In the beginning Eskimo North was a single line BBS, with a pretty nice functional message, e-mail, upload/download, and games section. We had a good online community with a lot of participation. Then we moved to a multi-user system, Xenix based, lost a lot of that functionality. Still had an online community in local news groups and that was gatewayed to a message system, but participation not as strong. Wrote a conference system and that was pretty popular for a while, still occasionally gets some use by those that use shell, or the old esh menu system, but not much. Nowdays, local news groups are where most of what is left of any community we had reside, and there is still considerable participation there but probably only about 10% of the total userbase. We used to have something called "learn" online that was an interactive unix tutorial. It was a useful resource for a lot of people. The vast majority of newcomers to the net though know nothing of shell access, the web is the main application and even configuring things like pop3 mail is more than a lot of people want to deal with. This I believe is why so few people participate in the local groups. I talked to a number of folks, but one person in particular who was with us back when we were a single line BBS, helped with the first Xenix system and the porting of Xenix to SunOS. It was a lot of fun back then, he agreed, and I want to re-create an environment that encourages that type of participation but on a modern platform in a modern way (accessible via web browsers). This doesn't mean that I'm intent on ditching shell services or all of the things you can do in shell, the contrary, the intent is to make all of these capabilities available to people who don't presently know about them and in a way that doesn't require they become a computer guru to use them. Instead of taking the AOL approach and dumming things down, my desire and intent is to make things simple to use from a web browser, but gatewayed, so for example people seeing a topic in a room message system on the web could read/participate from a news reader if they wanted. The prevailing corporate model of the Internet, and of the world for that matter, is one of a handful of producers, in the case of the Internet, producers of "content", and "consumers", you folks. This is NOT the model that I believe the world needs, in fact I'm convinced that the whole "consumer" model is what is killing this planet. It's a model designed to funnel resources from the masses into the hands of a few. It's a model designed to allow the ideas of a few to control the masses. It's a model that is just plain wrong. What I want to expand greatly here is an electronic community, were everybody is a participant, NOT a consumer. Where is it easy for people to share ideas and to get together with others with similar ideas. I want this to be FUN again! And of coarse that will have to involve some games! But more than that I also want it to empower people to share their ideas, and to market their ideas, skills, products so that they can participate not only in an electronic community here, but in the world community, intellectually, and economically. This is not what big corporations want and I know I will continue to be met with opposition. But I've got so much positive response, I'm pumped! I'm convince this can happen, and I've got quite a few offers from people to help with the coding, and we'll need it, this is going to be a massive complex undertaking. I still need your help, long term subscriptions appreciated, and at this point if anybody is willing to help with some short term financing, please talk to me. I've applied for a line of credit and if that flies perhaps that will be all that is needed, but I'd really like to know there are alternatives if it doesn't. Here are some things I've got planned... Data congestion issues, third T1 due to be installed June 11, should take care of that. News server... I've found a platform that will allow me to build a disk spool large enough for decent retention without article loss and growable enough to survive a couple of years (and maybe more if larger drives become available in that time frame). It's going to cost a lot though, but I also know it will be a source of revenue because we can provide NNTP read/post to other ISP's and with the current dearth of news servers able to handle the volume I'm sure it will sell once we get it operational and word gets out. Overall stability, I've got a platform now running Linux under UltraSparc that is stable provided I don't connect broken tape drives to the same bus the disks are on (and I'm pretty convinced anything manufactured by Exabyte falls within the definition of broken). One of the things I am planning on doing is creating a second userspace partition which will do to things, it will serve as an on-line backup, and it will serve as a static file system from which I can write dump tapes that will be more reliable. Dump doesn't work well on a file system that has changing data because it maps out the file system at the beginning of the dump, then writes to tape based on that map. When things move on disk it can't find then and they don't get written to tape. So I'll do a file by file copy, like cp -a to this partition, then dump it to tape, and that data will stay on that second partition until the next backup so things from the latest will will be available via a fast disk-to-disk copy for things like deletions on expired accounts, accidental deletions, or system crashes. I plan on basically re-vamping the whole network and servers here to UltraSparc E200's with switched 100-base-T and removing the FDDI which is just no longer a well supported media (and that is unfortunate because it really is a good high performance media). 100-base-T switches have become cheap and plentiful so this is where I'm going to go to get the LAN bandwidth we need. I plan on condensing the functions of 12 lower powered machines into approximately 7 UltraSparc boxes, and one SS-10 that is eskimo.com. The machines will be something along this line: Eskimo.com/ SS-10 current shell server and game server. Isumataq.eskimo.com Chat will function as a Linux based alternative for shell related services. I need to keep this machine alive though for legacy applications and software licensed to this box. The existing mail.eskimo.com hardware is same architecture and will serve as a maintenance spare since parts are getting difficult to come by. Eskinews.com Ultra1 E200 with 3 SCSI controllers and 16 70GB drives for news spool. 100-base-T net connection. Will replace ancient Sun 4/670 with 10-base-T and 4 49GB drives. Chat.eskimo.com Ultra1 will replace IPX, and will provide general shell services for those needing Linux as well as allowing current eggdrops to run. Also games that require Linux. This will also probably handle some incoming SMTP and list expansion. Hub.eskimo.com/ IRC.eskimo.com Ultra1 E200 to replace both IRC hub and client servers with one box. Ultra1.eskimo.com Ultra1 E200 presently in service. Replaced an unstable version of an Ultra1 non-Enterprise version. The workstation version had a memory refresh bug and a SCSI controller that was buggy causing instability. It will also replace pop3, imapd, and client smtp functions of mail.eskimo.com. The reason is to get all of these services working on local disk and eliminate NFS dependencies. ws1.eskimo.com Ultra1 E200 will replace LX. Workstation and will contain some authentication servers, RADIUS. invisible.eskimo.com Ultra1 E200 will replace LX. Workstation and some client data. There is the possibility of another Ultra1 E200 to handle mail if the load becomes too high. Having all the same architecture will make it practical to keep spares on hand. As things currently exist we've got six different machine architectures, a PC, IPX's, LX's, SS-10's, a 4/670, and an Ultra1 E200. This is what I have intended to transition to for hosts, a lot of software changes will be involved as well, which include pop3 before SMTP for e-mail to get rid of ident and wrappers so that people coming from outside will be able to use mail without bad DNS causing problems, without NAT and firewalls breaking identd, etc. It my intent to write a message system that interprets local news groups, so that the news groups and the message rooms share common data, but the inane headers present on Usenet articles won't be visible in the room message system. The intent is to make it available both from shell, direct dial, telnet, and on the web. I also intend to port or have someone port our conference program to java so we can make it available on the web. There is some software that allows you to have an X-session in a web browser. We are trying to chase that down and if licensing is reasonable it could allow us to do things like interactive Unix tutorials like we had online so many years ago but webified. None of this should be construed as replacing the shell environment, it will just be another way to access that environment that anybody with a web browser can use. I want to get php and serveletts on the web server as well, but still researching some security issues there. I applied for a merchant account today at Bank America, for Visa/Mastercard and some others, and they have a way of processing cards online. Some of my customers are using it on their websites which is how I became aware of it. We'll have the ability if we're not rejected, to accept cards either over the phone/mail, or on the web securely and once we know how to do it we should be able to help customers do it and be able to provide true e-commerce solutions. For those that aren't aware, an SQL database (postgres) is available for use here. If you go to our main web page, 'www.eskimo.com' you can see a search option in the access numbers section that is using it. Seems to be working pretty well. To get back to things here, what I'm trying to get back to is having a true electronic community, with a room message system on the web as well as available via shell, direct dial-up, etc, an e-mail interface on the web, a conference program on the web that I think is a nicer interface than IRC, an online tutorial on various subjects, Unix, C, web programming, etc, an e-commerce solution so that anyone can make their products or services available for sale on the web economically. Another thing I'm contemplating is kind of an electronic match-making thing except that it would be more, hm, how can I put this, versatile. The idea is to create something of a database of people, for those who want to participate, and the idea is to make it something that is useful not just for the tradional function of finding a mate, but for finding people with common interests. For example, let's say you're on a health kick (like I am) and you're trying to learn something knew, tennis, raquetball, wind-surfing, whatever, you could go to this database and find other people with similiar interests. And part of the idea here would be a secure communications facility, so if you find someone you want to communicate with you could click and send them a message without it giving you their e-mail address, so that it wouldn't be a convienient tool for spammers, but would be a good communications tool. Nobody would be forced to participate, but I think a lot of people would, and if it were integrated well with the rest of the environment, it would encourage communications. Personally, I believe we're all made of the same stuff, our lives all spring from the same life energy, and we should all love each other and all this craziness in the world should end. We shouldn't kill each other because of skin color or religious views or what have you. And we should be treating the rest of the planet with respect, other life forms, and creating a way of life that is sustainable. This current thing we're on where we pump hydrocarbons out of the ground and burn them at ever increasing rates to produce junk we don't need and sell it so we can make a profit is just screwed. There is enough food on this planet for everyone not to starve and still people go hungry. There is enough clean renewable energy resources to build a sustainable enconomy and still we pump hydrocarbons out of the ground and burn them, and use Uranium and create a whole bunch of new radioactive crap that we don't know how to get rid of. There is a better way and developing a sense of world community that we all can participate in is part of what we need to get there. The Internet has a totally unrealized capacity to greatly enhance this possibility but it is almost totally unrealized today and the corporate muckymucks want to keep it that way so they can keep selling useless crap. Help me folks! We can build a better future and stop killing each other and destroying our planet. We can live a good life without exploiting each other and hating each other and doing all the stupid crap we do to each other now. But I need your help to make this fly; and it's not a solution to all the worlds problems, I'm not touting it as such, but if we can build and sustain and grow a good electronic community in this corner of cyberspace, people will see that it is good and they will clone it and expand upon it and improve upon it and our lives will all get better and the planet will become a better place for it. I need you to help me continue to make this economically viable, bring new customers here. If you can subscribe for longer terms, then it provides necessary funds up front and it takes less time to do accounting which means more time to do real work and move towards these goals. Sorry this is so long winded, I still feel like there is a lot that I haven't communicated, but I hope some of you that have been scratching your heads and wondering what the hell is up with that guy now can appreciate what is motivating me and I hope that some of you will support my efforts, actually many of you are but not enough to move forward. We've stagnated for five years, kind of moved sideways. I do not want to continue to do that. This is really a last ditch desperate effort. I'm 42 now, I was 23 when I started this. A lot of years have gone by and things were fuzzy for many of those years, but they are coming into focus now and I really feel it's now or never. If things go too much further without a real world online community gelling, the corporate mucky-mucks are going to win and we're all doomed.