Magazine article Computers in Libraries

OneNet - a Colorful Graphic BBS for Macintosh and Windows

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

OneNet - a Colorful Graphic BBS for Macintosh and Windows

Article excerpt

This was the summer of the big computer shift in our house. My oldest son began his first year of college this fall, and we had to decide which of the several computers in our house should accompany him. Because we were losing a computer, it gave me a good excuse to buy a more powerful Mac to replace my trusty six-yearold SE. I decided to buy a Centris 610 and was delighted with the switch to color and the marked increase in speed. Of course, the faster computer deserved a faster modem so I replaced my 2400 modem with a 14.4K fax modem. Now I was ready for some serious telecommunicating.

To fully appreciate the capabilities of my new computer, I needed to find an online service or bulletin board system (BBS) that supported a graphical interface. Some time ago, I had tried out some Mac BBSs that ran under FirstClass[TM] software from SoftArc Inc., and I thought it would be interesting to see one of these systems in color.

Client/Server

I chose the OneNet Los Altos BBS because I had heard so much about it in the Mac literature. To use the server's graphical interface, you need to have the FirstClass client software and also the set-up file for the particular server you are accessing. I had received a demo disk from SoftArc with the client software and set-up file for OneNet, but the necessary files can also be obtained from any BBS running under FirstClass. Simply dial the BBS using VT100 emulation and download the client software and the set-up file. Then set up the client software for your modem and redial the BBS using the client software. Windows users can also use the graphical interface of FirstClass if the sysop chooses to support the Windows client software.

Using a GUI Online

Navigating on a FirstClass BBS is like moving around on your own hard disk. The palette and session status boxes are optional display items. Simply double-click folders to open them, scroll through file lists and text files using familiar scroll bars, and resize or relocate windows in the usual way. If you ignore the session status box, it's easy to forget you're online. Downloading requires no more effort than double-clicking on a selected file. A file can be attached to a text file or mail message and is displayed as a small icon with a file name. Double-clicking on the icon initiates the download. There is no need to worry about file transfer protocols because FirstClass uses its own proprietary protocol without any need for user intervention. Downloads can take place in the background while you read your mail or browse conferences.

The usual features of a BBS are supported on FirstClass systems such as OneNet. You can send mail, join in the discussion on public and private conferences, download files, and even communicate in real time with another user through the public chat function. The graphical interface makes all these functions easy to use because you don't have to worry about learning commands, but if you'd like some help before you plunge in, the place to start is the Help folder on the desktop.

You'll find numerous how-to text files in this folder, and you can read them online where they are enhanced with color and other formatting, or save them as straight text files on your hard disk for offline perusal.

Once you are through with the Help folder, you can move on to the News folder. Here you will find news specifically about OneNet, including the new online publication entitled "OneNet World," and also more general news of the computer industry in the daily "Newsbytes," which can be downloaded to your computer. You can tell if the News folder, or any file or folder on the system, has been updated since your last visit by looking for a little red flag beside the item in question. …

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