Smug goes Online
Author: Kevin Savetz & Casey Meaden
Date: June, 1993
Keywords: bbs modem bulletin board system smuggkers email e-mail
Text: The Sequoia Macintosh Users Group (SMUG) has set up Humboldt County's first graphical interface electronic bulletin board system, called the ''Smuggler's BBS,'' running SoftArc's ''FirstClass'' software. SMUG members (and others) can access the bulletin board system (BBS) using a computer and modem. Once online, you'll be able to read and send public messages on message forums, converse privately via electronic mail (E-mail) to other users, and participate in live ''chat sessions'' with other users. But wait, that's not all: members also have access to SMUG's shareware/freeware software library of files which will feature applications and utilities, games, fonts, hypercard stacks, and other software. Unlike typical BBS's that only send text, Smuggler's BBS can send and receive sound and graphical information as well. Because of this, Mac Users should use the special graphical ''client software'' -- instead of the usual modem-to-computer interface software programs like Zterm (shareware), White Knight, or MicroPhone (commercial programs)-- to access the BBS. The Smuggler's BBS also supports the graphical interface on IBM type computers running Windows software as well as a command-line user interface which connects the BBS to users limited to text-based interaction. What do you need to get online? *A computer system. Color is not necessary, but it's nice to have. *A modem -- Smugger's supports any speed from 1200 bits per second (BPS) to 14.4KBPS. *The Smuggler's BBS client software. This is software that lets your computer converse with any ''FirstClass'' BBS, such as Smugglers or BMUG in Berkeley. You don't need to worry about setting the speed, parity, stop bits and other such tele-communications hassles. Once the ''Firstclass'' client software knows what modem you're using, it does all the dirty work behind the scenes. It even knows the correct phone number to dial. All you have to do is enter your User ID and your password. Your user ID can be your name or a "handle" or alias that you'd like to go by. Where do you get a copy of this client software? Come to the next SMUG meeting or call Casey at 442-3520. We'll see to it that you get a disk with your copy of the client software and a very easy to follow page of directions. What features are offered on the Smuggler's BBS? *E-mail: you can use E-mail to exchange messages with other users. E-mail is ''private'' -- only you and the letter's recipient will read it. Or if you choose, your electronic letter can be sent to multiple people at once, with no extra effort. One of the best features of this system is the ability to attach a file to your message. *A general Help area with information on the general use and policies of the BBS and how to find your way around the BBS and use its features. *Conferences: a conference is a public forum for discussion of a specific topic. Messages are readable by anyone who has access to the conference. At this time Smuggler's BBS conferences include general Community Chit-Chat, Macintosh Help (all the questions you were afraid to ask), News, a conference area only for SMUG members, and a Sysop area to contact the operators of the Smuggler's BBS. More conference areas will be added in response to our users' interests. *Files area: BBS members will have download priviledges for all files on the BBS, both Macintosh and DOS areas. This area will be closed to non-paying users. Members may wish to contribute to the library of online files by uploading any programs or files that are not commercial in origin. *Privilege levels: Paid members of SMUG ($20 per year, $10 students) will be able to access the entire BBS for up to 90 minutes each day. The BBS will also be usable by paying non-SMUG-members, who will have access to the board for 90 minutes a day and enjoy all BBS priviledges except the SMUG Conference ($20 year, $10 students). Non members will have BBS access for 20 minutes a day but will be unable to use some services -- like E-mail and file downloads. The BBS is new and in transition. Just as you'll be learning to use it, so will its administrators. Come learn with us! We have lots of plans and ideas. (We hope to join the OneNet member network (based in Silicon Valley) and present many of their fascinating forums including "Ask Apple" which is frequented by local Apple employees who like to hang out on the board after work.) So, if there's something you'd like to see on Smugglers let us know. At the next meeting there will be information on purchasing modems and some suggestions for good "deals." In the meantime there are many books available to help you launch an online expedition. A very accessible, well-written guide for beginners is called EcoLinking (Peachpit Press, 1992) by Don Rittner. The BMUG Guide to Bulletin Boards and Beyond by Bernard Aboba is a comprehensive and through reference in its 2nd edition and is available from Quantum Books or Compubooks at 1-800-880-6818. Another source of information on the Electronic Bulletin Board experience are the two articles by Deborah Branscum who writes the Conspicuous Consumer column in MacWorld. In March her column was titled "Exploring the Online World" covering the basics of the local online experience, followed in April by "Swap Tips around the World" in which she covers the larger services such as America Online, Compuserve, the Federal Information Exchange, which would benefit anyone in the education field or the Internet which gives accessto world-wide BBS services. Branscom also explains Netiquette as a kind of online ettiquette that has evolved to help usersusing E-mail. "Emoticons" have been devised to express emotion to in written message that might be misconstrued, since readers can't see facial expressions that normally go with sarcastic or humorous comments. An example is the smiley face :) read sideways or the unhappy : ( frown. Another tip: Don't type in all capitals, it's the online equivalent of shouting, and it's harder to read. Also, it's best when responding to messages to include the pertinent part of the original message at the top of your reply to remind people of the topic. As Branscom says, when most people lived in small towns, they could walk the town square and greet their friends and neighbors, swapping tips and gossip. Today, BBSs and online services create electronic town halls where age, race, and gender are less important than the force of anargument or its style and verve.
Copyright © june, 1993 by Kevin Savetz & Casey Meaden