|★ HARDWARE ★ PERIPHERIQUES CPC - MODEMS ★ MODEM LIVING...(1985) ★|
|Modem - Modem Living|Amstrad Computer User)||Hardware Peripheriques Cpc - Modems|
Remote database systems (RDBSs) are non-commerical public or semi-public computer systems, operating over standard telephone lines, which provide remote information access and interchange. Originally known as BBSs, they include:
As with everything else that is good in the world, there are responsibilities that go along with your telecommunications activities. Always remember that you are using someone else's computer system -you are a guest. Each system has its own set of rules, so your first priority is to find out what those rules are and then obey them when you are on that system. Most BBSs are run on personal computers by private individuals who dedicate a great deal of time, expense and equipment for our common benefit. You are the guest of those sysops - always act with courtesy and respect.
"Who you gonna call?"
One of the first problems you'll encounter is: "Who can I call?" Getting that first phone number can be fairly easily accomplished by contacting a few computer retailers, or just asking your friends or business associates (all of whom have computers and modems, right). There is a short list at the end of this article. Then, once you've got on to a system, you're likely to find a few messages about other BBSs and many systems even have included a comprehensive list of BBSs in your area that is available for you on-line. A complete list of UK bulletin boards - now totalling around 150 -is available on MicroLink.
Pretty soon you'll have a fairly large list of your own, and it won't take long to determine which systems ycjj like best or which offer you the most desirable features. Smaller systems go up and down like flags, and some of the numbers you get may no longer be valid. If you encounter this situation, throw the number away! It may have been re-assigned by BT to another subscriber who knows nothing about computers, and it's very irritating to pick up the phone and get a modem tone in your ear.
If someone answers "voice", it's courteous to pick up your receiver and ask them if there is a BBS operating at that number. If not, apologise for the wrong number and scratch it from your list. Then contact the person you got the number from - sysop of a BBS, computer retailer, friend - and inform him or her that the number is not a BBS and should not be given out to anyone else.
Connection: You're on-line!
All right, so you've made contact with your first bulletin board. What now? Depending on the type of program the system uses, and the machine it's being run on, signing in (logging on) is accomplished in various ways. For example, if you've accessed an IBM-PC running the popular RBBS-PC program, you would press Enter, two or three times until it recognises your presence (RBBS-PC calls the Enter key C/R, for Carriage Return). This allows the two computers to match up with each other so that communication can begin. The process of entering one or more carriage returns upon getting a CONNECT is very common, although some systems do not require it. From that point on you will be prompted, or asked what you want to do next.
Signing on (logging on, logging in)
Now you will be asked certain questions that you must answer in order to be validated, or allowed to use the system. It's good practice to enter only accurate, honest information. Usually it goes something like this: FIRST NAME then LAST NAME (or sometimes FULL NAME), CITY you're calling from, a valid voice phone number where you can be reached, and your PASSWORD.
1. First and last names This information is probably the most important. This will be how you're known to the sysop and other users, and will be the name to which private messages (E-mail) are addressed. Some BBSs allow the use of false names, "handles" or aliases.
Check out the rules of the system to see if this is permitted. In just about every case you will be required to disclose your true identity to the system operator. It's recommended that you sign on with your own name first. If you later learn that aliases are allowed, and you wish to use one, ask the sysop to alter your record accordingly. Sysops of many of the more sophisticated systems around the country will not validate a person who logs on with an alias, even if they give the correct name later. Right or wrong, they feel that aliases are a sign of immaturity and thus that the prospective user might just cause problems rather than make a positive contribution.
This information is not usually that critical unless you are calling long distance, but it must be entered. A few sysops mail passwords to newly-validated users, so a complete postal address may be required. 3. Telephone number
Some systems require this information once only but others use it as part of your password. Some system operators will not allow you full, or even any, access to the BBS until they have called you "voice" to verify your vital information.
4. Your password.
Sometimes the sysop will assign the password that you'll need for further access and either leave it on the system for you to find the next time you call in, or phone you "voice" and give it to you. Usually, though, you will be asked to type in the password you wish to use.
This is a security feature, so that in the future you can type your password with people looking over your shoulder. Make your password clever enough so that no one can figure it out, but not so clever that you forget it. It's very difficult to prove to a system operator that you really have forgotten your password, and you're not actually some nefarious person trying to gain unauthorised access. Write it down and put it in a safe place where nobody else is likely to see it.
In case you feel a little nervous about giving all this private information to some stranger, let us try to calm your fears. Your personal data is held in confidence. Of course there are some bad sysops, just like there are bad users. And very occasionally accidents do occur, sometimes with unfortunate results. But this is very rare, and any sysop who is foolish enough to betray the confidence placed in him or her will very soon have a system with no users on it.
It's also a wise practice to use a different password on each and every system that you access. That way, if someone discovers your password it will only affect one system - a situation that is not all that difficult to deal with. In addition, some users like to change their passwords at regular intervals. The already slim chance for abuse is reduced even further.
A new user's first log-on information
Most systems include a new-user message. This is normally seen only the first time you get on to a system. It may contain a greeting, a summary of commands, instructions, system news, or the rules that you will be expected to observe on that particular system. Read it thoroughly. As a general practice you should have your "capture buffer" open or your printer turned on each time you log in to a new system. This allows you to study the rules and procedures of that system before you log in again.
The main command prompt and menus
Almost every system in use has a main command prompt, and a main menu from which you can select what you want to do. The latter will list the commands that you may use, and these may provide access to one or more files that are designed to assist you. Known as Help files, they are usually accessed by entering H, or ?, or .HELP, depending on the particular BBS. You will find it useful to download and print these files.
There is nothing more irritating to a system operator than a brand-new caller, usually a novice, who immediately switches the terminal to Expert mode and then starts stumbling around the system, totally lost. Expert mode, found on most systems, is for the user who has mastered that system and no longer needs the majority of the menus or other assistance.
After becoming completely confused, the user will then either "page" the sysop, which means try to get the operator to type directly to him or her on-line, or leave personal notes to the sysop like, "I can't get this thing to work," or "What's wrong with the message area?" The information you want is in the Help files - if it's not, it's not much of a system. If all else fails and you can't get an answer to a legitimate question, by all means try to contact the sysop, but think of it as a last resort measure.
The Page or Operator command is a feature found on most BBSs which signals the sysop that a user wishes to chat, or type directly back and forth. It does so by causing the host computer to beep, thus alerting the operator. One quick way to get on a sysop's bad side is to engage this function time after time after time. Usually, once is enough.
If the operator does not respond he is either not around or does not wish to be disturbed. In that case simply leave a message. If your question requires an answer, you'll usually get one.
Some things that will not get a response are questions about system commands or procedures, for everything you need to know should already be included in Help files or bulletins. Bear in mind that each message, comment or reply takes up precious disc or memory space, and smaller systems only have a limited amount of room.
Make your comments count. If you sincerely are confused about something and need help, most sysops - and users, for that matter - will bend over backwards to help you out. After all, we were all beginners once.
Some numbers to try