BY ANDY EDDY
Welcome back to Database DELPHI! I hope that April is bringing favorable weather to your locale. As a matter of fact, I'm starting to get a taste of the Southern California climate and what it offers. Now if I could get out of this office, I'd be able to truly enjoy it! Okay, okay, enough complaining from me. Let's get on with this month's discussion.
As I've noted previously, many DELPHI users get on the system to access one or two specific areas (such as ST-LOG's Atari ST SIG). Unknown to them, there is a wealth of other benefits that DELPHI can offer. In fact, there is a section called "Using DELPHI," off the main menu, that holds the key to some of this data. It's the best place to get basic information on the services that DELPHI provides, as well as get information on how much you're using the system.
Waiter, menu please
The Using DELPHI area can be reached by typing GO USI—all you need to do is type the first couple of letters, so DELPHI knows where you want to go. Figure 1 shows the menu you'll see.
Most of the entries on this menu explain themselves, but we'll go through each selection in order, to give you the full lowdown.
Advantage Plan—DELPHI offers a discount program to lower the rates to users who use the system often. Through this program, you can drop the connect charges to as low as $4.80 per hour (as of August 1, 1988). Of course, there are some requirements: You must be a member in good standing, pay a $19, one-time entry fee and make a commitment to use a $24 minimum of connect time each month. This $24 is automatically billed to your account.
In addition to your discount, you'll receive DELPHI's monthly newsletter, a summary of your usage for the month and reduced rates on new versions of the DELPHI handbook and command cards.
Advice From DELPHI—As you'd expect, this area contains some basic hints and tips. There are articles on VT52 and VT100 usage, reducing disk storage and changing your username, among others. This is a valuable section that is worthy of perusal.
Boston Membership Plan—As we noted in the February 1989 Database DELPHI column, there is a service called DELPHI/ Boston that is a scaled-down version of the worldwide service with features of interest to Boston users, at the cost of only $9.95 a month—no hourly fees are charged. This offering is profiled here, and membership can be initiated as well.
Change Address—This is self-explanatory. To keep DELPHI appraised of any moves you make, you should use this selection. An automatic electronic mail message is sent to SERVICE to notify them.
Credit Policy—This notice explains DELPHI'S policy on credit-card usage and invoicing. The most painless way to pay for DELPHI time is by credit card, and they accept MasterCard, VISA and American Express. As well, you can request to be billed by invoice, though a credit application must first be filled out. Each invoice adds a $3.50 charge, but paying in advance will avoid this service charge.
Feedback—This selection enables you to send a comment or question to the ones in charge of DELPHI. Another selection on the Using DELPHI menu, Mail to SERVICE accomplishes the same thing. Or you can enter the Mail area from most any SIG (type /MAI), and enter SERVICE at the To: prompt.
Advantage Plan Advice From DELPHI Boston Membership Plan Change Address Credit Policy Feedback Guided Tour Index Mail To SERVICE Manuals Member Service Network Info Past Bills/Invoices Premium Services Rates and Prices Review Bills/Invoices Settings (PROFILE) Software Changes Telex-Codes Terms of Agreement Update Credit Card Usage History What's New On DELPHI Worldwide Access Info HELP EXIT USING-DELPHI>(Please Select an Item)>
NEWS ACCU - #Accu-Weather Forecasts USING ADVAN - #Advantage Plan ENTER ADV - #Adventure Games MER CLASS - #Advertising, Classifieds USING ADVICE - #Advice from Delphi BUS VES - #Advice - Investment LIB CAIN - #AIDS Information TRAV TIPS - #Airline information TRAV RES - #Airline reservations NEWS TODAY - #Almanac More?
Guided Tour—This is one of the most innovative features of DELPHI, certainly one that should be looked at by other online networks. As the name implies, you'll be led through the basics of the system and how to use it.
Index—Many of DELPHI's commands can be abbreviated, and this listing tells you those which are. They are alphabetically listed, as shown in Figure 2.
Many of these areas can be accessed quickly by typing GO in front of it and entering the command from most any prompt. For instance, to get AIDS information, you can type GO LIB CAIN, instead of exiting to the main menu, entering Library and accessing the CAIN (Computerized AIDS Information Network) area.
Manuals—This selection is valuable to novice and experienced users alike. Here you can purchase a command card for quick reference, or pick up a copy of the valuable handbook, DELPHI: The Official Guide. There are also phone numbers for ordering manuals for Dialog, Lockheed's reference service (documented in the March 1989 Database DELPHI) and Digital's EDT Editor, the editor of choice for many DELPHI users for forum and other text duties.
Member Services—Simply put, this section gives information on how to contact DELPHI by mail or phone. Figure 3 has that information, which all users should have on-hand, particularly the toll-free number, in case of emergency.
Network Info—While you can access DELPHI directly through its Massachusetts line, it's a toll call to most people. For that purpose, packet-switching networks, such as Tymnet and Telenet, play middleman to get you connected, and usually as a local call.
If you want to call directly, this section of the Using DELPHI area advises you how to sign on. Calling directly is much more efficient because there are no delays in data transmission like you get with packet-switching networks.
On the other hand, if you need help accessing DELPHI through an outside network, you can get the number closest to you in this area. First you must pick which network you are interested in: Tymnet, Telenet or Canada's Datapac. Figure 4 shows how you'll be asked where you want the listing to go after you select the network (Tymnet for example).
As you can see, it will tell you the area where the phone number is located, how heavily it is used (sometimes surcharges are added in low-density areas) and if you can use 2400-baud equipment.
Shut the door on the way out
That's about all the time we have for this month. We'll pick up the Using DELPHI menu again next month.
Before I go, I've received messages from some users regarding storage charges on their DELPHI bill, and now would be a good time to make a quick note about it. As part of your account, DELPHI lets you use some disk space (50 blocks or about 25K) for storage of messages and files. If you exceed that amount, you'll be billed for it—at this writing, they charge 16¢ for every two blocks (1K) above the initial 25K. For this reason, remember to keep your workspace clear of clutter. This doesn't only mean deleting files that don't need to be there, but also keeping your "mailbox" as empty as possible. Long mail messages are saved in your workspace with filenames that start with MAIL$, but if they are deleted in the mail area, they'll also disappear from your workspace. Similarly, you can compress the contents in your mailbox by typing COM (short for COMPRESS), then deleting the MAIL.OLD file that is created. You should notice your MAIL.MAI file is then within the 50-block ceiling.
Till next month, C U online. . . .
FIGURE 3 ------------------------ Delphi Member Service ------------------------ Voice Hours: Monday through Friday -- 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. EDT Saturday -- 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. EDT Sunday -- 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight EDT Phone: 1-617-491-3393 in Massachusetts 1-800-544-4005 outside Massachusetts Mail: Send Delphi Mail to SERVICE. Or select MAIL TO SERVICE from the Using Delphi Menu. Paper Mail: DELPHI; 3 Blackstone Street; Cambridge, MA 02139
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