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"WORKING THE NET"

By Art Glick


More on Offline E-Mail

(Originally Published in September, 1996)

My last column was a little more technical than I would have liked, but it makes the issue no less important. The thought of tying up an Internet connection and a telephone line needlessly as e-mail is read and composed is abhorrent to me.

True, there are more exotic ways of cutting down on connect time, such as Trumpet's "Log in and out on Demand". You can even actually open Netscape and Eudora at the same time, and read or compose your e-mail while your browser is downloading a big file or web page. But nothing is more elegant or simpler than the method described in my last column. Believe it or not, I did try to keep it simple.

I suspect that a few of you are running into problems, especially if you had already gotten accustomed to using Trumpet and Eudora with their installation defaults. Therefore, below is the essence of the changes suggested in my previous column. Some of the information below pertains only to Windows 3.1. If you have Windows '95, may the Lord help you and guide your way!

CHANGES THAT YOU ONLY HAVE TO DO ONCE

1. Set Trumpet to "No Automatic Login" (Click on DIALLER, OPTIONS)

2. Set Eudora to "Check Mail Every 0 Minutes" (Click on SPECIAL, CONFIGURATION).

In reality, the first change is not even required to be able to read and compose e-mail offline. But, if you get accustomed to manually logging into and out of the Internet, you'll encounter less overall problems.

THE WAY THAT YOU ACCESS THE INTERNET AFTER MAKING THE ABOVE CHANGES

Rule Number One is to remember that EVERY ON-LINE SESSION BEGINS AND ENDS WITH TRUMPET. It always does and always did, even if it wasn't obvious because Netscape or Eudora was loading it for you. With Trumpet set to "No Automatic Login", you begin anything that you do on the Internet by starting Trumpet, then clicking on DIALLER, then LOGIN. Once you are done browsing the Web or transferring e-mail, you end every Internet session by returning to Trumpet and clicking on DIALLER, then BYE.

So, let's look at the steps involved in making your e-mail experience more efficient. We'll assume that you are going to begin the process by checking to see if you have any new mail.

1. Start Trumpet by double clicking on its icon.

2. Click on DIALLER, then LOGIN.

Now, watch what happens. If you are getting a busy signal, Trumpet will tell you and then redial once per minute for nine more attempts. Once your modem connects, you will see Trumpet log you onto the net. The login script completes after entering your user name and password, and then something called PPP is re-enabled.

Then Trumpet reports a message similar to "My IP address = ???.??.???.??", where the question marks are replaced with numbers. This is your only indication that you are now connected to the Internet. Please keep in mind that your modem can connect successfully to the modem at WVSOM, but this still does not guarantee a connection to the Internet. If there is a problem with your account or WVSOM's connection to Morgantown, Trumpet will not report an IP address after it completes your login, and you will be unable to do anything on the Internet.

3. Once you're logged onto the net and have an IP address, you can start Netscape if you want to do some browsing, but we're checking e-mail, so double click on the Eudora icon to start your e-mail program.

4. You have set Eudora to check mail every "zero" minutes, so it does not automatically check your mail now when you start it. Click on "FILE", "CHECK MAIL", or simply press CTRL-M. Assuming that you have new messages, you will now see them downloaded to your system.

5. BEFORE YOU EVEN READ THESE NEW MESSAGES, close your connection to the Internet. To do this, press CTRL-ESC and select Trumpet from the Task List. If it no longer appears there, switch to the Program Manager and double click on the Trumpet icon. Do not bother to exit Eudora, since you have messages to read and compose. From within Trumpet, select "DIALER", then "BYE", and you will disconnect from the Internet.

6. Switch back to Eudora by pressing CTRL-ESC and selecting it from your task list (you can also "toggle" through the items on your task list by successively pressing ALT-ESC).

7. Read your e-mail and compose any replies and new messages, but DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SEND THESE YET. After composing or reading each message, just select "FILE", "CLOSE", and move onto the next message. When you do this for a message you are composing, Eudora will stop and ask you to save the message before closing it. Simply press ENTER or click on SAVE.

8. Once you have completed all your outbound messages, without exiting Eudora, reload Trumpet so you can reconnect to the Internet. Enough time may have passed to cause Trumpet to close itself, so if it does not appear on your Task List, just return to the Program Manager and double click on its icon. Reconnect to the net with "DIALER", then "LOGIN".

9. After you have reconnected, press CTRL-ESC and select Eudora from the task list. You will notice that any outbound e-mail messages that remain unsent are marked with a black dot (as opposed to the 'S' for "sent"). This black dot will also appear next to any unread inbound messages.

10. Here's a little known hint if you want to mark multiple messages. Highlight the first unsent message, and hold down one of the SHIFT keys on your keyboard. You can then continue down the list until you have marked all of the unsent messages.

11. All that remains is to actually send the messages, which we can now do because we are connected to the Internet. Simply select "MESSAGE" and "SEND IMMEDIATELY".

What happens if you forget to start with Trumpet to connect yourself to the Internet? If you try running Eudora, you'll hardly notice unless you also try to check or send new mail. You have set Eudora to "0 minutes" so it does not try to check your mail automatically when you start it. If you attempt to check your mail or send messages while not connected to the net, Eudora will hang for several minutes while it waits rather patiently for the mail server to appear. But, as long as you don't try to physically receive or transmit mail to the server, you can read or compose mail on your own system as you please without actually being connected.

If you try to run Netscape 1.0 without starting Trumpet and connecting, strange but predictable things will happen. The hourglass icon will flash momentarily, then nothing. If you click on the Netscape icon again, you'll get the annoying message that you can only start one copy of Netscape at a time. Despite this, Netscape "lurks" and will not even appear on Windows' Task List until several minutes pass, and it finally abandons its attempts to find a host. In that time, if you switch back to Trumpet and successfully connect to the net, Netscape will pop up with no further intervention.

Just remember, EVERY INTERNET SESSION STARTS AND ENDS WITH TRUMPET. Get accustomed to being in control.

As promised, now that NASA is finally planning to launch another space shuttle, here's a site you can try that will list the possible times and dates for sighting the Shuttle from Lewisburg. It will be visible to the naked eye as a slowly moving star sized object just before sunrise.

The main NASA site (nasa.gov) lists tables for viewing the Shuttle, but they collected too many cities by the time I requested Lewisburg, so were unable to add us to that list. A kind JSC employee, however, e-mailed me another URL at the Office of Space Flight which does indeed list Lewisburg, and it appears to be updated with each mission.

That URL is of the form...

http://www.osf.hq.nasa.gov/shuttle/sts##/vis/

But, you MUST substitute sts## with the actual number of the flight. In the case of the Shuttle presently scheduled to launch on September 16th, it is Shuttle Mission STS##, so be sure to substitute that in the above URL.

By the way, the nasa.gov DOES list Lewisburg in the MIR viewing tables, and I saw the MIR pass overhead early one morning last week. The MIR is fairly good sized and possesses a variety of reflective surfaces (to catch and reflect sunlight) so it is quite easy to spot. Happy viewing!


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