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From the April 18, 1997 ComputorEdge (Issue 1516)

By Jim Trageser

Nobody likes to be lectured. For myself, that's especially true when it turns out the lecturing was justified. Thus, the following e-mail from Richard J. Hughes was particularly humiliating: "I just came across a Feb. 21 copy of ComputorEdge, read your column and almost had apoplexy."

Richard, who's based over at UCSD, was referring to a phrase in my column, wherein I had written of "the lack of active conversation areas on the Web (although new software packages promise to change that)."

He then responded: "I keep telling you this is no promise [oh boy, has he ever! I think half my e-mail in-box is from Richard], I've had it working for a year now. Okay, it wasn't available for general consumption back then, but it's been available for general consumption for three months now and it's been completely free of reported bugs for over a month."

The "it" Richard keeps referring to is a program he's written called "Ceilidh" that allows a Web site to have conversation subs embedded in it, much as a BBS does. It's in full release now, at version 1.05.

Ceilidh works through a CGI gateway; the technical details are still beyond my grasp, but the results on the Ceilidh home page are very impressive – just as polished and easy to use as a BBS sub. And it's even easier than posting to a USENET sub from most news readers – including the built-in reader on Netscape 3.

On the Ceilidh home page, the message base has a menu that allows you to click on an icon to read the next or previous message in that thread (yes, real conversation threads – just like on a BBS, meaning they're better organized than threads on most USENET news readers), to reply to the message you're reading, to see an index of all messages in that sub.

Also from the Ceilidh home page, you can jump to other web sites using "Ceilidh" for their conversation areas. (One of them, Obscura, is without doubt or equivocation the absolute coolest web site I have ever seen. Period. End of sentence. I mean, who would start a web server company in order to make enough money to buy a fleet of airships? Too cool ...)

"Ceilidh" is available for servers running OS/2, Windows 95 and NT, or Unix (Solaris, Sun OS, DEC Alpha, Linux). A Mac version is promised soon.

For more info on "Ceilidh" – whether to see it in person or to download the freeware version (which will run only one conversation sub), visit the Ceilidh home page.