Sample text from the Online World Monitor
newsletter ISSN: 0805-6315. December 1995.
© by Odd de Presno, Norway.
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These last five months have been like one long journey. I have travelled
Reykjavik, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Paris, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Montevideo,
Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Florianopolis, Recife, Salvador, Fredrikstad,
Haugesund, and Oslo lugging a laptop and communications equipment.
My computer is a Toshiba
T4900 CT Pentium. I brought a V.34 PCMCIA modem from Semafor (part of the
Ericsson group), a Nokia GSM cellular adapter, and a Nokia cellular telephone.
In addition, I was in the fortunate position to have free data communications
through the GSM network during the last part of my travels to test and write
about my experiences.
Travelling in Norway,
Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland with the cellular adapter was a treat. While
speed was only 9600 bits/s without compression, the flexibility it gave me
was just great!
Some free minutes in front
of the gate at Fornebu Airport. Quickly, I turned on the PC to let email
pour in through the cellular adapter. Messages were replied offline while
flying to Haugesund. Late arrival at my hotel. Outgoing mail was sent while
I brushed my teeth for the night.
Kastrup (Copenhagen) en
route to Tokyo. SAS is two hours delayed. The Nokia automatically located
the Norwegian Telenor phone company's local roaming partner. I have enough
time to retrieve the latest version of Netscape, and tend to my email in
a quiet corner of the airport.
In Paris, voice worked
well, but GSM data communications was impossible using the Nokia. Japan,
Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil do not have any cellular GSM networks as of
"Our city has the best carnivals in Brazil," said my
Salvador friend. That did not help much. I had all kind of problems throughout
In Brazil, modem calls
are done using pulse. Tone dialing gives strange error messages. In Argentina,
Uruguay, and Japan, tone dialling works fine.
In Brazil, you must have
a special adapter for getting your modem connected to the line. It is different
from anything you've ever seen. I got one from a friend. You will probably
have to buy one from Embratel, the local telephone company. In the other
countries, I could get away with a standard U.S. RJ-11 plug. Stick it in,
However, in some hotels,
it is still impossible to get connected to the phone line. It ends up in
a hole in the wall. At the Marina Palace Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, the man
with the toolbox came, and installed a connection for my modem in my hotel
room. All it took was a simple request.
In Recife, I had to dial
0, ask the lady at the switchboard to give me a city line, and then finally,
I could dial my local Internet provider. After some training, it worked like
All over the place, line
quality was generally good. However, in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, I often
found myself fighting the busy signal for hours.
Getting my mail
Wherever the GSM cellular setup worked, it was really easy. I just logged
on like I do at home to retrieve and send mail. Nothing to it, really, except
it was definitely the easiest solution.
Earlier, I have often
used CompuServe for my Internet mail when travelling abroad. A simple forward
command to my local access providers, and all mail is redirected to my CompuServe
echo "firstname.lastname@example.org" >~/.forward
CompuServe can be reached with a local call in many cities around the world.
With software like TAPCIS, it is easy to use. The only drawback is cost.
This autumn, I wanted
to test Pegasus Mail, Eudora, and Netscape over SLIP or PPP connections.
CompuServe was to serve as my backup solution.
Sure, it is possible to
dial long distance to Norway for mail. However, in Brazil, the rate was around
US$4.00 per minute. It is often better and cheaper to borrow local access
to the net from friends.
At home, I connect to
the Internet using Trumpet Winsock. This was the method I was planning on
using. When connected, you can theoretically send and receive mail from/through
your host back home without making any changes to the setup. This is what
I set up to do.
Trumpet Winsock setup
A friend in Tokyo borrowed me his user ID and password for a 28.800 bps PPP
connection to the net. I made a new disk catalog called /TRAVEL, copied my
old version of Trumpet Winsock there, and installed it under Windows 3.1
as a new application named "Travel."
The next step was to edit
LOGIN.CMD for dialing through a PBX, to add the local phone number, my friend's
user name and password. The TRUMPWSK.INI file needed a new IP number, Gateway
number, Netmask, DNS, Domain, etc. I was ready to go.
The V.34 modem was inserted
into the PCMCIA port. The phone cable was connected. A call, CONNECT, and
57 new messages landed on my disk. Easy!
A few weeks later, I was
in Brazil. From now on, I asked my friends to give me all Winsock directory
files on a diskette. In Sao Paulo, I also learned to ask for a separate list
of local phone numbers, access user name, and password! My local friend had
claimed that the password was included in his Trumpet Winsock files. This
was wrong, and it was too late at night to call for help. No mail was handled
My attitude towards Trumpet
Winsock has always been to get it in place, and then forget about it. Therefore,
I did not know that the program could be used in so many different ways.
Some LOGIN.CMD versions
automated the submission of user name and password. Everything was there.
Others stopped, and asked me to enter the data manually.
Some access providers
had dynamical allocation of IP numbers. The number given in Trumpet's Setup
(click on File, Setup to view), had to be manually entered after each call.
In other cities, I could
set Trumpet's IP number as 0.0.0.0. The result was that Trumpet Winsock would
automatically adjust itself to use the correct IP number after logon.
In Montevideo, I had to
use a given IP number when calling the access node. The access provider's
host told me about the proper IP number to use once the connection was
established. Click on File, Setup, add the IP number, and then click on OK.
Now, the program complained:
"You will need to restart Trumpet Winsock for the network setup to take
effect." However, in this case I was to ignore the warning. When dialling
manually, the only thing I had to do at this stage was to press the ESC button
to start PPP, and get going.
Checking the connection
Sometimes, I was in doubt whether my connection to the Internet was correctly
established. Nothing worked. In other instances, I wondered whether my email
host back in Norway was reachable.
Whenever this was the
case, I used the PING utility (Packet INternet Groper). It sends a message
to a given host, and awaits an answer. Networkers call the message an "ICMP
echo request packet." Reports about success, errors, and statistics will
be returned to you. It gives you the time taken for your packets to travel
across the network too.
In my application, all
the details were less important. If I wondered whether the host ulrik.uio.no
was reachable, then I clicked on the Ping ikon. The program asked for a host
address, I entered "ulrik.uio.no," and pressed Enter.
If the program just hang
there without giving any reports, then I knew that either the connection
to the net was bad, or the host unreachable. To check if the first problem
was the case, I opened another Ping copy, and tried to reach another host.
If unsuccessful, I went off hook to reconnect.
If the remote host was
indeed unreachable, then the only thing to do was to wait a few hours and
Email with Pegasus and Eudora
One very important item in the setup of these programs is the information
about where to get incoming mail (the POP3 address). Unless you're forwarding
mail to a local host, you can leave this line the way you have it when at
The SMTP address line
is where you insert the address of the host that is to send your outgoing
mail. If the network connection is good, you can leave it like it is. If
effective transfer speed is low, then you should seriously consider to use
a local SMTP host instead.
I left the setups as they
were at home, and, while in Brazil, was punished accordingly.
Most of my incoming mail
is distributed between two hosts. Critical mail goes to ulrik.uio.no, while
non-critical mail goes to gaia.grida.no. While travelling, I concentrated
on retrieving from the ulrik host.
In some cities, the conditions
were particularly challenging. For example, in Florianopolis and Rio de Janeiro,
my mail files snailed towards me at just 40 cps, or even slower. Very annoying.
Getting my mail took hours.
Eudora (version 1.4) and
Pegasus Mail (version 1.2) has indeed been exposed to varying and difficult
conditions. My experiences with these two fine shareware programs are:
Pegasus has superior features. A favorite when conditions are good.
Eudora is more robust when conditions are more difficult. Where Pegasus gives
up (without any informative explanations), Eudora often copes.
Saved by FTP
In Tokyo and Recife, I successfully retrieved email from gaia.grida.no, but
was unable to get mail from ulrik.uio.no. Don't ask me why. Here, I had to
use FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to get it.
This is easy enough, if
you know how. The FTPW.EXE utility is distributed as part of the Trumpet
Winsock package, as is PING.EXE. Click on the FTPW ikon, and enter the desired
host's address. At "login:." enter user name, and password as usual. If your
host is a Unix computer, then you may find your mail in the /usr/spool/mail
directory. Transfer your mail using a GET FILE-NAME command ("FILE-NAME"
is probably the same as your login name).
The safest approach is
to move the file to your home catalog on the mail host before starting the
transfer. This allows you to delete the file after retrieval without losing
mail that has arrived while retrieving, and you avoid having to retrieve
read mail again later.
If you retrieve your mail
by FTP, you may find it practical to load the file into Windows Notepad or
Write for reading. From there, it is easy to copy quotes into your Pegasus
or Eudora replies.
Recommendation: If you
want it simple, and is limited by Notepad's features, consider retrieving
the shareware program Notebook. For example, it allows you to open and edit
very large files. I have done this successfully with a 1.5 megabyte mail
It's search ikon is a
gem when working with email. You'll need to have VBRUN300.DLL on your disk
to run it. I retrieved my version from
. Desired shareware contribution is US$12.00 to Ron Parker (Email:
Email by Netscape
While travelling, I got hold of a version of Netscape capable of sending
(SMTP) and retrieving mail (POP3). It sure worked fine, and was an important
improvement, but offline mail (send later) was not possible at the time.
For this reason, Netscape was dropped as unpractical. Besides, it does not
have mail handling functionality competitive with the other two programs.
Note: As of version 2.04b,
available after my return to Norway, Netscape has offline mail.
Things change. When I travelled Brazil two years ago, the maximum logon speed
to CompuServe was 2.400 bits/s. Now, they have 14.400 bits/s. I had connect
both at 12.000 and 14.400 bps from my hotel room in Salvador.
The local number for
CompuServe in Brazil is 000671. In some hotels, this was like asking for
trouble. At Hotel Castelinho in Recife, it was flat out impossible to dial
the number. My guess is that Embratel, the phone company, has blocked all
numbers appearing to be calling card numbers, and the CompuServe number
definitely is in this group.
In Rio de Janeiro, the
hotel made me pay international rates for using this number. The switchboard
software is probably classifying anything starting with "00" as foreign calls.
In Sao Paulo, the effect was the opposite. The switchboard computer did not
register my calls at all!
If you must use CompuServe,
and it does not work, your best bet is to change hotels. The people in the
reception knows nothing. The people at Embratel know nothing. You will probably
be put in contact with a lady working for AT&T in the US, but neither
she can reply.
You will save yourself
a lot of headache by moving to another hotel!
The Online World Monitor newsletter
The newsletter and the book were companions. While the book describes
the online world as it is, the newsletter tracked changes. It could more
freely focus on selected offerings or phenomena than could be done within
the strict framework of the book.
This issue of the newsletter had the following contents:
The Alta Vista search engine
The travelling modem
Update on Internet trends
For more about the newsletter, see
Feel free to redistribute as long as the text remains intact as
it appears here (including this paragraph). Permission to quote/excerpt/reference
in other media is hereby granted, so long as cited material is identified
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the author for permission.