Washington Apple Pi
Internet Explorer Service
Answers to Frequently-Asked
WHAT IS THE TCS?
The Telecommunications System (TCS) is
Washington Apple Pi's center of communication. It is an
electronic bulletin board serving over 100,000 callers a
year with news and opinions, software, technical support,
electronic mail, and worldwide discussions. The TCS has been
on-line and continuously upgraded since 1983 as a text-based
bulletin board system.
WHAT IS TCS EXPLORER SERVICE?
TCS Explorer Service builds on the
existing structure, providing all the same features plus
" Internet access via a PPP
or SLIP dial-in connection. This service, packaged
specifically for the Macintosh, turns a subscriber's Mac
into a full peer on the Internet for the duration of each
call. This enables the subscriber to use popular software to
explore the World Wide Web, exchange e-mail, transfer files,
and access the TCS with a graphical user interface. Most of
these features are in place already, while some portions
such as graphical access to the TCS's message base will
emerge from development in coming months.
The first-year Explorer package comes
with a set of Installer disks that place the required
software onto a Mac. The installation package is specially
designed for Macs connecting to TCS Explorer Service, and so
installation is straightforward, with few of the surprises
and decisions required by popular Internet books and
Shareware collections. Tutorials are also available,
WHAT IS THE CATCH?
TCS Explorer Service is a
member-supported service of Washington Apple Pi. Interested
members share their knowledge and talents, and split the
cost of a medium-bandwidth (256 Kbps DSL) channel on the
Internet. Members voluntarily limit their usage during peak
hours of the day in order to give everyone a chance to
explore and to learn about the Internet, the World Wide Web,
and what these things have to offer. This is, as it is
intended to be, in sharp contrast with the high-bandwidth,
guaranteed services offered by big-budget Internet Service
Providers (ISP's) at higher costs.
TCS Explorer Service is a volunteer
effort for recreational purposes, and it is expected that
occasional glitches may occasionally cause temporary
disruptions of the service, despite everyone's best efforts.
All lines may be in use by other subscribers during the
busiest hours. If your needs are for a maximum-speed,
commercial-grade Internet connection with a paid and
responsive on-demand support line, there are many excellent
commercial Internet providers in the Washington-Baltimore
WHAT OTHER TCS SERVICE LEVELS ARE AVAILABLE?
TCS Classic Service is an option with Pi
membership. It adds complete access to downloadable files
and programs, read and post access to many Usenet
newsgroups, plus a personal electronic mailbox with which
you can send messages to friends and business contacts
around the world, with up to 150 minutes per day TCS access.
WHAT IS REQUIRED TO USE TCS EXPLORER?
Macintosh computers require either MacTCP
or Open Transport in order to use Explorer service. MacTCP
is sold by Apple Computer and certain licencees. MacTCP is
included with System 7.5, many commercial titles of Internet
software, and popular books on using the Internet. It may
also be purchased from the Pi office; phone for details.
Open Transport is available through the Apple System
Software library on the Pi's bulletin board, as well as from
Apple's Web sites. Open Transport works best on Macintosh
computers running System 7.5.3 or later; for many Power
Macintosh computers, Open Transport is required; MacTCP is
not an option.
System 7.0 or later is required by most
of the software that is distributed with Explorer service
and understood by the other Pi members who answer technical
questions. It is a practical (if not absolute) requirement.
For most users, Mac OS 8.X (the latest version of the Mac
operating supported by their computer) or later will yield
A practical (if not absolute) requirement
is a fast modem -- 9600 bits per second or faster. Such
modems are often called v.32 (9600 baud), v.32bis (14,400
baud), v.34 (28,800 baud), v.90, etc. A hardware handshaking
cable is required. (In most cases, these modems come with
Some software that is distributed with
Explorer service requires a Macintosh with a 68020 CPU or
later (a 68030, 68040, or PowerPC). A complete kit, for
getting on either TCS Classic or TCS Explorer (or both) is
included in most editions of the Washington Apple Pi CD-ROM
series, "Pi Fillings."
I HAVE AN APPLE IIGS. IS THIS SERVICE FOR ME?
The Internet was not built for Macs
alone, and neither is the TCS. What is required to use the
service is a collection of software for standard Internet
protocols. Some such software is reported to be in
development for GS/OS, but it is not currently available.
A limited text-only interface might be
made available for accessing the World Wide Web portion of
the service using any computer with terminal emulation
software. Those members interested in such a project would
be responsible for undertaking and maintaining it.
I HAVE AN IBM-PC. IS THIS SERVICE FOR ME?
A properly configured PC-type computer
would work fine with TCS Explorer service. However, the
members of Washington Apple Pi have limited experience in
using Intel-based computers and would not be able to provide
the same level of mutual support that Macintosh users enjoy.
The level of help available would depend on other members
being willing and able to offer it.
Due to the wide variety and complexity of
Internet software that is often used on PC's, those owners
wishing to use Explorer service should be knowledgeable and
experienced in its use. Though the system is built around
machine-independent hardware and software, some of the value
of TCS Explorer Service (such as the preconfigured software)
is specific to Macintosh users.
WHO STARTED TCS EXPLORER SERVICE?
The seed money for TCS Explorer service
was provided by 263 Pi members who presubscribed in April
and May of 1995. It is due to the enthusiasm and foresight
of these Charter Subscribers that the project was able to
begin. The TCS Committee and Pi officers prepared and
executed the plan that brought the service on-line in
WHAT IS THE COST OF TCS EXPLORER SERVICE?
Subscription costs are covered in detail
on the Washington Apple Pi Electronic Store at
As with the other TCS service levels,
Explorer service is only available to Pi members, and it is
provided under the same terms.