tutorial - Networked e-mail tutorial
This system is one node of the ProLine network. ProLine is the name of the software that turns an Apple II computer into this BBS. Through the ProLine network, users of this system can exchange information with worldwide networks, known collectively as the “Internet”. ProLine users can also communicate with people on commercial services such, as America Online, AppleLink, BIX, CompuServe, Delphi, MCI Mail, and The Well which are also connected to the Internet. As a preface, there are some critical things that you should know about the ProLine network:
Every ProLine system is an Apple II-series computer with a single phone line and usually a single hard drive. By today’s standards, these computers are tiny and slow, and it is indeed amazing that they can operate a system as sophisticated as ProLine and be part of a planetary network.
When you send or receive a network message, you are costing every system along the way time, resources, and money. When you send or receive network data, you cost your system administrator money. You also cost the other ProLine sysops money. Please keep that in mind. This is not to discourage reasonable use of the network, but remember:
Any abuse of the network will result in denial of network privileges.
Finally, be conservative. If you don’t absolutely KNOW an address, don’t send the letter. Don’t ask for huge files, or send them. Be reasonable. If you’re in doubt, ask your system administrator.
Mail networking is simple in concept. You want to send a message to someone who has an account on a system other than this one. Although the idea is simple, the network’s operation is quite complex. Fortunately, most of this complexity is handled by the computers that make up the network. Nevertheless, there are a few things that you should know about ProLine lest this tutorial confuse you all the more. These include:
A working knowledge of mail (where you can read or send mail), editors (edit, vedit, or ed, the ProLine text editors), and cs (Conference System). If you have already read mail, sent mail to your system administrator or to another user of this system, and if you have posted and read messages on the Conference System, then you have such knowledge.
An understanding that you own a user area on the system’s hard drive for as long as you have an account on this system. Your user area is a subdirectory (or folder) inside the system directory called $/usr. It has the same name as your login name. If your login name were jsbach, for example, your user area would be $/usr/jsbach. Within your user directory are all your files, including an important file called signature.
Optionally, the use of some utilities on this system that aid in mail routing and file management. These include add, cat, cp, find, grep, rcp, rm, safecom, setfile, uuencode, uudecode, and a few others. These commands are accessed from ProLine’s command-line, the C-Shell. This is not to say that you must be totally conversant in the use of all of these utilities, but they can make things a lot easier. Review the manuals on these commands to gain a basic understanding of the functions they perform.
Don’t let this all overwhelm you. You can learn networking bit by bit, and soon you’ll be a network expert.
An address in the network is nothing more than a computer network path that you send a message through to reach a user on a distant computer system. The concept of addresses is rather straightforward, but the implementation of them can stagger the mind. ProLine, however, alleviates much of the complexity that would otherwise confound most users.
Without ProLine’s smart routing features, you would have to know the complete address path that the message would follow to reach its destination. Consider the postal system as we know it today. Without relatively short addresses and ZIP codes, we would have to include complete instructions for letters carriers to deliver a piece of mail. “Drive from the post office to Elm Street. Take a right. Go up one block. Turn left at the signal. Fourth house on the right; the one with the pink Ford Escort in the driveway.” Now, consider out of town delivery instructions! What happens when whole cities (sites) move and change their routing paths (connections)?
To apply this example to electronic mail delivery, you would have to tell each computer in the network exactly through which systems your message should be relayed. For example, to send to a user named gbush at pro-applepi, a ProLine site in Washington, DC, from pro-sol, a site in San Diego, CA, you would have to know this address:
As you can see, an exclamation point (!) separates each system in the path, just as a certain character separates directory names in pathnames under your computer’s operating system. Needless to say, this isn’t very convenient, and that lengthy address was needed to send a letter to a fellow ProLine site! Why can’t the computers keep track of how to send the mail? The answer is, they can.
Fortunately, sites that make up the world computer network have devised simpler forms of addressing. These abbreviated addresses are known as “domain” or Internet addresses. A domain is simply a large computer that knows the explicit paths for a group (domain) of addresses. If you wanted to send mail to someone on BITNET, the academic network, you would simply send it to UserName@SiteName.BITNET.
To send to a user named JSMITH who has an account on the system CLARGRAD, for example, you would send to JSMITH@CLARGRAD.BITNET.
To send to jscully who has an account on a system at Apple Computer, you would just send to email@example.com.
In addition, this system knows the path to every other ProLine system. You don’t even need the domain identifier (the part of the address following the “.”). To send mail to jbush at pro-applepi, you would address your message to:
It’s just that simple.
You will most likely learn someone’s address by their telling you in person, or by reading it in their signature on a network message.
Signatures are succinct addenda to messages you send to people on the network. They contain your address information, allowing persons wishing to respond or correspond with you to find the easiest mail path to you. The signature file is kept in your user area with the filename of signature. When you signed on to ProLine to create your account, a signature file was prepared for you.
Your signature automatically attaches itself to all correspondence that you send to the net or to any person on the net. So, the utmost consideration must go into choosing what you want to have as a signature if you desire to customize it. It should:
Provide a reasonable return address/path to you so that all persons reading your message will be able to send you mail.
Not contain any offensive text or diagrams in it that would detract from normal standards of conversation. This includes any vulgarity, and any vulgar text art.
Not be large. Four lines should be the most that you need for any signature file.
Not take up bandwidth. What this means is that if you add to your signature, the additional information should be worth the increased cost to distribute it through the network.
As you can see the interaction available in a network of this sort can be quite amazing! You can have correspondence going with a number of people around the world. But please do not abuse the system. The limitations of a small computer such as this one precludes us from having a really large system, and therefore the only way that you can cut the drive use down is to use it effectively. Please do not subscribe to any mail-feeds without prior approval from the system administrator. Anyone abusing the network privilege is likely to lose network access.
domains(NET), mail(C), rcp(NET)