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Issue 12 - February 1994

BABBA Magazine - The
Bay Area Bulletin Board Advisor




About the Cover:
Bill Beeman, vice president of KICU Action 36. (www.kicu.com).
Bill is a television pioneer.



Publisher/Editor: Mark Shapiro

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

Distribution: Sean Andrade, Leo Bounds, Chris Brown, Jami Chism, Bill Clark, Perry Defaria, Robert Escamilla, Phil Gantz, Hilarie Gardner, Phil Intravia, Jeff Levine, David & Lisa Janakes, Mark Murphy, Pete Nelson, Mauricio Pineda, Steve Pomerantz, Gary Ray, Alex Riggs, Lee Root, Chuck Spear, the SLUGs, and Tim Smith.

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




The inside cover had a full-page ad for Computerland of Hayward (www.computerland.com)

Page 1 had a full-page ad for Halted Specialties (www.halted.com)

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




Editor's Notes

BABBA is now distributed to more than 1,000 locations and single copies are mailed to over 2,000 locations. Please support our advertisers, thanks!



Questions Letters Comments

Q: Why do some BBSs have more than one phone number, and others have only just one phone number, yet can have multiple callers online? (R.G. of Oakland, CA)

A: The reasons that a multiline BBS can offer a single phone number are busy hunting and call forwarding, both available from the telephone company.

As an example, a ten-line BBS rents ten phone numbers from the telephone company. The Sysop designates one phone number as the primary number to be publicly advertised. Ten modems are connected to ten phone lines, including the primary phone line. The first caller is connected to the primary modem. When the next caller dials, the call is routed to the next available phone number. This process is called busy-hunting, and is available for a nominal charge from the telephone company.

Some Sysops purposely do not have busy-hunting installed. An example would be a low-speed modem for the public on one phone number and a high-speed modem number for donating supporters of the BBS.

A similar technique used by Sysops is call-forwarding. To provide toll-free access to callers in more cities, Sysops arrange to have phone calls forwarded to their local primary BBS telephone number. This takes twice as many phone lines - one phone number at the remote site, and one at the location of the BBS.

C: Your "Pirate" article in the Jan. 94 issue promotes pirates! There is nothing to respect about them and stealing software is a serious crime. (H.I., Belmont, CA)

A: We attempted to present pirates objectively. Yes, stealing software is a crime. If a friend at work loans you a game to copy, it is usually considered "no big deal". This kind of piracy is rampant and generates very little media attention. If a BBS has the same game online, it gets much more attention, when in fact, the crime is similar.

C: Regarding your January 1994 issue. Page 11, your article on Pirate BBSs. I'd like to correct some mistakes in your article.

First your definition of "Elite Pirates" has much to be desired. You seem to say that all pirates use Elite to describe themselves. This is totally false. While all pirates may like to think of themselves as Elite, this is not so. Elite generally refers to the upper echelon of the pirating community. A person who is considered elite could be a member of an elite (respected) pirating group. The majority of pirate BBSs are considered "lame" elite-wanna-be's. There is an established pecking order in the pirate community. The pirate scene is about perceived values of respect and power that takes place between pirate individuals or groups.

Your definition of lamers as being a caller to an elite board is false. Lamers are not callers of Elite boards. Elites call elite boards. Lamers call lamer boards. Both are pirates. The "lamers" are the inexperienced or lower-class pirates who frequent the "lame" boards. There are different degrees of lameness and eliteness.

Pirate BBSs are considered elite when they get 'zero-day warez'. Meaning when a group cracks/releases a 'ware' (commercial cracked piece of software) the elite BBS will get it usually within 12 hours or less. Super-elite boards may advertise their newness in hours ("6-12 hour warez"). This level of distribution is usually the result of the BBS either being a member of a respected pirate group (which means they'd have couriers from that group specifically assigned to them), or by just being an experienced, respected, local board that has built up a user base of "elite" users (users who get the 'warez' really new).

Also your "5 groups" should be 6 groups. You forgot the suppliers. They are the pirate group members who work for software distribution companies or the software companies themselves. These elite pirate groups usually release the cracked 'warez' days before the software actually makes it to the retail level. This is because they have suppliers in their group who work for the companies making the software. These suppliers 'liberate' (steal) the software from their company and usually Federal Express it (next morning delivery) to the group's crackers.

Elite pirates usually didn't care about the (usually game) software itself. Pirating was/is just a means to get respect. It was mostly just us being kids, looking for respect and perceived power.

Please do not post my Internet email address. I am no longer a pirate. Most people like me (former coders and elite pirate Sysops) eventually leave the pirate scene and enter the 'real world' and become respectable. You'd be surprised how many respected shareware authors and large BBS Sysops were one-time-pirates in their youth. It does carry a degree of guilt and embarrassment.

A: No article generated more feedback than our pirate article. The overwhelming majority of our readers enjoyed the article. A few (anonymous) self-proclaimed pirates complained about it. We admit our definition of Lamers was rather lame. Thank you for adding your perspective and knowledge about the pirate world. BABBA's policy is to exclude pirate BBSs from our listings.

Q: Can you list all the BBSs that use Green Technology? (M.B. Sunnyvale, CA)

A: BBSs are not the best candidates for "green" technology. Power-down techniques are not as effective in a BBS application. The goal of Sysops is to have their BBS in constant use. "Green" technology is not new. Every generation of computers and peripherals use comparatively less power. Something to consider is that BBSs are inherently green. BBSs and networks allow worldwide communication without using paper or the energy required to move paper.



Page 5 had ads for IBBS West and the Silicon Matchmaker (www.silicon.email.net).




"BABBA BITS"

BBS Lists Online

BABBABBS.TXT is an ASCII text file of all BABBA-listed BBSs. The file contains an alphabetically-ordered list with our database information that won't fit in this publication. Using any text editor or text-searching utility, you can find any information from our list of high-quality online systems.

BABBABBS.TXT is available online as Freeware. Freeware means it may be freely distributed and used by individuals. It may not be reproduced for any commercial purpose without the written consent of the publisher. This file is a free download on our BBS (408-XXX-XXXX). Also on the BBS are:



Low cost Windows-compatible RS-232 card

Sealevel Systems has introduced their ($89) Duocommodel 3088 2-port serial card as a solution to the problem of serial port contention under DOS, MS-Windows, and OS/2.

The Duocom interface board features user selectable (standard and nonstandard) addresses and IRQ settings for each port. (IRQs 2-5, 7, 10-12, & 15)

The Duocom has a PAL (Programmable Array Logic) option allowing for additional nonstandard and OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) specific addresses. Unlike commodity serial boards that require a single interrupt to be shared between ports (COM1 & COM3 and COM2 & COM4), the DUOCOM allows each port to have its own interrupt. 16550 buffered UARTs, recommended for Windows communications, are standard. An optional software driver package allows more than 4 serial ports under Windows 3.1. (9 ports max.). Sealevel Systems, Inc. (www.sealevel.com) designs and manufactures specialized I/O cards for the IBM PC family including the IBM PS/2 and AT-compatibles.


Advanced Real-Time Video

Media Innovations has introduced their PowerMedia product line. On a single PC AT card, PowerMedia provides a complete multimedia solution - allowing the recording and playback of full-motion video (with audio) using real-time JPEG compression and decompression.

With PowerMedia, a PC computer becomes a high-quality multimedia tool. Video and audio are stored to hard-disk in realtime. Live video is captured at a rate of 30 FPS (Frames Per Second). Audio is CD-quality (up to 44.1 KHz with 16-bit stereo). Once the video is captured, the video clips can be edited or played back from hard disk to the VGA monitor at 30 FPS and 320x240 resolution. PowerMedia is compatible with Microsoft Video for Windows software and uses the JPEG and AVI formats. The video clips can be easily transferred between modem users to provide video mail capabilities.


Zmodem Tool for the Macintosh

Mark/Space Softworks (www.markspace.com) is now shipping their Zmodem file transfer protocol in the form of a Communications Toolbox extension for all Macintosh third-party applications. The Toolbox extension brings the Zmodem file transfer protocol to such third party applications as ClarisWorks, VersaTerm, MacTerminal, and others. The tool features a status window which can be toggled to show more or less detail. The Zmodem Tool includes auto-receive, auto-resume, file batching, and error recovery. File transfers can take place over connections that interpret control characters such as telnet connections, or serial connections using software flow control.

Communicate Lite
Mark/Space Softworks (www.markspace.com) is also the developer of the Communicate Lite terminal program for the Macintosh. Communicate Lite is an easy-to-use communications program allowing simultaneous connections to different online services. For example, one connection session might be to a commercial service over a modem, while another is made to a corporate BBS over ADSP (AppleTalk Data Streaming Protocol), while yet another is made via telnet to a UNIX host. Communicate Lite is modular - users can customize their communications environment by adding/removing tools, such as the Zmodem tool. Besides being easy to use, Communicate Lite has many unique features, including a "voice" confirmation of connections and file transfers.


The New Online Reference Guide

The Online User's Encyclopedia: Bulletin Boards and Beyond (Addison-Wesley, $32.95, www.awl.com) is Bernard Aboba's latest book. This massive collection of online-related information is packed into more than 800 (8 1/2 by 11-sized) pages. Aboba is well known and respected in the online community - and beyond. The Online User's Encyclopedia is not a book, although it does read like one. This encyclopedia covers most of the topics and people involved in the online world. Extra emphasis is placed on Internet resources and networks. This excellent encyclopedia of resources and information is useful to all, and most useful to the intermediate-level student of the online world. The Online User's Encyclopedia is well-written and we recommend it.


PC Life-Saver

The PC Power & Cooling Inc (www.pcpowercooling.com) makes many products of interest to the owner of a BBS or network serving computer. They have two new products that can help prevent disaster on a BBS or network-serving computer. The 110 Alert is a very compact over-temperature alarm module that connects to a spare drive power supply connector. Installation is easy - the 110 Alert is mounted in a convenient location inside the computer.

A common cause of overheating inside a computer is the failure of a cooling fan. If the temperature inside your computer rises past 110 degrees fahrenheit, an alarm sounds to warn you - before serious overheating can occur. The 110 Alert Plus is similar to the 110 Alert, with an added remote sensor that detects cooling fan problems faster. A planned future product will switch off the computer after a predetermined time period elapses, in the case that no one is near to hear the alarm. (As is the case in many Server and BBS computers.)



Pages 6 and 7 had ads for a2i Communications (www.rahul.net), Prestige PC Consulting, and theBay Area Mega Board.



Communication Hardware Requirements

(By Jason G. Yates, programmer at Sealevel Systems (www.sealevel.com)

Today's new high-performance modems and multitasking operating environments, such as OS/2 and Windows 3.x create a need for improved communication devices and ports.

The original PC COM (serial) port was based around the National Semiconductor 8250 UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter) chip. This UART was replaced with the 16450 and eventually the 16550 family of UARTs, which feature higher operating speeds and improved I/O bus timing.

16550
National Semiconductor's improved design 16550 reduced timing requirements by increasing the FIFOs (First In First Out transmit and receive buffers) from 2 to 16 bytes. FIFOs are the devices that hold input and output characters during the conversion of transmitted and received characters. FIFO buffers allow communication software to have higher data rates and fewer interrupts.

In the past, the 16550 was only used if the user required high throughput data communications. Recently, operating environments on the PC have improved to allow multiple applications to execute simultaneously. This is a great advancement for the PC, but there are some drawbacks. The main problem that affects communications in a multitasking environment is a decrease in I/O and interrupt performance. This is caused by a layer of abstraction that the operating system imposes on all system hardware. The operating system needs to manage I/O access to all peripherals in order to multitask all applications properly.

Virtualizing Hardware
Operating Systems virtualize (fake) the presence of the hardware and then allocate access to the hardware on an as-needed basis. When two applications (task or threads) try to use the same hardware at the same time, either a slowdown or an error will occur. Consider the case of Windows 3.1 using COM1 for a serial mouse. You begin a DOS session from Windows, and execute DOSCIM, the Compuserve Information Manager. Because DOSCIM is a DOS application, it directly accesses COM1, causing Windows to notify the user that two independent sources are trying to access the hardware.

Hardware contention management tends to slow down I/O operations. This could result in unreliable data transmission, depending on the speed of the CPU. To combat the trade-off that multitasking has on serial port performance, you can equip your COM ports with 16550 UARTs.

IRQ Sharing
Hardware contention management is also performed on interrupts or hardware IRQs. If two devices are set to the same IRQ (for example COM1 and COM3), both using IRQ4, the multitasking operating system will serialize access to the IRQ. Only one application at a time will be allowed to manage the interrupt.

Many of the popular multitasking operating environments require each port to use a separate IRQ. This does not appear to be a problem until you take inventory of the available IRQs in your system. The average PC is set up with COM1 and COM2 using IRQs 4 and 3, and LPT1 and LPT2 using IRQs 7 and 5. This does not leave many options to choose from on your typical multifunction I/O card. To make matters worse, if you have any additional hardware in your system, (sound card, scanner, etc.) each of these devices typically require a unique IRQ.

Most BBSs have downloadable utility programs (such as SYSCHECK.EXE) to help you map the particular interrupt and IRQ usage on your PC. The ideal I/O card should give each COM port a 16550 UART and a generous supply of IRQ options. This will satisfy your multitasking operating environment by letting each of your other peripherals occupy a unique IRQ.

What's Next?
As the computer industry rapidly creates new products and standards, you can expect additional changes in (serial) COM port hardware requirements. In the coming year, there will be a move to auto-configurable 'Plug and Play' devices. These new devices interact with the system board and operating system and automatically configure ports to nonconflicting hardware settings (I/O address, IRQ, etc.). You can expect Plug and Play to be the new buzzwords for late 1994.

There will also be a move toward device-independent serial communications. This will allow nonstandard hardware, for example synchronous communication cards or DMA serial ports, to be accessed with off-the-shelf serial communication packages. This will allow data rates well over 115.2 kbps to be obtained. Multiport serial cards (eight or more ports) will also become more accepted as standard.

Windows NT supports a few non-intelligent multiport serial cards. Future versions of Windows are rumored to support more than four COM ports. The overwhelming majority of today's serial cards are nonintelligent, meaning they have no CPU or memory. Intelligent serial cards allow high-speed communications, with very modest processor demands. Currently, intelligent serial cards are relatively expensive.

Conclusion
When you upgrade your computer, don't forget the COM ports. Additional IRQ options and 16550 UARTs are two features that will soon become minimum requirements for serial ports.



Page 8 had an ad for the Automobile Network.



BBS Network Lists

We're starting a (database) list of BBS/Online networks that extend into Northern California. Most of this information was provided to us by the following BBSs and individuals:
Anathema Downs BBS, CPU, CyberCulture, Dimension Y, Information Exchange, Tiger Team, The Zone, and Mr. Wolfgang Henke.

This month, we're printing the list. (After this issue, it will be a free download on our BBS and ftp site.):

Name: BodhiNet #BBSs: 12+ Scope: World-Wide #Conferences: 15+ Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: Fido Unique Qualities: Buddhist network run in a democratic framework. Aspects of Buddhism and Amnesty International. Soon to be ported to the Internet via "listserve" format.

Name: Bytebrothers #BBSs: 50+ Scope: Western USA #Conferences: 5+ Private Mail: No MSG Type: QWK Unique Qualities: Sexual-oriented, and very outspoken.

Name: CALNET #BBSs: 100+ Scope: California #Conferences: 10+ Private Mail? No MSG Type: Fido Unique Qualities: The only network exclusively carried by systems in California. A great way to meet folks on the west coast and the Bay Area. Growing fast!

Name: CIRCUITNET #BBSs: 1,500+ Scope: World-Wide #Conferences: 80+ Private Mail? No MSG Type: Fido Unique Qualities: The only network exclusively carried by Spitfire BBS systems. Much more "personable" than the larger nets, with a great variety of areas.

Name: FIDONET #BBSs: 10,000+ Scope: World-Wide #Conferences: 100+ Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: Fido (sometimes QWK) Unique Qualities: The first, foremost, and largest hobbyist BBS network.

Name: FxNET (Fornax Network) #BBSs: 33+ Scope: California & Colorado #Conferences: 35+ Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: Fido Unique Qualities: Interesting, rapidly growing network. Less rules than most larger networks. Several networked door games for inter-BBS competition, and over a hundred satellite linked file areas.

Name: ILink #BBSs: 100+ Scope: North America #Conferences: 250 Private Mail? No MSG Type: QWK Unique Qualities: Many conferences. Many product support conferences.

Name: Intelec #BBSs: 200+ Scope: World-Wide #Conferences: 250+ Private Mail? No MSG Type: QWK Unique Qualities: Many conferences. Many product support conferences.

Name: Internet #BBSs: 2,500,000+ Scope: World-Wide #Conferences: I Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: RFC 822 format, TCP/IP transport Unique Qualities: Most universal and useful private email system. Largest network in the world. Has a bit of everything. Requires direct or indirect access to a Unix-based Internet provider. Usenet is typically available over the Internet.

Name: ITCnet (International Telecommunications Network) #BBSs: 4000+ Scope: North America #Conferences: 200+ Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: Fido Unique Qualities: A large net, covering many people, yet has only a moderate amount of message traffic.

Name: JETnet #BBSs: 30+ Scope: California #Conferences: 25+ Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: Fido Unique Qualities: Interesting net, heavy on political discussions, and offering the inter-BBS Barren Realms Elite door game.

Name: OCRNET (Online Computer Resource Network) #BBSs: 70+ Scope: North America #Conferences: 10+ Private Mail? No MSG Type: Fido Unique Qualities: Support for OCR's product line. Help with BBS/Networks, setups and troubleshooting.

Name: OneNet (The OneNet Member Network) #BBSs: 1000+ Scope: World-Wide #Conferences: 100+ Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: FirstClass (MAC) Unique Qualities: Macintosh based. Only network exclusively carried by FirstClass BBS systems.

Name: PRNET (Paul Revere Network) #BBSs: 80+ Scope: USA & Europe #Conferences: 8+ Private Mail? No MSG Type: Fido Unique Qualities: Pro-Second Amendment, Firearms, Police. Participation by several high-level NRA board members. Very user friendly.

Name: RaVeNET (Rob and Vince's Electronic Network) #BBSs: 4+ Scope: Bay Area #Conferences: 10+ Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: Fido Unique Qualities: Programmer's Hangout. "Educated Crowd", with some great health and sex, political, and automotive discussions. Always open-minded, and always fun.

Name: RBBSNET #BBSs: 2000+ Scope: World-Wide #Conferences: 100+ Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: Fido Unique Qualities: The second oldest and largest of amateur networks. Was exclusively for RBBS BBS systems, has now expanded to all types of systems. Most conferences are "ported" from FIDOnet.

Name: RIME #BBSs: 1500+ Scope: World-Wide #Conferences: 450+ Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: QWK Unique Qualities: Many conferences, product support conferences. PCBoard BBSs use Postlink Software. No Front-end required.

Name: Rodeonet #BBSs: 15+ Scope: Bay Area #Conferences: 12+ Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: Fido Unique Qualities: An interesting net, covering all types of conversation.

Name: SERVNET (Survivalist Network) #BBSs: I 60+ Scope: North America #Conferences: 16+ Private Mail? No MSG Type: Fido Unique Qualities: Pro-Family & family values. Files ranging from survival techniques to encryption techniques.

Name: Smartnet #BBSs: 200+ Scope: World-Wide #Conferences: 300+ Private Mail? No MSG Type: QWK, Fido Unique Qualities: Vendor supported. Large Net, offering fast answers to many computer-related problems.

Name: TREKnet (Star Trek Net) #BBSs: 25+ Scope: Bay Area #Conferences: 16+ Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: Fido Unique Qualities: Covers Star Trek and all kinds of science fiction like no other net.

Name: UNI (UN'I-Net) #BBSs: 250+ Scope: World-Wide #Conferences: 200+ Private Mail? No MSG Type: QWK, Fido Unique Qualities: Large Network with friendly administrators and few rules. Offers a wide variety of conferences.

Name: Usenet #BBSs: 2,500,000+ MSG Type: Bnews/Cnews format, UUCP or TCP/IP transport. Unique Qualities: Largest network in the world. Available through Internet providers and some BBS systems.

Name: UsNetMail #BBSs: 200+ Scope: World-Wide #Conferences: 65+ Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: Fido, QWK Unique Qualities: Relaxed atmosphere, No hassles or confusion. An easygoing Net.

Name: WME (World Message Echo) #BBSs: 50+ Scope: World-Wide #Conferences: 30+ Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: QWK Unique Qualities: Good support-oriented conferences.

Name: ZoNET #BBSs: 40+ Scope: World-Wide #Conferences: 20+ Private Mail? Yes MSG Type: Fido, QWK Unique Qualities: Younger crowd whose messages reflect a great understanding of Telecommunications.


Pages 9, 10, and 11 had ads for the Olde Stuff, Monterey Gaming System, Eyes on the Skies (www.hooked.net/~tvs) and Mookie's Place (mookie.relay.net) BBSs.




End of page 11. Go back or go to page 12 or to Mark's home page.