• Want To Be A Sysop? (1)

    From Daryl Stout@1:19/33 to All on Saturday, July 04, 2015 11:55:58

    You Want To Be A Sysop?? Courtesy Of: Tom Ezell
    ======================== ======================

    To start your BBS, you first need a computer. No matter what
    computer you currently have, it won't be large enough or powerful
    enough for what you intend to do. And since you can't take the board
    down (unless you run a kiddy board that bounces up and down, or runs
    only between the time school lets out and Daddy comes home) to do
    your own work, you will need another computer that you can ill afford.

    Next, you have to find a BBS software package. This can take months...
    or you can write your own, if you are so inclined. This can take years.

    And, unless you are starting a kiddy board, you will need a phone
    line other than the one that you normally converse on. Depending on
    the phone company's mood, personnel, and the imminence of a strike,
    this could be done in as little as 2 weeks, or it may never happen.
    Additionally, they will have to determine if it ever crossed your
    mind to even think about receiving any recompense from your BBS, so
    they can charge you business phone rates instead of the cheaper
    residential rates. Or if you want to run a BBS with a high speed
    Internet connection, you will have to consider the cost of the
    DSL or High Speed Internet, the phone line and/or cable service
    charges as well.

    Then, if you plan to run doors on your board, you must now spend
    long distance dollars in scouring other boards for evaluation, and
    then the acquisition of these files. Naturally, your external file
    protocols don't come with your BBS software, so you have to again
    scour the countryside to find them. Utilities for your BBS are also
    an afterthought, and have to be obtained in a similar fashion. All
    of these external programs have to be registered after a while,
    since most stop working after a while, or have an annoying feature
    about them until they are registered. All of the above items take
    money, and plenty of it!!

    While we are on the subject of money, you must obtain a new modem.
    Whatever modem you currently have will not be supported by the BBS
    software. This is some sort of unwritten law pertaining to writing
    communication software. Be prepared to open up your wallet wide. No,
    your old Hayes 300 won't be good enough. People even hate 2400 baud
    these days, and all the teenagers seem to have US Robotics Dual
    Standard Modems these days, and will complain vociferously if they
    can't access you at 14400 baud, or higher.

    Now, you pick a name for your BBS. Whatever you choose will be
    ridiculed by 20% of those who see it. Another 50% will offer other
    suggestions that are worse than the one you chose. The remaining 30%
    won't even care.

    Then, comes the wonderful task of installing your board. You have
    your machine. If you just bought it, that means formatting your hard
    disk, installing DOS, ANSI, and other drivers, several utilities, and
    twenty complex batch files to tie it all together, and Lord knows what
    else that you need for your board. If you already have the machine,
    you may as well go ahead and reformat it anyway. Something will
    guarantee that you will have to do this before you are done.

    The manual for the BBS software was most likely written by the
    author's 10 year old and was mimeographed. It got wet in the mail
    and smeared as well, so at least 30% of the manual will be physically
    useless. The rest is just procedurally useless.

    Next, comes the fun task of deciding on your board structure. Who
    can do what, and when can they do it. You must design your menus and
    opening screens. You have to get a pretty good stock of files, since
    no one will upload to you unless you have something there for them to
    take first (not that it matters, I suppose, since even if you DO have
    files, they won't upload much anyway).

    Then, comes the security aspect. You can leave your BBS wide open,
    so that users with the name of Victor Virus, Dr. Doom, Mr. Crack,
    Hackman, File Attack, The Destroyer, RAM Raper, etc., can come in, and
    do anything they like. Or, you can lock it up so tight, that no one
    will call. There is no compromise on this.

    Next, you must build events, or prepare to live at your keyboard. A
    BBS *HAS* to be backed up. If you can't afford a high density backup
    medium such as tape, cartridge, DVD-ROM, or external drive, you will
    spend many, many hours per week flipping floppies. Events are designed
    to allow the Sysop the luxury of having the board do routine tasks at
    odd hours by itself (mail runs, backups, purges, and so on). These
    never work as they come, and will have to be extensively modified by
    you. And, since they generally only run between 12 midnight and sunrise,
    you will have to be awake to see just how they die, and then try to fix

    All right...the big day is here. Your board is ready, your modem is
    ready, the phone company finally hooked you up, and then you start up.
    This is when after 2 days of no one calling, despite your BBS ad in
    COMPUTER SHOPPER, and having placed your number on every other BBS in
    existence, you discover that the initialization strings for the modem
    are wrong, and the darn thing won't answer incoming calls. You discover
    this by calling your own BBS from a friends' home. This takes calls to
    the author of the software, the manufacturer of the modem, and finally
    gets resolved by asking another Sysop how to do it.

    Oh Boy! Now we're in business! During your first caller's visit,
    someone will hit a telephone pole, and you will lose power. Naturally,
    since the board is new, you didn't back it up. The power surge when
    the electricity was restored fried your hard disk. Go back to low
    level formatting (sigh!).

    Finally, you're up and working. After about a week of gleefully
    seeing someone call, you will encounter Victor Virus, or his ilk. He
    will leave public posts (always in caps and terribly mis-spelled)
    about what a really lousy board this is, and that the Sysop is a
    four-eyed, stupid idiot. You automatically kill his account.

    But, do you leave the message for the world to see?? Hmmm...problem
    number 1. Killing Victor does no good, because he will be back with
    another account such as SYSOP STINKS; or some such thing. Eventually,
    he will tire of the game and go away; but he has given ideas to 30 of
    his friends, who will also visit you sometime in the next week.

    Then, you will be visited by the "smart kid" who can tell you
    everything that's wrong with your machine, your software, etc. It
    doesn't matter that he's calling you on a Timex Sinclair...he
    knows more about your system than Intel.

    By now, your name has spread around. If you're in a college town,
    the kids have your name and number. If it's September or January, you
    likely are in trouble. You will probably be bombarded with file requests
    for commercial software. Some will assist you by uploading Lotus 123
    version 3 that has the copy-proofing removed. Whoever uploads this to
    you, will then (anonymously, of course) call Lotus Development Corp.;
    and tell them that you have a pirated version of their software on
    your board.

    If you imposed an upload/download ratio such that users must upload
    one file to get x numbers of files in return, then you will receive
    2K text files from them. They will download 2 Megs of .GIF files in

    By now, you are disappointed with your message bases. You perhaps
    have (if you are fortunate) two or three users who post messages
    outside of private mail. These three users are symbionts who, if one
    of their number does not call for 2 weeks, will not post because they
    miss their friend. Your message bases will starve. You set up many
    areas for messages, all carefully listed by topic. No public post will
    ever go into the area that it should be in. You will find a raunchy
    joke posted in the Bible topics area, technical questions asked in the
    political opinion area, and a message from one of Victor Virus' cronies
    in the technical section.

    You will next encounter the user who can't do anything right. He'll
    make you feel terribly guilty that you are running this system that
    seems to rudely exclude him from enjoying it, because he cannot master
    the concepts of BBS commands. He DOES however, know how to leave a
    M)essage, C)omment, or to Email Feedback to the Sysop.

    At first, you will be responsive to all the user complaints and will
    make a valiant effort to obtain the special game that was requested as
    a door. You discover it on a board in the Fiji Islands, and the off
    peak call cost you $32 to download it. You find then that the game was
    written for a BBS program other than the BBS that you run. You search
    the countryside for a conversion interface; finding one in Missoula,
    Montana; add another $40 in phone bills from the search. You discover
    now that the game must be registered with the author. This is another
    $69. You discover this after the game was installed, when you called
    from your friend's house to test it. You find out that while the
    console looks wonderful while it is being run, the user sees a screen
    that informs him that the Sysop is a cheap bum who didn't even bother
    to register this wonderful piece of software. Since the Sysop is such
    a creep, why do you call there? Naturally, you register it so that
    this annoyance screen goes away. After it has been on the board for 2
    months, you discover that only 1 person ever used it, and he only went
    in there once, dropped carrier and hung up the board because you later
    discovered that this "wonderful" piece of software doesn't monitor
    carrier. Do you now register Watchdog so this won't happen again, or
    do you just scrap the game?

    The work load is getting heavy on the board. Wow!! It takes at least
    2 hours per day to stay up with things. Answering mail, hunting down
    Victor Virus' latest account, changing screens, moving messages back
    to the areas that they truly belong in, adding new things, paying the
    phone company, arguing with your spouse, etc. You decide that maybe
    it's time to enlist some help in the form of an assistant or Co-Sysop.
    This is a mistake. The Co-Sysop will pay little attention to the needs
    of the board, but WILL experiment with things like remote drop to DOS,
    and call every other BBS in town asking that, since he is a Co-Sysop on
    your BBS, can he have a Visiting Sysop account at theirs?? I think that
    this needs little elaboration <grin!>.

    By now, you are conversant with the many user complaints, such as:

    1) Why aren't you around to answer the Sysop Page at 3am??

    2) Why does your message editor use A) for Abort instead of Q) for quit?

    3) How come there aren't any nice ANSI or RIP screens?

    4) How come these crummy ANSI screens slow down the board?

    5) Why can't I stay online for 3 or more hours at a time?

    6) Why can't my C64 see your graphics?? It must be your crummy board!!

    7) Why can't I access the adult files area if I'm not at least 18?? I
    need it as part of a sex education class research project!!

    8) I never post messages because no one else ever does!

    9) What do you mean you killed my upload of DBase IV?

    10) I did upload something a year ago...so how come I can't download more
    than 100 files now?

    11) How come my friend has access level 50 and I only have level 40?

    12) How come nobody ever sends me mail?

    13) I used a bit editor on ProComm and now it won't work...tell me how to
    fix it.

    14) That GIF file I downloaded didn't run...this stinks...you really must
    be a lousy Sysop if you don't check to see that it would work for me.

    15) Boy.. do you have a bad attitude! I think the "Silicon Sarcophagus" is
    100 times better than this board! This is a free country...I can say
    ANYTHING I want in public messages!! What are you, Hitler or something?

    16) Why do I have to give you my information?? It's none of your business!!

    17) I don't want to search through the Help Files to find out how to use
    this crummy system...why did you choose such crappy software??

    Then, you will discover the wonders of Sysop to user interactive
    online chat. You will find this to be a most opportune time to get
    things done. Since the majority of users who will page you into chat
    type at about one one-millionth baud, you can have a conversation
    with the user and get things done...like mowing the lawn, making a
    seven course meal, and cleaning out the garage before the user has
    stated his request. Generally, the chat request was for something
    such as "How do I get out of a file listing?". Or something similar,
    that is well covered in the user manual that you have both as a file
    for downloading, and as a bulletin for online reading.

    One admonition is to not get angry about carrier drop by the user.
    Remember that the user is calling you through the same old phone company
    that services you. Chances are that no matter how malicious or inept
    the user may be, the phone company folks probably did it, anyway.

    Next, comes BBS software upgrade time!! Such fun!! Three weeks after
    you register and install the current version of the BBS software (or
    mailer or mail tosser...) the author will release a brand-new version
    of the program. You will also find that the author no longer supports
    your older version. You have to upgrade. This means once again opening
    your wallet. The new version will not have the same reserved file
    names, nor will the file structures be the same. The author generously
    supplies you with a conversion program. This program is designed to
    assist you in making all the little changes needed to perform the
    upgrade. It will automatically convert your file names and structures.
    There are two types of these programs. One that requires that you have
    5 megabytes more free space than you do; the other that will abort half
    way through the conversion because of a bad disk sector read and didn't
    have a corresponding error trap. Of the two, the latter is the more
    catastrophic, because now your data can't be read by either version of
    the software. Since you successfully upgraded your software, you now
    discover what the words "Beta Test Site" really means.

    Now, since you've done so well to this point, it's time for the
    hardware to find something to compensate for all this good effort.
    Generally, the hard drive controller is the most likely device to make
    this decision to fail. It will not, however, abruptly die. It will
    instead, gradually mis-write to disk over a period of several days
    before deciding not to work at all anymore. This has the advantage that
    your last backups will be no good at all once you replace the controller
    and reformat the drive.

    Are you sure that you still want to be a Sysop?

    Posted by VPost v1.7.081019

    --- Virtual Advanced Ver 2 for DOS
    * Origin: The Thunderbolt BBS (1:19/33)