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Issue 20
October 1994

West Coast Online Magazine



About the Cover:
Artwork by Chris Gonzalez, courtesy of the Atlas BBS/Internet Service (www.gilroy.com).



Publisher/Editor: Mark Shapiro

Contributing Editor: Robert Holland
Hardware: Fred Townsend
Internet: Eric Theise
Wireless: Jesus Monroy, Jr.
Operating Systems: Randy Just
Administration: Veronica Shapiro
Production: Steve Kong and David Hayr

Distribution: Sean Andrade, Bill Baker, Roy Batchelor, Leo Bounds, Shannon Bounds, Chris Brown, Jami Chism, Bill Clark, Richard Dubois, Robert Escamilla, Adam Fernades, Phil Gantz, Bob Harris, Jeff Hunter, Phil Intravia, David & Lisa Janakes, Joe Jenkins, Arthur Karl, Wendie Lash, Mark Murphy, MTR, Nitelog, Pete Nelson, Laurie Newell, Ed Ng, Evan Platt, Steve Pomerantz, Alex Riggs, Lee Root, Rochelle Skwarla, Tiger Team, Chris Toth, Chris Ward, and WHT.

Printed at: Fricke-Parks Press (510) 793-6543
Color Separations: Image Color (SJ)




Pages 1, 2, and 3 had full-page ads for Laitron Computers.




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Editor's Notes

WCO - your Internet Magazine

Internet is taking the online world by storm - and BBS software companies are playing catch-up. While a few companies offer full Internet connectivity options, most are just now patting themselves on the back for finally implementing UUCP-based email and newsgroup solutions.

The line between BBSs and other Internet resources is vanishing. It used to cost tens of thousands of dollars to create an Internet site. Soon, you will be able to telnet into many of your favorite BBSs. For a few hundred dollars, a BBS can get a live PPP link to the Internet. For a few thousand dollars, a Sysop can get a full-bandwidth connection to the Internet - if the BBS software supports it.

Free?
As editor of WCO, I am frequently invited to speak about BBSs and their relationship to the Internet. A newcomer to the online world asked: "I just bought a modem; should I get an Internet account, or call free BBSs?" My response was a question to the audience: "How many of you would spend $20 for a good pizza?" About half the hands raised. I said "You people will probably end up on the Internet, the rest of you will probably stick to free BBSs".

This issue is thin because we have a new advertising policy - we stopped printing the free (massive) BBS list. Now, we list BBSs that support or subscribe to our magazine. Everyone likes a free BBS list, but few will support one. Our complete online service listings are still free to download from our BBS or the Internet.

Internet's Future
In spite of a few kinks and glitches, the Internet works fine. It could break if our representatives decide to "fix" it. A free country, a free market, and freedom of information - will keep the Internet strong.



Questions Letters Comments

C: What QL2 are you describing in WCO #19? I got QL2FAX with my 14.4 K faxmodem and it's a dog.

A: We favorably reviewed a version of QL2 bundled with a recent-model, high-end modem. The quality depends on which version of QL2 the modem manufacturer bundles in. If the manufacturer picks Smith Micros cheapest offerings, or bundles in obsolete versions, you will be disappointed.

Q: Sometimes my Internet email isn't answered. Is this normal?

A: Yes, depending on who you are, who you write to, what you write, and how busy the recipient is, email may not be answered every time. How important a message is, and whether it needs a reply is subjective. If your email is always ignored, you should stop sending it. If you get a response from time to time, don't worry about it...

C: I want to warn your readers to test every floppy disk they get. My system became infected from virus-infested software I bought at CompUSA! It was a shrink-wrapped game package, and the install disk was infected. The manufacturer says the disk was not shipped that way. Always virus check every floppy, no matter where you get it!

A: Some large computer/software chains have very liberal return policies. The way we see it, returned software should be sent back to the manufacturer. If a store resells returned software, they have an obligation to label it as such - and to test every disk - not only for viruses, but by comparing the contents of the returned floppies to reference software disks.

The move of software to CD-ROM will help this situation, but read/write CD-ROMS may open the can of worms again.

C: In the September 1994 issue, there was a question from a Sysop who received a message from a user claiming to have uploaded a "virus (trojan)" [sic].

Any virus-infected file uploaded to a BBS remains inert until it is executed. Thus, it is quite safe to move, copy, or perform any other operations on a virus upload as long as one takes care not to execute the infected file. Despite rumors of viruses that can infect a system by performing a DIR or COPY operation, this is not possible on the PC/DOS system architecture.

While a class of viruses known as boot viruses can spread if an infected floppy diskette is booted from, such viruses infect the first sector (the boot sector) of a floppy diskette, not the files on the disk itself. Even if boot virus-infected material were uploaded to a BBS, the file would have to be written back to the system area of the disk - a task no Sysop is likely to do with an uploaded file.

I recommend Sysops not run newly uploaded files on their BBS computer. The cost of a small PC to run uploaded programs is trivial compared to the time required to regenerate your system from backups and the loss of trust from your users. (Aryeh Goretsky, McAfee Associates, Inc.)

A: Thanks for your insight. And thanks to McAfee Associates (www.mcafee.com) for making the online world almost virus-free.

C: On page 5 of the September issue, is a question about a system that 'locks up' when trying to use the COM4 I/O address (2E8h-2EFh). You responded by discussing interrupts. While an interrupt could cause the problem mentioned, it is unlikely. Even if two devices shared the same interrupt, usually it takes a major device such as a disk drive to cause system lock up.

The more likely cause is a graphics accelerator board. Some graphic accelerator boards use the COM4 I/O as a "control" address. This problem can also be caused by using software that actively scans COM ports for devices.

On Page 6 of the same issue, was a scenario regarding a jerk BBS caller who leaves messages about uploading a virus, etc. You mentioned that Caller ID would help reduce, if not eliminate, these problem callers. Every Sysop in California should inundate PacBell (and the PUC) to provide Caller ID in California. The PUC did not "prohibit" Caller ID, they just made some unrealistic requirements of PacBell, and they felt that it would not be profitable. I feel that PacBell should be required to provide Caller ID anyway. Sysops can set up systems to deny callers that "block" their numbers from accessing their boards.

At the same time, the PUC should be "bothered" to rethink their ruling. While Caller ID is not available in Calif., PacBell provides the caller's number to law enforcement officials. Maybe if (Sysops) use this service enough to "annoy" PacBell and authorities, they'll provide us with Caller ID so that we will have the tools to solve our own problems. (George M., Sysop of the Family BBS.)

A: Thanks for your information about the COM conflicts. We agree that all citizens should have access to Caller ID. Another good idea for the PUC and all phone companies to work on is a universally implemented "Go-Away Code".

By entering a go-away code, e.g., three pound signs ("###"), the current call is terminated and the caller can't call you again for e.g., 24 hours. We first learned about the concept of a go-away code in Richard A. Milewski's article in issue 16.

Q: I am confused by the various Internet providers offering their own packages to connect to the Internet. I want to use one of those new front-end programs, which service is best?

A: Pick the Internet Service Provider (ISP) first, then decide which front-end package to use for your shell or TCP/IP-based application (through a SLIP/PPP connection). If you buy a proprietary front-end package, you are locked into using it only on that particular ISP.

Many ISPs choose not to implement proprietary front-ends. Their customers are free to choose among the many commercial/shareware/freeware solutions. New Macintosh/Windows systems already include TCP/IP. Soon, there will be a wide range of low-cost Internet front-end packages appearing on store shelves. For now, you can get the freeware version of Mosaic, as well as Win32s and viewing programs from the ftp site at ftp.ncsa.uiuc.edu. (Most ftp sites let you log in as ftp, on this site you must log in as anonymous.) NCSA's web site is at (www.ncsa.uiuc.edu). Eudora is a TCP/IP email/message manager available as freeware from the ftp site or web site at Qualcomm (www.qualcomm.com).

C: In issue 17, a reader was looking for a utility to stop those horrible beeps, bloops, and other obnoxious noises from the PC speaker. I uploaded BEEP.ZIP and SHUTUP.ZIP. Good luck to fellow lovers of the sounds of silence. (Jonathan Rasmussen)

A: Thank You! Those small files are free downloads on the WCO BBS.




Worth Checking Out

20-5.gif Among many accomplishments, Harley Hahn and Rick Stout write books particularly useful to those using the Internet:

The Internet Complete Reference (Osborne/ McGraw-Hill, $29.95) is 817 pages of solid tutorial and reference. The writing style is accurate, thorough, and interesting - with just the right amount of humor. This is an excellent choice to learn about the Internet. The clearly-presented information is well-organized so you can easily find the information you need. Strongly recommended for all Internet users.

The Internet Yellow Pages (Osborne/ McGraw-Hill, $27.95) is 447 pages of fun. It is also useful, interesting, spicy, racy, and the ultimate reference on where to find things on the Net. For the Internet user, it's the kind of book you don't think you need - but once browsed, you know you'll use it all the time. To get the most out of this phonebook, you need some Internet knowledge. If you know nothing about the Internet, this book might make you want to sign up with a Internet Service Provider.


Page 4 had an ad for Liberty (www.liberty.com).
Page 5 had an ad for Silicon Matchmaker (www.silicon.email.net).



Where to Web

(By Michael Fremont, Internet Roundtable Society)

The Internet is an amazing place. As the phone company commercial says, "If it's not in here, maybe it doesn't exist". Some of the most amazing things are found in the World Wide Web (WWW), a part of the Internet that's only a couple of years old.

The Web is a collection of multimedia "pages" stored on computers all over the world and transparently connected using hypertext links. Each page is one or more files linked to other files on the Internet. Each page is interactively presented as text, audio, images, or movies.

Web pages can be created using an ASCII text editor or with more sophisticated tools which help you insert HyperText Markup Language (HTML) codes. Computers on the Net use HTML codes to determine how to display documents, and where to jump to next when a user clicks on a hyperlink. Graphics, sounds, and movies can be inserted by referencing the appropriate file.

Besides becoming an important tool for personal publishing, a growing number of businesses are using the Web to garner business on the Internet. If you're lucky (for instance, a university student) you can make your own web "homepage" for free. For those who must pay their way for Internet service, making or keeping a Web page is not very expensive. Many companies can help you set up a Web page.

The web is the fastest growing part of the 'net, and it's easy to see why. The Web is:

You need a SLIP/PPP account to access the Web with graphics or multimedia. Some Internet Service Providers (e.g., Netcom, Hooked, Electriciti) sell easy-to-use, proprietary "Net Cruising" packages. Other ISPs can guide you in setting up the freeware Mosaic program. You can also choose from several freeware/shareware/commercial "Net Cruising" packages.

I've put together a list of a few interesting Web sites that show some of the things that can be done with the Web. The creativity is only just beginning... expect really amazing things from the Web in the next year!

This short list should give you a taste of what's on the Web. There's much more - the Stones are at www.stones.com. To see what our homepage looks like, visit us at wbs.net.


Page 6 had ads for PHP-LINCS (www.php.com) and the UFO BBS.

Page 7 had a full-page ad for SLIP.NET (www.slip.net).

Pages 8 and 9 had ads for the Internet Crash Course (www.webdzine.com/index.shtml), DSP.NET (www.dsp.net), Computer College Silicon Valley (www.ccsv.com), Atlantis BBS/Internet service, the Internet Roundtable Society (www.wbs.net), a2i Communications (www.rahul.net), CCnet Communications, the Electric Catalog, and ImagiNET (www.imagin.net).

Pages 10 and 11 had a big ad for California Online, which then merged with West Coast Online, which eventually merged with Verio.

Page 12 had ads for California Internet (www.california.com), Construction Bid Source, and the Olde Stuff, Lincoln's Cabin, IBBS West, iNFormation Exchange, System, and Auto-PC BBSs.




End of page 12. Go back or go to page 13 or to Mark's home page.