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Little things count.

There are many decisions to be made when preparing to venture online for the first time. Hardware and software must be selected and the online services must be evaluated in the context of the library's objectives. These decisions are important, but after they - made, and you have developed a certain level of proficiency in online communications, it is time to look for the little things that can make your telecommunicating life easier and more productive.

When Word Wrap Fails

Me first utility program we will examine is for those who use Macintoshes for telecommunications and text transfer. A common way to save electronic mail or search results is to open a file and "capture" all the text that scrolls across the screen in a file saved to disk. Since U& is a text file without complicated formatting, it would seem a simple matter to open it with a word processor and edit as needed.

While it should be a simple matter, often when you look at the text in your word processor, it doesn't look at all like the text you saw on your screen. You might see uneven indentations and, worse yet, short lines alternating with long lines. This is because each line is transmitted with a carriage return at the end of it; therefore, the text is unable tO wrap. your options are to change the margin settings for your document, edit the text line by line to remove the offending carriage returns, or use the Word Wrapper utility from International Technology Development COrporation.

This easy-to-use utility will 90 through your text file and remove carriage returns and/or line feeds within paragraphs. Carriage returns at the end of paragraphs are preserved. While the program defaults are satisfactory in most cases, it is possible to set various options text handling. You might choose to delete a specific number of spaces from the beginning of each line, or replace a designated number of spaces with a tab. Word Wrapper begins a new paragraph if three spaces are found at the beginning of a line, but this number can be changed to fit your needs.

Word Wrapper will leave a carriage return in place if the line is fifty characters or less - this preserves the paragraphing - but you can change this default setting. Finally, should you need a double-spaced file converted to single spaced, simply check this it- on the options menu. If you use several services, you maY find you need different option settings for each. Sets of option settings may be saved to disk -d then opened before converting a file.

I used this program on a CompuServe session and it worked quite wen. I did have a few lines with an unusual number of spaces in the middle, but I don't think this was Word Wrapper's fault. My guess is that when the text was formatted for the screen display, spaces were added to force the carriage return to a specific position and it was these added spaces that produced the odd-looking lines.

Word Wrapper is available from International Technology Development Corporation, 1990 Lombard Street, San Francisco, CA 94123 (415) 929-0924.

Mac File Transfers Made Simple

Macintosh files are not always tent files. They also could be program files or data files created through productivity Programs. A file to be transmitted could be a formatted document created through a word processor or a page layout package, or it could be a spreadsheet template, a database template, or en a graphic file. A number of commercial services provide file transfer features within their electronic mail systems, but the sender and the recipient of the file must subscribe to the same service to exchange files.

It is possible, however, to send a file from one Macintosh to another without using a service as a middleman. A shareware program called MCS Multichannel Communications System) can be used to perform such a transfer. The recipient and the sender both must be running MCS and, according to the documentation, the program performs better when the sender initiates the transfer. The sender starts the program, selects the files to be sent from a file selection box, specifies the proper settings for the modem, including the number to be dialed, and then issues the Dial command. The only thing left to do is sit back and watch while the two Macs establish the file and perform the file transfer. I sent a file from my Mac at work to one at home and the transfer went smoothly and quickly.

MCS is not a fancy program - it just does what it says it will do with no fuss. There is one rather charming feature, however; a "chat" function allows the two operators to exchange comments either during or after the transfer. Figure 1 shows the exchange between my son and me when we tested MCS.

MCS is available through various online services, bulletin boards, and users groups. You will, however, need another shareware utility program by the same author to use MCS successfully.

In order to move Macintosh files with their associated icons, they must be converted into the 8-bit MacBinary format, which has become the standard for Macintosh file transfer. The program BinHex, version 5, will convert a Macintosh file to MacBinary format so MCS can transmit it. If you use MCS to receive files, you will need BinHex to convert them to their original form.

When you download a Macintosh file using one of the popular telecommunications packages, the conversion from MacBinary to the original format is handled automatically. Since MCS is not a fancy program, you must handle the conversion. This extra step is not troublesome because BinHex is simple to use. I obtained a copy of BinHex version 5 from CompuServe, but it should be available from other sources.

Auto Log-ons Courtesy of Tymnet

Full-featured telecommunications software generally has some provision for automating the log-on procedures of frequently used services. Some packages use macros, while others have a built-in programming language. I love using automatic log-ons, but sometimes it's too much trouble to set one up. There is help available now for IBM and IBM-compatible users who go through the Tymnet network to access online services.

Tymnet has created an Autologin Setup Diskette that can help users configure their telecommunications software for an automatic log-on. The disk will work with Crosstalk XVI, Crosstalk Mk.4, Procomm 2.4.2, and Smartcom Ill. Simply start the disk and then respond to the onscreen prompts. A single sheet of instructions will be printed out at one point but I found I didn't need it. You supply the local Tymnet number and then specify the baud rate, communications port, and data word format.

If you aren't sure how to answer, the program win default to the most common responses. The only other information required is the disk and directory location of your telecommunications program. The appropriate files will be created and transferred to your program, ready for immediate use.

I tested this disk on Procomm 2.4.2 and it performed as promised. Procomm uses command files to automate the logon process and the Tymnet disk created arid installed the appropriate command files. I had a few difficulties; a typo when I gave Procomm's location caused a problem, as did a Tymnet number that connected but then did not send any prompts. Once I corrected my typing and supplied a working number, everything went smoothly. You can restart the Tymnet disk and try again if you make a mistake in any of the details, but the instruction sheet will print each time. It would be nice to be able to bypass this on subsequent trials.

The automatic log-on only establishes the connection with Tymnet, taking you to the familiar "please log in:" prompt. At this point you must respond manually with the service you wish to access and any ensuing particulars, such as account number and password. Of course, since the first part of the automatic sequence has been created for you, it really shouldn't be too difficult to add to it and create a completely automated log-on procedure.

Now for the best news: this disk is free from Tymnet. To place your request, call 800-872-7654, extension 115. Both 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch formats can be supplied. An 800 help number is also available. Tymnet's only request is that you flU out a brief survey and mail it back to them. A postage-paid envelope is provided.

Telecommunications isn't always easy. There are numerous details that must be handled correctly for successful transmissions, and it can be difficult to track down the exact problem when things don't work properly. Fortunately, there is help available for both the big and little problems.

We discussed just a few of the possible solutions to the little problems this time. If your particular situation wasn't discussed, perhaps this column at least will encourage you to go online and look for the solution. Post questions on bulletin boards and search software libraries. Good luck, and please share your finds with us ! Janet Balas is a library information systems analyst at the Monroeville Public Library, Monroeville, Pennsylvania. She may be reached via CompuServe (70357,1466); GEnie (J.BALAS); or DialMail (Balas).
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Title Annotation:telecommunications, libraries and online services
Author:Balas, Janet
Publication:Computers in Libraries
Date:Jun 1, 1990
Previous Article:Integrating local library systems and services into a campus network environment.
Next Article:Systems librarian and automation review.

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