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archive:bbs:basics
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                   Reprinted from the Pasco BBS Magazine
                            +   +   +   +   +
    About this File
    ---------------
    BBS Basics ran originally as separate articles in the first nine
    issues of the Pasco BBS Magazine from January 1993 to September
    1993.  In September of 1993 the articles were combined into an
    ASCII text file to help the growing number of people who are
    becoming aware of what bulletin boards have to offer.  That
    original file proved to be quite popular.  It can be found on
    bulletin boards all over the world for downloading, or as a
    bulletin for on-line reading.  Selected sections have been run in
    print magazines as well.  It seemed like there was a need to
    update BBS Basics on a regular basis and that is why version 2.0
    was created, and subsequent versions.  Some of the original text
    remains, but portions have been revised and new sections added to
    reflect the rapidly changing BBS world.  Version 2.0 introduced a
    new menu driven format, to make it easier for new users, but an
    ASCII version is still available.
    There are absolutely no fees for using this program, nor may any
    compensation be accepted for the use, or distribution, of this
    program.  This is legally copyrighted Freeware of which no part
    may be reprinted without permission.  Bulletin board operators may
    display BBS Basics on their system, as long as it remains
    unaltered.
    The Pasco BBS Magazine is a free on-line magazine with bulletin
    board related articles, interviews and features.  The magazine has
    been published each month since January 1993 and has become Tampa
    Bay's oldest free on-line magazine.  Those who wish to read more
    about bulletin boards, or Sysops interested in getting this free
    publication for their boards, can always download the latest
    issue, and all back issues, free of charge from the home board,
    the Board of Trade BBS.
    Richard Ziegler
    Board of Trade BBS
    P.O. Box 1853
    New Port Richey, FL  34656
    (813) 862-4772 (BBS)
    What is a BBS?
    --------------
    Has this ever happened to you?  You mention to a friend, who is
    not into computers, that you call around to Bulletin Board
    Systems.  You get a blank stare in return.  That same friend could
    look in their dictionary to find out what a BBS or Bulletin Board
    System is, but their search will come up empty.  While a growing
    number of people are becoming aware of what bulletin boards are,
    the above scenario remains realistic.  Yes, people still ask what
    is a BBS?
    The history of the BBS goes back to the Winter of 1978, when the
    first bulletin board software was written by Ward Christensen
    during a Chicago blizzard.  With his friend Randy Suess handling
    the hardware end of that first board, CBBS was officially born on
    February 16, 1978.  If you think that people today are not
    familiar with what a BBS is, imagine how many times Ward
    Christensen had to explain what this new creation was.
    Christensen has commented, "A lot of people say 'oh, is that the
    Christensen Bulletin Board System or the Chicago Bulletin Board
    System?' No, it's the Computerized Bulletin Board System, so we
    had to start kind of simple."
    An Electronic Bulletin Board System (or Service) is simply a
    computer hooked up to phone lines.  People may call the computer
    if their own computer has a modem and communications software.  A
    modem is a device which allows computers to talk to each other
    over the telephone lines.  The right communications software can
    make the job of connecting to a BBS quite simple.
    Today, bulletin board systems vary greatly.  From the small
    hobbyist to the big software companies support boards, each BBS
    has it own feel and selection of features.  Some may call
    themselves on-line services, or information services, but they are
    still bulletin boards.  Even America On-line, CompuServe, Prodigy
    and the MicroSoft Network are basically bulletin boards.  However,
    the majority of the tens of thousands of bulletin boards available
    today are set up by hobbyists for their own enjoyment.
    Once one calls a BBS, a whole new world of information, services
    and fun opens up.  Bulletin boards are one of the best places to
    get the latest in software for your PC, most of the time before
    you can get the programs through disk vendors.  Callers can also
    leave messages to people who call the board or discuss issues with
    computer users all over the world.  Many BBSs have games which you
    can play, sometimes against other callers.  Some boards offer
    unique services which cannot be obtained anywhere else.  The
    system operator (Sysop for short) tries to have all the
    information you will need to get started posted somewhere on the
    board, but most are more than happy to answer any questions users
    might have.
    Calling a BBS for the First Time
    --------------------------------
    Long log-on questionnaires and call back verification may be the
    complaint of the veteran BBSer, but can you remember back to your
    first call to a BBS?  It can be a little confusing, especially for
    the new computer user.  Bulletin Boards do have a habit of
    assuming the user knows what to expect when calling.
    Many first time BBS callers are calling on their first PC, and are
    using the inexpensive communications software which came with the
    computer.  A friend has given them some BBS numbers, so they call.
    They see some commands they don't understand and a bunch of jumble
    which seems to make little sense.  The new caller never gave
    configuration of his computer and software for graphics a thought,
    and the software may not even support graphics to begin with.
    Many potential users never call back and rely on disk vendors for
    Shareware.  Using a decent communication software package can make
    bulletin boards a much friendlier place to visit.
    Most of today's BBSs use ANSI or similar graphics.  The graphics
    are attractive, and great for games, but do slow down the
    transmission speed.  If you are calling with a slow speed modem,
    this can cause a substantial slow-down.  One of the first
    questions which many BBS software programs ask when calling is if
    you want graphics.  Unfortunately, some BBS software programs
    default into graphics and some have no way to exit the graphic
    mode.  This is a matter of preference, some people love graphics,
    other hate it.
    Now that you have dialed the BBS number, and settled the graphics
    question, you should be at the welcoming or log-on screen.  The
    first screen generally gives information about the board itself.
    BBS name, location, baud rates, available networks, or anything
    else the Sysop deems appropriate.  Then you are generally asked to
    give your name.  You should always use your real name when logging
    on to a bulletin board, even if the board does allow fictitious
    names (handles).  The Sysop has the responsibility and right to
    know who is accessing his BBS.  When you enter your name for the
    first time, the BBS software will ask if you have your name
    spelled correctly, or if you are a new user.  After selecting new
    user another screen, or screens, appear with information which the
    Sysop wants first time callers to know.  Normally, these screens
    contain things like welcoming comments, rules or where to find
    help.  You will then be asked if you want to register with the
    BBS.  If you answer yes, a questionnaire will follow.
    The new user questionnaires vary from board to board, but most ask
    for name, address and telephone number.  From there it depends on
    how the Sysop has set up his BBS software.  Some Sysops ask only a
    few pertinent questions, others have questionnaires which seem
    endless.  Again, always supply real and accurate information when
    answering the questions.  The questions normally include a couple
    on setting up the BBS software for your use.  Things like page
    length, transfer protocol, or hot keys.  If you are not sure, use
    the recommended (default) settings.  What is selected can be
    changed later.  After filling out the questionnaires most boards
    give limited access to the BBS until the verification process is
    completed.
    The verification process can take many forms.  Some Sysops will
    take the time to call by voice each and every caller to their
    board.  Other Sysops rely on the new caller ID technology and some
    force new callers into a call back verification.  In this day of
    caller ID, call-back verification seems like an awful lot of
    hassle to put the novice BBS caller through.  What happens is the
    BBS will log you off and try to call back at the number you
    entered during the questionnaire.  This way the Sysop knows that
    is a valid telephone number and that the information provided by
    the user is most likely accurate.  The problem is that many first
    time callers have trouble setting up their modem to answer the
    phone and are still looking at the manual when the verification
    call comes.  The call-back software has significantly improved and
    some can be activated from the keyboard.  Again, it is the Sysop's
    option which type of verification is used.
    On your first call to a BBS you will most likely have limited
    options.  Some boards will not allow file transfers and others
    will not allow anything until the user is verified and upgraded.
    The Sysop only does this to protect himself, and his substantial
    investment.  It is the Sysops option on how much the unverified
    user can do on his board.
    The Main Menu
    -------------
    After logging-on, and filling out the new user questionnaire, most
    BBSs have other screens before you actually reach the main menu.
    Most bulletin boards have news updates.  Also, things like the
    caller's statistics or advertising screens may be displayed before
    reaching the main menu.  All BBS software programs operate a
    little different, so you may have to go to sub-menus for some
    features.  One software program may automatically take the
    user through the bulletin menu before reaching the main menu,
    another may have sub-menus for messages or files.
    BBSs almost always have a sub menu for bulletins, after all they
    are called bulletin boards.  This is information which caller's
    can read on-line, and there are a limitless number of possible
    bulletins to select from.  Most Sysops have the board rules,
    general information, and help for new users.  Other popular
    bulletins are BBS listings, top scores for on-line games and
    newsletters.  The bulletin menu is a good place for new users to
    spend some time, as many Sysops have informational bulletins on a
    variety of BBS related topics.
    Some BBSs have questionnaires or user polls which can be accessed
    through the main menu, however, it is not uncommon for a BBS not
    to offer any questionnaires.  Sometimes these questionnaires are
    set up for fun, or maybe the Sysop would like some specific
    information from the users.  Some typical examples would include
    questionnaires on what users like about BBSing or a poll on the
    next election.  Support boards may have a questionnaire on their
    product, so feedback to specific questions can be received.  If
    the BBS has subscription fees for membership, a questionnaire may
    be used for on-line credit card registration.
    Most systems allow callers to page the system operator for a chat.
    If you have questions the Sysop may be available to talk to you
    on-line.  Most Sysops enjoy chatting with users, but it is
    considered good BBS etiquette not to ask questions which are
    answered fully elsewhere on the board.  You have nothing to lose
    by paging, at worse the Sysop will not be available.  The main
    menu normally offers some utility functions, so the settings you
    are using can be re-configured if required.  Some boards have a
    command to list all the users.  All this leads to main reasons
    people call bulletin board systems in the first place.
    Messages, Conferences and Networks
    ----------------------------------
    Unfortunately, a large percentage of today's bulletin board
    callers are not interested in reading messages.  They are more
    likely to be calling for files or to play on-line games.  However,
    the callers who have been at this awhile can remember when BBSs
    offered little else, and they still maintain an attraction for
    reading messages.  In the early days there was nothing called
    Shareware or the wide variety of game doors that are now
    available.  Yes, the BBS pioneers called primarily to talk to each
    other and to this day messages remain a major part of BBSing.
    In the simplest form, a message is left on a bulletin board system
    so another user may read it and reply.  A private message is left
    for just one person and no one else can read it.  It should be
    noted that you should never leave something in a message which you
    would be afraid to have someone else read, as there is no such
    thing as a truly private message.  Sysops can read messages or
    someone could download the message file, or capture file, and
    possibly read all messages.  Public messages are more fun, as
    everyone who accesses the system may read and maybe respond to the
    message.  Some systems may have quite a few messages and some
    messages may have been left some time ago, leaving sort of a
    system history.
    The problem with having numerous messages is that they may vary
    considerably as to topic, thus making the user have to wade
    through all the messages to find those which interest them.  This
    is how the idea of conferences came into being.  By having users
    enter messages in conferences, which pertain to a particular
    subject, all similar messages are grouped together.  BBSs may have
    a "for sale" conference, "teen" conference or "sports" conference.
    This way the users know where to go for messages which interest
    them.  The problem is that once the messages are separated into
    all the different conferences, there may be very few messages in
    each conference.  This is what brought about the development of
    networks.
    By linking computers together by networks, a message on one system
    is "echoed" to other systems.  Bulletin boards may choose to have
    network conferences, which pertain to whatever subjects the Sysop
    feels the users will enjoy the most, so that messages originally
    left on more than one system may be read.  This way the advantage
    of having specialized conferences is not hampered by having very
    few messages to read.  Another advantage of networks is that a
    user can leave a message on their local BBS for someone in another
    area, and thus avoid the long-distance telephone charges.  Some
    echo-mail networks are huge with thousands of systems all over the
    world.  But to be a network all it really takes is two BBSs and
    many networks start out this way.  Thousands of boards are calling
    each other, normally in the middle of the night, to transfer mail.
    Most boards are "nodes" which call the particular network "hub,"
    so messages can be received from a common place.  Larger networks
    may have "regional hubs" because the "network hub" could not
    handle all the systems calling each night.
    Shareware, Freeware and Public Domain
    -------------------------------------
    The one thing which has caused bulletin boards to increase in
    popularity are files, and there is little doubt that the majority
    of today's BBS users are more interested in files than any other
    feature.  What has caused the explosion in the number of available
    files on bulletin boards?  The success of Shareware more than
    anything else.
    Shareware is a new concept to many in the computer world who are
    used to buying software in a store, after just reading the
    packaging to decide which program to take a chance on.  Shareware
    is a revolutionary new marketing concept which encourages people
    to "try before they buy" any software.  If you like the program
    you are legally bound to pay a registration fee for continued use,
    if you don't like it just delete it and move on.  If you are
    looking for a typing tutor program, download half a dozen, then
    decide which you like best and register that program only.  Try
    going into your local computer store and buying a bunch of
    programs to "try before you buy," and returning all but the one
    you like.  You will be laughed out of the store.  Not only does
    Shareware allow it, but authors encourage you to give copies of
    their programs to your friends.  And if all that is not enough,
    most Shareware registration fees are considerably cheaper than
    what the "shrink-wrap" software companies are asking for their
    products.  And yes, the quality of Shareware rivals any other form
    of distribution.  Why do software authors send out their programs
    all over the world for people to use free of charge?  Because a
    growing percentage of people are supporting the Shareware
    marketing concept and sending in registration fees.  Due to the
    success of Shareware, more and more authors are turning to
    distributing programs that way.  This is the primary reason for
    the explosion in the number of files in the BBS world.
    The success of Shareware was not always guaranteed.  Many thought
    the early authors were foolish to think that people would be
    willing to pay for something which they already had.  The major
    software companies also did what they could to down-play this new
    form of competition.  Andrew Fluegelman, author of PC-Talk, and
    Jim Button, author of PC-File, are generally credited with the
    first efforts with Shareware type marketing in 1982.  The
    following year, Bob Wallace author of PC-Write, and Marshall
    Magee, author of AutoMenu, released their popular programs into
    the market.  The success of these programs ended much of the early
    skepticism about Shareware.  Due to the death of Andrew
    Fluegelman, PC-Talk is no longer around, but all the other
    programs are still supported to this day.  There are many examples
    of enormous success in the Shareware market.  Scott Miller started
    out as one guy writing game programs in the late 1980's, and he
    was one of the first to have success with offering additional
    levels as an incentive for registration.  Scott Miller is now the
    President of Apogee Software, which is the biggest player in the
    Shareware game market.  While there have been many success
    stories, it should be noted that the Shareware market is very
    tough.  There are many authors who have made little or nothing on
    their releases.
    In addition to Shareware, bulletin boards have many Public Domain
    and Freeware programs which the users are not expected to pay
    anything at all for.  These programs may include small utility
    programs, informational text files or maybe something the
    program's author would just like to get some feedback on.  Public
    Domain files have absolutely no restrictions on their use.
    Freeware authors ask for no compensation to use their programs,
    but they do retain all the copyright protection, so there are
    restrictions on how the programs can be used.
    Bulletin boards are a perfect method for the distribution of
    computer software, as a program can go around the world in a few
    days.  Software and information can be found on just about any
    topic imaginable.  There are indeed hundreds of thousands, if not
    millions, of different files available on bulletin boards
    throughout the county.
    What is a ZIP File?
    -------------------
    The majority of the files found on bulletin boards are in the
    archive format, which always gives the novice BBS user problems
    with the first few downloads.  Most people log on a board and
    download some great sounding program and cannot figure out how to
    get it to work.  This leads to more calls to the boards, reading
    bulletins or paging Sysops, in an attempt to find out how to use
    this file they cannot wait to try.  Since most bulletin boards use
    files with a .ZIP extension, users learn quickly about file
    compression.
    Why are almost all files on bulletins boards found in the
    compressed, or archive, format?  There are basically two reasons.
    One reason is to compress the file's size, thus reducing the amount
    of time it takes to transfer the file via the modem connection.
    The other reason is to group all the files necessary to operate the
    program under a single name, so the caller does not have to
    download a bunch of different files to get one program to run.
    There are many different authors who have released archive
    programs, but the .ZIP format archive is by far the most common in
    the BBS world.  Other file extensions include .ARJ, .LZH, .PAK,
    .ARC, .ICE, .ZOO, among others.  When these archive utilities are
    downloaded they come in a self-extracting format, so you do not
    have to know any complicated commands to extract the files.  Just
    type the file's name and the program will extract itself, provided
    that there is enough disk space.  Each archive utility includes
    complete documentation on the program's operation.
    The commands for each archive utility differ slightly, but it is a
    relatively simple command line for extracting files from .ZIP
    files.  The best thing to do is to place the archive utility's
    executable files, for example PKUNZIP.EXE and PKZIP.EXE, in your
    system's path.  It is unfortunate, but most DOS manuals do not give
    a very good explanation of how the path works.  By putting the
    utilities in your path, the commands will work anywhere on your
    system including diskette drives, so the utility does not have to
    be in the current directory to operate.  Your root directory is
    always on your system's path, so copying PKUNZIP.EXE to C:\ will
    work if you do not have a thorough understanding of DOS's path.
    However, it is better to place all the utilities you wish to use
    universally on your system in a directory, for example C:\BIN,
    since a cluttered root directory will slow down your system.  The
    path statement, which can be edited with any text editor, is found
    in your AUTOEXEC.BAT file.  In the above example, you would add
    C:\BIN to the end of the path statement, but remember to separate
    all directories on the path with a semi-colon.  For example:
                   Old path    -    PATH C:\;C:\DOS
                   New path    -    PATH C:\;C:\DOS;C:\BIN
    If a file named PBM.ZIP was downloaded, the following is an example
    of how you would extract the files you just downloaded.
                          PKUNZIP PBM C:\HOLD
    The above assumes that you wish to extract the files within PBM.ZIP
    to a directory called C:\HOLD.  PBM could be replaced with any file
    name you might download and it is not necessary to type the .ZIP
    extension.  C:\HOLD could also be replaced with the directory of
    your choice, or if you want to extract the files to the directory
    where PBM.ZIP currently resides, leave the directory off and just
    type PKUNZIP PBM.
    Under Windows, it is best to exit to DOS to unzip files.  The
    unziping function can then be preformed as described for DOS.
    Recently, a Windows version of PKZIP has been released, which
    features a menu-driven interface for unziping files.
    There are other commands and many features included with the
    popular archive utilities, but this should get those first
    downloads unziped.
    File Transfers and Protocols
    ----------------------------
    The act of receiving a file from another computer through a
    modem connection is known as downloading.  The modem actually
    makes it possible for two computers to exchange information over a
    system of wires which was originally designed for voice.  Sending
    a file to another computer is called uploading.  Even the most
    novice BBS user has most likely heard those terms.  However, it is
    never an easy question to answer when asked "how do I download?"
    This is not to insinuate that the act of downloading is that
    complex of a maneuver, but that there are so many different
    bulletin board and communications software combinations available.
    Each bulletin board software has its unique menus and series of
    commands to prepare the board for downloading.  The other side is
    that each communications software also has its own unique series of
    commands to prepare for receiving the file.
    The best thing to do may be to give a few tips to those who have
    not called around that much to bulletin boards.  Take some time to
    read over some of the documentation which came with your
    communications software, or if your program has decent on-line
    help read some of that.  The most important thing is to have your
    communications software set up to match what the bulletin board
    software is using, however, that is not as complicated as it may
    sound.  In most cases just using the default, or suggested,
    settings will be enough to get you started.  You can always fine
    tune things to your own tastes as time goes own.  One thing to
    remember is to experiment, try different things on the board, you
    cannot hurt a BBS by hitting a few keys.
    When considering your settings, always make sure your file
    transfer protocol matches what the bulletin board will be sending
    the file with.  Most boards offer a selection of file transfer
    protocols which the caller can select from, as do most
    communications programs.  Here is a brief introduction to the more
    common transfer protocols.
    ASCII - This is often seen on BBS's protocol lists, which is an
    abbreviation for American Standard Code for Information Exchange.
    There is no form of error detection available and usually only
    ASCII files can be sent in this way.  Some may say that this is
    not truly a transfer protocol, but it is still used in isolated
    cases.
    Xmodem (CRC) -  This may or may not be the most popular protocol
    in use today, as it is slowly being replaced by quicker and more
    reliable protocols.  Xmodem (CRC) sends files in blocks of 128
    characters at a time and checks for errors using a sophisticated
    Cyclic Redundancy Check.
    Xmodem (Checksum) - Information is transferred in 128 byte blocks
    with a less reliable Checksum error correction method.
    1K Xmodem - This is a variation of Xmodem (CRC) that uses blocks
    that are 1 Kilobyte (1024 bytes) in size.
    1K Xmodem/G -  This variation of Xmodem is meant for error-free
    channels such as error correcting modems or direct cable links
    between two computers.  It achieves great speed, however, it does
    not have error correction and if an error occurs the transfer is
    aborted.
    Ymodem (Batch) - This protocol is a variation on 1K Xmodem, which
    allows for multiple files to be sent per transfer.  While
    transferring files it uses the 1024 byte block size and the CRC
    error correction method.
    Ymodem/G (Batch) - This protocol is a variation on Ymodem which
    achieves very high transfer rates by sending 1024 blocks without
    waiting for acknowledgment.  There is no error correction and if
    an error occurs the transfer is aborted.
    Zmodem (Batch) - This advanced protocol is very fast, incredibly
    reliable and offers many features.  Zmodem can transfer files in a
    batch and can detect and recover from errors quickly.  The Zmodem
    Recovery feature can resume an interrupted transfer.
    HS/Link - This is a relatively new protocol.  It is a high speed,
    single and bi-directional file transfer protocol with many
    advanced features.
    High Speed Transfers, Line Noise, Etc.
    --------------------------------------
    What follows is not intended to be a technical discussion on high
    speed modems, but tries to answer some commonly asked questions.
    The new user, and the expert alike, may ask why file transfers are
    slow at 14,400 baud and above.
    Line noise over common telephone wires has been a problem since
    the first modems made their connection.  For years it was said
    that 2400 bps was as fast as normal telephone lines could transmit
    data and that we would never see faster speeds due to the low
    band-width and high noise levels.  Modem technology has advanced
    over the years, but line noise is not a thing of the past.
    Unfortunately, it is still with us.  These new modems are not
    magic either.  They manage to hide the line noise, and some are
    able to filter it out, but it is still there.
    If line noise occurs during the connection process, where your
    modem and the host modem perform their hand-shaking sequence
    looking for common ground, then it is very likely that the two
    modems will agree to a slower speed to avoid having problems
    during the remainder of the call.  In fact, if line noise occurs
    during the call the modems may decide to shift down at that time
    as well.  When line noise occurs during a file transfer between
    two modems which have established an error correction session, the
    only evidence of this line noise may very well be slow file
    transfers and nothing else.  Many modems give no other indications
    this extra work is being required, and may eventually give up and
    just drop the carrier completely.
    If you find that downloading ASCII files produces excellent file
    transfers rates, but downloading Zip files reduces the rate, then
    very likely you have turned on an option known as "data
    compression." It is like trying to use PKZip to zip a Zip file.
    In its attempt to shrink the file, it actually causes the file to
    expand in size and this slows down the file transfer.
    For high speed file transfers to work you generally want to use
    some type of flow control.  If your modem or software is not set
    up correctly, it is possible that flow control problems will
    result in errors.  When data is lost due to flow control problems
    there is only one solution and that is to send the data again.
    This results in slowing down your file transfer.
    Choosing the right file transfer protocol is important and Xmoden
    is not always appropriate at high speeds.  Zmodem has the ability
    to re-send the last block of data while other protocols, such as
    Ymodem/G, have no way to request that data be resent, so the
    transfer is aborted.  Ymodem/G is one of the fastest, but Zmodem
    is more dependable.
    And if all that is not enough, it seems like certain times of the
    year introduce more line noise on the phone lines than others.
    Some causes of line noise are wet ground conditions, which
    introduces electrical changes in the phone company's lines.
    Increased traffic on the telephone lines leads to increased noise.
    Some of the worst conditions can occur on local calls, as local
    circuits seldom receive the maintenance attention given to long
    distance circuits.
    There are a few hardware options which can reduce the errors in
    high speed transfers.  The easiest is to make sure that all your
    connections are clean.  Dirty or corroded connections will
    obviously have a negative impact on your results.  Another is to
    make sure that your phone line is grounded.  This not only helps
    reduce line noise, but may save your equipment in the event the
    phone lines becomes electrically charged.  For example, it is
    possible for a lightning strike to come through the phone line.
    Some surge protectors have a built-in port to plug the phone line
    into and most electronics stores have a device, which plugs into
    an electrical outlet, to ground the phone line.  If your computer
    is a few years old, you may have to install a new serial card with
    a 16550A UART chip.  This high speed communications port is a
    requirement for 28,800 baud file transfers.  Most of the newer
    computers have these high speed UART chips installed.
    So what else can you do about line noise?  You can contact your
    local phone company.  Sometimes the phone company does find a
    correctable problem.  Using high quality software and equipment
    can hide some of the problems.  Or you could move to France where
    fiber optic telecommunications is a reality.
    All About Doors
    ---------------
    When someone calls a BBS for the first time, there is a very good
    chance they have never heard the term "door" as it relates to
    bulletin boards.  The explanation of what a door is, however, is
    really quite simple.  There are a variety of doors on the market
    which have become quite popular.
    A door is actually a way to exit the bulletin board software and
    access a program which the system operator has made available to
    the callers.  The door is not actually something built into the
    BBS, but a program which the board must use externally.  The board
    may have to shell to DOS to use the door selected, but that is not
    always the case.  A door is a little customizing done on the part
    of the Sysop.
    Game doors have been immensely popular in the on-line community.
    The variety of game doors available is huge with new ones coming
    out all the time.  The basic game door allows the player to play a
    game and post a score for other callers to try to beat.  There are
    also game doors which have an interactive feel by having players
    taking turns in a more complex game, however, turns are still
    taken one at a time.  If a BBS has more than one phone line it
    could offer game doors where callers can truly play a one-on-one
    game in real time.  As with everything else in the computer world,
    the quality of these doors has improved dramatically over the last
    few years.
    Games are not the only type of program which a bulletin board may
    use doors to access.  Mail doors are found on a large percent of
    BBSs, especially if echo-mail is offered.  One nice feature of a
    mail door is it allows users to download new messages and read
    them off-line, thus, cutting down on the time of the call itself.
    There are BBS lists, mailing lists and other utility type programs
    which have been designed to be used as a door.  Some BBS software
    programs allow the Sysop to operate almost any program as a door,
    so the possibilities are endless.
    Chatting, Paging and a Few Words
    --------------------------------
    One thing that happens on bulletin boards is the opportunity to
    "talk" with people live on-line.  There are various ways which you
    may type back and forth with another bulletin board user.  Just
    about every BBS software package on the market allows for talking
    with the Sysop which is better known as paging, or if the Sysop
    initiates the talk the Sysop Chat.  Boards with more than one
    phone line have the option of having chats with several users at
    one time.  There are many utilities and doors available to enhance
    chatting, so this more interactive aspect of bulletin boards can
    have a different feel on different boards.  Talking in a live,
    real time mode is something that is quite popular on some boards.
    Just a few final thoughts on bulletin boards.  The BBS has not
    been around very long and even today only a small percentage of
    the population knows much about this estimated one-half billion
    dollar industry.  However, bulletin boards have really grown up
    since the early days.  Back when this all started it was just a
    few programers, maybe tying together various utilities to make the
    thing workable.  The systems at the time where unstable compared
    to the software which has developed through the years.  In the
    past things like "BBS etiquette" seemed to be a really important
    topic.  If someone hung up on the board, without following the
    proper log-off procedures, it could lock up or possibly even
    damage the system.  Dropping carrier has little effect on most
    bulletin boards today, but is still considered rude.  Bulletin
    boards seem to have fewer rules today than in the past.  When was
    the last time you read the old "remember, you are calling
    someone's home" rule?  It has been estimated that there are almost
    70,000 bulletin boards nationwide, so the competition for callers
    is intense.  Certainly every board needs some very explicit rules
    which must be followed, for example, no posting of pirated
    software.  I am not advocating that users abuse a system, more
    that I think the changes can only help the BBS world become more
    accessible to more people.
    The BBS Glossary
    ----------------
    Access - To use a BBS, as in accessing, or the amount you can use
    it, as in access level.
    ANSI - While actually an acronym for the American National
    Standards Institute, it refers to the widely used graphics on
    BBSs.
    Archive - A file which has been compressed, or at least stored,
    under a specific name.  This allows for faster transfer times and
    the grouping of related files.  Originally meant for files with an
    .ARC extension.
    ASCII - An acronym for American Standard Code for Information
    Interchange which is the most common format for text files.
    Automatic Redial - Automatic redialing by a modem when it receives
    a busy signal.  Many communications programs have this feature.
    Batch - A group of files which are either downloaded or uploaded,
    commonly called a Batch File Transfer.
    Baud Rate - The speed of the modem connection, the higher the rate
    the faster data travels.
    Bulletin - Text which the Sysop has made available to users.
    Bulletins may be informational or educational, give the high game
    scores, or whatever the Sysop deems appropriate.
    Bulletin Board System (BBS) - A computer hooked up to a modem so
    that other people can call and access information, files or games.
    Bits Per Second (BPS) - The rate data is transmitted through a
    modem connection.  Increases with the baud rate.
    Caller - Someone who accesses a bulletin board from a remote
    location.
    Capture - Saving text from BBS display to a file on the remote
    computer normally in ASCII format.  A built-in feature of most
    communications programs.
    Chat - The ability to communicate with users on other lines (or
    nodes).  Callers can chat back and forth in a live conversation.
    Common Carrier - A regulated organization, such as the telephone
    company, that provides telecommunications services for public use.
    Communications Software - Computer program which allows for easier
    calling of BBSs.  Some software packages have all kinds of
    advanced features and many are quite easy to set-up.
    COM Port - This serial port is where the modem is plugged into
    personal computers.  However, data communications is not the only
    use for these ports, as many times a mouse may use a COM port.
    These ports are commonly referred to COM1, COM2, etc.
    Compressed File - A file, or group of files, which have been
    reduced in size using compression utilities.  A compressed file
    uses less disk space and speeds up transfer times.
    Conference - A separate area on a BBS which is directed at
    specific topics.  Conferences almost always have their own message
    base, and some have their own file directories or doors.
    CPS - Characters per Seconds.  A way to measure the speed of data
    transmissions.  The CPS increases with the baud rate.
    Dedicated Line - A telephone, or data, line that is always
    available for use.  Most bulletin boards are setup on a dedicated
    line and are available 24 hours a day.
    Default - Refers to settings used by BBS or communications
    software.  Many times the preset configuration works fine,
    especially for new users.
    Door - A program with has been added onto the BBS, but is not part
    of the BBS software itself.  Sysops customize their board by
    adding game or utility type doors.
    Download - Receiving data from a BBS through the modem connection.
    Downloads from BBSs are known as files.
    Drop Carrier - Hanging up on a BBS without following the proper
    log-off procedures.  Occasionally can happen on either end
    unintentionally.
    Echo Mail - Public messages which go out over a BBS network.
    E-Mail - Electronic mail, which is sent on computers in the form
    of messages.
    Emoticon - Emoticon is short for emotional icon and are sometimes
    called smileys, which are typically found within e-mail to convey
    an emotion.  For example, the most common emoticon is the smiling
    happy face, :), which means the comment should be taken tongue-in-
    cheek.
    Encryption - The process of encoding communications data for
    higher security.
    External Protocol - File transfer protocol which is not actually
    built into the particular BBS, or communications software, but
    must be accessed externally.
    FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions.  A text file which answers
    common questions about a particular subject.  One example would be
    questions that new BBS users may have.
    Fax/Modem - A modem which has the ability to send and receive
    facsimile transmissions (faxes).
    Fax Software - Software which works in conjunction with a
    Fax/Modem to send and receive faxes.  Many software packages have
    options such as converting faxes to ASCII or other text formats.
    FidoNet - The largest bulletin board based message network echoing
    mail with thousands of systems worldwide.
    File - Data transferred through the modem connection for use on
    the receiving computer.  Files can be complete programs,
    informational text, graphic images or many other formats.
    Flame - Messages which contain criticisms, angry statements or
    direct personal attacks.  Two or more people participating in this
    type of exchange is referred to as a "Flame War."
    Forum - See conference.
    Freeware - Software which is legally copyrighted, however, the
    author asks for no monetary compensation for the program.
    Gateway - A option which allows a BBS caller to dial out to
    another BBS.
    GIF - Graphics Interchange Format.  Common standard for graphics
    files found on-line.  A file with a GIF extension is typically a
    picture and software is required to view the image.
    Hacker - A person who gains access to computer systems illegally,
    usually from a personal computer.
    Handshake - The handshake sequence is what modems perform when
    first making a connection, as the modems agree on the most
    efficient way to transfer data.
    HS/Link - This is a relatively new file transfer protocol.  It is
    a high speed, single and bi-directional file transfer protocol
    with many advanced features.
    Information Super-Highway - A buzz word created by the media to
    describe the current and future uses of telecommunications
    technology.
    Internal Protocol - File transfer protocol which is built into the
    particular BBS or communications software.
    Internet - A rapidly growing computer based network which includes
    bulletin boards, educational and government institutions, on-line
    services and businesses all over the world.  Millions of people
    are now accessing the Internet for electronic mail and other
    information.
    ISDN - Integrated Services Digital Network.  The next generation
    of telephone technology designed to provide real time transmission
    in a digital format.  Already installed in some places.
    ISP - Internet Service Provider.  A BBS, or other company, that
    offers individual access to the Internet.
    ITU-T - International Telecommunications Union (Telecommunications
    sector).  Formerly known as CCITT, this organization sets the
    international standards for telegraphic and telephone equipment.
    Sets modems standards, such as the recent V.34 standard for 28.8
    baud transmissions.
    JPEG - Joint Photographic Experts Group.  A standard for
    compressed graphics files found on-line.  A file with a JPG
    extension is typically a picture and software is required to view
    the image.
    Line Noise - Static which can occur during a modem connection due
    to the fact that the telephone system was originally designed for
    voice.
    Local - Use of the BBS at its physical location.  Typically, the
    Sysop accessing the BBS software directly.
    Log-on - Calling a BBS, and going through the most common
    procedure of giving name and password.
    Lurking - Someone who reads messages without participating.
    Typically, there are more users lurking in the background, then
    users entering messages.
    Main Board - The primary conference on a BBS, and where the
    callers normally are when they first log-on.  Most general
    messages, files and doors should be found here.
    Message - Something left by a BBS user for others to read.  A
    message could be left for a single user, or for all users to read.
    Message Base - All messages left on a BBS, or more specifically
    the location of those messages.  Separate conferences typically
    have their own message base.
    Modem - Device which allows computers to talk to each other over a
    system which was originally designed for voice communications.
    Network - Different BBSs exchanging messages to increase the
    activity and diversity of the message base.  The echo mail network
    allows a user to leave a message on one BBS which can be read on a
    BBS at a different location.  On some of the large networks a
    message can be read literally around the world.
    NetMail - Electronic messages, which go out over a BBS network,
    which are addressed to, and may be read by, only one person.
    Node - Commonly used as the number of telephone lines hooked up to
    a BBS with each line being a node, but a BBS can also have local
    nodes.
    Password - A unique series of keyboard characters that a caller
    selects to access a BBS.  It should be kept confidential to
    prevent others from logging-on using your name.
    Paging - Requesting a live chat with the Sysop, who may answer the
    page if available.
    Private - Indicates a conference or message is not meant for all
    callers, and may refer to some BBSs which have restricted access.
    Protocol - A language that modems use to communicate with each
    other during file transfers.  The same protocol must be used by
    both modems for a transfer to be successful.  There are a growing
    number of protocols to choose from.
    Public - A conference, message, or BBS which is open for any
    caller.  A public message can be read by all users.  A public
    board will have private messages and perhaps some private
    conferences, but generally access is available to all.
    Public Domain - Programs or files which are released free of
    charge with little restriction for use.
    QWK - The file extension for mail packets compressed using the
    Quick Mail format.  This format is popular for BBS mail transfers
    and off-line mail readers.
    Remote Computer - A computer which has connected to the BBS by
    modem.
    RIPscrip - Remote Imaging Protocol.  A graphics format which is
    used to add mouse support to bulletin boards.
    Screen Capture - See capture.
    Script - A questionnaire set-up by the Sysop to get information
    from the caller.
    Security Level - Level of access given to a caller which
    determines what the caller may access on the BBS.  Users may
    require a higher security level to access certain conferences or
    files.
    Shareware - A method of software distribution which allows you to
    try before you buy.  Shareware can be used for a limited time
    without payment, but registration is required if the product is
    used past the evaluation period.
    Sysop - Short for System Operator, the person who operates the
    BBS.
    Thread - The linking of messages with a specific conversation
    topic.  This message thread allows people to read all messages on
    a related subject.
    Transfer - The receiving or sending of a file with a BBS.
    Upload - Sending data, typically files, to a BBS through the modem
    connection.
    User - Originally meant to imply someone calling in the local
    mode, while those who access the BBS from a remote computer where
    known as callers.  Now commonly implies both callers and users.
    User Account - The record containing information for an individual
    user.  Things like user name, password, address, the number of
    uploads and downloads, and security level are typically found in
    the user account.
    User Friendly - Refers to software, or a BBS, which is easy for a
    novice to use.
    V.21 - An ITU-T standard for 300 bps modem connections
    standardized in 1981.
    V.22 - An ITU-T standard for 1200 bps modem connections
    standardized in 1982.
    V.22 bis - An ITU-T standard for 2400 bps modem connections
    standardized in 1984.
    V.32 - An ITU-T standard for 4800 and 9600 bps modem connections
    standardized in 1987.
    V.32 bis - An ITU-T standard for 14400 bps modem connections
    standardized in 1991.
    V.34 - An ITU-T standard for 28800 bps modem connections
    standardized in 1994.
    V.FC - Early standard developed by Rockwell International for
    28800 bps modem connections.
    Verification - Many BBSs have some way of verifying that the
    caller logging-on is actually who they say they are.  Caller ID,
    doors which call the user back, or calling all users by voice are
    common practices.
    Xmodem (CRC) -  At one time this was the most popular file
    transfer protocol.  Xmodem (CRC) sends files in blocks of 128
    characters at a time and checks for errors using a sophisticated
    Cyclic Redundancy Check.
    Xmodem (Checksum) - A file transfer protocol where information is
    transferred in 128 byte blocks with a less reliable Checksum error
    correction method.
    1K Xmodem - This file transfer protocol is a variation of Xmodem
    (CRC) that uses blocks that are 1 kilobyte (1024 bytes) in size.
    1K Xmodem/G -  This file transfer protocol variation of Xmodem is
    meant for error-free channels such as error correcting modems or
    direct cable links between two computers.  It achieves great
    speed, however, it does not have error correction and if an error
    occurs the transfer is aborted.
    Ymodem (Batch) - This file transfer protocol is a variation on 1K
    Xmodem, which allows for multiple files to be sent per transfer.
    While transferring files it uses the 1024 byte block size and the
    CRC error correction method.
    Ymodem/G (Batch) - This file transfer protocol is a variation on
    Ymodem which achieves very high transfer rates by sending 1024
    blocks without waiting for acknowledgment.  There is no error
    correction and if an error occurs the transfer is aborted.
    Zip - The most common form of compressed file found on BBSs.
    Zmodem (Batch) - This protocol is very popular because it is very
    fast, incredibly reliable and offers many features.  Zmodem can
    transfer files in a batch and can detect and recover from errors
    quickly.  The Zmodem Recovery feature can resume an interrupted
    transfer.
    The Emoticon Dictionary
    -----------------------
    New users may be confused by some of the symbols found in BBS
    messages, and at first may even think that maybe some line noise
    may have effected the call.  Those who are new to BBSing may see
    something like :-) in a message and wonder what it is.  Some users
    like to add symbols to messages to convey some sort of feeling and
    these symbols are known as emotional icons, or "emoticons."  The
    smiling happy face, :-), is the most commonly seen emoticon, but
    some of the others are far more complex and not so self-
    explanatory.  Some are rarely seen and many of the emoticons are
    meant to be tongue-in-cheek.  It may help to turn your head, as
    most emoticons in the Emoticon Dictionary are on their side.
    :)         Smiling happy face
    :-)        Smiling happy face (with nose)
    B-)        Above, but with glasses or sunglasses
    8-)        Same as previous; also used to denote wide-eyed look
    :-(        Sad or angry face
    ;-)        Winking happy face (something said tongue-in-cheek)
    :-P        Tongue stuck out
    :-b        Same as previous
    :-D        Wider happy face (or mouth open too much)
    :-o        "Oh, nooooooo!" (a la Mr. Bill)
    #:-)       :-) done by someone with matted hair
    <:-)       Dumb questions
    (:-)       Message dealing with bicycle (or motorcycle) helmets
    (:-#       Perhaps, something that shouldn't have been said
    (:<)       Message concerning blabber mouths
    (:-D       Message concerning another blabber mouth
    |-(        Late night message
    :^)        Message teasing someone about their nose
    :-{#}      Message teasing someone about their braces
    (:-$       Message indicating person is sick
    (:-&       Message indicating person is angry
    (:-*       Kiss...
    (:-(       Message indicating person is very sad
    :-(=)      Message about someone with big teeth
    &:-)       Message from a person with curly hair
    @:-)       Message from a person with wavy hair
    ?-(        Message about someone with a black eye
    %-)        Message about someone with broken glasses
    .-)        User has one eye
    .-]        Another one-eyed user
    :-:        Message from a mutant
    :-Q        Message about a smoker
    :-9        User is licking their lips
    :-x        My lips are sealed
    :-)X       User is wearing a bow tie
    (-)        User needs a haircut
    (-:        Message by someone who is left-handed
    8:-)       User has glasses on forehead
    [:-)       User is listening to a walkman radio
    :-c        Bummed out smiling face
    -:-)       User has a Mohawk haircut, or likes Mr. T
    (:)-)      Message from someone who scuba dives
    (:I        Message from an egghead
    :-)'       User tends to drool
    :-'|       User has a cold
    ...---...  S.O.S.
    @>--->---- A rose
    2B|^2B     Message about Shakespeare
    (O--<      A fishy message
    {          User is Alfred Hitchcock.
    @=         Flame about nuclear war (mushroom cloud)
    oo         "Somebody's head-lights are on" message
    O>-<|=     Message of interest to women
    +<:-|      Message from a monk or nun
    {0-)       Message about a cyclops
    (:-|K-     Formal message
    ||*(       Handshake offered
    ||*)       Handshake accepted
    <&&>       Message concerning rubber chickens
    >< ><      Message about someone wearing argyle socks
    (-_-)      Secret smile
    <{:-)}     Message in a bottle
    <:-)<<|    Message from a space rocket
    <I==I)     A message on four wheels
    :^{        User wears a mustache
    :>         Midget smiling face
    :-)##      A smiling face with a beard
    @:-)##     A smiling face with a beard and a turban
    :-)<>////> A smiling face wearing a striped necktie
    =|:-)##    Message about Uncle Sam
    >:-{       Message about Count Dracula
    \:-)       Message about Gumby
    >:-(       Message from someone who is angry
    <:>==      A turkey head
    :-\        Message from someone who is undecided
    :-s        Response to a bizarre comment
    :-'        User is spitting out chewing tobacco
    :-%        Message from a banker
    :-}        Message from someone wearing lipstick
    ::-)       Message about someone who wears glasses
    {(:-)      Message concerning toupee
    }(:-)      Message about a toupee on a  winding day
    :%)%       Message concerning acne
    :-*        User after eating something sour
    :-#|       Message from someone with a bushy mustache
    :-?        User is smoking a pipe
    :-)8       Message from someone with a bow tie
    :=)        Message from someone with two noses
    *<|:-)     Message from Santa Claus
    :n)        User with funny looking right nose
    :u)        User with funny looking left nose
    %-^        Message from Picasso
    #-)        Message from someone who partied all night
    8          Infinity
    8-|        Suspense
    8-#        Death
    :-]        Smiley blockhead
    :-|        No expression, or have an ordinary day
    :->        A real happy user
    :-I        Hmm, thinking
    @:I        User with a turban
    |-D        Ho, ho
    O-)        User is wearing a scuba mask
    B-|        User is wearing cheap sunglasses
    :>)        User has a big nose
    {:-)       Smiley with hair parted down the middle
    :-<        User is real sad
    *-(        Cyclops got poked in the eye
    <|-)=      User is Chinese
    >:-<       User is mad
    :-6        User has eaten something sour
    :-#        User's lips are sealed
    =:-)       User is a hose-head
    :-e        User is disappointed
    *:o)       User is a bozo
    |-P        Yuk
                            +   +   +   +   +
    (C)Copyright 1992-1997  Richard Ziegler - All Rights Reserved
                           +   +   +   +   +
/data/webs/external/dokuwiki/data/pages/archive/bbs/basics.txt · Last modified: 2001/09/04 04:37 (external edit)