by Michael A. Banks
0ne of the pleasant ironies of working with a magazine is that you're always thinking four to six months in the future. Last month's column, written in early July, found me fighting water shortages and record high temperatures. Now it's mid August, we've had some rain, and I've had to mow the lawn twice (well, my son Mike has). But, despite the rain and relatively cooler temperatures, we'll probably be mowing the lawn in November. I really believe we're in for a continuation of warm weather; so those of you who live north of the Mason-Dixon Line shouldn't be surprised if you find yourself making holiday visits in shirtsleeves and jackets rather than heavy coats and boots. (New England excepted, of course-without cold weather, it wouldn't be New England.)
Speaking of holiday visits, I'm sure most of you have picked up the holiday spirit by now, and with that in mind I'd like to draw your attention to some appropriate software in the Atari Users' Group databases. Search the Games & Entertainment, Sight & Sound and Recent Arrivals database topics using the keywords HOLIDAY and CHRISTMAS. You'll find some nice surprises. And, in case I've piqued your interest in weather with all this talk of heat waves, you'll find at least one program dealing with the subject in the Education database.
Looking aroundIn addition to browsing the databases for seasonal software, you might be interested in looking around the Atari Users' Group and trying out some features that are new to you. And there are probably several of those: main menu selections that you've not tried, as well as some features that are not on any menu. Beginning this month, I'm going to show you some of these lesserknown features.
This time out, we'll take a look at some commands that let you examine your online environment, as it were. I'll cover commands that tell you the following:
• who's currently in the group,
• when a specific member was last in the group,
• who's been in recently,
• one-line greeting exchanges,
• the time you've spent online.
Who's on first?You may have noticed a selection on the Main Menu labeled "Who's Here." This selection (actually a command) displays a list of the usernames of the members currently in the area. Type WHO, like this:
ANALOG's ATARI SIG Members online:
(KZIN) BACHAND (ANALOG4) RAH
WHO works at the Main Menu or Forum prompt. At database or workspace prompts, or in Conference, the command must be preceded by a slash, like this: /WHO.
In the example above, you'll notice that two membernames are enclosed by parentheses. This indicates that they are in Conference. (You won't be able to see their conference group until you enter the Conference area, however.)
The entry logIf you want to know when a member was last in, use the "Entry Log." Type EN at the Main Menu. You'll be prompted to enter a username, after which DELPHI will tell you when that member was last on. Or, you can simply type EN followed by the membername, like this:
ANALOG> EN MANUAL
Manny O'Kelly (MANUAL) was last on at
Note that the member's real name (as entered by the member) is displayed, along with the date and time he was last in the group. This command works at the Main Menu, and in Conference. (When used in Conference, it must be preceded by a slash, like this: /EN MANUAL.)
At the Main Menu, you can also see a list of the last ten members to enter the SIG by substituting for the membername, like this:
ANALOG> EN *
20-DEC 20:18 MIKE BANKS (KZIN)
20-DEC 20:17 Charles Bachand (BACHAND)
20-DEC 20:03 Clayton walnum (ANALOG4)
20-DEC 19:59 ROBERT ANSON (RAH)
20-DEC 19:51 L. Long (LAZARUS)
20-DEC 18:14 Andy Eddy (ANALOG2)
20-DEC 18:14 Debbie Jones (HOBBY)
20-DEC 18:09 MAT*RAT (MATRAT)
20-DEC 17:42 Bob Retells (BOBRETELLE)
20-DEC 17:10 Manny O'Kelly (MANUAL)
All Entry Log times are Eastern Standard Time or Eastern Daylight Time, depending on the time of year.
One-linersYou can send one-liners to anyone currently in the group with you by typing /SEND followed by the member's username and a brief message (up to 80 characters). For instance, if you typed WHO and saw KZIN in the group and wanted to say "Hi," you would type:
/SEND KZIN Hi!
This works at all prompts except Mail and More? prompts.
If someone sends you a one-liner, you'll see the message, preceded by the member's username, like this:
KZIN» Hello. What's new?
If you don't wish to receive one-liners (say, you're in Mail and don't want to be disturbed), type /GAG or /BUSY This will disable the messages. DELPHI will tell the member sending to you that you are busy. To reverse the "gag" and re-enable oneliners, type /NOGAG or /NOBUSY.
Incidentally, if the member to whom you send a one-liner is in the middle of a binary file transfer or certain other procedures, you will be told that he is busy but your message will be delivered later, if possible. If someone sends a one-liner to you while you're thus occupied, you'll be told that you have message(s) waiting when the procedure is completed and prompted to type Y to see them.
Who's who?In addition to seeing who's currently in the group, and checking who's been in and when, there are several ways to find out more about members, which I'll discuss next month.
Checking the timeNeed to check the time but can't find your watch? You can find out the time by typing /TIME at most any prompt in the Atari Users' Group. This command displays the current time and date, and-of more immediate interest to most users-the amount of time (hours, minutes and seconds) you've been online, like this:
44 minutes (0h 44m 14s)
44 minutes (0h 44m 14s)
As with the Entry Log, the time displayed is Eastern time.
What's new on DELPHIDELPHI recently brought two new games online: Scramble and TQ. Scramble is an interactive game, played in conference areas. Players have 90 seconds to come up with as many words as possible from a Scramble list of 16 letters. The longer the word, the more points a player gets. Players compete with one another and can chat between rounds, or even during a game, to give hints or to distract opponents. Members who just want to practice can ignore everyone else and work on their personal scores.
TQ is a real-time, multiplayer trivia tournament. Each game lasts approximately 30 minutes. Games are held at 9 p.m. and 12 midnight EDT every Sunday and Wednesday evening, in DELPHI's main Conference area (type CONFERENCE at the DELPHI Main Menu).
Atari Users' Group updatesScramble and another fascinating word game, Flipit!, are available in the Atari Users' Group Conference area, as well. To try out the games, enter the Atari Conference area, join or create a conference group, then type /PLAY to see the Games menu.
A complete tutorial on the Atari Users' Group is now available in the General Interests database topic. At the Atari Group Main Menu, type DA GEN, then type READ ATARI SIG TUTORIAL. You'll find information on all aspects of using the wealth of features the group has to offer and a few pleasant surprises.
RemindersThe popular Atari real-time conference is held in the Atari ST Users' Group every Tuesday at 10 p.m., EST. To join, type CO at the SIG menu, then type WHO at the conference menu. You'll see a conference group name, with a list of the members participating. The name will be preceded by a number. To join, simply type JOIN followed by the number, and you're in! Type to talk. If you get stuck, ask those in the conference group for help, or type /HELP.
If you spend more than three or four hours per month online, you'll want to investigate the DELPHI Advantage Plan. It provides discounts of up to 25 % during nonprime time. Type USING ADVANTAGE at the DELPHI Main Menu for details.
Have a question about the SIG? Leave a message in the Atari Forum, or send E-mail to the group manager. If you have a question about DELPHI in general, send E-mail to me, KZIN. And don't forget: You can always type HELP to get information on any area of DELPHI.
That's it for now. Next month: The Member Directory and PEOPLE. Until then, see you online!
In addition to having published science fiction novels and books on rocketry, Michael A. Banks is the author of DELPHI: The Official Guide and The Modem Reference-both from Brady Books/Simon & Schuster Look for his general articles on telecommunications and tips on using DELPHI in the Atari Users' Group databases. You can contact Banks to exchange weather reports and other information on DELPHI by sending E-mail to membername KZIN.
Make theAs a reader of ANALOG Computing, you are entitled to take advantage of a special DELPHI membership offer. For only $19.95 plus postage and handling ($30 off the standard membership price!), you will receive a lifetime subscription to DELPHI, a copy of the 500-page DELPHI: The Official Guide by Michael A. Banks and a credit equal to one free evening hour at standard connect rates. Almost anyone worldwide can access DELPHI (using Tymnet, Telenet or other networking services) via a local phone call. Make the DELPHI connection by signing up today!
To join DELPHI:
1. Dial 617-576-0862 with any terminal or PC and modem (at 2400 bps, dial 576-2981).
2. At the Usename prompt, type JOINDELPHI.
3. At the Password prompt enter ANALOG.
For more information, call DELPHI Member Services at 1-800-544-4005, or at 617-491-3393 from within Massachusetts or from outside the U.S.
DELPHI is a service of General Videotex Corporation of Cambridge, Massachusetts.