Well well well, so Discord are considering selling up to Micro$oft for ~$10B, an astronomical amount of dollar, how could they not want to. Well this leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Personally I never much cared for Discord anyway but it was a means to an end reaching out to other people who did use it and wanted to know more about BBSing so that I could help them transition back into the “real internet”.

This was long ago now, and communities have been built, and now it’s time for us all to move to something new, something better, something secure and best of all, away from the Micro$oft.

I have created my own Matrix server, which is fully federated with the world. This means that if you have an account on matrix.org already you can visit the rooms on my Matrix server as a “guest” and take part in conversations as though you were a local user. The only restriction I have in place is the use of the MRC bridge, this is reserved only for local users of the Matrix server as a “reward” if you will for being part of the community I am building.

If you wish to come check it out, if you already have a matrix account at matrix.org, just add matrix.erb.pw as a server to your available servers list dropdown and then head over to #general:matrix.erb.pw – if you want to create an account on my Matrix server, head over to https://riot.erb.pw right now and come say hi!

Friday, 13th March 2020 – a normal day, a normal Friday, and somehow magical.

As every Friday night goes, 8pm happens and I log into my BBS, and launch MRC, as it’s time for “thE grAvY trAIn” – my turn to host a “meatup”.

Off the bat, there are the usual people in here, Warmfuzzy, Ktulu and cr1mson, but then, after a few minutes, out of the blue… a new person logs in. Who is this? I don’t recognise their name…….. derLotric1989.

So “d” (I will use that for now as typing their whole name right now would mean I have to fight the aftermath of a bottle of red wine) joined in the conversation, and from the get go explained that this was their first experience at BBSing. This is quite a novelty as usually people whom I meet in MRC are old hat sysops.

I explained all about BBSes, how it began, how I began in BBSing for Access Denied (an Amiga BBS) back in the 90’s, writing doors for the BBS. I explained what doors were and what they could be used for. I genuinely felt they were 100% interested.

Anyway, long story short, had a fantastic conversation with them about BBSing and stuff, and I’m hopeful that they will be back next “meatup” for more chatter, and hopefully will see more of them in the message networks once they get set up with some.

BBSing is NOT dead, it’s actually gaining in popularity, especially in the current climate of the “coronavirus”.

So just over two weeks ago I decided to find out how I could attach my new BBS to a second message network, after I managed to get easily connected to the fsxNet (many thanks to Avon in NZ for your help here). I decided that I would go after the biggest name in EchoMail networks that I know about, one that has been around for getting on for 40+ years if my estimate is anywhere near close. Yep, FidoNet was my network of choice. (More information on FidoNet can be found here)

I managed to find an online application form for the network after a little “Googling” and filled it out as best as I could. Fast forward 2 weeks and I get a reply from a guy called Vince who is the Zone 2 (Europe) Coordinator, saying that my IP address and Domain name were not appearing to be within the UK. So after a reply saying that my server is in a Data Centre located in the UK, the IP address did actually come from the UK with evidence, and stated that the domain name was not from the UK, but I use it because it’s short (I wanted a 3 letter domain name) and the TLD was free to use for anyone anywhere in the world (.pw).

After my reply, I got to thinking about it, and to me the whole idea and principal of having your own BBS, especially back in the day, was to have it located actually at home, not in a Data Centre. So even though I have oodles of bandwidth for my server, I decided to move it to my own server at home, and configure my router to accept telnet sessions to and from my server for use with the BBS.

After a few more days I receive the news that I have been allocated a node number, and was given some information to use for my config, and basically I was ready to go. After a little while of setting up the BBS backend to accept this new network, and ironing out a few human errors on my end and a spelling mistake for my name on the HUB end, everything now seems to be working fantastically.

The only real issue I had after everything was set up was that sending a Netmail (that’s a direct message from my node to another unique node) was that I didn’t get a response from the HUB’s AreaFix / FileFix system. AreaFix and FileFix is basically used to subscribe or unsubscribe to different message / file areas on the network. Due to the mis-spelling of my name at the HUB, any Netmail sent from me to AreaFix / FileFix were being sent back to “Christain Sacks” instead of my name, and I only discovered this when I looked in the messages folder and opened the main message file which was luckily in plain text, to see the responses being sent to “Christain Sacks”. After discovering this I went straight into the mailin.ini and added a forward name so that any Netmail coming in to “Christain Sacks” is forwarded to “Christian Sacks”. (Mutil is Mystic’s utility for handling messages and files, and mailin.ini is the configuration file I have to tell Mutil what to do with messages and files). After doing this, and sending one more test echo to AreaFix, I suddenly got the response I was so desperately after.

So, after getting it to work, I messaged the Zone 2 Coordinator to inform of the mistake, and it was rectified immediately. Woohoo, now I have my BBS fully linked up to one of the oldest messaging networks I know about, if not the oldest.

It feels very awesome to be a part of something like this, it’s something I often thought about for many years, and getting my finger out the last month to get my BBS and all the messaging networks is now paying off nicely.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post.

Christain Sacks! 😉

Firstly I would like to make a HUGE thank you to Alan Ianson aka Al from The Rusty MailBox over in Penticton, BC, Canada for his patience, and assistance in the task I created for myself in setting up my own HUB and NET.

Now, with his help, I have got this NET working albeit in a basic form. The NET, is called tqwNet (The Quantum Wormhole Net), and the Zone number is 1337 (*wink*), the Region for the first nodes is set to 1, and the first 2 nodes are me, 1337:1/1 and Al 1337:1/2.

We have now managed to send Netmail to each other directly, so all seems to be working great.

Updates to follow.