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Online San Diego

From the May 16, 1997 ComputorEdge (Issue 1520)

By Jim Trageser

Pisces Network
(619) 447-4332

Formerly Hiawatha's Jolly Wigwam, this is not only one of the veteran boards in San Diego, it's also among the cutting-edge boards that is both dial-up/telnet BBS and true Web site.

The BBS runs high-speed (28.8 or better) modems and "Wildcat! For Windows 95." It's a membership board, but offers a free two-week trial period. You can use the Wildcat! terminal program for Windows ("Wildcat! Navigator"), or a VT-100/PC-ANSI term (which I used, and it had pretty nice ANSI graphics.)

This is a full-service BBS, with e-maill, conversation areas, online games and file areas.

There are just over 100 conferences, some local, some netted (Fidonet, Net 202, BRE, MSINet, Iron-Ox Chat). Topics range from Disney to X-Files, midi to Monty Python. And, of course, Star Trek. However, the subs were either very slow (as in 0 messages in the half-dozen conversation subs I looked at) or visitors don't get conversation access.

According to the online newsletter, subscribers will get Internet access (telnet, ftp) shortly.

There are a couple dozen online games, ranging from Legend of the Red Dragon II to The Pit, Trade Wars 2002 to Barren Realms Elite (two games, one nette). Some of the new games include Exitilus and Falcon's Eye (by the author of BRE), plus a 32-bit version of Iron Ox (netted). There are also the typical parlor and gambling games, stuff like Scrabble, hangman and slots, and a bunch of trivia games (under the 32-bit door menus).

The files area is well-stocked, with three CD-ROMs online: Night Owl 16, 17 and 22. The hard drive has games (for OS/2, Windows and DOS, including DOOM wads), add-ons, utilities, term programs, sound and graphics demos, Wildcat! Navigator, BASIC and C++.

On the Web side, most of the BBS is accessible – but for some of it (games, for instance) you need to be using the Wildcat! Navigator. But from the Web, once registered (you can also sign up for your two-week trial period from the Web site), you can get to the files area, the conference areas, and the variuos utilities (who's logged on, system statistics, etc.). The BBS' online games won't run under the Web software, but there are other Web games instead.

And there are a few things on the Web site you can't get from the BBS: stuff like links to Pisces Network members' home pages or links to local weather reports. The sysop does a good job of using frames to allow you to navigate the site nearly as quickly as on the BBS side.

This is a solid integration of BBS and Web into a single site in cyberspace. It illustrates, I think, that the BBS can survive in the age of the World Wide Web, and that new software packages can make Web sites more useful to their users in ways the BBS long has.