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March 91 - Editor's Note

Editor's Note

Don Sawtelle

As object programming for the Macintosh expands beyond MacApp, and as MADA branches out to support platforms other than the Macintosh, it's good to have access to development communities that range far beyond the somewhat insular territory of MacApp3Tech$. For example, you may want to share code with groups of people who are using Macintosh Common Lisp, or pose a question to an audience of developers who've cut their teeth on Windows.

AppleLink is great for getting support for other MacApp developers, but for other frameworks and development environments-especially those that don't run on the Macintosh-you may need to look further.

Usenet

Usenet gives you access to thousands of university and commercial developers, working with every platform in existence and all sorts of development tools. Many people read usenet via university computer accounts, or by working at a corporation who has a unix machine that happens to receive a "news feed."

For those less fortunate, there are other ways to be well-connected. Most metropolitan areas have public access unix systems. Public access meaning anyone can get an account-without being a student at a particular university, employee at a particular company, or member of a certain organization.

These public access unix systems charge between $2 and $35 per month for an account. Many of them just charge this flat rate per month, with no charge for connect time. Some of them are even free.

Once you have an account, learn a few unix commands, and you'll be able to participate in hundreds of different groups discussing different topics, like comp.sys.mac.programmer (where you'll see familiar names like Kent Sandvik of Apple DTS), comp.lang.lisp.mcl (Macintosh Common Lisp), comp.sys.pen (pen-based computing), comp.lang.smalltalk, comp.sys.next.programmer, ba.jobs.offered, misc.jobs.contract, ba.market.computers …and on and on, even out into the roughly charted ozone of "alt" (alternative) groups. Believe me, the number of groups I mention here doesn't even hint at the diversity of groups actively discussing computer-related and non-computer-related topics.

uAccess

Usenet is carried from computer to computer via news feeds that are passed along a loose-knit UUCP network. UUCP connections are typically made via high-speed modems over phone lines-in the past, via Telebit modems using the 19.2k baud PEP protocol, but more and more these days, via standard v.32 9600 baud and v.32bis 14.4k baud modems.

Having a news feed means that email and news is transferred to and from your computer automatically-perhaps during the night, when the system isn't being used-so when you're ready to read your news and email, it's all speedily local. It also means you don't have to manually log on to a remote system in order to receive incoming news or in order to find out that email is waiting for you.

These days it is possible have your Macintosh be a UUCP host machine-send and receive email, receive a news feed, even register for a ".COM" domain address-without running unix. There are a few public domain implementations of UUCP that run on the Macintosh, but

I use uAccess from ICE Engineering, a supported, commercial UUCP implementation and news and mail reader that runs under the normal Mac OS.

uAccess is easy to set up. It has a full Mac interface for configuration, sending and receiving email, and reading and posting news. It can support multiple connections to different remote email and news hosts. You can even have several copies of uAccess installed locally on different machines, exchanging email and news via AppleTalk, with one copy assigned to be responsible for moving email and news incoming to or outgoing from your site to your remote email and news host at specified times each day.

I've had uAccess set up here at Stonecutter Software for a few weeks now, using Netcom as an email server and news feed. Netcom is based in San Jose, with local access numbers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Unfortunately, I'm in Mariposa, California, near Yosemite, and long distance from just about anywhere. That's one reason I've set a Mac up as a UUCP host, rather than logging on remotely to a shell account at Netcom. It's much cheaper for me to poll Netcom for my news feed late at night, all at once, at high speed, when rates are cheap, than it would be to log on and read news interactively over a long distance phone connection.

If you're long distance from everywhere like I am, look into per-hour flat rate commercial long distance telephone service. It can cost as little as 10.8¢ per minute to call anywhere in the US between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. That's just over $6 per hour. And if you haven't done so yet, it's time to get a 14.4k baud v.32bis modem. In some cases, street prices are finally dropping below $300-check out the new 14.4k baud fax and data modem from Supra.

Netcom

It's not too hard to find a free non-commercial news feed and email connection, if you're willing to look around for it. Or at least a semi-commercial service that's cheaper than Netcom. I chose the $60 per month service from Netcom (UUCP email, news feed, and shell account) so that my email connection would be reliable, which is important for business reasons; so that I could call on them for support without feeling I am inconveniencing anyone; and because the shell account included in the package provides direct access to Internet, meaning easy, direct, high-bandwidth access to public archives of source code on university and commercial computers nationwide.

I've only been unhappy with one thing so far in Netcom's service: their data throughput. I'm often seeing only half the data throughput, or less, that I should be getting when my system connects with theirs. The UUCP throughput is often less than 600 characters per second (cps) rather than up around 1200-1300 cps like it should be, and this means calls take twice as long as they should. Netcom says they have new equipment scheduled for installation in three weeks that will solve this problem.

If you happen to live in the bay area, and aren't interested in making your Macintosh into an actual UUCP host, you can get a personal shell account on Netcom for the flat rate of $17.50 per month. Other major metropolitan areas should have similar services available. But as I said, if you just need to read news, send casual email, and don't need ultra-reliability, you can do it for a lot less if you look around for a non-commercial connection.

If you need help getting started in your search for a news and email connection, email me at one of the addresses listed below and I'll send you a list of public access unix systems (nationwide) to consider.

New Editor FOR THE MAY ISSUE

Mary Elaine Califf is taking over as editor of FrameWorks starting with the next issue. You can reach her on AppleLink at MADA.Editor, or on America Online at MADAEditor; I know she'd love to hear from any of you about articles you want to write.

If you've been communicating with me via the MADA.Editor and MADAEditor addresses, please use one of these addresses instead. They're listed in order of preference:

  1. Internet: sawtelle@stonecutter.com
  2. mariposa!sawtelle@netcom.com
  3. America Online: stonecutter
  4. AppleLink: stonecutter

    Thanks!

    Authors deserve all the credit for making FrameWorks interesting and worthwhile over the course of the year I've been editor. In particular, I'll mention (in alphabetical order) Jeff Barbose, James Plamondon, and Kent Sandvik for contributing outstanding FrameWorks articles so frequently. And special thanks go to everyone who's made contributions published on the FrameWorks Disk-articles with source code are best, in my opinion-and in particular to Arvid Jedlicka, who works hard to get the disk put together for every issue, even though he doesn't have time to do it.

    I've really enjoyed working with Bill Anderson, who with the assistance of Chuck Sohnly does everything to get FrameWorks to you except writing and editing the articles. Believe me, that's a lot. Bill and Chuck have been great to work with all along.

      DON's picks for Getting Connected

      Netcom - Online Communications Services
      400 Moorpark Avenue, Suite 209
      San Jose, CA 95117
      Voice: 408-554-UNIX
      "guest" account: 408-241-9792

      uAccess-$295.00
      ICE Engineering
      8840 Main Street
      Whitmore Lake, MI 48189-9985
      Voice: 313-449-8288
      Info via email: info@ice.com

      14400 Supra FaxModem v.32bis-$272.09
      Computer Shopping Network
      Voice: 615-577-5100

 

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