Internet • Connectivity • Technology • BBSs • Online Services • Networking

West   Coast   Online
Version 3.05 (#29)     Circulating 40,000 Copies     August 1995

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CommNet

The poor performance/feature set of the built-in Windows terminal program (Note: opening a MSDOS window and typing telnet works well for some.) launched a plethora of communication programs. Many of these are overdone and overpriced, have too many features, and a steep learning curve. For those preferring to communicate from within Windows, Radient Software's CommNet is powerful enough for most users and simple enough for the first-time BBS caller.

With a SLIP/PPP connection, CommNet can connect to multiple telnetable BBSs or Unix shells. CommNet can also be used as a default telnet client application for a WWW Browser such as Netscape/Mosaic. CommNet is $ 29.95. A demonstration version is available from Radient Software (www.radient.com).


WebPost

Looking for a quick and easy way to inform the world about your new web site? If so, OnPro Corporation's new WebPost is a must-visit. WebPost provides a fast and easy way to post to the top 25 Internet directories and search engines. Directories include Yahoo, Netscape, Lycos, NCSA, Yellow Pages, and others. WebPost is currently free of charge at http://www.sme.com/webpost. (Update: This service is now provided by Submit It! Inc., at http://free.submit-it.com).

Internet connection Help

The InterNIC Information Services Reference Desk responds to requests for information about the Internet or net addresses. They provide listings of Internet providers, books and documents to assist organizations and individuals in getting connected, and pointers to network tools and resources. (800) 444-4345   info@is.internic.net or www.internic.net

Mac Internet Tools

The most valuable ftp site we've found for Macintosh Internet files is ftp.tidbits.com/pub/tidbits. The best WWW site we've found for Mac files in general is www.macfaq.com/software.html.


29cc.gif Conflict Catcher

Compared to many other operating systems, the Macintosh OS is elegant and robust. At first, one might think a product such as Casady & Greene's (www.casadyg.com) Conflict Catcher would be unnecessary.

Conflict Catcher replaces and greatly exceeds the Mac's Extension Manager, the software that controls which TSRs (Terminate and Stay Resident in memory) and drivers will be loaded when the computer starts up.

Conflict Catcher (CC) gives realtime descriptions of the function of each extension and its association with other extensions. It controls which extensions load, and in what order - supervising and verifying each extension as it loads - and can prevent certain types of "Sad Mac" startup crashes.

We tried CC on all of our Macs, and in most cases, CC failed to offer anything except the reassurance that all was well. However, CC showed its stuff on two of our problem Macs. On an old Mac LC2 that sometimes locks up during periods of in activity, CC found a damaged startup file. When we replaced it as CC suggested, the lockups disappeared. Our other problem Mac was the one we use for testing software. Months ago, it lost the ability to make a PPP connection to the Internet. Reloading System 7.5.1 and MacPPP did not help. CC reported and corrected duplications of network-related files and now this Mac can again browse the Web!

CC retails for about $100, although it is often bundled with other software or sold at a steep discount. If you can't take advantage of a discount, is it worth $100? If you have one well-behaved Mac, then probably not. If you have several Macs, or a Mac having a peculiar problem, then Conflict Catcher will likely be a wise investment.


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Better Bad News

(sam@wco.com) The George Coates Performance Works offers must-see theatre events at 110 McAllister at Leavenworth in San Francisco. The theatre is decorated with light and a curtain of moving art. In the distance, a flock of dove-shaped birds fly off the screen out over the stage and audience. Light airy sprites (at an actual distance of 100 feet) flit and dart 30 feet away.

Remember 3D comics and cardboard glasses with red and blue lenses? Put them on and the super-heros flew off the page. Here you wear electronic glasses which enable 3D virtual reality. Everything between foreground and back-ground is in focus. And this projection is alive (continually redrawn), able not only to change but to warp and morph. One moment an idyllic country stream, the next moment outer space. Or inner space.

On this field of depth, the Nowhere Band presents a fast-paced, funny, and topical satire of the online community and the business of technology. Providing an absorbing hour, good and evil rock and roll across a tapestry of technology provided by Hot Java.

The actors play within the technology (almost transparently) moving in and out of real and virtual spaces with polish. They integrate the technology with a smooth and well-directed performance. In front of the screen, actors are on stage in traditional relationship to the audience. Behind the screen, they are on virtual stages ranging from exploded graphics to rendered 3D objects and spaces. A new experience! Check out the Performance Works web site for information about future productions. The box office on the web at www.georgecoates.org


Good Radio Shows

If you are an early bird, check out Brian Cooley's show 6-8 AM every Saturday and Sunday on 95.7 FM and 1550 AM in San Francisco, CA. Brian is also founder of the www.commanders.com website, devoted to James Bond (007) movies, etc.
(Update: Brian now works at CNET Radio, which provides 3 audio webcasts each day on technology-related topics . Brian Cooley rounds up the latest in desktop computing and the Internet. You can listen either during a live broadcast, or on-demand via the RealAudio player at http://radio.com.)

At a more decent hour, listen to RadioNet, broadcasting from 10 AM to Noon each Sunday on 1080 AM. (RadioNet is now longer on the air, but is still around on the Internet at www.radionet.com.)

ShadeTree's Plug-Ins

ShadeTree Software offers a series of "plug-ins" for desktop publishing software such as PageMaker and QuarkXPress. Plug-ins are utilities that fit inside larger software programs to add functionality.

Unlike clip-art, the ShadeTree plug-ins create custom Encapsulated PostScript artwork in real-time. The examples on this page were created in seconds with ShadeTree's FRAEMZ, STARZ, and ARROWZ products. 29-8-star.gif

Although these products work flawlessly, the ability to make an infinite variety of images can make it tough to make an "average" one quickly. ->



> <-- the FRAEMZ libraries are $99. Demonstration versions of these products (for Mac and Windows) are available from ShadeTree Marketing , email: 74640.3466@compuserve.com. (Update: These products are now available at www.pluginsource.com/pagemaker/)


The Speed Leader

U.S. Robotic's top of the line "V.Everything" Courier modem series can now reach 33.6 kbps over normal voice telephone lines. USR's new modem software follows the latest recommendations of the ITU standards committee. (The ITU has recently settled on 33.6 kbps as the final enhancement to the V.34 standard.)

Owners of the V.Everything Courier modems can upgrade by loading a software patch into Flash ROM. Besides a top speed of 33.6 kbps, USR's latest software enhances data throughput at any connection speed between other V.Everything modems. For now, the top speed works only on links between upgraded V.Everything modems. Connections at 33.6 kbps with other modems will be possible - if they can be upgraded to the enhanced version of V.34.

The new USR software is available free to owners of Courier V.Everything and V.FastClass desktop modems that have Flash ROM capabilities. The new software will be included in all new Courier and Total Control modem products. Courier owners can download the new software (usrsdl-33.6.exe - yes, that is correct, a DOS program with an invalid DOS file name.) from USR's ftp site (ftp.usr.com). Additionally, the software is available on USR's BBS, (708) 982-5092.   (Update: USR's web page at   www.usr.com  is the place to get all USR upgrades/information.)



29-8-book.gif                 The Usenet Handbook
(O'Reilly & Associates [www.ora.com], $24.95, ISBN 1-56592-101-1) by Mark Harrison, is the new definitive guide to understanding Usenet, the world's largest electronic message forum.

The Usenet Handbook balances technical information, insight, and practical tips. This is a really good book - interesting and fun to read. The only two annoyances we found were that the pine / pico programs were not mentioned more predominantly, and the sidebars are printed on a grey pattern, making them hard to read.


Windows 95 Netscape

Netscape (www.netscape.com) is the most popular web browser; estimates are that it accounts for 75 percent of web-browser traffic on the Internet. Joining the bandwagon of products for Windows 95 is Netscape Communications' Netscape Navigator. Version 1.2 (public beta-test) of Netscape Navigator works with either Windows or Windows95 - and is free (via download) to students and staff in education, charities, nonprofit organizations, and for evaluation by individuals and companies. When the final release of Netscape Navigator is available, licensed copies will be available for purchase. Pricing starts at $39 per user.

Top Disk Duplicator?

Micro System Design's Disk Dupe is an excellent floppy disk duplication program. It features automatic formatting, disk change sensing, byte-by-byte comparing, Relay and Cascade copying, 5.25" to 3.5" disk conversions, support for Microsoft's 1.68 MB DMF format, and CRC verification of disk images. Priced at $29, you can ftp a demonstration version from wuarchive.wustl.edu (/pub/MSDOS_UPLOADS/misc/dskdupv5.zip). (Update: Micro System Design now has a web page, where you can easily download a demo from, at www.msd1.com).

The Borg

O'Reilly and Associates (ORA) sold their awesome Global Network Navigator (GNN) web site to America Online (AOL). The reasons for the sale included AOL's enthusiasm for the Internet, ORA's desire to insure that GNN continues to grow with the Internet, and the mutual excitement of publishing on the Internet. Another reason was the huge chunk of change ORA earned on the sale - way to go!


Voters Telecomm Watch

Those who care about the war that politicians wage against our online freedom and civil liberties, will find the Voters Telecomm Watch (VTW) invaluable. The VTW BillWatch weekly newsletter tracks US Federal legislation affecting civil liberties. BillWatch is published every Friday afternoon when Congress is in session.

VTR recommends that concerned citizens let their representatives know they prefer parental control of what children see (similar to the Cox/Wyden bill HR 1978) to net-censorship measures (such HR 1004 or S 892). Contact the VTR for more information. Their email address is vtw@vtw.org. To subscribe to VTR's weekly updates, send a message to listproc@vtw.org with subscribe vtw-announce <first-name lastname> in the body of the letter. Or, check the VTW web page at http://www.panix.com/vtw/exon. (Update: The VTW page is now at: www.vtw.org/).

Democracy and Technology

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) is a non-profit, public interest organization advancing constitutional civil liberties and democratic values in new computer and communications media. For more information, visit www.cdt.org.

NetPhone keeps Improving

Introduced in issue #26, Electric Magic Company's (www.emagic.com) Netphone is an "Internet Phone" software package for the Macintosh. Netphone works well over a 14.4 kbps modem connection with the kind of Macs most people buy.

Now at version 1.2.3, Netphone supports 16-bit audio and auto-squelch levels. Auto-squelch senses sound levels for automatic "push-to-talk" all the bandwidth is used for one direction, improving sound quality. Netphone supports Caller ID, and includes NetPhone Alert, an application that alerts the user to incoming calls, even when NetPhone is not running.

The Electric Magic Company also released NetPub Server, software that makes it easy for NetPhone users to find others to chat with. NetPub Server is available on request at no cost. Like Netphone, the server software runs on inexpensive Macintosh computers with a modem-based connection to the Internet. "We chose Macintosh over any other platform because of its simplicity, security, and reliability," said Andrew Green, Chief Technology Officer.

A new NetPub can be opened and operated by double clicking an icon, with no configuration required. A list of publicly accessible NetPubs can be found on their WWW page. Netphone requires a Macintosh with a 68020+ processor, System 7+, Mac TCP, and a Macintosh-compatible microphone. NetPhone sells for $59 for one copy, and $99 for two. (Update: In November 1995, NetPhone was reborn/renamed as DigiPhone for Mac when it was sold to Third Planet Publishing, now at www.digiphone.com).

What's on Tonight?

A free service emails you a daily television program list. After subscribing, the listings are emailed early each evening. Weekend editions are sent on Friday mornings. If you live in the Pacific Region of the US, you can start a subscription by sending a message to: circulation@paperboy.com with "subscribe pacific" in the body of the message. (Update: This was obsoleted by online TV listings like those at the Tribune Media Service: www.tmstv.com   or at Yahoo/TV GUIDE's service: tvguide.yahoo.com/tvguide ).


29-9book.gif                     Internet How-To
(Waite Group Press, $34.95, ISBN 1-878739-68-9) by Harry Henderson, is a very good as a first book on the Internet. We would rate it excellent, but it does not mention pine or pico at all!

Pine (email system) and Pico (editor) are available on almost any Unix system, and are very good choices for the newcomer to the Unix shell. Is there a conspiracy going on?

With the exception of pico and pine, and a skimpy section on getting connected, Internet How-To covers just about everything and does it well. Most of the book is structured in question-and-answer format, and it works everything is easy to find and understand. This concise, hands-on book excels in providing quick answers to questions about using the Internet.


Pages 2 and 3 had full-page ads for WCO, the ISP.
Pages 4, 5, 6, and 7 had full-page ads for Laitron Computers.
Page 8 had ads for the Silicon Matchmaker (www.silicon.email.net), and the Atlantis BBS / Internet service (www.atlantis-bbs.com).




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Editor's Views

Play Federal Budget
Politicians have demonstrated they are unable or unwilling to balance the budget. If you were in their shoes, what would you do?

UC-Berkeley's Center for Community Economic Research has a National Federal Budget Simulator that lets anyone on the World Wide Web try their hand at balancing the nation's budget. The simulation is located at: http://garnet.berkeley.edu:3333/budget/budget.html.

At this site, you can prepare a budget and see its effect on the federal deficit. I tried this and got interesting results. The budget I prepared attempted to eliminate waste and reduce excessive spending. This is the score I got:

The simulator is detailed and well designed, but the conclusions it reaches are firmly entrenched in the status-quo, especially when "oops" was the reward for attempting to cut waste, fraud, and excessive entitlement programs. I believe that kind of "oops" is what America needs.


Page 9 had ads for the Atlas BBS / Internet Service (www.gilroy.com) and the Interaction BBS / Chat / Internet service (www.diversion.com)




Questions Letters Comments

Q: Although PageMaker works fine on my Mac, the Finder suddenly lost the ability to display icons for PageMaker or any file created by PageMaker. I've tried re-installing v5.0, and the 5.0a update. I called Adobe and they tried to help me figure it out until 15-day support ran out. Any suggestions?

A: First, make sure the "views" control panel is set to medium or large. The smallest setting usually won't show icons. Some other suggestions:

Q: I found an ISP was charging my credit card long after I cancelled with them. I called my bank and disputed the charge, and then called the ISP and asked for an immediate refund. The ISP refused, so now I must wait for the bank to fight the charges. How can I speed up the process?

A: You can't. By calling the bank first, you eliminated the chance for an instant refund. The fastest way to get a refund from an ISP (or any other business) is to call them first­not your bank. If your claim is accurate, the business will likely make things right as soon as they verify your claim. Calling the bank is appropriate if a business refuses to honor a valid claim.

Q: In your June issue, you plugged Iomega's ZIP drive. I can't find them! Where can I get one?

A: They are back-ordered everywhere, but it's just as well, we over-rated it. The ZIP drive is slow, unreliable, and crashes often. The drive infects disks with viruses and our lawn died after formatting a disk.

Please don't order one, and please don't read the next sentence. The previous paragraph was a lie - we're desperate, we want to get one for us!

Q: In the August 95 Boardwatch magazine, I saw the WCO Magazine BBS was listed as a Libertarian BBS. What conference should I join to access the Libertarian messages or files?

A: Although the editor here has many Libertarian views, the WCO Magazine BBS (408) NNN-NNNN is, and always was a general purpose/magazine support BBS - not a Libertarian BBS. Boardwatch is a great magazine, but like most publications, checking BBS lists for accuracy does not seem to be a high priority.

We've mailed WCO to Boardwatch since we started as BABBA, and have informed them of our name change from BABBA to WCO several times. Yet, in their "List of BBS List Keepers", they continue to list the WCO Magazine Support BBS as the "BABBA BBS".

Also, in that same issue, their editorial only covered half the story about Libertarians. Not only do Libertarians believe the role of government should be generally limited to protecting citizens from force and violence, but also to protect them against fraud and theft. More information is available on the web at http://w3.ag.uiuc.edu/liberty/libweb.html or http://acad.bryant.edu/~kbrook/khazaria.html.
(Updates: For a time, the Libertarian party did advertise in our publication, which may have led Boardwatch/others to incorrect conclusions. Also, the Libertarian page is now at: www.libertarian.org/).

Q: I've heard that when I email a message to someone, it is possible to send a "blind" copy of the same message to another person without the first person knowing. How do I do this with pine?

A: The header is the first part of composing a message. While editing the header section within pine, the control-r key combination activates a "rich header format". After typing control-r, a new Bcc line will appear. This is the blind "carbon copy" (BCC) field, just fill in the addresses you wish to send copies to.

Just because it's possible to send BCCs does not mean it is appropriate to do so. Some people will not respond to BCCs because their reply would be seen by people they do not know. Of course, any email you send can be forwarded to anyone else.

Also, be sure to understand how BCC works: Joe sends a message to John, and blind-copies it to Jane. Jane will get a message addressed to John in her mailbox. This can be confusing if Jane does not realize the message was a blind copy.

Q: Sometimes when I reply to email, I see a "Reply to all recipients?" message, but all I see in the header is one email address. Who are these recipients?

A: The message you received was probably blind carbon copied to other people. If you answer yes, your reply will be sent to everyone the sender has carbon copied to. If you answer no, one copy of your reply will go to the sender. One way to customize who gets your reply message is to forward it. Once forwarding is selected, you can edit everything in the message.

Q: Why doesn't WCO promote itself on ba.internet and other appropriate newsgroups? I've seen other newspapers and ISPs take advantage of them, why not WCO?

A: It's not appropriate for the staff of a company to repetitively plug the company's products on ba.internet. We consider it unprofessional to toot one's horn there, or in any other non-commercial newsgroup.

Q: How does one go about registering a domain name for setting up a web page address (i.e., http://www.example.com)?

A: Registering a WWW name is the same as registering a domain name. Registering pizzaface.com enables you to use the name www.pizzaface.com.

Q: I want to register www.example.com. I was told I can only register example.com. What's to prevent someone from using www.example.com?

A: Your reservation of example.com will prevent others from using www.example.com. The suffix of example. com is the domain name and the prefix of "www." is a subdomain of the domain name. Subdomains are arbitrarily assigned machine names, and cannot be reserved.

Q: I heard on the radio that registration of Internet Domain Names doesn't cost anything. I've seen quotes from Internet Service Providers ranging from $25 to $400. How can ISPs get away with this?

A: It is true that no money changes hands, but there is a cost incurred to the ISP. Besides emailing a form to the Internic, there are other expenses incurred, e.g.:

C: Just a correction, your paper always uses the acronym ISP (Internet Service Provider). The more correct TLA (Three Letter Acronym) to use is IAP (Internet Access Provider).

A: By our definition, a company offering connectivity, network consulting, Usenet news, mail spooling, shell service, and answers the phone with humans, is an ISP. A company only providing a router and modem pool is an IAP.

Q: With all the controversy over the stuff a kid can get into online, why doesn't somebody make an online/Internet service just for kids?

A: We know what happened in the past to BBSs that tried to cater to the "kids" market. Kids don't have much money. Also, while many parents objected strongly to the possibility of nasty stuff being available online to kids, few were willing to support online services devoted to kids.

It is possible to make a restricted Internet server allowing ftp or WWW or telnet only to approved places, selected newsgroups, restricted IRC, etc. But who would pay to use it? Total control of information requires the elimination of privacy. Oh well, they're kids, so we can give away their privacy? Keeping kids "safe" from information requires adult supervision.

Current legislation is moving toward a situation where online services can't win: If they respect the privacy of their customers, they can be blamed for their actions. If the online service attempts to screen every message to prevent controversial wording, they can find themselves facing a lawsuit, as Prodigy is.

Q: In the June 1995 issue, the article "Searching for Reality" described a "Turing" test. Is that really the way it is spelled?

A: (Omar Eljumaily) Yes, indeed, after Alan Turing, the inventor of the computer.

C: I know you can't produce a publication which will satisfy everyone. Here is a suggestion. I find that using WCO (at least the paper version) to find particular BBSs to be a difficult task. When I'm looking for a BBS I'm not looking for a board that specializes in "adult", "hobbies", "Internet connection", or any such category ­ I want it all! For example, my BBS, The Family BBS (916-NNN-NNNN) can fit into almost every category of your publication, as many BBSs do. A truly good BBS is a lot of things. When you try to categorize them, you short-change them. I suggest you publish them with different formats each month (rotating between 2-3 formats). For example: sort by phone number one month, by name another, then categories...

A: You have a good point, and it's been a long time since we varied the structure of our printed list. This month, we'll do an alphabetical list. The BBS lists we make available online to freely download are sorted in several different ways.

C: I thought you should know, somebody is putting up anti-WCO flyers all over Santa Rosa.

A: We know. We had an unfortunate experience with an individual who signed up for dialup connection with WCO. The first day he was on, he tried to crash our system and hack us. We sent a stern warning to him, and he responded by trashing our name in our own newsgroup. He continued hacking so we limited his access while we audited his past actions on our system. When he threatened us, we erased his account and refunded his money.

After he cashed our refund check, he printed up a flyer (full of lies) and proceeded to "paint the town", attaching them to anything that didn't move. Our customers know us, so his flyers inadvertently served to give us more publicity and customers. Keep us posted on the situation, thanks!

Q: I am looking for the phone number of a service called "California Relay Service" that does translations for deaf people.

A: Anyone that knows the answer to this, please email r.pean@magnet.at.

Q: In comparing the pine and tin newsreaders, I see very different readouts-index listings, number of messages, authors, etc., for identical newsgroups. Why is this?

A: Both pine and tin do separate accounting of the messages you have already read. Both have extensive configuration options, including the maximum number of messages each will display. This is why you may see different numbers of messages. There may also be a "time out" which will cause older messages not to be displayed. There is a man page to read about tin, and by emailing (built into the program) the authors of pine, a manual (about 24k) will be emailed to you.

Q: If I use the Unix command rm (remove) to delete a file, is there a command to get it back?

A: No. The only way to recover is from a tape backup. Your ISP should be able to do this for you, but expect to be charged for this service.

T-shell (Tcsh) is a Unix shell available on many systems. One feature of the tcsh shell is that you can force it to query you before executing risky rm commands. To switch to the tcsh shell, send email to the support staff at your ISP. If your account is set to use tcsh, edit your .cshrc or .login file and add set rmstar to it. To activate changes to such configuration files, type source .cshr.

Q: I'm a webaholic. I hear about wild web sites, but when I search for them in Yahoo, I can't find them. How can I find sites of interest and take a walk on the wild side of the web?

A: The Internet has many uses - including entertainment. For info-junkies, poking around on the Internet can bring a quick rush. You'll find yourself giving up lunch hour to surf the net on the company's high-speed connection.

The Yahoo database (www.yahoo.com) is a good starting point, but it has a corporate, mainstream focus. If your online time is limited and you seek a quick info-thrill, try leveraging the work of others.

Many personal home pages include services of interest to the individual. People who register their home pages with Yahoo are typically Internet- savvy and have put a lot of time into developing and grooming their pages. Many like to share their results by not only providing links, but also their commentary, impressions, and critiques.

To find personal home pages listed with Yahoo, look under the category Entertainment-People. Scroll down the list and pick a name at random. Alternately, use the Yahoo search engine to hunt for a typical surname, like Julie, or Jason. We find this method of surfing friendly and surprising. Some home pages have a lot of graphic glitz but little information of interest, while others that look ratty have some fascinating links.


Page 10 had ads for the Internet Roundtable Society, OneEarth Publishing (www.1earth.com), and PowerBBS Computing (www.powwwerworkgroup.com).

Page 11 had ads for California Internet (www.california.com) and a2i communications (www.rahul.net).


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