Re: STC'S Electronic Bulletin Board

Subject: Re: STC'S Electronic Bulletin Board
From: David Hamilton <david -at- URSUS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1993 10:29:48 PDT

In message <9307072016 -dot- AA24635 -at- nova -dot- unix -dot- portal -dot- com> you write:

> I'm not sure to what it is that you refer. Do you mean that a bulletin
> board for the STC would be enough for a start? I agree that it would
> be great for a start.

No, the STC already has a bulletin board. It might be much more
effective if accessible through an 800 number, but that's a different
problem. My point was that any email and news capability would be a
significant improvement over the current situation.

> But is there a local service provider? Otherwise the STC has to face
> long distance calls to a location that has one. Those alone would
> be enough to jack the cost way up.

There are local providers.

> Moreover, those $25/hr that I've heard of usually come with something
> like 20hours of use. After that, there are further costs for time.

The services to which I have referred my clients do not charge hourly
use fees. The $25/month fee covers it all (email, news, FTP).

> But I'm not talking about a T1 here. I'm speaking of something like
> a 56 kps service. After that there are options like UUCP which are
> a lot cheaper, but not all mailers like the taste of UUCP mailers. Even
> if the STC decided to go with that option, service would be very slow
> were people on the internet community to take advantage of the service. My
> experience with UUCP solutions is that they work fine when running a
> small list of 40-60 people. But Internet lists need a lot more bandwidth
> to get mail out to everyone within a reasonable amount of time.

For some of the smaller clients ( < 100 employees using email and
news), I usually set up a UUCP system that has been configured to
always use domain addresses in both directions. I register a domain
for the client and mail is sent to them via user -at- domain -dot- com -dot- In this
way, the UUCP element is transparent and there need be no changes when
they grow large enough to justify a direct Internet connection. Email
is compressed and batched, so email throughput is a little more than
16MB/hour, using dialup UUCP.

Each person in the company has their email address and mail is
delivered to their local workstation (or POP server). There is also
and administrative account at the service provider, that can be used
to set up FTP directories, etc. Large mailing lists can be handled at
that level. This means that one copy of an out-going mail message is
sent to the mailing list at the service provider and is expanded
there. The return address is set to return to the client's local

> I'm not talking luxury so much as reasonable service.

I think what I have described is reasonable service. A side advantage
is that mail and news traffic statistics are captured and reported.
Thus, these clients know exactly how much bandwidth they are currently
using and the rate of growth. When it becomes more advantagious to
obtain a direct Internet connection, they will know about it six
months in advance and know exactly what throughput will be required.

> A T3 is a BMW. A 56 kps is more like a used Toyota. UUCP is a used
> Hyundai. The World, UUNET, and (I think) MCSNET donate system services
> and accounts to libraries and underfunded concerns right now. There
> are other services designed to help out small concerns, but not all
> of these have a gateway to the Internet. Moreover, I doubt that something
> like one of the above would see the STC as a worthy recipient of
> the largesse.

That is an interesting analogy. The system you characterize as a used
Hyundai can handle 388.8 MB/day over dialup lines. How much mail do
you think the STC is going to generate? My personal opinion is that
they don't have a clue. Again, my point is that any service is far
better than what they have now. Detailed reports will give them the
real data to justify the greater expenditures in future budget
periods, if they are needed. But waiting for the expensive options
does not help the membership or the STC's credibility.

> There are, however, system administrators who convince universities to
> let sponsor organizations on the Internet.

After thinking about it some more, I am convinced that you are
probably right. Since the STC is a non-profit organization, it would
be easy for them to convince a local university or service provider to
provide access for them. After all, if done properly, this service
provides a tax deduction for the provider. In fact, it should be so
easy, that it is truely amazing that it has not already happened. I
can only surmise that the STC has not been interested in pursuing

> I'm not convinced. Don't get me wrong -- I'd love to see it -- but I think
> it might be more expensive than you might believe. Sure, anyone can
> log into and establish an account within five minutes
> for $25 a month, but for the Richmond office to do that requires someone
> on-line during business hours. Long distance is not cheap.

So, choose not to be convinced - that is your right. I wasn't talking
about an account on world, or any of the other clones of well. I
wasn't talking about long distance phone charges.

> Even if STC were to use 14.4 modems, they'd still have to sort through
> messages which eats up time. And does the STC even have a 14.4 modem
> now? That's more money right there.

Ahhh... I think you might have hit the salient point. Reading email
takes time. Perhaps this is why they have chosen to ignore it?

> Assume that they were able to create a viable system for Internet access
> using remote or local providers. I can't see how Internet access and
> materials available via ftp would make that much of a difference
> in the membership. And even if that did, do you know the amount of dues
> that goes into a general expansion fund? Or do you know if dues are
> evenly sliced among member services? How many new members would
> increase the STC treasury by that much? I mean, with each new member,
> the STC also has a degree of cost involved. I don't know what that
> cost is, but I think it would be a good idea to know.

If the STC joins the current century and can be dragged (kicking and
screaming, I'm sure) away from their old Remington typewriters and
into the world in which their membership works, the word would get
around quickly and membership would grow. If they choose to apply a
part of that increased revenue toward provided increased services to
their membership, it would be easy for them to fund any requisite
upgrades. If they choose to do this, it will be easy. If they
choose to play politics and make excuses, they will be in the same
situation in which they find themselves right now.

What do you think would happen if a new organization was formed that
addressed the needs of the current STC membership? How long do you
think that the STC would remain viable if they continue to ignore
those members? Personally, I think it is just a matter of time.

David Hamilton david -at- ursus -dot- com
Ursus Information Technology, Inc. Santa Clara, CA

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