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paul151

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#157196 22-Nov-2014 22:38
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Hi guys,

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 :-)

Best, Paul

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michaelmurfy
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  #1181490 23-Nov-2014 01:59
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That is really really neat.

Also nice to see your BBS is hosted on your home connection ;) - I'm pretty tempted to shove Linux on a 486 and get it up and running under that complete with dial-in access for the ultimate flashback experience.




Rikkitic
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  #1181543 23-Nov-2014 11:35
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Mygod, I still remember Fido from my BBS days. Just one comment/complaint, though: the retro aspect would be a lot more convincing if the site didn't depend on bloody javascript to run! This happens to be a pet peeve of mine. Why does everyone reach for javascript instead of doing some old-fashioned honest low-level programming? Now that would really be retro.

 





I don't think there is ever a bad time to talk about how absurd war is, how old men make decisions and young people die. - George Clooney
 


 
 
 
 


paul151

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  #1181576 23-Nov-2014 13:37
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michaelmurfy: That is really really neat. Also nice to see your BBS is hosted on your home connection ;) - I'm pretty tempted to shove Linux on a 486 and get it up and running under that complete with dial-in access for the ultimate flashback experience.


Thanks for kind feedback Michael.

I'd suggest you opt for a later model box, no need to do the 486 thing these days. Mystic BBS is also available for Linux but as I am not a guru in that area I have not created a customised FidoNet version of the BBS as yet. There's just the modified Windows version at present. Still, nothing to stop you installing the Linux version of Mystic and looking to the customised Windows I built for the settings.

Sing out if you want some help / would like to give it a go and get a Fido feed :-)

Yep home connection is not completely static but so long as I don't reboot the router things remain fine and if need be it's only an update to an A record in the DNS settings that takes about 2 hours to propagate.

Best, Paul


Lurch
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  #1181577 23-Nov-2014 13:39
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Had my telnet BBS up and running for years right up to a couple of months ago. Is it worth it for people to use, no. Not a lot of callers and the only active message net was Synchronet. Some elite members of the BBS scene also left so meh. I have it on a server still stored away for a rainy day.

Is it worth it for your own Nostalgia, yep. Fun to setup and draw ANSi again. But that's about it.





paul151

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  #1181579 23-Nov-2014 13:43
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Rikkitic: Mygod, I still remember Fido from my BBS days. Just one comment/complaint, though: the retro aspect would be a lot more convincing if the site didn't depend on bloody javascript to run! This happens to be a pet peeve of mine. Why does everyone reach for javascript instead of doing some old-fashioned honest low-level programming? Now that would really be retro.


Fair enough. I'm not a coder but the website does offer web based visitors to the BBS access via a package written by Rick Parish called HTMLTerm which is largely HTML5 based as I understand it. The website does have other javascript on it but that's to do with the look/feel/animation on the site than anything related to the BBS.

To be honest if everyone connected to Agency BBS via a Telnet client (like SyncTERM that plays nice on currents OSs and loves ANSI graphics) I'd be a happy boy. But I set up the HTMLterm as a friendly interface for some folks who just want to see what happens when you login via a HTML pathway.

The FidoNet BBS software (Mystic) does not use javascript and that's what I am hoping people (like you) will have a crack at using and getting involved in BBS with :-)

paul151

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  #1181588 23-Nov-2014 14:07
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Lurch: Had my telnet BBS up and running for years right up to a couple of months ago. Is it worth it for people to use, no. Not a lot of callers and the only active message net was Synchronet. Some elite members of the BBS scene also left so meh. I have it on a server still stored away for a rainy day. Is it worth it for your own Nostalgia, yep. Fun to setup and draw ANSi again. But that's about it.


Thanks for the feedback Lurch and I'm glad you raised those thoughts.

Is a BBS something that I think people should set up again to run just like in the 'old days' with lots of users calling in? No.

The reality is (as you point out) that it's not so full on busy with users connecting to a BBS like it used to be. I do have active users from all over the globe that connect and use my BBS on a regular basis. But not in the large numbers of callers per day compared to say 1994. So yes it's quieter but not dead by any stretch.

But that's not why I am suggesting folks here may want to set up a BBS using the FidoNet BBS Project.

What I have noticed is that thh active people on FidoNet and BBS in general are (in the main) the SysOps that are running their systems. They enjoy tinkering with FTN / IP based networks and sharing their thoughts and ideas with the wider community across the Globe.

I've had conversations with SysOps in Germany, USA, Australia, Ukraine and beyond. The latter is really interesting/humbling as you can chat with people who right in the middle of a war zone and get their thoughts on the realities around them.

I created the FidoNet BBS Project as a pathway to enable anyone reading this that would like to join in and be part of that active online community.

Networks like Fidonet and Agoranet (both still active with the latter focused on the ANSI/ACID art scene) need some form of BBS software for a SysOp or BBS user to be able to take part in those conversations / online door games / file networks etc.

So yep, if the goal is to run a BBS and have 100 callers a day - forget it.

If the goal is to get connected, grow a small but global user base and at the same time have a system that lets you meet/join in the conversations taking place around the globe over these FTN style networks - I'd say go for it :-)

Best, Paul

xpd

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  #1181889 24-Nov-2014 08:55
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Im still fighting with getting Maxs BBS on WinUAE talking with the net, if I can get that running I could be keen ;)





XPD^ / DemiseNZ

 

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Lurch
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  #1184431 27-Nov-2014 20:49
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xpd: Im still fighting with getting Maxs BBS on WinUAE talking with the net, if I can get that running I could be keen ;)



I have a 060 A1200T that I was thinking about running an Amiga BBS on. But no room to set it up anywhere so it's been put in the garage :(

@Paul Had the odd few join and the occasional chat. BBS scene and a few of the big players moved on, Echicken is still around and he is an amazing coder. But the feel has changed and one get's tired visiting boards that are stock. Not keen on Fidonet, the rules are too strict and wasn't the scene I was in when I ran a dialup BBS. Did try Fidonet for awhile in the telnet era though. Zeronet was the last great message net, haven't heard much from Phlash in a long time.

Most of the great telnet boards loaded with ANSi have disappeared. Met some amazing ppl/coders/warez/artists who have turned to the darkside (the internet).

Had my BBS up and running in 91/92 on 2400 then 14.4k and then 28.8k and eventually a 56k. One caller even donated a phone line as I was part time in the beginning. Have some back up's on 5¼-inch somewhere.

Had some huge parties/get togethers with many BBS users. Main hot spot was Wendys in Queen Street. Those days are long gone.

Anyway 2014 time to move on :-/





paul151

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  #1184460 27-Nov-2014 21:46
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xpd: Im still fighting with getting Maxs BBS on WinUAE talking with the net, if I can get that running I could be keen ;)


Sure, happy to help if you want a feed. I reckon uou should give Mystic BBS a go. It's under active development in 2014 and the author (g00r00) is great to deal with / open to feedback etc. The FidoNet BBS I put up for download / playing with etc. use it. In fact I'll need to update it as we've just moved to Alpha 58.


paul151

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  #1184476 27-Nov-2014 21:54
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Had the odd few join and the occasional chat. BBS scene and a few of the big players moved on, Echicken is still around and he is an amazing coder. But the feel has changed and one get's tired visiting boards that are stock. Not keen on Fidonet, the rules are too strict and wasn't the scene I was in when I ran a dialup BBS. Did try Fidonet for awhile in the telnet era though. Zeronet was the last great message net, haven't heard much from Phlash in a long time.

Most of the great telnet boards loaded with ANSi have disappeared. Met some amazing ppl/coders/warez/artists who have turned to the darkside (the internet).



Fidonet only requires real names used in echoareas and that a BBS system is contactable to pass netmail. These days using IP mailers like Binkd most systems handshake and pass packets in real time vs the old zone mail hour days of old.

I'm chatting with a sysop in Germany doing cool things with a Mystic BBS system. He's using a lot of scripting to suck  in other content into the BBS, got it hooked up to an API so it tweets status etc. So there's a bit going on still in the dev space. As for ANSI did you ever join Agoranet? I have it's THE net for the Acid art scene and quite active. Several art packs have been released by various groups and are available for download on Agency BBS (my system). Come to think of it I need to install a viewing package so folks can look at them when logged in.



xpd

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  #1184610 28-Nov-2014 08:29
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paul151:
xpd: Im still fighting with getting Maxs BBS on WinUAE talking with the net, if I can get that running I could be keen ;)


Sure, happy to help if you want a feed. I reckon uou should give Mystic BBS a go. It's under active development in 2014 and the author (g00r00) is great to deal with / open to feedback etc. The FidoNet BBS I put up for download / playing with etc. use it. In fact I'll need to update it as we've just moved to Alpha 58.



I like maxs ;)

But yeah, Ive had a quick look at Mystic in the past and it looks quite good.





XPD^ / DemiseNZ

 

Blog         Free Games        Twitter      My TradeMe Goodies

 

Pirating in Sea Of Thieves

 

Coming Soon - BBS door games - all the classics!

 

 


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