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Techniques for Off-Line Mail Reading

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             Techniques for Off-Line Mail Reading
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                        Prepared by

                       Robert Dionne
                Feeding Hills, MA  01030-1601

                    Revised  May 6, 1990

   Presented by The Data Express Information System to help
 newusers become aware of options available for Mail handling

                  DOWNLOADABLE AS BLT6.ZIP
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The tips and techniques described herein are primarily for use
with IBM PC's and clones and other MS-DOS computers connecting to
a host BBS that uses PC Board 14.2/D and higher with ProDoor 3.1.
If you are using a different kind of computer, you may be limited
to using the tips and techniques for plain ASCII text.  If there
are mail doors available, they, along with the applicable
off-line mail reading programs, should be used as the preferred
method of off-line mail reading.  If you choose not to use a mail
door, then the techniques presented will allow you to read and
reply to more mail in addition to reducing the on-line time spent
reading mail.

The purpose of this tutorial is not to teach you how to use the
various programs mentioned through out the tutorial.  Rather, the
purpose is to show you how the various programs can be used to
read and reply to mail off-line.

Therefore, it is assumed that you are familiar with the following:

    1.  ASCII Text Editors
        i.e. QEdit, PEdit, Brief, John Hancock Editor, SLED, TED,
        or perhaps even the one that may be included with your
        communication software.
        (It is best if your text editor can handle two open files
        at the same time.)

                        or

    2.  Word Processor that can read/write ASCII files or that
        can convert from/to ASCII format.
        (It is best if your word processor can read/write ASCII
        files without a conversion process and if it can handle
        two open files at the same time.)

    3.  File compression utilities such as PKWARE's PKZIP and
        PKUNZIP.

    4.  Your communication software's session capture or session
        logging feature.

    5.  Downloading a file using ASCII protocol or the protocol
        you selected for use on this BBS.

    6.  Uploading a file using ASCII protocol.

If you need help with any of the above, please refer to the
appropriate documentation.  Your Sysops can advise you on the
text editors and file compression utilities available on this BBS
and they can advise you on transfer protocols.


In addition, the off-line mail reading program EZ-Reader can be
used to read and reply to mail received from PC Board 14.2/D mail
capture feature or ProDoor 3.1 ZIPM feature.  The utility
programs found in EZUTL10x.ZIP (EZUTL103.ZIP is the latest
release as of this writing) will convert PC Board capture files
and ProDoor ZIPM mail packets into a QMail/MarkMail (*.QWK)
format file readable only by EZ-Reader.

If you have never used an off-line mail reading program such as
EZ-Reader, I urge you to obtain a copy.  Using an off-line mail
reading program is the most efficient method of all the
techniques presented in this tutorial.

Unfortunately, other off-line mail reading programs, i.e. QMail
2.01 & 2.02, DeLuxe, cannot be used to read the *.QWK format files
created by EZUTL10x.ZIP.  These other fine off-line mail reading
programs can be used to read the *.QWK mail packets created by
the QMail and MarkMail mail doors.

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Method #1
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Using your communication program's session capture feature


Programs needed:

Your communication program.

A text editor
 or
word processor that reads/writes ASCII or converts from/to ASCII
format files.

        Your text editor or word processor should be able to have
        two files or documents open at the same time and be able
        to copy and paste text between the two files.


Overview:

Most communication software will allow you to capture or log all
incoming characters to a text file.  This file is a simple text
or ASCII file that can be read in several ways.  The technique
described here involves using your communication software's
capture feature to capture all messages non-stop, log off the
BBS, read the capture file (messages) off-line, and prepare
individual replies to be uploaded on your next call.  This method
works with PC Board.  You should refer to your communication
software manual if you need more information about starting and
stopping a capture file.  Please refer to your text editor or
word processor manual for information about converting ASCII
files and working with more than one document at the same time.


On-line Procedure:

Call the BBS and log on as usual.  When the Main Board prompt
appears, open or start your capture file.

At the Main Board Command? prompt, type  R;A;NS or R A NS or
                                         R;S;NS or R S NS

R;A;NS and R A NS = R)ead mail in A)ll conferences based on
selection, NS) display text in non-stop mode.

R;S;NS and R S NS = R)ead mail S)elect messages in current
conference above the last one you have read, NS) display text in
non-stop mode.

(Refer to PC Board on-line help for a complete explanation of the
commands and options or ask your Sysops for assistance.)

The messages from the main board message base will scroll
non-stop on your screen and be captured to your capture file.

When the main board messages have stopped you may join other
conferences and read the messages there using the above commands.

After you have finished capturing all the messages, close or stop
your capture file.  You may now enjoy other features offered on
the BBS or simply log off.  You will read these messages later,
after you have logged off.


Off-line Procedure:

Use your text editor or word processor to read the capture file.
Some word processors cannot read a text or ASCII file directly.
A conversion process may be required to translate a text or ASCII
file into a format the word processor can read.  Refer to your
word processor manual for information about ASCII file
conversion.

When you want to reply to a message jot down on paper the
conference number, if applicable, the message number, recipient's
name, subject, and receiver only, if applicable.  Then open a
second file or document giving it a unique file name.  Jot down
this file name with the other data.  Now use the text editor or
word processor to copy and paste quotation text from the capture
file to the reply file and type your reply.  Do not exceed the
maximum line limit for messages as established by the BBS.  After
the reply is completed close or save the reply file.

When you want to reply to another message repeat the above
procedure except when you open the second file use a
different filename.

If you want to enter a new message use the above procedure and
again use a different filename for the second file.

If you are using a word processor that does not read or write
ASCII files directly you will be required to convert each of the
reply files from your word processor's format to ASCII format.
Refer to your word processor manual for information about ASCII
file conversion.

What you wind up with are several reply files in ASCII format
that you will upload instead of typing your messages on-line on
your next call to the BBS.


Next On-line Procedure:

Call the BBS and log on as usual.  You may use PC Board or open
the ProDoor door.

At the PC Board main board prompt join the appropriate conference
and REPLY to a message number, i.e. REPLY 135 , or E)nter a
message (Refer to those paper notes for the message number, name,
subject, etc.) and follow the prompts.  If you use ProDoor, do
not use ProDoor's visual editor.  When you are prompted to enter
the first line of your message do not type anything.  At this
point you initiate an upload of the appropriate reply file using
the ASCII protocol.  Sit back and watch the message being typed
for you.  If you're using ProDoor and forget to turn off the
visual editor, the screen will fill with garbage text such as
[6f2[8a4[5h7.  Don't panic!  Let the upload continue!  When the
upload is completed save the message in the usual manner.

Repeat this procedure for each of the remaining replys or
messages.  Just make sure you are in the correct conference
before you initiate the next reply or message.

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Method #2
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Using PC Board Capture File


Programs needed:

Your communication program.

A text editor
 or
word processor that reads/writes ASCII or converts from/to ASCII
format files.

        Your text editor or word processor should be able to have
        two files or documents open at the same time and be able
        to copy and paste text between the two files.


Overview:

This method is identical to Method #1 except you will not use
your communication software's session capture feature.  You will
use PC Board's mail capture feature instead.  Replies can be
uploaded to PC Board or to ProDoor.


On-line Procedure:

Call the BBS and log on as usual.

At the Main Board Command? prompt type R;A;D or R A D or
                                       R;S;D or R S D

R;A;D and R A D = R)ead messages in A)ll conferences based on
selection D) automatically capture and download read request.

R;S;D and R S D = R)ead messages S)elect messages in current
conference above the last one you have read D) automatically
capture and download read request.

PC Board will scan the conference message base for all messages.
These messages will be placed into an ASCII or text file that you
will download using the protocol you selected for use on the BBS.
These ASCII files are free downloads.

(Refer to PC Board on-line help for a complete explanation of the
commands and options or ask your Sysops for assistance.)


Off-line Procedure:

Follow the procedures presented in Method #1 to read and reply to
these ASCII files.


Next On-line Procedure:

Follow the procedures presented in Method #1 to upload your
replies and messages.  You may use PC Board or ProDoor.

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Method #3
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Using ProDoor ZIPM Mail Capture


Programs needed:

Your communication program.

PKWARE's PKUNZIP file decompression software

A text editor
 or
word processor that reads/writes ASCII or converts from/to ASCII
format files.

        Your text editor or word processor should be able to have
        two files or documents open at the same time and be able
        to copy and paste text between the two files.


Overview:

This method is identical to Method #1 except you will not use
your communication software's session capture feature.  You will
use ProDoor's ZIPM mail capture feature instead. ProDoor's ZIPM
will Zip new mail.  ZIPM should capture up to 200 new messages in
selected conferences and then archives them into one file using a
file compression program, usually PKWARE's PKZIP, for smallest
possible download time.  The compressed file is an ASCII or text
file.  You download the file and decompress it. Replies can be
uploaded to PC Board or to ProDoor.


On-line Procedure:

Call the BBS, log on as usual and open the ProDoor door.

At the ProDoor [Main Board] Command? prompt type ZIPM <conf#>
<conf#> <conf#>  where <conf#> are the conferences you specify.
Example: ZIPM 0 1 4 .

Other Examples:
  ZIPM N         ;list new messages by conference before capture
  ZIPM A         ;archive mail in all conferences
  ZIPM M 10 14   ;archive mail in main board (M), areas 10 and 14
  ZIPM TOOLS AI  ;archive TOOLS and AI conferences
    Use (L)ast-read command to reset your "last read" message
    pointers.
    Use (J A)uto-config to select message areas in (ZIPM A)ll.

(Refer to ProDoor's (?) help messages for a complete explanation
of the command details or ask your Sysops for assistance.)

ZIPM will scan the specified conferences for all messages since
you last logged on and compress them into one file.  You will
download this file using the protocol you selected for use on the
BBS. Do not use ASCII protocol.  This file will be a free
download.


Off-line Procedure:

Decompress this file using the applicable decompression program,
usually PKWARE's PKUNZIP.  Refer to PKWARE's manual for
information about using PKUNZIP.  The decompressed file will be
an ASCII or text file.

Follow the procedures presented in Method #1 to read and reply to
this ASCII file.


Next On-line Procedure:

Follow the procedures presented in Method #1 to upload your
replies and messages.  You may use PC Board or ProDoor.

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Method #4
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Use EZ-Reader Utilities (EZUTL103.ZIP) to convert PC Board
Capture File (from Method #2) or ProDoor ZIPM Mail File
(from Method #3) to QMail/MarkMail file format *.QWK.


Programs needed:

Your communication program.

PKWARE's PKZIP & PKUNZIP file compression software
        
EZ-Reader Utilities EZUTL103.ZIP

EZ-Reader off-line message management software (EZ124B.ZIP or
higher recommended)

A text editor to be used with EZ-Reader

        Your text editor should be able to have two files or
        documents open at the same time and be able to copy and
        paste text between the two files.



Assumption:

Method #4 assumes that you have used EZ-Reader off-line message
management software.  This tutorial will not teach you how to use
the EZ-Reader program.


Overview:

The utility programs contained in EZ-Reader Utilities EZUTL103.ZIP

PCB2QWK.EXE
REP2PCB.EXE
ZIPM2QWK.EXE
REP2ZIPM.EXE

will convert PC Board capture files (from Method #2)
and ProDoor ZIPM mail packets (from Method #3) into
QMail/MarkMail format files *.QWK that can only be read using
EZ-Reader.  Replies and messages created by EZ-Reader will be
converted from QMail/MarkMail format files *.REP to ASCII files
that will be uploaded to PC Board or ProDoor.  Uploads to PC
Board require special scripts for your communication software. A
sample Qmodem script is included in EZUTL103.ZIP.  Uploads to
ProDoor do not require a special script.  They are uploaded at
the [Main Board] Command? prompt using ASCII protocol.
If ProDoor is available use it instead of PC Board.


On-line Procedure:

Follow the procedures in Method #2 to download a PC Board capture
file or Method #3 to download a ProDoor ZIPM mail packet.


Off-line Procedure:

Make sure the PC Board capture file or the ProDoor ZIPM mail
packet is in the download directory you specified in EZ-Reader's
configuration file, the EZ-Reader utilities are in the your
EZ-Reader directory, and that you are in the EZ-Reader directory
when use run the utilities.  PKZIP and PKUNZIP must be located in
the directory you specified in EZ-Reader's configuration file or
must be located in the path.


        Converting PC Board capture files:

        PCB2QWK.EXE converts the PC Board capture file into a
        QMail/MarkMail format file (*.QWK) readable only by
        EZ-Reader.

        At the DOS prompt, type:

               PCB2QWK <d:><path>pcb_filename[with no ext]

        You do not need to type the extension.  PCB2QWK.EXE
        supplies the default extension CAP. The resulting
        Qmail/MarkMail mail packet will be placed in the
        download directory you set in EZ-Reader's
        configuration file.

        EZ-Reader can not handle more than 200 messages per
        conference.  If you have more than 200 messages per
        conference, you will have to break up the PCB capture file
        into smaller files with less than 200 messages per
        conference before using PCB2QWK.EXE.


        Converting ProDoor ZIPM mail packets:

        ZIPM2QWK.EXE converts the ProDoor ZIPM mail packet file
        into a QMail/MarkMail format file (*.QWK) readable only
        by EZ-Reader.

        At the DOS prompt, type:

               ZIPM2QWK <d:><path>zipm_filename[with no ext]

        You do not need to type the extension.  ZIPM2QWK.EXE
        supplies the default extension ZIP. The resulting
        Qmail/MarkMail mail packet will be placed in the
        download directory you set in EZ-Reader's
        configuration file.

        ProDoor should only allow you to download 200 messages
        per ZIPM mail packet. Therefore, ZIPM2QWK does not check
        to see if you have more than 200 messages per conference.


Use EZ-Reader to read and reply to the resulting *.QWK files.


        Converting replies *.REP for uploading:

        For *.REP packets resulting from a *.QWK that was created
        from a PC Board capture file -

        REP2PCB.EXE converts reply file (*.REP) created by
        EZ-Reader into an ASCII file that can be uploaded to PC
        Board.  This ASCII file must be uploaded using a script
        that you create using your communications software.
        A sample Qmodem script file is included in EZUTL103.ZIP.
        At the DOS prompt, type:

               REP2PCB <option> <d:><path>rep_filename[with no ext]

        You do not need to type the extension.  REP2PCB provides
        the default extension REP.  The resulting ASCII file will
        have an extension PCB and will be placed in the upload
        directory that you set in EZ-Reader's configuration file.

        The REP2PCB option is preceeded with either the / or -
        characters.  The option can be either upper or lower
        case.  The only option available at this time is

            E - "This tells REP2PCB to generate the response to
                echo all of the conferences except the Main
                Board.  If you do not use this option and the
                conference is echoed unknown problems will occur.
                It's safer to use the echo option than not.  If
                you use the echo option and the conference is not
                echoed, the only harm is that the first line in
                the message will contain a Y." 1

                If your BBS echos conference messages to a
                national or international network such as
                InterLink, you should always use the -E switch.



        For *.REP packets resulting from a *.QWK that was created
        from a PorDoor ZIPM mail packet -

        REP2ZIPM.EXE converts a reply file (*.REP) created by
        EZ-Reader into an ASCII file that can be uploaded
        directly to ProDoor at the ProDoor command prompt using
        ASCII protocol.

               REP2ZIPM <option> <d:><path>rep_filename[with no ext]

        You do not need to type the extension.  REP2ZIPM provides
        the default extension REP.  The resulting ASCII file will
        have an extension of ZPM and will be placed in the upload
        directory that you set in EZ-Reader's configuration file.
        To upload this *.ZPM file at the ProDoor command prompt,
        DO NOT TYPE U)pload.  YOU simply initiate the upload with
        YOUR communications software using the ASCII protocol.
        Do not type E)nter, U)pload, or R)ead with Reply to a Msg
        option at the ProDoor command prompt, just initiate the
        upload of the *.ZPM file.

        The REP2ZIPM option is preceeded with either the / or -
        characters.  The options can be upper or lower case.  The
        only option available at this time is

            E - "This tells REP2ZIPM to generate the response to
                echo all of the conferences except the Main
                Board." 1

                If your BBS echos conference messages to a
                national or international network such as
                InterLink, you should always use the -E switch.

                If ProDoor always asks if you want your messages
                echoed whenever you manually type them, you
                should always use the -E switch.

Additional information about using EZ-Reader and EZ-Reader
Utilities can be found in their respective doucmentation.


1 EZ-Reader Utilities 1.03
  U T I L I T I E S   F O R   (C) E Z - R E A D E R
  (EZ-Reader is a copyright of Thumper Technologies, 1988-90)
  February 19, 1990


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The four methods of off-line mail reading described here should
get you off and running.  It is hoped that these methods will
spark some creativity and with that creativity you will refine
these methods and/or create some new ones.

Send me a message or a post card if you found these methods
useful.

If you use the EZ-Reader Utilities/EZ-Reader method, please
consider registering EZ-Reader.

(Disclaimer - I am not affiliated with and I do not have a
financial interest in Thumper Technologies.)

Experiment and have fun.