[mod.mag.fidonet] FidoNET Newsletter, Volume 4, # 10

pozar@hoptoad.uucp (Tim Pozar) (03/10/87)

     Volume 4, Number 10                                  9 March 1987
     |                                                  _            |
     |                                                 /  \          |
     |                                                /|oo \         |
     |        - FidoNews -                           (_|  /_)        |
     |                                                _`@/_ \    _   |
     |        International                          |     | \   \\  |
     |     FidoNet Association                       | (*) |  \   )) |
     |         Newsletter               ______       |__U__| /  \//  |
     |                                 / FIDO \       _//|| _\   /   |
     |                                (________)     (_/(_|(____/    |
     |                                                     (jm)      |
     Editor in Chief:                                   Thom Henderson
     Chief Procrastinator Emeritus:                       Tom Jennings

     FidoNews is the official newsletter of the International  FidoNet
     Association,  and is published weekly by SEAdog Leader, node 1/1.
     You  are  encouraged  to  submit  articles  for  publication   in
     FidoNews.  Article submission standards are contained in the file
     ARTSPEC.DOC,  available from  node  1/1.

     Copyright (C) 1987,  by the  International  FidoNet  Association.
     All  rights  reserved.  Duplication and/or distribution permitted
     for noncommercial purposes only.  For use in other circumstances,
     please contact IFNA.

                             Table of Contents

     1. ARTICLES
        What is the Story on 9600 Baud Modems?
        The First Echomail Conference List
        IFNA Board Nominations
        SEAdog Offer for IFNA Members
        Public Key Encryption Revisited
     2. COLUMNS
        Irregular column
        Technical Topics Column
     3. NOTICES
        The Interrupt Stack

     Fidonews                     Page 2                    9 Mar 1987


                What is the Story on 9600 Baud Modems
                      Bob Hartman, Sysop 132/101

          So,  you've heard all of the stories about 9600 baud modems,
     and  you've  seen all the ads,  now you want to buy one,  but the
     problem is which one to buy?  Before you make the leap, there are
     some things which you should know:

           First of all, the International FidoNet Association (IFNA),
     has created a special committee to study the different 9600  baud
     (and  even  higher  speed) modems to find out which ones are best
     suited for our uses with  Fido/Opus/SEAdog/etc.  The  reason  for
     this  is  simple  - there is no standard (that is affordable) for
     having 9600 baud modems work  over  standard  voice  grade  phone
     lines.  At 2400 baud there was a well defined standard (V.22bis),
     but at 9600 baud the only standard is V.32, and modems using that
     technology  tend to cost $3000 or more!  This price tag is out of
     reach for most consumers,  so modem manufacturers have  taken  it
     upon  themselves  to  try  and  manufacture modems that work over
     voice  grade  lines,   and  then  try  to  get  their  technology
     recognized  as  the  new  standard.  With  over 1000 Sysops world
     wide,  and a user base many hundreds  of  times  that  size,  the
     FidoNet  community  is  in a position which is fairly unique - we
     can help a standard along by deciding that a certain modem is one
     that does the job for us.  In fact, we MUST do this because if we
     do not,  we will all end up with different 9600 baud modems  that
     will  not  communicate  with  each other.  Yes,  it is true,  two
     modems from two different manufacturers will  not  talk  to  each
     other at 9600 baud.  Think about it - if you go out and buy right
     now,  and  the  rest of the network decides on a different modem,
     then you will not be able to communicate  at  9600  baud.  Is  it
     worth taking that chance?

          The  second  thing  you should know about is that all of the
     manufacturers of high speed modems are working with our committee
     to try and make us choose their  modem.  They  are  all  offering
     discounts  of  50%  or more to Fido Sysops (they all learned from
     what USRobotics did at 2400 baud).  They  are  all  working  very
     closely with me personally, trying to get my standard SEAdog/Opus
     system to run on their modems.  This obviously is important to us
     as  Sysops,  since if it doesn't work with our software,  then we
     can't use the modem no matter how fast it runs.  I must say  that
     all  three companies involved right now - USRobotics (USR Courier
     HST),   Microcom  (Microcom  AX9624c),   and   Telebit   (Telebit
     TrailBlazer)  have  been  EXTREMELY helpful (although as you will
     see later, not necessarily successful).

          The final thing you should know  before  I  get  on  to  the
     results  of my testing,  is that this report is VERY PRELIMINARY,
     and should be taken as such.  My testing is by no means complete,
     and as you will see,  many technical problems still  need  to  be
     Fidonews                     Page 3                    9 Mar 1987


     Some Preliminary Results:

          This  section  contains my thoughts about each modem so far,
     and do not represent anything except my own views based  upon  my
     exposure to each of the modems.

          Let me start off with Microcom,  since they are the easiest.
     They have so far shipped me  three  modems,  of  which  two  have
     arrived  DOA.  Without  two working modems it is impossible to do
     any 9600 baud testing,  so only 2400 baud testing  was  done.  At
     the  lower  baud  rates  this  modem  will not work properly with
     SEAdog 4.0.  The modem does not react quickly enough to  toggling
     DTR, and as a result there are many times when SEAdog will send a
     command  to  the  modem  which will not be executed.  SEAdog will
     then print an error message and try again - this time the command
     will generally work properly.  SEAdog 4.0 also will not  properly
     "fall  back"  to  a  lower baud rate when making a call out.  For
     example,  you attempt to call a system at 2400 baud,  but  he  is
     actually  running  a  1200 baud modem - SEAdog will connect,  but
     will attempt to communicate at 2400 baud rather than  1200  baud.
     This  is  due  to  the  timing  the  Microcom modem uses in first
     raising the DCD (carrier detect) signal,  and then outputting the
     CONNECT  1200  message.  Hayes compatible modems first output the
     CONNECT 1200 message,  and then raise the DCD  signal  (which  is
     what  SEAdog  expects).  This  modem also only accepts upper case
     'AT' commands,  while most Hayes compatible  modems  will  accept
     either 'at' or 'AT'.  Having been manufactured by Microcom,  this
     modem obviously  supports  MNP  protocol  in  hardware.  It  also
     supports  the  Microcom  SX  command  set as well as the Hayes AT
     command set.  The modem is quite confusing to configure due to it
     not being just a Hayes clone.  The modem also has two sets of dip
     switches,  one on the front,  and one on the back of the modem  -
     making  for  even  more  problems.  It is also a half-duplex 9600
     baud modem - meaning that data can only be sent in one  direction
     at a time.

          I  guess  that  I will talk about the USRobotics Courier HST
     next.  As some of you (anybody that reads SYSOP echomail) know, I
     have been unable to get two USR HST modems to talk to each  other
     over  a local phone company connection.  I have been able to send
     two long distance messages to the USR Opus  system  (115/500  Sit
     UBU Sit),  but those two messages took several hundred attempts -
     not because of busy signals, but because of ARQ (MNP) disconnects
     (read on).  First some technical information about the modem.  It
     is VERY Hayes/Courier 2400 compatible.  In fact, in the 2400 baud
     testing (and below) it behaves exactly like a Courier  2400  baud
     modem.  I  have  found  no differences between the two when I run
     the modem  in  non-ARQ  mode.  The  modem  also  has  MNP  (which
     USRobotics  calls  ARQ)  protocol  that  can  be  enabled.  It is
     necessary at 9600 baud to use this option.  The modem works as  a
     sort-of  full-duplex  modem.  What  does  this  mean?  Well,  the
     modems that are connected determine which side  is  sending  more
     data  (don't  ask  me  how),  and  that  side  gets the 9600 baud
     channel.  The other side then has a 300 baud channel for  sending
     Fidonews                     Page 4                    9 Mar 1987

     data  the  other  direction.  This is a very nice feature to have
     for interactive  operation  since  the  modems  do  not  have  to
     constantly turn the line around for each character that is typed.
     Unfortunately,   this  method  takes  up  all  of  the  available
     bandwidth of the telephone connection,  and therefore requires  a
     reasonable  signal  to noise ratio over the entire bandwidth.  On
     local connections this should be no problem, but on long distance
     connections with the many games that AT&T plays on long distance,
     it could be a problem a lot more often.  I saw this happen myself
     when connecting to 115/500 when every time  I  connected  (except
     for twice), I got disconnected almost immediately because the ARQ
     (MNP)  retry count was too high.  In other words,  the connection
     was so bad that the two systems took more than 5  tries  to  send
     one packet of data, and therefore they disconnected.  Since I can
     call 115/500 and send mail perfectly at 2400 baud (no errors,  or
     very rare), it seems that the USR HST modem may be trying to push
     the outer limits of the bandwidth a bit too  far.  What  are  the
     advantages  of  the  USR  HST?  It  will work with my SEAdog/Opus
     setup without any software changes  (other  than  my  modem  init
     string).  It is also very Hayes compatible,  and as simple to set
     up as the Courier 2400 baud modem.

          Finally, let me discuss the Telebit TrailBlazer modem.  This
     modem does not use any sort of conventional technology to get its
     high speed.  It uses what they call PEP  transmission  mode,  and
     basically  what  it  does  is  break  down  the entire phone line
     bandwidth (0Hz-4000Hz) into 512 channels each 7.8 Hz apart.  When
     the two modems sync up to start,  they each do  analysis  of  the
     line  quality on each of the 512 frequencies.  Then only the best
     frequencies are used  for  the  actual  data  transmission.  They
     modulate  each  carrier  at 7.5 baud (that is the actual speed of
     the modem -7.5 baud),  and encode 2,  4,  or 6 (almost always  6)
     bits  of  data  on  each frequency.  This can give throughputs of
     18,000 bps and up!  In a normal phone line,  the usable bandwidth
     is  something like 300Hz-3000Hz which would give about 350 usable
     channels,  which corresponds to 15750 bps.  On my  system  I  was
     constantly  seeing throughputs of 15000-16500 bps.  The advantage
     of this method  is  that  it  should  work  on  ANY  phone  line,
     regardless  of  how  bad  it  is.  Even  if only 100 channels are
     usable (which seems silly since that is only a  usable  bandwidth
     of  780  Hz,  and  voice grade really requires at least 2000 Hz),
     then you would have a rate of 4500 bps,  which is still twice  as
     fast   as  our  current  2400  bps  modems.   In  addition,   the
     TrailBlazer does automatic error correction when in PEP mode, and
     because they choose the best frequencies to start with, there are
     almost never any retransmissions.  In my  testing  I  was  seeing
     about  1  retransmitted packet in every 5000 packets sent.  Well,
     how did this modem stack up?  First of all, it was the only modem
     that so far has been able to transmit data at 9600 baud or higher
     on my local phone connections.  This in itself is  a  major  feat
     which  neither USR or Microcom has been able to achieve.  It also
     acts  as  a  normal  2400  baud   modem,   with   a   few   minor
     incompatibilities  with  the  normal  Hayes  way of doing things.
     Everything (and I mean everything except the  on/off  switch)  is
     controlled  by  AT commands in this modem.  There are no external
     sliders for volume,  no dip switches,  nothing.  It is  all  done
     Fidonews                     Page 5                    9 Mar 1987

     with  AT  commands (once you get used to it,  it is rather nice).
     Setup with this modem (for that reason) is a  pain  in  the  rear
     end,  but once done, the settings can be stored and never have to
     be worried about again.  Unfortunately,  this modem  raises  DCD,
     and  outputs  the  connect  message  just like the Microcom modem
     does,  so it does not work for making outgoing calls with SEAdog.
     I have spoken to the technical support department at Telebit, and
     they  are  going  to  change  this  so that it will work with the
     current software available for FidoNet sysops.  The modem is also
     half duplex, and typing a character and waiting for the echo from
     the BBS can be time consuming,  but again,  the technical support
     department  has a fix for this which I will supposedly be allowed
     to try out under a beta test arrangement.

          Well,  now that I have said all of this,  what does it mean?
     First  of all,  it means that going out within the next month and
     buying a 9600 baud modem is  probably  not  a  good  idea.  While
     Microcom  and  Telebit  have been selling their modems for over a
     year,  they are currently not quite compatible with the  software
     that  we have available to us,  and USR simply has not worked the
     kinks out of their modem yet (after all, it just started shipping
     out last week).  It also is not clear to me that  the  USR  modem
     will  work  on  most phone lines.  They have not been able to get
     their modem working on my phone lines, and they have been working
     with me since day one.  In being fair to  Microcom,  they  simply
     have  not been able to get me two modems that work properly,  but
     they also seem the least interested in getting our business.

     Now on to some specific questions:

          If I HAD TO buy a modem today,  and  it  had  to  work  with
     Fido/Opus/SEAdog,  which  one would I buy?  The answer to that is
     simple - the USR modem is the only one that works with SEAdog/etc
     right now.  Unfortunately,  their modem is very  new,  still  has
     problems working on my phone system, and has not proven itself in
     the field.

          What  are  the  prices  going to be?  From what I know right
     now, the USR modem lists for $995,  and they will sell it to Fido
     Sysops  for  $495.  The Microcom price has not been set yet.  The
     Telebit TrailBlazer lists for $1345,  and they will give  us  50%
     off  for  a  price  of $675.  Included for no extra charge is the
     2400 baud option which normally would add $100 to their price.

          Which modem do other people seem to like?  This  is  a  hard
     one.  I  have  seen  many  people choose Microcom,  because until
     recently Telebit did not agressively market their modem,  and  it
     was  also  marketed  under  the name FastLink by another company.
     That is all changing now,  and Telebit is committed to being more
     competetive   (hence   their  offer  for  FidoNet  Sysops).   The
     TrailBlazer has recently been named the PC  Magazine  Product  of
     the year, and has been reviewed very favorably by Digital Review,
     Mini-Micro Systems,  Popular Science, Network World, PC-Week, and
     Infoworld.  Both USR and Telebit have applied to  CCITT  to  have
     their  technology  recognized  as the standard for 9600 baud data
     transmission over voice grade phone lines.
     Fidonews                     Page 6                    9 Mar 1987

          If I was going to buy a 9600 baud modem for high speed  file
     transfers,  rather than BBS use, which would it be?  In this case
     I would  undoubtedly  choose  the  Telebit  TrailBlazer.  It  was
     designed for that purpose, and it is the only modem that can send
     data  at baud rates exceeding 9600 baud.  Actually,  the Microcom
     can do some data compression to get up above  9600  baud,  but  I
     have  yet  to see two of them work,  so I can't really comment on
     that.  The TrailBlazer will only be faster than the  USR  (again,
     assuming  the  USR will work on the phone lines in question) when
     using a transfer  protocol  that  does  not  require  full-duplex
     transmissions.  This rules out XMODEM,  but Ymodem-g,  and Zmodem
     both work nicely, and SEAlink with large window sizes (20 or more
     blocks) also performs admirably.

          If I was going to buy a modem  today,  which  would  it  be,
     given no other restrictions?  I would not buy any of these modems
     today!!!  USR  has not proven their technology,  Microcom has not
     proven to me that their modems work either,  and the  TrailBlazer
     does not currently work with Fido/Opus/SEAdog.

          If  I was going to buy a modem in six months,  which would I
     buy?  At that point  a  lot  could  have  changed,  but  I  would
     probably  go  with  the Telebit TrailBlazer.  By then,  the small
     incompatibilities with our software will  have  been  fixed,  the
     modem  is definitely going to work on any phone lines,  and it is
     the fastest of the group.  The price is $180 higher than USR, but
     right now I would think that paying the extra $180 to get a modem
     which will definitely work is worth the higher price.  Who knows,
     perhaps six months from now USR will have improved their modem to
     the point that it too will work on any phone lines,  and at  that
     point,  the  300  baud  reverse channel becomes a factor in their
     favor.  With that 300 baud channel,  file transfer protocols like
     XMODEM, and more importantly SEAlink will work just fine.

          Which  standard  -  USR or Telebit - will the CCITT approve?
     Your guess is as good as mine - yet another good reason  to  wait
     before buying a 9600 baud modem.

          Which  modem has the best error correction?  Well,  consider
     that the Telebit TrailBlazer can continue a file transfer even if
     you are talking on the same line.  It won't just  retransmit  the
     data  that  is in error,  it will actually send a large number of
     packets that won't have any errors in them anyway!  Call  it  the
     "whistle test" if you will, but imaging seeing your file transfer
     continue at about 50% of its normal speed while you are whistling
     into the phone.  Enough said?

          Anything else I should know about these modems?  Well, there
     is a lot more to know, but I just can't provide the answers right
     now.  Some things I do know that might be important are:

     1. USR  is  giving  a  30  day money back guarantee to Sysops who
        purchase the modem - please,  make sure that if your modem (if
        you  have  already  ordered  one) arrives and does not seem to
        work,  be sure to return  it  for  a  full  refund!  Don't  be
        bashful about this,  because it is your money.  The IFNA Board
     Fidonews                     Page 7                    9 Mar 1987

        of Directors,  and Ken Kaplan in particular  argued  long  and
        hard  for this provision,  because of the problems that I have
        been having with the modems that USR sent to me for testing.

     2. The people to contact about these modems are:

          USR      - Wes Cowell      - (800) 342-5877
          Telebit  - Bruce Blain     - (617) 263-9449
          Microcom - Victor Forgetta - (800) 822-8224

     3. USR and Telebit will both be advertising heavily in the coming
        months.  Try to read the ads, and note important figures.  Ask
        questions.  I will answer any questions sent to my board,  and
        if I don't know the answer,  then I will find out from someone
        who does know the answer.

          Well, that about covers it for this issue of Fidonews.  As I
     said at the start of this article,  this is by no means  a  final
     evaluation,  just a first step.  It was prompted by the fact that
     people were blindly buying 9600 baud modems without having all of
     the facts (not that you do now,  but you hopefully are at least a
     little bit more informed).

     - Bob Hartman -
     Sysop, the UN*X Gateway
     SEAdog/Opus Node 132/101


     Fidonews                     Page 8                    9 Mar 1987

     Thomas Kenny
     IFNA node 107/316

                     The First Echomail Conference List

     Echomail Conference List,  Issue 1,  Number 1 (1/13/87) Copyright
     (c)  1986,  Thomas Kenny.  All rights reserved Duplication and/or
     distribution permitted for noncommercial purposes only.


     updates to IFNA node 107/316  Deadline  for  the  next  issue  is


     A  special condensed FidoNews Edition of Echomail Conference list
     will  be  released  monthly.   The  format   is   still   a   bit
     experimental.  For  now  it's  just  a  list of conference titles
     followed by the name or node of who to contact  if  you  want  to

          The more complete format showing approximate traffic levels,
     all  Nets  carrying  each  conference,  and  the date of the last
     update is available as an ARCed file from  107/316  as  a  SEAdog
     File Request or by logon.

          If  you  are  interested in helping to distribute updates to
     ECHOnnn, contact:

                           Echo Conference Scribe
                           Thomas Kenny  107/316.

     We are HOPING for utilities to be written which will  update  the
     list  without  anyone  having  to do any work at all ..  and with
     noone paying any phone bill whatsoever to distribute it

     But,  until BIGMAGIC.EXE gets written,  we will  be  asking  Echo
     Conference  Coordinators  to  send  Netmail to 107/316 letting us
     know  the  Name  of  the  Conference,   who   carries   it,   the
     "AREA:????????"  name,  and  any information helpful to potential
     participants.  Then we'll type up the  list.  It's  a  crude  and
     inelegant method ... but it gets the job done.


     When  the  "contact"  is  listed in parentheses it means that the
     conference is NOT currently  active  but  the  person  listed  is
     interested in STARTING a conference on the topic.

        CONFERENCE             CONTACT
        ----------             -------

     Abled Echo            David Dodell 114/15
           Handicapped issues
     Fidonews                     Page 9                    9 Mar 1987

     ADAM Discussion       Bill Freads 11/700
     ADAM Technical        Bill Freads 11/700
     ADS                   Tracy Graves 138/39
         Ads from SYSOPS that support their Fido by the work they
                do.  Commercial ads from SYSOPS only.
     Adults               (John Penberthy 129/28)
     AI                    Richard Clark 107/222
            Artificial Intelligence
     Amateur Radio         John Dashner 133/10
     Amiga                 Grey Mist 124/206
     Amiga Prog            Richard Clark 107/222
           Amiga programmers technical information
     APL                   Chris Lincoln 107/103
     Appl                  Bob Abbot 157/511
     Applications          James Deibele 105/3)
     Asian-American        Arnold Chu 107/16
                   Asian-American Community happenings
     ASM                   Barry Dobyns 102/140
     Astronomy             Don Epand 114/18
     AT&T                  Bob Morris 141/333
         Poll/Pickup from Host (138/39, 0150-0225 PDT)
     Atari                 (James Deibele 105/3)
     Atlgate                 ?
     Autocad               (Jim Quiesner 104/18)
     Aviation Net          (Mark Stappenbeck 14/609)
     Basic                 (James Deibele 105/3)
     Beyond War            Andy Kanter 101/301
     Bible                 Efraim West 136/203
     Bitch                 Jim Bacon 103/507
     Bloom Net Sysops      Bob Stubbings 127/60
     Books, Great          Jim Bacon 103/507
     Business & Economics  Randall Kobetich 150/130
     Buy & Sell            Jim Deibele 105/3
     Bylaws                Bob Hartman 132/101
                 Only for Bylaws committee members?
     Bylfedbk              Tom Marshall 107/324
         Bylaws feedback/forum for Region 13 Bylaws
     C Language            Ed Rauh 141/215
         C_PROG merged into the C_ECHO conference in (Sept '86).
     Chatter                 *NONE*
     Chicago General         ?
     Chicago Sysop           ?
     Christian Debate        ?
     Cincinnati Chatter      *NONE*
     Cincy                   Jesse Armontrout 108/64
                Local sysop conference
     COCO Echo               Brian Bream 112/3
     Commodore               Marv Shelton 107/311
     Consulting              ?
                   Business of consulting.
     Cosmopolitan            Hal Duprie 101/107
         Boston Metro Area: Books, Food & Good Things of Life
     CP/M                    (John Penberthy 129/28)
     dBASE                   Alex Hartley 100/500
     DC Metro Mensa          Jim Kay 109/612
     Fidonews                     Page 10                   9 Mar 1987

                Metro Washington DC Mensa
     Debate                  *NONE*
         Detroit, Chicago, Colorado. There may be two separate
     DEC Rainbow             Dave Rene 101/27
                 Host is 101/27 who polls all the nodes
     Divers                  (Rod Lamping 104/610)
     Doggies                 Tracy Graves 138/39
        Fido clones & compatibles (SEAdog, Collie, Guardian,etc.)
     Echomail Coordinators   Jon Sabol 124/210
                 For Echomail coordinators only
     ECPROG                  ?
                 Programmers conference
     EQUUS                   (Mark Indictor 104/606)
                 Equestrian related topics.
     Feminism                Kim Storment 100/523
     Fido Developers         (Jim Ryan 141/9)
              Share source code for FidoNet Compatible systems
     Fire Net                Woody Wood 128/16
         Fire/Rescue/EMS news and information exchange.
     Flamers                 Ken Shackelford  133/1
     For Sale                ?
                  Alias Buy & Sell
                             Bob Hartman 132/101
                             Bill Schreiber 151/301
     Forth                   (George Clayton 103/602)
     Fortran                 Barry Dobyns 102/140
     Freemess                Barry Dobyns 102/140
         Los Angeles Chatter
     Fun Stuff               (John Bekas 115/212)
                Music, concerts, misc...
     Gaming                  Robert Plamondon 143/12
                Role playing games
     Gay Net                 Sysop Rick   ?
     Gay News                Sysop Rick   ?
     Genealogy               Ken Whitaker 143/26
     HACK, PC                Kurt Reisler 109/483
                PC HACK Q&A and war stories
     Health                  David Page 109/604
         Health related issues (MDs participating)
         There is also a larger group that exchanges files only.
     Heath/Zenith            Joe Rock 128/15
         Heath/Zenith series 89, 90, 100-120 (not for Zenith 150
         & up series)
     Help Wanted             Eunhee Hunter 109/626
     HOWSWA                  Bill Bertholf 107/102
         How's the weather in WA state!
     HP3000TALK              Tracy Graves 138/39
           HP3000 conversations.
                             (Bob Kohl 102/611)
                             (Steve Butler 138/3)
     Hunger                  Chris Irwin 108/68
     IEEE                    (Bill Wilkes 107/211)
     IFNA Conference         *NONE*
                No longer in existence
     IFNA Policy & Politics  Mike Hamilton 103/501
     Fidonews                     Page 11                   9 Mar 1987

         International Fido Net Association. Restricted to
                Sysops  only.
     IPR                     Randall Kobetich 150/130
         InterPersonal Relationships plus moral, ethical, social
     Jobs                    Tracy Graves 138/39
         Computer-related Employment Echo (Job Listings, etc.)
                             (Jim Ryan 141/9)
                             (James Deibele 105/3)
                             (Chris Michael 115/429)
     Jokes                   (Bill Jones 105/10)
                             (Chuma Agbodike 102/641)
     JR-MSG                  Phil Kaiser 104/904
                PC jr conference
     Judaica                 * TECHNET *
     Lap-Tops                Ej McKernan 15/20
                             (James Deibele 105/3)
     Lifestyle Alternatives  (Adam Selene 107/269)
         Polyfidelity, Family Synergy, Celibacy, Feminism,
         Communalism,  Single Parenthood, Foster Parenting,
         ... For anyone whose life's path is not "mainstream".
     Lotus                   Randy Van de Loo 124/110
                             (John Penberthy 129/28)
                             (Randy Bush 105/6)
     MacIntosh               Leo LaPorte 125/2
           All about the MacIntosh computer (developers & users)
     Magick                  Brad Hicks 100/523
           Merged with Alternative Religion conference
     Mensa                   Jim Kay 109/612
         National conference of Mensa run board or where there is
         substantial membership interest.
     Metronet                Don Daniels  107/210
         Net 107 Sysop Conference
     MIDI                    Bruce Oblander 161/594
     Mindset PC              *NONE*
         Conference was dissolved since 16/635 (James Pallack)
         went down.
     MOD1000                 Neal Curtin 138/14
         Tandy Model 1000
     Modula-2                Randy Bush 122/6
         Modula-2 programming language
     Nature                  (Richard Clark 107/222)
     Net 102 For Sale        Barry Dobyns 102/140
     Net 104 Sysop           ?
         alias Fidosysp
     Net 104 Tech            NET_104*
         alias Techline
     Net 108 Chatter         108/68
     Net 108 Forsale         Steve Sullivan 108/75
     Net 108 Programmer      Jesse Armontrout 108/64
     Net 109 Classifieds     Alexander Wall 109/606
          Net 109 advertising (for sale)
     Net 109 General         Steven Ranger 109/621
          General user chatter
     Net 109 Reviews         Kurt Reisler 109/74
     Fidonews                     Page 12                   9 Mar 1987

         Arts and restaurant reviews
     Net 109 Sysop           Steven Ranger 109/621
         Local SYSOPs only
     Net 109 Technical Help  Jim Kay 109/612
     Net 124 Sysop           Jon Sabol 124/210
     Net 125 Sysop           ?
     Net 133 Sysop           John Dashner 133/10
     Net 137 gossip          *NONE*
     Net 150 Sysop & users   ?
     Net 161 Sysop           Butch Walker 161/2
     Networking              Dave Oshea 107/35
     Ohio                    Phil Ardussi 157/502
     Opus                    Chuck Lawson 124/105
          For beta & gamma test sites only
     Packet Amateur Radio    Dan Taylor 102/3121
     Park                    Richard Clark 107/222
          US National Park Service only
     Pascal                  ?
                             (Randy Bush 122/6)
                             (John Penberthy 129/28)
     Philosophy              *NONE*
     Photography             (Bill Thomas 132/225)
     PIB                     Bob Klahn 150/1
                             (Harvey Nehgila 161/77)
     Politics                Bill Bertholf 107/102
              Politics and public policy
                             (Phil Ardussi 157/502)
                             (Allen Miller 108/10)
                             (Jim Kay 109/612)
     Portables               (John Penberthy 129/28)
     Programming             Butch Walker 161/2
     Prolog                  Barry Dobyns 102/140
     Rbase                   (John Penberthy 129/28)
     Real Estate             Al Arango 107/323
         Real Estate and finance
     Records                 Roger Smith 18/14
         Record collecting and music in general
     Region 17 Chatter       Tracy Graves 138/39
         Region 17 General Chatter Echo
     Region 17 For Sale      Tracy Graves 138/39
         Region 17 Classified Ads
     Region 19               (David Drexler 147/1)
     Religious debate        Chris Irwin 108/68
         Born again vs secular humanists
     RGN17                   Rob Barker 138/34
         Region 17 Privileged Echo Area
     Rights                  Steve Butler 138/3
         Shareware author rights, information exchange.
     S&M                     Adam Selene 107/269
         Consensual Power Exchange
     Sailors                 ?
     Sci-Fi Authors          Brad Hicks 100/523
         Science Fiction and Fandom. Discussion of science
         fiction movies, television, book, comics, and all other
         media. Doctor Who, Star Trek, Hitchhiker's Guide to the
         Galaxy, Zelazny, Moorcock, Asimov, Danger Mouse,
     Fidonews                     Page 13                   9 Mar 1987

         Battlestar Galactica, etc!
     Sci-Fi Fandom           Mike Jacobs 150/900
         For fans of Sci-Fi
     Scuba                   Rod Lamping 104/610
     SEAdog                  *NONE*
     Shortwave Listening     Larry DiGioia 129/17
     Sirius                  Bob Klahn 150/1
         Sirius test sites only
     SMART                   Neal Curtin 138/14
         SMART Software System package from Innovative Software
     SOCAL                   Barry Dobyns 102/140
     Software Careers        Lee Johnson 125/612
     Star Trek Trivia        Steve Sullivan 108/75
     Sysop                   Jon Sabol 124/210
         THE National Sysop conference.
         Fido bugs/fixes, news and sysop chatter. Restricted to
         Sysop's ONLY!
     T1K (Tandy)             (Bill Schreiber 151/301)
                             (Neal Curtin 138/14)
     Tandy                   ?
     Tech                    Butch Walker 161/2
                             *NATIONAL* *TECHNET*
     Techline                104 *TECHNET*
     Telecomm                Hal Duprie 101/107
     TRS80                   (Bill Schreiber 151/301)
                             (John Penberthy 129/28)
     Turbo Pascal            (Bob Klahn 150/1)
           get ECPROG for this topic
                             (Bill Thomas 132/225)
     UNIX                    Mike Johnson 170/329
     USA Wide                Rick Ward 109/635
            Small national general conference
     VAX                     Barry Dobyns 102/140
     Vietnam Vets            Todd Looney 143/27
     Wildlife                Richard Clark 107/222
         Discussion of nature, outdoors, hunting, fishing,
     Women's Space            (Gillian Boardman 107/269)
                  By and for women only.


     Fidonews                     Page 14                   9 Mar 1987

     Bob Morris, 141/333
     ChairPerson, Nominations and Elections Committee

     Fellow IFNA Members, this is intended to clear the air concerning
     the   procedures    which    will    be    followed    for    the
     Nomination/Endorsement  phase  of  the  Election  of the Board of

     A person who desires to have their name placed on the ballot  for
     the  position of director,  either Regional or Director at Large,

     1. Submit a SHORT message addressed to me stating their desire to

     2. Obtain a SHORT endorsement message,  addressed  to  me,  which
        supports  their  running  for the position,  by ten (10) other
        IFNA Members(not necessarily from the same region).

     3. Must send such messages to me via network mail.  This must all
        be done so that the packets reach me by the National Mail Hour
        on April 1st.

     IFNA  Members  who endorse other members for the position will be
     checked against the IFNA Membership  List  and  against  any  new
     memberships  which  have  not  yet  been  entered,  but have been
     received as of April 1st.

     Please be advised that some  regions  did  not  have  people  who
     marked  something  about  working  for  IFNA  on  the  membership
     application.  It is hoped that  the  regional  coordinators  will
     poll  their  respective regions and draft someone to fill the two
     positions available for each region.

     A file,  which is file  requestable  from  141/333  and  141/301,
     called  IFNAMEMB.ARC  contains  all known IFNA members as of this
     date.  This file will be updated as the data becomes available.

     Remember, this is our organization,  and you make the difference.
     Don't  forget  that the last date that you can submit nominations
     to 141/333 and the endorsements from ANY IFNA member is the close
     of National Mail Hour on 4/1/87.

     Ballots will be printed in the FidoNews which is  transmitted  on
     April  13,  1987.  Voting  will  be  done  upto and including the
     registration for the  National  Conference  during  the  week  of
     August 17, 1987.

     Any  questions or comments should be entered in the IFNA echomail

     P.S. IFNA  membership  cards  will be distributed during March to
          all paid members via US Mail.


     Fidonews                     Page 15                   9 Mar 1987

                       SEAdog Offer for IFNA Members
                 by Ben Baker -- IFNA Techincal Coordinator

     IFNA  is  proud to announce that it will make SEAdog version 4.00
     available to its members (limit one per member) for only $60.00.

     As  you  may  already know,  Thom Henderson of System Enhancement
     Associates (SEA)  had  announced  that  SEA  would  withdraw  the
     special Sysop price for SEAdog version 4.  The reason is that SEA
     has  expended  a  large  engineering  investment  in  this  major
     revision  to  SEAdog  without  raising  the  list  price.   Since
     engineering costs must be recovered from sales, the "fixed costs"
     of  the product,  which include engineering,  now leave them very
     little margin.  Add to this the cost of servicing an order, which
     is about the same for one copy  or  a  thousand  and  it  becomes
     apparent  that  single  quantity  orders  are  barely  profitable
     without discounts.

     In a phone conversation with Thom,  I posed the question "If IFNA
     were  to process and ship orders,  and remove that cost item from
     SEA,  could SEA make us a price." He discussed the question  with
     his   partners  and  the  answer  came  back  "Yes  --  but  with
     restrictions. . ."

     So here are the restrictions.  IFNA must not  compete  for  sales
     with  SEA or its authorized distributers.  This means that we may
     offer SEAdog only to IFNA members,  and only  one  copy  to  each
     registered member.

     Members  must  understand  and  agree that SEA is NOT prepared to
     offer technical  support  to  IFNA  purchasers.  This  is  not  a
     serious constraint.  More than adaquate support is available from
     current users and from the SEAdog echo conference.

     To  order,  send  $60  (Missouri  residents  add $3.43 sales tax,
     overseas members please make payment in US dollars,  and  include
     an additional $5 for shipping and handling) to:

                           PO Box 41143
                           St.  Louis, MO 63141

     Sorry,  we are not prepared to handle credit card or COD  orders.
     Only pre-paid orders will be accepted.  Orders received by Friday
     of  each  week  will  be  shipped  pre-paid  via  UPS-ground  the
     following Monday (provided, of course,  that I have them to ship;
     at the moment I have a limited stock).

     If you are not an IFNA member yet,  but would like to participate
     in this offer,  fill out the membership application at the end of
     this newsletter and include it and an additional $25.00.

     Above  all,  remember this is a strictly volunteer operation,  so
     please have patience.

     Fidonews                     Page 16                   9 Mar 1987

                      Public Key Encryption Revisited

     PART One.

         If you know what "Public Key Encryption" is then feel free to
     skip to part two.

         Public Key Encryption is a special form of  encryption  which
     uses  different  keys for encryption (or scrambling) of a message
     and decryption (unscrambling, the reverse operation).

         The separate keys for each operation have several advantages.
     The first is that the encryption key can be distributed much more
     easily by less secure means without compromizing the security  of
     future encrypted messages.  Simple knoledge of the encryption key
     does  not enable decrption of encrypted messages.  The decryption
     key is reqired to recreate the original message.  For this reason
     the  encryption  key  is commonly called the "public key" and the
     decryption key is the "private key".

         In operation,  everyone who wants to recieve secret  messages
     creates their own pair of keys,  one private and one public.  The
     public key is them communicated to everyone who may want to  send
     them a secret message.  Perhaps a central key distribution center
     would be established.  The private key is kept secret  and  never
     told to anyone.

         For example ...  Art wants to send Beth a secret message.  He
     would look up Beth's public key or ask her to send  him  one  (in
     the  clear).  He  would then use Beth's public key to encrypt his
     message and send her the encrypted  message.  Beth  recieves  the
     message  and  decodes  it  with her private key.  No one else can
     decrypt the message even if they get  a  copy  of  the  encrypted
     message AND the public key. They need the private key.

         In  1978  the  CACM  journal published a way of doing this on
     computers.  The system they described has come to be known as the
     "RSA" crypto system named after the authors of the article, R. L.
     Rivest, A. Shamir, and L. Aldeman.

         The  RSA system has an additional property beyond the general
     Public Key Encryption system  described  so  far.  With  the  RSA
     system  the keys are interchangeable so you can use a private key
     to encrypt a message and then only the  coresponding  public  key
     will  unscramble  the  message.  This  is  in  effect  a "digital
     signature" which "signs" a message  showing  that  the  encrypted
     message could only have been created with knowlege of the private

         Messages can also be ecrypted more than once. For example you
     can  sign  a  message  with your private key and then encrypt the
     result again with the intended receiver's public key  to  make  a
     signed,  secret  message.  The receiver would then need to do the
     reverse two steps in  the  reverse  order  to  get  the  original
     message back.

     Fidonews                     Page 17                   9 Mar 1987

         Even  more  complex  interaction  can  be  used  for  special
     purposes.  Articles have appeared on how to play poker  over  the
     phone and how to hold a secret ballot election over the phone and

     PART Two.

         I  have  implemented  a Public Key Encryption system based on
     the RSA system.  It runs on  MS-DOS  using  files  for  keys  and
     messages. I am distributing the system as freeware/shareware.

         There may be some legal or political considerations in this.

         I  have  heard  roumors  that  this sort of stuff comes under
     certain restritions for export of high tech (or  something)  from
     the  USA.  I  don't  think  this quite applies to me because I am
     exporting the system TO the USA. (I live in Canada).

         I have also heard roumors that some intelligence organization
     (unnamed)   is   discouraging   public   discusion   (let   alone
     utilization)  of  these  systems.  I  have trouble believing this
     because I had no trouble finding all the inforamtion I could ever
     desire on the subject.  There was even a articles  in  Scientific
     American and Byte magazine and a couple follow-up letters.

         Anyone  who has any solid info on this,  I would like to hear
     from you.  I especially would like  to  hear  directly  from  any
     government  organization(s)  (in  any country) who may think they
     are involved.

     PART Three

         The preceding article was  published  about  a  year  ago  in
     FidoNews (twice actually due to some confusion) esentially in the
     same form you see it now.

         I  have received some interesting correspondence as a result.
     Some relevant, some not. (No spies came to my door though.)

         Of the people who tried out the software I wrote, most wanted
     to know if it could be speeded up.  It is quite slow compared  to
     ordinary  encryption.  The  speed depends on the size of the keys
     used but even with extensive tuning I cannot get  it  do  encrypt
     faster  than  about  200  bytes  per minute on a regular 4.77 MHz
     8088.  (I would estmate the SEA ARC /g option to  be  1000  times
     faster).  This  does  admitedly  limit  the  value  of the system
     severly.  On the other hand, it is the only PUBLIC KEY encryption
     system I am aware of for MS-DOS PCs.  By the way,  addition of an
     8087  would  have no effect on the speed.  One way to speed it up
     is faster proccessors.  (Will someone give me an  80386  please?)
     Even  a  386  won't  solve the speed problem though.  To solve it
     completly would require a completly new algorithm.  I don't  know
     of  any and anyway the RSA algorithm I use has proven to be quite
     secure when used properly (so far).
     Fidonews                     Page 18                   9 Mar 1987

       Another interesting point which has come up is the  possibility
     of using public key encryption for IFNA voting.  It would be nice
     to have some security on  the  voting  process  while  using  our
     network  for  voting  (instead of the primitive paper system used
     for the ratification of the constitution).  The digital signature
     feature would be used to sign your vote.  This would involve some
     extra administration of keys for every one and a CPA with a  Fdio
     node I expect.

       Using  encryption on the net does bring up another point.  Some
     sysops like to know what messages are going through their system.
     They like to know if their  system  is  being  used  for  illegal
     activities  primarily (and some are just nosey :-) ).  Also there
     is a tendancy to follow the  HAM  radio  policy  which  prohibits
     encryption  of  any form.  Personally I don't think the HAM radio
     policy applies to Fidonet for this.  We pay for our communication
     "bandwidth"  in  real money to the phone companies.  They use the
     public resource radio spectrum.

       Some people asked to have the files  encrypted  into  an  ASCII
     form which could be used in regular electronic mail including but
     not  limited  to  Fido.  The  original version would only produce
     (unprintable) binary.  The latest versions include an  option  to
     produce ASCII files. (Version 0.1 and 0.2)

     Interested parties may contact me via Fido node 134/1.

     Lloyd Miller
     Calgary, Alberta
     1987 February 25


     Fidonews                     Page 19                   9 Mar 1987


                              Irregular Column

          Well,  here goes the  second  of  my  irregularly  appearing
     columns.  This  time  around  I've  got some more comments on the
     Microsoft C compiler (I've had a little more time to play  around
     with  it),  and  some  comments  on  OPUS among other things.  It
     occurred to me that some of you may be curious as to what type of
     equipment I have so I'll mention it now to get it out of the way.
     I am currently using an XT clone (Beltron) with  a  30  meg  hard
     drive  (Seagate  ST238  with  Western  Digital  RLL  controller).
     Attached to it is a Panasonic 1091 printer,  and I use  a  Tecmar
     Phonegate  modem (2400 baud internal).  There will hopefully be a
     second 30 meg hard drive coming in a week or two as I act  as  an
     echomail hub inside my net and would like to keep more than a few
     days of echomail on it at any one time. Now, on to the column.

          I've  had  some  more  time  to  play  with  the Microsoft C
     compiler and feel I should warn some of you who are considering C
     over BASIC.  Most C compiler's have absolutely no direct  control
     over the screen,  even to a clear screen (as a side note Computer
     Innovations C86 is  one  of  the  exceptions).  If  you  want  to
     position  the  cursor  or  clear the screen,  you have to write a
     function to do it.  This isn't as bad as  it  seems  as  you  can
     create  a  whole slew of basic screen functions in an afternoon's
     work (if you have the right reference book and  know  how  to  do
     it).  If  you  don't  feel like writing them yourself,  there are
     several "function libraries" available from various companies. As
     to where you can find the information on writing these functions,
     there are 3 choices:  1) IBM Technical Reference on the XT,  2) A
     PC-DOS  version  2.0  manual  or 3) Advanced MS-DOS which will be
     mentioned toward the end of the column.  Overall,  I just want to
     make  everyone  aware  that  this  is NOT the type of thing for a
     beginner to try on their own.

          I recently found some time to look over OPUS, which is a new
     bulletin board program that is compatible with FidoNet. I can sum
     up my comments  on  OPUS  with  two  words,  VERY  impressive.  I
     thought  about  writing  a bulletin board program many months ago
     and can appreciate the effort that has gone into bringing OPUS to
     life.  For  the  user's  there  are  several  new  protocols  for
     uploading and downloading,  and the capability of adding new ones
     almost as quickly as they're devised.  Included in the files I've
     got is the superquick SEAlink (C) and WXMODEM,  If you  have  the
     latest  version  of Procomm you can try the WXMODEM as quickly as
     you can find an OPUS board (and I've seen them sprout quickly  in
     the  nodelist).  I've  got  a program that is supposed to include
     SEAlink (C) called TELIX,  but haven't gotten around  to  playing
     with  it  at  this  time.  From  what  I've  heard on the net the
     protocol is supposed to be very quick.  User's can also peek into
     an  ARChive  file  to  see what's in it online.  It also has ANSI
     graphics capabilities without forcing everyone to use  them.  For
     message  base people,  you can now "read" everything in a message
     Fidonews                     Page 20                   9 Mar 1987

     base without having to hit return  between  each  one,  great  if
     you've  been  away for awhile,  just turn on a capture buffer and
     read 'em after you sign off.

          On the sysop side  there's  only  one  downbeat  note,  OPUS
     cannot yet send netmail.  It's only capable of receiving mail (at
     ANY time),  although it will allow you to enter netmail.  For the
     time  being  you  have  to use either FIDO or SEAdog to send your
     mail.  This shouldn't be too much of a problem as  OPUS  can  use
     most  of your FIDO files (USER.BBS,  SCHED.BBS,  etc).  Otherwise
     you have a much greater control over how  the  BBS  should  look,
     unbelievable  control  capabilities  in  any displayed text file,
     much greater control over what can be done in  any  message  area
     (OPUS  "knows"  about  echomail  among  other  things),  and  the
     capability of not seeing all the SEEN-BY  lines  in  an  echomail
     conference.  You  also  have  quite  a  bit  of control over time
     allowed,  minimum baud rates for certain things.  Overall it is a
     very impressive program and I'd advise everyone out there to take
     a  look at it.  I'd also like to thank Wynn Wagner for taking the
     time to write and debug it.

          I've had a chance to play with Reflex from Borland the  past
     few days and am already somewhat impressed with it.  It a general
     purpose database manager as far as I'm concerned with a few  nice
     features. I don't particularly care for their method of switching
     between  records,  but  you  may  not mind it.  It's very easy to
     create and modify the structure  of  a  database  within  in  the
     program and you can design your own input form (make it look like
     you  want).  The  nice  feature in it that caught my eye was it's
     ability to generate graphs from the database.  I remember  trying
     to  teach  someone (at that time my boss) how to generate a graph
     in Lotus and this would be a breeze by comparison.  If you've got
     a graphics card (hercules or color) you can view the graph as you
     play  with  it,  kind  of  like watching everything as you put it
     together.  I wish I had something like this when I took  physics,
     it  would  have  saved at least an hour a week on the lab reports
     and I might have understood things a little better.  Reflex  also
     allows  you  to view your data several different ways at the same
     time,  thus if you were putting together  that  lab  report,  you
     could  see immediately which points were off and fudge the data a
     little (I know, I shouldn't encourage this but didn't we all tend
     to fudge data on lab reports occasionally).

     I  think  it would be a very good first database program for most
     people.  It teaches  you  the  basics  without  getting  everyone
     confused  with a lot of other things at the same time,  and since
     you can import and export data from many other programs you won't
     have to reenter a lot of data if you're switching from  something
     else now, or decide to go with a different program at some future

          The best computer book I've seen recently is Advanced MS-DOS
     by  Ray  Duncan.  The reference section in the back is a must for
     someone who is programming in C or Assembler. It lists all of the
     DOS and BIOS interrupts and how to use them in your  programs.  I
     used  it  myself to write some video functions this past week.  I
     Fidonews                     Page 21                   9 Mar 1987

     found out about this book from Ray Duncan's column in  Dr.  Dobbs
     Journal  and  intend on making it a permanent part of my library.
     It's available from Microsoft Press for $22.95

          My  time  on  Leather  Goddesses  of  Phobos   has   started
     decreasing  as  I  start  playing StarFlight from Electronic Arts
     more and more each day.  StarFlight is not  quite  an  adventure,
     yet  more than the standard mindless shoot 'em up type game.  You
     start off with some money and use it to train and equip  a  ship.
     As you explore the galaxy, you can land on planet's where you can
     find  minerals  and artifacts which can be sold back at the base.
     You will also run across several  different  species,  some  more
     warlike than others.  So far I've managed to do an initial survey
     of about 50 systems  and  am  thoroughly  enjoying  the  game.  I
     haven't lost my ship yet although I've come close a few times due
     to either damage or running out of energy.  Electronic Arts claim
     that there are over 800 planets including Earth,  which I haven't
     been  able to find it yet (If you find it,  please drop me a line
     on where it is for my own curiosity).  List price on the game  is

          That  about  ties  it  up  for this column,  If you have any
     comments on something I've written about,  or something you think
     I should look at (and write about), let me know and I'll get back
     to  you  as  soon as possible.  If I think it's important enough,
     I'll stick it at the end of my next column. If you're a user of a
     BBS,  please mention to your sysop that  mail  to  me  should  be
     routed  through  157/0,  157/502,  or  157/1.  If you're a sysop,
     please note the last sentence. All those nodes are running SEAdog
     and will forward the message to me within 24 hours.

     Dale Lovell
     3266 Vezber Drive
     Seven Hills, OH  44131

     usenet: ..!ncoast!lovell
     FidoNet: 157/504


     Fidonews                     Page 22                   9 Mar 1987

     Bob Arnold
     Random Access BBS (Opus 260/320)

                              Technical Topics

     This is the first in what I hope will become a continuing  series
     of  columns  on  various  technical  topics of concern to the BBS
     sysop and user.  Almost any topic of a technical nature  will  be
     discussed.  No,  I  DON'T  want  to get into the censorship thing
     here.  That's a topic best left for discussion  in  other  areas.
     We'll deal with hardware and software here.

     "What  gives  this  bozo the right to write this thing",  I heard
     somebody ask.  Simple.  I've been  involved  with  microcomputers
     since the days of the early TRS-80 Model 1.  Anybody remember the
     huge (for then) 4 K of dynamic RAM and a barely useable BASIC  in
     ROM?  I  thought  when I upgraded to 16K and Level 2 BASIC that I
     had EVERYTHING anybody ever wanted in a "personal" computer.  Hoo
     boy  was  I  WRONG!  The  XT system that runs my BBS has over 160
     times more RAM and at least a thousand times more storage  space.
     In  case  you got out the calculator that's 640K ram plus a 2 Meg
     Ram drive and a 60 Meg Hard Drive.

     I've since gone thru an Apple II+,  an Atari 400,  an Atari 800XL
     with 1050 drive,  an Apple //e,  a TRS-80 Model 100, and a highly
     modified Kaypro 2/83 in addition to the  XT  compatible  I  built
     myself.  The Apple II+ has found a new home with another owner as
     has the Model 1 but the rest still reside in  the  Random  Access
     computer lab doing more or less usefull work as needed.

     Some  of  that work is as a freelance writer of a weekly computer
     column for the Syracuse Herald-American Sunday issue.  It reaches
     a  quarter  of  a  million  homes in upstate NY and I'm told they
     figure almost a half million people have access to the paper as a

     That column,  like this one,  is done entirely on computers until
     it  reaches the newsprint at the printing press.  There's a story
     there but I'll save it for another time.

     The job that pays the bills is as  a  service  technician  for  a
     large independant service center here in the northeast.  I prefer
     to have it remain nameless.  You'll never see the  name  here  or
     anywhere else that I write either.  My work includes hard drives,
     the entire IBM small system line (PC,  XT,  and AT),  and  almost
     anything else that's compatible.

     With that out of the way here goes.

     I've seen many messages flying about on the SYSOP echo about hard
     drives and heat problems. Since I encounter this quite frequently
     I've worked out several solutions.

     If  you've stacked a pair of hard drives in the same mounting bay
     I suggest that you re-mount them side by side on  the  BOTTOM  of
     Fidonews                     Page 23                   9 Mar 1987

     the mounting bays.  There's method to my madness!  Heat rises and
     one of the most sensitive areas of a hard drive is the frequently
     densely packed electronics area on the bottom of the hard  drive.
     Many  clone  systems and lately IBM boxes have the metal mounting
     bay cut out so that air can flow to the underside of  the  drive.
     Some clone boxes even have a cut-out on the bottom of the chassis
     under the bays to mount a small fan (more in a bit on the subject
     of fans).

     This  mounting  style  helps to spread the heat out over a larger
     area and reduce the heat built up in  one  small  area.  Just  be
     carefull when mounting half height floppies.  I got "burned" once
     when I mounted a pair of floppies over a pair of hard drives.

     The problem?  Interaction between the floppy drives and the heads
     of  the  hard  drives.  The  floppies  were direct drive units of
     relatively cheap design and the motors of each drive were  poorly
     shielded.  Whenever  one of the floppy drives started up (as in a
     copy operation) the hard drive under it experienced read  errors.
     I  got  very  lucky  and  realized  that the design of the floppy
     chassis would support the hard drives mounted  above  the  floppy
     drive.  Just  in  case  you're wondering,  when I mounted the two
     floppy drives together in  a  stack  they  interacted  with  each
     other! Watch out for extremely cheap floppy drives!

     On  the  subject of adding fans,  DON'T.  In general they draw or
     blow considerable dust into the machine. The hard drive must take
     in air thru a built  in  filter  assembly.  These  are  NOT  user
     replaceable or cleanable.  It'll cost you almost as much as a new
     drive to have internal maintainance done in a clean room  on  the
     old drive if the filter clogs up. The additional dust acts like a
     fine grit and can actually eat away floppy drive heads unless you
     methodically clean your floppy drives about every two weeks. I've
     seen  far  too  many  heads  tossed  in  the trash can because of
     excessive wear due to poor cleaning and high dust levels.

     The real secret to cooling is to increase air  flow  by  removing
     the extra slot covers.  I know that the IBM manual says this will
     louse up their cooling flow but it  WORKS!  With  the  additional
     slow  speed  air  flow  it's  much  cooler inside the box and the
     increase in dust intake is minimal.  The boards tend  to  collect
     the dust which can be easily cleaned off with a can of compressed
     air available from most electronic or camera supply houses.

     There  are several other fatal errors hard drive owners make that
     are easily prevented.  NEVER move the system while the  drive  is
     still  spinning  EVEN IF THE HEADS SEEM LOCKED IN PLACE!  Despite
     the fact that you may  have  run  some  type  of  "PARK"  utility
     (another  thing  most users forget to do) the heads may still not
     have a mechanical  lock  to  keep  them  away  from  the  platter
     surfaces  until  the platters have stopped.  If the heads contact
     the platter surface they'll gouge out the  magnetic  coating  and
     damage the drive beyond economical repair.  Head damage will also
     result from the "crash".

     Another has more to  do  with  software  and  backups.  With  the
     Fidonews                     Page 24                   9 Mar 1987

     release of DOS 3.x, many users decided to update their version of
     DOS.  The  problem  comes  when you restore the data from the old
     drive.  If the old DOS 2.X COMMAND.COM file winds up back on  the
     hard  drive it will seem to run fine BUT it will eventually crash
     making most of your data into a random mess of  bits  and  bytes.
     I've  rescued  at least 20 systems from this awfull fate and it's
     no easy task.

     Just be sure that you have the right version of  the  COMMAND.COM
     file  on  the  hard  drive  BEFORE you boot it after a restore or
     changing DOS versions.  Compare the file size and date  from  the
     DOS  master  floppy  with  the one on the hard drive.  If they're
     different use the SYS utility to put the two hidden files on  the
     drive and then COPY the COMMAND.COM file to the hard drive.

     If  the  SYS utility won't put the hidden files on the hard drive
     DON'T GO ANY FURTHER. Back up the drive and re-format it from the
     low level format up through to the standard DOS FORMAT routine to
     get the  proper  cluster  size.  This  applies  to  changing  DOS
     versions as well.

     The  cluster  is  the basic unit of hard drive storage.  With the
     older DOS 2.X DOS and a 20 meg drive, the cluster is about 4 k in
     size.  With a 30 meg drive the cluster takes up 8 K.  This is the
     minimum  ammount  of drive space that DOS will allocate.  Even if
     your file is only 122 bytes long it will still take 4 or 8  K  of
     space on the hard drive to store it.  With the change to DOS 3.X,
     the cluster size becomes 2K for a 20 or 30 meg drive. Saves quite
     a bit of space huh?  It seems that you're still stuck  with  4  K
     clusters on a 10 meg drive though.

     The final fatal error is NOT BACKING UP THE HARD DRIVE!  Oh sure,
     you think "It'll NEVER happen to ME!". Let me tell ya, it can and
     WILL.  If you have even an old backup it's much easier to pick up
     the pieces that with no backup at all.

     I've  taken  up  enough  space  in this first column.  One of the
     pluses of publishing here is the ability of you,  the  reader  to
     send an "instant" reply with your suggestions or gripes.  I fully
     intend that this is YOUR column and will try my  best  to  answer
     your  questions  here.  I'll know by your response within about a
     week after this hits the FIDO News if I should devote  additional
     time to writing more of these columns.  I plan on one about every
     two weeks if you ask for more.

     Let's hear from you today.  The address is The Random  Access  at
     260/320. If you want to call direct the number is (315) 697-3996.

                              Bob Arnold


     Fidonews                     Page 25                   9 Mar 1987


                          The Interrupt Stack

     17 May 1987
        Metro-Fire Fido's Second Birthday BlowOut and Floppy Disk
        Throwing Tournament!  All Fido Sysops and Families Invited!
        Contact Christopher Baker at 135/14 for more information.

     24 Aug 1989
        Voyager 2 passes Neptune.

     If you have something which you would like to see on this
     calendar, please send a message to FidoNet node 1/1.


     Fidonews                     Page 26                   9 Mar 1987

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