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"WORKING THE NET"

By Art Glick


Offline E-Mail

(Originally Published in August, 1996)

Not long ago, I was installing Internet software for a Lewisburg resident, and when the icons appeared and he saw the name "Eudora", he proudly told me he had only ever known one person by that name, his cousin named Eudora Welty. She had been reared in Clay County and had gained worldwide attention and awards for her literary work.

Several days later, this customer called me to say that he had visited the web site of Eudora's author to discover that the inspiration for the program came from a children's book the programmer had read years earlier titled "Why I Live at the Post Office". No doubt that you have by now guessed the author of the children's book. Yes, it was West Virginia's own Eudora Welte.

Although you can send e-mail via Netscape, only later versions of this web browser do it with any great skill. Eudora is a program that is dedicated to sending e-mail, and most experienced users reserve Netscape for sending e- mail to boxes that are linked on web pages. For the bulk of their e-mail, savvy users still use Eudora.

I don't want to rant, but I have some strong personal feelings about e-mail. It's silly to e-mail your neighbor a message you could just as easily relate face-to-face or via telephone.

And, once you start using e-mail, expect to become its slave. It's not like answering the phone or walking by the fax machine to see if you have messages. It's much less passive. If you start to depend upon e-mail for critical communications, you will be required to check it at least once or twice per day for fear of missing an important message.

E-mail certainly does have its place. There's no better way for that out-of- town college student to say "send money". At least you don't have to pay for the telephone call. And, it's a wonderful no-cost way to stay in touch with distant friends and relatives, too. E-mail is also ideally suited for transferring files such as pictures, shareware or data. You simply add them as attachments to your e-mail message and they are automatically uploaded to your server and downloaded by the recipient.

For another reason, I suppose that I should welcome the e-mail explosion. Modern society's dependence on the convenience of audio and video is fast making the art of the written word a lost one. Unfortunately, most people see the informal nature of e-mail as just an excuse to commit the worst errors is spelling and grammar anyway.

My biggest concern, however, is that the too many users will waste precious Internet time (overhead, as we call it), composing their messages while connected. Surely, you've noticed that sometimes certain sites are terribly slow. It doesn't matter how fast your modem is, things just seem to take forever.

Just like our highways, the Internet possesses an infrastructure which is already so overloaded that it's about to explode. What can be done? You can write your representatives and tell them to throw some of those "big government dollars" into the infrastructure, and you can start minimizing wasted connection time. It's time for us all to become less piggish.

One of the best places to start is with Eudora. You can compose all your e- mail before connecting, then in a matter of just a few minutes of connect time, upload your messages and pick up your incoming mail, which can be read while unconnected as well.

To operate Eudora efficiently while unconnected, you first have to make a simple change in your Trumpet settings. You must tell Trumpet NOT to operate in automatic mode. When your Internet software was first installed, automatic mode was enabled.

I have to once again suppress my urge to rant, but I feel that most software authors have underestimated the ability of the typical user to operate their computer. The latest thing in computers is hardware and software that is "plug and play" (which insiders fondly refer to as "plug and pray"). The now notorious Windows 95 is an example of a "plug and play" operating system.

The concept refers to literally having the computer program itself, because the user is assumed to be incapable of the task. Unfortunately, in most cases, the computer is just not smart enough to do it either.

In many ways, when your Trumpet is set to automatic mode, you are operating in a similar manner. You can click on the Netscape icon immediately after starting your computer, and if all goes well, be connected to the Internet without even bothering to start Trumpet. But Netscape is really starting Trumpet for you, and you are not as much in control of the situation. If there is a problem connecting with the Internet, you're not even privy to the details of the situation.

After nothing happens the first time that you click on the Netscape icon, you click again only to be greeted by the annoying message that you can only start one application of Netscape at a time. You are then left wondering where the first version is.

Netscape depends on a properly running and connected version of Trumpet, and it "lurks" in the background until a proper connection to the Internet is established. Although it is trying to run, it does not appear on the Task List, adding to the confusion.

I prefer to instruct users to access Trumpet manually at the beginning and end of each Internet session. This way they can also be certain to terminate their telephone connection when they are done.

Start Trumpet directly by double-clicking on its icon. If you haven't altered Trumpet's settings, it's probably set to "Automatic Login on Start Up" so you will hear your modem connecting to the Internet. Allow this process to complete, since it will actually be easier to make the changes while you are connected.

Notice as you are logged onto the Internet that Trumpet enters your user name and password, completes the login script and prompts you with your IP address for the current session. This is the only way to know that you have made a clean connection.

Click on "Dialer" in Trumpet, then click on "Options". Click on the button for "No Automatic Login" then click OK. The upshot of this change is that you will now need to begin each Internet session by starting Trumpet, clicking on "Dialer", then clicking on "Login".

After your current session's IP address is reported, simply click on the Netscape icon to browse the web or the Eudora icon to send and receive messages. Once you're done browsing or transferring your e-mail, just return to Trumpet and run the goodbye script by clicking on "Dialer", then "Bye". This way, you will be certain that your connection is broken - especially important if you have only one telephone line in your home or office. All too often, people do not realize that they remain connected even after they're done using the Internet.

When returning to Trumpet after browsing or transferring e-mail, if it does not appear on your task list, just rerun it by double-clicking on its icon. If you double-click on its icon and nothing happens, you will surely find it on your task list.

After ending an Internet session, if you get the message "Closing Trumpet will cause instability with network applications" as you try to exit Trumpet, this indicates that you did not properly exit Netscape, Eudora or some other Internet application. Bring down your Task List (you should already know that you can do this by pressing CTRL-ESC), and properly exit these applications.

Before you end the Internet session that you just started to change Trumpet's settings, let's set Eudora up so that you can compose and read your e-mail without being connected. Assuming that the previous step has us connected to the Internet, double-click on the Eudora icon to start it.

If you haven't yet changed any Eudora settings, it is set to check your mail every five minutes, which also means that it checks your mail when you first start the program. After Eudora is done checking your mail, click on "Special", then "Configuration", and set "Check for Mail Every" to zero.

Now Eudora will not automatically check for mail when you start it - a process which causes your system to hang for several minutes if you start Eudora while unconnected. While in Eudora, you also won't have to stop every five minutes while it automatically checks your mail either.

Just remember to go back to or restart Trumpet and login before actually sending or checking your mail. If you've mastered the simplest basics of using Windows, you can do this without losing your place in Eudora. While connected, return to Eudora, and send the message you've just composed or simply press CTRL-M or click on "File", then "Check Mail" when you want to check your incoming mail.

Once you're done transferring messages, pop back into Trumpet to do "Dialer, Bye", and you can return to Eudora to read your mail and compose replies without the need to be connected.

The procedure detailed above can easily reduce your e-mail connect time by more than ninety percent, saving time for other Internet activities and making the Internet a smoother experience for all involved.

Finally, here's another Eudora tip. If the e-mail that you send is not of a confidential nature (or your computer is secure from other users), you can set Eudora to remember your password and enjoy the convenience of having it entered automatically for you as it is by Trumpet's login script when you first connect.

While in Eudora, click on "Special", then "Switches", and you will find a box to check that allows you to tell Eudora to remember your password. It will then have to be entered only one more time, the next time that Eudora is started.

Just because there's not much room for a favorite site this week doesn't mean you should underestimate the value of lycos.com, which is one of the Internet's best "search engines". It is subscribed to by more sites than most search facilities, and does not limit the number of matches. Bookmark it for your text based searches.


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