Washington Apple Pi

A Community of Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac Users

Ask the Webmaster

by Lawrence I. Charters

On the Washington Apple Pi home page there is a link to the Webmaster, for those having questions or comments about the Pi's Web server (http://www.wap.org/). The following are some of the many questions received over the past several months, and as you can see few of them had anything to do with the Web server. Aside from editing for length, none of the questions have been altered. References to TCS are to the Washington Apple Pi computer bulletin board service; references to Explorer are to the Washington Apple Pi Internet service.


Q. In case you don't remember who I am, I am your cousin, Synthia (Aunt Ginny's oldest daughter). I now live in Omaha and work for the Air Force. I found your e-mail address through our switchboard program. Aunt Ginny wants to know how you are and if you could give us the address of all your siblings.
A. I am a Web server. I don't recall ever having had a cousin Synthia or Aunt Ginny. But you can find the address of many of my siblings by checking:
http://www.starnine.com/
Q. Hello. I've long thought about joining Washington Apple Pi. I suspect you are like most user groups and always looking for volunteers. I can promise that, if you get me a copy of MacroMind Director for review in your newsletter, I'll join Washington Apple Pi.
A. We don't have a newsletter, we have a magazine.

Q. We have put a link in our home page to yours we wanted to find out if you could do the same for us.
A. Why would you need us to put a link to your home page on your home page?

Q. If you have the time I need to get the Name, Data, Location and a none U.S. book on the Person that invented the Radar.
A. Christian Hulsmeyer, a German engineer, and Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian engineer, are credited with inventing radar. As for recommending a none U.S. book, we have none to recommend.

Q. please link my site to pi site to help folks out.
A. Your site sells Windows shareware and freeware. How would this help Pi members?

Q. ...During the course of the program, classrooms can participate in several unit-long activities [such as] The Penguin Foraging Project (student analysis of actual data fed to us by a scientist in Antarctica)...
A. We penguins prefer krill.

Q. I'm to ask you for info on hosting for infectious diseases.
A. Petri dishes.

Q. My name is [name]. I buy Power Macintosh 8500(32/2GB). I want to know that MachTen 4.0 run on PCI Macs. Run on my mac?
A. Yes. For more information, consult:

http://www.tenon.com/
Q. Since this [link to the Webmaster] was among my earliest discoveries on the Net, I couldn't resist using it to say, again, thanks to you and the Explorer team for helping overcome my particular installation problems and thereby opening this fascinating window to the Internet world.
A. Plus -- you got to try it out and see if it actually worked, right?? Have fun. The Internet is like a vast library, only with more noise and less order.

Q. Do you mind if I use your bottom-50% logo at the bottom of your WAP page?? I think its a nice idea.
A. No, we don't mind.

Q. I like your Bottom 50% logo! How did you get that?
A. I made it in Adobe Illustrator.

Q. Hardly anyone visits my Web site. How did you get your Bottom 50% logo?
A. We made it up. We also lied. The Web site is probably in the top 10% of all Web sites; most Web sites get only a few dozen "hits" a day.

Q. Is your Bottom 50 percent badge supposed to be a parody of the Top 5 percent badges?
A. Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!


Q. Aloha [Webmaster]
A. You've got nerve: it's 14 degrees outside with snow on the ground...

Q. Help! I have spent so much time trying to use POP mail. I don't know what to do. I can't find any messages about it here. Certainly, I don't know where to look. Thanks.
A. As far as I can see, you are doing fine.

Q. I'm still trying to figure out how to retrieve email.
A. Hmmm. Does this mean you can send E-mail, but won't be able to see my response to this message?

Q. Yes, that's right. I can't read E-mail.
A. If you can't read E-mail how are you responding to the E-mail that I send you.

Q. Sorry. Very sorry. I was expecting something else.
A. Not a problem.


Q. at 6pm tonight I found it virtually impossible to contact any sites on the web -- was TCS unusually busy or is there some other explanation.
A. The TCS is a bulletin board, and isn't on the Internet. The Pi's Web server is on the Internet, and both it and the Internet were perfectly happy. However, I notice you were trying for the address of Microsoft's Web site, which is:
http://www.microsoft.com/
not
http://www.microsoft.gov/
though I'm sure some people at Microsoft would like to rule.

Q. I want your support in saying it is ridiculus to pay $50 for an upgrade to [name of software package]. But I think that it is ridiculus to pay $50 for a CD when I have a T3 connection....
A. If you can get a CD for $50 it is ridiculous to pay for a T-3 connection. [A T-3 is a very expensive ultra-high-speed data link, often priced at tens of thousands of dollars a month.]

Q. [A student wrote in about a Macintosh he purchased under a student loan program. The payments were delayed nine months, and by that time the list price had dropped almost 30%. He wrote asking our support for paying Apple the new, lower price, rather than his original loan amount.] So here's where you come in. I was just wondering what you think I should do regarding this. I am a relatively poor college student, and I don't want to have to get screwed just because I didn't get something top-of-the-line. Please let me know what I should do regarding this.
A. Pay off your loan.

Q. I've got 7.5 (7.5.2 actually), and I can't figure out how to paste a new picture in the Jigsaw Puzzle. When I look at the clipboard, I see my picture (it says, "contents: picture") but the paste (and copy) options are greyed out.
A. The picture has to be a PICT image, not a PostScript drawing or TIFF image or something else. Also, it must be relatively small, or you must increase the memory size of the Jigsaw Puzzle.


Q. I don't know if you noticed, but there's an upside down image on your home page.
A. There's a good chance that we did notice.

Q. Upside down image on your home page. How this happen?
A. One of the tacks came loose.

Q. You have something on your home page that says it is russian, but it is really backwards english. You must check this.
A. Thank you for pointing this out. Maybe this happened because we are a mirror site.

Q. You say something is backwards on home page because you are mirror site. That not what mirror site mean.
A. Thank you...


Q. The latest calendar of events on the WAP Web page is February [1996]. How come?
A. It was a great month. [We now have volunteers who update the calendar regularly.]

Q. Is anyone running a MacTen web server (hhptd or apache) and getting 150 hits per day? If so, how is your machine running? I'm trying to decide if my 7100/80 can handle this, or whether I have to get a Sparc10 instead.
A. 150 hits a day? You could run MachTen on an SE and handle that load. Washington Apple Pi's Web server is a Quadra 700 running MachTen 2.2; it gets a couple thousand hits a day. A Power Mac 7100/80 would easily handle the load. [The Web server has since moved to another machine.]

Q. I'm onpassing to you an email...
A. Is onpassing sort of like outgassing?

Q. When someone askes me what the internet is, I'm hard pressed to give them a short answer. What is the internet, and what is it good for?
A. They are asking the wrong question. "What is the U.S. street transportation system" would be a similar question; it is too broad to give a meaningful answer. What is it good for? "Well, you can use streets to go to the 7-11, go to the doctor's office, go to secluded spots and neck, go to other secluded spots and drag race, go to the Beltway and park in traffic, go..."

What is the Internet? The Internet is a network of all the computers connected to the Internet -- a useless, but accurate answer. What is it good for? It is a great place for finding whatever information people have placed on the Internet. But I can't find a book in a library if it hasn't been written, and I can't find information on the Internet that hasn't been put there.

Q. My provider gives me a months free time for each person that signs up and mentions my name. Could you please have your members mention my name if they sign up for [name of Internet service].
A. No.

Q. I am interested in your group. Is there a branch in Annapolis?
A. Yes, there is an Annapolis Slice, one of the regional branches of Washington Apple Pi.

Q. Is there a major professional sport in this world that doesn't have any ties with the Mafia/Yakuza et al??
A. Ice skating. All the thugs are amateurs, or in pro hockey.

Q. We will offer all of your officers free Internet accounts if you designate us your preferred ISP (Internet Service Provider) to your association members. We want to get you involved. Please e-mail me and let me know your thoughts.
A. Our thoughts: no way.

Q. What is the equivalent of the reset button on my Power Mac 6100? I miss my reset button.
A. Press CMD-CTL-Power [cloverleaf key] [control key] [the key that has a funky triangle on it and powers up all Power Macs except 6100 Power Macs].


Q. I read something yesterday while I was browsing on the TCS about Explorer Service including 100kB or 100kbits of storage for personal Web pages. Is that feature available?
A. We are working on it. By the time this appears in print, we may offer personal Web pages for Pi Explorer subscribers. Or we may not. The actual limits, technologies, volunteers supporting this effort, etc., are under active discussion, and we are battling with some technical details.

Q. I've just been checking out the WAP Web page for the first time: very nice. One suggestion for something that should be there (if it is, I couldn't find it): directions to the WAP office.
A. There is map, with multiple links. Try:

http://www.wap.org/info/about/officemap.html
for a map to the office, and
http://www.wap.org/info/about/generalmeetingmap.html
for a map to the General Meeting.

Q. Why can't specials be made available on the web? I would have no problem having to enter my WAP number and a password, or use the TCS password to gain access.
A. The Pi's bulletin board is designed for "interactive" communication among thousands of people, all Pi members. The Pi's Web server has a different purpose, providing public information mainly to non-Pi members. Thousands of people can post messages on the TCS; in contrast, all the Web server pages are created and maintained by a handful of people.

Q. Why can't some of the SIG information be available?
A. If Pi SIG and Slice members provide appropriate material, it will be posted on the Web server. So far, none have.

Q. Please send info about membership in Washington Apple Pi.
A. I'd be delighted to -- but as you were browsing our Web server, which lists our activities and even has an on-line membership form, I'm not quite sure what else you'd like us to send. I suggest you link to:

http://www.wap.org/info/
which has information about Washington Apple Pi, instead of:
http://www.wap.org/ifaq/
which has information about everything except Washington Apple Pi.

Q. I would like to join the users group. please tell me how.
A. On our Web server there is all kinds of information about Washington Apple Pi, including an application at:

http://www.wap.org/info/about/piapplication.html
Q. I'm glad I found you on this thing called the web. I learn so much. Now, tell me how to get to your infrequent questions and congressional BS, I will go.
A. http://www.wap.org/ifaq/ leads you to the famed "Infrequently Asked Questions" section. But you really should start at:
http://www.wap.org/info/
so you can see what the site is supposed to deal with; the IFAQ section was a joke that got carried away. You can find the Congressional E-mail and Web addresses at:
http://www.wap.org/ifaq/society/congemail.html
and no, nobody has yet asked why this information is tucked in there with everything else.

Q. I understand from Brad Schrick's Mac server pages (http://brad.net/) that you are running a Quadra 700 as your Web server. As we are considering using this model (20/150) as a web server ourselves, we would be interested in any performance statistics that might be available. Can you help?
A. We were at one time using a Quadra 700 as a Web server. The Quadra was running Tenon's MachTen 2.2 software, which is a flavor of UNIX that runs on top of the MacOS. We never had any particular performance problems linked to the Quadra as a Web server, but other perceived problems caused us to redo things a bit.
In addition to being the Web server, the Quadra was also acting as our Domain Name Server, POP mail server, authentication server for our Xylogics PPP dial-in remote access server, FTP server, etc. This drove us nuts, since these were far too many acronyms and abbreviations for one machine. (It was also a bit much for a bunch of Mac fanatics to figure out; UNIX is still UNIX, even when it runs on a Mac.)
So we divided up the task, and today we have:
If you are counting, that is one Mac IIfx, one Quadra 700, one SE/30, one Mac LC, one PowerBook 140, and one Power Mac 7500. The Power Mac is severe overkill for the Web site, but we also have "internal" Web pages hyperlinked into our AppleShare file server, allowing our Web server to act as a front-end to our bulletin board.

In other words, what we are doing and what you want to do are probably not even remotely similar, and you are probably sorry you asked.

If you think you are going to get lots of hits, or need to serve really large files, I'd advise getting a second machine, not a more powerful machine. Two Quadra 700 computers are actually more efficient than one Power Mac 8500 when it comes to serving Web pages (not to mention cheaper). The only hassle you'll have is making sure that they have identical files. If you have two identical servers, give them both the same alias, www.whatever.com, and your DNS should automatically alternate incoming requests between the two IP numbers.

Have fun.

Q. I am almost positive that you use UNIX systems. Could you tell me more about this? I don't know much about UNIX.
A. We don't know much about UNIX, either. The TCS (the bulletin board part) consists of a Quadra 700 AppleShare server and over a dozen Apple IIGS computers acting as modem servers. You call in to the TCS, an AppleSoft BASIC program acts as the "bulletin board," and you read and store messages and files on the Quadra. Yes, it is definitely strange.

On the Explorer side, the Web server is a Power Mac 7500 (some days; other days it is a Power Mac 6100, or for some months it was a PowerBook 140 or a Mac IIfx), the News server is a Macintosh LC (on loan from a member's daughter), the mail server is a Macintosh SE/30. None of these are running UNIX. There is a Macintosh IIfx which runs MachTen, a form of UNIX, but it also runs MacOS, at the same time. The IIfx does some housekeeping chores.

But, as you can see, all the grunt work is done with Macs running MacOS or Apple IIGS machines running AppleSoft BASIC.

Q. Damn, well, dont i feel stupid :)
A. Wrong way to look at this: "Damn! Aren't we clever!" We're a user group.


Q. I want to thank you for the superb service the WAP provides us for connecting to the WWW. I've tried two others, and neither comes close to the WAP for quality of service. Thanks a lot for your work in behalf of all the users.
A. Thank you for the kind words.

Q. I HAVE A PROBLEM and it doesn't look nice for grown women to have temper tantrums. I can't hook the scanner up in the scii (there is no 50 pin attachment on ZIP - only two 25's). It is enough to make you say bad words.
A. The Zip has two 25-pin connectors. So you do it like this:

[Computer ]--25-------25--[Zip]--25------50--[scanner][terminator]
[Warning: this is a non-union drawing; not drawn to scale]

Q. I will probably be upgrading my hard disk this year. Which do you think is the best value? Would you suggest a regular HD or a Zip drive?
A. A Zip is a good idea if you already have lots of disk space, and just want to archive some stuff. If you don't have lots of disk space to begin with, "real" hard drives are at historic low prices.

Q. Do you know anything about clickable image maps for Web servers. I am in Sweden.
A. I quote a recent response to this question, posted on a WebStar mailing list by a Webmaster in Sweden:

"Med nya Web* ar det battre att anvanda plug-ins. Det finns tva stycken map plug ins att valja pa. Mappy fran Starnine och Yannis FastMap."
I can't think of a thing to add.

Q. Don't you have trouble keeping up? It is just a fact of life that this century has been really wild with no end in sight.
A. Geez, I'm hoping it ends in a little less than three years. If you know otherwise...

Q. I'm having trouble staying connected to the internet. I get a message saying I lost my carrier. Where is this? In the system folder? Under the apple menu?
A. The "carrier" in this case is an audio signal sent out over the phone line. As long as your modem can hear this signal, it doesn't hang up; if the signal goes away, the modem loses the carrier, breaking the connection. The carrier can be lost for several reasons, the most common of which are: a poor or noisy phone line; interference from weather (particularly lightning or electrical storms); call waiting (if someone calls, it creates clicks on the line, which may confuse your modem); and someone picking up another extension and trying to use the phone.

Q. A friend put a PowerBook drive in a Mac Plus. It seems to boot OK, but then freezes after a few minutes. Any ideas?
A. Yes: he is using a PowerBook drive on a Mac Plus. The drive is going into energy-saving sleep mode. A Plus never heard of such a thing, so it hangs.

Moral: never put a chariot engine in a Chevy. The horse poop will foul the electronics.

Q. Did you know that the company providing the liability insurance for the Republican National Convention in San Diego is the same firm that insured the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic?
A. What??

Q. Hi. I see you are a Macintosh user group. I have been getting a lot of questions about Shockwave with streaming audio so I thought I'd share the answers with you.
A. Your credibility would increase if you could do something about this:

X-Mailer: Windows Eudora Pro Version 2.1.2

Q. Your IFAQ pages on sex sux. There are no pictures of women.
A. Actually, there are full-color background photos, but since you looked at the pages using Lynx [a text Web browser] you didn't see them.

Q. You told me your sex pages had full color pictures. Im using my friends windows machines and I don't see any pictures.
A. We lied.


Q. I've been trying to send e-mail attachments to one of your users (Microsoft Word format, in Eudora) and all he gets is gobbledygook. Is there something I should be doing as the sender or is there some setting he should select as the receiver?
A. Unfortunately, translation is done entirely by the client; our POP [Post Office Protocol, an Internet mail standard] server doesn't care what you send it. So the answer is: I have no answer. I need to know more.

Are you sending a Mac Word file or a PC word file? If a PC word file, it will lack the "signature" that Macs stamp on all files, and it may be a perfectly good file -- he just doesn't know it. If he saves it to disk, fires up Word, tells Word to open any file rather than just Readable files, he shouldn't have any problems.

But again, encoding and decoding is the job of your client and his client; the POP server just shuffles files back and forth, and doesn't pay any attention to contents. You might check to see how Eudora is actually encoding the file, and see that the recipient knows how to recognize that encoding.

Q. Are the contents of the WAP Disk Library available over the Internet?
A. No. The disk library is run by a different set of volunteers from those who run the Explorer Service (Internet) and TCS (bulletin board). The TCS file areas are available via the Web to Explorer Service members. Some of the Disk Library catalogs may be offered for download via the Web; we're working out the details.

Q. You've probably noticed that a disproportionate share of Web sites seem to have a Macintosh or UNIX focus. We'd like your help in promoting Windows NT as the ideal tool for the Web. Can we count on your support?
A. No.

Q. As I'm sure you will agree, [name of program] is the most professional mailing list program available for Windows NT. We look forward to your order.
A. I got 105 copies of this message, so I suspect you'll have to wait a long time.

Q. I wanted to know about shareware spreadsheets. Does the pi have one that's good in its archives?
A. You really should ask these kinds of questions on the TCS, the bulletin board. That way you can ask hundreds of people at once, rather than just one opinionated virtual person.



Q. are you having problems browsing while on the internet? i cannot use netscape since friday night.
A. Your message was mailed from a Netscape 2.0 browser on Friday night, from your office at [name of company].

Q. i do not like you spying on me. how can you tell i was using netscape?
A. At the top of your message, in the "header" section, it says:

X-Mailer: Mozilla 2.0 (Macintosh; I; 68K)
and "Mozilla" is Netscape's cutsie name for what everyone else calls "Netscape."

Q. Because I haven't paid proper attention I've gotten a little confused about who is who at Apple Pi.
A. We are all filling. I come with cinnamon.

Q. I am a reference librarian from the [rural New York] Library System. We have received a request for the origin of the quote: "They'd complain if they was hung with a new rope." I would be very grateful if the "owner" of this quote could be named for our patron. The context in which it was used is as follows: "My mother has a friend, a Texan, who has little tolerance for people who complain ..."
A. Sadly, I don't know if there is an answer. I've actually wondered myself. I suspect it was just a spur of the moment phrase, probably in a bar, that caught the fancy of others, who repeated it. Significantly, the phrase does seem to have come from Texas, and is most popular there. But beyond that...

Q. I am a reference librarian at [rural Massachusetts] Library System. You helped a friend with the expression, "They'd complain if they was hung with a new rope." Do you know where the expression, "the whole nine yards" came from?
A. On many U.S. fighter planes in World War II, the 50 caliber machine guns were equipped with 27 foot belts of ammunition. If an entire belt was used during a mission, the target was said to have got "the whole nine yards."


Q. Rockville is a 45-minute trip from here; one and one-half hours through traffic that would have daunted the pioneers heading west in the original Conestoga wagons. The price of the mugs, compared to that, is a mere triviality (now don't get ideas....). FLASH!! of inspiration! Mail the mugs to anyone willing to pay the shipping and handling (bomb-proof packaging, etc.) costs. Please?
A. While Washington Apple Pi is a non-profit user group, and not in the china shipping trade, you can get one of the new custom mugs (as pictured on the Web server) for $10, including postage and packaging (the packaging is quite expensive, and the postage isn't trivial), until the supply is exhausted.

Q. Do you know Bill Clinton's E-mail address?
A. Yes: president@whitehouse.gov. You can write to Al Gore at vicepresident@whitehouse.gov.


Q. What is the difference between AOL, the TCS, and Explorer?
A. The TCS is the Washington Apple Pi computer bulletin board. It is an electronic community made up of Washington Apple Pi members and, because that community is highly enthusiastic about Apple computers (MacOS machines, Apple II, IIGS, /// machines, Newtons), you can be assured they have at least this as a common interest. Because most of the users are in the greater Washington, DC, region, they also share common interests in terms of shopping, movies, traffic, weather, and other pleasures and pains. The TCS, like Washington Apple Pi, is run by volunteers.

AOL, America Online, is a commercial version of the TCS. It is essentially a massive computer bulletin board, the largest ever constructed, with over eight million users. Because it is commercially operated, it is more expensive than the TCS, but also much fancier, with more services (for example, local toll-free access throughout the U.S.). It lacks the personal touch and sense of community of the TCS, though some users have created long-distance virtual friendships.

Explorer Service is another volunteer-operated Washington Apple Pi service. Explorer consists of Internet-related services offered by the Pi (E-mail, a World Wide Web server, Web access to the TCS), plus general access to the Internet. If you can reach it on the Internet, you can reach it via Explorer. Since the Internet has no real structure and nobody is in charge, it lacks all sense of community; it is just there.

Metaphorically, the TCS is a church picnic: fairly big, reasonably organized, with many things going on at once. AOL is a large, well-run city, with too many things going on to ever fully comprehend.

Explorer Service is the entire planet.


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Jan. 20, 1997 lic