Since TidBITS is distributed only electronically (at least by us, others may re-distribute in other ways), many of you have probably come to rely on electronic mail. Most email runs on mainframes or workstations, not because they are better suited to the task, but because they are more often connected to networks. Until ISDN become available most places in the world (for those of you in Europe who already have it, don't hurt yourselves chortling :-)), the rest of us will have to rely on other methods of connecting our Macs to the e-world.
Until recently, the process of setting up email on a Mac was relatively expensive with packages such as CE Software's QuickMail and its accompanying bridges. The best alternatives were arcane ports of Unix's uucp software with minimal Mac interface options. Since MacTCP has been out though, more mail packages are showing up because MacTCP makes it much easier for a Mac to communicate with a host computer also running TCP/IP. The two latest programs, Eudora from Steve Dorner and MacPost from Lund University in Sweden, share the admirable feature of being free.
Eudora is at version 1.1 and is available via anonymous FTP from ux1.cso.uiuc.edu in the mac/eudora subdirectory. Eudora can use the POP3 (can't for the life of me remember what this stands for, Post Office Protocol, perhaps?) and SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) protocols. More importantly for those of us not directly linked to the Internet, Eudora works with either MacTCP or the Communications Toolbox, though Steve Dorner says "there are some gotchas in the latter." Feature include nicknames, multiple mailboxes, automatic mail checking, and automatic binhex/de-binhex of Mac documents. Source code and a 60 page manual are both available, and all Steve asks is that you tell him that you are using Eudora and that you send him any feedback you may have. I haven't gotten a chance to try Eudora personally, not having access to either the Comm Toolbox or MacTCP, but John Norstad, author of Disinfectant, said he uses Eudora and finds it extremely useful and stable.
The other package, MacPost 1.0b2 is the result of a joint project between Apple and Lund University. It is a bit heavier on the hardware side because it runs a client/server which requires a dedicated Mac running MacTCP as the server. The server must also be connected to an SMTP server on the Internet. MacPost is available via anonymous ftp from pollux.lu.se (18.104.22.168) in pub/mac/comm/macpost. The client and server communicate over AppleTalk, which limits the extent of the server to an AppleTalk internet, but dial-in access through Liaison or Shiva's NetModem is possible as well. So if you are looking for email access to the Internet and can get a connection, check out these package. If nothing else, they're more than worth the price you pay.