Z*Magazine: 25-Oct-86 #2.3

From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 07/03/93-08:48:25 PM Z

From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Subject: Z*Magazine: 25-Oct-86 #2.3
Date: Sat Jul  3 20:48:25 1993

[This copy of Z*Mag 25-Oct-86 #2.3 is incomplete.--aa700]
October 25, 1986          Issue 2.3
Publisher/Cheif Editor:Ron Kovacs
Assistant Editor:Larry Mihalik
Assistant Publishers:
Ken Kirchner
Larry Mihalik
Xx Editors Column

Welcome to the constant changing
face of New Jersey Zmag.

In the weeks to come we will continue
updating our issues to make them 
more interesting and diversified in
topics to keep all our readers

Please call these New ZMAG Systems.

THE SURF CITY BBS-  201-929-9351
THE CULT BBS        201-727-2274
SANDY BEACH         201-356-8411

Due to the extended length of this
weeks issue, The Zmag BBS Systems
list will appear next week.


  Maryland police have closed down
what they describe as a "pirate
bulletin board" called "The British
Exchange" which they say was dealing
in stolen phone codes from MCI
Telecommunications Corp. and other
phone companies.

  Police Cpl. Brian Uppercue told
United Press International in Towson,
Md., that a weekend raid in the
Annapolis area resulted in the
seizure of three complete computer
systems and peripherals.

  The raid follows a three-month
investigation, he said, in which it
was determined the computer bulletin
board system was used for the sharing
of stolen phone access codes from
MCI, Sprint and AT&T, as well as
stolen credit card numbers.

  No arrests have been made because,
reports UPI, "police did not catch
the (crackers) using the stolen

  The case is to be referred to the
Baltimore County grand jury, which
will be asked to issue indictments,
police say.

  This is the second cracker raid
in Baltimore County since Sept. 12,
when police seized two computer
systems, but did not turn up the BBS

  As reported in a September issue
of Zmagazine, police have credited
new "anti-fraud software" installed
in MCI's switching system for
enabling authorities to trace
alleged crackers.

  Congress and the president want
to take a bite out of computer
crime, and that's just what they
will do with the enactment into
public law (99- 474) of the Computer
Crime and Abuse Act (S 2281 and HR
4718). President Reagan signed the
bill into law late last week
following numerous congressional
hearings and compromises over a
period of several years.

  Originally introduced in the
Senate by Sen. Paul Trible (R- Va.)
and in the House by Rep. William
Hughes (D-N.J.), the measure will
expand the protections against
computer crime currently governed
by the nation's first computer crime
statute (18 USC 1030), enacted in
the last days of the 98th Congress
in 1984.

  This updated law will clarify
specific portions of the first statute
making it punishable for unauthorized
users to electronically trespass into
the federal government's computers
or the computers of federally insured
financial institutions with the
purpose of intentionally destroying
computer data or committing fraud
via computer.

  In addition, the same offenses
will be covered when the crime itself
is interstate in nature, as well as
permit prosecution of those who traffic
in computer passwords belonging to

  Federal computer crime laws have
notoriously lagged behind the
technology.  A majority of states
have enacted their own laws, but
computer crime transcends the
boundaries of states, requiring an
effective national law.

  A 25-year-old former college
student was sentenced yesterday to
30 months' probation and ordered to
undergo counseling after he pleaded
guilty to breaking into his college's
computer and altering academic records
for himself and 11 friends.

  Donald J. Moon of Oak Park, Ill.,
pleaded guilty to one count of
unlawfully entering Triton College's
computer, one count of unlawfully
altering records and two counts of
theft, according to United Press

  Assistant Cook County Attorney
Gael O'Brien said Moon apparently
improved 37 grades and added 39
course credits for himself and 11
others. O'Brien said Moon could have
been sentenced to a maximum of three
years in prison if the case had gone
to trial.

  UPI says Triton College lost
about $6,400 in the fraud, which was
uncovered after a three-month
investigation by the Illinois State
Police's computer fraud unit.
Xx Dis-Satisfied Customer



   I am so unhappy with your recent
change of focus for INFOWORLD that
I am requesting that you cancel my
subscription, and compensate me for
the remaining years that I have left.

For the past several years INFOWORLD
was without question the BEST
periodical available that covered
all aspects of the computer
industry. You were praised, respected,
and admired for the quality of your
reviews and the depth of your
reporting, and also for the
knowledge of your conrtributors.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of
your current staff. John Gantz et
al are irritating, arrogant, and
ignorant, and Jonathan Sack's
recent editorial shows that even
the EDITOR does not seem to know
what INFOWORLD is (or at least was).

     If you are going to become yet
another advertiser-supported
mouthpiece for the corporate computer
market that is your right, but it
is NOT the INFOWORLD that enticed
me to a long-term subscription.

     There is no question why you
have changed focus. You are part of
the CW Communications conglomerate,
which publishes the likes of
MACWORLD and PC WORLD, among others.
You call yourself a "PC Weekly",
where PC stands for PERSONAL
COMPUTERS, yet you continually
report on very expensive
workstations, mainframes,
minicomputers, and even machines
that are scarcely beyond the rumor
stage. And then you have the gall
to catagorize such sophistocated
REAL personal computers like the
ATARI ST and the AMIGA as "low-end"
home machines. ATARI calls the ST a
PERSONAL COMPUTER, because that is
exactly what it is. I find your
current viewpoint paradoxical,
since you yourself claimed the AMIGA
the "hardware product of the year",
and the ATARI ST the "hardware
value of the year" for 1985.

    You might find that you have so
disappointed your PAYING subscribers
that you will HAVE to give this rag
away, just to find someone who
considers it even worth reading. I
no longer do.

    Please send refund to:
          Michael L. Champion
              EXP DATE: AUG, 1989
Xx Recomended Reading

By Mike Van Horn/The WaiteGroup
Bantam Electronic Publishing
233 pages; $14.95 (softcover)
Reviewed by Ben Knox

  Expert systems are software
packages which are able, in effect,
to learn from information fed into

  Their main use has been in
providing expert knowledge databases
which non-experts can use to help
them to reach a conclusion under
given circumstances. For example, a
doctor could use an expert system to
help him narrow down the causes of
symptoms to a single disease,
particularly in an area in which he
was not well versed.

  "Understanding Expert Systems" is
a guide to the principles and
practicalities of expert systems and
their uses.

  The book begins by providing an
overview of some of the uses to
which expert systems have been put,
using examples like computerised
detectives, doctors and ore deposit

  In the second chapter, some of
the problems of setting up expert
systems are dicussed. Perhaps the
most difficult feat to achieve is to
get a computer program, which is
largely based on mathematical
calculations, to make value, or
heuristic, judgements. That is, to
produce meaningful results from
"wooly," incomplete information and
rules. There are limits to what an
expert system can do, particularly
where some form of common sense is

  Having covered all the easy bits,
Mike Van Horn now gets down to the
nitty gritty of explaining how to
develop an expert system, initially
only in terms of flow diagrams.

  From chapter four onwards, the
book becomes fairly heavy going for
the non-specialist reader. Things
are not made easy by the choice of
examples, which most people will find
fairly esoteric.

  Chapter six gives an introduction
to artificial intelligence (which is
what expert systems are) programming
languages, taking Lisp as the main

  The last two chapters look at the
present and future: which expert
system development packages are
available for various machines, from
a VAX to an IBM PC and compatibles
and what developments are upcoming.

  "Understanding Expert Systems"
undoubtedly provides a very
complete and indepth introduction to
the world of artificial intelligence
and expert systems. I highly recommend
it to anyone who is intending to buy
or use an expert system, if only to
show how much work has gone into
programming it.

  Finally, even if you don't intend
buying the book, pop into a book
shop and read the last page (number
222) to find out where computers are
REALLY going.
Xx Bargain??


by Ken White

We've all read the stories about
the person who lucked into the "deal
of a lifetime" in the eternal search
to add that one last piece of
equipment to his or her Atari
collection.  I've read the stories
myself with a bit of envy and some
small amount of skepticism as well.

I'm not saying these people were
exactly...lying, you understand, but
their luck seemed a bit of a fluke,
not the kind of thing that happens to
the average person.

On the other hand, I'm beginning
to think that I just may have
miscalculated the effects of good

     About a month ago, I was
wandering through a local Sears store
and, as is my custom, I swung through
the computer section; there's always
the possibility of running into an
"unadvertised special" (okay, so I
don't read the Sears ad flyers...so
shoot me...) on disks, or maybe some
discontinued piece of software at
an unbelievably low price.  And Sears
generally features one of the best
bits of free entertainment in town
- endless demonstrations of the
Commodore 64 and 128.  You can stand
there and watch, sneering in an
-oh-so-superior way.  Pretty funny
way to kill ten or fifteen minutes,
if you know what I mean.

     Anyway, there I was in Sears,
watching the endless Commodore demos
on the screens, when I spotted a
familiar box out of the corner of
my eye.  Since I'd rather watch an
inanimate Atari than a Commodore
doing an Irish jig with twelve naked
dancing girls (though thirteen naked
dancing girls just...might...sway
me...), I headed over to check out
what they had in the way of Atari

     It was the usual hardware
package, the one that's been
advertised by all the big mail-order
companies in Antic, Analog, Computer,
etc. etc etc.  A 130XE, a 1050 disk
drive, and a 1027 printer.  The big
price tag taped to the side said
$349.99.  No surprises there, either.
That's about the price the package
can be purchased for at all the
mail-order houses.

     Sure, those three pieces of
Atari hardware looked kind of lonely
sitting there, surrounded by the
Commodore hordes.  Sad? Oh, yeah. 
Pathetic? Oh, maybe a little bit.
Was I going to take it home? Not on
your life.  I already have two
800's, three 5 and 1/4 inch drives,
two printers, a 1040ST, and three
modems.  The last thing I need in my
life is more computer hardware.

     So I left the store, hoping
that somebody would find these three
items and decide to enter the world
of Atari computing.  Unfortunately,
that person wasn't going to be me.

     Fast forward to about a week
ago. There I am, back in the same
Sears store, picking up a sale-pack
of video tapes (yes, I'd taken up
reading the Sears ad flyers..
especially when it saved me a long
trip for something I needed quick).
Since the audio/video section is
right next to the computer section,
I decided to pay the Atari package
a visit, to see if somebody had
picked them up yet.

     The three pieces of equipment
were still there, in their little
corner.  Only one thing had changed:
the price.  Like on those video
-we-kill-your-dog shows, it wasn't
$350. Not $300.  Not $250.  Not
even $225. The price taped to the
top of the three stacked boxes was

     I stopped.  I licked my lips
a couple of times.  I pulled my
wallet out and ruffled through the
thick wad of one dollar bills I
carry around to feel like I've got
money in my pocket. Nope.  Don't
have a hundred and ninety-nine one
dollar bills in there. My heart was,
as they say, filled with regret.

     Then I started thinking....Yes,
I did have a couple of hundred
spare dollars floating around that
I could use if I had to.  Yes,
Christmas IS coming, and a complete
Atari system would make a GREAT
Christmas present for that special
somebody (hey, you have to get them
into Atari computing one way or

     So, back I went to Sears a day
or so later, my...uh...regretful
heart in my mouth.  Had somebody
else seen this "deal of a lifetime"
and snapped it up? Had the computer
center person at Sears (what am I
talking about -computer center
person at Sears? That's the guy who
was fired from Toys R Us for not
having enough computer knowledge to
run THEIR computer center) realized
that $199.99 was below dealer cost
for those three pieces?  Was it all
a dream (like the last season of

     But no.  There it was, sitting
in the same place.  But there was no
price tag on it.  I was beginning
to sweat it when I saw a guy with a
tie carrying a couple of boxes
wandering around.  "Do you work here?"
I asked. He nodded.  I jerked my
chin at the three pieces of Atari
hardware on the cheesy computer
table in the dark corner.  "Didn't
you have these marked $199.99 a
couple of days ago?" I asked
pleasantly.  He nodded again.  "You
want 'em for $199.99?"

     What a stupid question.  I
mean, really, why did this guy
think I was asking? Did he think I
was a comparison shopper for Consumer
Reports or something? I somehow
didn't think he was going to offer
to sell it to me for $49 or
something, so what was he asking me

     While he tried to figure out
how to write up the ticket (there
were no stock numbers of any of the
three pieces), he informed me that
1) he was a former Commodore user,
2) he now owned an IBM PC that was
too much computer for him, 3) that
I should be saving up my money for
the Franklin IBM clone behind me, 4)
that he had "read" that the Amiga
is a better machine than the ST, and
5) that he had also "read" that my
ST, though having a full megabyte of
memory aboard, could only access 256K
of it at once.  It was, as you might
imagine, painful to talk to this
person.  But I didn't have much
choice.  On the counter in front of
him was my "deal of a lifetime".

     So I endured.  And I walked
out of there with $350 worth of
computer equipment at nearly 50% off.

     If there's a moral to this
story (and after a story this long,
you probably are waiting for a
moral), it's that you should always
(A-L-W-A-Y-S) keep your eyes open,
wherever you go, for bargains.  Atari
went through some hard times in the
past, and we Atarians lost a lot of
the support we once had from some
merchants.  But consider this - on
one hand, we've got the additional
support (both hardware and software)
of all kinds of new companies.  And
out there, in the vast PC wasteland,
there are probably hundreds (yes,
hundreds - perhaps thousands) of
bargains available at those merchants
who gave up on Atari and don't know
about the "Atari Revolution".

     Selfishly I say, "Good!  Leave
'em in the dark!"  Because as long
as these unenlightened folks don't
realize that computer or disk drive
sitting in the corner is worth a
whole lot more than the price tag
they've placed on it, there's more
bargains for us all.

     Of course, recently I've begun
noticing more people lingering in
out-of-the-way computer-type places
...looking over counters...standing
on tip-toe to peer over piles of
boxes...muscling me out of the way
when I paw through discontinued
software with a terse, "Sorry, I
thought I saw my little boy climb
into this bin."

     Perhaps I'm not the only
skulking bargain hunter around after
Xx Give Print A Chance
Copyright 1986 Family Computing
Taken from October Issue



Senior editor Nick Sullivan, who
has failed on five occasions to
finish Moby Dick and is now reading
Deep In the Heart of Borneo (a
minor jungle classic), has read some
of the world's most boring books --
and lived to recount his adventures.

Strange sounds, strange sights --
that's what I got when I first
connected a modem to a computer and
tried to make a phone call. I
didn't know whether the problem lay
with the modem, the software, the
serial card (on an Apple lle), the
telephone lines -- or me.  So I went
to the store that had sold me the

     Big waste of time. They said,
in effect, "Insert Tab A in Slot
B," which I had already done.  I
had no choice but to turn to books
-- a very diffiuclt task for someone
just getting used to the immediacy
and interactivity of computers.
A few years ago, most books on the
topic were written by engineers who
had been weaned on mainframe
comunications in the 1950s and 1960s,
not Commodore 64s and VICModems in
the l980s.  As ancient lore goes,
the books had less spark than Livy's
History of Rome, which I've also
had the misfortune to read.

     But I plowed through, and
tried to piece together a likely
scenario for making a simple phone
call. I took notes, made diagrams,
begged strangers for the missing
piece of the puzzle.  Ah, but the man
who had barely fulfilled science
requirements in high school and
college was ill-equipped to decipher
serious technical tomes.  So I turned
to trouble-shooting -- the car buff's
ancient remedy --  and started
switching parts to isolate the
potential culprit.

     The culprit was quickly
apprehended.  It was the serial
card.  The new one worked, I reread
the manuals that came with the
modem and software, and before I
knew it I was running up ghastly
phone bills.

     I immediately swore off books.
Why had they not told me it was easy?
That I dind't have to know how the
telphone system worked to make a
phone call?  Swine!


     Time being a healer and all
that rubbish, I'm back on books.  I
started picking them up here and
there (not in dentists' offices),
and here and there finding nuggets
of information.  I don't read these
books per se, but use them as
reference guides. The secret is
knowing which book to turn to when.
And knowing what to expect from books
in the first place.

1)  Books about computers are by
definition going to be out of date
when you buy them.  Change in the
computer industry is rapid, and the
book publication process is slow.

However, if you don't take everything
you read as the gospel truth, you'll
still find much useful material.  

2) Books about communications that
tell you "in general" how to do
something "in general" are of
dubious value.  To me, these books
usually make computer communications
seem more difficult they they really
are. People who have a good grounding
in a subject can use these books to
add to their knowledge, or "brush up."
Others may like the "overview" of
the field. But, most people,
especially novices, will find the
answers to their system-specific
questions in the product documentation.
 Even if it's somewhat obscure, at
least it's about your system.

3) Never buy a book you intend to
use as a reference guide unless it
has a very good index.  To make an
in-store test, pick a topic, thumb
through the back pages, and see if
the index directs you to the right

     Indexes that refer to the same
topic in several ways are good.
Ideally, you'd want to find the
salient  facts on file-transfer
protocols by looking up Files, or
Protocols, or Transfer.  You don't
want to have to outguess the indexer.

      Second, indexes that list
endless page numbers (e.g., Games:
1-3, 27,28. 49-70, etc.) for one
subject are bad.  Instead, that one
subject should be broken up into
pieces (e.g., Games: adventure 21,22,
astrology 38, biorhythms 6, blackjack
41, etc.)

      Enough, Livy!  Onto the topic
at hand!


     Having just admonished readers
not to trust "general" books, let's
thumb through two that have risen
like cream.

     Dialing For Data, A Consumer's
How-To Handbook on Computer
Communications (David Chandler,
Random House, New York, 1984,$9.95)
provides pleasant reading. Like all
good technical books, it teaches and
informs gently, so that you don't
know you're being taught or informed.

     In style, the book is
reminiscent of Guide to Personal
Computers (Quantum Press, Doubleday,
New York), the Peter McWilliams'
computer classic with droll woodcuts
and natural laughs.  Chandler, a
Pulitzer-Prize winner and People
magazine correspondent, walks along
with you chapter-by-chapter -- What's 
Out There, Basic Information, The
Hardware, Modems and Software,
Computer Choices, Buyer Beware, The
First Call, etc.  Droll woodcuts
and snappy sidebars complete the fine

     Dialing for Data is not a
reference guide, nor a guide to
making your specific system work. And
much of the information on
computers and electronics services
is dated.  But as a general, accessible
introduction to electronic
information and what you can do with
it ("save money, make money, develop
new interests and friends), Dialing
For Data makes the big picture
clear enough to see your own reflection.

(Insert:  Glossbreener's The
Complete Handbook of Personal Computer


    The standout in this relatively
small field is "How To Get the Most
out of CompuServe," now in its second
edition (Charles Bowen and David
Peyton, Bantam, New York, 1986,
$18.95, plus $6 credit from
CompuServe).   Ignore some of the
cute stuff ("How is CompuServe like
a restaurant? Both are menu-driven.")
and you have a clear blueprint of
this labyrinthine information

    Who's the book good for?  New
CompuServe subsribers who want to
learn their way around without
running up a big bill.  A good index
will direct you to the right page
quickly, so you can use it when
on-line and snookered. And experienced
users who want to explore new parts
of CompuServe can find out what
else is available  without taking
an expensive  Cruise To Nowhere.

     The same authors and publisher
have also produced "How to Get the
Most Out of the Source," still in a
first edition.


    Once you get a modem working,
you want to explore the electronic
world.  To reach bulletin board
systems (BBSes), information
services, and the thousands of
specialized databases, you need
electronic phone numbers.  
Fortunately, three good directories
have been compiled.

    The Omni OnLine Database
Directory (Owen Davies and Mike
Edelhart, Collier Books, New York,
1985, $14.95), updated each year,
lists over 1100 specialized
databases.  It includes general
pointers on how to use databases
most effectively.  The first sentence
even describes "database":  "An
organized collection of facts in
computer-readable form."

    The meat of the book is the
lisitng of databases, by category. 
The list begins with Advertising
and Marketing, Agriculture, Auto
Industry -- and finishes with Social
Sciences, Trade, Transportation.
Comprehensive.  For each specific
database (such as NASA Budgetscan,
Book Review Index, Exceptional
Child Education Resources, etc.) in
each category, you are given Contents,
User's Comment, Access, and

     This precis lets you know
what's available, how to get at it,
how much it costs, and how to find
more information.  For professionals
doing computer research, the Omni
guide is a must.

    The Computer Phone Book
Directory of Online Systems (Mark
Cane, New American Library, New York
and Ontario, 1986, $18.95) focuses
on local BBSes around the U.S. and
Canada.  Author Mike Cane, who
dedicates the book to his "beloved
cat, Backspace," warns us that many
of the phone numbers may no longer
be in service, because "the average
lifespan of a BBS is three months."
At least he's made an effort to
list boards that have survived since
his first edition in l983, and thus
have a track record. Nonetheless,
be forewarned.

     The book is well organized. 
Bulletin boards are listed by
state, so you can check for boards
within a reasonable calling distance
of your house.  Most listings include
System Name, Phone Number, Features,
Special Interests, Access Requirements,
Downloads, Fee, and Comments.  In
some cases, Cane provides the
system's commands, or a printout of
material you're likely to find.

     Infomania (Elizabeth M.
Ferrarini, Houghton Mifflin,Boston,
l985, $14.95),  described as "the
need for information," is Ferrarini's
second book.  The first was
"Confessions of an Infomaniac." You
get the idea -- Ferrarini (aka
Baud, or CosmoGirl) is kind of nutty
about information, and she regurgitates
a lot of it in this personalized
testimonial to the electronic age.

     Organized with headings such
as Money, Travel, Learning, Careers,
and News, Infomania presents much
of the same information as the Omni
guide. It's much chattier, so some
may find it livlier reading. On the
other hand, the presentation is less
consistent, and key facts, such as
cost and access, are somewhat hidden.

      At the bottom of each page a
short sidebar relating to the main
text generally peers into the future.
Alongside are juicy quotes about
information and related topics from
such savants as Oscar Wilde: "It is
a very sad thing that nowadays
there is so little useless 
information."  Diverting, to say the
least,  even though it dates to l896.


     As in most endeavours (with
notable exceptions like surgery),
the best way to learn is by doing. 
Reading books before you start may
dissuade you from ever starting.
Teach yourself how to use a m

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