Whatever happened to the COMMUNICATIONS in telecommunications? Is this the result of the Computer Age, that people don't talk or communicate with each other? Are we getting so totally in tune with our equipment that we're excluding PEOPLE? If so, then Orwell's pre- dictions are tame in comparison with the reality. Who took the BULLETIN BOARD out of Bulletin Board System? The file transfer sect- ion of my board is shiny from daily use, but the bulletin section is obscured by cobwebs. The thought has crossed my mind more than once just to load up a host program and let people grab whatever programs look interesting.
"Do you have a logon code for this system (Y/N) ==> Y <==" "What is your account number? 775" "What is your logon code? PASSWORD" "INVALID LOGON CODE" "Do you have a logon code for this system (Y/N) ==> Y <==" "What is your account number? 305" "What is your logon code? PASSWORD"
et cetera, ad infinitum et ad nauseam.
Hackers. Or so they'd like to believe. Vandals, pests, yes. Hackers? They should be so talented, devoted and lucky. Why do these computer- ized delinquents find such delight in trying to break into bulletin boards? Don't they realize that sysops are ordinary people just like themselves trying to find a little enjoyment in their hobby? Why pick on me? I'm spending a lot of time and money trying to provide people a service for free, and they want to go and spoil it for everyone. Heck, if they want onto the system, all they have to do is apply for a logon. Why make life difficult for everyone? Leave me alone. Go pick on CompuServe.
Caller logs on. Leaves E-Mail to a friend. Lines only fill half the screen, so he's probably using a Commodore 64. Goes to file transfer section, and selects UltraTerm protocol. Chooses a file that indicates it's a TRS-80 program. BBS goes to send, he figures out that he's somewhere he doesn't want to be and drops carrier.
Another caller logs on four times in a row, but keeps losing carrier before he can do anything. Probably phreaking on a cheapie phone ser- vice.
Another caller successfully downloads a file. Sit. Wait. Wait some more. System eventually times out and drops him.
I'm not the most polite person in the world and I'm certainly not one to stand on ceremony, but I am old enough to remember what manners were. They also went down the tubes with "communications" and "bulle- tin boards." Whoops! Dropped carrier! So what? If it's a halfway decent system, it'll reboot. Well, I'll just go to bed while download- ing this long file, the system will eventually throw me off and reboot. Never mind that there's other people wanting to call into the board. Who cares that the sysop climbs the walls when he sees someone drop carrier or time-out on the system? Lately I've gotten into the habit of dropping carrier ON MY END for the worst offenders. One good hang- up deserves another.
Along with all the other goodies that have bitten the dust, there's good old APPRECIATION. As I mentioned before, my BBS has fielded over 12,000 calls. Out of all of them, I have gotten maybe a dozen messages saying "Thanks for running your BBS." That's about one "Thank You" per THOUSAND calls! Unfortunately, it seems that people think they have all this automatically coming to them. It's their right! Sorry to disil- lusion anyone, but that just ain't so. The master switch for this sys- tem is two feet away, and I'm not so decrepit that I can't hit it in a flash. Alternatively, I can ban anyone I wish from my system. Callers use this BBS at my forbearance only, and it's not a God-given right. It's a sysop-given privilege! I sincerely feel that we should proclaim a "Sysop Appreciation Day." We certainly don't get any on a day-to-day basis!
Don't get me wrong. There ARE joys and benefits in running a BBS, although sometimes in my nether moods I'm hard pressed to enumerate them. But the fact is, there have been many occasions when I've rest- ed my finger on the switch with the idea of going offline forever.
Now for the moral of the story. I'm only one sysop among many, and I'm not trying to evoke sympathy for myself through this article. The point is that almost every sysop around has these feelings to some extent or another. And further, most of these sysops (especially the best and most devoted ones) are going to reach a saturation point and wind up depriving the general public of their services. I foresee a day coming, and very soon at that, when the high quality BBS's will be all gone. So all this is really a plea for everyone to shape up their acts before it's too late. If nothing else, when you're on a bulletin board, leave a little message to the sysop. "Thanks for the use of your system" or "Fine BBS you have here." Let them know they're appre- ciated. When I see a message like that, I say to myself, "THAT's why I'm doing all this!" Sysops are real, live human beings with feelings and emotions. Let's start treating them as such!