|- by Trevor Smith
ou may be wondering why I'm writing about off-line adventures in an on-line magazine. Am I advocating that users should jump off the information highway and go back to the non-connected world of days gone by? Not at all. Well, mostly not at all.
The fact is that despite the media's love for all things on-line, there are times when a combination of on and off-line strategies works best for information gathering and dissemination. In fact, OS/2 e-Zine! is a perfect example of this. Every month we devote a fair amount of energy to putting together an on-line resource for OS/2 users, but at the same time we create zipped copies for off-line reading. Why? Because some users prefer to get the goods, log off and read at their leisure -- without running up on-line charges.
My Internet provider, like many, provides "free" hours when users can log on and not be billed, in my case, between 2:00am and 8:00am. Although I'm occasionally awake after 2:00am, it's not my preferred time for news reading. This is where Alarm Clock came in: I set it to start my Dial Other Providers (DOP) application at 2:15am just to give myself a little leeway in case my computer's clock was off.
But this exposed a flaw in my plan. I (erroneously) thought that the DOP utility would not dial my provider without me being there to press the "Dial" button. This meant that while Alarm Clock would open DOP, it would just sit there without dialing unless I was around. (I found out later that providing the "Name" field of the entry to be dialled as an argument in the DOP settings notebook will cause it to "auto-dial" that entry.)
While In-JOY and other dialers will also "auto-dial" as soon as they are opened, I had a few other reasons for wanting to pursue a different approach. In reality, all the DOP actually does is call a command line program, ppp.exe, and send a few parameters to it. So I fiddled with ppp.exe until through experimentation, research and luck, I got it to perform the same function that the DOP graphical interface was. I now use this command line to dial my provider:
ppp.exe com2 57600 priority 1 rtscts notify exit defaultroute connect "pppdial.cmd"The "pppdial.cmd" parameter tells ppp.exe to use a REXX script written by Don Russell that I use to do automatic redialing if I get busy signals. This works so well that I now use it exclusively to save a few seconds (because I'm not loading the graphical overhead of the DOP) whenever I want to log on to the 'net. This may also be of interest to users who run OS/2 on memory challenged systems. If so, feel free to e-mail me.
I won't go into detail on how to get Souper and Yarn running since the INF file included with Jon's article last month covers that topic quite well. Let's just say that I had to work slowly and carefully setting them up to get everything working properly.
Once I did, I set Alarm Clock to start Souper shortly after dialling my Internet provider (about 5 minutes later to ensure the dialler had time to log in). Again, I actually could have used an alternative dialler like In-JOY to do this. In fact, In-JOY could have automatically dialled my provider when it was started and automatically started Souper once the connection was made. For various reasons, I chose to do it the hard way but using In-JOY instead of my command line dialler would have worked fine too.
Now, when Souper logs in, it uploads any articles I have written while off-line and then retrieves all the messages in most of the comp.os.os2.* hierarchy. After Souper finishes running, my Internet connection sits idle for 15 minutes at which point it shuts off due to inactivity. This is one of the least elegant parts of my solution but since I'm not being billed for the time anyway and since surely no-one is trying to call me at 3:30am, I don't worry about the 15 minutes of dead phone time. I can then read the news from the comfort of my own hard drive each morning when I start my day. Simple.
BTW, the total cost of all the software needed to perform this little miracle is:
by Chin Huang
download from Hobbes (ZIP, 438k)
Alarm Clock v3.1
download from BMT Micro (ZIP, 242k)
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