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Old 31 January 2020, 10:56   #1
Lasix
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New dial-up Amiga BBS online!

Dial-Up Nights is a new dial-up only bulletin board, running Max's BBS on native Amiga NG hardware.

The 'beta' version of the board is open 9pm - 6 am, and 24 hours at the weekends (UK time).
(The plan is to increase to 24/7, depending on demand.)

Amiga and general message banks, files. Door games to come.

Call tonight! 0208 363 3637

How?
You will need a landline and a dial-up modem to connect, as well as a way of connecting the modem to your computer.
On an original Amiga*, this is easy as you have a serial port. Simply dust off your (or buy another) serial modem, connect
one end to the Amiga's serial port, the other to your phone line, and you're good to go. NComm is a good free
terminal package - just enter the number into the dialer and you will connect.

Why?
Telnet would be easier...if you have an Amiga with internet. For all of those with original machines though, perhaps
with a landline (and even better a free calls package), I think this is just crying out for some traditional dial-up
action. And for me, dial-up has a certain magic. Plus, it's rather cool to be connecting to other machines and
communities, completely outside of the internet.

* N.b. On NG machines, you will need a USB to RS232 adaptor. You might have some luck with USB modems, but I didn't. However,
a PL2303 chipset USB adaptor works well on MorphOS and gives you the serial port you need. I struggled to get NComm's
fonts to work (weird overlapping problem) but Termite works well. Term also works, but freezes. Not sure about OS 4
or Aros.
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Old 31 January 2020, 14:15   #2
Phantasm
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Always interested in any new BBS's but dialup, thats pretty crazy


I presume that number is for the UK?
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Old 31 January 2020, 14:35   #3
Lasix
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Sorry - UK number. +44 for people calling internationally.

I've dropped home internet - for productivity reasons. It's great - but it's got me back into dial-up BBSing
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Old 31 January 2020, 14:59   #4
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Sorry - UK number. +44 for people calling internationally.

I've dropped home internet - for productivity reasons. It's great - but it's got me back into dial-up BBSing

I was under the impression that modem's didn't work very well with typical digital phone lines that everyone has these days.
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Old 02 February 2020, 10:53   #5
Lasix
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I’ve heard that too. Haven’t experienced any problems myself though. There are a lot of faxes still in operation, which work on similar principles (I suppose lost bits of data translated onto paper is less problematic than lost bits of a file, however). But anyway - I haven’t noticed any issues.

Give us a call!
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Old 02 February 2020, 11:45   #6
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They are trying to phase out copper lines over here at the end of the year? What about for you guys in the .UK?
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Old 02 February 2020, 16:40   #7
Lasix
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Haven’t heard a timescale as tight as that. I dare say that’s the general plan. Fingers crossed though, it will still function across fibre optic or whatever technology is replacing wire.
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Old 03 February 2020, 19:19   #8
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i'd love to try and connect but i don't have a modem of any description
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Old 05 February 2020, 15:37   #9
Lasix
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Would love to have you as a member! Do you have an original Amiga? EBay 33.6k modems go for about a tenner - even for nice US Robotics ones. But - who wants to make an outlay for a single BBS which might go down next week? Maybe if I'm still here in the months to come (I will be ) - pick one up!
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Old 05 February 2020, 18:58   #10
Bren McGuire
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I love that you can dial to a BBS still today, but let's be real here: even if you have all the necessary Amiga hardware, not everyone has a landline, and even if you do, most if not all people will not have a way to cheaply connect to a BBS from abroad.

If I had a BBS I would offer the option to dial up AND telnet at the same time, it's not like BBSes have a huge audience nowadays, by limiting the BBS to dial-up only you will hugely reduce its activity.

I love BBSes and log in frequently but there's almost never anything really going on in them and it's usually the same ten people surfing around. I wish more people would log in to them but that's just not reality.

So in brief, if you want people to log in to yours, offer a telnet link too.
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Old 07 February 2020, 18:36   #11
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I totally agree with all of your points. This isn't the best recipe to get lots of people connecting to a BBS.

I guess my motivation is a little different though. Maybe even a little...grander. For years now, I have had the sense that computing was somehow more fun in back in the 80s and 90s. There was a magic to that time which, for me at least, has been lost somewhere along the way. Perhaps this was because of growing older, I thought. Or perhaps it was pure indulgent regressive nostalgia. Or maybe it stems from the maturing of the computer industry, growing from something understood and enjoyed by a comparatively privileged few, to nearly everybody.

I ran a dial-up BBS back in the mid nineties, and rang a few boards a week where I was pretty active. I always say those were the most exciting times in my relationship with computing. I remember the names of a number of the callers. But then the internet came along. I first got online with my Amiga: IBrowse, YAM, Amirc, a cool newsgroup program I forget the name of. No more bulletin boards from pretty much the day the ISP activated my account. To be honest, they couldn't compete with even the dial-up speed crude websites and aminet FTP sites of the 90s. They certainly can't compete with the clickbait algorithm-driven personalised internet of 2020. That's why, as you rightly say, there's "almost never anything really going on in them." Because everyone is online. If they are anything like how I was, they are too busy fuming over a Facebook post, or wondering how many people will re-tweet them. Or living vicariously through Youtube - watching other people play games, or use their Amigas (does that ever strike you as weird?).

Having been online since about the mid-nineties, I got to know my way around it pretty well. I embraced it wholesale and rode all of the changes that came along. I lived in IRC. Worked in IT. Managed my life "in the cloud" when that became a thing. Maintained a social media presence - even a brand - with a respectable number of followers. I refreshed amiga.org and news.bbc.co.uk one hundred times a day...like pretty much everyone else. Thinking this was somehow important and useful.

Then one day I just got sick of all of it. I had a suspicion the benefits of the internet were being far outweighed by the negatives. I realised it was another addiction (try stopping if you don't believe me), and various addictions had set me back so much in my adult life. I thought it was time to cut it back a bit. Maybe go for more walks, or take up a hobby. Just like the buzzes from smoking or drinking, the internet gave me regular buzzes of "Ah ha! This is the Youtube video/post/blog entry/download/Netflix film that's going to change my life!" But after twenty five years of seeking the next hit, I realised none of it was adding very much value to my life at all. Sure, there were some great Coursera courses - there were some real benefits. I got some movies for free off Bittorrent back in the day. IRC was cool. But all of the wasted time and anger! And couldn't almost all of those actual benefits be replaced by offline alternatives? And why couldn't I concentrate long enough to read a book anymore?

[Long story about how hard it is to quit - deleted]

By virtue of this post, you can see that I'm still here, on the internet. It's pretty much impossible to avoid it 100% for me at the moment. But the lower I get the %, the better life seems to get. I got back into dial-up bulletin boards by cutting myself off from the internet at home. When I had the internet, I would connect via telnet to the odd board or two, but soon get pulled into something else. Sometimes I would be in a chat with the sysop, and I would get distracted by a browser tab and forget all about it. I'd come back an hour later and it would have logged me off. I wouldn't bother posting to any of the message banks or upload any files. There are websites for that. These BBSs were essentially time capsules or retro curios. Now, connecting to a bulletin board feels like a major highlight of enjoying my computer in the evening. I contribute to the message banks and am genuinely keen to download and upload files. It's a high point of geekery! And you know what? Most excitingly, computing has started to regain the feeling of magic of the home computing era once again! After I have read and responded to the BBS messages (maybe via QWK) I can enjoy reading an old Amiga magazine, or my C programming manual. I've programmed some actually useful programs. I have plans to subscribe to Amiga Future and buy some software (via mail order) from the likes of Amikit - positive things for the Amiga which I otherwise wouldn't have done. The buzz feels like it's coming from an internal place, rather than from some external source.

So that's why I don't want to offer telnet. And I hope there might be others out there that feel the same way. Who might even give this a go.

If not, so be it.

Maybe I'll start a PD library instead
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Old 16 September 2020, 01:16   #12
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Whoops! Did I crash the BBS?

To Lasix:

Thanks for hosting Dial-Up Nights, which I first called a few weeks ago.
I tried tonight to play a door program. This has been my fourth call, I think - the first few not being very successful because I was using an Amstrad PPC640 with its not-very-fast 2400 baud modem, and I was quite unfamiliar with its 'Mirror II' comms app. This resulted in incorrect terminal settings, unexpected disconnects and screens full of random characters. Since the PPC640's LCD screen is of the low-contrast 'supertwist' type and my eyesight is rather poor, I found using the board difficult. On my second call I accidentally disconnected the telephone cable when I got up to get a cuppa. This reminds me of the 'old days' when I played MUD2 at 300 baud on a BBC Micro - that was so slow that I can't believe I put up with it for so long.. but then, I was quite addicted to it.
I bought a Hayes Accura V90 modem on eBay and managed to go online with it tonight, using TeraTerm on a PC (do the letters 'PC' still provoke hisses and boos from Amiga users?). On the first try, I had the serial port rate set to 9600, so that was the rate that was negotiated. I tried playing Star Trek and it 'froze' during the game. I hung up, called back a few times and although the modem answered, I didn't get any data - so I have to guiltily admit that I crashed it! Oops.. sorry!
I called again with different rates, with no luck. Try again tomorrow?

Cheers.
Lex
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Old 16 September 2020, 17:04   #13
Akira
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasix View Post
Then one day I just got sick of all of it. I had a suspicion the benefits of the internet were being far outweighed by the negatives. I realised it was another addiction
I completely understand you here my dude, 100%, but...

Quote:
By virtue of this post, you can see that I'm still here, on the internet.
I was going to comment on that, the Internet is pretty much unavoidable nowadays, but you can cut down on it a LOT really. Having a port open for Telnet access doesn't seem like it would distract you a lot.

Also I recommend accessing BBSes only on period-correct hardware. You won't be able to do any of the other modern Internet shit with them, and distractions disappear. I mostly log in to C64 BBSes, from my C64, and I *really* enjoy the feeling of doing that and THAT ONLY, it gets me into a special zone. No distractions, no bullshit, no time wasting. I also have an old Windows 98 PC that I use to access PC BBSes. Even if they have a browser, none of the modern sites work on them. And multitasking is hard with 32MB of RAM

With that said, thank you for running a BBS! And I hope you can reconsider the Telnet link so I could log in one day.
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Old 18 September 2020, 12:27   #14
Lasix
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lexthehex View Post
To Lasix:

Thanks for hosting Dial-Up Nights, which I first called a few weeks ago.
I tried tonight to play a door program. This has been my fourth call, I think - the first few not being very successful because I was using an Amstrad PPC640 with its not-very-fast 2400 baud modem, and I was quite unfamiliar with its 'Mirror II' comms app. This resulted in incorrect terminal settings, unexpected disconnects and screens full of random characters. Since the PPC640's LCD screen is of the low-contrast 'supertwist' type and my eyesight is rather poor, I found using the board difficult. On my second call I accidentally disconnected the telephone cable when I got up to get a cuppa. This reminds me of the 'old days' when I played MUD2 at 300 baud on a BBC Micro - that was so slow that I can't believe I put up with it for so long.. but then, I was quite addicted to it.
I bought a Hayes Accura V90 modem on eBay and managed to go online with it tonight, using TeraTerm on a PC (do the letters 'PC' still provoke hisses and boos from Amiga users?). On the first try, I had the serial port rate set to 9600, so that was the rate that was negotiated. I tried playing Star Trek and it 'froze' during the game. I hung up, called back a few times and although the modem answered, I didn't get any data - so I have to guiltily admit that I crashed it! Oops.. sorry!
I called again with different rates, with no luck. Try again tomorrow?

Cheers.
Lex
Fantastic getting hold of a faster modem! There aren't many (any?) other UK dial-up boards at the moment, so appreciate it.

I saw the frozen Star Trek screen the following morning when I wandered in to switch the board off. No probs - almost certainly was dodgy Door programming or incompatabilities with MorphOS. I've crashed many a board in my time and the fix is only ever a re-boot. We're online every night, so keep calling away.

I've been getting more callers recently - most nights - which is awesome. If there's interest, I may well move the board to a dedicated machine which I can leave on throughout the weekend as well as the evening calls.
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Old 18 September 2020, 12:57   #15
Lasix
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I completely understand you here my dude, 100%, but...

I was going to comment on that, the Internet is pretty much unavoidable nowadays, but you can cut down on it a LOT really. Having a port open for Telnet access doesn't seem like it would distract you a lot.

Also I recommend accessing BBSes only on period-correct hardware. You won't be able to do any of the other modern Internet shit with them, and distractions disappear. I mostly log in to C64 BBSes, from my C64, and I *really* enjoy the feeling of doing that and THAT ONLY, it gets me into a special zone. No distractions, no bullshit, no time wasting. I also have an old Windows 98 PC that I use to access PC BBSes. Even if they have a browser, none of the modern sites work on them. And multitasking is hard with 32MB of RAM

With that said, thank you for running a BBS! And I hope you can reconsider the Telnet link so I could log in one day.
What's working for me - currently - (but admittedly Covid has made this much harder) is an elaborate system of public libraries/internet cafes for activities such as this ("optional internet"). That's where I am right now, typing this. I try and keep this to a monthly visit. That's a sufficient cadence to stop my brain thinking about it. Weekly - and I end up looking forward to going on and seeing who's replied to a post etc. That soon becomes a huge time sink for me.

Then I have a locked down iPad for working-from-home Teams calls. I can't access any sites on this, apart from a handful of key work sites I white-listed, without the pin, and I can't get the pin without a 1.5 hour train journey. That's working pretty well I take the call on it, and then switch it off and forget about it. My MorphOS machine is browserless, but has YAM for email. So I can deal with that in the evening and stay organised.

I love the idea of using era-appropriate hardware for BBSing. I would like to pick up a 68k Amiga and use NComm to call other Amiga/PC boards. I wonder if there are any C64 dial-up boards somewhere...

Sorry about the telnet thing. Maybe one day I'll explore setting up a C64 telnet-wifi thing. Although bringing another computer in the house might bring on an early divorce.

Okay - this is my last post here until I next get the opportunity to pop into a library. Thanks for the calls and interest in the BBS, all.
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Old 22 September 2020, 04:26   #16
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Re: Whoops! Did I crash the BBS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasix View Post
Fantastic getting hold of a faster modem! There aren't many (any?) other UK dial-up boards at the moment, so appreciate it.
I was so pleased to get it! Its owner had - I assume - either picked it up at a charity shop or been given it by someone who had used it a lot, because the power switch had been pressed so many times that it no longer latches, and the 'power brick' was absent. Fortunately, the modem had the voltage and polarity printed on a label, so that was a relief - particularly since I'd convinced myself that it needed 9V AC, which it doesn't. 7.5V DC, I think it was.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasix View Post
I saw the frozen Star Trek screen the following morning when I wandered in to switch the board off. No probs - almost certainly was dodgy Door programming or incompatabilities with MorphOS. I've crashed many a board in my time and the fix is only ever a re-boot. We're online every night, so keep calling away.
Okay, I'll do that. I'm more likely to call at the weekend because it's a lot cheaper, and I'll occasionally call after midnight on weekdays. I have always been a night-owl so the post-midnight time suits me.

P.S. I called tonight (Tuesday morning, about 03:15) and the modem didn't answer. I was about to hang up when I heard a female voice on the phone. If I bothered your family with my call, I heartily apologise.
I'm kind-of excited to have got Amiga Forever configured with Term - emulating a 68030 Workbench 3.1 Miggy. It's just like I remember it being on my A1200, but much faster.

Last edited by lexthehex; 22 September 2020 at 05:21.
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Old 23 September 2020, 23:16   #17
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great, too bad you are a bit out of my area, I used to run a Max's BBS for years and had 2 lines. It was a lot of fun, and i've actually have been thinking about setting up a BBS again like you.

Actually, wouldn't it be great if we could run some actual graphical BBS that would send over pixels in stead of characters. (on 320x256). It would have been too much for a modem, but current connections would be able to handle that easy. and it would not require much memory or cpu power to render that on an amiga.
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Old 24 September 2020, 00:04   #18
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Graphics were possible back in the day but don't think they ever really took off. I never actually saw any boards running rip for example which was an option.

From my experience of developing ami-express people kat seem to want as close an experience to that which they had back in the day. I've tried to keep ami-express close to how it always was but while adding features too being out into the modern era but it's a fine line to walk
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Old 24 September 2020, 01:28   #19
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Graphics were possible back in the day but don't think they ever really took off. I never actually saw any boards running rip for example which was an option.

From my experience of developing ami-express people kat seem to want as close an experience to that which they had back in the day. I've tried to keep ami-express close to how it always was but while adding features too being out into the modern era but it's a fine line to walk
Did not know about rip, pretty amazing stuff, What software are you running your BBS on?
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Old 24 September 2020, 11:39   #20
Phantasm
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Did not know about rip, pretty amazing stuff, What software are you running your BBS on?

I am the (current) developer for Ami-Express bbs software.
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