The Music Network
News of the latest activities on the musician's favourite electronic communications network.
- System updates
- UK MIDI Association come on-line
- Binary uploads are now free
- Flexible database searching
Our new computer was installed in January, and despite a brief hiatus while we waited for the data lines to be moved, the system was interrupted for just a few hours before returning with an operating speed about five times faster than previously!
With all that done, the way was now clear for work to move ahead on the installation of our direct-dial lines for members in London - a facility promised when we started TMN last year. Work was completed in March and direct-dial is now available, with MNP Level 5 error correction at up to 2400 baud.
At the same time, British Telecom unveiled their new data network access system, PSS DialPlus. This gives TMN members outside London a 90% chance of being a local call distance away from TMN, as opposed to the previous network access system which was local call distance for about 60-70% of the UK population. PSS DialPlus is also faster - it too offers up to 2400 baud and MNP Level 5 - and much easier to use than the old PSS nodes. All you do is dial a single number, get the 'connect' signal, and wait for DialPlus to welcome you. Then you just enter a special password and you're at the log-in prompt almost immediately - and the process is the same for every one of the system's 60-plus nodes (with more being added all the time). Full access numbers and procedures for both direct-dial and DialPlus are available on-line in the tmn.news conference.
And talking of telephone numbers: as you would expect, we get a lot of enquiries about The Music Network at our offices in Somerset. The voice phone number we publish (Contact Details) is designed not only for members to contact us with access problems, but for anyone interested in TMN to call up with questions or to ask for an information pack.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that we've tried to make it clear that this is a voice line, we have recently been getting a large number of calls from modems, often on auto-redial, so the phone has sometimes been ringing every few moments for hours on end! As a result, we now have our answering machine on the line 24 hours a day, and if we are in the middle of a spate of modem calls, the machine will get them instead of us.
If you encounter the machine and you're looking for information about the system, leave your name and address (and a phone number if you have any specific questions) and we'll send you an info pack. If you're a member of TMN and you need some help with a problem, leave your ID name and a phone number and we'll call you back - thus saving you money.
It's worth pointing out that as TMN isn't a small, single-line private computer bulletin board - it's a sophisticated international network - we do not publish modem access numbers (because you need to become a member and get an ID name to access the system - and you get a list of access numbers when you sign up). Then for security reasons, following requests from several of our larger corporate members, we do not offer 'free', 'demo' or 'guest' accounts on the system.
We'd like to thank exhibitors and visitors for coming to see us at the recent MIDI Music Show in Hammersmith. As a result of the show we hope to be seeing several new companies on TMN in the near future, where they'll be using the system to support customers. First of all we'd like to welcome Vic Lennard and the UK MIDI Association to TMN. The UKMA is linked to the International MIDI Association (IMA) in the States, and will be offering many of the same information and support services to MIDI developers and manufacturers here. The ID name is ukma, and Vic will be opening the first UKMA on-line conference shortly, under the title ukma.support. This will be the place to look for up-to-the-minute information and a regular on-line newsletter. The UKMA itself has individual, group, and corporate membership categories, and everyone who is a UKMA member automatically gets a free sign-up to The Music Network, worth £45.
For some time we've been looking at ways of 'thanking' TMN members for uploading programs, sounds, and other useful items into our data libraries. So now, to encourage you to share your ideas and creativity on-line, we are starting a connect time rebate scheme for approved binary uploads. If you upload shareware or public domain sounds, programs, etc into our on-line conferences - public or private - you will get a rebate equivalent to the connect time taken to upload the file. If it's something you've developed/created yourself, however, you will get double the rebate. To qualify, you must email tmn first to describe the file you intend to upload, and say how large it is. If we approve the upload for a rebate, we will let you know, and the rebate will be credited to your bill for the month in which the upload occurs.
A full-scale database facility is the latest scheduled addition to the range of services on TMN, and we expect it to be ready around June. Databases will be accessible directly from the command line, and will be remarkably flexible in their content and organisation. The system has been tailored to accept database files in a wide variety of formats - from dBase III to text - so people with existing databases that would benefit from being made accessible nationally and internationally will not need to develop a structure specifically for on-line use - the existing version will work fine.
The service will be particularly useful for companies or groups of TMN members who need country-wide access to a private or confidential database - a manufacturer or distributor's dealer support service, for example - but we anticipate that some databases will be made generally available to all TMN members.
At TMN we are always open to ideas and comments on how to make the service more accessible, useful, and valuable. If you have any suggestions - or if you want any more information on the service or any questions about the topics covered in this article - just telephone us on (Contact Details) (voice only, please!), fax us on (Contact Details), or write to: The Music Network, (Contact Details). See you on-line!