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Detailed Instructions Page Index

Okay, I'm here. What's Next?...
    Here's some basic information that will help you get started using SFF Net. The short index just above this paragraph shows you the various topics we'll cover. You can simply read straight through the page or use the links above to jump to an item that interests you.

    There's also a glossary of terms included to help you with unfamiliar terminology you might run across as you use SFF Net.

    Where do I start?
    The best way to get started with SFF Net is to dive right in! The SFF Net discussion areas (newsgroups) are a great way to get a feel for what's happening here and to learn about the wide variety of discussions and activities on SFF Net.

    The SFF Net discussion newsgroups are hosted on our news server. The fastest way to get started using the news server is to use SFF Net's exclusive WebNews reader (and its companion program WebMail). Using WebNews and WebMail, you can read and reply to newsgroups, as well as send and receive email without having to install any additional software. They use the same web browser (i.e. Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, etc.) that you are using to read this message!

    Try reading an SFF Net newsgroup using WebNews right now - this link will take you to the sff.introduce-yourself newsgroup. If you are already an SFF Net member, don't forget to log in using your SFF Username/Password!

    Here you can practice using WebNews to read introduction messages from other new users. When you're ready, be brave and use the "Start New Thread" link to compose an introduction message for yourself. Think of it as turning off your invisibility suit at the party for a moment - it allows the rest of us to greet you with a smile and a hearty welcome!

    What programs will I need?
    SFF Net has a number of main systems (news server, email, chat, etc.), and there usually is a need for a software client in order to use them. You've already been introduced to WebNews and WebMail which are the simplest email and newsreader clients available. Be sure to read all about Webnews and Webmail to see what other nifty things they can do for you.

    However, as you get more familiar with SFF Net, you'll probably want to upgrade to more-capable software. Here's a brief overview of the kinds of client software that are helpful for the various main systems of SFF Net.

    Full instructions and software recommendations can be found in the How to Set Up Your System help documentation.

    Where will I find important announcements?
    All major announcements from the SFF Net sysops and management are made in the sff.admin.announce newsgroup on the SFF Net news server. This includes the latest system information, virus warnings, planned downtimes, and news of general interest to the SFF Net community. You should subscribe to this newsgroup and scan it regularly for new information.

    Although only SFF Net staff can post in the sff.admin.announce newsgroup, there is a follow-up newsgroup (sff.admin.help-desk) where you may ask questions, get clarification, or make comments on administrative announcements.

    It is also a good idea to read back through the entire sff.admin.announce newsgroup to help yourself get up to speed with SFF Net policies, special announcements, and recent upgrades.

    Other helpful groups:
    sff.admin.announce.newgroups for announcement of new discussions.
    sff.discuss.elsewhere-on-sff-net for other happenings on the system.
    sff.private.members.ask-the-expert for research and tapping the groupmind.

    What do I do if I get stuck?
    SFF Net has several ways for you to get assistance. Here are the steps you should follow if you need help.

    1. Be sure to read through the SFF Net Help Documentation carefully - most common issues you'll encounter have been addressed in these pages.

    2. If you're using a program such as an email client or newsreader, read the program's online help and use the manufacturer's support knowledgebase from their web site. Some problems you'll encounter are specific to the program you're using, and quite often they are easily fixed using the manufacturer's online help information.

    3. Read through the SFF Net support newsgroups.
    4. If your question is of a private nature (i.e. regarding billing) or you are unable to access the newsgroups for some reason, you may also send an email to techsupport@sff.net

Tips for Specific Users
    Tips for ex-GEnie users
    Many of SFF Net's members are faces you'll recognize from your days on GEnie, so it won't be long until you feel at home here. Many of the discussion topics will also look familiar.

    However, the newsgroup format on the news server will be somewhat different from what you're used to. Also, the messages on the SFF Net news server are threaded, which may be a bit confusing at first. Be sure to read the Newsgroups help section carefully for more information on how the newsgroups work.

    Here are some basic SFF Net equivalents to GEnie areas:

    GEnieSFF Net Equivalent
    RoundtableOften, the second name in the newsgroup name is used as a top-level division i.e. "people" in the newsgroup name sff.people.doyle-macdonald denotes the newsgroup is in the People area.
    CategoryThere may or may not be categories in SFF Net names. If there are categories, it's the third name in the newsgroup name, i.e. "help" in sff.tech.help.general. There can also be additional sub-categories.
    TopicThe name following the last period in the SFF Net newsgroup name is equivalent to the Topic, i.e. "ask-the-expert" is the topic name of sff.private.members.ask-the-expert.

    SFF Net has two different real-time conferencing (RTC) systems; we call them chatrooms here. The SFF Net Chat Server has a conferencing system very simliar to GEnie's RTC system. In fact, many of the commands are similar. You may want to try this system out first since you probably already know how to use it. However, the majority of real-time chatting these days happens on the SFF Net IRC server. You'll want to read all about both of these options.

    Here are a couple of places you'll find ex-GEnie members hanging out (enter your SFF Net username/password when prompted):

    Coming from AOL?
    There are a number of things you'll need to know in order to use SFF Net if you're using AOL, since many client programs behave differently or need to be configured to take AOL's software into account. See details in the AOL section of the How to Setup Your System pages.

    You'll also want to read Jim Bailey's excellent FAQ Coming from AOL? for complete instructions.

    Earthlink has introduced some network restrictions that may require special configuration of your email client to use SFF Net email. See details in the Earthlink section of the How to Setup Your System pages.

    Using WebTV or Other Browser-Only Service?
    You too can use SFF Net! See details in the WebTV section of the How to Setup Your System pages.

Glossary of Terms
Client A computer or program that communicates with a server to perform its tasks. For example, an email client is an application that enables you to send and receive email to an email server.
FINGER A utility that reports information about a user, such as name or telephone number. SFF Net users control their own finger files and what information is available.
FTP of File Transfer Protocol, a protocol used for sending and retrieving files.
IP address A unique number that identifies a computer on a TCP/IP network. is an IP address.
IRC Short for Internet Relay Chat, provides live online discussions. There can be many discussions going on at once; each one is assigned a unique channel.
Newsreader A client application that enables you to read and post newsgroup messages to a news server.
POP3 Post Office Protocol, a protocol used to retrieve e-mail from a mail server.
Protocol An agreed-upon format for transmitting data between two devices, i.e. TCP/IP.
SMTP Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, a protocol for sending e-mail messages.
TCP/IP Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, the lingua franca of the Internet. A group of protocols that computers use to talk with each other.
TELNET A general-purpose terminal emulation program using TCP/IP. Used for SFF Net chat.
Threaded Messages A series of messages posted as replies to a new message. A newsgroup contains many threads covering different subjects. Threading allows you read messages concerning one subject in order to see how the discussion has progressed.
Sysop SYStem OPerator. A person who manages an online service. See Yog Sysop below.
WebNews A program that lets your read SFF Net Newsgroups and Email using your web browser.
Yog Sysop Chief of the Old Ones. He who moves in the depths and sees all.

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