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Zachary
December 7th, 2009, 06:21 PM
There's a new service you can use to access the Internet very quickly under Tandy DeskMate 3 or Windows 95 (and up), even with a 9600bps modem. It now offers an email account and several other new benefits with membership, which costs $2.50 per month. See AEINetwork.com for details.

Note: Some of the information in this thread is outdated now, there have been several changes since December.

NathanAllan
December 7th, 2009, 06:32 PM
Nice! I'll have to check this out when I break out the Tandy next.

Ole Juul
December 7th, 2009, 07:18 PM
Hmm, between Tandy-1000 and Microsoft - that doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room. :(

NathanAllan
December 7th, 2009, 11:44 PM
Not sure if he meant only those, I intend on trying with other computers (my Apple machines, the C64 maybe, an ST machine). Will report back when I get a chance to set up all those different ones.

Zachary
December 8th, 2009, 07:25 AM
Sorry for the confusion, I'll clarify. The AEIN can be accessed under Tandy DeskMate 3.x, which works on just about any DOS computer, including later Tandy PC-compatibles like the 2500XL. I have run DeskMate on Compaq, Dell, generic, and other computers successfully.

The AEIN access software will work with TGA, ETGA, ECGA (640x200 EGA), EGA, or VGA graphics. Additionally, separate versions are available for Windows 95 and Windows 98 (and up), they should run on a 486 or higher processor. It was actually designed/programmed under DeskMate, then ported to Windows.

Unfortunately, it does not currently work on systems such as the Commodore 64 or Atari ST. However, if enough members sign up and the service continues operating, at least partial PC-GEM or Linux support might eventually be possible.

Note: If VERY few members sign up, the AEIN would shut down at the start of February. However, there will be a 90% refund for anyone who paid for a lifetime membership if that is the case.

Ole Juul
December 8th, 2009, 02:57 PM
Zachary: Sorry for the confusion, I'll clarify. The AEIN can be accessed under Tandy DeskMate 3.x, which works on just about any DOS computer, including later Tandy PC-compatibles like the 2500XL. I have run DeskMate on Compaq, Dell, generic, and other computers successfully.

Thanks for clarifying. That sounds more reasonable than Tandy and Win95. I'm not into MS-Win so I felt left out because I don't have a Tandy. :) I just wasn't familiar with DeskMate. Does it cost money? If not, where can I download it?

PS: Colour me dumb, but I've looked at the site and can't quite figure out the underlying ethics or philosophy.

lutiana
December 8th, 2009, 03:08 PM
PS: Colour me dumb, but I've looked at the site and can't quite figure out the underlying ethics or philosophy.

Well don't feel bad. I am not entirely sure what it is they are actually offering.

Ole Juul
December 8th, 2009, 04:12 PM
Well don't feel bad. I am not entirely sure what it is they are actually offering.
I've been looking around and it turns out DeskMate is proprietary, although I did find a free source on the net. However, it requires 4 to 9 disks and drivers and such. Give me a little terminal program or telnet and I'm good to go, but this looks like a huge system similar to early MS-Win. I use DOS because of it's simplicity, so I'll probably pass on this one. :)

barythrin
December 8th, 2009, 04:21 PM
I'm a little confused. So this is just a proxy server or is this an actual internet service? How do you connect with a modem or can you connect without an existing ISP?

It almost sounds interesting. It'd be pretty neat if it was out for a wider range of OSes. I see the trick is it's that lifetime price only until 12/11/09 :-)

I'm just trying to understand what it really offers.

Zachary
December 8th, 2009, 05:49 PM
Here's some more clarification on how it works:

It functions over the Internet, using a packet driver or the built-in Windows Internet capabilities. However, it does not use domain names (or DNS). It uses a special format that integrates graphics and text into a single file for each page on the service, so it requires the proprietary access software. This software is very compact - only about 71K for DeskMate or 93K for Windows. You can use your existing ISP and connect with a modem or network interface card.

Basically, the main features of the AEIN are:
- News, weather, message boards, recipes, other ad-free online content
- Exclusive software downloads: Some Windows and GEM, mostly DeskMate
- General email technical support for Windows, DM, GEM, and DOS

The service's philosophy generally is that:
- Online content should be quickly accessible on any PC-compatible, any Internet connection, and any modem
- Older systems like Windows 95 and DeskMate should continue to be used, supported, and have software developed for them
- The Internet should be used in a way that consumes less energy and has less environmental impact

As for DeskMate, it is much faster than Windows (even 3.1) and doesn't require as much memory or disk space. It's possible to find it for free to download, or to buy an old copy of it (it was perhaps the most popular GUI in the late '80s, early '90s). Make sure you use a PC-compatible version if you don't have a Tandy 1000. It comes with a word processor, filer, spreadsheet, drawing program, and other applications.

fred3rd
December 8th, 2009, 06:10 PM
So DeskMate is an os, or is it a progam?

Zachary
December 8th, 2009, 06:16 PM
It's like Windows 3.0 or GEM - a graphical user interface that runs under DOS and has programs that run under it. It also has "accessories" (calculator, spell check, corkboard, etc.) and task switching. In a way, I think it does simplify using a DOS system, because the same drivers and setup configuration are applied to all programs.

NathanAllan
December 8th, 2009, 06:25 PM
Zachary, let me ask you. I have a Tandy 1000 that has Deskmate installed. What else do I need? Is there a number to dial? For experimentation sake, DSL and cable internet are NOT available. Let's say I have an external 1200 baud modem as well. How would I connect to AEIN?

lutiana
December 8th, 2009, 06:34 PM
It almost sounds interesting. It'd be pretty neat if it was out for a wider range of OSes. I see the trick is it's that lifetime price only until 12/11/09 :-)


No, I did manage to find in the FAQ that if you pay now its lifetime, but in a few days it becomes a monthly/annual fee for new users.



Q. Do I have to pay a monthly or annual fee?
A. Not yet; when we institute such a fee after 12/11/09, existing members will not have to pay it. Currently, the only cost to obtain standard membership is a one-time $12, $14.95, or $20 account setup fee (depending upon the membership level).

* Lifetime AEIN membership is only available for $14.95 through 12/11/09; after this date, new members will have to pay a monthly rate.

Ole Juul
December 8th, 2009, 06:42 PM
Zachary: Here's some more clarification on how it works:
Thanks, that fills in a lot. :) However, perhaps because of my preconceived notions, I'm still not clear on some things. The AEIN home page says:

The AEIN is a new online information system which offers an alternative to the World Wide Web. It works on almost any PC compatible computer, saves electricity, and runs quickly on dial-up Internet connections.
What does "an alternative to the World Wide Web" mean? To me, it looks like it is another interface, but still using the WWW. I currently use various browsers such as dillo and links. (ie. The net with or without pictures) There are no ads to me and I basically shape the WWW to fit my own needs and wants. There are also telnet and dialup BBSs (mostly telnet) which are an alternative to the WWW.

Perhaps I have old notions stemming from the BBS days, and particularly my fondness for FIDO. So, I guess I have three major questions:

1/ Can AEIN function without the internet?
2/ If it does use the net, how is it separated from it?
3/ Is AEIN perhaps like a WWW gateway with it's own interface?

- Ole

Zachary
December 8th, 2009, 07:09 PM
It needs to use the Internet (as do FTP and POP3), but I do not consider it part of the Web because it doesn't use HTML or domain names. It is faster than even the Web with images turned off, because it doesn't have to download codes for things like Google ads, font settings, search engine tags, etc. It also limits individual pages to 4k, supplies all software and e-book downloads in ZIP format, and doesn't need to write each page to the hard drive while loading. Because of this, it's even fast on a computer with only a floppy drive.

As for the Tandy 1000, you could use a packet driver to connect to your regular ISP with the modem, if the ISP still supports 1200 bps connections. Also, some ISPs have login procedures that aren't compatible with the packet drivers available for pre-386 computers. You could set up "Internet Connection Sharing" on a Windows 98/XP computer connected to dial-up, but the Tandy would need to be networked with it. I didn't have much trouble making it work on a 486 DOS laptop's PCMCIA modem, but admittedly it's a lot easier to make it function on an XT if it's connected to a LAN with Internet access. Is it a certain model of 1000 (TX, RLX, etc) or an original 1000?

Zachary
December 8th, 2009, 07:30 PM
By the way, the 1000 TL/2 in the photo has DOS 3.3, DeskMate 3.03, and a 3Com ISA Ethernet card connected to a D-Link router, which is sharing a dial-up connection. If you happen to have a 1000 RSX (a 386), the LSPPP packet driver should work well for an ISA or Serial modem.

Ole Juul
December 8th, 2009, 07:48 PM
It needs to use the Internet (as do FTP and POP3), but I do not consider it part of the Web because it doesn't use HTML or domain names.
Fair enough but what exactly does it access then? Will it be completely dependent on it's own community? What kind of community do you envision?


It is faster than even the Web with images turned off, because it doesn't have to download codes for things like Google ads, font settings, search engine tags, etc.
Well, those things are completely optional anyway. Don't do it if you don't want it. I often don't. :)


It also limits individual pages to 4k, supplies all software and e-book downloads in ZIP format, and doesn't need to write each page to the hard drive while loading. Because of this, it's even fast on a computer with only a floppy drive.
That's the kind of thing I like to see! :)


Also, some ISPs have login procedures that aren't compatible with the packet drivers available for pre-386 computers. You could set up "Internet Connection Sharing" on a Windows 98/XP computer connected to dial-up, but the Tandy would need to be networked with it. I didn't have much trouble making it work on a 486 DOS laptop's PCMCIA modem, but admittedly it's a lot easier to make it function on an XT if it's connected to a LAN with Internet access. Is it a certain model of 1000 (TX, RLX, etc) or an original 1000?

I guess the thing I have a hard time understanding is why? Not that I can't think of some reasons myself, but I haven't understood any from AEIN other than the low resource idea which is easily doable in traditional ways. Nettamer, for example still connects to a normal ISP and does what it always did. Telnet, FTP, lynx browser, and e-mail transports of several kinds, are all available to use on low resource DOS machines - and running off a floppy if you like.

Edit: I just saw your next post. :) Yes the LSPPP packet driver is brilliant!

NathanAllan
December 8th, 2009, 08:33 PM
It needs to use the Internet (as do FTP and POP3), but I do not consider it part of the Web because it doesn't use HTML or domain names. It is faster than even the Web with images turned off, because it doesn't have to download codes for things like Google ads, font settings, search engine tags, etc. It also limits individual pages to 4k, supplies all software and e-book downloads in ZIP format, and doesn't need to write each page to the hard drive while loading. Because of this, it's even fast on a computer with only a floppy drive.

As for the Tandy 1000, you could use a packet driver to connect to your regular ISP with the modem, if the ISP still supports 1200 bps connections. Also, some ISPs have login procedures that aren't compatible with the packet drivers available for pre-386 computers. You could set up "Internet Connection Sharing" on a Windows 98/XP computer connected to dial-up, but the Tandy would need to be networked with it. I didn't have much trouble making it work on a 486 DOS laptop's PCMCIA modem, but admittedly it's a lot easier to make it function on an XT if it's connected to a LAN with Internet access. Is it a certain model of 1000 (TX, RLX, etc) or an original 1000?

I believe it is a TX, but I don't have it out right now. Also it looks like I'll have to use a newer external modem, not a 1200 baud (ISP doesn't support it). What would be great is if it could dial directly in on a 33.6K connection (definitely supported) or a 14.4K modem (Also supported).

Ah, maybe one day it'll support Apple OS 7.5 and 9.x, that would be great. It might go that far-- there are LOTS of old unused computers out here. I'd love to give a few a use. I'll PM you.

Zachary
December 8th, 2009, 08:34 PM
Hundreds of pages of content are ready to be used. There are message boards and forums set up on a variety of subjects; photography, finance, energy, travel, Windows, DOS, and so on.

As for programs like Net-Tamer, Arachne, and Lynx, they still don't really solve the problem. Many websites are inaccessible, some computers will easily freeze up, and speed on a 286 or 386 is rather slow. Even a Pentium III with Windows 95 and IE 5.5 or Opera is unable to access more and more sites (not compatible with this browser, requires FlashPlayer, etc), with many of them quite slow on dial-up. Last I tried, it wasn't even possible to read the e-mail addresses on CraigsList in Lynx.

The AEIN also saves time because you don't have to log into different parts of it or keep track of dozens of different usernames/passwords. No hassles with "Captcha" codes, pages that don't fit on your screen properly, forms that don't work with your browser, etc.

But this isn't the only reason why. The AEIN is to be funded with subscription revenues so that it is not dependent upon advertisers, as most of the Web is. A lot of ad-based sites are running into financial problems and considering subscription-based revenue models; if this catches on, people will have to pay separate subscriptions to use different individual sites, an approach also likely to fail. The current ad-based, bandwidth-intensive model of the Web isn't sustainable.

Another benefit of the AEIN system is that people will use it more responsibly. When individuals pay for membership and have the same username throughout all of the classifieds and message boards, they are less likely to misuse it. This forum doesn't have such problems, but there are certainly many message boards and Yahoo! Groups overrun by spam and offensive messages.

Yeah, LSPPP is definitely the best modem packet driver I've found :)

Zachary
December 8th, 2009, 08:40 PM
Thanks, NathanAllen. You might try 9600 bps, I think some XT-class serial ports have that as a maximum speed, but ISPs still support it. Yes, it would be great to get more of the older computers back into regular use.

lutiana
December 9th, 2009, 10:16 AM
So I get how this works, it uses some protocol over your existing Internet connection to connect to their servers that have specific type of information (sounds like news boards to me). And all of this uses a lightweight software so it can run on older machines without a problem.

But what I am struggling to get is why I would need to do this. What information is there that is not otherwise available on the regular internet? Are we talking a BBS type service? I just can't seem to find information on it that could help me justify the money.

What am I missing here?

Zachary
December 9th, 2009, 11:03 AM
It is not just a specific type of information, or only message boards. Here are some examples of the types of content available on the AEIN:

- Statistics on various countries (like population)
- Weather conditions (worldwide), forecasts (U.S. only)
- Natural disaster and severe weather safety information
- Many tips on using DOS, DeskMate, Windows 95, GEM
- New software to download, especially for DeskMate
- Exclusive technical information on certain computer models
- Information on prescription drugs, various health conditions
- Recipes for preparing many types of foods
- Glossaries of words on various subjects
- Reviews of radios, other electronics
- Many e-books, in TXT format and zipped

Some of this material is available on the Web, some isn't. More content will be added regularly.

Another advantage of using the AEIN is that you don't risk getting a virus from every page you visit, as do Web users with Windows. There are no "cookies" placed on your computer either. If many people use the AEIN and reduce their Web use, it will decrease pollution and energy consumption, which benefits everyone. Just the reduction in wear on your hard disk drive might be worth the cost of membership.

NathanAllan
December 9th, 2009, 11:15 AM
A lot of people around my area cannot afford an internet ready computer as we know them, or even know what to look for in a machine when they go to buy them. I sell older machines out of my shop and this would be a great thing to be able to have a network available for these older machines, turning them from useless gray-area computers into working machines as internet appliances, if nothing else.

Thiknking of ways to utilize this service to the fullest and to the most convenient way.

Zachary, is email available? This would be a must, as everyone needs it. Well, practically everyone.

Also, I am thinking of the people who cannot afford even dial up and DSL/Cable is out of the question.

I really can see this doing well! No, it is not internet as is known by peple with DSL/Cable, but it's also not as expensive or cumbersome (viruses, spyware, all that good stuff). The machines runnign it also are going to be more useful for a vey long time as long as the service does not need a ton of resources required of the host machine (AOL, a bunch of others that upgrade themselves past the machine's capability, windows).

Nathan

lutiana
December 9th, 2009, 11:21 AM
Most of this data/software is community contributed and verified?

So basically what it boils down to is that it is essentially an enormous wiki with specialized access software and no ads?

I am intrigued, and may consider paying the $20 for the lifetime membership just to see what this is all about.

Their website needs to be a little more clear, and it would be great if there was a free trial of the software so one can get a true feel for what it really is.



It is not just a specific type of information, or only message boards. Here are some examples of the types of content available on the AEIN:

- Statistics on various countries (like population)
- Weather conditions (worldwide), forecasts (U.S. only)
- Natural disaster and severe weather safety information
- Many tips on using DOS, DeskMate, Windows 95, GEM
- New software to download, especially for DeskMate
- Exclusive technical information on certain computer models
- Information on prescription drugs, various health conditions
- Recipes for preparing many types of foods
- Glossaries of words on various subjects
- Reviews of radios, other electronics
- Many e-books, in TXT format and zipped

Some of this material is available on the Web, some isn't. More content will be added regularly.

Another advantage of using the AEIN is that you don't risk getting a virus from every page you visit, as do Web users with Windows. There are no "cookies" placed on your computer either. If many people use the AEIN and reduce their Web use, it will decrease pollution and energy consumption, which benefits everyone. Just the reduction in wear on your hard disk drive might be worth the cost of membership.

Zachary
December 9th, 2009, 11:28 AM
Yes, very true. The $30/month for cable is a lot to spend on Internet access (not to mention the cost of associated hardware), especially if you're someone who doesn't derive any income from it or only uses it a few times per week. Some people in rural areas can only get high-speed Internet via satellite, which is VERY expensive.

Currently there is no email account available or included with the service. I was thinking that people could use the POP3 e-mail provided by their ISPs, with a client program like Outlook Express or POPmail. The AEIN does require an e-mail account, and POP3 e-mail is certainly a lot more efficient and fast than web-based e-mail.

Zachary
December 9th, 2009, 11:39 AM
Some of the information comes from users, some I have written or programmed, other material is from the government (such as National Weather Service forecasts). There is copyrighted member-only software from the AEIN, as well as freeware and shareware. As for a free trial, that was considered, but there are a lot of potential problems associated with it, such as people signing up repeatedly under different names. Yes, perhaps some more work will have to be done on the promotional website to provide greater clarification.

lutiana
December 9th, 2009, 12:05 PM
Just out of curiosity how big is the user base at the moment?

Chuck(G)
December 10th, 2009, 10:56 AM
Shades of French Minitel! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minitel)

Minitel was a very good idea. Too bad the Web made it obsolete.

Erik
December 10th, 2009, 11:27 AM
Shades of French Minitel! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minitel)

Minitel was a very good idea. Too bad the Web made it obsolete.

Speaking of which, does anyone have a Militel 1 for sale or loan?

If so, please let me know. . .

Chuck(G)
December 10th, 2009, 07:38 PM
So how does this service differ from the old text-mode Compuserve, other than requiring an internet connection?

I recall CIS from the old dumb-terminal days. When they made CIM mandatory I lost interest.

I don't get the "no html" thing. HTML can be very efficient if you're displaying text. It's when you lard it up that things bog down.

Someone on a tight budget likely also has no broadband access. A service like NetZero gives them a number to call wtih their modem for under $10 a month. How are you going to compete with that?

Pardon the questions, but I'm having trouble following the logic here.

MikeS
December 10th, 2009, 11:41 PM
So how does this service differ from the old text-mode Compuserve, other than requiring an internet connection?
<snip>
Someone on a tight budget likely also has no broadband access. A service like NetZero gives them a number to call wtih their modem for under $10 a month. How are you going to compete with that?

Pardon the questions, but I'm having trouble following the logic here.So am I.

I think NetZero still (again) has a free account option, and there are also still many Free-Nets out there; as a matter of fact I use one, as well as a local ISP that charges $2.95/mo for unlimited dial-up.

NathanAllan
December 11th, 2009, 01:03 AM
Shades of French Minitel! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minitel)

Minitel was a very good idea. Too bad the Web made it obsolete.

THAT'S what I was trying to remember!! Just like Minitel, and that rocks. I can't say it has come full circle, but having older computers readily available has really made something like this easily workable.

@Chuck(G) and MikeS, I can understand the logic. Dial up is definitely out there (and will never go away) but it's a thing to be suffered when you're talking about the modern internet.

From a security standpoint: viruses can be small, and can creep in on the smallest/slowest connections. They can get past firewalls sometimes and the fixes for these things are a lot of times larger than the viruses themselves. Same goes for spyware and all the bad stuff floating around. A real pain to get rid of if it happens. Plus being on a slow connection makes a person less of a target.

Using IE-anything makes you a target. Just being online with a modern browser paints a big red crosshairs on your machine as a hack possibility. There is no browser, not as the net knows one, so much less of a target.

If all a person can get is an older 486 to use on today's internet, it takes a long time, half of it won't work anyway and it ticks the person off. I can definitely see the advantages of having a system like this (like Minitel or MailStation or heck even WebTV) when a person needs to communicate but just can't get the hardware to back it.

Something like this would ease a lot of frustration and still provide communication with the net however limited, they can download the pics they want even if in .zip format and look at them later after they are downloaded.

I am personally working on a deal to get these machines that I have (none are really classic, just old plain-vanilla boxes or not great condition clones, nothing collectible) to people and have them usable. They'll have what's available from the service but NOT the net. The service will come with the machines and available should they use it or not. I have a feeling that they will try both dial-up internet and the other, see how the net CRAWLS on their older machine, then try AEIN and see that it does indeed work pretty well, and keep using it.

A lot of the people I work with are lower income people that get to have any kind of service one month out of the year and then the bills don't get paid so they get cut off. They don't know how to set up a dial up connection properly, get frustrated and then don't do anything.

Sorry for the rant-like post, but I really like it and am going to promote this hard. Also hope I explained my POV okay. :)

mbbrutman
December 11th, 2009, 05:15 AM
This kind of service doesn't make sense, for lots of reasons:


Hand-me down computers like Pentium IIIs are free and more then enough to surf the real web
The number of people who want to access an 'information service' using a 16 bit or very low-end 32 processor is slightly above 0.
The number of people who can use a service with such restricted information is less that the number above.
There are so many free sources of current and up-to-date information.


I am asserting that anybody using a machine that old today is doing it because they want to, not because they need to. It's fun to tinker with something like this as a hobby, but it is not realistic.

There was a similar project in the last year or two - StarTTY. They used telnet on the clients to get to a custom application running on a Unix machine of some sort. Instead of giving you shell access, they gave you a custom app that you plugged 'applets' into .. news, weather, etc. No graphics though. Even with a lot of that content automated that would still be feasible for a long term paid business.

Now if you want to go retro and setup a network of text BBSes (similar to FidoNet, or maybe even Fido) then let's talk. But reinventing Compuserve from 1978 or Minitel and trying to keep the content up to date just does not make sense.

barythrin
December 11th, 2009, 01:15 PM
I agree with Mike on that front. It reminds me of a BBS a little bit which is cool but in that case why not just recreate one of the bbsnets and revive fidonet.

A text only front to the web is fine but not new (although yes I see some simple graphic pictures) but this still sounds like a compuserve/prodigy/aol attempt where the knowledge and sites are internal. That's the limitation it faces now.

Otherwise it's similar to setting up your own squidproxy and filtering out content yourself. Little freesco and squid and links and you'd be set to get around the real world.

Zachary
December 11th, 2009, 01:23 PM
There are a still a lot of misunderstandings about this service. The AEIN is not text-only; pages can have line graphics (circles, triangles, lines, rectangles) integrated in them, and even simple animations. There are also two-color bitmap images which can be loaded optionally. The AEIN is not going to "compete" with NetZero or other dial-up providers, it requires an Internet connection and works under dial-up, DSL, or cable.

Even with a Pentium IV computer on dial-up, many websites are quite slow and some do not work. It is also very difficult to keep up with all the massive web browser and plugin updates (FlashPlayer, etc), especially if your dial-up provider has a monthly hour limit as some still do. Additionally, processing HTML code takes a substantial amount of time on anything less than a Pentium II.

Perhaps there are not a large number of people using 486s and early Pentiums, but there are certainly a great number of these computers that still work and should be put to good use. Furthermore, people in less wealthy countries like Uganda are more likely to have such computers and/or pay for their Internet access by the megabyte downloaded.

mbbrutman
December 11th, 2009, 02:30 PM
I don't think there is a misunderstanding at all. It's a service that provides a minimal level of content for machines that most people don't have or use anymore. It reminds me of AOL from 20 years ago, without the benefit of providing dialup service.

It's not a viable commercial venture. Good luck, both to you and those who sign up ..

Zachary
December 11th, 2009, 05:23 PM
It will be up to the people to decide if it is "commercially viable" or not. I wouldn't have worked on it for over a year without researching public interest in such a service. For example, a survey found that eight percent would pay for an ad-free version of the websites they regularly use. Eight percent is a lot of people, and the AEIN does not need millions or even thousands of members to be a success. People pay over $8/month for subscriptions to the Financial Times website, I highly doubt it has as much content to offer as the AEIN, which will cost $2.50-3.50/month, depending upon the membership level.

MikeS
December 11th, 2009, 09:13 PM
Let me see if I've got this right:

You're going to get people to sign up with BS like "you're going to save electricity because our pages use dark background colours," "if you use our service your computer will only need $15.00 in repairs etc. instead of $75.00" and similar hogwash, and then if it doesn't work (as the consensus here seems to assume) you'll shut it down and keep the monthly subscription amounts and 10% of the yearlies?

Sounds like a winner to me; wish I'd thought of it...

Zachary
December 11th, 2009, 09:52 PM
I don't recall making any personal accusations or slanderous claims directed at you, nor do I intend to begin. The page actually reads "computer upgrades, repairs, and replacements"; to keep up with the latest browsers and so on, as well as the regular "thrashing" of your hard drive by web browsing, it is not unreasonable to suggest that it will cost the user an extra $60 per year. Some people buy new computers about every three years, not to mention paying $100 or more to have someone "repair" a single virus most likely originated by the web. It is well-known that CRTs consume a substantial amount of electricity and darker colors use less of it.

As for shutting it down, naturally any business will shut down if too few people use it. At least I have been clear about this. I'm not sure what would be wrong about keeping the monthly fees paid up until this occurs, considering that members would have used the service during the months paid for. It has not been stated anywhere that I would keep "10% of the yearlies"; the 10% (less than $2) only applied to lifetime memberships to compensate for the time period membership would have lasted. So no, you haven't "got this right".

MikeS
December 11th, 2009, 11:16 PM
Personal accusations? Slanderous claims? Seems to me you're the one making all the claims; I just said that it's a winner and that I wish I'd thought of it...

Hey, if people think what you offer is worth the price, more power to them and you. I'm just questioning the numbers and 'facts' you're using to persuade them to sign up, not to mention that you're more than a little vague about what they'll have to give up and what (AFAIK) your 'service' does *not* provide, namely what most people in fact use their computers for, email and downloading music and videos. If they still want that then your 'savings' disappear...

I think the fact that most of the folks who've replied here are unclear about just what you do and don't offer despite presumably being more computer-savvy than average is a good indication of just how vague you are about that.

But if you can come up with some authoritative source to support your claim that your 'service' will save me $300.00/yr. I'll gladly apologize for my suggestion that some of your claims are a little, umm, spurious; meanwhile the fact that you think it's a nice number, i.e. you don't think it's an unreasonable figure, doesn't convince me.

My monthly ISP fee for unlimited access is $2.95 and I also have two other dial-in ISPs completely free of charge as well as several free email accounts. As far as I'm concerned "Free" internet access like NetZero, Free-Nets etc. costs $0.00, not $30.00 as you claim.

Also I haven't upgraded any software or hardware on my Internet access machine in at least eight years; that it's a little slow downloading music or videos (which I apparently can't do at all with your 'service' except for a few select cases) is something I accept. Downloading my email (which I apparently also can't do with your service) doesn't take long at all.

As I said, if you're going to *specifically* claim that your service is going to save $300.00/yr then I'd like to see some more credible supporting numbers besides just your saying that it sounds reasonable as far as you're concerned.

Actually I'd really be interested in seeing any studies that you know of that would show just how much money I'd save by looking at a web site with a dark background on my screen instead of a lighter one (assuming of course that I'm still using a CRT); might even explore that myself. Meanwhile it sounds like you're really desperate for justification while jumping on the 'green' bandwagon for profit like so many these days...

mbbrutman
December 12th, 2009, 07:24 AM
Zachary,

I'd suggest this. The way most people try to build their business is to hand out samples or provide the service or a limited time trial period. Let people see what it is they are buying before they send money. That's just good business.

People (myself included) are very skeptical. That does not mean that we are calling you a fraud. In my case I just seriously doubt if you can get enough paying users to make this worth while given the limited content you are going to have. Your content, by definition, is going to be very limited compared to what somebody can get on the broader Internet. And Internet access just isn't that expensive, so the only draw is that you can use your custom client with older computers.

You should probably consider focusing on a specific market more, like vintage Tandy users. Or do a general DOS client to expand your reach.


Mike

MikeS
December 12th, 2009, 08:22 AM
And my point is that here you've got a focus group giving you valuable insight into what people think of this idea and your presentation; if you're really sincere and want this to succeed you might be wise to consider these opinions and see what you can do, if anything, to make it less confusing etc. instead of just being defensive...

Whatever did happen to StarTTY? Every time I checked it out it was temporarily out of order; anybody know the story behind it?

(The other) mike

mbbrutman
December 12th, 2009, 08:42 AM
StarTTY folded up a while ago. It was a nice idea, but the idea of leaving vintage computers on full time to serve as limited use terminals probably wasn't feasible in the long run. Most people can get weather and news headlines from other sources without the energy burn, and those old machines take quite a bit of space.

On the other hand, I'd really like to see a network of telnet BBSes rise again. ;-)

(The other other) Mike

Zachary
December 12th, 2009, 09:03 AM
Yes, it is a very complicated concept, though actually simple to use - thus it is difficult to adequately summarize in a sentence or two. I will attempt to better clarify the site soon, and add pages promoting specific aspects of it.

As MikeS pointed out, you can obtain a limited hours dial-up account for free - whereas high speed Internet rarely costs less than $25/month, so any service that makes it easier to continue using dial-up can effectively save people money. Maybe one promotional strategy could suggest that people use the AEIN as much as possible, their ISP's POP3 email account for e-mail, and the Web for those tasks they cannot accomplish otherwise.

I recall that some online services used to have an offline demo people could try, to see what it is like to use the system (without signing up for an account or even having a modem); perhaps something like this would give people a better idea of how it works.

Zachary
December 14th, 2009, 06:19 AM
Thanks for the "free samples" idea, mbrutman; now there is a free offline demonstration of the AEIN for DeskMate. Visitors can download it at:

http://aeinetwork.com/tandy.htm

This gives users a better idea of what using the AEIN is like, and it provides some additional explanation of how the system works.

A demonstration for Windows will be available later.

mbbrutman
December 14th, 2009, 06:35 AM
I think you need to demonstrate the speed of the connection, not just do an offline demonstration. That would more accurately show people what to expect on their own hardware.

Also - What is the technical challenge to get a DOS version? What advantage does targetting DeskMate give you?

Zachary
December 14th, 2009, 08:05 AM
It does include "artificial pauses" to simulate the download time. I think it's best to give people a way to try it on an older computer that doesn't have a modem or network interface card (and packet driver), so they don't need to go to the effort of setting it up that way just to view the demonstration.

On a 286 with Tandy 16-color graphics connected via dial-up, the waiting time when changing pages is generally no more than a second. The optional bitmap images take a few seconds to download, process, and appear. There is really not much difference when using a 486 or Pentium series computer, except that the photos appear faster.

One exception is a computer with a slow 8-bit add-on VGA card, which will experience a mild delay while drawing text and graphics. This is apparent in the offline demo. Also, a computer running at less than 6MHz might take a bit longer to process and display pages; people can use the demo to determine this as well.

As for a DOS-only version, DeskMate and Windows were chosen because both have GUI elements (dialogs, message boxes, menubars, etc) and drivers built-in. A plain DOS version would be a lot more work and need separate drivers for different display adapters. DM and Windows have interfaces people are already familiar with as well, and both allow task-switching.

Also, the website has been updated to provide better clarification.

barythrin
December 14th, 2009, 10:18 AM
A trial would be a great idea and would clarify most questions folks have. If you had either a trial username/password combination that's valid for X hours of service or a demo account where you could perhaps log the IP of the user and account and limit it to X hours (if DHCP is a concern limit it to X hours/month).

Then of course folks could try it out and if it's beneficial they'd sign up.

The catch of course (this IMHO is what killed BBSes) is having to leave the application to do other tasks. That's what I think would be a good hook for your service. Incorporate email in the same manner, perhaps open up IRC, telnet, and ssh so folks can also use it as a jump network (actually allowing shell account like access would get you most of the business you need, just read up on liability on doing that).

If people don't need to exit your app then it'll do well. On a BBS it was fun, games, chat, everything but we'd still need to log off usually to get to a company's webpage or check out an other area of the web not hosting on that system which was much more cumbersome than the all you can eat web clients where you never needed to log off. Even AOL wasn't bad, they had all their internal content and internal corporate pages, chatrooms, email, etc and then also acted as your gateway to the external internet.

Also you should get a linux client as soon as you can. That will open it up for MANY appliances and terminal like sessions which could potentially use an app like yours.

NathanAllan
December 14th, 2009, 10:41 AM
Heck yeah, I agree with barythrin, email and also a Linux client. If it can run in Slackware, it's almost guaranteed it can run in any distro. I think. Don't quote me :)

Still psyched about this, guys. I like it.

Mr.Amiga500
December 18th, 2009, 04:15 PM
This kind of service doesn't make sense, for lots of reasons:


Hand-me down computers like Pentium IIIs are free and more then enough to surf the real web
The number of people who want to access an 'information service' using a 16 bit or very low-end 32 processor is slightly above 0.
The number of people who can use a service with such restricted information is less that the number above.
There are so many free sources of current and up-to-date information.


I am asserting that anybody using a machine that old today is doing it because they want to, not because they need to. It's fun to tinker with something like this as a hobby, but it is not realistic.

There was a similar project in the last year or two - StarTTY. They used telnet on the clients to get to a custom application running on a Unix machine of some sort. Instead of giving you shell access, they gave you a custom app that you plugged 'applets' into .. news, weather, etc. No graphics though. Even with a lot of that content automated that would still be feasible for a long term paid business.

Now if you want to go retro and setup a network of text BBSes (similar to FidoNet, or maybe even Fido) then let's talk. But reinventing Compuserve from 1978 or Minitel and trying to keep the content up to date just does not make sense.

I've got to say, that's exactly what I was thinking.

@Zachary
I looked hard to see how this service might be useful, but... (..this may sound harsh...) even slum dwellers in central Africa probably have access to more advanced computers than the Tandy 1000. Nobody I know of or even heard of would use a computer like that on a restricted service you have to pay for.

I'm certainly not against using old computers for internet. I used a 1987 Amiga 500 on the internet as my only computer from 2002-2008. That was a bit of an insane thing to do - but at least I had full access to the real internet. Does your service allow Google searches, bidding on eBay, viewing Wikipedia, using Gmail, searching maps, posting in forums, on-line banking? These are the things most people want to do on the internet. (and I did them all on my A500)

I don't mean to put you down or anything. I just think your business is impractical. Design something (with dial up numbers) for popular 8-bit computers and you may have something.

Ole Juul
December 18th, 2009, 09:03 PM
I too wish this project well, but wonder about the usefulness.

For one thing, full internet functionality such as Google, on-line banking, e-Bay, Wikipedia etc. can be gotten on a discarded P1 using a number of Linux distros which are compiled for low resource computers. A P1 is 15 years old! They are almost getting hard to find. Anybody living in a city in the northern hemisphere can more easily get their hands on P2-P3 machines than they can a P1. In Canada and USA decent (to you and me) machines are even difficult to avoid. I live way out in the sticks and my latest find at the dump is a 1Ghz/512MB IBM. That runs a modern browser really fast under Linux, even faster under FreeBSD. That machine is 10 years old. Adequate hardware is NOT a stumbling block.

I've seen pictures from 3rd world countries showing large numbers of very adequate (to you and me) machines which have been donated. The people's interest there is almost nil. They are not really interested in hand-me-downs. In Europe and NA too, the average person equates computers with the latest fashion. I don't even offer to set up cheap computers for people any more. They don't want them. They are not interested in computers. They are interested in doing what others are doing. Basically they want to do what they see on TV.

It has been my experience that people who are happy with low resources are only the ones who have an interest in the technology. In that case they will soon discover that there are lots of old computers out there for free which they can set up themselves. It is easy to learn and they have fun. Without that interest, they don't have fun. In fact, it is their own motivation which opens the door for them. Not someone else offering them an old computer. I think it is important to understand which way around it works. :)

I find I can't even teach the average computer user a keyboard shortcut because they don't want to learn it. Fair enough - they're just not into computers. If they were, they would proceed accordingly - without my help.

Zachary
December 18th, 2009, 09:16 PM
Mr.Amiga500:
If you were paying per megabyte for your Internet access like some people in the world do, I don't think you'd spend much time on eBay or Google Maps. Things are changing, sites like Yahoo and eBay are getting harder and harder to use without a recent major browser, let alone a rare operating system. Unless your Amiga can run things like FlashPlayer, JavaScript, and Internet Explorer, I doubt it had "full access" to the Web. I don't mean to sound "harsh" either, but people seem to be overlooking the real situation at present.

Anyway, the AEIN is not meant to be "everything", just as a magazine, a subscription to a single website, or a newspaper does not cover every imaginable subject. The AEIN has forums, it doesn't need Google searches, POP3 email can be used instead of gMail, and the rest of the things you listed can be done outside the Internet. After I found out about automated telephone banking I've never thought about wasting my time with online banking again, for example.

The revenue model for the Web is a major problem. With the old online services, people's access fees partially went to create (and buy) ad-free content, moderate message boards, and so on. Now the ISPs keep that money and all content providers are left to get their revenue from ads, subscription fees, or donations - even as many Internet users are convinced that things like YouTube videos and newspaper articles should be "free". More and more of the content is created by volunteers or outsourced to India. I'd rather have had full access to the real encyclopedias some online services used to include than the questionable Wikipedia material we get now.

OleJuul: People treating computers as just another fashionable consumer object and not wanting to learn anything about them (which often leads to those $150 virus "repairs") is probably a side-effect of their conversion to a cheap disposible product in recent years, kind of like the inkjet printers that are worth less than their cartridges. They don't even include a real owner's manual anymore. The marketers don't want people to value or really understand their possessions anymore, just hurry up and buy the latest model.

The Internet could have been something better than a marketing tool and entertainment plaything that burns coal so people can post about their latest meal on "twitter", but that seems to be its destiny for now.

lutiana
December 19th, 2009, 02:50 PM
Zachary,

I think that you are way to emotionally involved with AEIN. There is alot of very good feedback in this thread but you seem to react to it in a very defensive manner and don't seem to be taking in the information.

Your service is an interesting idea, and some of you points are pretty good and I think that the base premise is good, but I agree with the rest in that the implementation is a bit off, and the information on your website is extremely unclear.

I can not think of a single person who would benefit from this service, even if it saves them money. I come from Africa and I can tell you that the lower income people there would not buy this service simply because of how limiting it would be, they would want to get onto the real internet, even if it is without Flash or streaming media.

Lastly your point about paying for bandwidth is flawed since you service requires and internet connection, thus they would pay for the bandwidth anyway, and anyone that pays by the MB is used to limiting their browsing so your service would not really be cheaper.

My advice is to read the feedback, absorb it and work with the basic premise to make it more desirable.

I think that by simply by adding a mailbox feature to the service would probably go a very long way to getting more interest in the service.