A Guide to OS/2 Warp's Internet Access Kit

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Reprint Courtesy of International Business Machines Corporation, © International Business Machines Corporation

Philip Lieberman
Lieberman and Associates
Beverly Hills, California

You hear about it everywhere - the Information Superhighway, also known as the Internet. With IBM's OS/2 Warp, you can get online on the Internet in just a few minutes. But be forewarned: the Internet is highly addictive - many people have been known to enter cyberspace and not want to leave (until they see their first phone bill).

This article gives you a quick guided tour of OS/2 Warp's Internet Access Kit (IAK), as well as some of the goodies on the Internet. If ever there was a killer application for OS/2, this is it!

The Internet is a loose confederation of systems and interconnected networks. Although originally designed for researchers and defense work, it has evolved into a worldwide network connecting literally millions of everyday users.

Because the Internet is not a commercial system controlled by one company or organization (the services are usually free), don't expect everything to always work. Sites are always going down and coming up; information sources are not complete; and sometimes you can't get there from here (because some sites may be unreachable)! But, for the most part, things work pretty well.

To get onto the Internet, you must either use an Internet service provider, or your organization must connect its network to the Internet. Because there is little or no security for Internet traffic, most organizations give their users limited Internet access. This limitation is necessary so that outside hackers cannot access or damage sensitive company information.

TCP/IP, SLIP, and PPP

Connecting to the Internet is pretty simple. The Internet uses transmission control protocol/internet protocol (TCP/IP) for all of its communications. If your organization is already connected to the Internet and is using TCP/IP, you are ready to go. If not, all is not lost—you can still access the full Internet by using a modem to dial an external Internet service provider.

There are two different protocols for establishing a TCP/IP connection over a serial modem. The first, and most popular serial connection protocol, is serial line internet protocol (SLIP). The other serial connection protocol is point-to-point protocol (PPP). PPP is a more modern protocol, but its current usage is limited.

SLIP is the default protocol used by the Internet Access Kit supplied with OS/2 Warp. The initial version of the Warp Internet Access Kit did not contain PPP support, but this protocol is now available as an update at no cost via file transfer protocol (FTP) or through the Software Update object provided with the IAK.

The Need for Speed

The dial-up connection to an Internet service provider is an amazing thing—in effect, you receive a temporary internet protocol (IP) address on the Internet that is as functional as any direct connection. But one downside to dial-up connections is their speed. Even using a 14.4 KBPS modem, you have to get used to long delays when downloading graphics or files. General response time to most requests is pretty good, however.

If speed is an issue but money is not, there are plenty of options. Digital ISDN (integrated-services digital network) terminal adapters, a step up from standard analog modems, provide 64 KBPS performance. Also, some service providers have leased-line telephone connections that offer 56 KBPS and T1 connections at much higher costs. These services provide Internet access to groups of users.

Internet Service Providers

When you first install the IAK, you can get up and running within minutes by using the built-in, one-button registration. This default registration sets up an account for you with the IBM Global Network (also known as Advantis in the US and other selected countries). There are many advantages to using IBM's own network, including:

  • Access from 700 cities
  • Access from 90+ countries
  • Toll-free, 800-number access (at extra cost)
  • 24-hour customer support

Although the IBM Global Network is the most convenient Internet service provider, it is not the least expensive. With the IAK, you can decide to use a local provider who may offer lower costs and/or higher speeds.

In the world of Internet, there are two basic types of accounts. Shell accounts give you terminal emulation on a UNIX machine. Many suppliers of shell accounts charge a fixed fee with unlimited connect time. The downside is the lack of a real TCP/IP connection, which means that shell accounts cannot use many Internet goodies, like Mosaic and graphics browsers, without a lot of hassles.

The other types of account, SLIP and PPP accounts, give you full TCP/IP capabilities, where your computer is a full node on the Internet. This type can exploit the full capabilities of the Internet. The downside of this account is the cost. Whereas the typical shell account usage per month is 10 to 20 hours, SLIP and PPP accounts use anywhere from 40 to 120 hours per month.

This high usage precludes offering unlimited use at a fixed price. Instead, SLIP and PPP accounts normally incur a fixed fee per month plus an hourly charge. IBM charges about $3.00 per hour. Although non-IBM providers may charge less per hour, they usually require account establishment fees, and they may offer only a limited number of nodes to connect to.

Don't forget that you also normally pay the telephone company for the call time. I discovered this last charge the hard way, when my monthly phone bill was over $100 because I did not connect to the closest IBM node.

The Registration Process

Getting your copy of IAK up and running is extremely simple:

  1. Install the Internet Access Kit from the IBM Warp BonusPak.
  2. Open the Internet Customer Services folder, and click on the Registration icon to start the Registration application.
  3. You then see the Internet registration screen (Figure 1). The only registration available in the initial IAK is for a personal account. To start the registration, simply click on the "Open a personal account..." option.
    Figure 1. Start Registration
  4. You now see the first of five information panels. The first displays the legal agreement. (You will read it word-for-word because you know you should.) To proceed to the next panel, just click on the OK button.
  5. The second panel (Figure 2) requests your account billing information and address. You must have a credit card to establish an account. The registration process even verifies that you give it a valid credit card number! After filling out this panel, click on the OK button to proceed to the next panel.
    Figure 2. Registration Pane, 2: Account Owner Information


    You can add more users to your account later, after your registration is completed and your account is established. These users are added in a slightly different manner from the registration process given here. Your additional users are given unique identities, but their connect time is billed to your account.
  6. To connect to the registration server, in the third panel (Figure 3) you must provide the type of modem, communication port, dial prefix (if needed), dial mode, and the proper phone number to use for your country. (Fortunately, this is a toll-free call in most countries.) To proceed to the next panel, click on the OK button.
    Figure 3. Registration Panel 3: Modem Configuration
  7. You must have a unique identity when using the Internet. This user ID is needed for sending or receiving e-mail, authenticating yourself to other systems, and more. The user ID, normally 5 to 7 characters in length, can be any name you wish, other than a name already taken by another user. To deal with this possibility, in the fourth panel (Figure 4) you are given three suggested choices that you may change. Once you are happy with your user ID selections, click on the OK button to proceed.
    Figure 4. Registration Panel 4: User ID Preferences

Up to now, you have only filled the information panels. During the actual registration, the registration server tries to give you your first choice of user ID. If it is unavailable, it then tries your second choice, then third choice. The user ID eventually selected by the registration server is reported at the end of the actual registration process. The name that is finally selected becomes part of your complete Internet address. For example, my first choice was the name lanicu. This choice was accepted, and my full address on the Internet became lanicu@ibm.net when the registration was completed.

  1. You are now ready to submit your Internet account request. In the fifth panel, select the "Send registration to IBM" button. Be patient - this step takes a few minutes.
  2. When the registration finishes, you see a series of very important panels. The information from these panels must be transcribed to paper and kept in a secure place. The information includes your user ID and e-mail address plus the following confidential information:
    • Account number, used for billing
    • Account name, normally usinet for customers in the US
    • Account owner, the name used for billing
    • Password, which you should change to something you can remember

If you have problems with your account, you will need to know your user ID, account name, and possibly your account number. All of this information (except for the password) is contained in the Settings notebook of the user ID object on the desktop. Figure 5 shows my identity page after opening my Settings notebook.

Figure 5. LANICU User ID Settings Notebook

Getting Online for the First Time

Your Internet connection starts with the Internet Dialer, found in the "IBM Internet Connection for OS/2" folder. When you open the Dialer icon, you see the dialer screen in Figure 6.

Figure 6. IBM Internet Dialer Application

Updating Your Phone Number List

As part of your initial registration, IBM has already selected a local phone number for you. But watch out—it may not be your most economical phone number. To specify your local phone number, you will have to change the "Primary phone number" and possibly get a more up-to-date phone list, using the steps given below.

To update the phone list:

  1. You must already be logged on to the Internet (using whatever phone number has been initially assigned to you) to get a new phone list.
  2. Click on the Settings icon in the Internet Dialer window.
  3. Click on the "Download phone list..." button.
  4. In the dialog box, select the check box marked "Phone list."
  5. Click on the Download button. You will get a notification when the update has been completed.
  6. Close the notebook if you are done, or change the Primary or Backup phone number.

To change the phone number used for Internet access:

  1. Click on the Settings icon in the Internet Dialer window.
  2. Click on the "Primary phone number" drop-down list button.
  3. Select a phone number.
  4. Close the notebook.

Once you have the updated phone list, you will want to log off, find the nearest number from this new list, and log on again.

Here is how to log on.

  1. Click on the Dial icon, found in the Internet Dialer window, to start the connection sequence.
  2. You see the Connection Login panel (Figure 7). In this panel, most of the information should already be filled in for you. The only piece of information normally needed is the password. If you log into a friend's computer, modify the user ID and put in your personal password.
    Figure 7. Connection Login Panel

The Connection Login panel is fun to watch. You can see the entire login process graphically. To see the gruesome details of the login, you can look at the listbox for the dialer (which is usually obscured by the login panel). Figure 8 illustrates a typical login dialog.

Figure 8. Login Dialog Listbox

The contents of Figure 8 may seem like gibberish, but there is important information here if you find that some of the services in the IAK are not working right. For example, you will have problems if any of the following servers used by the IAK are not functioning correctly:

Network Servers:

  • Domain-name server (DNS), which converts names to IP addresses.
  • FTP server, which is needed for code refreshes and software updates.
  • Registration server, which handles initial user registration, adding and deleting user IDs, and changing passwords.
  • Configuration server, which (at login) looks up the names and locations of the application servers.

There are backups for all of these servers.

Application Servers:

  • Mail server (POP server), which holds your incoming mail when you are not logged on.
  • SMTP server, which directs your outgoing mail to its proper destinations.
  • WWW server, the World-Wide Web server that contains the default home page for the IBM Global Network.
  • Gopher server, the IBM Global Network gopher information server.
  • News server, which enables you to participate in Usenet discussion groups on the Internet.

By looking at the names and functions of the servers just listed, you can get a good idea of which features will not work properly if one of the network or application servers is not functional. For example, overall IAK function is limited when the domain-name server or configuration server is not functioning at login. If you see that these servers are not working, it is best to log off, wait a while for these servers to come up, then try again.

Using Non-IBM Internet Service Providers

Using a non-IBM Internet service provider is not a complex process. In essence, you need to obtain the addresses for the application and network servers provided by your supplier. The supplier should also give you a set of internet protocol (IP) addresses for both your account and the service provider. Of course, you are also given a user ID, password, e-mail address, provider name, and a telephone number to call for your connection. Setting this up is simple:

  1. Open the Internet Utilities folder, and start the "Dial other Internet providers" application.
  2. Next, you see a panel that lets you select the supplier you want. To do this, click on the "Add Provider" button.
  3. You are then asked to fill in four panels with the information supplied by your Internet service provider. The first panel is shown in Figure 9.
    Figure 9. Other Providers Panel 1: Provider Information

    The only unusual things in this panel are the Nickname and Login Script fields. The nickname is just a name that you make up for the serial connection to this supplier. The login script is the location of either an ASCII file or a REXX procedure that your supplier has provided to handle the logon to his system.
    The ASCII file contains commands to be sent and responses that are expected. It is used when all of the logon information remains unchanged. You can find a copy of sample ASCII response files in the directory \TCPIP\ETC in the files RSAS.RSP, SAMPLE.RSP, DEMON.RSP, and JVNCNET.RSP. You must modify these files to use them. The name of the modified file to be used is placed in the Login Script field.
    If you need to deal with more dynamic login situations, a series of sample REXX scripts can be found in the subdirectory \TCPIP\BIN in the files ANNEX.CMD, CYBERNET.CMD, and TDC.CMD. As with the ASCII file, you place the name of the modified REXX script plus its parameters into the Login Script field. For example, for the ANNEX.CMD script, you insert the entry ANNEX.CMD atdtX-XXX-XXX-XXXX into the Login Script field. Check each REXX script for its specific command-line requirements. When you complete this panel, click the Next button to go to the second panel.
  4. The second panel (Figure 10) and subsequent panels request configuration information that only your Internet service provider can furnish.
    Figure 10. Other Providers Panel 2: Connection Information

The second panel first requests the IP address of your computer and the Internet provider. Depending on whether your Internet supplier is using subnets, you may be required to enter a subnet Netmask.

The MTU size defines the maximum size of a packet on your network. The default is 1006, but some Internet suppliers may use a different number (usually smaller for quicker error detection and correction) for their SLIP and PPP connections. VJ Compression controls whether or not your supplier is using Van Jacobson header compression (the normal setting is ON or checked). The domain-name server is needed to find IP addresses by a computer's name. The host name is the name of your computer for the domain-name server, and the domain name is the Internet name of your service supplier's network. Note: When using IBM's own Internet access network, the approach to this and the remaining panels is very simple: you don't have to worry about it. The IP addresses are picked up at login as part of the handshaking. The name of the domain-name server and its backup are already in the RESOLV file preloaded on your computer. The remaining addresses are provided by checking with the IBM configuration server. IBM did a very nice job of making the configuration management as simple as possible. Once you have completed this panel, click the Next button to proceed to the third panel. The third panel (Figure 11) requests optional address information about your news, gopher, WWW, and mail servers. Again, all of this information is supplied by your Internet service provider.

Figure 11. Other Providers Panel 3: Server Information

The only required pieces of information are the addresses of your mail servers. The rest of the addresses are needed only if you want to use the listed Internet services (more about these later). With this panel completed, click the Next button to move to the last panel. The last panel (Figure 12) asks for information about your modem. This panel should be set for your type of modem, as well as its top baud rate for PC-to-modem communications.

Figure 12. Other Providers Panel 4: Modem Information

Some modems are capable of significant data compression. If your modem has data compression, you might want to move the speed all the way up to 38,400 BPS. But if your computer experiences problems when running at this speed (you must have a 16550 buffered serial chip to go above 9600 BPS), try reducing the speed. When everything has been filled in, click on the OK button.

Now you are ready to try your setup. To dial the just-added provider, select the provider from the list and click on the Dial icon. You see a status listbox, which shows you the progress of the login process.

If everything goes right, you should see a confirmation in the Current Connection status area. We had some problems with the user ID not being processed correctly. After deleting the user ID and entering it again, it worked. We also had to add carriage returns to some of the entries (use ^M). Once we got it all right, it worked great.

Using the Internet

This section looks at the most popular utilities on the Internet:

  • FTP-PM—File Transfer Protocol-Presentation Manager, which gets files from all over the world
  • Telnet, a terminal emulator over TCP/IP (VT100) for using remote hosts
  • TN3270, an IBM 3270 terminal emulator over a TCP/IP connection
  • NewsReader/2, which allows you to read and write messages to over 7,000 forums
  • WebExplorer, a facility (also known as Mosaic) for viewing Internet graphic hypertext pages
  • Gopher, an information exploration tool
  • Ultimedia Mail/2 Lite, an e-mail package
  • Retrieve Software Updates, a program that enables you to get the most recent versions of IAK components

Let's start by discussing the last item, Retrieve Software Updates.

Retrieve Software Updates

If you are tired of poor product support from PC software vendors, get ready for a very pleasant surprise. IBM is constantly improving the IAK package, and you can receive free updates using the Retrieve Software Updates program (LINKUP.EXE). This utility connects you to IBM's special update server and presents you with a list of new software that is available for immediate download.

The amazing thing about the update process is your ability to retrieve literally megabytes of data in the background while you are working with other systems on the Internet. This is accomplished by the SLIP or PPP connection and the multitasking within OS/2.

The process of obtaining updates is as simple as it can be:

  1. Start the Retrieve Software Updates program from the "IBM Internet Connection for OS/2" folder.
  2. Select an item to be updated (Figure 13).
  3. Click on the Install button.

That's it! When the download finishes, you see a popup screen signaling completion. If you want to update another component, just select it and repeat the process. When all of the updates have been completed, you should disconnect from the Internet, then shut down and restart OS/2.

Figure 13. Retrieve Software Updates Screen

FTP-PM

If you are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest software, the Internet is a great place to find it. The most common way of sending and receiving files via the Internet is to use a special program and its protocol, both known as File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

The computers that provide file upload and download facilities are known as FTP sites. Getting into an FTP site to download files varies by the type of site from which you are requesting access. Many FTP sites are open to everybody, and they simply ask yo u to log on under the user name of anonymous with a password consisting of your e-mail ID (for example, my ID is lanicu@ibm.net). Sites that are open and only require a user ID of anonymous are aptly called anonymous FTP sites.

Once you log into an FTP site, you will immediately become overwhelmed with the variety of file names. To get a description of the files in a particular directory, you should first download the text file 00INDEX.TXT from that directory. This index file contains all of the file names and a short description of their function or contents.

There are a few "gotchas" in using FTP.

First, you must know the type of data you are moving. FTP operates in either binary or ASCII mode. If you are moving text files, you should use ASCII mode. On the other hand, if you want to move programs, you must use binary mode.

Another potential problem is the file names themselves. Most FTP sites use either a UNIX computer or an OS/2 computer running the High-Performance File System (HPFS). It is common to have file names on FTP sites that don't conform to the File Allocation Table (FAT) 8.3 file naming rule. Consequently, during the transfer process you are given the option of specifying the name of the file on your end (known as the local host file name), as well as the name of the FTP site (known as the remote host file name). A word of warning: some FTP sites may refuse to take a file name with all capital letters for upload. Also, you must correctly type the case of filename(s) th at you want to retrieve (i.e., 00INDEX.TXT is not the same file as 00index.txt).

Finally, if you have worked with UNIX and OS/2, you know that path names in DOS and OS/2 use the backslash (\) to separate path entries, whereas UNIX uses the forward slash (/) to separate path entries.

Getting to Hobbes

For OS/2 users, there are many different sites you can access to retrieve software. By far, the most popular anonymous FTP site for OS/2 software is the Hobbes site at hobbes.nmsu.edu.

Two programs do FTP transfers in the IAK. The first is FTP.EXE. This program operates in either an OS/2 full-screen or OS/2 window session. To use FTP.EXE to get a file from the Hobbes site, do the following:

  1. Open an OS/2 window session.
  2. Type FTP to start the FTP program. The remaining steps omit mention of the key. Type OPEN hobbes.nmsu.edu to connect to the Hobbes site. Type anonymous (the user id). For the password, type your e-mail address. Type cd /os2/32bit/network to switch to the directory of Internet tools. Type binary to enter binary transfer mode. Type hash to provide the # mark for each 8 KB of data. This gives a visual cue to gauge the speed of the download. Type get to start a file-transfer dialog. Type whois.zip to specify the name of the file to download from the remote host. Type whois.zip once again, to specify the name of the file to write on your computer. Type quit to close the FTP program and connection after the transfer completes. Note: "Whois" lets you find "who is" the administrator of an Internet site - a handy tool when you are having difficulties connecting to a remote system. Try typing whois advantis.com.

Creating a Graphical FTP-PM Icon

An easier way to accomplish all of this is to use the graphical version of FTP.EXE. Let's begin by creating an FTP-PM object on your desktop, with all of the proper settings for connecting to the Hobbes FTP site.

  1. In the IAK folder, open the Application Templates folder by clicking on its icon.
  2. Use the right mouse button to drag a copy of the FTP-PM object into the IAK folder.
  3. Fill in the Hostname field with hobbes.nmsu.edu.
  4. Select the Authentication tab on the notebook and fill out the fields as follows: User: anonymous Password: (your e-mail ID) Account: (leave blank)
  5. Select the Option tab on the notebook and change the Transfer Type to Binary.
  6. Select the General tab and change the Title from FTP-PM to Hobbes FTP Site.
  7. Close the notebook. You should now see the Hobbes Site icon on your desktop.

Using the Just-Created FTP-PM Icon

Aren't you glad you have to create an icon only once for each FTP site? Now comes the fun part.

To get into the Hobbes site, all you have to do is start the just-created icon. When the connection has been made (sometimes it won't complete because the Hobbes FTP site is so heavily used), you see the initial screen at the Hobbes site (Figure 15).

Figure 15. Initial Hobbes Site Screen

Let's try to download a file. A good file to download is the OS/2 Archie program (which you can use to find the location of files on the Internet).

  1. Change the current directory field on the remote host to /os2/32bit/network.
  2. Scroll down the list of files on the remote host until you find the file archie.zip.
  3. To copy the file, just put the pointer on the file name, hold down the right mouse button, and drag the file to the Files listbox. Release the button to start the transfer.
  4. You get a confirmation message regarding the transfer. Just confirm the transfer.

That's all there is to doing a file transfer!

You can also transfer files using the "Get remote files..." entry in the Files pull-down menu or use the Ctrl+G hot-key sequence.

Telnet

The standard terminal for most UNIX systems is the venerable VT100 manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). In early UNIX computers, lots of these terminals were hooked up to a single computer using serial lines. During the development of TCP/IP, a special terminal emulation protocol was developed. Known as Telnet, it allows the TCP/IP protocol to carry the VT100 terminal communications between a host computer and a terminal.

The Telnet emulator within IAK gives you this same emulation capability. The IAK Telnet emulator can emulate more than a simple VT100 - it can also emulate ANSI, HFT, VT220, NVT, and a default (TCP/IP negotiates the best emulator).

You use the Telnet program to log in (as a dumb terminal) to remote computers. You cannot transfer files - that's what FTP is for - and the interface is text-only. But you can communicate with a wide variety of host systems this way.

Before I give you the details about accessing the following systems, you need to know that it is possible for some users to monitor your transactions on the Internet if they are connected to one of the Internet backbone segments. Consequently, you might want to only use Telnet for internal systems (not on Internet) or on Telnet systems that don't require a password that might be intercepted. Before you write off Telnet as an access method for the Internet, you should know that the possibility of someone a ctually intercepting your password is extremely low, but it is possible.

You can use the Telnet emulator two ways. First, you can start the Telnet program from the Internet Utilities folder. The program prompts you for the host name and port address of the system to which you want to connect. The other way is to drag out the Telnet object from the Application Templates folder and fill out the settings in the notebook.


Trying Out Telnet

  1. Open up the Internet Utilities folder and start the Telnet program.
  2. You are prompted for a host name. Enter bbs.isca.uiowa.edu. This is the biggest and most popular BBS on the Internet. If you cannot get through on this address, try whip.icsa.uiowa.edu. No port address is required.
  3. When you get to the logon screen, enter as Login name guest.

Telnet to X-Windows: The Next Generation?

The next generation of terminal emulation is known as X-Windows. Although the IAK does not include the X-Windows emulator, you can purchase it from IBM as an extra-cost item. This terminal emulator allows you to create client/server graphical user interface (GUI) applications over TCP/IP. Because of the speed limitations of the Internet, as well as the limited speed of the modem connection, the X-Windows emulator's performance may be slow.

TN3270

Yes, you can get to SNA resources via the Internet. TN3270 is a special version of Telnet that knows how to talk EBCDIC instead of ASCII. The setup and operation of TN3270 are identical to Telnet's.

For fun, try using the TN3270 template to create a new TN3270 emulator. For the address of a TCP/IP-to-SNA host, try using tcpgate.advantis.com for your host name; no port address is needed. When you start this emulator, you see the "Welcome to IBMLink" screen.

If you are a member of the IBM Technical Coordinator Program, you will recognize this as the initial screen you see when logging on to IBMLink and OS2BBS1. If you have an IBMLink account, you can go ahead and log in.

NewsReader/2

This is the infinite time sink I warned you about at the beginning of this article. There are an almost infinite number of topic forums, called newsgroups, covering just about everything under the sun (and even things that probably should not see the light of day). For an excellent overview of Usenet (the name of the Internet network of newsgroup servers), read The Internet Complete Reference by Harley Hahn and Rick Stout, published in 1994 by Osborne McGraw-Hill, Berkeley, CA, ISBN 0-07-881980-6. Some of the popular hierarchies (sections with many subsections) in Usenet are listed in below..

alt
Alternative newsgroups (unconventional topics - anyone can start a topic here)
bionet
Biology
bit
Topics from Bitnet mailing lists
biz
Business, marketing, advertisements — commercial part of Internet
comp
Computers
ddn
Defense Data Network—military
gnu
Free Software Foundation — maker of GNU
ieee
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
k12
Education topics from grades K through 12
misc
Topics that don't fit in another category, but not weird stuff like alt
news
Discussions about Usenet newsgroups themselves
rec
Recreation, hobbies, and the arts
sci
Science
soc
Social topics
talk
Debating section

There are also hierarchies based on geography and organizations. An example of such a newsgroup is la.eats, which deals with restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

The first time you start your NewsReader/2, there is no newsgroups file containing the complete list of newsgroups. As part of its initial startup, NewsReader/2 asks if you want the complete newsgroups list loaded from the newsgroup server. After answering Yes, you are presented with the list in Figure 16.

Figure 16. NewsReader/2 Group List Panel

As you can see, you can read and send comments to 7,270 different newsgroups (the number as of late December) that are stored on the IBM Internet Usenet news server. Some Usenet news servers may carry more or fewer newsgroups.

Rather than scan through this entire list, you can either use the Find option in the Search pull-down menu, or type Ctrl+F, to select the topics in which you are interested. To find the newsgroups dealing with OS/2, specify the search parameter as OS2 (no slash). After you press Enter, the search begins and finds the first newsgroup with OS2 in its name. If you want to add that newsgroup to the list of newsgroups that you read regularly, just double-click on it, or use the Add option on the Action pull-down menu.

Since there are many different OS/2 forums dealing with a wide variety of topics, you can search for the next "OS2" entry by using the accelerator key (Ctrl+N). To add the next newsgroup, repeat the selection/double-click operation. When you have completed adding the entries in which you are interested, you will see them listed in the main panel (Figure 17).

Figure 17. NewsReader/2 Newsgroup List

To select a newsgroup, simply double-click on the group in which you are interested. You will experience a delay while the NewsReader/2 program loads the current articles. When the loading has completed, you then see the Article List (Figure 18).

Figure 18. NewsReader/2 Article List

In the Article List, you see each message's number, topic, originator, and its number within that topic of discussion. To read a message, double-click on the entry. I want to read about the closing of a famous restaurant known as Chasen's, so I double-click on that entry. After a few moments, the article appears. If I want to reply to this article, I use the Reply option in the Actions pull-down menu.

Warning: The default behavior of the NewsReader/2 application is to copy in the original article (the one to which you are replying), and to place the cursor at the end for your comments. Although this is handy, NewsReader/2 does not send your reply unless it is longer than the text of the original article, which is not likely. Therefore, to ensure that your reply is sent, you have to delete most of the original article.

If you want to create a new thread of discussion, you can create it by using the Post option in the Actions pull-down menu, found in either the main window or the window of an open newsgroup.

New Groups

Almost every time you start up the NewsGroup/2 reader, there are new newsgroups. Figure 19 shows a popup window containing the list of the new newsgroups.

Figure 19. New Newsgroups

If you want to add one or more of these entries, just double-click on it to add it to your list. Then, every time you start NewsReader/2, you see the most recent articles that you have not yet read.

Because new newsgroups are added so frequently, every week NewsReader/2 asks you if you want to refresh the entire list of newsgroups. If you select Yes, be prepared to wait several minutes, because there are thousands of newsgroups!

WebExplorer

The most intriguing application in the Internet Access Kit is the WebExplorer. This program allows you to navigate through a series of servers known as web sites.

When you start the WebExplorer application, you are presented with the IBM home page, the first page that is downloaded after the program starts and connects to the IBM Web Server (Figure 20). From here, you can navigate within the pages of the IBM web site, or you can jump to other web sites and their pages. To switch to another site or to another page, move your mouse pointer over text or graphics on the currently visible page. If the text or graphics is a link to another place on the web, the pointer changes to a small page with an arrow above it.

Figure 20. IBM Home Page

For example, by selecting the Worldwide Reference Library from the home page and then selecting the Jet Propulsion Lab entry, you move to the JPL home page.

If you want to go back a level, click on the left arrow near the top of the window. You can return to the home page by repeatedly pressing the left arrow (back) key.

If someone gives you a path to their WWW, web, or Mosaic address, you can get there by typing their address into the address field immediately below the icon bar. For example, suppose you get the address of http://www.earthlink.net. To get to that page, enter the string http://www.earthlink.net into the path entry field (Figure 21). After the page has loaded, you should see the Earthlink web page.

Figure 21. Web Path

Gopher

With the gopher application, you can quickly search through vast areas of the Internet. The types of information you can retrieve vary. You can retrieve files (FTP), log into remote systems (Telnet), or view graphics (like WebExplorer).

When you start the gopher application, you see a window like the one in Figure 22. By double-clicking on an entry, you can follow the trail of gopher servers.

Figure 22. Gopher Opening Window

The range of information available via gopher is mind numbing. I was able to log into San Francisco State University and find the name of a physics professor from whom I took classes many moons ago. I was even able to see the midterm grades for some of the classes in the current semester (ouch!). There are all sorts of gopher servers - the list is extremely long. The best advice is to just explore the world of gopher.

Ultimedia Mail/2 Lite

E-mail has been the central feature in the Internet since its inception. The e-mail package that comes with the IAK, Ultimail/2 Lite, is impressive, allowing you to send and receive not only text, but also binary data, as part of your e-mail messages. It has a very nice name-and-address book (with both user and groups), as well as a multilevel filing system of incoming and outgoing messages.

Sending E-Mail

Sending e-mail is very simple. After opening the Ultimedia Mail/2 'Lite' folder, you are presented with the window in Figure 23.

Figure 23. Ultimedia Mail/2 'Lite' Folder

Next, double-click on the New Letter object. You will see a window for creating your message. You must fill out the e-mail address in the "To:" field, as well as the subject. You can customize the signature line at the end of the message using the "Settings..." option in the Letter pull-down menu. Once you are happy with your message, click on the Send icon.

After the message has been sent to the Internet mail server, you will receive a message acknowledgement popup window. (This may take a few minutes to appear.) In case the message could not be sent, it will be queued for transmission when you next log on to the Internet.

Receiving E-Mail

Receiving e-mail is as simple as double-clicking on the In-basket icon. This starts the e-mail receive program, which logs into the POP mail server run by IBM. Once the program validates your account and password with the mail server, your mail is retrieved.

An Amazing Package

The Internet Access Kit is quite a package. The software, though very powerful, is easy to use. All of the Internet components are there: FTP, Telnet, TN3270, WebExplorer, and e-mail. Because the IAK uses a SLIP or PPP connection with a preemptive, priority-based operating system — OS/2 — you can literally run as many copies of these applications as you wish, at the same time. If you wonder where components like Archie or "whois?" are, the answer is just a quick FTP to Hobbes to pick them up — plus even more.

I have used the IAK daily since its release. It is extremely well-done software. If you have never thought seriously about OS/2, just load it so that you can use the IAK! As soon as you start to use the package, you'll probably say the same thing I said when I first used the IAK - "This is amazing!"