ASSOCIATES (vol. 1, no. 1, July 1994) -

Table of Contents

			       David J. Ives
		     Head, Microcomputer Systems Group
		   MU Libraries - University of Missouri
		     Copyright (c) 1994 David J. Ives
Hey there, you beach-bunnies and hodaddies!  Spending too much
time wiping out when you're trying to shoot the curl on that big
Information wave?  Well, this electronic hotdogger is ready to
help you hang ten, be Real Cool, and impress your friends and all
that, when it comes to surviving the Curse of Tutankhamen -- the
This article cannot begin to do much more than cover some of the
bare essentials (and provide some useful tips and hints) for
using and abusing the world-wide Internet.  The topics will
include: e-mail; listservs; telnet; ftp; gopher; and world-wide
web.  I won't even touch on less-frequently-encountered (or less
"hyped") elements like Prospero, Archie, WAIS, IRC, USENET,
Finger, Netfind, Whois, Ping, MUDs, and Jughead (if you want to
complain - you write it!).
If you can spend some money on a good "guide book", a book that I
strongly can recommend is:  "The Whole Internet User's Guide &
Catalog" (2nd ed.), Ed Krol, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., 1994.
Find out the telephone number of your library's, campus', or
organization's Computer Help Desk!  These folks are the ones who
should(!) be able to help you with the myriad techno-esoteric
factors involved in YOU connecting to (and using) the Internet in
YOUR computer environment, using YOUR particular software
package.  Because the kind of Internet connection you have, the
hardware you're using to connect to it, and the software you're
using all WILL make a difference, the following discussion of
Internet access and use must be kept on a broad, generalized
level.  Sorry about that, but it's one of the cold, hard facts of
computerized technology.
There are literally dozens of e-mail programs that you can use to
send and/or receive mail via the Internet.  Hint Number One:
read the manual for your software!  If you have an in-house
"guru", make use of his or her knowledge also.  Most are willing
to share and to help out polite and humble "newbies".
Remember that all of your text is going to be transmitted over
the Internet as ASCII text.  This means you should forget about
using word-processing features, such as underlining, italics, and
typographic symbols.  Those will show up on the receiver's screen
as strange, garbled, or "garbage" characters.
If you want to emphasize some text, I suggest using CAPITALS, but
do not use capital letters for every single word:  IT MAKES IT
NOVICE/GEEK, see?  You also can surround the *emphasized text*
with asterisks.
Remember that there is very little you can do to get emotional
contexts across to your readers because they can't see your face
or hear your voice.  This is why the gods of the Internet
invented "smileys" -- these strange little symbol-sets can be
used to express emotion.  Some of the more common ones include:
8>) [happy]  :-( [sad]  ;-) [joking - winking] and 8>O [surprise]
Try to stick to the common ones.  The books that list pages and
pages of esoteric and bizarre smileys are practicing serious
overkill.  For example, how often would you need to use: 6>O%)))
[one-eyed person, with triple chins, swallowing a cat]?  I
suggest that you keep them simple and keep them sparse!
A Word To The Wise:  there is NO confidentiality on the
Internet!!!!  Write ALL of your messages in such a way that the
receiver could forward them to any person or group of people on
the planet and you wouldn't be embarrassed, incensed, or brought
to justice.  Keep those electronic affairs, controlled substance
purchases, and threats of bodily harm off the Internet!
A high percentage of the e-mail that travels across the Internet
is generated by electronic discussion groups called listservs,
more commonly known as "Lists".  These discussion groups cover
every topic imaginable, as well as some that are unimaginable for
many people.
Messages (comments, questions, requests, etc.) sent to a listserv
group should pertain to the subject of THAT listserv group.  For
example, do NOT ask a question about CD-ROM networks on a list
devoted to Elton John and do NOT proselytize your own religious,
ethical or political beliefs on a list dedicated to discussing
Japanese computer technology!  To do so marks you as a rank
novice, newbie, and plenty ignorant!
One of the biggest problems involving e-mail and lists is that
subscribers invariably end up responding to the person when one
really wanted to send the message to the entire list, or vice
versa.  This latter faux pas can send some extremely embarrassing
messages allllll over the planet!  Try not to worry too much
about it -- most people seem to commit that error sooner or
later.  Either your local communications software/protocols
manual, your local "guru", or available menu/help lines on your
monitor screen will help you distinguish between the two types of
     Handy Hint:  after giving the "reply" command, look at the
     "To:" line or field of the message screen that's presented
     to you -- is your message going to the right person or is
     it going to the list?
Getting your e-mail "To:" field correctly addressed is especially
critical for subscribing and unsubscribing to a particular
listserv.  The term "listserv" actually refers to 2 entities:
1) the actual name of the listserv discussion group (the "list")
   you send e-mail messages to; and
2) the name of the computer program that runs and manipulates all
   of the e-mail sent to and from that discussion group.
Thus, the name of a listserv discussion group (a "list") at the
University of Missouri might be "WAYCOOL-L," but the name of the
software that actually runs that group is "LISTSERV" - and the e-
mail address of this "listserv" software will be different from
the e-mail address of the "list".
Please note *carefully* -- you communicate with a *different*
address when you SUBSCRIBE (or UNSUBSCRIBE or SET NOMAIL, etc.)
to a listserv discussion group than you do when you send general
e-mail replies, queries and comments to that listserv discussion
group.  The following examples note the e-mail addresses for some
imaginary listserv discussion groups and for the listserv
software itself:
     send messages to
     send subscribe to
     send messages to
     send subscribe to
     send messages to
     send subscribe to
It is worth repeating:
     *    You DO NOT send normal discussion group e-mail messages
	  to LISTSERV@anything.anything
     *    You DO NOT send requests to subscribe or unsubscribe to
	  any address *BUT* LISTSERV@anything.anything
Everyone got that?  There's nothing that will spotlight you as a
rank novice as will confusing the destinations of these 2 types
of correspondence.  And this error almost is guaranteed to
provoke other list members to flame you!
Just what are "flames?"  They are non-congratulatory (i.e.,
vicious, damning, sarcastic, derogatory, contemptuous, vitriolic,
scornful) messages sent by list members to a member who has
broken a code of conduct, sent an unsubscribe request to the
listserv group itself, or who has the audacity to take a
controversial stance on just about any topic imaginable.  It is
*not* a good idea to flame someone unless there are extremely
mitigating circumstances involved as this can start what is known
as a "flame war".  In "flame wars", members of various sides of
an issue send messages that no longer even discuss the topic  but
whose sole purpose seems to be to castigate those who disagree
with them.  Do not do this!!  It is *not* nice!!
Another thing with which a list should NOT be clogged is
repetitious "Me too"s.  If you agree with someone's argument or
point, don't clog up the list (and the Internet) with empty
"yeah, me too!" messages.  Send this kind of brain-dead message
to the individual *person or author*, NOT to the *listserv group*
(see above regarding the "To:" field)!
Finally, you will do yourself and your listserv colleagues a Big
Favor if you make sure that the "Subject:" field of your message
always reflects accurately the topic of your message.  This
allows everyone to either ignore a topic in which they have no
particular interest or to quickly zero in on a special topic of
interest.  Your Computing Help Desk or local "guru" will be able
to tell you how to change the "Subject:" field of a message you
originate or a message to which you are replying.
WARNING:  A single list may generate anywhere from a couple to
many dozen messages each and every day.  Make sure you have the
time to read and/or dump these message, and make certain that
your e-mail storage space (Computing Help Desk again!) is large
enough to store that volume of mail.
Telneting is nothing more than establishing an electronic two-way
connection between your terminal/computer and a computer that has
information or data that you want (OPACs, databases, etc.).
Telnet was one of the first widespread Internet protocols and
it's still a viable one.
There's not too much to telneting.  The syntax usually is:
telnet  (e.g., telnet
Sometimes the instructions will tell you to use the syntax:
telnet  , where  is a 4-digit number (e.g.,
telnet 3000), .  All this means is that the
site to which you are telneting needs to use a "port" that is
different from the default telnet port of 23 -- in this example,
port 3000.
The Big Trick with telneting occurs when you are trying to telnet
to an IBM main frame computer.  If this is the case, the screen
of the computer to which you connect will contain all sorts of
strange text splits, garbage characters, etc., and it probably
will be unreadable.  To telnet to an IBM mainframe you need to
use a program that emulates an IBM 3270 terminal (an early and
dumb terminal), a program called "tn3270" (surprise!).  If your
library or campus doesn't provide you with tn3270 access, you
will need to acquire any one of the several tn3270 emulation
programs that are available (but ONLY if you need to "telnet" to
an IBM mainframe computer!).  Fortunately, most of the Internet
is populated by Unix-based hosts (for which telnet works just
fine), but large academic sites, in particular, may still be
running IBM mainframes.
Be sure to exit your telnet/tn3270 session appropriately.  The
host site may tell you what this command is as it often varies
with the user's software.  Some hosts will automatically log you
off after "x" minutes of inactivity, others won't.
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, which is the primary means
used today for transferring files to your computer from a distant
host computer.  Need that Internet Subject list, that picture of
the Rocky Mountains, that neato computer utility program?  FTP is
one of the ways to retrieve those files.
Most FTPing is used to retrieve files from host computers called
"anonymous FTP sites."  All this means is that you login to the
FTP host computer with a user id of "anonymous" and, when
prompted, type in your e-mail address as your password (e.g.,
jcrater@).  An anonymous site does not require you to have a
pre-determined user id and password.
If you are going to be FTPing, it is critical that you understand
the difference between "non-binary" and "binary" files.  A
"non-binary" file is any straight-text file (e.g., filename.txt,
filename.doc, filename.wp, or filename.ref).  A "binary" file is
any file that is NOT a straight-text file (e.g., a graphic file,
a program file, or a compressed file) -- e.g., filename.gif,
filename.exe,, or filename.lzh.
When you FTP a file from a site, you usually must give your FTP
software specific commands so that the file will be transferred
in the appropriate format (if it isn't, it's *worthless*).  These
commands might be something like:
     "binary" or "set file type binary" to transfer binary files,
     "ascii" or "set file type ascii" to transfer non-binary
     (ASCII) files.
Depending on your software and/or on how you are connected to the
Internet, the file(s) you get by FTPing may be stored on your
computer's hard disk, or they may be stored on your library's or
campus' mainframe or minicomputer (from which you will have to
transfer then to your hard disk).  Ask your local "guru" or
your Computing Help Desk.
When FTPing files from an anonymous FTP site, keep in mind that,
in most cases, the filenames *are* case sensitive.  If the name
of the file you wish to get is "AAcR3.DoC," that is what you will
have to type in at the prompt - NOT "AACR3.DOC" or "aacr3.doc."
     Handy Hint:  for those looking for X-rated files on the
     Internet, here are two pieces of advice:  1) there aren't
     any, and 2) I'm *not* going to tell you where they are (as
     you surf the Net, you'll find 'em!).
This software (developed in Minnesota -- Golden Gophers; "gofer"
information; "tunneling" through the Internet like a gopher, get
it??) is becoming more widely used all the time.  It will connect
you, transparently, to a wide variety of data and information.
The Gopher protocol connects you to over seven-hundred Gopher
sites around the world.  These sites contain a wealth of
information:  online books; government documents; software
programs and documentation; scientific reports, etc.  These files
can be viewed onscreen or downloaded to your computer or computer
account for later retrieval and use.
The Gopher "server" software runs on the machines that supply the
information.  The Gopher "client" software runs on the machines
that access that information.  Check with your Computing Help
Desk or local "guru" to find out how (and if) you can connect to
the Gopher system.
The wealth of Gophered Internet information is formatted in a
directory-subdirectories-files kind of hierarchy.  You select an
item and either a file is displayed on your monitor or you are
taken another level deeper into the Gopher's directory structure.
Each of the directory entries are marked as to their type, "D" =
Directory, "F" = File, and so forth.  As you move back and forth
through the directory structure, you actually are being connected
to a number of different computers at different sites, countries,
or continents -- all without any extra effort or knowledge on
your part.  This is the Big Beauty of the Gopher system!
I have retrieved a file from a Gopher site in California, but I
actually got to it by Gophering to a site in Missouri and
selecting a menu directory that connected me to a site in
England.  Then, by selecting another menu item, I was
connected to a Gopher site in Israel.  From there I was connected
to a site in Western Australia.  I made another menu selection
and was connected to a site in Atlanta, GA, from which I made the
final menu selection that connected me to a host computer in
Northern California, and from which I downloaded the file.  All
of this was done seamlessly and transparently.  The only "work" I
had to do was to select particular menu items!
Gophering is made much easier (and often faster) by the use of an
ancillary software tool called "Veronica" and developed at the
University of Nevada, Reno.  In essence, "Veronica" is a keyword
searcher for all of the Gopher sites, although it is searching
only on the words in the menu option listings or menu headers.
Access to "Veronica" is almost always available at every Gopher
site -- sometimes as "Veronica" and sometimes in a directory
titled "Other gopher and information sources", or something
similar.  "Veronica" will search Gopherspace for your keyword(s)
and then automatically build and display a primary menu for
you.  The entries on this menu will connect to files or other
directories on Gopher computers all over the world, with no
effort or expertise needed on your part.
If you're looking for Internet information on a specific topic,
or based on a specific keyword, the Gopher-Veronica combination
is hard to beat (so, get out there and gopher it!).  Keep in
mind, though, that only a relatively small percentage of all of
the Internet's sites are linked by the Gopher software.  Many
telnet and FTP sites aren't.
The World Wide Web (WWW or just the "Web") has been the target of
lots of media attention lately.  If you believed all the hype
you'd think it's the best thing since sliced bread.  It's not,
though it can be useful at times.
The Web is based on hypertext -- text or reference numbers that
appear either highlighted or are within brackets [ ].  When these
hypertext items are selected, a connection is made (transparent
to the user) that expands additional information on that subject
or topic.  This additional information can be text, graphics
(pictures, charts, etc.), sound, or a combination thereof.
Of course, you'll need special software to use the Web and to
make use of its hypertext capabilities.  The most common user
software packages are:  Mosaic, a graphic user interface in some
incarnation, for PCs, MACs and Unix machines; and Lynx, a
character-based interface.  Both Mosaic and Lynx are freely
available programs.
While there may seem to be many similarities between Gopher and
the Web (there are!), remember that the Web is based on hypertext
and Gopher isn't.  The Web can often provide pictures and sound
onscreen (using the necessary user software, of course) and
Gopher can't.  The Web can be useful for *browsing* information
but Gopher has a far superior information *search* engine.
At the moment there is more hype regarding the Web than there is
real substance. It may become considerably more useful in the
future -- but only after commercial end-user software becomes
widely available, and only after far more information is
available on Web sites than there is now.
The number of tools available for navigating the
vaguely-definable Internet are many ... far more than can be
covered in this brief overview.  These tools were developed to
help you navigate the Internet, to help you find the information
you need to find, and to insulate you as much as possible from
the high-technology side of the Internet -- its operation and
Many of these tools still are in an embryonic form, they are not
exactly "user friendly", nor are all tools available to all users
-- much still depends on what hardware and software your computer
is using and what hardware and software your library, campus, or
organization is using.  The Internet is not going to go away, but
a truly "user friendly" Internet is years in the future.
If you want to be part of the Internet community, if you want to
be able to make use of the myriad information resources available
through the Internet, you are going to have to learn how to use
some of these tools.  Remember -- get the phone number of your
Computing Help Desk and make the acquaintance of your local
"guru" (taking them to lunch wouldn't hurt a bit!) ... but, do
your homework first.