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Issue 8 - October 1993

BABBA Magazine - The
Bay Area Bulletin Board Advisor



About the Cover:
Nicole Samuelian, in San Francisco.
Photo by Ronjon Sen of L'image Computer Products



Publisher/Editor: Mark Shapiro

Distribution Manager: Mark Murphy
Distribution: Sean Andrade, Leo Bounds, Robert Escamilla, Phil Gantz, David & Lisa Janakes, Jon Mankowski, Lee Root, Robert Shannon

Photographer: Bryce Wolfson
Sr. Writer: Fred Townsend
Proofreader: Diane Jones
Consultant: Kelly Kaufman
Administration: Veronica Shapiro
Test Engineer: Jeff Masnaghetti
Sales: Carl Bacani, Bill Rockefeller




Editor's Notes

Thanks to the Berryessa Central, Monterey Gaming Systems, Night Watch, Party Wherehouse, and Skull BBSs; we now have a much wider expansion of our regional support BBSs. See the important changes (Including our Internet address change) on the inside cover.

Opinion 1: Don't be fooled by the millions being spent to defeat proposition 174 (The school voucher initiative). Vote against it only if you decide against it. Don't just believe the words in the commercials paid for by the status-quo. Be an independent thinker and voter.

Opinion 2: Most people agree that unprovoked violence is the most harmful form of human behavior. The laws of civilized countries clearly define that such violence is not to be tolerated. The bulk of society avoids violence, with the important exception of self-defense. A small minority of people practice, encourage, and respect unjustified violence. When laws are enforced, such people are put in prison.

Media bombards us with senseless violence. Violent words, actions and images are discussed and endorsed by the media. Killers are given celebrity status. Brutal images are thrust upon us in commercials. Movies are made for their violent shock value. Car commercials show violent drivers. The examples are limitless.

Why does the 'media' do this? One school of thought is they think we want violence. Do we? Does it help us to be exposed to constant violence? Think about what the media is portraying the next time you see/hear aggressive unprovoked human violence. Is this really what you want to see and hear? Some people are offended by the existence of graphic adult movies, magazines, online services, or BBSs. The same people would do well to consider that violence is the real obscenity.



Questions Letters Comments

C: I read and enjoyed your article on Rip in last months issue. However, the name of Telegrafix is spelled wrong. The latest version of RlPTerm is Riptm154.zip. It's been around for about 4 months. There is a new version of RlPTerm coming out shortly. Ripgraphics will work with just about anything. Not just WildCat.

A: You are right. As with all our stories that mention companies, we sent the story to the Telegrafix company 2 weeks before we went to press. They approved it, so we missed the name change. (And now they have a web site: www.telegrafix.com) Yes, RIP works with most BBS packages. Thanks for your update on the rapidly changing RIP scene. We have added a graphic protocol question to our BABSYSOP.FRM file.

Editor,
I have always found BABBA to be a valuable and informative publication, but I recently discovered just how valuable it really is. Through BABBA I found the SOLIS BBS (The Sheriff's On-Line Information System). I was able to have some legal questions answered by Judge Ray Cunningham through his "Ask The Judge" conference. But more importantly, SOLIS put me in touch with Officer Pete Evangel, who runs the Crime Prevention conference.

A few weeks ago, a three-year-old on our street disappeared for more than two hours. Thankfully, he was found safe, but you can imagine the fear and anxiety this caused for all of the parents who participated in the search. When I mentioned this story to Officer Evangel, he went out of his way to personally deliver to me enough child fingerprint kits for every child on our street. I call that 'above and beyond the call of duty'!

I'd like to commend the great work of the Sheriff's Department, the SOLIS BBS, it's Sysop Officer Ron Levine and everyone else that makes SOLIS such a valuable community service. I also want you to know how much I appreciate having BABBA as a resource in the Bay Area. I wouldn't have found SOLIS without BABBA. Please keep up the great work! (D.J.)

A: Thank you for reaffirming just how valuable a BBS can be. The SOLIS BBS, and all other public safety BBSs are assets to our communities.

Q: What's a gateway?

A: In the context of computers and communications, a gateway is a computer or computer network set up for a special communication purpose - usually as the contact point or path to another computer network. An example of a gateway is when a BBS is set up as a fax gateway (a computer with a fax modem) allowing callers to upload documents to be faxed somewhere else.

Q1: I called a BABBA-listed BBS, and a person answered the phone and said hello.

Q2: I called a BABBA-listed BBS, and the phone kept ringing and ringing. Is this really a BBS line?

A: Some Sysops run a shared line BBS, or sometimes a BBS is temporarily down. If someone says "hello" when you call a BABBA-listed BBS, ask them "Is this a BBS number?" If the person tells you it is not a BBS number, contact us immediately.

If the (phone number) rings and rings, it is usually because the BBS is temporarily down. Call again later. If the BBS doesn't answer the phone for longer than a week, please contact us. Sysops should always keep us informed if their BBS goes down.

C: l called a BABBA-listed BBS and noticed that there was almost nothing l could access or do on the BBS without sending in a SASE registration. l couldn't even leave a message to the Sysop: This BBS does not qualify to be a BABBA-listed BBS, according to an issue two months ago.

A: The BBS does qualify because they give you full access - once you register. Some BBSs have callback-verifiers, some require a stamped self-addressed envelope to mail in a registration form. We approve of such policies. We run two BBS systems ourselves, and we know why a BBS would make callers send in a SASE: Too many fake names, too many hackers, and too many leaches. Sysops sometimes opt for a higher class of caller, the caller willing to spend 58 cents (for two stamps) for lifetime registration to a BBS.

As far as not being able to leave a message to a Sysop, we agree with you completely. (Although one Sysop explained to us that their BBS was crashed by a deviously designed uploaded message. We don't see how that can happen with a well-designed BBS package.)

Q: Please address the issue of privacy. Some of us refuse to give out our personal information. There are too many immature Sysops out there, and let's face it, you never know who has access to what. There are sexist and immature BBSs around too. l think it is best for ladies not to give out their correct information, or just to log in as a male.

A: Privacy is a delicate issue. Some Sysops want enough information to prove who you really are, for their protection. Sysops are somewhat accountable for what messages or files are left on their BBS. Since it is their system, they do have the right to find out who is using it.

This can be a problem for the person such as yourself who legitimately wants to remain anonymous. This situation is similar for any communication (or related) service. There is some level of risk in giving information to a Sysop, a clerk, a government official, or your best friend.

The issue here is the quality of the Sysop. Sysops generally share information only about problem causers. The most honorable Sysop can have their computer stolen, and your personal information stolen with it. The overwhelming majority of Sysops would never divulge or act on any information about you. Of course, there are a few "lemon" Sysops. Sticking to BABBA-listed BBSs will help a lot.

A possible solution would be a protected, bonded, licensed, and insured third party, to gather information about you (the caller) to prove you are unique and accountable. You then could use just your name, or your handle, with the authorization from the third party to instantly be validated on every BBS or communications service. But who would pay for such a service? General privacy tips:

Q: Why do GlFs look so much better on MAC computers than DOS computers?

A: GIF picture files don't always look better on a color Macintosh, but they typically do. This is primarily because color MACs usually have top notch display electronics, monitors, and graphic software packages. (A very nice shareware MAC GIF displaying program is GIFConverter, written by Kevin Mitchell.) High-end DOS based computer systems display GIFs as nicely as the MAC, but an average DOS/Windows system currently cannot.

Q: l read a prediction that text-based BBSs will go away because voice compression technology will make them obsolete. Any comments?

A: BBSs will not be displaced by ISDN, graphical protocols, or voice technologies. They will change for the better. No matter how fast data travels, or how talkative a computer becomes, or how attractive and easy a user interface is - text will be the backbone (or at least a primary component) of communication for a very long time.

Q: What is a door?

A: Doors, in the context of BBSs, are extensions to the BBS software package. The BBS software lends control of the computer and modem to another program, called a door. A door interacts with the BBS caller. Most doors are online games.

Q1: How can l get stock quotes on my BBS for my callers to see?

Q2: Do you know anything about the "People's Telephone Company" ? In the phone book l see lots of phone numbers for that. l called them and all l get is funny tones. l asked the phone company about it and they didn't know.

A: Anyone who knows the answers to these questions, please contact us.


Page 1 had ads for the Cutting Edge BBS, SPAUG - the Stanford Palo Alto PC Users Group (www.pa-spaug.org), and the MCA Financial Group (www.interest.com/mca).

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




"BABBA BITS"

A funny TV moment
One of the funniest computer-related moments observed on television was on a recent Computer Chronicles show. Computer Chronicles (www.pctv.com/pctv/shows/Chronicles) is an excellent half-hour weekly show seen on PBS stations. The funny moment occurred in the latest annual computer bowl event, held at the San Jose Convention Center. Bill Gates (president of Microsoft) was the guest reader for the questions posed to two teams of celebrity contestants.

Mr. Gates read the question "What is the name of the contest held on the Usenet network to find the ugliest, most difficult to comprehend 'C' program". One contestant, Mr. Jean-Louis Gassee (former Apple Computer executive) rang the bell to answer the question with one word: "Windows". It was a classic moment, followed by roars of laughter.

PCBoard BBS - Version 15.0
Clark Development Company, Inc. has released version 15.0 of their popular PCBoard BBS software package. Version 15.0 is a winner. Every PCBoard Sysop who upgraded to version 15.0 has given it rave reviews. The price of the upgrade package is a fairly good deal too.

PCBoard has always been rock solid, but was lacking some newer features and options - until now. Version 15.0 has every bell and whistle. Included are RIP graphics and Internet support. A new (optional) package lets you customize the PCBoard BBS any way a Sysop or caller desires.

Every part of the package has been improved. The manual is now 700 pages and fully explains everything. The installation program is superb. All the 'missing' features are now present. However, the old "restrictions" of the package still apply: Only 65,535 maximum nodes, only 65,535 maximum message conference areas, and worst of all, only 32,767 doors allowed, per BBS.

AT&T's V.32terbo chip set
In our August issue, we covered Rockwell's V.Fast DSP data-pump chip set. AT&T is now producing a chip-set for the competing V.32terbo standard. The chip-set implements the first-tier specification of V.32terbo, having an uncompressed data transfer rate of 19,200 thousand bits per second. The chip-set line includes fax and cellular phone options. Now that both V.Fast and V.32terbo specifications have been put into silicon, the race is on...

Hayes ventures past the 16550 UART
Hayes Microcomputer Products, Inc. recently introduced their new 16-bit Hayes ESP Communications Accelerator card, for IBM PCs and compatibles. This card supports speeds surpassing 115,200 bits per second. Available for $99, the single port, half-card serial board maximizes data transmission speeds and paves the way for high-speed modems or ISDN applications.

Hayes' board has a dedicated communications coprocessor with built-in automatic flow control. Data integrity is improved by eliminating buffer overrun errors. (Even the 16550 UART gets buffer overrun errors at speeds of 115.2 kbit/s or higher). To maximize performance, the board provides dual 1024-byte send/receive buffers and a 16-bit PC Bus interface. It works with most high-speed modems and ISDN terminal adapters.

Hayes' board includes the software drivers for Microsoft Windows, and is fully compatible with Windows communications software. (It works with DOS without any special drivers). Hayes is making this technology available to computer manufacturers to integrate into their motherboards.

Hayes designs a 28.8K modem
Hayes has designed a new 28,800 bits per second V.FC modem using the Rockwell chip set. (Hayes wrote the controller code). The modem is 100% compatible with all current modem standards. It will connect to any 2,400-14,400 modem and works on normal telephone lines. Hayes is working with BBSs across the country to test and refine the modem. It will soon be one of the products that paves the way for the next jump up in speed.

For CompuServe users...
Do you enjoy the massive amounts of data available on CompuServe, but hate scrolling through pages of text just to find the topics that interest you?
PED Software Corp. offers a solution with Journalist v1.1.

Journalist is a Windows-based program that provides a text filter, a CompuServe navigator, a graphic displayer, and a modem terminal program integrated into one package. You design your "newspaper" screen and choose the information topics you are interested in. Just set up the time of day you want Journalist to call CompuServe - and Journalist calls and downloads only the information you want, and logs off.

An affordable Time and Power Saver
As Windows (or DOS) applications become more and more complex, it takes longer (and more keyboard/mouse action) to set up your "work environment". PowerPro Software has provided an elegant and affordable solution. Their new Quick Restart software package activates on one hot-key or mouse-click to save your complete work environment. The contents of any RAM disks or caches are also saved.

Your work, and work state are backed up to disk. You can turn your computer off, knowing your work environment will be restored upon power up - exactly where you left off. Quick Restart is priced at $39.95. Useful for every DOS/Windows user, it is a must for portable/notebook computers.


Pages 5 and 6 had ads for XELTEK (www.xeltek.com), Ron's CDROMs, Computers At Large, and Just Computers! (www.justcomp.com).



Talking by Modem

(By Matt Young)

Three interesting technology trends are converging: Together, these technologies allow an alternative phone system - using a Personal Computer, integrated with a software communications package. Let's look at each technology by itself, and then see how they work together.

Modem compression
The new V.FAST modem standard will let us transmit data at an uncompressed rate past 18.5 kbps (thousand bits per second) over normal telephone lines, for only a few hundred dollars. Modern modems are based upon digital signal processing (DSP) technology. DSP technology encodes/decodes digital data to allow high speed communications between a BBS and your computer.

These modems take analog telephone signals entering the modem and sample them at about 16,000 samples per second. Each sample becoming a single digital word. The DSP processor chip then performs the demodulation process in software using high performance math processing power and a highly optimized processing architecture. The process also works in the opposite direction, the DSP chip converting digital words into modulated signals for transmission on analog telephone signals.

Voice compression
Voice compression also uses DSP technology, but its algorithms are much different than V.Fast modem algorithms. Voice compression takes out the redundancies found in voice, and is more closely related in function to file compression technologies.

However, unlike file compression, voice compression allows a certain amount of signal fidelity (information) to be lost. For moderate compression, this lost fidelity or information may not be noticeable to the user. In high compression algorithms the loss of voice information is noticeable, although the resulting voice is still very understandable.

Putting it all together
The state of the art in voice compression allows us to converse over an 8-10 kbps data connection using moderate power DSP cards available today. New modem standards allow us to transmit data at 18 kbps!

Today, without using a special (state of the art) DSP board, I can take a (Creative Labs) Sound Blaster voice message, and compress it from 1 Mbyte to 0.15 Mbyte. he compression ratio is about 7 to 1. Any further compression of the voice message clips (e.g. compressed by PKZIP) would yield negligible results since the voice compressed files have already had all redundancy removed.

My current home equipment makes it comfortable to upload voice clips to a BBS. I can send it across my 9.6 kbps modem to another user, who can play it on another Sound Blaster card. Normally, an uncompressed voice quality signal requires 64 kbps. The compression methods I use allow a 9.0 kbps rate, and still have a voice quality signal.

Within a few months, I will obtain a beta copy of a new DSP card. I will then be able to talk in real time to another user across my 9.6 kbps modem. When I get a new 18.5 kbps modem, I can talk - and share (e.g.) RIP graphics in a multimedia conference over normal telephone lines. When BBS software accommodates the capabilities of the newer high speed DSP processors, then online voice conferencing will become the norm. The cost of the extra equipment required cost should fall below $1,000 by 1994.



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The Tiger Team BBS

(By Gary Ray & Jeffrey Macko)

The Tiger Team Buddhist network is an Online information service dedicated to serving the Buddhist community. This "cybersangha" knows no borders; with members from as far away as Asia and Europe.

We offer many services including international echo-mail for the discussion of individual topics on a worldwide basis. We feature in depth Buddhist scholarly and practice related discussions and event listings - both local events and national/international happenings in the Buddhist community. We also have a huge library of Buddhist related educational files and artwork.

The main purpose of our BBS is to communicate information. For that reason, we are active members of about half a dozen different international networks including PodsNet, RBBSNet, and FidoNet as well as Internet. These networks earry worldwide conferences on such topics as Dharma (Buddhist Teachings), I Ching, and secular conferences on anything from Wilderness/ Outdoors, Alternative Energy Systems, and even White House press releases. Tiger Team BBS hosts four of these conferences: Scholarly Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Women & Buddhism, and the Bay Buddhist Network.

We also have special interest conferences unique to Tiger Team. For example, Tiger Team hosts the "Buddhist Peace Fellowship" conference, moderated by Alan Senauke, National BPF Coordinator, where updates and articles related to BPF events and activities are listed and discussions regarding the BPF take place.

Tiger Team hosts the "On Dharma" conference, where members may ask practice related questions to ordained Bhikshus (monks) or Bhikshunis (nuns) of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association. We also host a number of other local conferences ranging from computer security, where you can discuss issues of privacy and data protection with a number of security experts who frequent Tiger Team; and the Karma Klub, where more detailed aspects of American Buddhist life can be discussed, such as "Where do I get that rare Tibetan incense?" or "How do I re-stuff that zafu I'm sitting on?"

Tiger Team has Internet access, giving users the opportunity to send and receive mail from over six million people from around the world! We offer Internet Usenet Newsgroups, such as BUDDHA-L (for Buddhist scholars) ZENDO and ZEN-L (for Zen Buddhist Practitioners), TIBET-L (for the latest news from the struggle in Tibet), soc.religion.eastern, and BUDDHISM (for general Buddhist practitioners). Several additional newsgroups such as TAOISM-L and CHINA_NEWS are also available for those with broader interests in Asian culture and activities.

A major reason people subscribe to Tiger Team BBS is our Buddhist community event listings - both local and national. We are considered the authority for Buddhist events. Buddhist center coordinators often communicate through us to reach the many individuals who are searching for either a regular practice center or upcoming retreats or lectures. It's usually as simple as logging on, sending a message with your city, and logging back a couple days later for a listing of practice centers in your area. Also, if you happen to know of an upcoming event, we welcome your input in this area.

Our file library has since grown to be an indispensable resource and a main focus for our members. Our library contains thousands of files, covering various aspects of Buddhism; including Buddhist papers, articles, meditation instruction, sutra and commentary translations, Dharma talks by various teachers, and sound files - We even have the Dalai Lama chanting! We also have a huge collection of full-color and black & white professionally scanned Buddhist artwork, photos, maps, and learning tools in the popular GIF file format.

The San Francisco Bay Area, being a world center for Buddhist activity, gives us many friends who supply us with vast quantities of buddhist materials. For example, through an agreement with the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (DRBA), we have a collection of Buddhist translations and sutra artwork that have never been seen! We also provide our own original files to our users, such as commentaries and papers as well as the scanned artwork and sound files mentioned previously.

Our BBS is operating in a center for Buddhist scholarly activity. We are committed to becoming the source for Asian language tutorials, word processors and dictionaries. The Asian Language library has a vast range of materials for both the PC and Macintosh - ranging from the more common Chinese and Japanese tutorials, to the more obscure programs such as Tibetan flash cards, which we write ourselves. Tiger Team is also the sole distribution site for the popular CWP (Chinese Word Processor) and KAPIAN, Chinese Flash Cards. Like our conference areas, access to the file library is free to the public.

We are a not-for-profit service with significant expenses. We run our BBS like a Buddhist practice center. Rather than exclude those who can't afford to contribute, we encourage those who can offer us financial support to subscribe to our service under various levels of commitment and pricing. As an incentive, we offer subscribers additional time Online, unlimited downloading, access to a special subscribers phone line, mailed updates of our activities, and discounts towards products sold Online. All subscription fees and donations are used to pay monthly expenses, purchase or upgrade hardware and software, and register our shareware programs. May auspiciousness be upon you!


Page 7 had an ad for Computer Modules (www.compumodules.com).




Usenet on your BBS

Part 2 of 2: The Specifics

(By Randy Just)

Last month we discussed the differences between Usenet and the Internet. Even though there is a close relationship between the Internet and Usenet, they aren't the same. Usenet news may, and often does, travel over the Internet - though it doesn't have to. Full Internet access (i.e. FTP, Telnet) is outside the reach of a typical BBS system due to costs which can be thousands of dollars a month in fees alone. Most BBSs that claim to have Internet access, in fact, only have Internet email and some Usenet newsgroups. This article addresses the issue of setting up a BBS to exchange Internet email and to receive Usenet newsgroups.

Fashionably Late
The packages available for a DOS based BBS to connect to another system using UUCP (UNIX-to-UNIX copy) are limited. As discussed in our last article, UUCP is the vehicle most often used to transfer email and Usenet newsgroups. Currently available packages, in many cases, are the same ones that have existed for a long while. It is surprising that more packages aren't available.

Public-domain source code (for the critical communication components) has been posted on various BBS systems for a few years now and nobody had taken the ball and ran with it. Fortunately, some new packages are starting to become available. Therefore, the number of choices, as well as features, available in the various packages should increase.

Waffle
The most popular UUCP enabled package that DOS folks are using is Waffle. It has a rather large following and it does an admirable job, but to be quite blunt, the application is getting a bit dated. In Waffle's favor, it works well for transferring Internet email and Usenet packets. Waffle is not one single application, but a collection of applications. This collection consists of the necessary utility programs to make a UUCP connection, compress and decompress the Usenet packets as well as a complete BBS application.

The drawback of Waffle is the BBS application. The interface is not the easiest one to learn for most users. Some BBS systems are set up so that one key is entered for each menu option. In Waffle, it is necessary in many instances to type a full command in. Some examples of commands are ADD, JOIN, MAIL, and FILES. Kind of similar to a text based adventure game. A bit cumbersome, but it works. Some commands are carryovers from UNIX such as "finger". For most DOS users, this is a meaningless command.

Waffle can be set up in different ways. Some Sysops set it up as a "door" from their existing BBS. Others will set up Waffle as a BBS which does the answering of the phone and so forth. When setting up Waffle, having experience with UNIX is helpful but not necessary. Menus are stored as ASCII text files and, therefore, can be modified easily to make your system more personalized.

One important feature of Waffle is that, for all practical purposes, it allows messages of unlimited size. Sysops familiar with other BBSs are aware that there is usually a maximum message size. On Internet it is possible to send files via email (discussed later) and therefore, it is possible to have a message that can easily exceed one megabyte in size. Another Waffle plus is that it lets you receive files using FTP-Mail (discussed later).

Additional Tidbits for Waffle
For those using Waffle, enhanced performance UUCP connections can be obtained by using FX-UUCICO. It is a drop-in replacement for UUCICO. Users have reported substantial increases in the amount of characters-per-second transferred during a UUCP connection. This file can be found on the Internet at (wuarchive.wustl.edu).

There are a number of people hoping for a reliable .QWK type door for Waffle. WafMail has been available for a while, but a number of users are reporting problems. Although the latest version of Waffle is 1.65, WafMail is still at version 1.0. (Version 2.0 is undergoing beta testing now).

Zipnews is a non-QWK type mailer that works well for Waffle. The package is nicely implemented and easy to install. The reader is crippled in the non-registered version (can't read/post email and can't reply to Usenet posts) which will probably prevent it from achieving much popularity.

Fido's Gate
Waffle does not support FidoNet messaging. It only designed for Usenet newsgroups and Internet email transferring. As an alternative to Waffle, there are a few packages available that have names such as UFGATE or FREDGATE. Usually the word GATE will appear somewhere in the name. GATE packages convert Usenet message and/or Internet email formats to FidoNet formats. Once converted to the FidoNet format, messages are then converted again from the FidoNet format to that of the message data structure used by a particular BBS package.

A GATE package allows any BBS system that supports FidoNet to support Usenet and Internet email. If the BBS supports .QWK, then users can use their favorite mail reader to review Usenet messages.

Gate Limitations
Drawbacks of using GATE methods include the limitation of maximum message size as indicated previously. To handle the communications aspect, GATE programs will often use the communication utility programs included with Waffle!

You are probably starting to gather that it takes a bit of work to make all of the programs work in harmony with each other. The whole task can be daunting. Especially for those unfamiliar with FidoNet. Having some knowledge of FidoNet will go a long ways towards making everything work without burning up a month's worth of weekends to have a functional system.

Other Packages
For commercial BBS packages such as TBBS and PCBoard, Internet email/Usenet newsgroup processing software has been introduced. These applications integrate directly with the BBS software to provide a gateway for Internet/Usenet.

The Personal Internet Mail Processor (PIMP) Version 2.00 is available for TBBS sysops. Messages are converted into the TBBS format. Callers deal with Internet email using the features of TBBS. UUEncode/UUDecode (discussed later) of email is handled as a file attachment in TBBS. PCB-UUCP allows PCBoard BBSs to exchange Internet email and Usenet newsgroups. Version 15.0 of PCBoard has been enhanced so that the TO and FROM fields are now 125 characters, to allow for Internet email addressing. As with PIMP for TBBS, attachment of UUEncode/ UUDecode messages are handled.

Which One to Use
If you are currently using PCBoard or TBBS, your choice is obvious. And if you have the money and are starting from scratch, I would use TBBS with PIMP. The combination of these two would obtain the goal with the least amount of trouble. But if your funds are limited, Waffle offers the best solution. Even if you have to use it as a door with your existing BBS package, it offers a robust, albeit klunky, package to exchange Internet email and Usenet newsgroup messages.

FTP-Mail
As indicated previously, most BBSs that implement Internet email and Usenet newsgroups don't offer FTP (or Telnet) capabilities. Fortunately, there is an alternative for those that don't have online Internet FTP access. It is possible to achieve FTP access via Internet email. By sending email and including the appropriate FTP commands within the email, it is possible to obtain files via FTP. For information on this, simply send email to: ftpmail@decwrl.dec.com.
In the subject of your email, enter ftpmail. In the body of the message, on two separate lines, include help and quit. The message should look as follows:

To: ftpmail@decwrl.dec.com
Subject: ftpmail
help
quit

After sending this message, email will be returned to you with information on how to request files via FTP-Mail. This technique does work. It can be frustrating, however, in that if a command isn't entered properly you will not know this until email is returned indicating the problem.

Once you get the hang of it, things will go smoothly. FTP-Mail requests can take several hours to process so don't expect an immediate response. Warning to Sysops! It should also be stated that if your UUCP feed is a long distance call and your users are familiar with the above information, your BBS phone bill can rise dramatically and unexpectedly. Be careful of this.

Files received via FTP-Mail may be in a UUEncoded format. This format allows binary files to be sent as ASCII text files. When a file is sent via email, it will be UUEncode. Upon being received, the file can be returned to its original binary format by using UUDecode. Various versions of these two files exist for DOS and can be downloaded from most BBSs that support UNIX files.

Randy Just is the principal owner of Just Computers!, developers of custom BBS and business applications software.


Page 8 had an ad for Monterey Gaming Systems




Net-mail Corner - UUEncoding

What it is, how it works

(By A. Lizard - www.ecis.com/~alizard)

To send a binary file (e.g. .zip, .exe, .com) by email message (As opposed to a file attachment to a message) you must use some variation of programs called UUEncode/UUDecode. Versions of these two programs exist for most computer environments (e.g. Unix, DOS, Mac, etc.).

High and low order ASCII
Each character of a message, program, or data file uses one byte of storage. Each byte contains 8 bits of binary data. Bits represent data by having a high or a low value. The eight bits in each byte can assume any one of 256 possible permutations to represent one of 256 values.

Data that uses all 256 combinations of data values arbitrarily is called binary data. Binary data is used in applications, in some data files generated by applications (e.g. Microsoft Word formatted text files), graphic files, and in compressed files.

Network email systems are designed for ASCII text messages, such as you would type on your keyboard. ASCII text uses the lower value 128 of the bit value combinations out of the possible 256. Most BBSs and networks (especially the Internet) do not allow the higher 129-256 combinations of data byte values to be placed in messages or message transfers.

Email message data bytes are usually automatically stripped of high-order values. Most email networks literally can not handle "high value" ASCII, which is used in control commands, etc. Also, you don't want to see 'garbage' in the messages. Try using your editor to read a .EXE file to see why! (But do not save any changes!)

There are situations where you will want to send a non-ASCII file across a message-only network. That is where UUEncode type programs come in. UUEncode converts all characters in a file (binary or otherwise) into normal "low" ASCII characters. It does this by taking groups of 3 characters and turning them into groups of 4. This makes all data values less than 128 to fit into 'low order' normal ASCII. CRC error-checking is included with the file to insure its integrity. UUDecode does the reverse and turns the previously converted file back into its original (usually binary) form.

How to use it
The DOS command is UUEncode (filename). This will result in a file with an extension of .uue. You can send this .uue file via normal email. UUDecode [filename] reverses the process. UUEncode programs are designed to respect size limits placed on network messages. You send each transformed file "chunk" as a separate email message. Files over a certain size will be broken up into chunks.

The Internet and UUEncode programs usually have a default file/message size limit of about 60K. Different size limits can be generated via command line switches if necessary. You can capture the UUEncoded "message" data chunks by downloading the "message". You can also screen-capture the message, or log it to disk, with your telecommunication software program. After you have the "messages" on disk, UUDecode can later recombine the "message" file chunks into a single binary file.

The program for DOS is uuexe522.zip. It is available on the Internet at oak.oakland.edu somewhere. You can also execute the commands from most UNIX-based Internet hosts or UNIX system. Check the man pages for UUEncode and UUDecode for how to use it.

Caveats
Although you can use UUEncode with any email network, be aware it increases the size of the file being transferred. UUEncode adds about 50% to the length of a file due to the encoding scheme and CRCs. If the email system being used is Internet, this is usually not a problem.

Hobby nets usually have strict limits set on how big a message file can be. There are only a very few hobby networks where unlimited message sizes are provided for. If you arbitrarily send UUEncoded long files (e.g., a total length of 1 meg) via a hobbyist networks like FidoNet, you will create a string of angry sysops! The recipient of each message transfer site will be paying the toll/LD charges as your huge "message" propagates toward the final destination.

Big file transfers across Internet are not as likely to cause a problem because the Internet is subsidized by us taxpayers and by large corporations. Internet uses a T-l communication based network that moves data typically at rates of at least 1.5 megabit/second.


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