ID:BB Using The Quarterdeck BBS
Quarterdeck Technical Note #105 Filename: BBS.TEC
by Kathy Hand CompuServe: BBS.ZIP
Last revised: 12/02/92 Code: INF
Subject: Information on how to use the Quarterdeck Electronic Bulletin Board
USING THE QUARTERDECK OFFICE SYSTEMS TECHNICAL SUPPORT BBS
Quarterdeck Office Systems operates a multi-line Electronic Bulletin
Board System in order to provide technical support to our registered users as
well as pre-sales information to individuals considering purchase of
Quarterdeck products. On our system you will find general files of use to
BBSers (such as archiving and scanning utilities), patches and utilities
written by QOS for our products, technical notes, and user-uploaded files that
the SYSOP deems to be of interest to our users. In addition, you can read and
write messages with questions and comments about our programs and their
interaction with other software and hardware products. Many of our message
bases are echoed to BBS's throughout the country.
The Quarterdeck Office Systems Technical Support BBS can be reached by
dialing (310) 314-3227. As of this writing we are running 8 lines which
rotate from that number.
To call our BBS you need:
1) A modem.
Users can call in at any baud rate from 300 through 14,400. With data
compression, users calling in at 14,400 can achieve an effective
throughput of 38,400. The prices of modems are dropping constantly.
2400 baud units can be purchased for under $50, many 9600 baud units can
be found for under $200, and modems capable of 14,400 connect speeds and
error correction start at about $300. If you plan to purchase a new modem
and will be spending a lot of time online at long distance rates and/or
downloading large files, get the fastest unit you can afford. The savings
on your phone bill will be substantial.
Regardless of the speed at which your modem is communicating, it should be
configured with the following settings for best results:
8 Bit Word Length/No Parity/1 Stop Bit
(A setting of 7 Bit Word Length/Even Parity/No Stop Bit will also work.)
2) Communications software.
Your modem needs to talk to the remote computer via a software package
that you will configure for your specific hardware configuration. Many
good shareware programs are available. (Shareware is freely copied and
distributed with the "TRY BEFORE YOU BUY" philosophy. If you like the
program and continue to use it after a certain specified period of time -
usually two to four weeks - you are legally and morally responsible for
registering it with the author and sending in a small fee for its use.
Procomm and Telix are examples of shareware communications programs.)
Many new modems come bundled with software. While these packages may not
include every "bell and whistle" known to electronic communications, they
are adequate for most people's needs and will, at the very least, let you
get your feet wet.
If you wish to use your communication programs inside of our multi-tasking
environment, DESQview, you should refer to our technote #237 entitled
3) A computer capable of utilizing the above.
Because our programs are written for IBM-compatible systems, most of our
callers dial up our BBS via a DOS machine. If you do not own a modem,
however, you can access our system via a non-DOS machine. A friend with a
Macintosh, for instance, could let you use his or her computer to dial the
BBS and download technical information.
LOGGING ON FOR THE FIRST TIME
When calling for the first time, you will be asked to fill out a short
questionnaire. Aliases are not allowed on our system. You MUST register with
your real first and last name, the city you are calling from, and a phone
number where you can be reached between the hours of 9:00 am and 6:00 pm
Pacific Time. If this minimal information is not provided, your account may
If the BBS requests a password the first time you call, there is already
another user with your name. If this happens, hang up and call again, using a
different name by changing yours slightly (i.e. add your middle initial,
If there are no other users with your name on the BBS, you will be asked to
type in a password and then to re-type the same password for verification. The
next time you call you will be asked for this password. Unless you are
certain you will remember it, WRITE IT DOWN. Passwords should be chosen with
care. Do not use your name or any other word that others could easily guess.
Do not use the same password you use on other systems. These precautions are
for your benefit. If another individual gained access to your account by
using your password, your personal mail could be deleted or mail sent that
appears to be from you but is not. An individual, posing as you, could upload
commercial, copyrighted software or virus-infected software. Play it safe.
Protect your password and your account.
Once you register with us you will be allowed to use the BBS for 60 minutes
per day. If you require additional time for some specific reason, write a note
to the SYSOP explaining the situation.
ONLINE WITH QOS
Our BBS is running on Wildcat! BBS software. On a Wildcat! system you
need to be familiar with three menus: MAIN, FILES, and MESSAGE.
From the Main Menu you can:
Switch to Files or Message Menu.
Enter a comment to the Sysop.
Join a conference. (See below for more on conferences.)
Check your personal settings (the way Wildcat! displays information to you.)
Change your help level.
Read the current newsletter.
See who else is online.
See a list of current bulletins with the option of reading them online.
See a list of all users.
Review statistics of activity on our BBS.
Re-read the initial welcome screen.
Enter a "door." (More on this later.)
Obtain help on available options.
Log off the system.
In BBS-Land, the term "door" refers to another program that is run from
within the BBS program. Most boards have a "mail door" which allows users
to download packets of messages to be read and responded to off-line.
Wildcat! has its own mail door called Tomcat. It is the ONLY door that
is not run from the Door option of the main menu. Instead, it is run
from the Message Menu. (Since Tomcat handles downloading of mail
packets, this makes sense.)
If a caller chooses "D" from the Main Menu, he or she would be presented with
a list of available doors. Choosing one of the doors would cause Wildcat! to
shell to DOS and run the program. For example, we have recently implemented
a door that would allow callers to access our database of product information.
Other doors may also be added in the future.
When you log on for the first time, you will find yourself in the Main Board.
This is considered conference 0 (zero) on most boards, and this is true here
at Quarterdeck. Typing "J" for Join a Conference will give you a list of
conferences available to you. (This can vary based on your access level.) A
typical caller will see the following conferences listed:
Technical Support (Smartnet echo)
API Support (Smartnet echo)
Desqview/X (Smartnet echo)
Desqview (RIME echo)
Wildcat! BBS (Mustang Software echo)
By switching to one of these conferences you can tap into a huge pool of
messages to and from Quarterdeck Technical Support staff or, in the case of
the Wildcat! echo, messages to and from Mustang's Support Dept. If you have a
question or problem, leave a message in the appropriate conference. Within a
day or two you should hear from one of our Tech Support people. (Keep in mind
that we don't work evenings or weekends. If you have a problem that requires
immediate attention, you should call our Technical Support voice line at (310)
392-9701 or send a FAX detailing your problem to (310) 314-3217.)
Echoed conferences are groups of messages sent back and forth between hundreds
or thousands of BBS's belonging to a specific network. Smartnet and RIME are
two of dozens of such networks that share messages. Many local BBS's belong
to more than one network. It is possible to call a BBS in your town and find
messages from Smartnet and RIME as well as Fidonet, I-Link, and any number of
other nets. A board can be a "node" (member) of a specific network and not
carry all of the conferences that are available via that network. In fact,
nodes are free to pick and choose what conferences are of interest to their
Not every RIME or Smartnet board carries our support conferences. You can
always send a note to the system operator (SYSOP) of the board if you do not
find them, however. If enough interest is shown, the SYSOP may consider
adding additional conferences to the system. The obvious advantage to echoed
conferences is that you can obtain Technical Support via a local phone call
rather than calling our system which may be a long distance call for you.
Another way to drastically reduce long distance charges is to use an off-line
reader. By using a mail door (like Wildcat!'s Tomcat) you can download
packets of messages from the conferences that interest you. Tomcat compresses
these messages into a packet that conforms to the standard .QWK format. Once
the packet is downloaded, your off-line reader program uncompresses the
messages and allows you to easily read and respond to them. Your responses are
saved in a reply packet with the extension .REP. (Packets downloaded from our
BBS are named QOSBBS.QWK; your reply packets are named QOSBBS.REP.) You then
call the board again and, through Tomcat, upload your reply packet. Tomcat
unzips your replies and places them in the appropriate conferences. Several
shareware off-line readers are available for download on our BBS. Check the
file directory, download a program, and start cutting down on those phone
To read or respond to messages online, switch to the conference of your choice
by typing "J" and then pick from the conferences available to you. Typing "M"
from the Main Menu will take you to the Message Menu of the current
conference. (Keep in mind that you can access any of the three menus (MAIN,
MESSAGE, and FILE) from within ANY conference. All of the files available for
download are similarly available from within ANY conference.)
SPEAKING OF THAT FILES MENU
Many users call us in order to download a file recommended by a Tech Support
person. Downloading a file when you already know its exact name is a simple
matter. From the Main Menu choose "F" for Files Menu. Next type "D" for
download. You will be prompted for the name of the file. If you don't know
the exact name, Wildcat! will let you search for the correct file in a number
of ways. Extensive on-line help is available from within Wildcat!.
While on-line you can peruse the various file directory listings, read
descriptions of the files, and mark any number of files for downloading. A
text file, WCFILES.LST, can be downloaded which contains all the information
found in the file directory listings. This file is updated every week or two.
While online you can also get a listing of all files which have been added
since the last time you checked for new files or after a date of your choice.
Take some time to check out the files available for download. A multitude of
valuable public domain and shareware programs are available that can make you
more productive and your computing more fun.
To download a file you must tell Wildcat! to send it via a particular
protocol, and your communications program must be using that same protocol.
The most popular transfer protocol is Zmodem. It allows you to download a
group of files without user input between files; more importantly, though, it
allows you to "recover" from a crash. That is, if your download is aborted
for any reason, Zmodem can pick up where it left off. The first time you drop
carrier (lose your phone connection) about 28 minutes into a 30 minute
download, you will appreciate the benefits of this protocol! Many other
popular protocols (including Xmodem, Ymodem, and Kermit) are also available.
Neophyte BBS users who need to download a file should obtain the numbers of
several systems that are a local phone call away. Call them and download a
few files. Make sure your modem and communications program are properly
configured and you are familiar with the basic concepts of telecommunications.
Only then should you take the plunge and start dialing out-of-state boards.
One very common problem that every modem owner runs into at some point is
"line noise". You dial up your favorite BBS and before you can type in your
name, the screen begins to fill up with "garbage" characters. You finally get
your name typed in and try entering your password, only to have the same thing
occur. This line noise is the result of interference on the phone line. It
can result from defective equipment, such as your modem, the serial cable or
port, but most often it is the phone line itself that is to blame.
Some phone companies seem to produce "cleaner" lines than others. If you are
bothered by line noise often, you might want to call your local phone company
and ask them to check your line. In some cases they can improve the line
quality. In some areas a special service is available for telephone lines
which are dedicated to data transfer. This service, when available, generally
costs a little more than a standard voice line, but is geared toward the
attentuation levels unique to data transfer. This might be a good idea if
your business depends on reliable data transfer via modem. In most cases,
however, it is unnecessary. You should be aware that some states have
legislation requiring this service for those who use modems. Check with your
local phone company for specific regulations in your area.
If you only seem to get line noise when calling one system, drop the SYSOP a
note describing the problem. Meanwhile, the solution is to log off and call
back. Often you will come in on a different line and the connection will be
We hope the information in this technical note is helpful. If you have
questions or want additional information about communicating via modem, log on
to a few local BBS systems, read the messages, and download some files. Most
important: don't be afraid to ask questions. BBSers are friendly, helpful
people who LOVE what they do and are eager to help others enjoy what has
probably become an obsession for them!
* Trademarks are property of their respective owners. *
*This technical note may be copied and distributed freely as long as it*
*is distributed in its entirety and it is not distributed for profit. *
* Copyright (C) 1992 by Quarterdeck Office Systems *
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