Classic Computer Magazine Archive A.N.A.L.O.G. ISSUE 79 / DECEMBER 1989 / PAGE 30

Database DELPHI

Speaking the Lingo: A Newcomer's Guide to
"Conference Code"

by Michael Banks

Make the DELPHI connection

    As a reader of ST-LOG, you are entitled to take advantage of a special DELPHI membership offer. For only $19.95, plus shipping and handling ($30 off the standard membership price!), you will receive a lifetime supscription to DELPHI, a copy of the 500-page DELPHI: The Official Guide by Michael A. Banks, and a credit equal to one free evening hour at standard connect rates. Almost anyone worldwide can access DELPHI (using Tymnet, Telenet or other networking services) via a local telephone call.

1. Dial 617-576-0862 with any terminal or PC and modem (at 2400 bps, dial 576-2981).
2. At the Username prompt, type JOINDELPHI.
3. At the Password prompt, enter STLOG.
For more information, call DELPHI Member Services at 1-800-544-4005, or at 617-491-3393 from within Massachusetts or from outside the U.S.
DELPHI is a service of General Videotex Corporation of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

If you've participated in a real-time conference in the Atari ST SIG or Atari Users' Group (or anywhere else on DELPHI), you may well have found yourself a bit confused by some odd words scrolling across your screen. "Btw," for instance, or "ga." While they may look like typographical errors, they really do have meaning in the special context of conference.
    Hopefully, you didn't give up and leave because you didn't understand these cryptic words; but if you did, take heart-they're not that difficult to comprehend. In fact, most are merely acronyms ("btw" stands for "by the way," and "ga" stands for "go ahead"). The odd words (and symbols) have evolved to accommodate faster communication. (Some have been adapted from old telegraph or teletype communications conventions; "ga" is one.)
    Here's a glossary of the "conference codes" you're likely to encounter:
    BRB-"Be right back." Used when someone leaves his or her computer for a moment or enters Mail from Conference, so that others in the conference will not expect responses from that person. Also used when one leaves a conference temporarily.
    BTW-"By the way." Used as you would use it in conversation.
    GA-"Go ahead." This is usually used after someone has typed several lines that continue a thought (using ". . .") to indicate that he or she has finished the thought. Also used by one or more conference participants when several people type at once, to defer to another person's comments.
    IMHO (or IMO)-"In my humble opinion." (Watch out. Someone's dragging out a soapbox when IMHO prefaces a sentence!)
    LOL-"Lots of laughter" or "Laughing out loud."
    OTF-"On the floor." The ultimate indicator of laughter.
    ... (three periods)-Typed at the end of a line to indicate that the speaker will continue his or her thought with the next line.
    < GRIN > -Just what it says, but note that it is enclosed by greater-than/less-than symbols as sort of a cue that you should visualize what the symbols enclose.
    <g>-Short for < GRIN > .
    < SMILE >-(Same comments as for <GRIN >.)
    In addition to the abbreviations, you'll also see some cryptic "symbols" that aren't acronyms. These are "ASCII graphics," used to represent facial expressions and thoughts. Here are the basic ones:


    The first symbol represents a smile (turn the magazine one quarter-turn clockwise if you don't see it). The second is a smile with a wink. The third is a frown or a sad or disapproving face.
    Finally, people in a conference with two or more others will often use two dashes and a greater-than symbol (-->), or two greater-than symbols (> >) followed by a name to indicate that the comment that follows is directed to a specific person. For example, if I were online and wanted to direct a comment to someone named RESNICK, I would type:
followed by my comment.
    And now you're an expert on the verbal shorthand used to make online real-time communication easier. Be aware, however, that new codes are popping up every month. Some catch on, and some don't-but don't be afraid to ask if you don't understand.

Just the FAX
    There, I did it! I promised myself that I'd never use that cliche, but what the heck. (For those of you under age 30 or who don't watch reruns of old TV shows, "Just the FAX" is a takeoff on a favorite phrase used by Sgt. Joe Friday [Jack Webb] on the old Dragnet TV series; when investigating a case, Friday was frequently forced to shut down overly excited witnesses with the phrase, "Just the facts, ma'am.")
    Now that I've satisfied the irresistible urge to use that cliche, let's talk about FAX. Have you been embarrassed by friends, clients or business associates asking you to "FAX it to me?" Have you thought about investing in a good FAX machine but can't justify it? Do you really want to clutter your desk with another piece of hardware'?
    If you have a computer and modem (and you do if you're on DELPHI), you don't have to worry about the answers to those questions, thanks to DELPHI's FAX service. You can now send text-only documents to any Group 3 FAX machine in the world (which is to say, virtually any FAX machine) as easily as you send E-mail
    FAX service is available on the DELPHI Mail menu (which is different from the Mail menu that you see if you type MAIL at the menu in the Atari Users' Group or Atari ST SIG. To reach the DELPHI Mail menu, type DELPHI at the SIG menu (or type MAIL at DELPHI's main menu). This menu is displayed:

MAIL Menu:

FAX Service
Mail (Electronic)
Scan for New messages

DMAIL>(Mail, FAX, Telex, Trans):

Translation Services

    As you can see, the menu also offers gateways to regular E-mail (the "Mail [Electronic]" selection) and other services.

What Kinds of FAX Messages Can I Send?
    DELPHI's FAX service is very accommodating. You can send FAX messages that you compose online or documents that you've previously uploaded to your personal Workspace. (Being able to send a Workspace file from Workspace means that you can also send the document as E-mail and/or a Telex-or resend it to other FAX machines litter.)
    FAX messages should be no wider than 80 columns. There is no limit on the size of' a message (the number of lines it contains). Uploaded messages must be in 7-bit ASCII fiormat to be sent. (Use your word processor's "print to disk" or ASCII-save function or a file-conversion utility to produce 7-bit ASCII files.) You cannot send graphics or binary files of any kind.
    If you want to insert page breaks in a message, type /PAGE on a line by itself at the beginning of the message and type /PAGE again wherever you want a page break. (Page breaks can be included in a message you are typing online or in a document you are creating with your word processor.)

How It's Done
    All you have to do to send a FAX message is have the destination number(s) ready and upload the message to be sent to your Workspace (or know what you're going to type online). Then type FAX at the DELPHI Mail menu.
    DELPHI guides you through the entire process with easy-to-follow prompts. You can send the same message to multiple FAX machines by entering multiple phone numbers at the appropriate prompts. (FAX destination numbers must include the area code and phone number. In the case of messages outside the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean, you must include the country code, city code and telephone number.) You can abort the process at any time by entering AC.

What Does it Cost?
    The rates for sending FAX messages are generally a lot less than you'll pay at a walkin FAX service center (such as those found in some office supply and computer stores).
    FAX messages are measured in pages and half-pages. A FAX page contains 2,500 characters; a half-page contains 1,250 characters. Messages are also billed by pages and half-pages, as shown in Table 1.

sent to:        
United States
for the
first page:
Cost for each

Table 1

    If you send a FAX to more than one number, multiply the total page/half-page charge for the message by the number of destination numbers.

How Do I Know if It Got There?
    If you send a FAX message and it is not delivered, you will get an E-mail message automatically at no charge. If you want to be notified that a message did arrive, you can receive such notification for an extra charge of 40¢ per message (the notification will arrive in the form of an E-mail message, advising you of the date and time the FAX message was delivered).

Why Should 1 use DELPHI for FAX Delivery?
    If you send only text FAX messages, DELPHI's FAX service is the way to go. The cost is reasonable-even attractive-considering the fact that you don't have to invest hundreds (or thousands) of dollars in a dedicated FAX machine. DELPHI FAX also offers these advantages:
    * You don't have to print out and scan a message to send it; you can send it directly from your computer.
    * You can send the same message to one or more FAX, Telex and/or E-mail destinations.
    * You don't have to learn how to use a FAX machine.
    DELPHI FAX is equally attractive to those who need to send only occasional FAX messages as well as high-volume FAX senders.

Games, Games, Games
    DELPHI's real-time online games continue to draw big crowds. Monday night is Fliplt! night. Each game played on Monday night builds a jackpot that is divided among the top finishers in each of three categories: best on 8-by-8 board, best on 10-by-10 board and best overall. Type ENT FLIP to check it out and try your hand.
    Thursday nights are poker nights. From 9 p.m. to 12 midnight, poker players take part in tournaments in which they can earn free time. All players start with $1,000 in poker "chips" and can use the money to play five-card and seven-card stud. The player with the biggest pot at the end of the last game wins $30 in free time on DELPHI. Other prizes are awarded as well. You can practice and hone your poker skills at any time by typing ENT POKER at the DELPHI Main Menu.
    That's it for now. See you in conference! (Tuesday evening, 10:00 p.m., Eastern time. Be there, or be an obtuse rectangle!)

    In addition to science-fiction novels and books on model rocketry and other topics, Michael A. Banks is the author of DELPHI: The Official Guide and The Modem Reference, both from Brady Books. You can write to him via E-mail on DELPHI to membername KZIN.