The Music Network
This month Paul Gilby takes a look at the electronic mail facility on TMN and explains how to send email messages to other popular on-line communications systems.
In recent years electronic mail has become one of the most reliable ways of sending a message. The postal strike prior to last Christmas did more for the sale of fax and email services than ever before and underlined the volatility of a postal service which relies heavily on human involvement.
Can you recall the last time the entire telephone system of Great Britain was out of action? Do you remember reading about any other major country's phone system being out of action? The phones never stop, and that's good if you have access to fax and email services during any postal or transport disputes; whether in the UK or abroad.
So, what can you do with electronic mail on TMN and how can users of other systems send messages to users of The Music Network? First, let's run over some basic ground about the form in which messages are addressed.
Just as the entire world uses roughly the same format to address a letter, ie. name, road, town, city, postcode area, country, so email (regardless of which system it is) has a similar standardised format. The difference is that much of it is automatic and sorted out by the computer you're logged on to, leaving you to specify who you want to send the message to and the subject matter.
Subject: KORG M1 REVIEW DEADLINE
In this example we are sending a message (letter) to SOS author Martin Russ, who is a regular user of TMN and whose system name is 'mruss'. Notice that we simply type mruss where the system asks To:, and then at the Subject: line we type in a heading for the message; here we entered KORG M1 REVIEW DEADLINE. After the system prompted us to type the message we started to type the letter.
This example procedure is similar for all systems, whether you're using Telecom Gold, Microlink, Esi Street, PAN or whatever. Sending messages to users on your own system is simple. One major difference which you will come across is the user name identification. Not all systems are as friendly as TMN: on some, people suddenly turn into ID numbers rather than real names like 'mruss'. Telecom Gold is a typical example of this unfriendly approach: Sound On Sound's Telecom Gold ID is 72:MAG11265, not at all as memorable as sos, which is our ID on TMN - or indeed SOUNDONSOUND; our ID on PAN.
So how do you go about sending a message from TMN to some other system?
In this example, imagine you are a user on The Music Network called 'hitsounds' and you wish to send a message to a company on Telecom Gold called MegaSonic whose Telecom ID is 83:TGU4567 (fictional example number).
The Music Network has a special link through to Telecom Gold so that messages can be passed from one system to another and vice versa. To send a message to TG all you have to do is type the following at the To: prompt - Dialcom: 10083: - followed by the user's ID, eg. TGU4567. Then at the Subject: prompt you type whatever you like, as before. Here our imaginary TMN user wants some information from MegaSonics and types Info on your sound library as the subject line.
Technically speaking, what you are actually doing is sending a message out of the TMN computer to the PSS data network, where the first part of the address (Dialcom: 10083) is recognised by the network and redirected to the Telecom Gold computer, which happens to have the ID number of 10083. Once the message has arrived, the computer at their end then looks at the user ID (TGU4567) and sends the message to a private email box. When MegaSonics next log on to the Telecom system they will be able to read the message. That's what telecommunication technology is all about!
'What about going the other way?' I hear you ask. Well, the procedure is much the same but with one minor difference. If you are a user on one of the Telecom systems, you can send a message to a TMN user by emailing a special ID number of the Telecom computer. So, for example, when you are in the mail mode at the To: prompt you type the TMN ID. Then at the Subject: prompt, instead of typing your message heading you type the ID of the user on TMN, eg. our friend 'hitsounds'.
What actually happens is that the TMN computer logs on to Telecom at regular intervals through the day and night. It downloads all the mail from the Telecom ID and automatically sorts it for delivery to the specific users on TMN by looking at the ID name in the Subject: prompt. Clever, isn't it! As before, when a TMN user logs on to the system, the new mail message posted by a Telecom user on their computer system will have arrived on the TMN system.
The electronic mail facility on The Music Network is very powerful and is not just limited to mailing back and forth between TMN and Telecom. You can send a message in a similar way to almost any system in the world, making TMN a lot more than a simple closed bulletin board - it's a truly international communications service dedicated to musicians and the music industry.
Electronic mail is very much at the leading edge of communication technology and obviously there are fewer people using these systems worldwide than there are people using fax machines and the older telex system. The Music Network lets you send outgoing messages to fax and telex users, making it an ideal system for total communications.
How do you do it? Simple. When you are in the mail mode and at the To: prompt, instead of typing a user's mail ID you type fax:number including country code. So, if you wanted to fax Sound On Sound, our fax number is 0480 300455 and the UK international telephone code is 44; therefore you would type fax:44480300455. Notice that you drop the 0 at the beginning of the regional 0480 code. This approach will enable you to send a message from your computer to any fax machine in the world. The same goes for telex: at the To: prompt, you simply type Telex:number, eg. Telex:32496.
As demonstrated by the user names, The Music Network has a more friendly approach than many other telecommunications systems and the fax and telex services are yet another example of how easy TMN is to use. Other systems ask you to select a special fax or telex mode from a system sub-menu, instead of staying in the mail mode where it seems to make more sense if the service you require is to simply send a message through a choice of different carriers - email, fax or telex.
That just about rounds up this month's tour of TMN. More next month.
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