Date: Fri, 01.06.12 18:32
FidoGazette Vol 6 No 11 June 1, 2012 Page: 5
C O L U M N S
The Old School Toolbox
By Richard Webb, 1:116/901
Connecting the Wetware, Part IX.
We hear it all the time from our Fidonet brethren in zone 2.
They tell us that Policy 4.07 doesn't fit in their environment,
and never did. They tell us it was rammed down their throat at
the time, because North America had all the power. IFNA didn't
effectively represent them either they tell us.
If you read Fidonews from the early '90's before Planet systems
came on the scene guys like Jack Decker were trying to tell us
about some bumps in the road to a smoothly running Fidonet and
policy that would work. For whatever reason Jack became as
popular as certain unpleasant medical procedures, and eventually
walked away when low cost dial up internet arrived where he
lived. That was before I joined Fidonet. If you'll recall, I
left you last time preparing to tell you about my adventures in
Fidonet when moving from a metropolitan area with an organized
local net structure that was painless to one where I had to
organize those resources as best I could to serve my system and
others. First, to serve those others, I had to put my
salesman's hat on and sell them on the idea of joining Fidonet,
knowing full well that they'd only come for the echomail. Then,
once I hooked them I had to make it reliable, and preferably
I'd studied the bbs scene in the community where I'd be
relocating and had come to the decision that if Fidonet was
going to come to Burlington, Iowa I was going to have to bring
it there. My next task was to query my RC about whether I
should become a regional independent or not. My RC told me he
would expect me to join eastern Iowa net, which is what I did.
Eastern Iowa net, or net 283 covered some communities of
reasonable size in eastern Iowa. It encompassed the
Waterloo/Cedar Falls metro area; Cedar Rapids; Iowa City;
Dubuque; Davenport/Bettendorf metro area; and anything in the
then 319 area code which covered eastern Iowa from the
Mississippi river to its boundary with the 515 area which was
central, in other words, from the Missouri to the Minnesota
There were some metropolitan areas of reasonable size
encompassed by net 283. There was no net wide cost recovery
plan. Each metro area had its own distribution system or
systems to handle echomail. The NC was in the Cedar Rapids
metro area, home to Quaker Oats and Collins Radio. He fed from
1:396/1 for awhile, then deployed a dish and used the bird.
Marge Robins was the big hub and file distribution connection,
located in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area, and I'm not sure how
The cities of Davenport and Bettendorf along the river are in a
unique situation. These two communities in Iowa are part of
what is known as the Quad Cities. There are two other sizable
cities on the Illinois side of the river, and they were, and
are, a local call from the Iowa side, although in different area
codes. Hence they had their own local distribution systems, and
cost recovery schemes. In fact, net 283 was covered by a
variety of cost recovery plans depending on where you were
located. Since the net covered the entire eastern third of the
state this was necessary.
There was another difference necessitated by the large area
covered by net 283. NO regular sysop meetings such as were
facilitated by the Central Iowa Computer Users' group which
augmented the quarterly local Fidonet specific meeting with
opportunities to gather on a monthly basis. Net 283 held an
annual picnic in one of its larger communities, and that was
about it. Being that I was a working person I didn't attend,
nor did anybody else from my crp.
In two years of participating in net 283 I couldn't have told
you if our NC was elected or appointed, or whether anybody was
happy or unhappy with the status quo. I knew little about the
rest of net 283, concentrating only on the crp in the local
calling area of Burlington. Yes, we had the net wide chat and
sysop echoes available, plus specific echoes for our
cooperative, some of which were quite active, including a
buy/sell/swap echo and a local chatter echo. The big Fidonet
issue I faced was decreasing costs for my part of Fidonet, which
was any node beginning with 1:283/5xx in the nodelist.
At first we pulled everything from our nc, but soon I began
seeing that an out of state echomail feed would be a real
advantage. it also occurred to me that with a little
cooperation I could combine this out of state echomail feed with
acquiring our routed netmail with little additional cost, and
none to the router really, especially if I were willing to bring
special interest echoes into that distribution system. Heres
what we hit upon as a solution.
I found a willing system in one of the Illinois cities that was
a local call for net 283 systems on the Iowa side of the river.
We arranged session and packet passwords between us, and I
brought in a couple of privately distributed echoes which he
passed through to interested systems within the quad cities.
The plan was for the system which picked up routed netmail from
the Iowa side to pick up all routed netmail for 1;283/5xx
systems, make a local call across the river and drop it off at
the Illinois system where I would pick it up with my once daily
call to exchange echomail. Our NC liked the arrangement, the NC
on the Illinois side had no problem with it. But, we had to
secure the blessing of two regional coordinators, regions 12 and
14. Here's where the hang up occurred. One of the two regional
coordinators objected for some reason.
Having been shot down in flames with the one plan we'd come up
with we decided that our feed in the Illinois quad cities wasn't
quite what we had in mind, but we would have worked with the
deficiencies if we could have made one call do it all for us.
Since that wasn't going to happen I was still stuck with making
an in-state toll call daily to pick up routed netmail. It was
time to go feed shopping again, and I soon joined a ham radio
specific network fed out of southern Illinois and acquired a
zone 73 address as well to facilitate that. That southern
Illinois link supplied us with reliable backbone echomail and
areas off the file bone we wanted. We soon made it cooperative
policy that the hub would be responsible for carrying nodediff
and Fidonews, but members were on their own for other file
distribution echoes. I brought in BFDS for myself, and would
acquire file areas at cost if you really had to have them, but
it just added headaches.
Still, through all of this there was the wrestling match with
dividing up costs fairly, and I'll open that old can of worms
next time, and eventually tie it in with why Fidonet politics
and policy change efforts have been doomed to failure since the
fragmentation of routing and distribution systems.
FIDOGAZETTE Vol 6 No 11 Page 5 June 1, 2012
--- BBBS/Li6 v4.10 Dada-1
* Origin: Prism bbs (1:261/38)