West Coast Online
Version 2.11 (# 23)
Circulating 40,000 Copies
Laporte on Computers: Every Saturday, 10 AM to 1 PM, Leo Laporte hosts the Laporte on Computers radio show on KSFO 560 AM in San Francisco. (Update as of 1-1-98: Leo has moved to KGO radio in San Francisco, Saturday nights from 7 to 10 PM. For updates on Leo, visit his web page at www.leoville.com. The KSFO radio Saturday 10 AM to 1 PM slot has been taken over by Bob O'Donnell, with his popular O'Donnell on Computers show. Visit Bob's web site at www.everythingcomputers.com.)
Leo has a large following who appreciate his friendly approach to computer issues. He calls 'em as he sees 'em, and he interviews interesting guests from the computer and online industry. Previous to his KSFO radio show, Leo created, produced, and hosted On Computers, the popular high-tech talk show syndicated to more than 60 stations. Besides writing for major magazines and books, Leo has been in the computer, online, and broadcasting business for many years. Last, but not least, Leo is co-host and managing editor of The Personal Computing Show, a weekly television show for beginning computer users, produced by Ziff-Davis Broadcasting.
RadioNet: Every Sunday, 10 AM to Noon, John Adams, Fred Barling, John Bates, Bob Hogg, and Cynthia Zwerling bring you the RadioNet radio show on KSCO 1080 AM in Santa Cruz. (Update: This show is off the air, but is on the Net now at www.radionet.com.) The show covers the Internet, communication, social and technical issues, virtual reality, and CD-ROMs. RadioNet features interesting guest speakers each week. Upcoming Guests:
Jan. 8: Free Radio Berkeley's Stephen Dunifer on the controversial issue of micropower broadcasting. Stephen is currently involved in a lawsuit over broadcasting without an FCC license. Should there be more public access to the radio airwaves?
Jan. 15: Steve Elston, Program Coordinator for Smart Valley, Inc. and Mark Zimmer, creator of the Fractal Design Painter program.
Jan. 22: Chris Knight of Visual Software. Chris is also known for his role as Peter Brady on the Brady Bunch TV show. Also, David Temkin from the Newton Division of Apple Computer will cover handwriting recognition and the evolution of Personal Digital Assistants.
Jan 29: Mark Shapiro, publisher of West Coast Online magazine. WCO covers online services, started as BABBA magazine, and is now an Internet Service Provider.
Feb. 5: Purchasing software directly off the Internet - John Pettit, Cybersource.
Internet Marketing Awards: Five individuals and companies have been recognized and awarded for their "special marketing efforts and successes" on the Internet:
Topping the list is PizzaHut for its World Wide Web site which offers online pizza ordering.
The second award went to Id Software for distributing the first episode of DOOM (the best-selling computer game) on the Internet, The instant acceptance of the game on the "Net" led to the enhanced commercial version, which became a best-seller.
Netscape Communication Corporation, received the number three award for Netscape, the web access software given away freely on the Net. The company has recently announced its commercial Netsite server line and version 1.0 of Netscape Navigator.
The Internet Shopping Network won the fourth award. This successful computer shopping Web site grew and created enough value to be acquired by the Home Shopping Network.
The fifth and last award had to be cut in half to settle a tie. Both Gleason Sackman, for his Net-Happenings newsgroup, and Glenn Fleishman, for his role as moderator of the Internet Marketing Discussion List, shared the number five spot.
PBBS includes fax support, so you can receive faxes on the same phone line as your BBS. The point-and-click configuration menu makes setup easy. PBBS also offers a low-cost, easy-to-use Telnet package so callers can surf the Internet.
A fully functional shareware version can be obtained from their support BBS at (516) 822-7396, Compuserve, AOL, or by ftp: powerbbs.ic.net. (/pub/PBBSW35A.ZIP and /pub/PBBSW35B.ZIP) (www.powwwerworkgroup.com)
Violent and action-packed, Doom is a hit everywhere, especially BBSs and the Internet, with at least five Usenet newsgroups devoted to it. Doom files and information are available on many ftp sites, including: ftp.orst.edu (/pub/gaming/doom), ftp.luth.se (/pub/doom), ftp.iglou.com (/doom), and ftp.cdrom.com (/pub/doom)
January guest speaker: Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (www.cpsr.org). James Holsman and members of the CPSR's Palo Alto Steering Committee will be talking about the role CPSR plays in formulating and influencing public policies regarding computers and telecommunications; in particular, how the people who create computers and software are responsible for what their creations are used for. Also covered will be privacy, rights in cyberspace, and the responsibilities we share as creators of new technologies.
Companies that place newsletters, bulletins, or product/service descriptions are automatically included in an online database, where members use keyword searches to find the service or product they need. Associations can place newsletters, job bulletins, seminar schedules, and announcements on the network at no charge.
The Eye Mouse is an electrode interface that enables individuals to manipulate a common "mouse pointer" on a personal computer using their eyes only. Electrical current on the surface of the skin is amplified, filtered, offset, and fed to a microprocessor.
The left/right/up/down EOG voltages are mapped to cursor coordinates on the computer screen. Position shift occurs after the eyes have looked in a direction for half a second, and the cursor continues moving in that direction until it is stopped by the double blink of the eyes. Because it takes one second for most individuals to blink their eyes twice, mouse movement is limited to one centimeter per second. Test results showed that disabled persons were able to make about 10 random selections per minute. This design has the potential of improving the quality of life for people who previously needed an interpreter to communicate yes/no eye blinks.
Two Crash Courses are available - navigating, and placing information on the Internet - in one full day. The four-hour Overview starts at 8am and provides tutorial and online tours of Internet's structure. The course covers connectivity, communications and information media, email, usenet, mailing lists, gopher, veronica, world wide web and more. Geared for people with novice to intermediate skill levels. Includes Eric Theise's supplemental readings and a continental breakfast.
The three-hour Entrepreneur's Internet course starts at 1:30pm, and takes participants behind the scenes. Attendees learn how to use Internet services and resources to set up shop and attract customers. Also, the how-to's of culture-sensitive ways of communicating with customers and carrying out market research. Some Internet familiarity and/or experience is required. Includes Eric Theise's supplemental readings.
Page 6 had ads for the Silicon Matchmaker (www.silicon.email.net), and the Construction Bid Source.
Page 7 had ads for Tiger Team (www.wenet.net/~csangha/), THE VIRTUAL MIRROR (www.vmirror.com), and Cincinnati Microwave (which was acquired by Sierra Wireless www.sierrawireless.ca).
"Hi, I'm from the XYZ company, I'd like to send you a press release on our hot new Internet product - I know your readers will want to read about it."
I say sure, just email it to email@example.com. "What's your fax number?, should I mail it to you?" I say, no, please email it, it makes it much easier to import into our magazine.
All too often, the next thing I hear is "It's not available by email" or "We don't have access to email". A well-known manufacturer of Internet email software products responded to email to info@so_and_so.com with 16 pages of faxes.
Email is, and will remain, the most important aspect of the Internet, BBSs, and other online applications. Compared with telephone calls, faxes, and conventional mail, email saves time, energy, work, and paper.
A: The cheapest way is to get an Internet shell account with your own domain name. You could then advertise your Internet name as firstname.lastname@example.org. People send email, then you dial into your ISP, read it and respond. You could also arrange an ftp site on your provider's machine so customers can get files relevant to your business.
The next level would be to rent a WWW page on your ISP's machine. This allows World Wide Web browsers to visit your online "store". Payment is still a sticky issue. Releasing credit card information over any network is risky without encryption. Most commercial Web server packages now include payment security - but these packages are (currently) very expensive.
The next level is for a business to have its own Unix server and get a continuous connection to the Internet from your ISP. This costs thousands, but makes you a real, professional Internet site. In addition to Internet connectivity, consider a business-based BBS. Many companies maintain a BBS for customer support and orders. With the right software, you can connect your BBS to the Internet and get the best of both worlds.
Q: What is a router?
A: A router is a computer with two or more digital communication (packet) interfaces and a routing table containing destination networks and interfaces. When a router receives a packet of data, it looks up the packet's destination address in its routing table and chooses the interface it should use to send the packet.
Q: What's the difference between a router and a bridge?
A: A router only accepts packets of data sent specifically to its network address, and that match the expected protocol and speed. A router only outputs packets with destination addresses that match predefined entries in its routing tables.
A bridge forward packets - regardless of protocol. In a simple network installation, a bridge can be configured to send packets from one LAN to another only when the two host computers are on different LANs. However, because bridges don't know about upper layer protocols, bridges can waste bandwidth by forwarding packets that do not need to be forwarded. Direct Internet access usually requires a router.
Q: How long does it take to register a Domain Name? Can I get a certificate for a Domain Name Registration?
A: Domain Name Requests are sent to the Internic, a government-sponsored organization. Due to the flood of new requests for domain names, response time from the Internic has slowed.
Most ISPs process a customer's Domain Name Request within a day or two. This involves filling out an application with information about the customer and the ISP's network connection. Then, the application is emailed to the Internic, where response times vary from reasonable to ridiculous.
After the Internic approves and registers the name, the ISP makes changes to your account to enable you to use the new name. Six months ago, the average delay from the Internic was less than 2 weeks. Recently, we have witnessed delays of up to 2 months. Hopefully your delay won't be that long!
No certificate is created with a new domain name. However, anyone with a page-layout or certificate making program can make a nice gift certificate. Perhaps your ISP has such software and can make it "official" by signing it, perhaps for a nominal fee. Domain names are first-come, first-serve, and you can't bank on a name until the Internic blesses it. That makes it a good idea to request the domain name early.
Q: Many ftp sites have text (e.g., README) files, but it's a pain to get them, exit ftp, and then download or cat (display) them. Is there a way around this?
A: Add a minus (-) sign to your ftp get command, e.g., get README -.
Q: I have a 28.8 kbps modem, but I can only Xmodem transfer files at about 600 characters per second. How can I make it go faster?
A: Xmodem is not efficient. The problem with Xmodem is that it sends 128 bytes, then it waits... for an ACK or a NAK signal to come back from the receiving side. When Xmodem receives an ACK, it sends the next 128 bytes, then it waits again...
If there is any delay between the two locations (e.g. satellite links on long distance calls, or the Internet) Xmodem spends most of the time waiting. When possible, use a fast, full-flow protocol instead, such as Zmodem or Ymodem/G.
C: I found out what PCMCIA stands for: People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms.
A: Some prefer the original wording: Personal Computer Memory Card International Association.
Q: Here is an excerpt of what was spread all over the online community a few weeks ago: "Be aware of a new virus called GoodTimes. It is email that obliterates your processor and hard drive. The act of reading the ASCII file causes the GoodTimes program to initialize and execute." I suspect this message was a load of you-know-what, but is this kind of thing possible?
A: Although the mainstream media covered this story a few weeks ago, and we've covered the subject before, it's important enough to respond again.
Your suspicion is correct, it's pure nonsense. No terminal program or BBS package lets email or files write to, or have access to, the operating system. Viruses are spread by executing binary files, and are almost always avoided by testing all new files entering your hard drive, via floppy disk, modem, CD-ROM, or network.
C: I found another (besides the one mentioned in issue 19) low-cost modem that claims to support V.42bis/MNP-5 data compression on the box. It does, if you use their software.
This modem also refuses to work with a local BBS I frequently call. (I've called it from a variety of other modems, ranging from ancient 1200 baud models to generic 14.4s with no problems in the past.)
This generic lemon modem has no manufacturer name on the box, with a model number of 14.4FX3 INTERNAL DATA FAX MODEM. Look for this model number because the manufacturer, Aspen Peripherals, says that they are an OEM, manufacturing this product for several different brand names.
A: Yes, modem features should never be tied to specific software programs. And price isn't the only way to judge anything.
Q: I am having trouble downloading with Zmodem after telneting to a BBS (like the ones listed in issue 22.) It just stutters and coughs, does Zmodem work on a telnet session?
A: Zmodem is an 8-bit file transfer protocol. Telnet can be invoked in either 7-bit (ASCII) or 8-bit (binary) modes. When you start your telnet session, make sure you are in binary mode. E.g., from a shell account prompt:
open (telnet site name or IP address)
You may have to hit enter a few times to establish the connection. Don't expect the same Zmodem speeds you would get if you downloaded the file from a dial-up BBS. Note that the binary mode of telnet may disable some other telnet file transfer modes. You can toggle binary again to set it back to ASCII mode. See the Unix man page on telnet to see its other features.
Q: I accidentally created a file in my Unix shell directory named ( -|more ). I've tried everything, but I can't remove it, any ideas?
A: (Rahul Dhesi, a2i Communications,
The Unix OS allows a filename to contain almost any character, including blanks, special characters (such as #*$&%) and control characters (such as ^A, ^B, ^C, ...). However, it's not always easy to manipulate such file-names. Here are some hints:
% rm '#4 %&'
% rm 'jkl'jkl' (won't work)
% rm "jkl'jkl" (should work)
However, double quotes won't always work, especially if the filename has any back-quote (') or dollar ($) characters. In such cases, more drastic measures are needed.
% rm 'jkl!43' (won't work)You can also carefully select some wildcard characters to match the filename. The * character matches anything, and the ? character matches any one character. To delete a file named St(rangely-$named+file, you could use one of these commands:
% rm 'jkl\!43' (should work)
% rm St*
% rm *file
The first deletes all filenames that begin with 'St'. The second deletes all filenames that end with 'file'. Pick the wildcards carefully, so you don't delete the wrong file.
Finally, in the case of a file named -|more, you must use a combination of techniques - single quotes, and prepending ./ to the name.
rm './-|more' (works)
There is little doubt that online services are experiencing explosive growth. We have all seen and heard the television and radio commercials for online services. You may have heard the political opportunism too.
"If California could recover the money it spends on illegal aliens, it could afford to provide Internet services to every fourth and fifth grade in this state" - Governor Pete Wilson, campaign Oct. 1994.
"Online services are not very popular" - Bill Gates, APCUG (Association of PC User Groups) presentation November 16th, 1994.
"At Borland we can now order pizza over the Internet. The trouble is I haven't figured how to download the pizza yet" - Philippe Kahn, WARP party a few hours later November 16th, 1994.
Two different CEOs of multi-billion dollar software companies with very different views. Who's right? How far is Bill's tongue in his cheek when he makes such a statement? Microsoft is certainly hedging their bets. Bill boasts that Microsoft has the most frequently accessed Web Pages on the Internet. It also has spent a fortune researching and expanding online services in recent years.
Or, could he be serious? Let's take a look at Microsoft's history. MSDOS defaulted to 1200-baud serial ports. The MODE command would only permit resetting to 9600 baud, so obviously the serial port wasn't taken seriously then. Then Windows came along. It contained a terminal program (not to be confused with a useful modem program). The terminal program contains such useful protocols as Xmodem and Kermit - both protocols as modern as Egyptian hieroglyphics and used only as last recourse by serious modem enthusiasts.
Or, how about this dialog overheard between a
Microsoft representative and a user group:
Microsoft: Could you send me a copy of your user group mailing list?
User Group: Sure! That information is available online. You can download it by calling...
Microsoft: We don't use modems at Microsoft. Could you FedEx it?
Never mind that half of America is re-doing business cards to add FAX numbers and Internet addresses. Microsoft doesn't use modems.
Chicago offers a fresh start and a chance to atone for the sins of the past. Will Chicago take the serial port seriously or will it use the excuse that the serial port can't support a GUI environment, so why bother. Early previews of Alpha code used a background FAX transfer as a demo. Good news, particularly if Microsoft is including the preemptive multitasking operating system necessary for unobtrusive background transfers - rather than throwing Pentium horsepower at an ailing Windows 3.1 engine. Will we see efficient 32-bit communications?
There was a saying in MIS circles that you would never get fired for buying Big Blue. There was another saying amongst software companies that you were betting the farm if you bet against Microsoft. Are companies betting against Microsoft? Perhaps, just a little?
Clearly Big Blue has been trying to distance itself from Microsoft while maintaining compatibility with Microsoft in almost every way. One clear success appears to be the inclusion of Internet access support within WARP. Not only do they win favor with users but they also funnel coins into the coffers of their sister Internet access provider company.
Novell has been providing FAX and modem server access for some time by supporting third-party applications fairly well. Newly acquired WordPerfect also has FAX in place capability with its v6.0 DOS and Windows versions. AMI PRO will not indicate if their next release will have FAX in place capability.
Borland continues to offer the programmer alternatives to Microsoft with so-so communications libraries for their C/C++ products. One gets the idea they would rather challenge OLE (while supporting it well) and let third-parties supply the communications libraries.
So, it still looks like communications will be fertile ground for small and medium-sized software companies. Microsoft can still play the spoiler. Will they? One indication might be the Wall Street Journal article about Windows 95 (formerly named Chicago). The article discusses some of the delays in Windows 95 caused by interfacing the old Windows 3.1 code with the new 32-bit OS. It also mentioned the inclusion of Internet access, or should we say an Internet interface since Access has already been taken. Will this be another anemic Windows terminal program? Or will it be at least something capable of launching a multitasking Gopher? Got a farm to bet?
Page 9 had ads for RadioNet (www.radionet.com), and a2i Communications (www.rahul.net).