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Diary of a Homepage
Part 3 (October 1996 - March 1997)

Part 1 (February - June 1996) || Part 2 (June - September 1996) || Part 3 (October 1996 - March 1997) || Part 4 (April 1997 - December 1997) || Part 5 (January 1998 - December 1998) || Part 6 (January - December 1999) || Part 7 (January 2000 - December 2001) || Part 8 (January 2002 - June 2003) || Part 9 (June 2003 - August 2003) || Part 10 (August 2003 - April 2007) || Part 11 (May 2007 - September 2007) || Part 12 (October 2007 -December 2007) || Part 13 (January 2008 - August 2008) || Part 14 (September 2008 -> June 2009) || Part 15 (July 2009 -> August 2009) || Part 16 (September 2009 -> December 2009) || Part 17  (January 2010 -> October 2010 ) || Part 18 (November 2010 -> December 2010) || Part 19 (January 2011 - September 2011) || Part 20 (October 2011 - March 2012) || Part 21 (April 2012 - July 2012) || Part 22 (August 2012 - September 2012 ) || Part 23 (October 2012 - December 2012) || Part 24 (January 2013 - December 2013) || Part 25 (January 2014 - December 2014 || Part 26 (January 2015 - December 2015 || Part 27 (January 2016 - October 2016) || Part 28 (November 2016 -> ) || Back to the home page

3rd October 1996

Modems: It is time to update the diary as a lot has been done over the last month. It all started when I obtained a Voice Modem to add to the system and found that it did not seem as fast as my old Electronic Frontiers Viper. It also reported back that the connection speed was 28800, sometimes 26400 rather than the 115200 I got with the Viper using V42bis. The resulting investigation has given me a much greater understanding of the way modems work, how they should be set and what they report back etc. There is considerable scope to improve the speed of Internet access if one takes care in setting up the Modem rather than accepting the defaults. I have written up some of this along with a few practical facts and explanations about Internet which help with the Alphabet soup. The notes are:

Internet Explorer 3.0: In testing out the speed and reliability of Modems it was desirable to carry out some big downloads so I took the chance to upgrade some of my software. The really big download was Internet Explorer 3.0 (IE3). I waited a few weeks after the final version was available then downloaded at 0600 - it took over and hour with typical download rates of 2.2 - 2.5 Kbytes/sec a little slower than I have come to expect but acceptable from a busy site. The final version is very good and I have gradually stopped using Netscape and yesterday changed the default associations. The transition has been eased by the fact that IE3 picked up all my Netscape Bookmarks and added them to the Favorites list I had created with IE2.

The integration of IE2 into Windows 95 was always good and IE3 is even better. There is no need for helpers and applications to be set up. The associations are all there from Windows and can be changed from within Windows or IE3. The connections to the Internet Service Provider are also accessible from within IE3 so one can change the telephone number, the modem or the Dial up Connection without leaving. The Favorites system is as convenient to use as Netscape's Bookmarks with pull down lists as from the Start button. They seem slightly more clumsy to reorganize and I have not found how to put a simple add on a single button as in Netscape. The other button/facility which is missing is a "load graphics for this page only" button - you have to go into Tools and turn the graphics loading on and off whilst I preferred to run without graphics being loaded and click for individual pages. The other touch I miss is the indicator showing the transfer rate in Netscape - even if this did over read on files under 500K it did tell you when to give up and come back at a quieter time.

Overall Internet Explorer 3.0 is the clear winner in the Browser stakes with much better integration and presentation. It also seems robust whilst I have had Netscape fall over many times. The security on IE3 has obviously been at the top of the agenda and many options for warnings etc exist - in its default mode it can seem a bit overprotective but everything can be turned on and off - every warning screen has a tick box for "do not show again" although it can be turned on through the options menu.

WinZip 6.1a I have also been updating WinZip. The latest version, which is a beta has UUencode built in can be downloaded from the WinZip site in 16 and 32 bit versions. It will decode all the standard formats, UUencode, XXencode, MIME and BinHex and encode your archive in a single step. I have used both the Windows 95 32 bit version and the Windows 3.1 16 bit version and they are both very convenient to use. In Windows 95 you can drag and drop a UUencoded Archive onto the WinZip icon and with one more double click you can open a Word Document in the Archive.

Paint Shop Pro 4.1: I have also upgraded to the latest version of Paint Shop pro but have had very little time to evaluate it. The new features seem to get round the few shortfalls and it looks like another winner.

6th October 1996

PowerPoint Presentations in IE3: I discovered whilst browsing the Microsoft Web site that there is an ActiveX viewer for powerPoint presentations. The package can also create full animated presentation at a couple of key clicks from PowerPoint in a compressed form for the Web and once the viewer is loaded then the presentation can be viewed full screen. This is much better than the IA and the files are a fraction of the size although the viewer is an initial download of 850K. It can be downloaded from http://officeupdate.microsoft.com/downloadDetails/axplayer.htm Location of player updated in June 1999 but watch for further changes The following are the two presentations which Pauline gave at the OU which you can try out. If you do not have a suitable Browser or the viewer loaded or it will tell you. If you left click on the presentation you go forwards - if you right click you can change the size, end or go back. It may ask you if you want to open or save the presentation if you have security checks enabled.

October 16th 1996

Microsoft Service Pack 1 for Windows 95: - this is a nice way of describing the set of bug fixes and various other fixes and enhancements I discovered are available from Microsoft. It obviously seemed sensible to install the Service pack and any further upgrades that effect my usage - some only effect those on networks or using particular drivers.

Installing the Service Pack and other fixes: The main Service Pack and the other upgrades are simple to install as they are just .EXE files which you download and run. The Service pack is about 1.2Mbytes and the others are in the range of 150 to 250 Kbytes. I have installed the Service pack 1 downloaded from the Microsoft Web Site Updates Page It is supplemented with various addition fixes for separate problems available on the same page - I only installed those that were of direct relevance namely the updates for Kernel32, OLE32, Password handling and the Fax Cover Page fix that I had already found. There are a few others but they seemed to be to do with networks and there seemed to be no point in repairing things which were not broken in my case.

Enhancements to Windows 95: There are also a number of upgrades available on the same page and I loaded two - the Microsoft Exchange update and the new Internet Mail. One useful enhancement which is automatically installed with the Service Pack is an Update Tool which you access from the Start Button and then pointing to Programs|Accessories|System tools and clicking the Update Information Tool. This tells you what updates have been installed on the system.

Windows Messaging: This is an update to Microsoft Exchange and is a 3 Mbyte download. The renaming is, I understand, to avoid confusion with the more comprehensive Exchange server and client under Windows NT. It is supposed to speed up the loading, fix various bugs and offer some extra facilities. I am not yet convinced that it is worth while in my case as the combination of CompuServe Mail and Microsoft Exchange served me well. On the plus side Messaging seems to have gained a few useful facilities not previously available in Exchange or maybe I had missed them. There is, for example, a very good search available which will find all messages from a person or all those to somebody in the various folders and optionally subfolders.

Windows Messaging Installation Problems: Now we come to the downside of replacing Exchange with Messaging. The install only does part of the job as the links on the desktop to Inbox etc. are not changed and still point to the old EXCHNG32.EXE. Worse still the Associations are not set either so you have a strange mixture. You also have to be very careful in changing the associations as there are parameters on the command line so just browsing for the new location only gets one part way. I got in such a mess that I had to remove Exchange using Add/Remove programs and reload it along with various other programs such as Mail and Fax then update again to Messaging before I could get it all set up properly. My advice is to find the new directory and write down its short filename and then edit the .MSG associations for Message Open and Message Print. This way you do not lose the all important parameters or have to work out what needs to be in "inverted commas"s. Setting up Inbox was by right clicking on the icon and changing under properties in the same way. At present I have left all the original files in the c:\windows\exchange folder but eventually it should be possible to delete them. I will probably rename the folder first as a check that I have not missed any associations. All the above is not insurmountable however there is a further problem for those using CompuServe as not all the features of CompuServe Mail for Microsoft Exchange are supported by Windows Messaging - the major shortfall being that remote mail is not available. I do not use that feature often and then only when I access directly from WinCim and want to leave my mail ready to download to Exchange/Messaging so it is not a problem for me.

Internet Mail and Internet Newsreader: At the end of all the changes I have made I find I have a new Internet Mail Service and Internet Newsreader accessible from the Start button and also from within Internet Explorer 3.0 which I also presume provides the Internet mail transport for Messaging if I installed it in my profile. I am also not sure which of the facilities came with Windows Messaging, what came as part of installing Internet Explorer 3.0 and what was the a separate update to Internet Mail. I find that if Internet Mail is used stand alone or as a transport within Messaging/Exchange you have to specify both a POP3 server for receiving mail and an SMTP server for sending mail. Within Explorer you only need specify the SMTP server for sending mail. I have only checked the Newsreader very quickly so have nothing to report at present

Internet Mail Address Book and Folders: There is an address book built into Internet Mail which is not common with Windows Messaging although it is possible to import your address book. The tabs are however different and it made a mess of the addresses in Exchange which were set up for CompuServe Mail adding an extra @compuserve.com to the end. Internet Mail has a set of fixed folders plus those you define but no subfolders are allowed. The messages are a different format and can only be accessed within Internet Mail. You can export messages from these folders to Microsoft Exchange/Messaging and also import from Exchange/Messaging. It is clearly useful to have a way of sending Email from within your Browser but it is a shame that the address lists and message formats are not the same. It also seems to have the ability to send UUencoded or MIME attachments which Messaging does not have (or perhaps it now does if Internet Mail is installed as the Mail Service in Windows Messaging). As you may gather I am slightly confused at present. As far as I am concerned Internet Mail will only be used at present as a last resort to get mail out through an SMTP link when CompuServe goes down. It is worth noting that CompuServe plan to change to standard POP3 and SMTP servers in the next year at which point I will re-evaluate the options.

November 10th 1996

Mail Attachments. I have been looking further at Messaging/Exchange and how best to send and receive mail with attachments as I have had some incoming mail with attachments turn up as Icons even through Internet. Most mail programs support MIME and/or UUencode to do this automatically - Exchange/Messaging provides support depending on the Transport Services loaded unfortunately not when Compuserve is used. The issues are complex but whether through Exchange/Messaging or stand alone systems it does seem that you have more choices using a SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) mechanism for sending mail and a POP3 (Post Office Protocol) delivery. This is all making me think about a main stream ISP who is on the Internet Backbone such as Pipex and provides POP3 and SMTP. I have not got details but I understand they offer also access to your mail through a standard browser plus password meaning that you can get access anywhere in the world without a local provider or loading software - it must be much easier to persuade someone to let you use their Browser than load software!

The Exchange Center: I have found a very good site which has a considerable amount of information on Microsoft Exchange and Messaging. The site is run by Sue Mosher, who amongst other things writes books and is just about to have a book on Microsoft Exchange published. The site The Exchange Center at http://www.slipstick.com/exchange is full of useful information and FAQs and you should collect the Windows Messaging FAQ if you think of upgrading from Exchange to Messaging. There is also an excellent Windows Messaging and Microsoft Exchange FAQ which covers all the various services which work with it such as Fax, Internet Mail, Compuserve Mail, MSN etc. This is a Zipped file which expands into a large Help File which also contains most of the other FAQs. Another feature of the site is information on a number of addons for Exchange/Messaging and a Wish List of features which users require for future addins for Microsoft to implement.

Communications: This has set me thinking once more about Communications and looking more closely at how Exchange/Messaging works and where there are shortfalls. In my page covering Communications on our System I made the case for an integrated system covering all forms of communication with common filing system and address books. The main communications identified were Snailmail, Email, Fax and the retrieval of information from the Web to these ought to be added the various newsgroups and conferencing facilities.

Inside Exchange/Messaging: Exchange/Messaging integrates many of the basic communications functions. It provided the basic framework into which various Services are added. The most basic Services are the Personal Address Book and a set of Personal Folders. The Folders include your Inbox and Outbox where your messages arrive and from which they are sent. Before this is of any use you also need to add Transport Services. The ones I have loaded are Microsoft Fax which receives my incoming Faxes and put them into the Inbox and can send Messages as Faxes and Compuserve Mail which sends messages from the Outbox as Email through Compuserve to other Compuserve Members or via the Internet and allows me to collect Email from Compuserve. The type of entry in the address book determines how the message is sent. Other services which can be loaded are Internet Mail which sends and receives messages via the POP3 and SMTP protocols used by many Internet Service Providers. MSN also uses a non standard protocol and has needs a another special service loaded. In conclusion Exchange/Messaging provides a good basis for communications via many mechanism and through many services and it gives a common address book for Email and Fax and a common place where incoming Email and Faxes arrive. Messages can be written without specifying the Transport Mechanism which is determined solely by the information on the recipient in the address book entry.

Documents and Attachments: The problems come when we consider Documents rather than Messages. By Documents I, for example, mean a letter or report written in Word or the output of an Excel spreadsheet or a set of Vugraphs. These are items which take time to prepared and refined in a separate programme and would normally be printed at the end of the day. The trick almost universally used with Faxing is to have an extra printer driver available that one can direct the output of any programme to which "prints" to the Fax. In the case of the Microsoft Driver a copy ends up in the sent mail folder and confirmation in your Inbox within Exchange/Messaging. There is no such simple mechanism for sending via Email to that for Faxes.

Email Attachments: The big problem with Email for most users is sending Attachments, ie documents rather than simple text typed in within the Email programme. This comes about because most Documents and resulting Attachments use 8 bits whilst the Internet only handles messages of 7 bits and many Internet Service providers (ISPs) also limit the maximum length of message and there is a lack of standardisation in how the conversion is accomplished to get from 8 to 7 bits and include them in the message format. Before Email will gain full use from the naive this problem must be addressed - even with new standards such as MIME legacy formats such as UUencode, XXencode and BinHex will continue to be received and sometimes need to be sent. When combined with the ways of breaking up and identifying big files this is not a trivial problem.

The Internet Mail Transport Service for Exchange/Messaging allows you to specify MIME or UUencode for attachments and also to send Email messages in Rich Text Format (RTF) to recipients who can handle it. This does not apply to sending mail through CompuServe as a Transport Service. On the incoming mail side Exchange/Messaging does automatic identify some MIME or UUencode inline text of messages and decode it back to display as an attachment.

File|Send in Office 95 applications: As I said above there is no such simple mechanism for sending via Email to that for Faxes. although there is a Send option under the File menu on many of the Microsoft Office programmes. This opens the New Message screen with an icon for the document in the body. This unfortunately requires a Transport Service which will convert this to MIME or UUencode to be useful over the Internet as opposed to local mail which it was set up for.

Schedule+ to Exchange Address books. I have discovered there is a way to get your Schedule+ address books across to Exchange using a clever word macro you can download from the Exchange Center. I have not gone further than to load it and read the help. It is not trivial but probably worthwhile if you have a big database in Schedule+ and gets round a big shortfall in Exchange/Messaging.

Messaging Fax Cover Page Title bug. I have found another bug in the Microsoft Fax which came with the Messaging update such that it will no longer send Faxes by printing to the Fax Handler if a title is given on the cover page when you use the send fax wizard - you just have to leave the title blank or use another way of sending the fax. There is no known fix at present but there is much discussion in the relevant Newsgroup namely microsoft.public.win95.exchangefax - I have been investigating newsgroups for the first time using Microsoft Internet News which came as part of all my updates. In due course I will look at Offline newsgroup readers.

Netscape 3.0: I have finally got round to downloading Netscape 3 and trying it out at home. It has very much the feel of Netscape 2.01 with some of the rough edges gone and it seems to fall over less. I had some problems in integrating it into the rest of my system as it tries to take over as the Default Browser. This meant that despite answering the prompts on which I wanted as Default Browser I still found that many of the IE3 associations had gone pear shaped and clicking on an .HTM file gave me prompts for downloading files! I took the easy way out and reloaded IE3 over the top and all was then fine again and both now coexist. A side benefit of reloading is that Internet Explorer 3 picked up all the Netscape Bookmarks and integrated them into its Favorites list. There is really very little to chose between them except that there is a commitment to keep Internet Explorer 3 free from Microsoft.

WinZip 6.2. In testing out download rates etc on Netscape 3 from some of my favorite sites I discovered that WinZip 6.2 is now a final version rather than a Beta - for information the 650Kbyte download was at 2.5 Kbytes/sec midday Saturday. The updated version handles UUencode, MIME, XXencode and BinHex and has an enhanced help file.

Sunday 1st December 1996

PIPEX DIAL Assessment: It is now exactly a week since I loaded PIPEX Dial tempted by it's ability to offer Email access via any Web browser round the world. It is now time to provide a preliminary assessment of how good it is.

Installation: The installation went very smoothly from the CD ROM provided. I allowed it to modify my Autoexec.bat file as requested but left the modification to Config.sys to do myself. It would be helpful to the naive user if the instructions in the CD ROM case had given advance warning of the changes it would need to make to the system.

Registration: Again very quick and easy with the default modem used - I think I has to set the port and that was all. I was not asked for a card as the software automatically expires after 28 days. You then seem to have to pay a connection fee regardless of the fact you are up and running!

Configuration: All looked very simple even if you needed to set up the modem type and commands - I left the default modem but set all the rates as high as possible. It asked to download software updates which I allowed. They took little time and left a message in the outbox to send to Pipex that the updates had been carried out.

Registration of Alias: This is done on the Pipex web site as are most of the communications with Pipex. The site is well laid out and the alias registration was easy. It took a day to be activated.

DialSpace: This is free 1 Mbyte of web page. Again registration was easy but there was no warning that it again took a while to be accessible. I may have been too fast as I got there only 1 hour after the initial load and it would not allow me to registration! I mailed the help link and got a quick standard "holding" reply but no proper response. It was possible to register the next day and again it took till a specified time the following day to become live. The Pipex site had a lot of useful information and FAQs which would be very good for a first time user. It also suggested using a Freeware FTP program to upload and had a link to download it. I downloaded from the main site so I could get a full install and I am impressed with WS_FTP.

Loading the home page: I used WS_FTP and it went very smoothly - I did one trial of the first few pages and then checked. This then showed that, as they warned, the PIPEX Dialspace server is case sensitive so I had to rename all my pages to be lower case names and edit most of the links to match. Tedious but only took just over an hour because I loaded batches of files and did a string search in WebEdit. The uploading was then done in one batch. The other feature was that the homepage has to be called index.htm on PIPEX whilst it is homepage.htm on CompuServe. I have two identical pages loaded which works fine.

Email: The internal Email uses Netscape and is adequate for a new user. I wanted to use my existing system of Windows Messaging (what used to be called Exchange). I loaded the Internet Mail transport mechanism in place of the CompuServe Mail for Microsoft Exchange and it all worked fine as soon as I had configured it. I also set up the independent Microsoft Internet Mail which again was fine and handles attachments in binary and text automatically in the MIME mode. This also configured ready for Internet Explorers mail although it has the option of using Windows Messaging or Internet Mail in Internet Explorer.

Dial Up Networking: The PIPEX web site gives full instructions on this - the best instructions that I have seen. I took the shortcuts I had used previously but found for the first time that I had to set the DNS specifically and I also used the other recommendations for the connection from the PIPEX page and it worked immediately. The script for the script file was available on the page for editing in and again the scripting worked first time. Total time to get a link active on the desktop was about an hour with some time wasted through not following their instructions initially to set the DNS addresses.

Interactions with CompuServe: Both coexist at the basic level and there is no need to play around with Winsock.dll. It is not possible to have both transport mechanisms loaded in Messaging/Exchange without problems and anomalies on the return address etc. The way round is to set up two profiles using the same Personal Address Book and Personal Folders. One can set Messaging to ask which profile when you start up.

Other Interactions: I had a lockup when I ran a legacy DOS program for interchange of data with my HP95 palmtop. This was cured when I changed back the autoexec.bat and config.sys files. This means that the PIPEX supplied software will no longer run.

Other anomalies: I can not access any of the index pages for DialSpace using the Netscape Navigator 2.02 supplied with PIPEX and their 16 bit software without a GPF in Navigator. I have tried the suggestion on their pages of setting a FILES=100 in Config.sys without any change. The pages are fine from IE3 and Netscape Navigator 3 via the 32 bit DUN PIPEX connection or any other ISP via DUN.

Time to set up system: I have not kept a complete log but I guess that the times to get to the same functionality as I have with CompuServe including creating an extra DUN, changing my default service in Internet Explorer 3, adding a service to Messaging, setting up Internet mail, Registering an Alias, Registering a web site, changing all my web pages and uploading my site has been under 5 hours spread over the week. To that I should possibly add another hour to download and get to grips with WS_FTP. There was sufficient information for any user of Windows 95 to get to that point in the PIPEX pages. There is a very impressive level and clarity of support information available. If I had been happy with a 16 bit system using Netscape Navigator 2.02 I would have been live in an hour.

Speed and access: I have been able to get a connection quickly although there was one period when Email did not seem to work for a short period. Internet access speed has been high and download rates impressive. I saw rates of 7Kbytes/sec over a 600Kbyte download of an .htm file. This implies 2:1 data compression and a theoretical max speed link. Downloads of binaries have risen to 2.4Kbytes/sec in a normal weekday evening. I have not done comparative tests but my impression is that it is up with or better than Demon, I-Way and the OU links and much better than CompuServe at peak times. The only one which may be ahead at peak times is MSN based on watching a friends system. Off peak there was little to chose in my earlier comprehensive tests which showed CompuServe a short neck ahead and I have not done the tests yet to provide evidence that PIPEX can displace CompuServe.

Support: Having written this assessment it seemed time to ring PIPEX and see how well good their support was and if they had answers to the three problems above - Autoexec.bat/config.sys incompatibilities with HP APP95 legacy DOS software, access to their own Dialspace index pages using the Netscape Navigator they provided and use with CompuServe in Microsoft Exchange. The number provided passed me to a different support number which was not active on a Sunday but stated that the telephone support was only for those who had not got up and running to the extent of using Email. This whole text was therefore Emailed to them for comment.

Friday 6th December 1996

Pipex support response: The response was very rapid and a number of helpful suggestions were sent within a couple of hours and a follow up after a couple of days to my further tests. They are going to shorten the index lengths on DialSpace and in longer term use NetScape 3. We have not solved the APP95 conflict but it does not seem to be with any other DOS programmes I have tried. They agreed that my solution of multiple profiles was the best way round on Exchange if I want to keep Compuserve and Pipex in use simultaneously - this still enable one to share Folders and address books although the way CompuServe works you have a different entry for each service so it may well be best to separate them. The support has been a big improvement over what I got with CompuServe.

CompuServe Interactive (3.01)- first look: Before I have had a chance to finish assessing Pipex the possible answer to the Pipex challenge has come from CompuServe in their Windows 95 specific update. This now uses Dial Up Networking (DUN) and Internet Explorer 3. I had many fears about what would happen if this was all loaded back on top of what I already have but it was actually the simplest upgrade I have done. I chose the Custom Upgrade option and took the option of already having a DUN connection and to install in the same directory as WinCim 2.01. It found and used my existing CompuServe DUN connection, upgraded my IE3 where appropriate and gave me an Icon on the desktop. All my existing links and software works and the only thing I had to reset was my starting page, although the option seemed to be still there on the tab. The favorites in IE3 and those from WinCim are all intact as are all the address lists and folders. The new interface seems a very big improvement and there is no difference between going to a CompuServe Site and an Internet Site within CSi. The Browser Interface within CSi is simplified but one can still start IE3 directly to get all the facilities. Within CSi you can also set up a preference for a different browser. Mail is much improved for attachments over the internet. Overall a very significant upgrade which must put CompuServe, if only temporarily back ahead of all other services unless one is a heavy user of the Net as I am.

Sunday 8th December 1996

Compuserve Interactive 3 problems: I may have written too soon as I have now looked at the CompuServe Fora which are full of gloom and despondency. There are some good FAQs put into the libraries and it is sensible to read them before loading the new software off the CD ROM. There is certainly a big service pack (polite way of describing a bug fix) to download which I have not done. It also advises against loading without setting up a new DUN as I have done. As far as I can tell they have intercepted all of the DUN calls via a new script file handler to get round a problem in the latest versions of Windows 95 only supplied to OEMs (4.00.950b) which does not work properly on all systems. I have no problems on Windows 95 with Microsoft Windows Service pack 1 upgrading it to 4.00.950a (one way to find the version number is to go into Explorer and right click on My Computer and properties where it is on the General tab). The only problem I have is a major potential problem in that the disconnection does not work and gives an error splash if other programs which are aware of the communications ports are loaded such as Windows Messaging which I normally have loaded permanently from the Start Up Group. The trick is to disconnect by finding the DUN on the Taskbar and then disconnecting.

CompuServe Interactive attractions: The above said there are many attractive new features which will take CompuServe into the lead when they have fixed the problems. There is a cut down web Viewer based on IE3 integrated into the main desktop with the same GO button and favorites list so you are almost unaware of whether you are on the Web or in CompuServe. You can alternatively access a full browser which does not have to be IE3 through a button on the toolbar and have access to the full features such as favorites lists, history etc There is also the ability to set up an action list so that downloads etc can be run as you work or left to log off (which does not work at present!)

Transfer speed comparisons: PIPEX has seemed very fast subjectively so on Sunday Morning it seemed time to put it to the test. The site chosen was the JASC site in the USA and the file was the new PaintShop Pro beta 4.12 which is 3.11 MBytes. Checks with WinZip show it is fully compressed. PIPEX achieved the download in 20 minutes a rate of 2.60Kbytes/sec - very good late on a Sunday Morning. I tried again with the OU link which gave me 23 minutes at 2.25Kbytes/sec. I did not have time to fully download with CompuServe nor did I want to pay the CompuServe charges so I time two sections of 300Kbytes which, to my surprise, gave rates of 2.00 and 2.55Kbytes/sec showing that even at a peak time CompuServe is very competitive. I have never understood why it is knocked so much by people - the Reading Node always connects first time and the only problems have been with the access to the mailbox which nobody else complains about. The differences are close enough to be within natural variability but tends to confirm the subjective impression that PIPEX does have a significant edge as you would expect with its links to the USA and being on the Internet Backbone.

Microsoft Web Publishing Wizard: This seems to be a program to avoid. It was mentioned in one of the CompuServe Fora for uploading to web pages including CompuServe's Ourworld. It is completely inflexible as it will only load single files or directories or directories with subdirectories - no selections allowed. It also has no option to delete files which is a disastrous omission. I had hoped it might be a way round the lack directory structure on CompuServe which is all the CompuServe Home Page Wizard allows but I can not risk creating directories I can not delete! I just hope that it will uninstall properly - this is the first really bad bit of software I have downloaded from Microsoft and it was a 2Mbyte download. But see below for fresh info.

CompuServe Web Space Increased in Size to 5 Mbytes: I am going to have to start to upload lots of graphics to fill that up. It is much more than the PIPEX space although much less flexible because of the lack of directory structure.

Tuesday 10th December 1996

Pipex EWeb - Pros and Cons: The main reason I started the trial of Pipex was the promise that one could acces ones Email anywhere in the world from almost any Web Browser linked to the Web without any modifications or software loading onto the "borrowed" machine. This sounds too good to be true and it is not suprising that there are a number of limitations and points to be watched. The way it works is that one just goes to http://www.eweb.dial.pipex.com/ where you have a form to fill in with your main account name and password and various optional parameters. This then provides a table of messages waiting and allows you to select and display the messages. The first caution is that most WWW browsers use a page cache. If you do not wish somone else to read your email then close the browser when you have finished with it as Pipex warn you. You must also delete the entries in the cache if you know how to find them. You are also vulnerable to a key stroke recorder if you use a machine in a "cafe".

The next shortfall is that there is no mechanism to Reply directly to any messages and if you use the normal Email on the machine to send messages it will fill in the normal users Email address. It should be possible to provide another form with the main parameters filled in for an Email Reply or Forward. Another shortfall which could easily be fixed is the way attachments are handled. The Encoded text is not left intact in the HTML file and has BR codes at the end of many lines. This means that it is not possible to save the message in a file and use a program such as XferPro to extract it as it falls over on all the invalid lines. This is a great idea which only needs a minimum amount of additional work to make truly useful. The inability to get at Encoded attachments considerably reduces its value for away working with just a couple of disks. I suspect that others will get onto the bandwagon and avoid the pitfalls and I do not expect it will take Pipex long to realise this and modify their site!

Wednesday 11th December

Pipex support: Pipex have been back to me again. Very helpfull and quick to respond to any questions and they are passing above comments on to the developers of Eweb.

Compuserve Interactive 3.01: There is now a very good FAQ as a helpfile on the UK Help Forum (GO UKHF) in Library 17 as CS3FAQ.EXE and the number of cries for help seem to be reducing.

Microsoft Web Publishing Wizard: I posted a message about the Microsoft Web Wizard into the UK Help Forum and have a response which indicates that it does delete files and directories in so much that it checks if there are any files in the Ourworld directory which are not in the directory you are uploading and then offers to delete them. Assuming it also deletes empty directories that is fine. It may also be clever enough to see if the files have changed and need to be uploaded. I will eventually check further. I have tried this on my mirror Pipex DialSpace site and it did not give me any options to delete files during test. In the end I had to go in with WS_FTP to tidy up so I either have an outdated version or there are some misunderstandings.

Monday 16th December 1996

Uses of a Web Site: The last week has been very busy as we have been preparing for my first retirement party. It has been completely organised and held without putting pen to paper. Out of the 50 invitees comprising people I have worked for, closely with and staff who have worked directly for me over the last 25 years in the Space Game 40 were on Email, another 7 had Fax only leaving three to be contacted by telephone and two of them had modems on order! I also had to have a minor Op so we set up a Page on our site but without any links to the rest of the site - we did not want another 500 visitors in real-space. The page was updated daily and had maps, parking instructions and towards the end a link to the order of play and menu. All the thanks for kind words and presents have been Emailed out already and the pages deleted.

Site Traffic: I put a copy of the counter on the party page and visits to our site have been doubled in the last week. This was not entirely party traffic but also because I had posted a few messages into the Compuserve UKHF forum where I could see many people with the same problems I have suffered. As well as trying to give some immediate help I put the Site address and advice on where to find this Diary. I have received a number of forms which have been very complimentary about the site and in some cases with requests for permission to put links on their pages to it. It makes it all worth while! I suspect the number of hits is under-reading because the Web Counter site seems to often be busy and not increment the count.

Free Agent: The use of the CompuServe Forums combined with further browsing of the Pipex site led me to follow links from the Pipex site to download Free Agent, an Offline Newsreader with a very good reputation. I can see why having tried it out. I have been looking at the Microsoft Newsgroups concerned with Exchange and again I see the same problems coming up again and again - the missing fax page cover sheets, the Messaging GPF when I title is present etc.

Address Book Conversions in Exchange/Messaging: One major problem in making the change from CompuServe to another provider is the address book in Messaging/Exchange. The entries are different for different Transport Services and there is no simple way to edit from one to another. I have many hundreds of addresses for CompuServe Mail and I do not want to reenter them all. There is a similar problem with incompatibility between the Schedule + address book and the Exchange/Messaging address book. Graham Smith has written a very neat Macro for Word 7 using the Mail Merge facility which reads in a Schedule+ address list or an Access database and adds the contents to an Exchange/Messaging address book with the optional ability of carry out various manipulations on route. I have discovered that Word will read all but the notes field of an Exchange/Messaging database and export back to the Personal Address Book thus enabling me to make duplicate Internet Mail (SMTP) entries to those for CompuServe Mail. They still have a INTERNET:name@place format but that is much easier to edit. I have also contacted Graham with my findings and he has provided an extra subroutine for me to patch in which will cope with the removal of the INTERNET:. The Macro is available in a Word Template to downloaded from surprise, surprise, the Exchange Center. When you open the template all the instructions appear as a Word document in Word. It only works in Word 7 because it needs quite a lot of Word Basic calls not available in earlier versions.

Pipex versus CompuServe: I have started recommending Pipex highly to people thinking of getting onto Internet and making significant use of the WWW, in particular those needing to Email documents as binary attachments. I also know many others who are thinking of deserting CompuServe - at least one is currently running with MSN in parallel. The advantages I see are: CompuServe is however still a very cheap and viable entry point. Will I change myself? Still open because the main WWW use is by Pauline via the OU. I think yes but probably in a few months time when I have made proper preparations and have transfer plan in place - address books are only part of the story - there are also all the issues of the Web Site such as all the Search Engines I am registered with, Counters etc etc which will all make an interesting story. I will want to run some tests on the Search Engines to see if they are picking up my Meta Statements for indexing and how fast they find the new home page and those linked to it with and without registration

Thursday 19th December 1996

Changes required to existing Dial Up Network script files with Compuserve Interactive: I have just discovered that 2 of my old DUN connections have stopped working and now come back with an error in the script handler message. I have done some detective work and I find that I have a new CIS.scp file which must have been loaded by CSi. There are two differences I detect namely that there are now ,raw parameters after the text strings and also the text strings are all in "". The connection to Pipex is still working and that has all the text strings in "". I have modified the other scripts to have the generic form that follows:
proc main
   
   waitfor "ogin:"
   transmit $USERID ,raw
   transmit "^M"

   waitfor "assword: "
   transmit $PASSWORD ,raw
   transmit "^M"

   waitfor "otocol"
   transmit "ppp" ,raw
   transmit "^M"
  
endproc
They now work fine and my suspicion is that it is the enclosing of text strings in "" which is important and that an updated script handler has been loaded as part of CSi or the CSi service pack which I have now loaded. The script handler .dll is still from Microsoft but a more recent version and it seems that it is more demanding.

Part 1 (February - June 1996) || Part 2 (June - September 1996) || Part 3 (October 1996 - March 1997) || Part 4 (April 1997 - December 1997) || Part 5 (January 1998 - December 1998) || Part 6 (January - December 1999) || Part 7 (January 2000 - December 2001) || Part 8 (January 2002 - June 2003) || Part 9 (June 2003 - August 2003) || Part 10 (August 2003 - April 2007) || Part 11 (May 2007 - September 2007) || Part 12 (October 2007 -December 2007) || Part 13 (January 2008 - August 2008) || Part 14 (September 2008 -> June 2009) || Part 15 (July 2009 -> August 2009) || Part 16 (September 2009 -> December 2009) || Part 17  (January 2010 -> October 2010 ) || Part 18 (November 2010 -> December 2010) || Part 19 (January 2011 - September 2011) || Part 20 (October 2011 - March 2012) || Part 21 (April 2012 - July 2012) || Part 22 (August 2012 - September 2012 ) || Part 23 (October 2012 - December 2012) || Part 24 (January 2013 - December 2013) || Part 25 (January 2014 - December 2014 || Part 26 (January 2015 - December 2015 || Part 27 (January 2016 - October 2016) || Part 28 (November 2016 -> ) || Back to the home page

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Most recent significant revision: 27th April, 1997
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