Call me overly optimistic but I think there's a niche out there for folks who would like to 'play' with what I would call 'old school' retro tech and in the context of this post I'm talking about the old hobby of running a Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) from the 1990's... but with the twist of everything being updated to run technologically smoothly in 2014/15 via the Internet etc.
Some of you who frequent this forum may have read the posts I made here some months ago. At that time I had decided to try and set up a Bulletin Board System some 20 years since I last ran one back in the early 1990's. Call it a 40 year old regression to a simpler time :-)
I found a contemporary BBS package (Mystic BBS) that was still under active development, set up my BBS (Agency BBS - bbs.geek.nz) and joined a couple of message FTN style networks (FidoNet and Agoranet) to see how active the public message boards (echoareas) still were.
Turns out although the message areas were quieter than back in the heyday of the 1990's they are by no means dead. In fact it feels like there's a growing revival going on at present across the globe in the BBS space. It's fun, and gets me using my brain again in ways that I haven't done in a while.
When I got connected back up to FidoNet I took on the role of sorting out the New Zealand segment of the nodelist.
There were a number of dead systems that needed to be culled and I simplified the number of NETs down to just two - one for the North Island (NET 772) and the other for the South Island (NET 770).
Over several months I also built a standalone Agency HUB that offers a full, free, FidoNet Netmail/Echomail feed to any one in New Zealand that would like it. My own BBS (Agency BBS - 3:770/100) is a downlink system from the HUB and takes a feed from it.
I configured the Agency HUB so that BBS systems connected to it can send Areafix and Allfix/Filefix commands to it via Netmail (3:770/1). This allows anyone the flexiblity to remotely manage whatever Echomail areas / file areas they wish to connect/disconnect to.
I figure there must be a few past (or future) New Zealand BBS SysOps that could well be interested in setting up a BBS of their own to obtain a FidoNet feed and take part in the national / international conversations going on - at least I hope that's the case - are you one?
Those musings got me thinking about finding ways to make it easy for anyone (new or old) interested in running a BBS in 2014 and getting connected to FidoNet. Thus was borne the FidoNet BBS Project I've been working on lately - http://bbs.geek.nz/#FidoBBS and just hatched out the first version of the customised software today for tinkerers and other who want to play.
So in sum, I'd like to invite you to take part in this slice of geek / retro tech and take on the challenge of setting up a BBS and getting connected.
My hope is that if 10 folks decided to set up and have a play with this style of messaging network we would all have a lot of fun an learn a bunch of things together. Plus it would show the rest of the globe that Fidonet in New Zealand is far from dead. In that spirit I've recently registered fidonet.nz and plan to use the site a space to promote FidoNet history and helpful setup tips etc. there as time permits. It is, just a hobby after all :-)
Like I said at the start of the post, call me overly optimistic but I feel there's still fun / life to be had with BBS in 2014 and it would be nice to share that with you. Any questions, thoughts etc... most welcome :-)