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Tricks of the Internet Gurus

Tricks of the Internet Gurus

Philip Baczewski
Billy Barron
Kevin Barron
Robert Bickford
Jon Callas
Earl Fogel
Tod Foley
Kenny Greenberg
David Gulbransen
Joseph Janes
John Katsaros
Dave Kinnaman
Max Metral
Kevin Mullet
James "Kibo" Parry
Joseph Poirier
Lou Rosenfeld
Margaret Russell-Gonzalez
Kevin Savetz
Peter Scott
Stephen Volan

Sams Publishing
201 West 103rd Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46290

Copyright © 1994 by Sams Publishing


All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher. No patent liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information contained herein. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein. For information, address Sams Publishing, 201 W. 103rd St., Indianapolis, IN 46290.

International Standard Book Number: 0-672-30599-2

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 94-67090

97 96 95 94 4 3 2 1

Interpretation of the printing code: the rightmost double-digit number is the year of the book's printing; the rightmost single-digit, the number of the book's printing. For example, a printing code of 94-1 shows that the first printing of the book occurred in 1994.

Composed in Helvetica and MCPdigital by Macmillan Computer Publishing

Printed in the United States of America


All terms mentioned in this book that are known to be trademarks or service marks have been appropriately capitalized. Sams Publishing cannot attest to the accuracy of this information. Use of a term in this book should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.


Richard K. Swadley

Associate Publisher

Jordan Gold

Acquisitions Manager

Stacy Hiquet

Managing Editor

Cindy Morrow

Acquisitions Editor

Grace Buechlein

Development Editor

Phillip W. Paxton

Production Editor

David Bradford


Anne Owen
Marla Abraham
Adam Banta
Fran Hatton
Sean Medlock

Editorial Coordinator

Bill Whitmer

Editorial Assistants

Carol Ackerman
Sharon Cox
Lynette Quinn

Technical Reviewers

Billy Barron
Philip Baczewski


Tod Foley

Marketing Manager

Gregg Bushyeager

Cover Designer

Nathan Clement

Book Designer

Alyssa Yesh

Director of Production and Manufacturing

Jeff Valler

Imprint Manager

Juli Cook

Manufacturing Coordinator

Paul Gilchrist

Production Analysts

Dennis Clay Hager
Mary Beth Wakefield

Graphics Image Specialists

Teresa Forrester
Clint Lahnen
Tim Montgomery
Dennis Sheehan
Greg Simsic
Susan VandeWalle
Jeff Yesh

Page Layout

Elaine Brush
Mary Ann Cosby
Rich Evers
Ayanna Lacey
Kim Scott


Don Brown
Mona Brown
Cheryl Cameron
Kimberly K. Hannel
Donna Harbin
Beth Rago
Suzanne Tully
Karen Walsh
Holly Wittenberg


Greg Eldred




Part I

First Things First


Connection Requirements


Access at All Costs


Tricks of the Trade: Tools


Where's the Complaint Department?

Part II

Everyday Guru Facilities




Faxing from the Internet









Part III

A Guru's Diversions


Online Entertainment


Listservs and Mailing Lists


Mbone: The Internet Multimedia Backbone


Community Computing

Part IV

Finding Stuff: You Name It, a Guru Can Find it (and So Can You)






Discussion Forums



Part V

Tricks of the Professional Internet Gurus


Internet in the Classroom


Business and Commerce


Research on the Internet


Art on the Internet

Appendix A

Uniform Resource Locators

Appendix B

Signature Files

Appendix C

Standards and Where to Find Them



--by James "Kibo" Parry

Yesterday I was talking to my dog, Spot.

"Hey, Spot," I said, "with the massive amount of cash this Foreword has brought me, I felt generous, and so I bought you your very own computer."

Spot looked across the room to where I'd set up the machine next to his water dish. Still shiny with that putty-gray factory finish, it was the very latest model—the IBM Dog Computer 3000 with a cordless pawboard and a squeaky mouse! A 999,000-baud modem was connected to Spot's very own phone line. "Gosh," drooled Spot, "Thank you, Kibo! It's the most wonderful thing anyone ever gave a dog like me! Now I can log on to that amazing new Information Superhighway!"

"Uh, Spot, before you do, you know how to use the Internet, right?"

Spot barked happily and ran in a little circle. "Sure I do! I've seen The Lawnmower Man and WarGames and every episode of William Shatner's awesome Tekwar. I know all about this stuff. First you put on your virtual reality helmet and your glowing blue neon datasuit, then you fly through the maze, and laser beams come out of your eyes and you have to shoot the computer viruses before they turn you into a skeleton and then you have twenty seconds to guess the three-letter password before all the nuclear missiles in the world come out of the screen at you!!!" Spot turned on his new computer and the screen lit up:


Spot cried. "Waah! This sucks! Kibo, you tricked me. I hate you!"

"Now, now, little Spot, it wasn't I who cruelly deceived you. It was the media. Remember, everything can be blamed on the media. Who told you it was called 'The Information Superhighway'?"

"The media," sobbed Spot.

"And who told you it was a super-cool new thing they just invented last week?"

"The media," sobbed Spot.

"And who told you it was a dangerous and scary thing that could molest your children while they sleep?"

"The media!" bawled Spot. "Oh, how I hate them! They're evil. I guess I don't know anything about what the so-called Information Superhighway is really like. Kibo, you'll have to show me what to do here."

I leaned over and typed in Spot's password, DOG$BONE. Spot was now logged in to the world's most powerful information service, Dogidy.



You have 13 new pieces of mail from long-lost friends and people who

want to date you.

There are 637 news articles clipped for you, on subjects that you care

deeply about, with all others omitted.

The President of the United States would like to talk to you personally

via videoconferencing. He is offering you a Cabinet post.

You are our one millionth customer! Press "Y" now to receive a year's

free supply of your favorite brand of dog food.

Spot burst into tears again. "Waah! I can't read, I'm just a dog!"

The "Information Superhighway," for some reason, has become the hot new topic. Every magazine has done at least one article on it, usually emphasizing its hip trendiness.

The Internet has been around for decades in various forms. Heck, you could even trace its precursors back to the laying of the first transcontinental phone cable. Early computer networking often involved computers making phone calls to each other. Then, someone came up with the bright idea of connecting special lines directly between the computers so that they could communicate faster, and without paying the phone company. Various computers were connected to different networks, such as ARPAnet, Bitnet, and so on. Eventually these networks were linked together in various ways, so that now, effectively, all the well-connected computers in the world are on one network—the Internet. The computers communicate with one another in various ways—via cables, via microwave dishes, via satellite, and yes, some still call each other on the phone.

The commercial "information services" are now getting in on the game as well—if you have a CompuServe account, you can send mail to someone who has an America Online account, through the magic of the Internet. Businesses are offering electronic catalogs of their goods over the network, so that you can shop with your computer. You can send letters to people ranging from Conan O'Brien to the President over the network, without having to pay for a stamp. (Whether you pay for the network is different, but there certainly are ways of getting on for free.) You can browse through massive libraries of information, and even download entire books within minutes.

Ten years ago, you could have done many of the same things. You couldn't have sent electronic mail to President Clinton (or even President Reagan), and CompuServe users were forced to chat only with other CompuServe users, but the basic capabilities for dealing with large quantities of information rapidly were there. So why is there this sudden craze for the "Information Superhighway?"

Is it because someone coined that damned term?

Is it because computers are slowly getting easier to use?

Because they're rapidly getting more powerful?

Or is it just a "hundredth-monkey" situation, where enough people have gotten "into" it so that it's now chic?

I don't know, but the number of people connected to the Internet, and the quality of their connections, and the quantity of information moving over the network, continues to increase. I've had access for only eight years, but in that time, I've seen an amazing increase in the amount of stuff that happens on the network. For instance, on my favorite Internet service, Usenet, I can recall when I could read most all the articles in one day. Today, there are over 9600 topics on Usenet (it'll be ten thousand by the time the book is printed!), and many of them contain enough articles to keep you busy for several hours.

As the network grows and grows, the users (and their interfaces) need to grow more sophisticated just to be able to keep up with the flood of information. To be a "power user" these days, you need finely-honed skills that let you find the information or service or discussion you want, without having to wade through ten zillion irrelevant things. Just finding the documentation on how to do something (let alone reading possibly hundreds of pages of it) can be a difficult task.

Speaking of reading hundreds of pages, Spot finally managed to teach himself to read by following the self-guided tutorial in GNU EMACS. In just fifty easy lessons, Spot could read like a pro! With newfound enthusiasm, he logged into Dogidy and read the first screenful of text.

Spot was so excited by the availability of billions of bytes of information that he instantly forgot how to read. Poor Spot!

About the Authors

Philip Baczewski ( is the Assistant Director of Academic Computing at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Baczewski holds a doctoral degree in music composition, and in addition to his activities in computing support and instruction, he is a published composer of classical music and a researcher in the field of music cognition.

Kevin Barron is the system manager for the Institute for Theoretical Physics, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Kevin has been roaming the Net for more than 11 years, and for the past several years he has taught "Beyond E-Mail", a seminar on navigating the Internet. He is also a contributing author to The Internet Unleashed.

Billy Barron ( is currently the network services manager for the University of Texas at Dallas and has an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of North Texas. Billy is best known for his previous work on the CICNet Electronic Journal Project and the electronic book Accessing Online Bibliographic Databases. His articles can regularly be found in publications such as the Internet Society Newsletter and ConneXions.

Robert Bickford ( is a software consultant who lives in Marin County, California, often hacking late into the night, and (usually) enjoying it immensely. His .sig file reads: "I recognize that a class of criminals and juvenile delinquents has taken to calling themselves 'hackers,' but I consider them irrelevant to the true meaning of the word—just as Mafia members call themselves 'businessmen' but nobody pays that fact any attention."

Jon Callas is a founder and Director of Technology of World Benders, Inc. He has nearly twenty years' experience in computing, and has been a denizen of the Internet since 1978 or 1979 (he can't remember which), when it was still the ARPAnet. He has worked on many things including satellite ground systems, operating systems, windowing systems, and cross-platform networked communications applications. He was trained as a classical musician, and became a mathematician when he learned that there is a reason for the expression "starving musician." He went into software after learning that mathematicians don't fare much better. He is also a silversmith, needing a hobby that produces things that are material.

Earl Fogel ( is a programmer and systems analyst at the Universiy of Saskatchewan in Canada, where he runs a variety of Gopher and World Wide Web servers, as well as performing general UNIX support. In days gone by, he received a M.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of British Columbia, developed educational software at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and developed the Hytelnet software for UNIX and VMS systems.

A writer and interactive game designer from Los Angeles, Tod Foley is the author of seven role-playing games and senior editor of PIX-Elation, a nationally-distributed magazine covering developments in the virtual reality industries. His wide body of work includes the CyberSpace role-playing game (Iron Crown Enterprises, 1989/1992) and live theatrical role-playing experiences such as Ghosts in the Machine (1992), Mediatrix (1994) and World of Ideas (1994), as well as numerous magazine articles, editorials, and essays. Tod performs his cyber-civic duty as Internet Services Manager for the IICS (the International Interactive Communications Society), and sits on the Board of Directors for VRASP (the Virtual Reality Alliance of Students and Professionals). In his dwindling free time, he is also a composer and electronic musician.

Kenny Greenberg ( is a neon artist who makes neon by hand. He owns and operates Krypton Neon in Long Island City, NY, where he has created neon sets for several Broadway productions including "The Who's Tommy," "Miss Saigon," and "Grease." His neon work also appears in the MGM feature film "Six Degrees of Separation," the neon sets for the 1994 Grammy Awards, the World Financial Center (New York), the Socrates Sculpture Park (New York), the International Design Center of New York, and at Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria. Kenny writes a monthly column, "Artist-at-Large" for Internet World magazine and maintains New York Art Line, the Gopher Arts area on On the Web his home page URL is

David Gulbransen ( has been working in computer support at Indiana University for four years. He will be graduating in December with a degree in Scenic Design and Computer Imaging Technology. He is currently employed at the ACCESS MicroCenter at Indiana University, an office that offers students, staff, faculty, and departments consulting services on both hardware and software. He has had over five years' experience on the Internet, including organizing a local Internet Service Provider.

Joseph Janes ( is assistant professor in the School of Information and Library Studies at the University of Michigan. His research interests include user evaluation of information and the networked information environment. He teaches, in collaboration with Lou Rosenfeld, a course on Internet Resource Discovery and Organization, as well as other courses in technology, searching for information, and statistics.

John Katsaros ( is president of Collaborative Marketing, Los Altos, CA, a Silicon-Valley-based marketing and sales consulting company that helps high-tech companies improve their sales. His latest book, Selling High Tech, published by Probus Publishing, is a guide for helping high-tech companies increase sales and gain market share in competitive markets.

Dave Kinnaman ( is a systems analyst for a state education agency in Austin, Texas. His work entails labor market and economic analysis for improving coordination and planning of education and training programs. Dave has over 10 years experience in classroom and jobsite training, and feels salary and benefit levels (and working conditions) for classroom teachers are not adequate. He says unnecessary limitations too often impede Internet access in our schools. Dave asks,"Why are classroom teachers the last group of college-educated professionals in North America uniformly without a telephone at their desks?"

James "Kibo" Parry is a highly prominent Usenet user; one Usenet group named for him, alt.religion.kibology, has at least 88,000 subscribers. Born in 1967, he studied computer engineering before getting a degree in professional writing. He works as a graphic designer and writer in Boston. Kibo spends his free time watching bad movies for fun.

Max Metral ( is a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab. He is currently studying intelligent agents in cooperation with Apple Computer. He has also worked at General Magic, where he worked with intelligent resource discovery in large information spaces (much like the World Wide Web).

Kevin Mullet ( has spent much of the past ten years helping people use computers and networks. Currently, he works in a team that provides technical and operational support for Rice University campus network as well as Sesquinet, a Texas regional Internet provider. When he's not troubleshooting network problems, proselytizing about the Net, or drinking far too much coffee, he divides his time between writing about the Internet, finding ways to make it more accessible to regular folks, and trying to reconcile the OSI seven-layer network model with the Sanskrit chakra system. Kevin has a World-Wide Web home page at

Joseph Poirier ( is a software engineer for Network Design Technologies, Inc., where he designs and implements object-oriented telecommunications network optimization software. He is known as Snag on several muds.

Lou Rosenfeld ( was formerly assistant librarian for Information Technology Development, University Library, University of Michigan, where he helped shape the Library's Gopher server and Internet training workshops. Currently, Lou is vice president of Argus Associates, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in Internet training and systems design. He also is a doctoral student and instructor at the University of Michigan's School of Information and Library Studies.

Margaret Russell-Gonzalez designs human-computer interface and tests the usability of software for World Benders. She began writing for Marvel Comics and has been a writer and sometime engineer for over 20 years. She notes the main difference between GUI and a comic book is that the sound effects are more fun. She considers the Internet a tool that darn well ought to be easy and meaningful to use. Ms. Russell-Gonzalez holds an M.S. from Cornell University.

Kevin Savetz ( is an author and Internet aficionado based in Humboldt County, California. He is author of Your Internet Consultant: the FAQs of Life Online (Indianapolis: Sams Publishing, 1994) and publishes the Internet Services FAQ and the Unofficial Internet Book List.

Peter Scott ( is the manager of small systems at the University of Saskatchewan Libraries. The author of Hytelnet and other hypertext software programs, he is a frequent speaker at Internet conferences, and the president of the Saskatoon Free-Net Association.

Stephen Volan is the editor of The Right Foot series of guidebooks to colleges for newcomers, published by Tall Order Press. He is also the executive director of Blue Marble Information Services, an Internet service provider in Bloomington, Indiana, where he is also the Cyberspace columnist for The Ryder magazine. A 1994 graduate of Indiana University, Volan got bitten by the personal-computing bug at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in the mid-eighties. He is a long-time Macintosh user who nevertheless remembers life before graphic user interfaces, and sometimes pines for a command-line interface.


--by Billy Barron

The Internet guru is a hard person to define. No test exists to qualify a person as an Internet guru. It is not always obvious who is and is not a guru. Often, I am talking to some novices and they mention that someone is an "Internet guru." When I meet this person, it is frequently the case that the supposed guru is giving out wrong and misleading information. Therefore, the first criteria of being an Internet guru is that other Internet gurus must be able to respect the accuracy your Internet knowledge.

If you watch Internet gurus in action, they usually show extremely strong feelings about the Internet. Almost all, if not all, find the Internet to be an exciting and fun place. This interest is critical to any Internet guru; the Internet is so large and changing so fast that without a strong passion, a guru will become a nonguru within a couple of years.

An Internet guru knows that the Internet only works due to information sharing that is mostly for free. The guru, therefore, must give something back to the Internet to improve the network. It might be a piece of software, documentation, frequently answering posts on Usenet constructively, or even just having a useful Gopher or Web server.

The guru knows that he or she does not and cannot know everything about the Internet. Therefore, this books offers a great deal, even to the guru. For example, while I was reading this book, I learned quite a bit about a subject that I knew nothing about, like programming muds. The guru, though, has many tools and an ability to learn that compensates for gaps in knowledge. Related to this, the Internet guru has contacts and/or friendships with other gurus that provide invaluable information.

Every guru is different in knowledge, background, career, and personality. This is important to remember. Some are not even computer professionals and instead are librarians, scientists, artists, musicians, or students. Basically, they can be from any place and any walk of life. For a brief sampling of Internet gurus, consider a few of the authors who wrote parts of this book. In many ways, I may be one of the most typical of Internet gurus. I am very strong in end-user Internet services (WWW, Gopher, OPACs, FTP sites, and so on) and can even manage routers, but I know very little about network management or muds. Another author, Kevin Mullet, is one of the people who holds Internet connectivity together within Texas—he knows network management inside and out (among other aspects of the Internet). Kenny Greenberg is also an Internet guru, even though he is first and foremost an artist. The other authors all come from different backgrounds.

Now that you may have a vague idea of what an Internet guru is, you may want to become one yourself. Fortunately, it is much easier to define the steps in becoming a guru than defining what a guru is. The steps I recommend:

  1. Become a proficient Internet user. Many books and training sessions are available to help you get to this state.

  2. Learn about the society and politics of the Internet. Books, such as The Internet Unleashed (Indianapolis: Sams Publishing, 1994), will help with this. However, nothing substitutes for some time spent on mailing lists and Usenet news.

  3. Decide which parts of the Internet excite you. Concentrate on learning these. As I said earlier, nobody knows everything about the Internet.

  4. Do some background reading. This book will definitely help you here, but reading some network documents such as RFCs is also important.

  5. Try out what you have learned—as long as it is legal and ethical. No Internet guru evolves without spending a lot of hands-on time on the network itself.

  6. When your experiments fail (and they sometimes will), either go back to Step 4 or ask on mailing lists or newsgroups, and then try again. The urge to give up may be strong at times, but don't give in!

Good luck on becoming an Internet guru. Also, make sure you have fun while reading Tricks of the Internet Gurus, or you have been missing the point.

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