(The Moderators Cut) - Keith Johnson
OK, so I watch too many films. However, I needed a sub-title for this column and it does reflect the approach I am playing with at the moment.
Your Editor has graciously asked me to keep those of you who have yet to try Archive-on-Line abreast with the goings on in our mailing list. It also give us an opportunity to bring together the last several week's postings and perhaps give a flavour of what is exercising at least part of the RISC OS community.
What I am not intending to do is to try to emulate the excellent column, called Archive-on-Line Offline, in Archive compiled by Steve Knattress. (Sorry for the plug Ed.) There are several reasons for this. Apart from the fact he has been writing it for some time and I could not hope to better his effort, I am aware that a number of you wisely subscribe to both publications and any attempt at duplication on my part is just plain laziness.
I can also talk about how the list operates and what is happening behind the scenes, the bits that do not get posted to the list.
Technical for non Techies
I said in the last edition of RISC World that Archive-on-Line " ... is hosted by Argonet, still the main Acorn supporting ISP, and managed using Jonathan Duddington's !Pluto working with the !Ant Internet Suite and, latterly, !PopStar. There have been glitches and comments to say that this combination could not cope with the management of a list of this size and importance. Whilst there have, from time to time, been technical problems over the almost five years it has been operating, they have, with the help of some great folk, been overcome. ...." Well, in the past few weeks things technical have moved on. The main disadvantage of the above set up was that it relied on a modem and the house telephone line and the cost of sending out messages could be clearly identified from the phone bill even if messages were passed on at times when the cheaper rate applied. Sending messages had also become noticeably slower as the list grew. Now do not get me started on Broadband, unless the Editor wants the benefit of my thought on this matter at length (Why not? - ED), but when one of my sons decided he wanted to get involved with on-line games playing and was prepared to get his own BT Home Highway line installed I offered to defray some of the running costs if we could piggyback the Risc PC into his account.
Now we have a home network, I plan to tell that story next time, and the way messages are handled has slightly changed. You still send your mailings to Argonet, so nothing on that side has been altered. The mailbox is regularly checked by !NetFetch, via Freeserve Anytime, and downloaded by !PopStar. Messages are then detatched in !Pluto, read by me and, where appropriate, !Pluto divides them into batches of less that one hundred and puts them into !PopStar's queue. Along comes !NetFetch and sends them out via Freeserve Anytime, through our address hosted by gradwell and on to you. The use of such a convoluted route came about when we discovered that Argonet had set a limit of five or more recipients for any message. Messages to more than this number were delayed whilst they were checked as possible spam. The delay involved was becoming excessive. Ironic when you realise that we moved to them when our original ISP treated our postings as spam as far back as 1998! Gradwell and Freeserve seem happy with anything to less than 100 recipients.
It is still too early to do a full comparison but the batches are going out far faster than before and, providing I am close by, messages can be processed at anytime of the day and sent out without me feeling guilty at running up the phone bill. Whilst I suspect this has not been noticed by most subscribers the the fact that 'conversations' can take place throughout the day rather than twenty four hours apart seems to be appreciated. The modem and !Ant Internet Suite are still there to provide a back up.
The problem with delayed postings seems to be largely resolved, famous last words, despite one message from someone whilst the system was 'off air' during the rebuild. There do, however, seem to be delays elsewhere out there. Messages are arriving here up to three days after they were sent. It is unsettling to receive a message, sent two or three days ago, late in the afternoon when your system has been downloading stuff every fifteen minutes or so since early morning. It cannot all be down to incorrectly set clocks in the machine. Individuals are also having some, but not all, messages back to them delayed with no discernible pattern. They do eventually arrive but the reason for the delay for specific messages is puzzling.
It may be related to another strange happening. We had a thread called 'Digital Camera Sound Editing'. A perfectly normal request for help. Enterprise.net returned the messages sent to all their subscribers with this heading. The reason: it has a BANNED subject. Their capital letters. They also complained that 'the mail was not delivered because it contained dangerous code'. They have not replied to my request for clarification and the address given for their anti-spam policy is no long valid.
One subscriber tried to send a message with this heading single spaced to see if it would get through. Another ISP rejected this message, enterprise.net did not. Also in the last month I have reviewed the Archive-on-Line archive so to speak. All the messages worth keeping, and some perhaps not, right back to May 1998. I am thinking of doing a retrospective of topics as it is noticeable that some things change and others do not in our little world.
Spam is occupying a great deal of time and thought at the moment. I still wonder how, with this being a closed list and all how the spammers got hold of the address. One of the chores is to remove it before it gets passed on to you, the end user. As the spammers get more devious and subscribers concoct attention grabbing subject lines it is not always obvious which is what.
01 March 2003 to 10 May 2003 I have chosen these dates to review as the Wakefield Show provides a handy cut off point. After the show the Omega debate rekindled. It has generated many times the number of postings than any other subject and is far from over but the show proved to be a water shed and the debate moved on a little or at least changed tack. Basic positions remain unchanged and the divide between the camps is as wide as ever. OK, during the period 01 March to 10 May this year I have stored 823 messages. The most prolific thread was Omega orders with 106 messages though it should be remembered that this matter was also debated within a number of subject headings.
The list below, not complete by any means, gives an idea of the subjects discussed, or not, during this period:
Coo. The temptation to add comments is almost overwhelming!
Top posters? (over 20 posts)
Many thanks to these and all who asked questions, provided answers or otherwise contributed to the debates.
Remember Archive-on-Line fills the gap between editions of RISC World and is open to all current subscribers.
There is no requirement for you to take out a further subscription. I hope you will contribute and help further to strengthen and enhance the current mail list and bring members of the Risc community a bit closer together, whilst not creating yet another, competing, forum. The list is moderated with, I hope, a fairly light touch but I do take advantage of !Pluto's facilities to add comments to postings from time to time. At the end of the day this avoids any increase in traffic my interventions would inevitably bring.
Messages can be sent here at any time and are now sent on whenever I see them, real life not withstanding.
Sensible snipping is always appreciated, as is the avoidance of bouncing emails when your mailbox is full.
To subscribe please send a message to: <email@example.com> with:
SIGNON or SUBSCRIBE
in the Subject Line. Pluto picks up your message, adds you to the list and sends you a brief acknowledgement. You can put something in the body of the mail if you wish or if your software does not like sending blank messages. It will not affect Pluto but I do read them. Anyone who signs on who is not a subscriber to RISC World or Archive will normally be sent a polite message and invited to subscribe or removed if a reply is not received in a day or so. As Pluto dates and times the entries on the list it is relatively simple to keep track of what is going on and I normally allow a period of grace of up to three months for the renewal of subscriptions before I remove someone from the list. This reduces the amount of time I have to spend checking valid memberships and gives time for late renewals to be processed. The only other reason for my removing someone is when I get fed up with mail being bounced by an ISP.
In the unlikely event that you should wish to withdraw from the list then a message with:
SIGNOFF or UNSUBSCRIBE
in the Subject Line will automatically remove your name from the list.
If your email address changes then signoff the old one and signon the new. You can try out the new address and run them both side by side until you are confident that the new one is working but do not forget to signoff the old address once you are happy. The list can average about about twenty messages a day. The variation throughout the week is interesting. The weekends are not as busy as I would have expected, Mondays and Tuesdays are busier than initially anticipated.
I look forward to hearing from you on the list.
If you want to talk to me off list I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.