º Accessing The Internet By E-Mail º
º Doctor Bob's Guide to Offline Internet Access º
º 6th Edition - June 1997 º
Copyright (c) 1994-97, "Doctor Bob" Rankin
All rights reserved. Permission is granted to make and distribute
verbatim copies of this document provided the copyright notice and
this permission notice are preserved on all copies. Feel free to
upload to your favorite BBS or Internet server!
How to Access Internet Services by E-mail
If you don't have direct access to the Internet through your BBS
or online service, you're not alone. Many of the world's countries
with Internet connections have only e-mail access to this world-wide
network of networks.
But if you think that sounds limiting, read on. You can access almost any
Internet resource using e-mail. Maybe you've heard of FTP, Gopher, Archie,
Veronica, Finger, Usenet, Whois, Netfind, WAIS, and the World-Wide Web but
thought they were out of your reach because you don't have a direct
Not so! You can use simple e-mail commands to do all of this and much
more on the Internet. And even if you do have full Internet access,
using e-mail services can save you time and money. If you can send a
note to an Internet address, you're in the game.
I encourage you to read this entire document first and then go back and
try out the techniques that are covered. This way, you will gain a
broader perspective of the information resources that are available, an
introduction to the tools you can work with, and the best methods for
finding the information you want.
Recent Changes To This Document
6.8 Homepage by e-mail for German users only; LEO translation service;
Reminders by e-mail; updated mail-to-usenet info; Mercury Mail by
e-mail discontinued; WAISmail section removed
6.7 More servers closed due to abuse; a new Agora; Goodbye to Binky
6.6 Binky is revived; mortgage calculator, homepage by e-mail, URL-minder;
new & updated server addresses
6.5 Forms support for webmail; New info on Usenet by e-mail; Binky is dead;
Finding the Latest Version
This document is now available from several automated mail servers.
To get the latest edition, send e-mail to one of the addresses below.
To: email@example.com (for US, Canada & South America)
Enter only this line in the BODY of the note:
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (for Europe, Asia, etc.)
Enter only this line in the BODY of the note:
send lis-iis e-access-inet.txt
You can also get the file by anonymous FTP at one of these sites:
Or on the Web in HTML format at:
A Related Resource
DR. BOB'S PAINLESS GUIDE to the Internet (And Amazing Things You Can Do
With E-Mail) is different than any other Internet book. It's cheap--only
$12.95, and it's blissfully short--just 145 pages. For online ordering,
visit Dr. Bob's web page at http://biz.mhv.net/drbob or send e-mail to
BobRankin@MHV.net with Subject: SEND BOOKINFO to get complete details.
Before You Write...
Please make sure you have the latest version of this guide before writing
to the author with questions and updates. Don't give up too quickly on
the busy e-mail servers, and if you get an error message, try your operation
again on a different day or time. If you'd like to keep up with the latest
updates and announcements of new versions, send the command:
SUBSCRIBE ACCMAIL Firstname Lastname
in the BODY of a message to the address "LISTSERV@LISTSERV.AOL.COM". In
fact, the ACCMAIL list is a great place to ask any questions you have about
this guide. You're likely to get a quicker response from one of the list
subscribers, because the author gets several hundred messages per week!
Other Translations of This Document
Several readers have graciously volunteered to translate this text into
languages other than English. Please contact the author if you would like
to assist in the translation of this document into another language. The
list below shows the status of the translation work that has been done or
is in progress. To obtain any of the completed texts, send e-mail with
Subject: send accmail.xx (where "xx" is as shown below)
Translation Filename Translation Filename
Catalan (5th Ed.) accmail.ca Chinese GB (6th Ed.) accmail.cn
Chinese BIG5 (5th Ed.) accmail.tw Croatian (4th Ed.) accmail.hr
Czech (6th Ed.) accmail.cz Danish (5th Ed.) accmail.dk
Dutch (6th Ed.) accmail.nl Esperanto (4th Ed.) accmail.eo
Farsi (5th Ed.) accmail.ir Finnish (6th Ed.) accmail.fi
French (6th Ed.) accmail.fr German (5th Ed.) accmail.de
Greek (6th Ed.) accmail.gr Hebrew (5th Ed.) accmail.he
Hungarian (4th Ed.) accmail.hu Irish (In progress) accmail.ie
Indonesian (4th Ed.) accmail.id Italian (5th Ed.) accmail.it
Lithuanian (6th Ed.) accmail.lt Japanese (6th Ed.) accmail.jp
Norwegian (4th Ed.) accmail.no Polish (4th Ed.) accmail.pl
Portuguese (6th Ed.) accmail.pt Romanian (6th Ed.) accmail.ro
Russian (6th Ed.) accmail.ru Serbian (6th Ed.) accmail.sr
Slovak (6th Ed.) accmail.sk Spanish (6th Ed.) accmail.sp
Tagalog (In progress) accmail.ph Thai (6th Ed.) accmail.th
Turkish (In progress) accmail.tr Somali (5th Ed.) accmail.so
Ukranian (6th Ed.) accmail.ua
NOTE: Your "send accmail.xx" request MUST be in the SUBJECT line!
This document is continually expanding and improving as a result of the
daily flood of comments and questions received by the author. The following
individuals are hereby recognized for their work in translating "Accessing"
to various languages. (If I forgot anyone, let me know and I'll gladly add
you to the list.)
Flesch Balint - Hungarian Ron Barak - Hebrew
Nikola Borojevic - Croatian Krzysztof Buniewicz - Polish
Claude Bay - French Pierre Couillard - French
Shahriar Eivazzadeh - Farsi Vadim Fedorov - Russian
Ricard Forner - Catalanian Alonso Gustavo - Spanish
Stefan Greundel - German Mihai Jalobeanu - Romanian
Paavo Juntunen - Finnish Joao Neves - Portuguese
Stanislav Ponca - Slovakian Oe Wely Eko Raharjo - Indonesian
Boonyakiat Saengwan - Thai Vidar Sarvik - Norwegian
Christian Schou - Danish Darius Matuliauskas - Lithuanian
Martin Slunecko - Czech Zvonko Springer - Croatian
Andras Sogor - Hungarian Komatsu Toshiki - Japanese
Rob Vandeweyer - Dutch Dario Vercelli - Italian
Ewa Poskrobko - Polish Martin Weichert - Esperanto
Yassin Ismail Ali - Somali Ukranian - Dmitry V. Bisikalo
Brankica Kranjac - Serbian Ivan Stamenkovic - Serbian
Grigoris Miliaresis - Greek Alexander Kachanov - Russian
A Short Aside... "What is the Internet?"
Many introductory texts on the Internet go into excruciating detail on
the history, composition and protocol of the Internet. If you were
looking for that you won't find it here, because this is a "how to"
lesson, not a history book.
When you buy a new car, they don't make you read "The Life and Times of
Henry Ford" before you can turn the top down and squeal off the lot.
And when you get a new computer, nobody forces you to read a text on
logic design before you fire up Leisure Suit Larry or WordPerfect.
So if you're the type that wants to short-circuit the preliminaries and
just dig in, you've come to the right place. I'm not going to bore you
with the gory details. Instead, I'll just offer up my Reader's Digest
condensed definition of the Internet, and encourage you to find out
more as you gain skill at using the tools described herein.
Internet (noun) - A sprawling collection of computer networks that spans
the globe, connecting government, military, educational and commercial
institutions, as well as private citizens to a wide range of computer
services, resources, and information. A set of network conventions and
common tools are employed to give the appearance of a single large
network, even though the computers that are linked together use many
different hardware and software platforms.
The Rules of The Game
This document is meant to be both tutorial and practical, so there are
lots of actual commands and internet addresses listed herein. You'll
notice that when these are included in the text they are indented by
several spaces for clarity. Don't include the leading spaces when you
try these commands on your own!
You'll also see things like "<file>" or "<name>" appearing in this
document. Think of these as place holders or variables which must
be replaced with an appropriate value. Do NOT include the quotes or
brackets in your value unless specifically directed to do so.
Most e-mail servers understand only a small set of commands and are
not very forgiving if you deviate from what they expect. So include
ONLY the specified commands in the Subject or body of your note, leaving
off any extraneous lines such as your signature, etc.
Unless otherwise specified, you can leave the Subject and/or body of the
note empty. If your mail software insists on a Subject or body, just
type "XYZZY" or something equally non-sensical.
You should also ensure that you have one blank line between the note
headers and the body of your note. And do pay attention to upper/lower
case in directory and file names when using e-mail servers. It's almost
SPECIAL NOTE: The e-mail servers listed in this guide are for the most
part operated by kind-hearted volunteers at companies or universities.
If you abuse (or over-use) the servers, there's a very good chance they
will be shut down permanently. This actually happened to several of the
e-mail servers recently, so treat them with respect.
If you have direct Internet access, let others who are less fortunate use
the e-mail servers. Try to limit your data transfers to one megabyte per
day. Don't swamp the servers with many requests at a time.
FTP BY E-MAIL
FTP stands for "file transfer protocol", and is a means of accessing
files that are stored on remote computer systems (sites). Files at FTP
sites are typically stored in a tree-like set of directories (or nested
folders for Mac fans), each of which pertains to a different subject.
When visiting an FTP site using a "live" internet connection, one would
specify the name of the site, login with a userid & password, navigate
to the desired directory and select one or more files to be transferred
back to their local system.
Using FTP by e-mail is very similar, except that the desired site is
reached through a special "ftpmail server" which logs in to the remote
site and returns the requested files to you in response to a set of
commands in an e-mail message.
Using FTP by e-mail can be nice even for those with full Internet
access, because some popular FTP sites are heavily loaded and
interactive response can be very sluggish. So it makes sense not to
waste time and connect charges in these cases.
To use FTP by e-mail, you first need a list of FTP "sites" which are the
addresses of the remote computer systems that allow you to retrieve
files anonymously (without having a userid and password on that system).
There are some popular sites listed later in this guide, but you can get
a comprehensive list of hundreds of anonymous FTP sites by sending an
e-mail message to the internet address:
and include these lines in the BODY of the note.
... (19 lines omitted for brevity) ...
You will then receive (by e-mail) 21 files which comprise the "FTP Site
List". Note that these files are each about 60K, so the whole lot will
total over a megabyte! This could place a strain on your system, so
first check around to see if the list is already available locally.
Another file you might want to get is "FTP Frequently Asked Questions"
which contains lots more info on using FTP services, so add this line to
your note as well:
After you receive the site list you'll see dozens of entries like this,
which tell you the site name, location and the kind of files that are
Site : oak.oakland.edu
Organ : Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan
System : Unix
Comment: Simtel Software Repository mirror
Files : BBS lists; ham radio; TCP/IP; Mac; modem protocol info;
MS-DOS; MS-Windows; PC Blue; PostScript; Simtel-20; Unix
If you find an interesting FTP site in the list, send e-mail to one of
these ftpmail servers:
email@example.com (United States)
firstname.lastname@example.org (United States)
email@example.com (United States)
firstname.lastname@example.org (CLOSED DUE TO ABUSE)
email@example.com (CLOSED DUE TO ABUSE)
It doesn't really matter which one you choose, but a server that is
geographically close may respond quicker. (Please DON'T use the first
one in the list just because it's there!) In the body of the note,
include these lines:
open <site> * use "connect <site>" for dec.com sites
This will return to you a list of the files stored in the root directory
at that site. See the figure below for an example of the output when
using "oak.oakland.edu" for the site name.
-r--r--r-- 1 w8sdz OAK 1255 Nov 9 16:32 README
drwxr-xr-x 3 w8sdz OAK 8192 Feb 25 05:17 SimTel
d--x--x--x 3 root system 8192 Jan 19 20:26 bin
d--x--x--x 5 root system 8192 Dec 30 05:15 etc
drwxr-xr-x 3 w8sdz OAK 8192 Jan 30 17:37 pub
In your next e-mail message you can navigate to other directories by
inserting (for example)
chdir pub (use "cd" if "chdir" doesn't work)
before the "dir" command. (The "chdir" means "change directory" and "pub"
is a common directory name, usually a good place to start.) Once you
determine the name of a file you want to retrieve, use:
get <name of file>
in the following note instead of the "dir" command. If the file you
want to retrieve is plain text, this will suffice. If it's a binary
file (an executable program, compressed file, etc.) you'll need to
insert the command:
in your note before the "get" command.
Tip: Many directories at FTP sites contain a file called 00-index.txt,
README, or something similarly named which gives a description of the
files found there. If you're just exploring and your "dir" reveals one
of these filenames, do a "get" on the file and save yourself some time.
OK, let's grab the text of The Magna Carta. Here's the message you send
to firstname.lastname@example.org (or another ftpmail server):
open ftp.spies.com (The name of the FTP site)
chdir Gov/World (The directory where the file lives)
get magna.txt (Sign here please, John)
quit (Bring it on home)
Here are the commands you would send to to get a file from the Simtel
Software Repository that was mentioned earlier.
binary (Because we're getting a ZIP file)
Some other interesting FTP sites you may want to "visit" are listed below.
(Use these site names on the "open" command and the suggested directory
name on your "chdir" command, as in the previous examples.)
ocf.berkeley.edu Try: pub/Library for documents, Bible, lyrics, etc.
rtfm.mit.edu Try: pub/usenet/news.answers for USENET info
oak.oakland.edu Try: SimTel/msdos for a huge DOS software library
gatekeeper.dec.com Try: pub/recipes for a cooking & recipe archive
Remember that you can't just send e-mail to ftpmail@<anysite>, rather you
send the "open <site>" command to one of the known ftpmail servers.
- The ftpmail servers tend to be quite busy. Your reply may not arrive for
several minutes, hours, or days.
- Some large files may be split into smaller pieces and returned to you as
multiple messages. You can control this (and also override the return
e-mail address) using special ftpmail commands.
- The commands are not the same on every server - send the "help" command
to find out how FTPMAIL works on the server you are using!
- Often the ftpmail servers keep local archives. Open the local archives by
not specifying a site on the "open" line. Using the local archives gives
your request priority so it will be processed before all outside requests.
If the file that is returned to you ends up looking something like what
you see below, (the word "begin" with a number and the filename on one
line, followed by a bunch of 61-character lines) it most likely is a
binary file that has been "uuencoded" by the sender. (This is required
in order to reliably transmit binary files by e-mail.)
begin 666 answer2.zip
You'll need to scrounge up a version of the "uudecode" program for your
operating system (DOS, OS/2, Unix, Mac, etc.) in order to reconstruct the
file. Most likely you'll find a copy already at your site or in your
service provider's download library, but if not you can use the instructions
in the next section to find out how to search FTP sites for a copy.
ARCHIE BY E-MAIL
Let's say you know the name of a file, but you have no idea at which FTP
site it might be lurking. Or maybe you're curious to know if files
matching a certain naming criteria are available via FTP. Archie is the
tool you can use to find out.
Archie servers can be thought of as a database of all the anonymous FTP
sites in the world, allowing you to find the site and/or name of a file
to be retrieved. And using Archie by e-mail can be convenient because
some Archie searches take a LONG time to complete, leaving you to tap
your toes in the meantime.
To use Archie by e-mail, simply send an e-mail message to one of the
following addresses (use the closest one):
email@example.com p`in (Belgium)
firstname.lastname@example.org (United Kingdom)
email@example.com (United Kingdom)
firstname.lastname@example.org (United States)
email@example.com (United States)
To obtain detailed help for using Archie by mail, put the word
in the subject of the note and just send it off. You'll receive e-mail
explaining how to use archie services. If you're the "just do it" type,
then enter the command:
where "<file>" is the name of the file to search for, in the BODY (not
the subject) of the note. This will search for files that match your
criteria exactly. If you want to find files that contain your search
criteria anywhere in their name, insert the line
set search sub
before the "find" command. Some other useful archie commands you might
want to use are:
set maxhits 20 (limit output, default is 100 files)
set match_domain usa (restrict output to FTP sites in USA)
set output_format terse (return output in condensed form)
When you get the results from your Archie query, it will contain the
names of various sites at which the desired file is located. Use one of
these site names and the directory/filename listed for your next FTP
file retrieval request.
Now you've learned enough to locate that UUDECODE utility mentioned in the
last section. Let's send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (or one of
the other archie servers), and include the following lines in the message:
set match_domain usa
set search sub (looking for a substring match...)
find uudecode (must contain this string...)
Note: You'll be looking for the uudecode source code, not the executable
version, which would of course be a binary file and would arrive
uuencoded - a Catch 22! The output of your archie query will contain
lots of information like this:
Host ftp.clarkson.edu (22.214.171.124)
Last updated 06:31 9 Oct 1994
FILE -r-xr-xr-x 5572 bytes 21:00 11 Mar 1991 uudecode.bas
FILE -r-xr-xr-x 5349 bytes 20:00 17 Apr 1991 uudecode.c
Now you can use an ftpmail server to request "uudecode.bas" (if you have
BASIC available) or "uudecode.c" (if you have a C compiler) from the
It should be noted that the latest version of uudecode can be found at
the SimTel repository. Send e-mail to listserv@SimTel.net,
including any or all of these commands in the BODY of the note, and the
requested files will be returned to you by e-mail.
SPECIAL NOTE: For DOS users, there is an EXECUTABLE ASCII version of the
UUDECODE.COM program available. This is a rare exception to the rule that
executable files must be encoded to survive e-mail transmission. You can
receive it via e-mail and execute it "as is". To get a copy, send e-mail
to BobRankin@MHV.net with Subject: send uudecode.com (must be lowercase).
For further info on using uudecode, request the "uudecode.how" file.
GOPHER BY E-MAIL
Gopher is a tool for exploring the Internet and is one way to find a
resource if you know what you want, but not where to find it. Gopher
systems are menu-based, and provide a user-friendly front end to
Internet resources, searches and information retrieval.
When visiting a Gopher site using a "live" Internet connection, one would
specify the name of the site, navigate through a series of hierarchical
menus to a desired resource, and then either read or transfer the
information back to their home system.
Using Gopher by e-mail is very similar, except that the desired site is
reached through a special "gophermail server" which gophers to the remote
site on your behalf and and returns the requested menu, submenu or file to
you in response to a set of commands in an e-mail message.
NOTE: In recent years, Gopher has fallen in popularity and most of the
gophermail servers have closed down. But still there is quite a
bit of information available on gopher servers, and a few working
Although not every item on every menu will be accessible by "gophermail",
you'll still find plenty of interesting things using this technique.
Down to brass tacks... let's send e-mail to one of these addresses:
email@example.com Czech Republic
You can optionally specify the address of a known gopher site on the
Subject line to get the main menu for that site instead. Here are some
interesting gopher sites you may like to explore at your leisure.
Let's be bold and skip the HELP stuff for now. Fire off a note to one of
the gophermail servers and specify
You'll get a message back from the server that looks something like
the text in the figure below.
Mail this file back to gopher with an X before the items you want.
1. About USCgopher/
2. How To Find Things on Gopher/
3. University Information/
4. Campus Life/
5. Computing Information/
6. Library and Research Information/
7. Health Sciences/
8. Research and Technology Centers/
9. Other Gophers & Info Resources/
You may edit the following numbers to set the maximum sizes after
which GopherMail should send output as multiple email messages:
Split=27K bytes/message <- For text, bin, HQX messages
Menu=100 items/message <- For menus and query responses
# ... (some lines deleted) ...
Name=Other Gophers and Information Resources
To proceed to a selection on the returned menu just e-mail the whole text
of the note (from the menu downwards) back to the gopher server, placing
an "x" next to the items(s) you want to explore. You'll then receive the
next level of the gopher menu by e-mail. Some menu choices lead to other
menus, some lead to text files, and some lead to searches. In the example
above, let's select
x 9. Other Gophers & Info Resources
and mail the whole shebang right back at the gophermail server. You should
then get a menu with a number of interesting selections including "Gopher
Jewels". You'll find a LOT of good stuff along that path. The Gopher
Jewels project is probably the best organized collection of Internet
If a menu item is labelled "Search" you can select that item with an "x"
and supply your search words in the Subject: of your reply. Note that
your search criteria can be a single word or a boolean expression such as:
document and (historic or government)
Each of the results (the "hits") of your search will be displayed as an
entry on yet another gopher menu!
Note: You needn't actually return the entire gopher menu and all the
routing info that follows it each time you reply to the gophermail server.
If you want to minimize the size of your query, you can strip out the
"menu" portion at the top and include only the portion below that pertains
to the menu selection you want.
Just remember that if you use this approach, you must specify "get all" on
the Subject line. (Exception: for searching, specify only the search
terms on the Subject line.) The example below is equivalent to selecting
"option 9" as we did earlier.
If this looks like nonsense to you, here's a human translation:
Connect to PORT 70 of the HOST (computer) at "cwis.usc.edu",
retrieve the sub-menu "Other Gophers", and send it to me in
ONE PIECE, regardless of its size.
Note: Sometimes gophermail requests return a blank menu or message. This
is most likely because the server failed to connect to the host from which
you were trying to get your information. Send your request again later
and it'll probably work.
VERONICA BY E-MAIL
Speaking of searches, this is a good time to mention Veronica. Just
as Archie provides a searchable index of FTP sites, Veronica provides
this function for "gopherspace". Veronica will ask you what you want to
look for (your search words) and then display another menu listing all
the gopher menu items that match your search. In typical gopher
fashion, you can then select one of these items and "go-pher it"!
To try Veronica by e-mail, retrieve the main menu from a gophermail server
using the method just described. Then try the choice labelled "Other
Gopher and Information Servers". This menu will have an entry for
You'll have to select one (or more) Veronica servers to handle your
query, specifying the search words in the Subject of your reply. Here's
another example of where using e-mail servers can save time and money.
Often the Veronica servers are very busy and tell you to "try again
later". So select 2 or 3 servers, and chances are one of them will be
able to handle your request the first time around.
A Gophermail Shortcut:
The path to some resources, files or databases can be a bit tedious,
requiring several e-mail messages to the gophermail server. But here's
the good news... If you've done it once, you can re-use any of the
e-mail messages previously sent in, changing it to suit your current
needs. As an example, here's a clipping from the Veronica menu you would
get by following the previous instructions. You can send these lines to
any gophermail server to run a Veronica search.
Split=64K bytes/message <- For text, bin, HQX messages (0 = No split)
Menu=100 items/message <- For menus and query responses (0 = No split)
Name=Search GopherSpace by Title word(s) (via NYSERNet)
Specify the search words in the Subject line and see what turns up! You
can use boolean expressions in Veronica searches. For a guide to composing
Veronica searches, send these lines to a gophermail server:
Name=How to Compose Veronica Queries
USENET BY E-MAIL
Usenet is a collection of over 25000 discussion groups on every topic
imaginable. In order to get a proper start and avoid embarrasing
yourself needlessly, you must read the Usenet new users intro document,
which can be obtained by sending e-mail to:
and include this line in the BODY of the note:
To get a listing of Usenet newsgroups, add these commands to your note:
send usenet/news.answers/active-newsgroups/part1 (also get part2)
send usenet/news.answers/alt-hierarchies/part1 (also get part2 & part3)
To get the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) file(s) for a given newsgroup,
try a command like this:
(Substitute dots for dashes if they appear in the newsgroup name.)
If any FAQ files are available, they will be listed in the returned info,
and you can request them with a command like:
Once you've handled the preliminaries, you'll need to know how to read
and contribute to Usenet newsgroups by e-mail. To read a newsgroup, you
can use the gophermail service discussed earlier in this guide.
To obtain a list of recent postings to a particular newsgroup, send the
following lines to one of the gophermail servers mentioned previously.
Specify "Subject: get all" and include only these lines in the message body.
(You must replace "<newsgroup>" below with the name of the Usenet
newsgroup you wish to access. eg: alt.answers, biz.comp.services,
Path=nntp ls <newsgroup>
If this doesn't work, you can try another Host by substituting one of
the lines below.
Host=gopher.tc.umn.edu (maybe, very busy)
Note that some of these sites carry only a limited range of newsgroups,
so you may have to try several before finding one which carries the
newsgroup you're looking for. When the newsgroup does not exist,
gophermail sends something like "'nntp ls <newsgroup>': path does not
exist". When a site does not accept outside requests, gophermail sends
something like "Sorry, we don't accept requests outside campus".
If successful, the gophermail server will send you a typical gopher menu
on which you may select the individual postings you wish to read. If your
query returns nothing, or you get a "not found" message, try it at another
time of day. The servers are very busy during regular business hours.
NOTE: Gophermail servers are a vanishing breed. You can also get Usenet
postings from several webmail servers listed in the WORLD-WIDE WEB BY
E-MAIL section later in this document. There are two approaches:
1) Use a webmail server to access a gopher site which carries Usenet. The
example from above when translated into a web address would be:
2) Look for an Agora server with a "Y" in the "Usenet Access" column and
send a command like this in the message body: send news:<newsgroup>
With a little luck, you'll get a list of recent postings to the newsgroup,
and then you can retrieve the individual postings by replying to the
message from the Agora server. Make sure not to change the subject line
of the reply message, and just put the number of the posting you want in
the message BODY.
If you decide to make a post of your own, mail the text of your post to:
firstname.lastname@example.org (Requires permission)
email@example.com (Norwegian newsgroups only)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Italy users only)
So to post to news.newusers.questions, you might send your message to:
NOTE: To use the news.uni-stuttgart.de service, first request permission
by sending a message to: email@example.com
Be sure to include an appropriate Subject: line, and include your real
name and e-mail address at the close of your note.
There is another mail-to-newsgroup gateway, but it's a bit harder to use,
and requires that you add a Newsgroups: header to your outgoing mail. For
information, send to firstname.lastname@example.org with Subject: help
Note: Some servers only support a limited range of newsgroups. The only
way to know if the server supports a newsgroup is to try it! An updated
listing of mail-to-news servers can be found by fetching the document at
"http://students.cs.byu.edu/~don/mail2news.html". (See the "World-Wide
Web By E-Mail" section below for help with this.)
TIP: SEARCHING FOR USENET NEWSGROUPS - Don't know the name of the newsgroup?
To search for Usenet groups about "pets", for example, send e-mail to
an Agora server (see WWW section) with this line in the message BODY:
Another way to find newsgroups: Send e-mail to "email@example.com" with
in the BODY if the message. (The quotes force an exact match.)
A service called REFERENCE.COM makes it possible to search USENET
newsgroups for postings that contain keywords of interest to you. You
can even "subscribe" and receive a daily list of newsgroup postings that
match your search criteria. Send mail to "firstname.lastname@example.org"
with HELP in the body of note for full details. A similar service
called the Vigilant Information Filter can be reached by sending
e-mail to "email@example.com".
WORLD-WIDE WEB BY E-MAIL
The World-Wide Web is the premier Internet navigational tool - a
hypertext and multimedia system that lets you hop around the Net, read
documents, and access images & sounds linked to a source.
Have you ever heard someone say, "Wow, check out the cool stuff at
http://www.somewhere.com/blah.html" and wondered what in the world they
were talking about? Now you can retrieve WWW documents by e-mail using
an Agora webmail server.
All you need to know is the Uniform Resource Locator (or URL, that
long ugly string starting with "http:", "gopher:", or "ftp:") which
defines the address of the document, and you can retrieve it by sending
e-mail to one of:
Agora Server Address Location Usenet Access?
firstname.lastname@example.org (Japan) Y
email@example.com (Japan) Y
firstname.lastname@example.org (United Kingdom)
email@example.com (NSU.RU users ONLY)
In the body of your note include one of these lines, replacing "<URL>"
with the actual URL specification.
rsend <return-address> <URL> (to override your return address)
This will send you back the document you requested, with a list of all
the documents referenced within, so that you may make further requests.
To try WWW by e-mail send the following commands to an Agora server :
In a few minutes you should receive the Agora help file and the "WWW
Welcome Page" which will include references to other Web documents
you'll want to explore. Please read the Agora help file, as it contains
answers to many commonly asked questions!
THERE ARE SOME OTHER webmail servers listed below, which run software
other than Agora. They work pretty much the same, but it's a good idea
to request the help file for the server you decide to use.
Note: The GetWeb servers below can handle web pages which contain fill-in
forms. Other webmail servers do not provide this ability.
Address Syntax Comments
firstname.lastname@example.org GET <URL> Send HELP for usage info
email@example.com GET <URL> Send HELP or HELP FORMS
firstname.lastname@example.org GET <URL> Send HELP command for info
email@example.com Use 'Subject: info' for help
firstname.lastname@example.org GO <URL> Same as email@example.com
firstname.lastname@example.org <URL> Limited free searches
Note: The webmail servers are sometimes unavailable for days (or weeks)
at a time without explanation. If you get an error or no reply, please
retry in a day or so.
WWW SEARCH BY E-MAIL
There's a lot of great stuff out on the Web, but how do you find it?
Well, just like Archie and Veronica help you search FTP and gopher sites,
there are several search engines that have been developed to search for
information on the Web. But until now, you had to have direct Internet
access to use them.
After a bit of research, I have found that it is possible to use several
WWW search mechanisms by e-mail. Here are some sample queries that you
can use to search via Lycos and WebCrawler. Any of these lines can be
sent to an Agora server (see above) to perform a search. If you're not
interested in frogs, then by all means feel free to use your own keywords.
For Lycos, append a dot to your keywords to force an exact match, or you
will get a substring search by default. Separate words with a "+" sign.
For WebCrawler searches you must separate words with a "+" sign.
All searches are exact, no trailing dot required.
There are literally thousands of discussion groups that stay in touch
using e-mail based systems known as "mailing lists". People interested
in a topic "subscribe" to a "list" and then send and receive postings by
e-mail. For a good introduction to this topic, send e-mail to:
In the body of your note include only this command:
GET NEW-LIST WOUTERS
Finding a Mailing List
To find out about mailing lists that are relevant to your interests,
send e-mail to "email@example.com" with
in the BODY if the message. (The quotes force an exact match.)
(Of course you must replace "keyword" with your own search word
such as "marketing", "bicycles", etc.)
New in These Parts?
If you're new to the Internet, I suggest you subscribe to the HELP-NET list
where you're likely to find answers to your questions. Send the command:
SUBSCRIBE HELP-NET <Firstname Lastname>
in the BODY of a note to LISTSERV@VM.TEMPLE.EDU, then e-mail your questions
to the list address:
FINGER BY E-MAIL
"Finger" is a utility that returns information about another user.
Usually it's just boring stuff like last logon, etc., but sometimes
people put fun or useful information in their finger replies. To try
out finger, send this line (in the message BODY) to a webmail server:
Use one of the e-mail addresses below instead of <user@site> ...
"DIRECTORY ASSISTANCE" BY E-MAIL
"WHOIS" is a service that queries a database of Internet names and
addresses. If you're looking for someone or you want to know where
a particular Internet site is located, send e-mail with
Subject: whois <name>
Try substituting "mit.edu" or the last name of someone you know in place
of "<name>" and see what comes back! It should be noted that WHOIS is
not a comprehensive listing of all Internet users. It contains mostly
network administrators and some "notable" Internet figures.
Another alternative name looker-upper is a database at MIT which keeps
tabs on everyone who has posted a message on Usenet. Send e-mail to
"firstname.lastname@example.org" and include this command ONLY in the BODY:
Specify as much information as you can about the person (lastname,
firstname, userid, site, etc.) to limit the amount of information that
is returned to you. Here's a sample query to find the address of
someone you think may be at Harvard University:
send usenet-addresses/Jane Doe Harvard
NETFIND is another more powerful search engine that uses a person's name
and keywords describing a physical location to return a bunch of info
about the person (or persons) who fit the bill.
Let's say we want to find someone named Hardy at the University of
Colorado in Boulder. Our Netfind query will be addressed to
an Agora server (see list in WWW section) and will contain the only line:
Netfind works in two phases. First it displays a list of internet
domains that match your keywords, then it looks for the person in the
domain you select. Netfind by e-mail is very similar, in that you'll
receive a listing of matching domains from which you must make one or
Each selection is numbered and there are corresponding "gopher://"
commands at the bottom of the listing. Let's pick the selection for
cs.colorado.edu computer science dept, university of colorado, boulder
which means that our next command to the Agora server will be:
If all goes well, you'll receive a list something like this:
full_name: HARDY, JOE (not a real person)
phone: (303) 492-1234
address: Campus Box 777
department: COMPUTER SCIENCE
Note that if you know the person's domain name already, you can jump right
in with a query like the latter one above.
You can also try the "Four11 Online User Directory", a free directory of
users and their e-mail addresses. Send e-mail to email@example.com for
details on how to search the Four11 directory.
ADDRESS/NAME SERVER INFO BY E-MAIL
This is a little on the technical side, but anyway the Mail Name Server
offers some useful services by e-mail, such as translating host names to
IP addresses or finding nameservers for a host. Send e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org with a Subject line of 'help' to get info on similar
TELNET BY E-MAIL
Sorry, it can't be done. Actually it CAN be done, but apparently nobody
has done it. I'd love to be proven wrong on this!
A FEW NET-GOODIES
Here are some other interesting things you can do by e-mail. (Some of
them are accessible only by e-mail!)
* THE INTERNET TOURBUS
Take a virtual tour of the Internet - hop on The Internet TourBus! You'll
receive a short mailing twice a week highlighting fun and interesting sites
on the Internet. It's absolutely free, and you can join 75,000 others by
sending SUBSCRIBE TOURBUS Firstname Lastname in the BODY of a message to
* GERMAN <-> ENGLISH TRANSLATION SERVICE
The LEO translation service is now available by email, by sending to
email@example.com. The helpfile at http://www.leo.org/dict/mail.html
can be retrieved via webmail.
* REMINDERS BY E-MAIL
The E-minder service sends you reminders about your events. For directions
on setting e-minder appointments by e-mail, send a message to
firstname.lastname@example.org, with Subject line "e-minder help".
* FREE HOME PAGE BY E-MAIL (For German residents only)
InetWire offers free non-commercial homepages with up to 500KB of space.
Make a zip file with index.htm being the home page, put a URL something
like "http://inetw.com/home/myname" in the Subject line and then send
your zip file as an ATTACHMENT to email@example.com. (If your e-mail
program doesn't support file attachments, you're out of luck.)
* RECEIVE E-MAIL WHEN YOUR FAVORITE WEBSITE CHANGES
Try URL-minder by e-mail. Send a message to URLfirstname.lastname@example.org with
HELP in the Subject line for instructions.
* MORTGAGE/LOAN CALCULATOR
To calculate your monthly loan payment, send this line to an Agora server:
(Change the values for principle, interest and term as appropriate.)
* VIRTUAL PIZZA!
Order an electronic pizza by e-mail. Send e-mail to "email@example.com"
with a subject of "pizza help" for details.
* WEBSTER DICTIONARY LOOKUP
To retrieve the definition of a word, send this line to an Agora server:
* MORE WORD FUN!
The wordserver at firstname.lastname@example.org will serve up A.Word.A.Day,
Dictionary-by-mail, Thesaurus-by-mail, Acronym-by-mail, Anagram-by-mail,
* PLAY GAMES BY E-MAIL
Yoyodyne specializes in online games. Send mail to "email@example.com".
You can also play games via the PBeM Server, for info, send e-mail to
"firstname.lastname@example.org" with Subject: help
* BIBLE SEARCH
Search the King James version of the Bible. Examples below can be sent to
an Agora server. Use "+" to specify multiple words; prefix proper names
with "%23"; add "&PHRASE=ON" to find a phrase.
* THE USENET ORACLE
A cooperative, anonymous and humorous exchange of questions and answers.
Send e-mail to email@example.com for more information.
* SENDING A FAX BY E-MAIL
Free faxing via the Internet? You bet. For details, send the line below to
firstname.lastname@example.org (in BODY of note)
* U.S. CONGRESS AND THE WHITE HOUSE
Find out if your congressperson has an electronic address! Just send mail
to the address email@example.com and you'll get a listing of
congressional e-mail addresses. You can also contact the President
(firstname.lastname@example.org) or Vice President (email@example.com).
* OTHER SOURCES OF US GOV'T INFO:
Send the lines below to firstname.lastname@example.org (in BODY of note)
send usenet/news.answers/us-govt-net-pointers/part1 (also part2)
* FINDING E-MAIL ADDRESSES
For a guide to finding someone's e-mail addresses, send the line below to
email@example.com (in the BODY of the note)
* SENDING MAIL TO VARIOUS NETWORKS
For a guide to communicating with people on the various networks that
make up the Internet, send the line below to firstname.lastname@example.org (in
the BODY of the note)
* MOVIE INFO
To learn how to get tons of info on movies, actors, & directors, send
mailto email@example.com with HELP in the Subject of note for details.
* STOCK MARKET QUOTES
If you want to get a current quote for just 1 or 2 stocks, you can use
the QuoteCom service. They offer this free service along with other fee
based services. For details, send e-mail to "firstname.lastname@example.org" with a
subject of HELP.
* CURRENCY CONVERSION
You can get foreign exchange rates for the U.S. dollar and other
currencies by sending one of these lines to an Agora server:
* ANONYMOUS E-MAIL
An "anon server" provides a front for sending mail messages and posting
to Usenet newsgroups anonymously, should the need ever arise. To get
instructions send e-mail to one of these addresses: email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
* ASK DR. MATH
Have a math question? No problem's too big or too small for The Swat
Team. Write to email@example.com
* VIRUS PROTECTION SOFTWARE
F-Prot, one of the top PC virus scanners can be requested by e-mail.
To get the current version (uuencoded) send e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org with this message body:
* SCOUT REPORT
...is a weekly featuring announcements of new and interesting resources
on the Internet. To subscribe, send e-mail to LISTSERV@lists.internic.net
with "Subscribe scout-report Your Name" in the body.
* SUICIDE HELPLINE
There's a suicide helpline accessible by e-mail. Send your message
to email@example.com -- No syntax, they have humans!
* ISPs BY AREA CODE
For a list of Internet Service Providers in your area code, send this line
to an Agora server: http://thelist.iworld.com/areacode/???.html (where
???=your area code)
* E-MAIL TO FAX
Full-featured service with free trial period. They also accept resellers
who are able to promote the service on a personal home page. For details,
send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
* E-MAIL TO SNAIL-MAIL
Need to get a message to someone in Britain who doesn't have e-mail?
Send it to PaperMail! For full details on this fee-based service, send
e-mail to email@example.com
* FOR FURTHER READING
A variety of helpful files are available by sending to one of the webmail
servers listed earlier in this guide. Use the "send" commands below in
the body of your message to the webmail server.
- for additional information on e-mail retrieval services
- for other fun things you can do with e-mail
- more details on using web search engines by e-mail
This file should be somewhere between 1300 and 1400 lines of text, and
about 58KB in size. If the file you have is much smaller, or says
something like "part 2 of 2" near the top, you're missing something.
Most likely, that's because your mail system has file size quotas that
prevented part 1 from reaching you. Here's the solution:
To get the file in multiple chunks, send to firstname.lastname@example.org
and enter only these lines in the BODY of the note:
The mail server will break up the file into chunks of 25000 bytes and
send them in separate messages. You can change "25000" to another
number if it suits your needs.
CONTACTING THE AUTHOR
I welcome your feedback on this guide and can be reached at the following
addresses. Send corrections, ideas, suggestions and comments by e-mail.
I'll try to include any new services in future editions of this guide.
E-Mail : BobRankin@MHV.net
Web : http://biz.mhv.net/drbob
US Mail : Bob Rankin / P.O. Box 39 / Tillson, NY / 12486
Copyright (c) 1994-97, "Doctor Bob" Rankin
All rights reserved. Permission is granted to make and distribute
verbatim copies of this document provided the copyright notice and
this permission notice are preserved on all copies. Feel free to
upload to your favorite BBS or Internet server!
Persons wishing to summarize this document in other publications
may do so, but please include the instructions herein for obtaining
the full document. I also request that you kindly supply me with a
copy of the article when published.
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