AVSIG: TapCIS R.I.P. wwswsigarch.jpg (7236 bytes)

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Bob Dubner
Super Imperial Member


Reged: 08/31/01
Posts: 4759
Loc: Extreme Upper West Side
TapCIS R.I.P.
      #446214 - 12/25/17 02:40 PM

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.


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Ralph Jones
Top Gun


Reged: 08/31/01
Posts: 21214
Loc: 4CO2
Re: TapCIS R.I.P. [Re: Bob Dubner]
      #446217 - 12/25/17 04:28 PM

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.

--------------------
Ralph Jones
LS-4a N49LS 6R


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Andy Alson (HPN/NY)
THE TOP GUN!


Reged: 08/31/01
Posts: 1862
Re: TapCIS R.I.P. [Re: Bob Dubner]
      #446218 - 12/25/17 04:32 PM

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


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Russell Holton
AVSIG Member


Reged: 07/07/05
Posts: 14136
Re: TapCIS R.I.P. [Re: Bob Dubner]
      #446219 - 12/25/17 05:03 PM

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.


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Stephanie Belser-2
Top Gun APC


Reged: 04/28/04
Posts: 7139
Loc: KFAM
Re: TapCIS R.I.P. [Re: Bob Dubner]
      #446220 - 12/25/17 05:06 PM

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.

--------------------
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.-- Carl Sagan


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Andrew Niemyer -KDLH
Top Gun


Reged: 09/18/04
Posts: 3353
Loc: Minnesota
Re: TapCIS R.I.P. [Re: Bob Dubner]
      #446227 - 12/25/17 07:13 PM

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


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Mike OverlyAdministrator
Hangar Rat w/Buttons


Reged: 04/09/01
Posts: 2608
Loc: Columbus, OH
Re: TapCIS R.I.P. [Re: Andy Alson (HPN/NY)]
      #446231 - 12/25/17 08:01 PM

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.


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Ray Tackett
Top Gun


Reged: 04/30/04
Posts: 8892
Loc: Philadelphia, USA
TapCIS R.I.P. [Re: Bob Dubner]
      #446235 - 12/25/17 09:10 PM

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.

--------------------
Ray,

Owner, Lake Wood Be Gone

Turning quality lumber into sawdust and noise since 2013.


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Bob Dubner
Super Imperial Member


Reged: 08/31/01
Posts: 4759
Loc: Extreme Upper West Side
Re: TapCIS R.I.P. [Re: Mike Overly]
      #446237 - 12/25/17 09:47 PM

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.


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Randy Sohn
Gradn Exlated Ordre of teh Fyling Fingres


Reged: 08/31/01
Posts: 23187
Loc: Savage, MN - U.S.A.
Re: TapCIS R.I.P. [Re: Bob Dubner]
      #446238 - 12/25/17 09:51 PM

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


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