AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO THE WORKS USERS
This is a message from Jason Scott, original SysOp of The Works from 1986-1988, its genesis years. I started The Works when I was 16, and ran it until I went to college. Some time afterwards, an extremely young fellow named Dave Ferret asked me if he could try setting up the BBS at his house, and after a little less than a year, David got his parents to pay for a third line into the house and he put up my BBS.
When Dave first got his hands on The Works, it was extremely funky and weird. I had written the software in QuickBasic, and called it Ferret BBS, after my pet ferret which was forced to live in the same room as the computer and constantly ringing line (I never shut it off). The reason I was running this software was to emulate on the PC what was one of the coolest pieces of software on the Apple ][, that is, Waffle BBS v1.62. I had basically tried to emulate a lot of what I found wonderful about that software, and put some time into my own little mods.
Dave suffered with this software for some months, and then the Waffle folks switched their software over to the PC, and I urged Dave to switch to the original bbs code which I had been trying to emulate anyway.
It was Dave who ran the Works from 1989 to the present. That's 6 years, three times longer than I ever ran it. It was under Dave who got us Internet E-Mail, Dave who supplied the electricity and hard drive space for the system, and Dave who was the system administrator for the Works' growth into a CdC system and world-famous BBS.
The Works grew here in Lexington into a place where the users would have Works Get-Togethers, in pizza places, the Au Bon Pain, and wherever else we thought would be neat.
Along the way, we also gained some of the more effective administrators that any BBS would offer: Iskra and Veggie were the two that I shared time with and they're still among my best friends in the world. The amount of work these two guys put in to make the Works into the system it has become can't be discounted in the least. They knew what people wanted, and knew what the system needed, and put in the hours and hours to make it work. Their influence is everywhere in this system.
This brings us to the present.
Now, it's 1995, the Works is nearly 10 years old and Dave has done some soul-searching and decided he can no longer give the system the attention he thinks it deserves. So, he asked me to take the Works back, to put it up and run it again like I did 7 years ago. I accepted, thinking it wouldn't take that much of my time anyway, so it wouldn't be a problem. Besides, I probably had an extra phone line or two, and it wouldn't be a problem.
I have to the conclusion that I was wrong.
A little technical background: My theory was that I have a Macintosh SE that I have SoftPC running on, and by running Waffle through the SoftPC, I could run the Works effectively. This Macintosh has been running for three weeks now and I'd say it functions like it's supposed to about 1 out of every 3 days, and even then for a few hours until I get over to the computer office I own to reset it. I had an extra phone line on my hunt group and thought that I could just stick a copy of the system on there and leave it and everything would be just great. Again, this theory is wrong.
I've also done some personal soul-searching and I have come to the conclusion that the Works in its current incarnation should die. As much as we'd like to extend the Works, like closing your eyes and hoping that your really good dream will go on, I don't personally think that could happen. I think that the two solutions that Dave presented, the first of me taking it over, and the second, of the l0pht taking it over, would produce a cheap, bastardized version of the Works that the administrators would consider an afterthought and not a primary concern. This isn't criticizing anyone, this is simply stating that trying to run a BBS is either a time-consuming situation, or it becomes like the summer cabin in the woods that has all sorts of repairs to do but you put them off until next summer to fix them.
But because the Works has always been a product of love, and a product that comes from my heart for reasons I won't go into here, I am offering at least a partial solution. Hear me out and don't press the Q key.
Some of you know and some of you don't care that I already run a BBS right now. This BBS is called "COWZ", or COWZ Technologies or cow.net depending on your mood. This year, I decided to get into the Internet Access Provider business and have stuck something on the order of $10,000 into this venture. It takes the majority of my free time to make it a place worth coming to. I care very much for it, and I think it has the potential to become a world-class venture. I am connected to the Internet via a direct 24-hour 56kb connection, and am cow.net and telnettable from the world at large.
I propose to put The Works into COWZ.
The way that I would propose this is to put the Textfiles that made the Works so popular in the first place into my 500-meg file system, and create message boards that Works Users would want into the message bases, and generally do what I can to make the Works Community welcome.
There are two facets to this offer that I think should be mentioned.
The first is that it will cost money to use COWZ. Right now, I'm selling my services, which include direct telnet and usenet newsgroups, along with FTP, WWW via the "Lynx" text-only browser, and of course the BBS for $75 a year. I think this is a really good price and I also think it's a bargain. HOWEVER, I also think that telling Works Users that their price for using the bases and files of the Works has gone from $0 to $75 a year would be beyond henious, so I offer Works Users the price of $25 a year.
To the chorus of "Fuck You"s, I would like to point out that these Works Accounts would be full-featured COWZ Accounts, and would contain all the services that other users have, for 1/3rd the price. The way that you would get this extremely special price would be to mention the Works in a letter to my account: firstname.lastname@example.org. Arrangements can then be made.
COWZ is running on several sun workstations, with 7 incoming phone lines and uses Waffle UNIX Software. It is functionally similar to the Works you have grown used to. The main difference is that you would have more you could do at the prompt.
The other facet worth mentioning is that Dave doesn't know this offer I've made. He might not approve, and might decide to do something else with the Works than have it die and be sucked up into COWZ. Dave is more than within his rights to do so; he really does own the name "The Works" as far as I'm concerned. I was 17 when I last ran the Works; Dave ran it all through his teenage years and now into his 20's. Dave also runs works.com and would be more than free to give that domain to someone else, even another BBS. Dave would have my full blessing to do so, but I hope that he'll see what I'm trying to do and join me.
What I hope to be proposing is a new era in the Works for the users who grew up with the love of information and interaction that the system stood for, an era where the Works users have Internet on top and access to the world from the same sneering citadel of "We're gonna give it our best shot to make a difference and put up every textfile known to man" that the Works always spoke from.
The COWZ Technologies BBS is available by calling 1-617-COW-TOWN or 617-269-8696, or by telnetting to cow.net from your UNIX prompt via internet. I am on COWZ as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, and will gladly answer all queries and questions that you would care to throw my way.
With much love, Jason Scott