Modem Tutorial Index
Appendix C: About "The Joy of Telecomputing"
What is "The Joy of Telecomputing?"
"The Joy of Telecomputing" is a 200-page (and growing), three-part report consisting of the following articles: "What you need to know about modems,""Life beyond CompuServe" and "Is AT&T the right choice?" A glossary and an index are also provided.
The discussions in "The Joy of Telecomputing" are devoted to the following online activities: file transfer (downloading shareware, exchanging files with colleagues or friends), electronic mail, conferences (forums, newsgroups, SIGs), chatting. You won't find discussions on stock quotes, shopping malls, online databases, etc.
Going online has become a way of life for many computer users. It is undeniably fascinating, fulfilling and fun. But there is also a down side to it: the cost can be prohibitive. I have yet to meet an avid modem user who didn't wish that he could afford to be online longer.
To get the most mileage from your online dollars, you need to know the answers to the following three questions:
People live in different cities, use different kinds of computers and do different things online. It should come as no surprise that there isn't a single online system that is right for everyone.
The goal of "The Joy of Telecomputing" is to help you get the most from telecomputing. Our goal is not to tell you that so-and-so is the best but to present you with enough information so that you will be able to determine what is right for you. We'll provide you a survey that is both comprehensive and specific.
To be comprehensive, we'll cover the three main groups of online systems: commercial online services (CompuServe and others), bulletin board systems and the Internet.
To be specific, we'll present you all the necessary information to help you make a decision. Take electronic mail, for example. Virtually all online systems offer electronic mail service. However, listing dozens of services and saying that they all offer e-mail would do little to help you make an intelligent decision. We'll also provide specific details about each service such as
(Note: CompuServe is a good deal for e-mail only if you join the Basic Service Plan. To join this experimental program, type GO NEWBASIC at any ! prompt. For $7.95 per month, you are allowed to send 60 messages. Each message can have up to 7500 characters. Note that there is a surcharge for sending e-mail to MCI Mail users. Also, reading e-mail sent to you from Internet also count against your monthly allowance.)
For the past eight years, I've worked as a computer consultant. I decided to pursue my career as a computer writer a few months ago. In the past three months, I have signed contracts for two computer books to be published in 1992.
"The Joy of Telecomputing" is a project that I believe is sorely needed. Initially I have considered submitting it to the computer book publishers. However, I have learned that it can easily take six to nine months (if no longer) to get a book published. As a result, by the time the book gets to the readers, it is probably obsolete. (It may not be too bad if this is a book on C programming. But a book on the online world?) Therefore, I decide to try it on my own to see whether the online community would support such a project.
The online world is constantly changing and it will remain one of the hottest growing area in microcomputing for many years to come. By keeping the project under my own control, I'll be able to provide you the information you need on a timely basis.
"The Joy of Telecomputing" is an ongoing project. It will be updated every quarter. Future updates of "What you need to know about modems" will remain available on BBS and other online services.
If there are enough supporters for this project, I would like to set up a BBS. (What else?) You will be able to exchange informations, download files and participate in discussions about the ever evolving online world.
What's in "Life Beyond CompuServe?"
Part II of "The Joy of Telecomputing" provides a comprehensive survey of the online world. It covers the three major groups of online systems:
In general, commercial online services do not offer good price/performance, though some of them excel in certain areas (such as e-mail). We'll look at the major commercial online services (CompuServe, GEnie, Prodigy, etc.) and see what they offer and what they are good for. Major topics covered are:
It is estimated that more than 30,000 bulletin boards exist in the United States. If you live in a metropolitan area, you'll probably find hundreds of BBS that are local. Most BBS operate as a hobby by their owners and without charge to their users. There are many BBS that have members all over the United States (and the world).
The world of BBS has become a phenomenon. BBS are no longer isolated systems. Fidonet, the network linking thousands of BBS around the world, allows users on one BBS to communicate with those on other BBS. Recently, with gateways to the UUCP network, many BBS has allowed their members to exchange e-mail with users of the Internet and to participate in Usenet newsgroups.
We'll cover the following topics:
If you want someone to learn UNIX, show him the Internet. (You don't need to be a UNIX expert to use the Internet though. Besides, UNIX is not really that hard.)
Internet is a global computer network linking hundreds of thousands of computers (mainly UNIX computers) at universities, research institutions and government agencies. Internet is unsurpassed for e-mail and conferences (called newsgroups in the UNIX world). It is also an invaluable resource for free software. Some major topics covered are:
Part III of "The Joy of Telecomputing" provides detailed discussions on the various ways you can reach a remote system (i.e., a system which is not local to you). What is the most cost-effective way to reach those systems?
There are generally two options you have to reach a remote system:
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