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Issue 10 - December 1993

BABBA Magazine - The
Bay Area Bulletin Board Advisor




About the Cover: "One of Santa's helpers" with a wonderful gift idea - a fax/modem.



Publisher/Editor: Mark Shapiro

Software Reviews: Al Wromke
Modems/Disks: Fred Townsend
Operating Systems: Randy Just
Copy Editor: Bryce Wolfson
Test Engineer: Jeff Masnaghetti
Administration: Veronica Shapiro
Sales: Carl Bacani, Bill Rockefeller

Distribution: Sean Andrade, Phil Gantz, David and Lisa Janakes, Mark Murphy, Gary Ray, Alex Riggs, and Lee Root.

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




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

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




Editor's Notes

Thanks for the mention, and congratulations to Susan Kuchinskas for her excellent article in the November 7 and 14th issues of the San Francisco Examiner newsletter (www.examiner.com). In her articles, she illuminated the real estate services available on BBSs, the Net, and online services.

My Opinion
BBSs, online services, and networks (e.g., the Internet) used to be separate entities. This separation is rapidly disappearing. BBSs are growing more powerful and popular, and more BBSs are linking up to the network every day.

In a similar way, other entities are starting to blend together: Computers and modems, analog and digital, work and play, the person using the network and the network itself.

Technology increases the efficiency and the functionality of most things. We usually hear that the answer to long term unemployment is retraining our work force. Training does help the individual, but as technology improves efficiency, there is simply less (really needed) work to do.

As individuals, we should train for the future. As the government already controls employment-related issues, it should address the fact that fewer people are needed to support the GNP than 10 years ago, and this trend can only accelerate.




Questions, Letters, and Comments

Q: Your "BABBA Zone" guide has lots of information, but it is hard to find things quickly. How about printing a map instead?

A: The local (versus toll charge) routing from the phone companies is nonlinear. There are cases where you can call one house for free, but when that house calls you - it's a toll call. A map would show generalities, but people want to see specifically what calls are local, and that's where our zone guide is helpful. (See our Nov. 1993, and future issues.)

Q: Could you direct me to BBSs that are geared towards disabled people?

A: In a way, every BBS is geared to the "disabled" person. BBSing is an indoor, non-demanding activity. (Many BBSs are run by disabled people.) Rather than catering only to the disabled, or just the able-bodied; BBSs cater to all.

Q: Does it hurt a BBS if you hang up on it? I get annoyed at the "are you sure" questions and the long animations/commercials on some BBSs when you say bye.
I just hang up to get out quick. One Sysop banned me from his BBS, saying it is rude, and I don't think that's fair.

A: Even if it doesn't hurt the BBS, it is typically considered rude to "drop carrier". Of course, the Sysop shouldn't get too bent out of shape every time it happens. There are situations where it cannot be helped. Long ago, dropping carrier could lock up a modem or a BBS. Those days are long gone - BBS packages and modems are very robust, and can easily handle dropped carriers. The one time that dropping carrier is really rude is when you are chatting with the Sysop!

Q: Do you have an off-line mail door on the BABBA BBS? I would like to download the messages.

A: We don't have an off-line mail door (yet). The BABBA BBS is not a general purpose BBS. However, if you want to download all the messages, most BBS software packages will let you. Look for the command to nonstop-scroll all the messages, so you can capture them in a log (to disk) file. The BABBA BBS currently uses PCBoard software, and the command is R + NS, which stands for Read messages starting from the first, Non-Stop.

Q: I tried to call a BBS that requests I send a ",,,,22,22,22" to get past the call-routing switch mechanism. How am I supposed to dial the ,,,,22,22,22 to get past the switcher? I can't seem to dial anything in, once it has connected. I've even tried dialing and running to another phone in the house to hit the ,,,,22,22,22 sequence, but that isn't working either!

A: The ",,,,22,22,22" must be attached to the dialing string sent to the modem. As an example, if the BBS phone number is 408-946-0000, your dialing string (either on the command line, or in the dialing directory) should be: ATDT9460000,,,,22,22,22

We can't wait for the day when all fax/voice/modem switchers are totally automatic, and don't need any such codes.

C: In the September issue, I read that if you ran a BBS and didn't make any profit, you didn't need to worry about reporting BBS income on your tax return.

This month, I was contacted by an Internal Revenue Service representative who stated that even if a BBS made only one cent, you would have to file a tax report for it. I told him that I was running my BBS as a hobby, and that I have never, at any time, made a profit from its operation or from the collection of money from membership dues.

I was told that if I was running the BBS as a hobby, I had to fill out a 1040 tax form. On line number 22, the form asks you for the amount of money that you made from any hobby. You can declare a loss, but the loss may not exceed the amount of the money that you made. If your loss exceeds the amount you made, you must fill out a Schedule A, and itemize all your losses. If you operate your BBS as a business, the same instructions would apply, but the form numbers are different. Good advice would be to see a tax consultant.

A: We have been assured by our tax advisor that (money losing) hobbies do not need to be reported on your tax forms. A (hobby) BBS Sysop who spends $2000 in a year (on computers, software, phones, and modems) who gets $1000 in donations does not have to report the $1000. You do need to keep records of all expenses and donations, in case your hobby becomes a business. (Some BBSs start out as a business on day one.)

By definition, a BBS that turns a profit is no longer a hobby, and must be reported on your taxes. For all such hobbies, keep records of money spent and gained. When you make a profit in a year, report it on your income tax form. If your hobby is challenged, to prove it is not a revenue generator, you will be glad you kept good records. We checked with our tax man who verified our answer was correct. To be safe, check with your tax adviser.

Q: Why does your magazine have so many adult ads?

A: Maybe the best solution is for more (non-adult) advertisers to take advantage of our quality and attractive advertising rates. Any legitimate business is welcome to advertise here. Our advertisers make it possible to bring you, the reader, this magazine.

We ensure the adult ads are "G-rated". The same kinds of ads (and R-rated ads too!) are in many other general-distribution newspapers and magazines. Our adult ads are very noticeable because BABBA is read cover to cover, is compact, and has reasonable advertising rates. Also, our pre-press, paper, and ink are high-quality; so submitted camera-ready artwork is reproduced very accurately.

Like it or not, "adult" plays a significant role in many technology-related areas because "adult" material is actively pursued by a significant portion of the worlds population. There is a rumor that adult pictures are the file type most often downloaded from the Internet.

Adult advertising and adult-related products are a major revenue source, and support many legitimate publications and businesses. A large percentage of CD-ROMs, video tape, and many other types of media is devoted to legal adult material. Many of the personal computer graphic animation and sound standards (that we take for granted) were developed or refined partially because of interest in adult material. In the future, it is likely that virtual reality and robotics will be influenced by adult-related endeavors.

We understand that some people are opposed to this type of advertising. We place the "adult" ads on both sides of the same pages whenever possible. People who don't want them, can carefully tear/cut out those pages and toss them.

Q: Someone offered me a used 486-50 chip for sale. How do I know if it is stolen?

A: We talked to a few computer stores, and right now, there is no surefire way to tell if a chip is "hot" by looking at it. Intel is working on serializing their microprocessor chips, but we don't yet know if the serial number is internal, or on the outside of the chip package. You might try asking for the receipt, to prove it was purchased. Anyone who knows more about this, please contact BABBA.

Q: In Procomm Plus, I tried to capture a screen log by toggling the screen capture on. After I was done, the file size was zero! What happened?

A: Were you multitasking? When you "Toggle the Log" (from the File Menu) it opens a file. The size of the file is set to zero bytes until the file is closed. The only way we could recreate the problem was to do it while multitasking with Desqview. If you toggle the log on and then quit Procomm, the log file is saved. If you toggle it on and (e.g.) Desqview to another window, you will see the zero-sized file. To eliminate this confusion, Toggle the Log OFF when you are done capturing text.

Q: With a name like BABBA, why do you cover general computer issues, instead of just modem issues?

A1: Have you ever seen a modem in use without a computer system attached?

A2: Modems, networks, BBSs, and communications will always be an important part of our publication. We also cover whatever is interesting, thought provoking, and/or useful to our readers. Many of our readers do not even own a modem, although we expect that to change soon...

Q: Will BBSs go the way of the dinosaur as a result of the Internet?

A: No. The Internet is a very large network linking millions of people and computers around the world. BBSs are privately owned entities that range from the tiny to the giant. The future of BBSs is secure as long as we have computers, communications, and a democracy. (Um, well... I stand corrected now!)

Q: In Issue 5, you had a USR Sportster setup article. What about the DIP switches? Also, how can I change the BAUD to 19,200 as shown in the article?

A: Oops! First the DIP switch: The DIP (Dual In-line Pin) switch on our 14,400 Sportster external modems are set to: UUDUDUUD (Up/Down, Up = Off)

The BAUD on the (external 14400) Sportster's ati5 screen, shows the serial port speed setting. In your terminal program, set a dialing directory (or the default port speed) to the desired serial port speed. (e.g., 19200) Then dial your favorite BBS/online service, do your business, and log off. Then type AT&F to update your NVRAM. After that, the ati5 command will show the correct speed. The serial port speed is typically set faster than the modem speed. For more information on serial ports and setting their speed, read the modem manual, our back issues, or a good modem book. (See the BABBA-BITS)

C: I like BABBA a lot but I don't like your anti-environmental choice of using non-soy based printing ink.

A: We avoid soy-based inks because they smear and get your hands filthy from reading a publication. We use a book ink (at extra expense) so our readers don't have to put up with the smearing problem. We encourage readers to recycle this magazine eventually. BABBAs are usually kept (and reread) for a long time.

Q: A client asked me to set up a system where about 20 companies all over the US can trade email and information easily from any phone, making only local calls. What options do you recommend?

A1: Rent a forum on one of the giant online services such as Compuserve or America Online. The drawbacks of these are that the fees for the forum rental can be quite large. Also, each person using the service will have to get an account and pay for it. Combined, these costs can be prohibitive for small (or medium-sized) companies.

A2: Have all parties get Internet accounts and get familiar with the Unix-based Internet commands. This saves some money as the forum rental is eliminated. The drawbacks are it is a bit harder to learn, and each person using the Internet to communicate with each other must find and pay for an Internet provider. (In 1993, PPP accounts were rare...)

A3: Hire a consultant to set up a 4-8 line BBS at your home base. Provide an 800-number for all clients to call. This can cost less than a forum rental on a giant online service. This option is the easiest for the clients to use. The drawback is that you must install, pay for, and maintain a BBS. The maintenance should be only a few hours a week due to the nature of an information sharing BBS - without door games, net-mail, files, and chat.

Q1: I live in East Contra Costa County (Babba Zone 93) and badly need low cost (local) Internet access. Do you know of any full Internet providers that have an access number that is local to me?

Q2: Do you know where to find Vision or Vision-2 BBS software?

A: Anyone who knows these answers, please contact BABBA.


Pages 4 and 6 had two ads for the Digital Publishing Company.



Feedback

RE: issue 9, Christian Void emailed us a correction:
In your OS review of Novell DOS 7.0 (issue 9), there is an error. Your article stated that it came with "Full Novell Networking Software". In a sense, this is true, but very misleading. It comes with "Netware Lite", which is a peer-to-peer NOS designed for low-end, non-client/server-based LANs. Yes, it is a networking package, and it is from Novell, but it is not Netware, and is not even remotely compatible with Netware except on a limited basis. Netware Lite, however, is an ideal NOS for small business not needing things such as SQLs, or distributed processing. In early 1994 (2nd quarter) Novell plans to introduce Personal Netware. It will be a replacement for Netware Lite, and will maintain modest compatibility and compliance with Netware 3.xx and above.

In issue 9, a reader asked how he could get a credit-card processing software package to work on a comm port other than COM1. David Hakala emailed us this answer: Your reader with the crippled credit card software needs PORTSWAP.COM, one of the PORTS.ZIP utilities. It swaps the base addresses of COMM ports, so while his software thinks it is talking to COM1, it will actually be communicating with COM2, or wherever his modem is located. Gary Raymond is the author.

In issue 7, a reader asked if there were any PC user groups for Jr. High School age kids. David Hakala emailed us this answer: If anyone would know, it would be the APCUG (Association of PC User Groups). Their Globalnet BBS is at 408-439-9367 in Scotts Valley CA. (www.apcug.org)

In issue 9, a reader asked if a modem could connect with a TDD device.
Evan Platt emailed us this answer: To make a modem emulate a TDD, your modem and terminal program must be capable of 110 baud. Set your modem at: 110 7-E-1. If the person with a TDD calls you, they must send a few SPACE BARS when your modem answers to connect. Also, you must turn Local Echo ON (otherwise you won't know what you are typing). If you call the person with a TDD, they must hit the space bar a few times to get it to connect.

Alfred Deisner emailed us this answer: Newer TDDs have a 300 baud 8-N-1 ASCII mode. ALL TDDs have a standard mode of baudot FSK 110 baud. Baudot is a 5-bit code with all alphabetical characters appearing in upper-case. (There are not enough bits to accommodate lower case characters because only 5 bits are used for each character.) The FSK mark and space tones are not the same as Bell 103, so even the tones are incompatible. Like V.32 modems that are downward compatible to V.22 and Bell 212, new TDDs are reverse compatible to the 110-baud baudot TDDs.



"BABBA BITS"

V.34, V.Fast, V.FC, V.32terbo, V.tbd...
Several new modem standards are floating around these days, and none are set in stone yet. It will be a while before the dust settles, but expect prices for 14.4 Kbps modems to drop very soon. Right now, best guess is we will eventually end up with V.34 as being the standard for 28.8 Kbps modems, and V.32terbo as the standard for 19.2 Kbps modems. At this time, V.32terbo is closer to being 'set in stone'.

V.32 was the first version of a high-speed modem standard. Ter and bis are French words. V.32bis was the second version, and V.32ter is the third (latest) version. V.32terbo is the more common "marketing" word for the V.32ter specification.

Some of the movers and shakers:

Some of these V.32terbo modems are available now at very attractive prices. By the time you read this, prices for 19,200 (and faster) modems will be amazingly low. We recently tested some 19.2 V.32terbo modems, and it is nice to see 2200 cps on ZIP file transfers! (compared to about 1600 cps, on 14.4 Kbps on V.32 modems.) If you are first in line to buy the upcoming V.Whatever modems, you may get to join the "ROM of the Month" club.


First with an affordable V.32terbo
Floreat (www.floreat.com) is among the first companies at the finish line with their innovative V.32terbo external faxmodem, priced at less than $200. Floreat's Modem F/X is based on a new V.32terbo chip, designed by the Phylon Corporation. (Fremont, CA)

The Modem F/X does not have a speaker, it has a telephone handset instead. Software is available that lets you use the handset as a telephone. The standard AT command set controls the volume, and the modem works with or without the handset. Besides being a faxmodem, the ModemF/X has loads of extra features that can be activated through an extended (AT) command set, or with their optional MS-Windows based software package. The ($29) MS-Windows based software package includes: (A Macintosh version of the software will be shipping soon)

In addition to 19,200 and 16,800 connect speeds, the ModemF/X supports all 300-14,400 speed connections. The ModemF/X is a compact, low power design. It runs off 9 volts, making it perfect for the "field". The "plug and play" design is simpler than most other modems - having no DIP switches, no NVRAM, and only 3 LEDs.



A Smart Connector
Piiceon Inc. (www.piiceon.com) offers their new "SmartConnect" connector on their MNP10, PCMCIA compliant, fax modem cards for Apple and IBM PC-compatible notebook computers.

Their robust connector is designed to release at 4 pounds of pulling pressure - without damaging the modem, connector, or computer. (MNP10 is a robust error correction protocol optimized for noisy, less reliable cellular phones.)

Piiceon bundles Award Software International's Cardware, (www.award.com) and Trio (www.trio.com) fax/modem software with all their PCMCIA products. Cardware is a utility software package that allows easy setup of any PCMCIA card. Piiceon makes a wide range of PCMCIA modems for most laptop computers.


A TCP/IP Unix Terminal Solution
IGEL's (www.igelusa.com) new Etherminal 2C, the IGEL company offers a headache-solving, relatively low-cost solution for TCP/IP Unix-based network installations. The Etherminal is a small box that connects to an IBM PC with a VGA/SVGA monitor and keyboard, to form an Ethernet Unix terminal. The Etherminal 2C can monitor up to 8 hosts, and acts as a print and terminal server. The Etherminal 2C works on any full TCP/IP network, including SCO and Linux Unix (including IBM PC-compatible) platforms.

Searchlight has RIP Included
With version 3.5, Searchlight (www.searchlight.com) BBS software is among the first of the BBS packages to fully integrate RIP graphics. (Other BBS packages currently require the use of a RIP-compatible paint/editing program at extra cost and complexity.)

Searchlight's BBS software automatically creates and customizes RIP scripts, including scrolling menus, buttons, etc. Although Searchlight's implementation is complete, a RIP paint program can be used to further customize or animate the user interaction. Searchlight supports all externally-created RIP files as well. Another feature of Searchlight software is that it automatically supports multiport serial boards.

ModemBase Pro v2.0
The Integrated Solutions company recently released version 2.0 of their ModemBase Pro software package. ModemBase is a fully functional, stand-alone database management package. You can design your own database, or read in existing dBASE-3 files. It works with or without a BBS, but is designed to be accessed as BBS door for your callers. It can also be set to answer the phone as a mini-BBS. Callers can do searches on any fields you desire. The user interface and feature set can be configured by the Sysop. Version 2.0 is RIP-compatible and supports intelligent serial cards.

A Great Beginning Modem Book
Hilarie Gardner introduced us to a very good book.
Modems Made Easy (Osborne/McGraw-Hill, $16.95) by modem/online expert David Hakala, is a great guidebook for anyone new to modems. This is a well-written compact book that quickly gets down to the nuts and bolts of getting started and making things work. It covers everything from buying a modem to starting a BBS and everything in between - including the Internet, with MS-Windows and Macintosh modem tips. It is for anyone having basic computer knowledge who wants to fully understand modem issues.


Page 8 had and ad for the MCA Financial Group (www.interest.com/mca).



The Internet Corner - Big Dummy's Guide

(By Thomas Pitre, PhD - http://pitreassociates.com)

Big Dummy's Guide available

Among other great sources of information, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (www.eff.org) has the Big Dummy's Guide to the Internet online at their ftp site. Anyone who has access to a full Internet provider can download this file using the ftp utility.

The guide was written by Adam Gaffic, and is intended for folks with little or no experience with the Internet. It is updated on a regular basis, and the EFF welcomes comments, suggestions, or corrections.

The guide is about 370k (uncompressed), and covers just about everything you need to know, and is very well-written. Gaffic's style is light and fun. Skimming/reading it will probably convince you to sign up with a full-service Internet provider.

Among many other things, the guide lists some interesting ftp sites, arranged by category. With hundreds of ftp sites now on the Internet, the list is far from complete. Liberal use of archie (described in the guide, and in an earlier column in BABBA) will help you find specific files.

The Big Dummy's guide is available on BBSs as a ZIP file. You can also get it from the Internet using ftp. Below is an example of how to get the guide from the Internet to your computer: (// shows our explanations.)

// After you log into your (full) Internet provider,
// use the ftp utility to move to the EFF site.
{a2i} ftp ftp.eff.org
Connected to ftp.eff.org.
ftp.eff.org FTP server ready.

// Log in with the name of anonymous.
Name (ftp.eff.org): anonymous
login ok, email address as password.
// Give your full Internet email address.
Password: babba@yourisp.net
Guest login ok

// Move to the location of the downloads.
ftp> cd /pub/EFF/papers
CWD command successful.
// List the files available for download to your site.
ftp> ls -l
PORT command successful.
11054 Index // Index to all files available here.
// The file we want to get on this trip.
361840 big-dummys-guide.txt
// Same thing in MAC Hypercard Stack.
big-dummys-guide.sit.hqx
// Lots of other files here too! (not shown here)

// Get the file from the EFF and copy it to your site.
ftp> get big-dummys-guide.txt
PORT command successful.
Opening big-dummys-guide.txt
Transfer complete.
369296 bytes received in 27 seconds

// You are done getting the files, so exit this mode.
ftp> close
Goodbye.
// Now that you have the file, so exit ftp.
ftp> bye

// List the file at your local Internet site.
{a2i} ls -l
361840 big-dummys-guide.txt
// Send file to your modem with Zmodem.
{a2i} sz big*.*
rz
// After you verify it is on your hard disk,
// delete it from your Internet provider's hard disk.
{a2i} rm big*.*

The long Internet file name will be truncated to BIG-DUMM.TXT when you download it to an IBM PC. Also, it will be in the Unix flavor of ASCII text, having linefeeds, but no carriage returns. This is hard to view or edit, so you may want to look for the MUD25.ZIP file (By John W. Hansen) available on local BBSs, to replace the LFs with CR/LFs. Since BIG-DUMM.TXT is a huge file, MUD.EXE will take a while to process it. MUD.EXE is very useful for translating ASCII text, among DOS, UNIX, and Macintosh formats.

The Internet guide is available on BBSs as the file archive name of BIG_DUMM.ZIP. (On BBSs, BIG_DUMM.ZIP has already been converted to IBM PC flavored ASCII text.) Stuffit Deluxe (for the MAC) can convert any .ZIP file into a MAC-readable file.



Page 9 had ads for a2i Communications (www.rahul.net), the Monterey Gaming System, and PhoeniX Software Solutions.




Banking with your Modem

(By Rebecca Angeli-Just)

Many California banks now offer electronic banking, using personal computers and modems. The benefits include:

The banking service fee for home use is typically $10 to $15 a month. The computer equipment required is minimal - Almost any PC or MAC, and a 1200 bps (or faster) modem.

Small Business Services
Additional services are available for business customers at an additional cost. The benefits include:
Is Online Banking For You?
If you are paying only a few bills a month, and doing minimal banking activity, it is probably not worth it. The more time you spend each month writing out checks and dropping them in the mail, the more sense it makes to use electronic banking.


Page 10 had an ad for the Tiger Team Information Network.




End of page 10. Go back or go to page 11 or to Mark's home page.