickname for "ricky@bobaloo.com". Then, in addition, you could add the nickname "Ricardos" and list both "lucy@bobaloo.com" and "ricky@bobaloo.com" in the right hand window. When you send a message with the "TO:" field reading "ricardos" it will be sent to both Lucy and Ricky. Later, you could add little Ricky's address to the list.

Mail is kept in a hierarchical tree of mailboxes. Each mailbox can be kept as an icon on the screen or accessed from the menu bar. Messages are very easily moved from one mailbox to another. The only bugs I found in Eudora were in the Mailboxes window. The editing of names and moving of mailboxes seemed to lead to unpredictable results and I found I had to edit the various configuration files (*.pce) to clean things up.

The commercial version of Eudora (v2.0.3) includes the ability to retrieve mail from dialup accounts, and set up filters for automatically moving downloaded mail to particular folders. There is also an optional spell checker, which I think we all can agree, that many an email message would benefit from. In addition, the bugs in the Mailboxes window have been cleaned up.

While writing this review, v2.1 was released and includes: more options for management of mail on the server, the ability to drag-and-drop attachments and the highlighting of mailboxes with unread mail. In addition, Eudora version 2.1 supports Kerberos authentication, which eliminates the need to send passwords as clear text, and thus enhances network security. The freeware version of Eudora is available via ftp at ftp.qualcomm.com in the /quest/windows directory. (Information on the commercial version is in the zip file.)

All That, and Filtering Too

In addition to handling POP email through TCP/IP, Pegasus Mail for Windows (v1.2, rev. 2) can also use Novell NetWare's MHS messaging system. To use Pegasus Mail, it must be able to find the winsock.dll file. Once it has found this file, the "Network Configuration..." option will appear under the file menu and you can input your account information.

I had some trouble getting Pegasus Mail to recognize my winsock.dll. The instructions that accompany it states the program can locate winsock.dll if it's in the same directory as Pegasus Mail, the Windows directory, the Windows/system directory, or any directory listed in the DOS path statement.

After much consternation and numerous attempts at getting Pegasus Mail running, I had all but given up on it. Then I saw a posting in alt.winsock by someone who had been having similar trouble. The secret, he had found, was that the winsock.dll has to be in the Windows directory - the only one I hadn't tried! Once I had moved the winsock.dll file, I got the coveted "Network Configuration..." option to appear in the file menu and was able to configure Pegasus Mail for my account.

Once installed, Pegasus Mail is very similar to Eudora. It can deal with all the attachment formats, send blind carbon copies and create mailing lists. The one area where it surpasses the commercial version of Eudora is in filtering. Filters send incoming messages (containing the text that matches a filter) directly to a particular folder. Pegasus Mail does this and also provides many more options.

For instance, mail from a particular address can automatically be forwarded to another address. When a message with a particular subject line is received, the sender can automatically be added to a mailing list or sent a particular file. This allows someone with a single account to set up a variety of mail services that would normally be limited to a mail server.

If you're new to POP clients, or you think its filtering or network capabilities would be useful, give Pegasus Mail a try. It is worth the effort it takes to get it up and running. Pegasus Mail is available via ftp at risc.ua.edu in the /pub/network/pegasus directory.

Servers Included

IMail (v1.07.24) is a commercial package from Ipswitch, Inc. In addition to POP client software, Imail includes SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) and POP server applications. Although important to those wanting a MS-Windows server, I didn't test this feature. IMail can handle Mime attachments, but there is no mention of BinHex or uuencode. It can also create mailing lists and send blind carbon copies. IMail allows you to access more than one account, but each time you open the application, it puts up a screen requiring you to choose one. Alternatively, you can open the application with a userid as a command-line argument and avoid this opening screen, but either way, you need to close and reopen the application to access another account. While some might appreciate the ability to accommodate multiple accounts, it could have been provided in a less obtrusive manner.

If all you need is a POP mail client, I would look elsewhere. But if you're looking for SMTP/POP server MS-Windows applications, consider Imail. For more information, send a message to info@ipswitch.com.

They're All Winners!

Each of these applications has something to offer. If ease-of-use is paramount, the choice is Eudora. If you're looking for some sophisticated filtering, or use NetWare messaging, Pegasus Mail is a must. For those who have a number of mail accounts, look to RFD Mail to get the job done. And if you need to run server applications in MS-Windows, IMail comes complete with both SMTP and POP servers.

Reprinted with permission of the Virtual Mirror.
Robert Stewart publishes The Virtual Mirror (www.vmirror.com).

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