Bob Dubner
(Super Imperial Member)
12/25/17 02:40 PM
TapCIS R.I.P.

For those of you who are eagerly awaiting the next iteration of my TapCIS-
like user interface for SIG-III, I have a progress report:

I have been successful in writing C++ code that logs into the forum,
using the per-session challenge/response MD5 hash of the user's password. I
am parsing the forums page, I am downloading lists of forums, I am
downloading lists of topics, and from there I am downloading the contents of
messages. I am all set to start refining my GUI program to display those
messages...

....and I am going to hang it up.

Last night I became aware of Mike Overly's implementation of the "New Since
Last Visit". That, by itself, does much of what TapCIS does for a user.

With the demise of the threaded messaging model, and the rise instead of the
Topics model where new messages get added onto the end of an ever-growing
chain, with quoting -- or commenting -- the preferred method of referring to
a prior message, much of the remaining utility of TapCIS becomes moot.

Having noticed that, I took a step back and looked at what I was trying to do.

Back in 2004, when we shifted from SIG-I to SIG-II, a lot of our members were
using TapCIS. I believe my technical stunt of making TapCIS work with the
relatively clumsy Web interface, when many of us didn't want to use the new
interface, was instrumental in maintaining AVSIG continuity. I have always
suspected that a lot more people would have drifted away, otherwise.

Thirteen years later, the situation is very different. As far as I know,
there are three people still using TapCIS, with one additional frustrated
user who gave it up when she transitioned to Windows 10. The average
birthdate of the four of us is just a few months after Hitler invaded Poland,
and more than a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

TapCIS [unchanged since 1999] is a 16-bit DOS [obsolete] program that these
days can only run on Windows XP [obsolete] which these days has to be
virtualized under Windows 7 [end of life in 2020]. My TapLink program is
only barely useful because XP invokes Internet Explorer 6 [obsolete].

TapCIS was developed by Howard Benner [deceased] and taken over by Rick
Wilkes [now a life coach] to interface to Compuserve [defunct] and save users
money by minimizing connect time [obsolete business model]. The messages on
Compuserve were pure ASCII [superceded].

In short, the success of TapCIS was for two reasons: It saved users money,
and it worked better than a teletype [museum piece].

The world has changed more than I can keep up with. SIG-II, because of the
primitive nature of UBB and because Overly kept his foot on the progress
brake, has also been largely text based, which meant I could mostly goose
messages into a format that TapCIS could handle. Now? I have quickly
surveyed SIG-III. About half of the messages have content that I can't show
a user using just text.

Remember the Electric Pencil, and WordPerfect, and WordStar? All gone,
because WYSISYG GUI interfaces work better for casual word processing.

So, to be really useful, I'd basically have to create something that was
essentially a Web browser. And, frankly, Microsoft, Google, and Firefox all
have a head start on me.

Yes, I could produce something more efficient by downloading the messages
before you look at them. But so what? TapCIS was written when a 9600 baud
[a still useful, but quaint, notation] connection cost $19.95 per hour.

Now? Sure, a 20-character message has 7,200 bytes of overhead (no
exaggeration). At 9600 baud, that 20-byte message took 20 milliseconds to
download. But with a 1 megabit broadband connection, that 7,200 bytes takes
just 70 milliseconds to download -- and most of us have connections that are
even faster than 1mb.

So, I am going to cease development activity. It makes about as much sense
for me to develop an ASCII-ish off-line interface to SIG-III as it would to
try to power an automobile with a Newcomen [never mind] steam engine. TapCIS
solves problems that simply don't exist any more.

So, thirty-six years since inception, and eighteen years since the last
update, which may both be records, it's time to pull the plug and let TapCIS
pass away with dignity.

To my loyal users, thank you so much for the implicit approval of my
efforts. It's been quite the run.


Ralph Jones
(Top Gun)
12/25/17 04:28 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:

to try to power an automobile with a Newcomen [never mind] steam engine.



Those things sucked <ba-DUM-tsshh>.

Bob, thanks for the dedication and hard work.


Andy Alson (HPN/NY)
(THE TOP GUN!)
12/25/17 04:32 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Bob,

Just want to be sure you understand how much we all recognize your efforts and have appreciated them over the years. Absolutely amazing that you kept TAPCIS working for so long and it's demise with the move to SIG III is certainly understandable.

Thanks again for all your efforts.

Andy


Russell Holton
(AVSIG Member)
12/25/17 05:03 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:

TapCIS was written when a 9600 baud [a still useful, but quaint, notation] connection cost $19.95 per hour.



Let's not forget that the typical user used it over a connection that doubled as the home telephone. Today, the average user has a separate internet connection with no need to mass-download messages for off-line reading. (I'm sure the usage case still exists, but it's not as common as it once was.)

Another issue, I'm sure, is that SigIII may not remain static. While some software updates are for "features", others are necessary to keep the bad guys at bay. No doubt, such changes would force yet more updates to the code.

It was a good run, but I can't fault the decision. There are bigger things to deal with.


Stephanie Belser-2
(Top Gun APC)
12/25/17 05:06 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Even thirteen years ago, a lot of us had dial-up interfaces. So TAP-UBB saved connection time, which meant the phone line was free.

I'll wager that the number of people using phone lines for computer access is vanishlingly small.


Andrew Niemyer -KDLH
(Top Gun)
12/25/17 07:13 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Bob,
You saved us all in the days of dial-up, times of charges for simply glancing online. It helped me on countless airline trips across America. And, on at least one occasion, discover a serious laptop defect. (Or: Why I'll never, ever own a Dell computer again. Ever.)

Thank you for all your many years of hard work, dedication and above all love you gave to TAPCIS and to AVSIG. You're a hero.

Very best regards,
Andy


Mike OverlyAdministrator
(Hangar Rat w/Buttons)
12/25/17 08:01 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

At last check Mr. Dubner was trying to sling code at the new place which entailed 136 lines to reproduce a seven-word quoteback in Courier. That’s cruel and unusual punishment, even for Bob.

I add my thanks for all Bob’s work keeping the TAP interface working for our TapFolk. This was more than a programming parlor trick: it was a lifeline to some of our pioneering members.

One of the issues that hampered Bob’s Tap experimenting on Sig III was the existence of the “Comment” feature, which allows other users to place messages “on” messages as comments instead of separate replies in a thread. This is a feature we can turn off if it gets confusing or kludgy, but for now it looks like a way to post off-topic messages to a given user rather than derailing a thread with an actual reply. These “comments” do not sort out as new messages, so they are only seen if you are clicking through a thread. I’d be interested in thoughts on keeping or 86ing the Comment option from those who have experimented in the new forum.


Ray Tackett
(Top Gun)
12/25/17 09:10 PM
TapCIS R.I.P.

Thank you for TAPUbb and the excellent analysis. Still, I will miss the
simplicity and directness.

You're right, it did keep my participation up across the change away from
Compuserve.

I may be at the low end of your computed age average. Two historical facts,
which you are free to connect or not, as you please:

1. I was born in Ft. Worth, Texas.

2. Exactly two months later, Germany surrendered.


Bob Dubner
(Super Imperial Member)
12/25/17 09:47 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:

These “comments” do not sort out as new messages, so they are only seen if you are clicking through a thread. I’d be interested in thoughts on keeping or 86ing the Comment option from those who have experimented in the new forum.




Mike, I saw a comment I created show up on in the “new since last visit” list. Although it was a comment on my own comment, and it might have been my own post. So many things to learn.


Randy Sohn
(Gradn Exlated Ordre of teh Fyling Fingres)
12/25/17 09:51 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:

might have been my own post. So many things to learn.




Sure interesting to read all the comments about the new Avsig. I can't get on it in any fashion but enjoy the comments.

best, randy


Bob Dubner
(Super Imperial Member)
12/25/17 09:53 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Ray, I figured you as 70. Since you are 72, assuming Germany surrendered in Ft Worth at the same time it surrendered everywhere else, the average date is a few days closer to the Poland invasion.

My point: My efforts here aren’t exactly aimed at the prized 18 to 35 demographic.


Ralph Jones
(Top Gun)
12/25/17 10:07 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Another data point: July 1941.

Bob Dubner
(Super Imperial Member)
12/26/17 12:24 AM
TapCIS R.I.P.

>>>July, 1941<<< Ralph, are you still using TapCIS? If so, I left you out
of my calculations.

That's a few days back towards Pearl Harbor and away from Poland.

This is a hell of a way to make a marketing plan.


Bob Dubner
(Super Imperial Member)
12/26/17 12:24 AM
TapCIS R.I.P.

>>>I can't get on it in any fashion...<<<

Randy, how are we going to make sure you switch over to SIG-III on January 1?

May I ask:

1) What computer and operating system are you using?

2) What happens when you go to http://dev.avsig.com?


Russell Holton
(AVSIG Member)
12/26/17 04:50 AM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:

I’d be interested in thoughts on keeping or 86ing the Comment option from those who have experimented in the new forum.



Since it's not flagged as new content, I say kill it. (At least for now.) Otherwise, there's a good chance the comment will never be seen.

If the software gets updated to allow people to find new comments, then I'd consider it.


Randy Sohn
(Gradn Exlated Ordre of teh Fyling Fingres)
12/26/17 09:34 AM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:

Another data point: July 1941.




Reminded me about Johnny Horton's song: "Sink the Bismark"!

best, randy


Ralph Jones
(Top Gun)
12/26/17 09:44 AM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:

Ralph, are you still using TapCIS?



Nope, hardly remember it...;-)


Randy Sohn
(Gradn Exlated Ordre of teh Fyling Fingres)
12/26/17 09:44 AM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:

>>how are we going to make sure you switch over to SIG-III<<

and

>>What computer and operating system are you using?<<

and

>>What happens when you go to http://dev.avsig.com?<<





Hands thrown up here in utter frustration.

Later MAC and it sez macOS High Sierra and version 10. 13. 2.

It sez: "Safari can't open this because the first part is invalid".

Best, randy


John O'Shaughnessy [FCM]
(Top Gun)
12/26/17 11:40 AM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:


Hands thrown up here in utter frustration.





I seem to be healthier now, Randy, so I'm hoping to be able to visit and get you set up to access the new AVSIG later this week -- perhaps Friday if you are around.

John


Randy Sohn
(Gradn Exlated Ordre of teh Fyling Fingres)
12/26/17 02:27 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:

so I'm hoping to be able to visit and get you set up to access the new AVSIG later this week -- perhaps Friday if you are around. John




Well, sure been worry'n 'bout you, I told someone the other day that this whole mess isn't likely to get straightened out untill O'S is up and around!

best, randy


Tom Charlton
(Top Gun)
12/26/17 02:56 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

John O’s sez:
Quote:

I seem to be healthier now


Horay!


John O’s also sez:
Quote:

Randy, so I'm hoping to be able to visit and get you set up to access the new AVSIG


Ya-hoo!

Regards,
Tom Charlton


Randy Sohn
(Gradn Exlated Ordre of teh Fyling Fingres)
12/26/17 03:03 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:

Ya-hoo!




Chuckle, may I suggest that you go commit an unnatural act upon thyself? <g>

best, randy


Bob Dubner
(Super Imperial Member)
12/26/17 03:31 PM
TapCIS R.I.P.

Randy, it's too soon to be frustrated.

You answered my first question perfectly; I didn't know if you were using a
PC or a Mac; now I do.

In its own way, your second answer is perfect, too. I just used my wife's
Macbook Pro to access dev.avsig.com with both Apple Safari and Google
Chrome.

They both worked just fine. That tells me that you are probably doing
something that seems reasonable and logical, but which happens to be wrong.

Since John O'S is going to make a stab at being in your neck of the woods,
I'm going to back down now and see if he can fix you up.

Failing that, there's some software that you can easily install on your
computer that will let you authorize me, or John, or whoever to remotely
control your computer.

Hey, John! When you're there, and assuming Randy is willing, install
TeamViewer on Randy's machine. And put a shortcut to Applications/TeamViewer
on his desktop.

That ought to help with some of this stuff. God, can you imagine the wear
and tear on Deakin we could have avoided if he could have gotten at your
computer remotely!


Randy Sohn
(Gradn Exlated Ordre of teh Fyling Fingres)
12/26/17 08:42 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:

wear and tear on Deakin




Chuckle Bob, I just talked to John the other night (about other things tho, I was worried about those fires out there in his neck of the woods). Reading this thread, the thought occurred to me, I'm reminded that I never knew/don't know what TAPCIS is/was.

Anyhow, need to mention that O'S has always been a hero of mine.

best, randy


Nancy Zeitlin [HPN]
(AVSIG Member)
12/27/17 10:26 AM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

<BIG sigh!!>
Okay, I ‘fess up to being an anachronism, but I will truly miss the Tap* paradigm. I will miss the offline operation because I still spend nontrivial amounts of time offline. I will miss the concise ability to read new messages while maintaining the ability to walk back in a thread. I will miss the pure keyboard operation. I will miss the ability to easily insert quotes line by line, facilitating the maintenance of context. And so much more.

But, as you pointed out, time marches on. You’ve done far more to keep the Tap* paradigm functional than anyone could reasonably expect. And it has REALLY been appreciated. I was dragged away from it, kicking and screaming, by an unfortunate series of undesired events, but so be it.

Thank you again for your efforts. You made a tough decision, but the right one, IMO.


Bob Dubner
(Super Imperial Member)
12/27/17 01:05 PM
TapCIS R.I.P.

Thank you. Thanks to everybody who has expressed their appreciation.

Over the last few days, I've kept going back to it.

But I keep coming to the same conclusion. For the most part, expectations
have changed. Much of the downloaded bytage from a modern forum lacks
utility. I wasn't kidding when I said the byte overhead of a message with no
content is over 7,200 bytes. It's actually higher than that, because of the
payload of the avatar; my routine doesn't follow those links.

But it remains true that most of us are using connections thousands of times
faster than what was available thirty years ago. I would downshift
Compuserve to 300 baud (about $5 per hour) when in chat mode. Today I am
paying TimeWarner/Spectrum for a 300 megabit download connection -- literally
one million times faster.

So, the time to download a message is comparable to what it used to be, and
for many of us it's even shorter, even with those thousands of bytes. The
incremental cost of downloading a message is exactly zero. So, all that
bloat has no economic cost to me, either in time or money.

The natural result is that people aren't parsimonious in their forum
conversations. They use formatting, emojis, and most especially they include
pictures.

So, I'm stuck. I have the downloading functionality working well. But
whenever I think about representing those HTML messages, I get stuck.

TapCIS is a keyboard-driven smart teletype, designed and tuned for showing
ASCII messages off-line.

To create something for SIG-III, I'd have to come up with something similar,
but it would have to be a keyboard-driven smart HTML renderer, tuned for
showing Web pages off-line. And that's a bridge too far. And, frankly, with
Mike O's deployment of "New Since Last Visit (View All)", it wouldn't provide
much added value. And to keep it useful, I'd have to keep up with thousands
of developers working on Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari,
Firefox, and Opera (among others) as the HTML standard gets extended. (Makes
me tired thinking about it. One thing about ASCII: it was *done*. No changes
in it since 1963!)

And even if I did that development, it'd just work on Windows. Not the Mac,
not your iPad, not your iPhone, nor any Android device.

So, this time, my assessment is that it'd be too much work to the benefit of
too few people.

I *am* feeling maudlin about shoveling dirt over TapCIS's coffin. But it's
time.

Selah.


Andy Alson (HPN/NY)
(THE TOP GUN!)
12/27/17 01:17 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Guess I can finally throw out my Tapcis Quick Start & Reference Manual along with Rick Wilkes' emails with my registration number as a Tapcis 6.0 Tester from 09-Aug-95. Unless anyone wants them?

Doesn't look like I kept the manual for the earlier versions of Tapcis though.

Also noticed I've also got some other old manuals in the same stack from old modems, printers, scanners, ProPilot '99, and some others. Guess they can go out also. That's clear a little shelf space in my home office. <G>

Andy


sreyoB yrraL
(AVSIG Member)
12/27/17 01:19 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Doesn't Microsoft's browser have a hook that will allow other programs to use it to render html within that program's UI?

Russell Holton
(AVSIG Member)
12/27/17 02:34 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:

Doesn't Microsoft's browser have a hook that will allow other programs to use it to render html within that program's UI?




Good idea. Between IE, Edge and the OS, I'm sure there's an existing HTML rendering engine that can be used. It may be time to go "up stack" - move away from the basic protocols and work at a higher level.


Bob Dubner
(Super Imperial Member)
12/27/17 04:24 PM
TapCIS R.I.P.

Larry, that's a very good suggestion.

I am not familiar with the specific possibility that one of Microsoft's
browsers might be able to do the rendering for me. It's not easy to do a Web
search for it. I gave it a shot, but anything involving "render HTML" leads
to roughly a billion pages about Web page design and HTML standards.

Microsoft's Foundation Classes *does* have a thing called the CHtmlEditCtrl
class, which, according to the documention, does what you describe: You
create a control in the application's window, and you can point that control
at a bunch of HTML text, and the control renders that HTML.

Possibly that's what you heard about. It would make sense that the MFC
implementation would hook into the same operating system code that
Microsoft's browsers use. That doesn't mean Microsoft is doing it, but it
would make sense.

I was planning on seeing if that would work for me. But then I realized
that even if it worked the way I hoped it would (which isn't a sure thing
when Microsoft is involved) when I was done the results would look and
function very much much like Mike Overly's "New Since Last Visit" search
function.

About all I could add would be more keyboard navigation, and the ability to
work offline. Still no Mac, iOS, or Android functionality.

And the size and demographics of my potential customer base remains ludicrous.


Ray Tackett
(Top Gun)
12/27/17 04:45 PM
TapCIS R.I.P.

Both Firefox and Chrome offer keyboard mapping extensions. The Firefox one
is provided by Dorando, and you must search "Dorando" to find it.

The Chrome extension is called "Vimium Plus". Neither one contains site
speifics. They are for browser control. I have used both for a long time.

I mention this, not to provoke any more effort on your part, but to provide a
quantum of extra usability for us keyboard types.


John O'Shaughnessy [FCM]
(Top Gun)
12/27/17 09:32 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:

Hey, John! When you're there, and assuming Randy is willing, install
TeamViewer on Randy's machine. And put a shortcut to Applications/TeamViewer
on his desktop.




Way ahead of you Bob. I did that a couple of years ago. :)

Randy's place is only a 20 minute drive, and I benefit greatly from the stories.


John O'Shaughnessy [FCM]
(Top Gun)
12/27/17 09:34 PM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P.

Quote:

Anyhow, need to mention that O'S has always been a hero of mine.




That's very kind of you Randy, but I'm just a regular guy who tries to help out when I can.



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