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Version: 4.9

| Accessing The Internet By E-Mail |
| Doctor Bob's Guide to Offline Internet Access |
| 4th Edition - August 1995 |

Copyright (c) 1994-95, "Doctor Bob" Rankin

All rights reserved. Permission is granted to make and distribute
verbatim copies of this document provided the copyright notice and
this permission notice are preserved on all copies. Feel free to
upload to your favorite BBS or Internet server!

How to Access Internet Services by E-mail

If you don't have direct access to the Internet through your BBS
or online service, you're not alone. About half of the 150 countries
with Internet connections have only e-mail access to this world-wide
network of networks.

But if you think that sounds limiting, read on. You can access almost any
Internet resource using e-mail. Maybe you've heard of FTP, Gopher, Archie,
Veronica, Finger, Usenet, Whois, Netfind, WAIS, and the World-Wide Web but
thought they were out of your reach because you don't have a direct

Not so! You can use simple e-mail commands to do all of this and much
more on the Internet. And even if you do have full Internet access,
using e-mail services can save you time and money. If you can send a
note to an Internet address, you're in the game.

I encourage you to read this entire document first and then go back and
try out the techniques that are covered. This way, you will gain a
broader perspective of the information resources that are available, an
introduction to the tools you can work with, and the best methods for
finding the information you want.

Recent Changes To This Document

4.9 Updated list of mail->usenet servers
4.9 Updated list of usenet-via-gophermail servers
4.9 Martin Wong's stock report is defunct
4.9 New translations available
4.8 Updated list of usenet gopher hosts
4.7 Updated contact info (new e-mail and web addresses)
4.7 New WWWmail server "[email protected]"
4.6 Added note about types of users listed in WHOIS database.
4.6 Usenet retrieval via "[email protected]" is defunct.
4.6 Several new translations available.
4.6 The FTP Site List now has 20 parts (and growing).
4.6 The gophermail server "[email protected]" is defunct.
4.6 Added some new gophermail server addresses.
4.5 Added FTPmail server "[email protected]".
4.5 WEBSTER dictionary lookup at [email protected] is defunct.
4.4 Usenet retrieval via "[email protected]" is defunct.

Finding the Latest Version

This document is now available from several automated mail servers.
To get the latest edition, send e-mail to one of the addresses below.

To: [email protected] (for US/Canada/etc.)
Enter only this line in the BODY of the note:

To: [email protected] (for Eastern US)
Enter only this line in the BODY of the note:
send usenet/news.answers/internet-services/access-via-email

To: [email protected] (for UK/Europe/etc.)
Enter only this line in the BODY of the note:
send lis-iis e-access-inet.txt

You can also get the file by anonymous FTP at one of these sites:

get pub/usenet/news.answers/internet-services/access-via-email
get pub/lists/lis-iis/files/e-access-inet.txt

Other Translations of This Document

Several readers have graciously volunteered to translate this text into
languages other than English. The list below shows the status of the
translation work that has been done or is in progress. You can obtain
any of the completed texts by sending e-mail with

Subject: send accmail.xx (where "xx" is as shown below)
To: [email protected]

- Catalanian (Complete - 4th Edition) Filename:
- Chinese (In progress) Filename:
- Croatian (In progress) Filename:
- Czech (Complete - 4th Edition) Filename:
- Danish (Complete - 4th Edition) Filename:
- Dutch (Complete - 3rd Edition) Filename:
- French (Complete 4th Edition) Filename:
- German (Complete - 3rd Edition) Filename:
- Hebrew (Complete - 4th Edition) Filename: accmail.he
- Hebrew (Windows Write version) Filename: accmail.hew
- Hungarian (In progress) Filename:
- Indonesian (Complete 4th Edition) Filename:
- Italian (Complete 4th Edition) Filename:
- Japanese (In progress) Filename:
- Norwegian (Complete - 4th edition) Filename:
- Persian (In progress) Filename:
- Polish (Complete - 4th Edition) Filename:
- Portuguese (Complete - 2nd Edition) Filename:
- Romanian (Complete - 4th Edition) Filename:
- Russian (Complete - 4th Edition) Filename:
- Serbian (In progress) Filename:
- Spanish (Complete - 4th Edition) Filename: accmail.sp
- Swedish (In progress) Filename:
- Ukranian (In progress) Filename: accmail.ur

Please contact the author if you would like to assist in the translation
of this document into another language.


This document is continually expanding and improving as a result of the
daily flood of comments and questions received by the author. The following
individuals are hereby recognized for their contributions. (If I forgot
anyone, let me know and I'll gladly add you to the list.)

Roddy MacLeod - Engineering Faculty Librarian, Heriot Watt University
George McMurdo - Queen Margaret College
Jim Milles - NETTRAIN Moderator, Saint Louis University
Glee Willis - Engineering Librarian, University of Nevada
Sylvain Chamberland - Enthusiastic contributor

Ron Barak - Hebrew translation
Krzysztof Buniewicz - Polish Translation
Claude Bay - French translation
Pierre Couillard - French translation
Vadim Fedorov - Russian translation
Ricard Forner - Catalanian translation
Stefan Greundel - German translation
Thorsten Bo Hansen - Danish translation
Mihai Jalobeanu - Romanian translation
Roland Ljungkvist - Swedish translation
Isamar Maia - Portuguese translation
Ewa Poskrobko - Polish Translation
Oe Wely Eko Raharjo - Indonesian translation
Vidar Sarvik - Norwegian translation
Martin Slunecko - Czech translation
Jeene van der Hoef - Dutch translation
Dario Vercelli - Italian translation

The DELRINA CORPORATION, makers of WinComm Pro, Internet Messenger and
other fine software products is also proud to be a corporate sponsor of
this effort.

A Short Aside... "What is the Internet?"

Many introductory texts on the Internet go into excruciating detail on
the history, composition and protocol of the Internet. If you were
looking for that you won't find it here, because this is a "how to"
lesson, not a history book.

When you buy a new car, they don't make you read "The Life and Times of
Henry Ford" before you can turn the top down and squeal off the lot.
And when you get a new computer, nobody forces you to read a text on
logic design before you fire up Leisure Suit Larry or WordPerfect.

So if you're the type that wants to short-circuit the preliminaries and
just dig in, you've come to the right place. I'm not going to bore you
with the gory details. Instead, I'll just offer up my Reader's Digest
condensed definition of the Internet, and encourage you to read more
about the Internet in one of the many fine Internet books and guides
listed in the "Suggested Reading" section. Some of them are even free
and accessible directly from the Internet!

Internet (noun) - A sprawling collection of computer networks that spans
the globe, connecting government, military, educational and commercial
institutions, as well as private citizens to a wide range of computer
services, resources, and information. A set of network conventions and
common tools are employed to give the appearance of a single large
network, even though the computers that are linked together use many
different hardware and software platforms.

The Rules of The Game

This document is meant to be both tutorial and practical, so there are
lots of actual commands and internet addresses listed herein. You'll
notice that when these are included in the text they are indented by
several spaces for clarity. Don't include the leading spaces when you
try these commands on your own!

You'll also see things like "" or "" appearing in this
document. Think of these as place holders or variables which must
be replaced with an appropriate value. Do NOT include the quotes or
brackets in your value unless specifically directed to do so.

Most e-mail servers understand only a small set of commands and are
not very forgiving if you deviate from what they expect. So include
ONLY the specified commands in the Subject or body of your note, leaving
off any extraneous lines such as your signature, etc.

You should also ensure that you have one blank line between the note
headers and the body of your note. And do pay attention to upper/lower
case in directory and file names when using e-mail servers. It's almost
always important!


FTP stands for "file transfer protocol", and is a means of accessing
files that are stored on remote computer systems. In Internet lingo,
these remote computers are called "sites". Files at FTP sites are
typically stored in a tree-like set of directories (or nested folders
for Mac fans), each of which pertains to a different subject.

When visiting an FTP site using a "live" internet connection, one would
specify the name of the site, login with a userid & password, navigate
to the desired directory and select one or more files to be transferred
back to their local system.

Using FTP by e-mail is very similar, except that the desired site is
reached through a special "ftpmail server" which logs in to the remote
site and returns the requested files to you in response to a set of
commands in an e-mail message.

Using FTP by e-mail can be nice even for those with full Internet
access, because some popular FTP sites are heavily loaded and
interactive response can be very sluggish. So it makes sense not to
waste time and connect charges in these cases.

To use FTP by e-mail, you first need a list of FTP "sites" which are the
addresses of the remote computer systems that allow you to retrieve
files anonymously (without having a userid and password on that system).

There are some popular sites listed later in this guide, but you can get
a comprehensive list of hundreds of anonymous FTP sites by sending an
e-mail message to the internet address:

[email protected]

and include these lines in the BODY of the note.

send usenet/news.answers/ftp-list/sitelist/part1
send usenet/news.answers/ftp-list/sitelist/part2
... (lines omitted for brevity) ...
send usenet/news.answers/ftp-list/sitelist/part20

You will then receive (by e-mail) 20 files which comprise the "FTP Site
List". Note that these files are each about 60K, so the whole lot will
total over a megabyte! This could place a strain on your system, so
first check around to see if the list is already available locally, or
consider requesting just the first few as a sampler before getting the

Another file you might want to get is "FTP Frequently Asked Questions"
which contains lots more info on using FTP services, so add this line to
your note as well:

send usenet/news.answers/ftp-list/faq

After you receive the site list you'll see dozens of entries like this,
which tell you the site name, location and the kind of files that are
stored there.

Site :
Country: USA
Organ : Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan
System : Unix
Comment: Primary Simtel Software Repository mirror
Files : BBS lists; ham radio; TCP/IP; Mac; modem protocol info;
MS-DOS; MS-Windows; PC Blue; PostScript; Simtel-20; Unix

If you find an interesting FTP site in the list, send e-mail to one of
these ftpmail servers:

[email protected] (USA)
[email protected] (USA) *
[email protected] (USA)
[email protected] (USA)
[email protected] (Germany)
[email protected] (Germany)
[email protected] (Sweden)
[email protected] (UK)
[email protected] (Australia)

It doesn't really matter which one you choose, but a server that is close
may respond quicker. In the body of the note, include these lines:

open * use "connect " for sites

This will return to you a list of the files stored in the root directory
at that site. See the figure below for an example of the output when
using "" for the site name.

| |
| -r--r--r-- 1 w8sdz OAK 1255 Nov 9 16:32 README |
| drwxr-xr-x 3 w8sdz OAK 8192 Feb 25 05:17 SimTel |
| d--x--x--x 3 root system 8192 Jan 19 20:26 bin |
| d--x--x--x 5 root system 8192 Dec 30 05:15 etc |
| drwxrwx--- 2 incoming OAK 8192 Feb 25 11:05 incoming |
| drwxr-xr-x 3 w8sdz OAK 8192 Jan 30 17:37 pub |
| drwxr-xr-x 2 jeff OAK 8192 Apr 17 1994 siteinfo |
| |

In your next e-mail message you can navigate to other directories by
inserting (for example)

chdir pub

before the "dir" command. (The "chdir" means "change directory" and "pub"
is a common directory name, usually a good place to start.) Once you
determine the name of a file you want to retrieve, use:


in the following note instead of the "dir" command. If the file you
want to retrieve is plain text, this will suffice. If it's a binary
file (an executable program, compressed file, etc.) you'll need to
insert the command:


in your note before the "get" command.

Tip: Many directories at FTP sites contain a file called 00-index.txt,
README, or something similarly named which gives a description of the
files found there. If you're just exploring and your "dir" reveals one
of these filenames, do a "get" on the file and save yourself some time.

OK, let's grab the text of The Magna Carta. Here's the message you send
to [email protected] (or another ftpmail server):

open (The name of the FTP site)
chdir Gov/World (The directory where the file lives)
get magna.txt (Sign here please, John)
quit (Bring it on home)

Here are the commands you would send to to get a file from the Simtel
Software Repository that was mentioned earlier.

open (The name of the FTP site)
chdir SimTel/msdos/disasm (The directory where the file lives)
binary (Because we're getting a ZIP file)
get (Sounds interesting, anyway...)
quit (We're outta here!)

Some other interesting FTP sites you may want to "visit" are listed below.
(Use these site names on the "open" command and the suggested directory
name on your "chdir" command, as in the previous examples.) Try: pub/Library for documents, Bible, lyrics, etc. Try: pub/usenet/news.answers for USENET info Try: SimTel/msdos for a huge DOS software library Try: pub/nic for Internet how-to documents Try: pub/humor for lots of humor files Try: pub/recipes for a cooking & recipe archive

Remember that you can't just send e-mail to ftpmail@, rather you
send the "open " command to one of the known ftpmail servers.

You should note that ftpmail servers tend to be quite busy so your reply
may not arrive for several minutes, hours, or days, depending on when
and where you send your request. Also, some large files may be split
into smaller pieces and returned to you as multiple messages.

If the file that is returned to you ends up looking something like what
you see below, (the word "begin" with a number and the filename on one
line, followed by a bunch of 61-character lines) it most likely is a
binary file that has been "uuencoded" by the sender. (This is required
in order to reliably transmit binary files by e-mail.)

begin 666
M!P8;!KL,2P,)!PL).PD'%@.(!@4.!P8%[email protected]%PL*!@@*.P4.%00.%P4*.`4.

You'll need to scrounge up a version of the "uudecode" program for your
operating system (DOS, OS/2, Unix, Mac, etc.) in order to reconstruct the
file. Most likely you'll find a copy already at your site or in your
service provider's download library, but if not you can use the instructions
in the next section to find out how to search FTP sites for a copy.

One final point to consider... If your online service charges you to
store e-mail files that are sent to you and you plan to receive some
large files via FTP, it would be wise to handle your "inbasket"
expeditiously to avoid storage costs.


Let's say you know the name of a file, but you have no idea at which FTP
site it might be lurking. Or maybe you're curious to know if files
matching a certain naming criteria are available via FTP. Archie is the
tool you can use to find out.

Archie servers can be thought of as a database of all the anonymous FTP
sites in the world, allowing you to find the site and/or name of a file
to be retrieved. And using Archie by e-mail can be convenient because
some Archie searches take a LONG time to complete, leaving you to tap
your toes in the meantime.

To use Archie by e-mail, simply send an e-mail message to one of the
following addresses:

[email protected] (USA)
[email protected] (USA)
[email protected] (USA)
[email protected] (UK)
[email protected] (Australia)
[email protected] (Sweden)
[email protected] (Japan)

To obtain detailed help for using Archie by mail, put the word


in the subject of the note and just send it off. You'll receive e-mail
explaining how to use archie services.

If you're the "just do it" type, then enter the command:


where "" is the name of the file to search for, in the BODY (not
the subject) of the note.

This will search for files that match your criteria exactly. If you
want to find files that contain your search criteria anywhere in their
name, insert the line

set search sub

before the "find" command. Some other useful archie commands you might
want to use are:

set maxhits 20 (limit output, default is 100 files)
set match_domain usa (restrict output to FTP sites in USA)
set output_format terse (return output in condensed form)

When you get the results from your Archie query, it will contain the
names of various sites at which the desired file is located. Use one of
these site names and the directory/filename listed for your next FTP
file retrieval request.

Now you've learned enough to locate that uudecode utility mentioned in
the last section. Let's send e-mail to [email protected], and
include the following lines in the message:

set match_domain usa (restrict output to FTP sites in USA)
set search sub (looking for a substring match...)
find uudecode (must contain this string...)

Note: You'll be looking for the uudecode source code, not the executable
version, which would of course be a binary file and would arrive
uuencoded - a Catch 22! The output of your archie query will contain
lots of information like this:

Host (
Last updated 06:31 9 Oct 1994

Location: /pub/simtel20-cdrom/msdos/starter
FILE -r-xr-xr-x 5572 bytes 21:00 11 Mar 1991 uudecode.bas

Location: /pub/simtel20-cdrom/msdos/starter
FILE -r-xr-xr-x 5349 bytes 20:00 17 Apr 1991 uudecode.c

Now you can use an ftpmail server to request "uudecode.bas" (if you have
BASIC available) or "uudecode.c" (if you have a C compiler) from the site.

It should be noted that the latest version of uudecode can be found at
the SimTel repository. Send e-mail to [email protected],
including any or all of these commands in the BODY of the note, and the
requested files will be returned to you by e-mail.

get uudecode.bas
get uudecode.c
get uudecode.doc


Gopher is an excellent tool for exploring the Internet and is the best
way to find a resource if you know what you want, but not where to find
it. Gopher systems are menu-based, and provide a user-friendly front end
to Internet resources, searches and information retrieval.

Gopher knows where things are, thanks to the many volunteers who spend
time creating pointers to useful collections of 'Net resources. And
Gopher takes the rough edges off of the Internet by automating remote
logins, hiding the sometimes-cryptic command sequences, and offers
powerful search capabilities as well.

When visiting a Gopher site using a "live" Internet connection, one would
specify the name of the site, navigate through a series of hierarchical
menus to a desired resource, and then either read or transfer the
information back to their home system.

Using Gopher by e-mail is very similar, except that the desired site is
reached through a special "gophermail server" which gophers to the remote
site on your behalf and and returns the requested menu, submenu or file to
you in response to a set of commands in an e-mail message.

Although not every item on every menu will be accessible by "gophermail",
you'll still find plenty of interesting things using this technique.
Down to brass tacks... let's send e-mail to one of these addresses:

[email protected] USA
[email protected] USA
[email protected] Sweden
[email protected] Japan
[email protected] Brazil
[email protected] Czech Republic
[email protected] *OUT OF SERVICE*
[email protected] Israel
[email protected] Japan
[email protected] Japan
[email protected] Japan
[email protected] Japan

You can optionally specify the address of a known gopher site on the
Subject line to get the main menu for that site instead. Here are some
interesting gopher sites you may like to explore at your leisure.

Let's be bold and skip the HELP stuff for now. Fire off a note to one of
the gophermail servers and specify


You'll get a message back from the server that looks something like
the text in the figure below.

| |
| Mail this file back to gopher with an X before the items you want. |
| |
| 1. About USCgopher/ |
| 2. How To Find Things on Gopher/ |
| 3. University Information/ |
| 4. Campus Life/ |
| 5. Computing Information/ |
| 6. Library and Research Information/ |
| 7. Health Sciences/ |
| 8. Research and Technology Centers/ |
| 9. Other Gophers & Info Resources/ |
| |
| You may edit the following numbers to set the maximum sizes after |
| which GopherMail should send output as multiple email messages: |
| |
| Split=27K bytes/message <- For text, bin, HQX messages |
| Menu=100 items/message <- For menus and query responses |
| # |
| Name=About USCgopher |
| Numb=1 |
| Type=1 |
| Port=70 |
| Path=1/About_USCgopher |
| |
| # ... (some lines deleted) ... |
| Name=Other Gophers and Information Resources |
| Numb=9 |
| Type=1 |
| Port=70 |
| Path=1/Other_Gophers_and_Information_Resources |
| |
| |

To proceed to a selection on the returned menu just e-mail the whole text
of the note (from the menu downwards) back to the gopher server, placing
an "x" next to the items(s) you want to explore. You'll then receive the
next level of the gopher menu by e-mail. Some menu choices lead to other
menus, some lead to text files, and some lead to searches. In the example
above, let's select

x 9. Other Gophers & Info Resources

and mail the whole shebang right back at the gophermail server. You should
then get a menu with a number of interesting selections including "Gopher
Jewels". You'll find a LOT of good stuff along that path. The Gopher
Jewels project is probably the best organized collection of Internet
resources around.

If a menu item is labelled "Search" you can select that item with an "x"
and supply your search words in the Subject: of your reply. Note that
your search criteria can be a single word or a boolean expression such as:

document and (historic or government)

Each of the results (the "hits") of your search will be displayed as an
entry on yet another gopher menu!

Note: You needn't actually return the entire gopher menu and all the
routing info that follows it each time you reply to the gophermail server.
If you want to minimize the size of your query, you can strip out the
"menu" portion at the top and include only the portion below that pertains
to the menu selection you want.

Just remember that if you use this approach, you must specify "get all" on
the Subject line. (Exception: for searching, specify only the search
terms on the Subject line.) The example below is equivalent to selecting
"option 9" as we did earlier.

Split=0K bytes/message
Menu=0 items/message
Name=Other Gophers

If this looks like nonsense to you, here's a human translation:

Connect to PORT 70 of the HOST (computer) at "",
retrieve the sub-menu "Other Gophers", and send it to me in
ONE PIECE, regardless of its size.

Note: Sometimes gophermail requests return a blank menu or message. This
is most likely because the server failed to connect to the host from which
you were trying to get your information. Send your request again later
and it'll probably work.


Speaking of searches, this is a good time to mention Veronica. Just
as Archie provides a searchable index of FTP sites, Veronica provides
this function for "gopherspace". Veronica will ask you what you want to
look for (your search words) and then display another menu listing all
the gopher menu items that match your search. In typical gopher
fashion, you can then select one of these items and "go-pher it"!

To try Veronica by e-mail, retrieve the main menu from a gophermail server
using the method just described. Then try the choice labelled "Other
Gopher and Information Servers". This menu will have an entry for

You'll have to select one (or more) Veronica servers to handle your
query, specifying the search words in the Subject of your reply. Here's
another example of where using e-mail servers can save time and money.
Often the Veronica servers are very busy and tell you to "try again
later". So select 2 or 3 servers, and chances are one of them will be
able to handle your request the first time around.

A Gophermail Shortcut:

The path to some resources, files or databases can be a bit tedious,
requiring several e-mail messages to the gophermail server. But here's
the good news... If you've done it once, you can re-use any of the
e-mail messages previously sent in, changing it to suit your current
needs. As an example, here's a clipping from the Veronica menu you would
get by following the previous instructions. You can send these lines to
any gophermail server to run a Veronica search.

Split=64K bytes/message <- For text, bin, HQX messages (0 = No split)
Menu=100 items/message <- For menus and query responses (0 = No split)
Name=Search GopherSpace by Title word(s) (via NYSERNet)

Specify the search words in the Subject line and see what turns up! You
can use boolean expressions in Veronica searches. For a guide to composing
Veronica searches, send these lines to a gophermail server:

Name=How to Compose Veronica Queries


Usenet is a collection of over 5000 discussion groups on every topic
imaginable. In order to get a proper start and avoid embarrasing
yourself needlessly, you must read the Usenet new users intro document,
which can be obtained by sending e-mail to:

[email protected]

and include this line in the BODY of the note:

send usenet/news.answers/news-newusers-intro

To get a listing of Usenet newsgroups, add these commands to your note:

send usenet/news.answers/active-newsgroups/part1
send usenet/news.answers/active-newsgroups/part2
send usenet/news.answers/alt-hierarchies/part1
send usenet/news.answers/alt-hierarchies/part2

To get the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) file(s) for a given newsgroup,
try a command like this:

index usenet/

(Substitute dots for dashes if they appear in the newsgroup name.)
If any FAQ files are available, they will be listed in the returned info,
and you can request them with a command like:

send usenet//

Once you've handled the preliminaries, you'll need to know how to read
and contribute to Usenet newsgroups by e-mail. To read a newsgroup, you
can use the gophermail service discussed earlier in this guide.

To obtain a list of recent postings to a particular newsgroup, send the
following lines to one of the gophermail servers mentioned previously.
Specify "Subject: get all" and include only these lines in the message body.

(You must replace "" below with the name of the Usenet
newsgroup you wish to access. eg: alt.answers,,
news.newusers.questions, etc.)

------- begin gophermail message (do not include this line)
Path=nntp ls
------- end gophermail message (do not include this line)

If this doesn't work, you can try another Host by substituting one of
the lines below. (limited coverage) (sometimes works)

Note that many of these sites carry only a limited range of newsgroups,
so you may have to try several before finding one which carries the
newsgroup you're looking for. When the newsgroup does not exist,
gophermail sends something like "'nntp ls ': path does not
exist". When a site does not accept outside requests, gophermail sends
something like "Sorry, we don't accept requests outside campus".

If successful, the gophermail server will send you a typical gopher menu
on which you may select the individual postings you wish to read.

Note: The gophermail query in this example is the greatly edited result of
many previous queries. I've pared it down to the bare essentials so
it can be tailored and reused.

If you decide to make a post of your own, mail the text of your post to:

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected] (???)
[email protected] (???)
[email protected] (???)

(For an updated list send e-mail to [email protected])

For example, to post to news.newusers.questions, you might send your
message to:

[email protected]

Be sure to include an appropriate Subject: line, and include your real
name and e-mail address at the close of your note.


A service at Stanford University makes it possible to search USENET
newsgroups for postings that contain keywords of interest to you. You
can even "subscribe" and receive a daily list of newsgroup postings that
match your search criteria. Send mail to [email protected] with
HELP in the body of note for full details.


WAIS stands for Wide Area Information Service, and is a means of
searching a set of over 500 indexed databases. The range of topics is
too broad to mention, and besides, you'll soon learn how to get the
topic list for yourself.

I recommend that you send e-mail to "[email protected]" with HELP
in the body of the note to get the full WAISmail user guide. But if you
can't wait, use the info below as a quickstart.

A list of WAIS databases (or "resources" as they like to be called) can be
obtained by sending e-mail to the waismail server with the line

search xxx xxx

in the body of the note. Look through the returned list for topics that
are of interest to you and use one of them in the next example.

OK, let's do an actual search. Send e-mail to:

[email protected]

with the following commands in the note body:

maxres 10
search bush-speeches lips

This will tell WAISmail to search through the text of the "bush-speeches"
database and return a list of at most 10 documents containing "lips".

A successful search will return one or more "DOCid:" lines, which
identify the location of the matching documents. To retrieve the full
text of a matching document, send one of the returned "DOCid:" lines
(exactly as is) in the body of your next message to WAISmail.

(Note: The WAISmail server at "" is defunct. The server
listed above still had a few bugs as of this writing, so if it doesn't
work, try the WAIS via gophermail method described next.)

A list of WAIS databases can also be obtained by sending e-mail to
goph[email protected] with "Subject: get all" and these lines in the
message body:

Name=WAIS Databases

Look through the returned list for topics that are of interest to you and
select one to search. Specify your search term(s) on the Subject line,
and clip out just the section of the returned gopher menu that corresponds
to your target database. For example:


You will (hopefully) receive a gophermail menu in response listing the
matching "documents". To retrieve the full text of a matching document,
just make a selection from the returned gopher menu, and the referenced
file will be sent to you.

In my testing, WAIS by gophermail was not reliable. Often a blank menu
was returned but repeated attempts did eventually meet with success.


The World-Wide Web is touted as the future of Internet navigational
tools. It's a hypertext and multimedia system that lets you hop around
the Net, read documents, and access images & sounds linked to a source.

Have you ever heard someone say, "Wow, check out the cool stuff at" and wondered what the heck they
were talking about? Now you can retrieve WWW documents by e-mail
using an Agora WWW-mail server.

All you need to know is the Uniform Resource Locator (or URL, that
long ugly string starting with "http:", "gopher:", or "ftp:") which
defines the address of the document, and you can retrieve it by sending
e-mail to either of:

[email protected] (temporarily out of service)
[email protected]

In the body of your note include one of these lines, replacing ""
with the actual URL specification.


This will send you back the document you requested, with a list of all
the documents referenced within, so that you may make further requests.


Same as above, but it will also send you the documents referenced in
the URL you specified. (May result in a LOT of data coming your way!)

To try WWW by e-mail send the following commands to an Agora server :


You'll receive in due course the Agora help file and the "WWW Welcome
Page" from Cern which will include references to other Web documents
you'll want to explore.

Note: The URL you specify may contain only the following characters:
a-z, A-Z, 0-9, and these special characters /:._-+@%*()?~

As mentioned earlier, you can also get Usenet postings from the WWW
mail server. Here are some examples:

send news:comp.unix.aix (returns a list of recent postings)
deep news:comp.unix.aix (returns the list AND the postings,
this can be a LOT of data!)

THERE IS ANOTHER WWW-mail server whose address is:

[email protected]

This server requires commands in the form:


Note: The WWW-mail servers are sometimes unavailable for days (or weeks)
at a time without explanation. If you get an error or no reply, please
retry in a day or so.


There's a lot of great stuff out on the Web, but how do you find it?
Well, just like Archie and Veronica help you search FTP and gopher sites,
there are several search engines that have been developed to search for
information on the Web. But until now, you had to have direct Internet
access to use them.

After a bit of research, I have found that it is possible to use several
WWW search mechanisms by e-mail. Here are some sample queries that you
can use to search via Lycos, WebCrawler and the CUI W3 Catalog. Any of
these lines can be sent to an Agora server (see above) to perform a
search. If you're not interested in spam or frogs, then by all means
feel free to use your own search keywords.

For Lycos, append a dot to your keywords to force an exact match, or you
will get a substring search by default. Separate words with a "+" sign.

For WebCrawler searches you must separate words with a "+" sign.
All searches are exact, no trailing dot required.

For CUI W3 Catalog searches you must separate words with "%20" as below.
All searches are exact, no trailing dot required.


There are literally thousands of discussion groups that stay in touch
using e-mail based systems known as "mailing lists". People interested
in a topic "subscribe" to a "list" and then send and receive postings by
e-mail. For a good introduction to this topic, send e-mail to:

[email protected]

In the body of your note include only this command:


Finding a Mailing List

To find out about mailing lists that are relevant to your interests,
send the following command to the same address given above.

LIST GLOBAL /keyword

(Of course you must replace "keyword" with an appropriate search word
such as Marketing, Education, etc.)

Another helpful document which details the commands used to subscribe,
unsubscribe and search mailing list archives can be had by sending to:

[email protected]

In the body of your note include only this command:

get mailser cmd nettrain f=mail

New in These Parts?

If you're new to the Internet, I suggest you subscribe to the HELP-NET list
where you're likely to find answers to your questions. Send the command:


in the BODY of a note to [email protected], then e-mail your questions
to the list address:

[email protected]


"Finger" is a utility that returns information about another user.
Usually it's just boring stuff like last logon, etc., but sometimes
people put fun or useful information in their finger replies. To try
out finger, send e-mail with

Subject: FINGER [email protected].
To: [email protected]

You'll receive some current sports standings! (The general form is
FINGER user@site.)

Just for kicks, try finger using a combination of gopher and WWW. Send
the command:

send gopher://:79/0

to the WWWmail server mentioned earlier.


"WHOIS" is a service that queries a database of Internet names and
addresses. If you're looking for someone or you want to know where
a particular Internet site is located, send e-mail with

Subject: whois
To: [email protected]

Try substituting "" or the last name of someone you know in place
of "" and see what comes back! It should be noted that WHOIS is
not a comprehensive listing of all Internet users. It contains mostly
network administrators and some "notable" Internet figures.

Another alternative name looker-upper is a database at MIT which keeps
tabs on everyone who has posted a message on Usenet. Send e-mail to
"mail[email protected]" and include this command ONLY in the BODY:

send usenet-addresses/

Specify as much information as you can about the person (lastname,
firstname, userid, site, etc.) to limit the amount of information that
is returned to you. Here's a sample query to find the address of
someone you think may be at Harvard University:

send usenet-addresses/Jane Doe Harvard

NETFIND is another more powerful search engine that uses a person's name
and keywords describing a physical location to return a bunch of info
about the person (or persons) who fit the bill.

Let's say we want to find someone named Hardy at the University of
Colorado in Boulder. Our Netfind query will be addressed to
an Agora server (see list in WWW section) and will contain the only line:


Netfind works in two phases. First it displays a list of internet
domains that match your keywords, then it looks for the person in the
domain you select. Netfind by e-mail is very similar, in that you'll
receive a listing of matching domains from which you must make one or
more selections.

Each selection is numbered and there are corresponding "gopher://"
commands at the bottom of the listing. Let's pick the selection for computer science dept, university of colorado, boulder

which means that our next command to the Agora server will be:


If all goes well, you'll receive a list something like this:

full_name: HARDY, JOE (not a real person)
email: [email protected]
phone: (303) 492-1234
address: Campus Box 777

Note that if you know the person's domain name already, you can jump right
in with a query like the latter one above.

You can also try the "Four11 Online User Directory", a free directory of
users and their e-mail addresses. Send e-mail to [email protected] for
details on how to search the Four11 directory.


This is a little on the technical side, but anyway the Mail Name Server
([email protected]) offers some useful services by e-mail. Some of
the commands you can send in the BODY of your note are:

help (full details)
ip (get host's addresses)
name ip# (get host name from address)
ns (get host's name servers)


Sorry, it can't be done. Actually it CAN be done, but apparently nobody
has done it. I'd love to be proven wrong on this!


Here are some other interesting things you can do by e-mail. (Some of
them are accessible only by e-mail!)

Infomania offers a bunch of services by e-mail! Almanac (daily
updates), Weather, CD Music Catalog, etc. Send e-mail to
[email protected] with subject HELP for full details.

A cooperative, anonymous and humorous exchange of questions and answers.
Send e-mail to [email protected] for more information.

Free faxing via the Internet? You bet. For details, send the line below to
[email protected] (in BODY of note)
send usenet/news.answers/internet-services/fax-faq

The Electronic Newsstand collects articles, editorials, and tables of
contents from over 165 magazines and provides them to the Internet. To get
instructions on e-mail access, send a message to [email protected]

Find out if your congressperson has an electronic address! Just send mail
to the address [email protected] and you'll get a listing of
congressional e-mail addresses.

You can also contact the President ([email protected]) or Vice
President ([email protected]), but don't expect a reply by
e-mail. Messages sent to these addresses get printed out and handled
just like regular paper correspondence!

Send the lines below to [email protected] (in BODY of note)
send usenet/news.answers/us-govt-net-pointers/part1
send usenet/news.answers/us-govt-net-pointers/part2

Send e-mail to [email protected] for more information on this service.

To get a copy of this long list of net-connected businesses, send e-mail
to [email protected] with Subject: send mall

For a guide to finding someone's e-mail addresses, send the line below to
[email protected] (in the BODY of the note)
send usenet/news.answers/finding-addresses

For a guide to communicating with people on the various networks that
make up the Internet, send the line below to [email protected] (in
the BODY of the note)
send usenet/news.answers/mail/inter-network-guide

Family Internet MailCall is a fee-based service that helps you keep in
touch via a private mailing list. Details: [email protected]

To learn how to get tons of info on movies, actors, & directors, send
mailto [email protected] with HELP in the body of note for details.

If you want to get a current quote for just 1 or 2 stocks, you can use
the QuoteCom service. They offer this free service along with other fee
based services. For details, send e-mail to "[email protected]" with a
subject of HELP.

A stock newsletter focusing on out-of-favor stocks. To subscribe, send
e-mail to [email protected] with Subject: Subscribe Contrarian

The "anon server" provides a front for sending mail messages and posting
to Usenet newsgroups anonymously, should the need ever arise. To get
complete instructions, send e-mail to [email protected]

I highly recommend "The Internet Press - A guide to electronic journals
about the Internet". To get it, send e-mail with Subject: subscribe to
[email protected]

Send e-mail to [email protected] to retrieve a help message that
tells how to use the Musi-Cal online concert calendar service.

Have a math question? No problem's too big or too small for The Swat
Team. Write to [email protected]

* SCOUT REPORT: Scout Report is a weekly featuring announcements of new
and interesting resources on the Internet. To subscribe, send e-mail to
majo[email protected] with "Subscribe scout-report" in the body.


There are lots of good books and guides to help you get started on the
Internet, and here are some that I recommend. The first few are free
(FTPmail commands listed below), and the others can be found in most
bookstores that carry computer-related books.

"Zen and the Art of the Internet", by Brendan Kehoe
chdir obi/Internet/zen-1.0
get zen10.txt

"There's Gold in them thar Networks", by Jerry Martin
chdir rfc
get rfc1402.txt

"Unofficial Internet Book List", by Kevin Savetz
chdir pub/usenet/news.answers/internet-services
get book-list

"The Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog", by Ed Krol
Publisher: O'Reilly and Associates
ISBN: 1-56592-063-5
Price: $24.95

"Everybody's Guide to the Internet", by Adam Gaffin
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0-262-57105-6
Price: $14.95

"The Internet Guide For New Users", by Daniel P. Dern
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
ISBN: 0-07-016511-4
Price: $27.95


"Doctor Bob", also known as Bob Rankin, welcomes your feedback on this
guide and can be reached at the following addresses. Send corrections,
ideas, suggestions and comments by e-mail. I'll try to include any new
e-mail services in future editions of this guide.

E-Mail : [email protected]
Web :
US Mail : Doctor Bob / P.O. Box 39 / Tillson, NY / 12486


Announcing ...

| Doctor Bob's Internet Tour Guide |
| Over 100 places you *must* visit in cyberspace |

This is the guide I wanted when the Internet was new to me. Just a
quick overview of the "tools of the trade" and a list of "cool things to
do". Not 300 pages... And not $39! This information could save you
money, hours of valuable time, or lead you to a new career.

There's a goldmine of information, software and services out there just
waiting to be discovered! It can be yours, but it's not easy... That's
why you must have this informative report which gives you the lowdown on:

* Online databases * Electronic Library Catalogs
* Shopping in Cyberspace * Job Postings Online
* Vast software libraries * ALL FREE!

You'll learn the basics of TELNETing, FTPing and GOPHERing to the
information you want, with specific instructions and the "secret keys"
you need to unlock all the doors on the way!

| Doctor Bob's Internet Business Guide |
| An Introduction to Good |
| Old-Fashioned Capitalism In Cyberspace |

There are those who say that the Internet should be free of capitalism,
commerce, advertising and anything that smells like "business".

But there ARE ways to conduct business on the 'Net without raising the ire
of the inhabitants of the electronic domain. You can lower costs, make
money and even get thanked for providing your service if you know how to
do it right!

I can't promise that you'll make lots of money selling your product or
service, but I'm certain that after you've read this guide, you will have
a better understanding of:

* Internet Tools & Techniques * Business Resources on the Net
* Setting Up Shop on the Net * Avoiding Net Marketing Pitfalls
* What business are on the Net * Getting paid for your product

To get your copy of:

- or -

Send just $5 each (cash, check or credit card) plus a self-addressed,
stamped envelope to:

--> PO BOX 39, DEPT U4
--> TILLSON, NY 12486 USA

Note: For e-mail delivery (preferred) you can skip the envelope but
make sure to send your e-mail address along with your order.

To pay with your Credit Card send the following information by US Mail
to the address above, or by e-mail to [email protected] :

- Visa/MasterCard/Discover/Amex card number, with expiration date
- Your name (as it appears on your card)
- Mailing address and phone number
- Number of copies you wish to order
- A statement reading "I authorize Doctor Bob Publications to
charge the price of this order to my credit card."

Outside the USA: Skip the stamp, but please add $1 for postage.
If it's too difficult to get US funds, send 12 International
Postal Coupons in lieu of cash. And if all else fails, send your
own (paper) currency, estimating the conversion factor. I cannot
accept checks or money orders drawn on non-US institutions.

I also accept electronic payment via NetCash and First Virtual! For
details send e-mail to [email protected] with DOCTOR BOB on the first
line of your note.


Copyright (c) 1994-95, "Doctor Bob" Rankin

All rights reserved. Permission is granted to make and distribute
verbatim copies of this document provided the copyright notice and
this permission notice are preserved on all copies. Feel free to
upload to your favorite BBS or Internet server!

Persons wishing to summarize this document in other publications
may do so, but please include the instructions herein for obtaining
the full document. I also request that you kindly supply me with a
copy of the article when published.

# # #

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