ECHOMAIL TUTORIAL This is a brief tutorial about a new Fido phenomena called EchoMail. T

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 ===ECHOMAIL TUTORIAL=== This is a brief tutorial about a new Fido phenomena called EchoMail. The first half of this tutorial is for users. It explains how you enter messages, and use EchoMail to send messages to others. The second half is for EchoMail sysops. It is to explain how to implement EchoMail on your board. ===USER'S TUTORIAL=== What EchoMail does for you is allow you to talk to people on other Fido boards across the country without having to know who, or where they are. You can tell an EchoMail Area from the Area Name. It will say something about echo, mirrors, national conference, etc. All you have to do is enter a message in one of these areas, and it is automatically sent out to any and all Fido boards participating in that particular area. ===CAUTION! PRIVATE MESSAGES ECHO=== All the messages in each echo area are sent out to other boards, even if they are labeled private. Also, anyone with Sysop priveleges can read a private message. Beware! If you want to send a private message to someone, try to use another area besides an Echo Area. ===IF YOU DO NOT WANT A MESSAGE ECHOED=== EchoMail does provide a way to enter a message into an area and have it stay locally on that board. In order to do that, you enter a key word on the first line of the message. If you enter the word 'NOECHO' as the first line of a message, all in caps, without leading spaces, the message will appear in that area only on the board it was entered on. Now, all you have to do to use EchoMail, is read the messages in the Echo Areas, and enter or reply to them. EchoMail takes care of the rest. Please participate in EchoMail with us. We provide this as a sevice, and would really enjoy seeing it put to use. Enjoy! ===ODDITIES AND IDEOSYNCHROSIES=== At the end of each message in an Echo Area, there are several lines of information about that particular message's travel across the country. The first is call the Origin line, and shows the name of the board that the message was entered on. That name may or may not be a familiar name to you. At the end of the line there are two numbers in parenthesis separated by a slash (/). This is the address of the originating bulletin board. The first number is called the net number, and the second is called the node number. The net number defines a geographical area. I.E. Dallas is net 124. The node number refers to the particular board within that area that originally sent the message. This board number is 210. You can find a listing of all the net/node numbers in the entire world in a file called 'FIDOLIST.BBS' on almost any Fido board. The rest of the message is composed of a series of lines that start with the keyword 'SEEN- BY'. This is a list of Fido net/nodes that have already received that message. This is how EchoMail tells whether it has already sent a message or not. You can usually ignore the information in the seen- by line unless you are trying to figure out how a message got from there to here. The seen-by is used by the sysop to determine if he is distributing mail to all the nodes as efficiently as possible. Sometimes you will see the same message twice in an Echo Area. This is the most annoying part of using an EchoMail area. Since the messages pass from node to node through the phone lines, sometimes a message get garbled or not all of a group of messages get passed down the line. When this happens, Fido decides it is better to resend all the messages and make sure at least one set gets through intact. Sometimes this results in having the same message sent twice. The rest of this tutorial is designed to help new sysops set up an EchoMail area on there board. Unless you are trying to set up a Fido or EchoMail, you can press Control-C or Control-K to return to the board now. I hope you enjoy national conferencing with EchoMail! ===NEW ECHOSYSOP'S TUTORIAL=== If you are a Fido sysop trying to set up EchoMail, this section should help you. EchoMail allows you to share common message bases among several Fidos. In fact, some of the conferences have a few hundred boards participating. Echo has added greatly to the communications abilities of Fido, and has helped a lot of us get to know each other. The problem with regular netmail is that you have to =know= someone to send mail to, or you have to be replying to a message that they sent you. EchoMail simplifies this. You 'hook in' to EchoMail, and the conversations are already there. EchoMail is not free. Someone has to pay for transmitting the messages just like regular netmail. The established procedure is to find someone either locally, or in a low toll zone for you to poll. Other arrangements are made frequently, this is just the most common method of approaching it. Unless the person you are attached to is using a business line to make his calls, or is a local call for you, you will probably end up having to pay for the service. On a per message basis, EchoMail is cheaper than regular mail, but the volume is EXTREMELY higher. This means you can expect your telephone bill to increase dramatically if you decide to join in EchoMail. However, the information gained, and the enjoyment of having ongoing conversations with people around the world far outweigh the costs. === HOOKING INTO AN ECHOMAIL CONFERENCE === Probably the first step in linking into an EchoMail conference is to contact your network, or region host. These people are starting to keep track of the participants in EchoMail, and can more than likely steer you to a person in your area who is carrying the conference you are interested in. Start by sending a note to your host requesting information about the conference you care to join. If he replies with a note referring you to a local node, send them a message including your voice number. It is much easier to set things up by voice than by typing at each other. Eventually you will get in contact with the local person, and make arrangements. Later in this document we will talk about the specifics of implementing EchoMail. We'll leave it as being up to you and your EchoMail contact to make arrangements about times, calls, conferences, etc. Needless to say, this will vary greatly depending on phone costs and the existing method of distribution in your area. If you cannot find a local connection, the next step is to contact the EchoMail coordinator in your region. These people are responsible for maintaining information about EchoMail conferences that cross regional boundaries. That means if you are looking for a link into the 'basket weaving' conference, and it is only carried in net 141, you're on your own. Regional traffic is just that. If it is a local conference, you will not get information for linking in from the regional EchoMail coordinator. On the other hand, if the conference you are looking for is national in scope, these people can be of great assistance in locating a link point for you. The person from the following list that you should contact will depend on the region you are in. If you are in region 13, don't call the person in region 19. === REGIONAL ECHOMAIL COORDINATORS === Region Name Network Address 10 Butch Walker 161/1 11 Don Walker 120/20 12 Pacific Not Assigned Contact Jon Sabol 13 Gee Wong 107/312 14 Alex Hartley 100/500 15 David Dodell 114/15 16 Bob Hartman 132/101 17 Randy Bush 122/6 18 Wes Cowley 137/19 19 Jon Sabol 124/210 These people should be able to put you in contact with someone who can feed you an Echo link. Currently the Pacific region is unassigned as there does not appear to be an Echo conference running out there. This is a case where costs become important. For someone in Hawaii to participate in a national conference, they would have to make overseas calls to get their mail. That would become quite expensive. Last, but not least, you can try someone who's name you see in an existing conference. If, and only if the above methods do not work, try contacting someone who is geographically close to you and is participating in the conference. Usually they can at least steer you to someone else who might be able to tie you into the area. === OPERATIONAL OVERVIEW === EchoMail operation is fairly complex and requires a considerable amount of processing time outside of the regular mail times. It is not automatic. You must set up a series of external events to run the EchoMail programs, and process your incoming and outgoing mail. This WILL take some time away from your normal BBS operations, but will provide your users with a much nicer set of message areas. Besides, most of the processing takes place in the wee hours of the morning, and caller activity is low then anyway. Echo works by moving mail back and forth between your mail area, and the message bases you specify to be EchoMail areas. This is done using a control file called 'AREAS.BBS'. It must reside in your Fido root directory, and consists of the following format: (line 1) ! Board name is the name you want to appear in the seenby line of each message originating on your board. ! is a delimiter and is required. Sysop's name is the name to be substituted in messages from the sysop on your board. (line 2) AREA_NUMBER is the Fido messagebase number that you want to use for the Echo area. AREA_TAG is the name that the message base uses to keep it seperate from other Echo traffic. NODELIST is a list of net/node numbers that you have made arrangements to share messages with. DO NOT ARBITRARILY ADD NODES TO THIS LIST!!! This repeats for each area you are participating in. There are basically two programs that comprise the heart of EchoMail: TOSSMAIL moves incoming mail into the appropriate message bases. SCANMAIL moves mail entered on your board into the netmail area to be sent to other boards. Scanmail is run right after a mail event to move messages out of the mail area, and into the area you have chosen to hold a conference. Tossmail is run right before a mail event to move messages originating on your board into the mail area to be sent to the other participating nodes. This is the simplest method of implementing EchoMail, it is not the most efficient. Fido is extremely slow in packetting and unpacketting mail. This will result in an extreme degredation of the system. You can expect a delay of approximately 1 minute per 10 messages of outgoing mail, and 1 minute per 25 messages incoming mail using Fido to packet and de- packet EchoMail. This is significant since most of the national conferences average about 40 messages per day. However, Thom Henderson has provided us with a utility that packets mail without Fido. It is called ARCmail, and will dramatically improve the speed of your pre and post mail events. This utility reads all the messages to a node, and creates a file that can be transmitted instead of the messages themselves. This means that whether you are sending one or a hundred messages, you still only use Fido to packet one message. ARCmail runs approximately 75 percent faster than Fido for packetting mail. There are several other EchoMail utilities that can make life a little easier. KILLDUPES is a fast program that goes through a message base and deletes messages that have the same From, To, Date, and Subject fields. This is the biggest problem with EchoMail. If it is not implemented right, you end up spending someone else's money to send repeat messages. Killdupes somewhat solves this problem. TidyMail goes through a message base and does some similar things. In addition, it can sort your message base chronologically if you so desire. This is a matter of personal taste. Some people like it, others don't. Seenby is a very important utility if you ever add anyone to your distribution list. It goes through and marks a message base as having been sent already to a group of nodes. If you add someone to a message base that has 300 messages in it, you don't want to send them all out. You want to let that person start at the current message number in that area. Seenby makes this easy. === SUMMARY AND INFORMATION === This concludes this brief summary of EchoMail. If you have not captured this entire document, you can download it in area one under the name of ECHTUTOR.DOC. More thorough information is available in the documentation for EchoMail. This is an overview to help you decide if you want to start EchoMail on your system. I hope this has helped, if not you can contact: Jon Sabol National EchoMail Help Fido 124/210 214/380-9063 (data) 214/380-2474 (voice)


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