Chapter 13



Utilities and Miscellany


Okay, I admit it; I've run into a completely ambiguous group of software that isn't really related in any way. I'm talking about programs such as CU-SeeMe, Maven, Archie, Finger, Talk, IRC, and a number of others. They do a variety of things, but most are one-trick ponies, so I've decided to lump them all together here, along with a couple of files you might want to get that are purely documentation.


CU-SeeMe


Cornell University's CU-SeeMe provides video conferencing over the Internet. Nothing more, nothing less, but if you've seen the prices for some of the video conferencing software available, you realize what an incredible accomplishment this free program is.

To use CU-SeeMe to receive video, all you need is a WinSock-based Internet connection, the faster the better. If you want to send video as well, you must have a video-input card. And, of course, you must have a video camera.

When you launch CU-SeeMe, it asks for some preferences. Fill in your name and check the appropriate settings boxes (see figure 13.45). Since I don't have a video-board or a camera, I wasn't able to send video, but for just viewing with CU-SeeMe there's no need.

Figure 13.45: CU-SeeMe Preferences window.

Once in CU-SeeMe, go to the Conference menu and choose Connect. You must know the address to type in the Connection dialog. You can use CU-SeeMe in either point-to-point mode with another person (at which point you type in his or her address) or broadcast mode with a CU-SeeMe reflector.

A reflector takes incoming streams from CU-SeeMe and reflects them back out to people who connect. Using a reflector, you can view up to eight windows on screen at the same time. I entered 132.236.91.204, which is one of Cornell's reflectors. Along with my window, which is black because I don't have a camera and am not sending to the reflector, seven other video windows appeared on my screen, along with the audio controls (which do not work at all if you connect over a modem). Figure 13.46 shows what eight simultaneous active connections look like.

Figure 13.46: CU-SeeMe windows.

As you can see, the windows are fairly broken up, and most haven't updated very well. That's partly a result of my poor modem trying to constantly bring in all the streams of video. If I close all of the unnecessary windows, the pictures in the remaining two get significantly better (see figure 13.47).

Figure 13.47: More CU-SeeMe windows.

That's about all there is to using CU-SeeMe, although if you can send video, you can also type scrolling messages along the bottom or top of the screen. When using dialup connections to the Internet, the quality of the CU-SeeMe images is good, but there is essentially no motion to them -- they're just screen shots separated in time by a few seconds. Even still, it's impressive that CU-SeeMe works at all over a modem, especially since Cornell hadn't gotten around to optimizing it for modem usage, last I checked.

NOTE: CU-SeeMe works its magic by only transmitting information that has changed since the previous image -- that significantly reduces the amount of data it must pump over the Internet, since not too many pixels change from one second to the next in most headshot video. Even very expressive people don't move their faces around that much.

The most recent version of CU-SeeMe added a neat feature that tells you whether other people have your video stream open on their screens. The eye-con (sorry, not my fault) is open if they can see you and closed if they cannot.

CU-SeeMe (which was primarily written by Tim Dorcey) is freely available for both the Macintosh and the PC, although in terms of development, the Mac version is well ahead of the PC one. You can retrieve the latest version of CU-SeeMe from the following URL:

ftp://gated.cornell.edu/pub/video/PC.CU-SeeMeW0.34b4/


Internet Voice Chat


Along with Cornell's CU-SeeMe, Internet Voice Chat, from Richard L. Ahrens, is a step toward turning the Internet into a general-purpose communication medium. Where CU-SeeMe provides video, Internet Voice Chat provides only audio. In some respects this seems silly, since a telephone does exactly the same thing, and generally for less money, but with the costs of international phone calls, I could see programs such as Internet Voice Chat becoming all too popular (in fact, they might seriously overload the networks).

IVC is shareware, and the price tag is $25. You may wish to download it from CICA:

ftp://ftp.cica.indiana.edu/pub/pc/win3/winsock/ivc11.zip


Time Sync and Tardis


I used to be truly retentive about always being on time and knowing exactly what time it was. I remember as a child being thoroughly pleased when I got my first digital watch. (I also remember becoming slightly ashamed when I read Douglas Adams' gentle put-down of people who thought that digital watches were pretty cool things.) And, of course, I grew up in the highly regimented world of high school and college, where a few minutes one way or another were important for some unknown reason. Moving to Seattle cured me of much of my concern about time, but still, it's nice to know whether your VCR is accurate -- otherwise you'll miss the first few minutes of a TV show, or even worse, the last few minutes.

That's why I thoroughly enjoy Tardis, a shareware control panel from H.C. Mingham-Smith. Tardis is a perfect example of a simple utility dedicated to performing a task in an elegant fashion. All it does is synchronize the clock in your PC with what's called a network time server, which is a special program on an Internet host that speaks the Network Time Protocol (NTP). Internet machines use multiple network time servers on other Internet machines to keep their clocks in synch, and, a number of hops on down the Internet, one of the machines gets its time from an atomic clock. Needless to say, an Internet machine that gets its time from a source several hops away from the atomic clock won't be perfectly accurate due to variables in network traffic, the load on the machine, and so on. However, it will easily be close enough for normal use -- perhaps within a second or two. NTP itself can supposedly provide accuracy to 232 picoseconds, although I seldom believe any numbers that are that accurate.

NOTE: This probably isn't relevant to the Internet, but while working in operations at a major university, I frequently had the (dis)pleasure of having to bootstrap the Cyber mainframe. The first thing it would ask was "Enter the time," which I would dutifully transfer from my fantastically accurate Armitron digital watch. I knew there were people out there who used that mainframe's time as accurate time. Perhaps they thought it was synchronized to an atomic clock. Heh heh.

A public domain NTP client, Time Sync, from Brad Greer at the University of Washington, works in a similar fashion. The setup is a little harder to deal with, but if you don't want to shell out $20 for a time synchronization application, Time Synch is probably your better bet.


Installation and Setup

Tardis's control panel is simple to set up. Although you can drag it into your Program Manager's Startup group and reboot, there isn't really any need to do so, unless you want Network Time to check your PC's clock periodically and synchronize it with the network time server. All that you really need to do is open the program, enter the name or IP number of your network time server (ask your system administrator or provider, or try guessing at one of the machines you use for your NNTP server or SMTP server), and customize the other options (see figure 13.48).

Figure 13.48: Tardis configuration screen.

The options are quite clever. You can set Tardis to check at every startup or every hour or so. You can set the maximum correction, and it can also retry automatically if something goes wrong. Finally, you can set your time zone from a drop down list of time zones, and you can configure your daylight savings time rule, choosing from a list of different methods from different countries.

Time Sync is a little more complicated to set up than Tardis. You configure it roughly the same way. Start the program and tell it your NTP server. You then need to figure out how many minutes you are from Greenwich Mean Time (I'm in the Pacific Time Zone, so I'm 8 hours, or 480 minutes, behind) -- convenient for those of us that live on islands in the Indian Ocean and are off by incremental half-hours. The options for daylight savings time aren't as flexible as Tardis, but there are few places in the United States (if any), that this would make a difference (either you use daylight savings or you don't).

Figure 13.49: Time Sync configuration screen.


Basic Usage

Using Network Time is simplicity itself. If you never want to see it working, configure it to set the time at every startup, making sure to wait for WinSock if you aren't directly connected to the Internet. I've tried this and it works like a charm. However, many people prefer not to run unnecessary programs, and unless you're really picky about your time, or your PC's clock is seriously fast or slow, you may just want to leave Network Time with the rest of your Internet programs, open it every now and then when you're connected, and click on its Set Time button. Poof, it updates the time for you.

NOTE: I don't recommend that you use any Network Time program as a start-up program for Windows if you are using a dialup connection, which you probably are. Unless you are using one of the WinSock stacks that does not dial automatically, it will assuredly fail. If you are using a dial-on-demand WinSock, do you really want to dialup every time you launch Windows? I think not.


Overall Evaluation

Tardis is definitely the way to go for individuals wanting a nice interface to synchronize clocks. It's clean, simple to use, and has elegant touches such as the selection of your daylight savings time rule. Tardis also has a help file that tells you not only what a button or control does, but explains why you might want to use it.

For those of us who aren't as picky about the interface, Brad Greer's Time Sync is sufficient to get the job done.


Administrative Details

Tardis is shareware. If you decide to use this, you can send $20 (or the rough equivalent in your local currency) via snail mail to:

H. C. Mingham-Smith 33 Arthur Rd. Wokingham, Berkshire RG11 2SS England

You can retrieve the latest version of Tardis from:

ftp://ftp.cica.indiana.edu/pub/pc/win3/winsock/tardis.zip

Time Sync is public domain, so if it makes you feel better, you can send a thank you to Brad Greer via email (brad@cac.washington.edu).

You can retrieve the latest version of Time Sync from either of these sites:

ftp://ftp.cica.indiana.edu/pub/pc/win3/winsock/tsync1_8.zip

ftp://ftphost.cac.washington.edu/pub/winsock/tsync1_8.zip


WSArchie


I reviewed WSArchie in the first edition just after it was released as alpha software. WSArchie is still considered alpha software, but is now up to release 0.7. Nonetheless, it is an extremely useful piece of software to have in your arsenal. Paired with WS_FTP, WSArchie makes for a wonderful method to search and retrieve files from the Internet.


Basic Usage

Install WSArchie as you have many of the programs in this chapter, by creating a directory for it, unzipping ws_archie.zip into that directory and creating an item for it in the Windows Program Manager.

The first time you run WSArchie, you enter a relevant server in the Archie Server drop-down list box. By clicking on the down arrow, you can choose from the list of available servers -- keeping in mind that servers on the same continent are going to work faster for you than ones that are a satellite-link away. The Search For box seems pretty self-explanatory: it's the item for which you are looking. We'll get to the radio buttons on the right in a minute.

New to the more recent releases is the ability to change your FTP program within WSArchie. From the Options menu, click on FTP Setup. You need to change the values in this box to reflect your own information. It will more than likely look like what you see in figure 13.50.

Figure 13.50: WSArchie's FTP Setup.

Now the question that you may be asking at this point is, "If this is Archie, why do I need to set up FTP?" The answer to that question is that any good Archie client also enables you to retrieve the file that you've just found. For this particular Archie, I would suggest that you retrieve the companion program WS_FTP ("companion" in the sense that WSArchie suggests using WS_FTP, because it's the only FTP client that works well with WSArchie). This enables you to use the option to fetch the file you've selected from the list.

Selecting one of the radio button options tells Archie how you would like to match your text with items Archie finds on FTP severs. For instance, you can have Archie find "cow" in Moscow, cow, and scowl -- but not Cowabunga or Cow-list in a case sensitive search (see figure 13.51). You can use F1 to get an explanation of all the other Search types.

Figure 13.51: WSArchie query.

Once an item is found, you may be able to retrieve it from the site listed. If you've set up WS_FTP in the FTP setup, you retrieve the file simply by highlighting it in the files list box and selecting Retrieve from the File Menu. I like this feature a lot, because it completes the circle for me. When I go looking for a file on the Internet using Archie, it's not usually because I just need to know where find it. It's because I want the file, and this feature of WSArchie makes the retrieval easy.


Special Features

Below the Hosts, Directories, and Files list boxes, WSArchie displays all of the detailed information regarding the currently selected file. This is nice when I'm wondering how big the file is or when it was placed in this archive. Also, you can set up defaults for all the setting in the main screen by selecting User Preferences from the Options menu.


Overall Evaluation

When combined with WS_FTP, this Archie client is among the best that I've seen. It does all the mundane things that an Archie should do -- like enabling me to choose a particular server to query and to set the query type. The addition of automatically FTPing the file is a nice touch that I've enjoyed in X Windows versions. The only feature that may be missing from this Archie would be a way to set the niceness of my query. Niceness is a way on indicating to the Archie server how much priority to give this query. Low-priority queries take longer to return results than high-priority ones. It's possible that David Woakes, the author, simply assumed (correctly) that, given the choice, everyone would choose the highest priority.


Administrative Details

This WSArchie has been lingering in the alpha stage for some time now (alpha version 0.7), but I've found no problems with it so far. Congratulations to David Woakes, the author of the first really great Archie for Windows. According to the files that come with WSArchie, it can be distributed freely and used without charge at your own risk.

WSArchie can be found at:

ftp://ftp.tidbits.com/pub/tiskwin/wsarch06.zip


Finger 3.1


Finger is, a its name might imply, a very personal sort of information tool. Fingering someone is an attempt to find out information about an individual based upon information that you do have, like a userid and domain name (or IP address). This is all accomplished by a finger server, fingerd, usually (but not always) on a Unix platform. The finger server program, based upon a request from some client, looks up various information about an particular login name and returns that to the requester. This information usually includes, but isn't limited to, the real name of the person, when she last logged in, if she is currently logged in, and the contents of a file called .plan.

More interesting to most people is the Finger program itself, which enables you to finger other people. I find Finger useful for accessing certain types of information over the Internet. People put all sorts of neat things in their Plan files, ranging from the latest reports of earthquake activity to current baseball scores.


Installation and Setup

There are a few programs out there which act as clients. Lee Murach's Finger 3.1 is my favorite. Installing Finger 3.1 is as simple as unzipping the file finger31.zip onto an area of your hard disk, and creating a program item for Windows. You'll notice that finger31.zip unpacks a lot of filename.c and source code-type things, but you don't really need them to run Finger. If you aren't interested in WinSock C source code, you can delete everything except finger.exe.


Basic Usage

Operating Finger is simplicity itself. Open the application by double-clicking on the program item that you created in installation, and choose Host from the Host menu. Finger then allows you to type in a host name and a username to finger. For example, let's try yanoff@csd4.csd.uwm.edu.

Figure 13.52: Finger host and username.

Now, assuming that the remote machine is up and running, you should see the results of the Finger search appear on your screen (see figure 13.53).

Figure 13.53: Finger results window.


Special Features

About the only other thing that you can do with Finger is to leave the username field blank, and (in some cases) get a listing of everyone on the host that you've named. This is useful if you're fingering a multiuser system such as Unix. However, as more and more PCs enter onto the Internet, this becomes less and less useful.


Overall Evaluation

I like Finger a lot. It's small, sweet, and to the point. As long as people continue to store useful bits of information in .plan files, Finger remains an essential part of your WinSock software kit.

I haven't run into any problems with Finger other than some sites not responding. But that isn't Finger's fault. Some system administrators consider Finger to be a security risk and block requests to Finger (because it sometimes gives out more information about the system than many people are comfortable giving out). Sometimes, system loads prevent the Finger daemon from responding to Finger clients. For these reasons, some machines do not respond to your Finger requests.


Administrative Details

Though it comes with several versions of his readme file, Lee says nothing about the legal status of either the program executable or the source code.

Finger is available at:

ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/micro/pc-stuff/ms-windows/WinSock/apps/


WinSock Finger


An alternative to Finger 3.1 is WinSock Finger from Tidewater Systems. WinSock Finger enables you to do WhoIs queries as well as Finger queries. WhoIs has some of the same types of information as Finger, but WhoIs information tends to be in more centralized databases such as rs.internic.net. Information from WhoIs searches can include information about Internet domain names as well as companies and individuals.


Basic Usage

After launching WinSock Finger, simply click the Finger button on the toolbar. It works very much like Finger 3.1. The main difference in the Finger portion is that WinSock Finger saves the last few queries in case you would like to repeat them.

If you'd like to do a WhoIs query, click on the WhoIs button.

Figure 13.54: WinSock Finger WhoIs Query dialog.

If you want to access a WhoIs server (a different Unix program that looks up information about many different things), check that box, enter the name of the person/machine/domain you want learn about in the User field, and rs.internic.net in the Machine field. Then click on the Finger button to have Finger go out and execute your request.

Figure 13.55: WhoIs results window.

You can print the results window or copy information from it if you so choose. You can find WinSock Finger at:

ftp://ftp.tidbits.com/pub/tiskwin/wfngrd12.zip


WinTalk


WinTalk, a great little piece of freeware written by Glen Daniels for ELF Communications, implements the Unix talk protocol in Windows, providing a nice Windows interface in the process. I almost never use WinTalk, not because there's anything wrong with it, but merely because I find email to be a much more efficient use of my time. Even though I type pretty quickly, I dislike typing under pressure and that's always what it feels like when I use WinTalk.

After you launch WinTalk, you are left with an icon that waits for someone else to connect. You might want to click on the icon and then choose Configure on the little system menu that pops up. You get a dialog box that lets you configure all of your options , such as what your username is and who you wish to receive connections from (see figure 13.56).

Figure 13.56: WinTalk Configuration.

If you wish to initiate a conversation, click on the icon and choose Talk from the File menu. WinTalk presents you with a small dialog box that looks almost exactly like Finger's dialog box, except that you can choose which method of talk you want to try (try the new ntalk first, and if that doesn't work, try old-fashioned talk). You can type a username and a machine in the two fields provided.

When you click on the Talk button, a window pops up that shows the status of your call to your friend at the bottom, and two panes: one for you to type in, and one for the other person to type to you. At this point, WinTalk notifies your friend to alert him to your talk request. After your party makes the connection, you see Connected!! in the status line at the bottom (see figure 13.57).

Figure 13.57: Talk window.

You type in the top pane and your friend types in the bottom pane. (I had to fake figure 13.57; I'm actually talking to myself on the same machine. Alas, at 4:30 a.m., when I wrote this section, I have no friends.)

If you have a use for WinTalk, it's worth getting. It enables you to save a drop-down menu of the people you commonly talk to, and the interface is uncluttered and simple.

WinTalk works as a talk daemon, too, so as long as it is running, you can accept requests from others who want to talk to you. WinTalk is freeware, but I'm sure thank you's are welcome at wintalk@elf.com.

You can retrieve WinTalk from:

ftp://elf.com/pub/wintalk/wtalk11a.zip


WSIRC


WSIRC currently the best app for Internet Relay Chat (IRC). It enables you to participate in worldwide Internet chats from the comfort of your PC.

WSIRC takes the traditional approach to IRC, providing you with toolbar buttons for such functions as listing all groups, joining groups, leaving groups and taking operator privileges. It provides you with a main control window in which you can do your administrative commands, plus a window for each group that you join. This makes it somewhat cluttered for monitoring multiple conversations, but then again, you normally only truly follow one conversation at a time anyway. This client supports Direct Client to Client, which allows you to have a truly private conversation with a party without having to worry about the folks running the IRC server eavesdropping. It's hard for me to say much more about WSIRC, but it looks like a pretty reasonable interface for using IRC (see figure 13.58).

Figure 13.40: WSIRC windows.

Caesar Samsi, the author of WSIRC, has created an interesting way of distributing WSIRC. He has a freeware version which supports 2 channels, a shareware evaluation version which supports 5 channels and more functionality, and a commercial version which supports 255 channels. He has provided the freeware version for people who have no other access to a client.

You can contact Caesar at csamsi@clark.net or 72030.562@compuserve.com. You can obtain the latest copy of WSIRC from the following:

ftp://cs.bu.eu/irc/clients/pc/windows/wsirc14b.zip


IRC Client for Windows


This is another IRC client for Windows, as the name implies. Since I don't use IRC all that much, it's hard to rate this program in regard to others. It doesn't seem to have many of the functions of WSIRC, but it does have some other things, like an autoexec.irc which you can use to set up an automatically executed set of commands upon startup. If you would like to try this out, the latest version is at:

ftp://ftp.cica.indiana.edu/pub/pc/win3/winsock/irc4win.zip


WinWorld


Eric Stern's WinWorld is a Windows-based dedicated MUD client program, something you can use instead of raw Telnet to access a MUD. It has a few features that make it a little more useful than Telnet, such as being line-oriented (so you have an edit line to compose on before sending your command), a command history that you can use to avoid retyping commands, and several built-in macros.

WinWorld comes the closest of the MUD clients I've seen to being very useful. My major complaint is that there is no scroll lock in this version, so if more text comes on the screen while you are reading something, it could scroll off the screen before you read it. The interface is simple enough to understand, and for an alpha release shows a lot of promise.

Eric is providing this as donationware. With the 0.1a, the VBX that he uses for TCP/IP functionality has become shareware, so you'll get the copyright notice for this program at startup. If you would like to download this, you can get it from:

ftp://ftp.mgl.ca/pub/winworld/wworld02.zip

NOTE: VBX, for those of you who don't deal with Microsoft, stands for Visual Basic eXtension. VBXs are really a misnomer because you can use VBXs in almost any programming language as long as the developer follows strict programming coding standards.

Check out your windows/system subdirectory. I bet you have at least one .vbx file there. If you do, chances are you also have the Visual Basic runtime libraries: vbrun200.dll for version 2.0 and vbrun300.dll for version 3.0.


VWMud Master


VWMud Master is a combat-oriented MUD client that has movement buttons and common commands all in nice little buttons. However, if you are on a machine any slower than a Pentium, there is a really annoying flicker in the text window on this program. In addition, VWMud Master forces you to give it an IP number address rather than the name of the server (perhaps this VBX cannot perform a name server lookup). This program is geared toward MUDs in which you have to send lots of quick battle commands, so this could be the program for you, especially if improvements are made to it. My experience was that it seemed like more of a hassle than connecting directly via Telnet.

If you'd like to try this program yourself, you can load it from:

ftp://ftpmicroserve.com/pub/msdos/winsock/vwmud107.zip


MudWin


MudWin is yet another MUD client. It has a much simpler interface than the others, but has a problem with handling MUD servers that don't send carriage returns followed by linefeeds (which are a lot of them, since Unix doesn't deal with the pair). Consequently, the formatting is all messed up. The window doesn't automatically scroll, either. It does have a nice scrollback buffer though, and the fact that it doesn't automatically scroll makes it easier to read text that has scrolled off of your screen. If you want to download this program, you can find it at:

ftp://ftp.std.com/pub/sdenton/mudwin.zip


Windows Help Files for TCP/IP Protocol and Management


This file doesn't really belong here as a WinSock application. However, it does have a lot to do with TCP/IP, so in a sense it does belong here.

This is a set of help files intended for folks who really want to understand the Internet. The focus is on network administrators trying to grasp the basics they need to intelligently set up their network for Internet connectivity. If all you are interested in is setting up your home PC to connect to the Internet via modem, you probably aren't interested in this document.

Having said this, these help files guide you through the gory details of the Internet. One file covers the underlying concepts of TCP/IP, such as explaining the difference between TCP and IP in technical terms and explaining what many of the acronyms mean (SMTP, UDP, ICMP, ARP). It also explains datagrams, subnets and broadcasting, routing, and hardware addressing, and lots of other highly technical jazz.

The other help file explores the administration of a TCP/IP network and covers routing and addressing -- including choosing an address structure and designing a naming convention. It also explores the implications of dialup IP and dynamic addressing. And in both files there are lots of pretty pictures scattered throughout to help clarify matters.

Once again, this isn't a file for beginners, but if you don't feel intimidated by all of this technical talk, this is a very interesting file to look through to get to the nuts and bolts of the Internet.

You can find this at:

ftp://ftp.cica.indiana.edu/pub/pc/win3/winsock/iphlp.zip