H V C N

Dialup Service

The Grex Dialup Service

Dialup access for HVCN is provided by Cyberspace Communications, Inc., a non-profit organization which operates the Grex Conferencing system in Ann Arbor. This is a separate organization from HVCN, and it offers these services to the public at no charge. Grex is a computer conferencing system with global scope, but Cyberspace Communications, by agreement with HVCN, offers dialup community network services on Grex as part of the Community Network.

By the way, Grex is not an acronym, but is the Latin work for "flock".

Here is a pointer to Grex's website: http://www.cyberspace.org/.

Coverage Area

Grex's dialup lines are located only in Ypsilanti, so you can use this service conveniently only if you are located within the range of a local call. Fortunately this excludes only the western portion Washtenaw County, and includes portions of western Wayne County and perhaps a small part of southwestern Oakland County.

Getting Connected

In order to connect to Grex to get a free account which will support e-mail and access to the world wide web (via lynx), you will need a computer with a modem and associated software. Windows 95 users can use Hyperterminal, which comes with the operating system. Mac users will probably prefer Kermit or ZTerm. Any terminal emulator will be sufficient, although some are better than others.

If you have a computer and a modem, you can get online by configuring it to dial Grex at (734) 484-0512. Use 8 data bits, no parity, and 1 stop bit (8-N-1) when you set up your terminal communications software. Grex has several incoming telephone lines available for use, but busy signals should only occur at the busiest times. The early evening (around 8 PM) is usually the easiest time to reach Grex.

Creating a New Account

Once it has connected, you will see a login prompt. Specify "newuser" if you do not already have a Grex account. This will run a program that asks you to fill out a short questionnaire, and then it will create a new account for you on the spot.

Creating an account should take about 10 or 15 minutes. Once you have your account, remember its name (called a loginid), because this is what you need to enter at the login prompt when you dial up next time. Remember your password, too. If you lose it you may not be able to regain access to your account.

On the questionnaire, you will be asked what editor and which shell you prefer to use. The "shell" is the program that prompts you for input. HVCN recommends that you select the "menu" shell, unless you are experienced in the use of other shells. The menu shell will show you a number of options available directly on Grex, including mail. The editor is used to modify text files. You may not ever need to do this, but unless you are familiar with a specific editor supported by Grex, HVCN recommends that you select "pico" which is the best choice for inexperienced users.

Limitations

You will see these limitations again when you create your account.

Identity

You can create an account without specifying your name, address, or phone number, but it is recommended that you provide the Grex staff with enough information to be able to contact you in case anything goes wrong. If you have a totally anonymous account, and you forget your password, you may lose everything.

Doing E-mail

Once your account is created, and you are logged in to your newly created account, you will be at the menu prompt. You will see the list of options. One of them, M, is for e-mail. When you select it, you will be given the choice of which program to use for e-mail. There are three: mail, elm, and pine. Mail is not recommended if you have a choice, but unless your emulator can provide basic vt-100 emulation or better, mail may be the only option that will work. . Pine and Elm are both user-friendly mailing programs. Pine has a few more features, but is generally slower to load and use. HVCN recommends Elm, although it has a slightly steeper learning curve than pine. If you think this is going to cause you problems, then by all means choose pine.

If you created an account with a loginid of "anyone", then your e-mail address is going to be anyone@cyberspace.org. You can tell your friends who have e-mail to send you messages at that address and they should reach your grex account from anywhere on the internet using that address. You can send a message to any e-mail address from your Grex account just as easily.

Worldwide Web Access

You can also use your free dial-up and e-mail account on Grex to access the HVCN community infocenters and other sites on the world wide web, too. Web access is offered via the lynx browser, which is supplied on Grex. Full graphical web browsing with a browser such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer is not available unless you obtain web access through an internet service provider. These services are available at reasonable rates.

To go to HVCN, from Grex, type the command !hvcn at the command prompt. This option is not listed in the menu yet, so you have to remember it. This starts Lynx, and loads the HVCN main menu. Lynx works quite differently than the menu shell, so it takes a little getting used to.

The important things to know about lynx are that you can use the spacebar to move to the next page in a multipage document, and that the up and down arrows highlight the previous and the next hypertext link respectively. Once you have gone up or down to the link that you wish to follow, you use the right arrow key to follow it, and the left arrow key is used to return to the page you came from. There are many other commands that can be used in lynx. To learn about them, type a ? to get the lynx help screen, and then choose the down arrow once to select the "Keystroke commands" link, and then the right arrow key to see all of the keystroke commands.

One of the more useful commands is g, which allows you to specify a URL. These are strings like http://www.whitehouse.gov/ or often more simply, www.whitehouse.gov. If you have seen one of these URLs and made note of it, you can view it from lynx by typing g and then entering the URL at the prompt.

Other Stuff

Grex also harbors a very active conferencing community which discusses hundreds of interesting topics every day. It consists of both local and far-flung participants, and new voices are always welcome, so consider trying the 'bbs' option on the menu. There is also a real-time chat facility, called "Party".

Feel free to explore these and other features of Grex. If you have any questions or problems with Grex services, you can send mail to staff@cyberspace.org. If you cannot use mail, you can log in to Grex using the special ID "trouble" and describe your problem. In any event, describe your problem as completely as you can, and make sure you provide a way to respond (such as a local phone number) if your e-mail is not usable.

If you have problems with using HVCN services from Grex (or anywhere else) contact webmaster@hvcn.org.


This page was last modified on September 18, 2005.

Please send comments to webmaster@hvcn.org