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Netiquette and Troubleshooting Guide

(Avoiding) Trouble on Highway 1

The Information Superhighway, like the highways and by-ways from which the name sprung, has rules and guidelines that govern the use of its facilities. Some of these guidelines are universal, others can vary from Web site to Web site and provider to provider.

As it is on the roads, ignorance of these rules is not considered an acceptable excuse, as many users throughout the world have had to find out the hard way. Breaching of the guidelines can lead to various disciplinary measures being taken, ranging from warnings, through to closure of accounts and withdrawl of access. Some serious deliberate breaches of security, particularly in the (litigative) USA have ended up in court.

Make no mistake - the internet is no longer a "friendly society" where it doesn't matter if you play around with the rules anymore. Hand in hand with the explosive growth in commercialisation of the net has come a serious concern for security of data transfers, customer and information databases, web sites and the like. Any action on the part of any web user that might be considered a breach of security is likely to result in action of some sort being taken against the user.

Acceptable Use Policy

Most sites, including Albury Local Internet, have what is called an "Acceptable Use Policy". Ours is based largely on *RFC 1855: Netiquette Guidelines. The complete *RFC is available off our New Users Guide on our Web Site. The major points are summarised here, along with a few "plain english" interpretations and case points to illustrate the intended meaning for those having difficulty with the original wording.

February 1997
This Issue

Netiquette Guidelines
(Avoiding) Trouble on Highway 1
Acceptable Use Policy
Using the Internet
What is an RFC

Troubleshooting Guide
Installation Problems
Modem Problems
Phone Line Problems
Trumpet Problems
MacTCP Problems
Browser Problems
email Problems
Problems with Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
The Trouble with Java, Javascript and Active-X
Safe Computing Practices
HTML Authors Corner
News and Recent Events
Help Desk

Acceptable behaviour ... or what you should and shouldn't do.

There are guide-lines available governing what is/is not acceptable behaviour on the Internet. The term generally used is "Netiquette", and is briefly summarised here ( the original document on Netiquette Guide-lines: RFC:1855 is available at

In general:

  • If your Internet access is through a corporate account, check with your employer about their policy regarding private e-mail.
  • Don't assume any Internet communication is completely secure. "Never put in a mail message anything you would not put on a postcard". Likewise, independently verify any suspect mail, as addresses can be forged.
  • If you are forwarding or re-posting a message, don't change the original wording.
  • If you are replying to a message, quote only the relevant parts.
  • Never send chain letters, they are forbidden on the Internet. Notify your System Administrator if you receive one.
  • Do not send abusive or heated messages (flames). If you receive a flame, it is best to ignore it. Take care with addressing mail.
  • Allow time for mail to be received, and replied to, keeping in mind time differences around the world and other people's busy schedules.If you want your mail to be read, don't make it too long unless the receiver is expecting a verbose message. Over 100 lines is considered long.
  • Remember the Internet is a global community, and other peoples values and outlook on life may be different to your own. Be tolerant and careful with slang or phrases that may not be understood in another country. Use mixed case, UPPER CASE LOOKS AS IF YOU'RE SHOUTING.
  • Mail should have a subject header that reflects the content of the message.
  • Unsolicited e-mail advertising is unwelcome (and forbidden in many countries).
  • When attaching files, don't send any larger than about 50k.

Mailing Lists and NetNews (Usenet):

  • Unlike one-on-one e-mail, a large number of people read newsgroups and subscribe to mailing lists.
  • It is always a good idea to read what others in the list or group are saying for a while, to get a feel for the nature of the list/group, and what is or is not acceptable to the list/group.
  • If posting to Newsgroups, be aware that many are archived, and the archives are available for a very long time. Don't say anything that might come back and haunt you years down the track. It is generally not possible to cancel or withdraw messages once they have been sent.
  • Be very careful about advertising, some groups welcome it, most others do not!
  • Watch for and read any FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) before posting a question to the group.
  • Messages should be concise and relevant to the group. Don't post messages to inappropriate newsgroups.
  • Spelling mistakes tend to be the rule rather than the exception. Questioning someone else's spelling is not good netiquette, and not necessary unless it occurs in a critical place (eg mis-spelt URL)
  • Don't get involved in or respond to Flame Wars.
  • If you find a newsgroup or topic offensive, avoid it. Sending harassing messages to the group is not only frowned on, it may be illegal.
  • Keep private messages private, don't post to the group as well.

Information Services (Gopher, Wais, WWW, ftp, telnet)

  • Remember that all these services belong to someone else. The people who pay the bills get to make the rules governing usage.
  • Know how file names work on your own system, but don't rely on naming conventions to be enforced (eg ".doc" files aren't always Word files).
  • Do NOT assume that ANY information you find is necessarilly up-to-date and/or accurate. Do not use someone else's FTP site to deposit materials you wish other people to pick up.
  • When you have trouble with a site and ask for help, be sure to provide as much information as possible in order to help debug the problem.

Interactive Services (eg Internet Relay Chat - IRC)

  • Listen to a channel first, to get the feel of what is and is not acceptable. Above all, respect the culture of the group.
  • Remember the world is a big place full of very different people.
  • If you find a topic that offends you, then don't join it.
  • If you find yourself in a channel that becomes offensive to you, leave it.
  • Unacceptable behaviour on your part may get you or your entire domain banned from that server - making hundreds of local enemies instantly!

By and large, exercise some common sense and consideration for others. The web is a big place, but anonymity is a thing of the past.

The use of the Internet

An exerpt from the "Guidelines for Internet Use - US House of Representatives".
"The use of the Internet is a privilege, not a right, that may be revoked at any time for inappropriate conduct. Examples of inappropriate conduct include:
- placing unlawful information on networks and systems;
- use of threatening, abusive, or otherwise objectionable language in either public or private messages;
- sending "chain letters" or "broadcast" messages to lists or individuals; and
- any activity which could cause congestion or disruption of networks and systems."

Commonsense would dictate that most people realise the difference between right and wrong, and respect for other peoples property. However, it would seem many don't realise the same principles apply to the Internet.

Copyright: be careful when using material obtained from the net that you are not in breach of anyone's copyright. Copying graphics or other material from some-one elses' site and using them without permission could leave you open to prosecution. Be aware that generally the same rules that apply to copyright on conventional media, eg books or magazines, still apply on the net.

Files & FTP: many internet sites operate what are known as anonymous ftp servers. Most do NOT allow uploads, and there may be restrictions on downloads and/or download areas. Check any readme or policy files that may be available.

Checking for infected (virus) files is ultimately the responsibility of the person downloading the file.

Albury Local Internet subscribers with a normal account (ie not e-mail only) have ftp access to their own personal directory and our anonymous ftp. The former is primarily for the construction of home pages.

You have no business being in anyone elses directory. This is the equivalent of electronic tresspass. Taking files from directories other than your own or our anonymous ftp site without express permission is electronic theft.


All activity on our server is logged extensively and checked regularly for innappropriate activity. If you don't know what you are doing, ask first. It is better to look ignorant than be a suspected security risk!! We are advised on a regular basis of security breaches on other systems around the world, and are constantly on the look-out here.

For those of you unfamiliar with these issues, serious security breaches include but are not limited to theft of databases and total system crashes that can destroy all users mail, home pages etc and take the server completely off-line.

Any deliberately malicious or illegal actions or abuse of the system on the part of ANY of our subscribers will result in the immediate closure of their account.

Casual web surfers are unlikely to stumble into dangerous waters. Breaches or attempted breaches of security usually result from deliberate actions, for example deliberately trying to break into a password protected area of a site or attempting ftp operations from directories or sites that you have no business being in.

*What is an "RFC"?

RFC stands for Request for Comment. It is a series of documents published by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and cover a broad range of topics - primarilly the Internet and TCP/IP protocol.

"The RFCs are unusual in that they are floated by technical experts acting on their own initiative and reviewed by the Internet at large, rather than formally promulgated through an institution such as ANSI. For this reason, they remain known as RFCs even once adopted."

Troubleshooting Guide

This guide is available in hardcopy format for our subscribers for those times when you can't get onto the net to look for it!

Problems with installation:

1) Difficulty installing the software

  • Windows software supplied MUST be installed from DOS. Not shelled out to the DOS prompt from Windows or a menu program, but from a clean DOS prompt. Exit, terminate, close down ALL Windows and/or menus BEFORE starting the install! If you are using Windows-95, the easiest way is to re-boot, press F8 as your system starts to load the operating system, and select "Command mode".

2) Can't access compobj.dll:

  • MS Office error - occurs when you have MS Office in your start-up group. Solution: Press Control + Escape, select "Microsoft Office" from the task list, click on "End Task" and retry the operation.

3) Disk 1 or 2 won't read:

  • While every effort is made to supply working disks, sometimes due to faulty manufacture or damage in transit they may fail. Contact us for a repacement. There is nothing to be gained from persevering with a corrupt floppy.

4) Mac software installation problems:

  • Installation problems are almost unheard of. Getting MacTCP to work can be a different story. Ensure all unnecesary extensions are turned off and remove any duplicate or old versions of MacTCP, FreePPP, MacPPP or InterSlip from your Preferences and Extensions Folders preferrably before installation. Note: FreePPP doesn't work well on anything less than a PowerPC; MacOS 7.5.3 and later have an improved Open Transport that can be used instead of MacTCP (7.5.3 won't run well in less than 16Mb RAM). Consult your MacOS System Documentation for instructions.

Problems with modems:

1) Not logging in (invalid password and/or userid).

  • Your password MUST be exactly as it is shown on your form. Take extra care with characters that appear similar - the number one (1) and the lower case "L" (l), letter O and number 0 particularly.

2) I've been connecting to other Service Providers OK (at 14.4K), but the line keeps dropping out when I call Albury Local Internet (at 28.8K)

  • Not all telephone lines are good enough to operate at this speed. Likewise, many PABXs cannot support speeds greater than 19,200bps. Try using a modem init string that will lock the modem at lower speeds (refer to your modem manuals).
  • Check that you have a 16550 UART installed in your computer. Some machines have trouble with the higher data rate transfer without the 16550. Otherwise try to force your modem to a slower speed. (See the table following)

Not able to re-connect after abnormal disconnect:

  • If your Internet session is terminated abnormally, and you are unable to reconnect immediately, please wait 5-10 minutes for the server to clear any extraneous vestiges of your previous session, then re-dial (normally only a problem on SLIP accounts - change to PPP if you haven't already).

What modem speed should I be using?

Modem Speed Port Speed
2400 (V22bis) 2400
9600 (V32) 9600
14400 (V32bis) 19200
28800 (V34 and above) 38400 (16550 UART required)

Some modem initialisation strings:

  • AT&F&D2&C1S0=0X3 standard for most high speed modems.
  • To force many V34 modems that use the Rockwell chip set to connect at 14,400bps, add this after the X3 above: +MS=10,0,14400,14400
  • For most V.fc modems, and many modems that don't accept the above command, use: F10 to force V32bis (14,400bps) connect.

Slow modems (2400)...

  • Very few 2400 modems accept hardware handshake. Unless you're a modem guru, go to Trumpet's file...setup, turn hardware handshake off, and set the baudrate to 2400.

Modem cannot connect:

  • Periodically we see a rash of faulty modems and really bad phone lines.
  • One client recently had several brand new modems fail after only 2 or 3 hours use. Check your modem. Try calling from a friends place. If possible, substitute another modem. Isolating a faulty item by elimination is still the best solution.

Problems with the phone line:

Line/modem dropping out.

  • Easy call facilities - specifically call waiting - will drop your modem off-line. Disable call waiting when using your modem.
  • If you have multiple phones on the same line, the modem may drop the line if someone picks up one of the other phones.
  • If your connection is dropping out after approximately 12-17 mins (or thereabouts) and is reasonably repeatable, it's highly likely you have a Telstra Touchfone (particularly the T200 series) on the same line. Unplug it before you call. If the problem goes away, take the phone to Telstra and ask them to replace it for you.
  • Watch for your connect speed as you log on - a 26400 or slower connect with a 28.8 or better modem indicates 1) phone line problems or 2) that you are going through a pabx. 1) you might solve by re-dialling, 2) you can do nothing about. Consistent 26400 or less connects with 28.8 and faster modems bear investigating - check all phone sockets for bad connections, disconnect any other devices sharing the phone line and lastly get Telstra to check your phone line (26400 is 10 times faster than the 2400 which is all Telstra will guarantee, so they may not be much help).
  • Note: phone lines in some areas have difficulty with 28.8 connects. In these cases it can in fact be faster to force the modem to a slower speed.
    14.4 full throttle can be MUCH faster than 28.8 constantly re-training!
    We will NOT drop you off short of a massive complete system failure or more than 40 minutes of TOTAL INACTIVITY on your part. Constant drop-outs indicate some problem at YOUR end. Disconnect ANY OTHER devices you may have sharing the phone line - extension phones, bells, fax and answering machines - EVERYTHING! If this works, and it usually does, try putting them back on one by one to determine which is the culprit.

Can't get a connection or keep getting an engaged/busy tone.

  • Cause: While it may be possible that all lines are in use, it will more likely be one of the following:
  1. Telephone exchange congestion (sounds like an "engaged" tone, but if you listen carefully, tones are a two tone loud soft loud soft. Engaged tones are all the same pitch/duration.
    Solution: hang up and dial again. If this persists call our help desk or Telstra faults.
  2. Normal modem tones - while waiting for our modem to answer your call, your modem may make a "beep" pause "beep" tone. This is normal.
    Solution: Wait.
  3. You are dialling the wrong number.
    Solution: If your call remains unanswered, CHECK the phone number your modem is dialling (and STD code if calling from outside 060).
    It should NEVER be 402692!

I get a "logon failure" or "wrong" message.

  • Cause: Your password has been entered incorrectly.
    Solution: Make SURE your caps-lock is OFF. Double check your password and re-enter it. Remember, it MUST be EXACTLY as it appears on your Personal Information Sheet.

Problems with Trumpet:

1) No carrier message from Trumpet

Check the following:

  • All cables are connected correctly and there are no loose connections.
  • The modem (if external) is actually turned on - are the lights on?
  • There is a dial tone on the modem phone line (put a conventional phone on the line & listen).
  • The line is not noisy (check as above: noise, hiss, hum, crackle or other voices (crosstalk) will inhibit correct operation of your modem)
  • Pulse dial exchanges are largely a thing of the past, but if you find you are using one, change the phone number in Trumpet to P403000 by selecting Dialer ... SETUP.CMD, entering P403000 for the Phone Number, and selecting OK for username & password to leave them unchanged. Once your exchange has been upgraded (ie you can get itemised billing etc) you may remove the "P" from in front of the phone number.

2) Trumpet crashing:

Trumpet (TCPMAN) causing a G.P.F. error when attempting to start Netscape.
Cause: Netscape cache directory full. Clear the cache. See "Problems with Browsers" for details.

3) Trumpet disappearing:

Trumpet will close itself down after a certain period of time if it is not actually being used. If your connection has dropped and you haven't noticed it, Trumpet may simply disappear. Run Trumpet and re-connect.

Problems with MacTCP:

"That pesky MacTCP is acting up again"

If your Mac's Internet Software starts behaving erratically for no good reason, you've checked for viruses and you're clean, and you start to get the above message, check your extensions folder AND TURN EVERYTHING YOU DON'T NEED OFF!!!! Check your Preferences folder and remove any unnecessary baggage that has collected there too. Some virus checkers can also interfere with MacTCP. If any program starts acting up just after you've installed something new - suspect the new program.

Problems with Browsers:

Netscape crashing/Internet Explorer won't start:

Possible cause: Usually the cache directory being too full.
Can sometimes prevent Netscape from starting, and/or crash Trumpet (TCPMAN) causing a G.P.F. error when attempting to start Netscape.

  1. If you are unable to start your Browser, find the browser cache directory (PC - c:\netscape\cache or c:\iexplore\cache; MAC - use "Finder" to locate your cache folder), and delete all the files FROM THE CACHE DIRECTORY/FOLDER ONLY (with the exception of main.ndx from the IE cache). You may need to close down and restart computer after which you should now be able to start your Browser. Proceed to the next point:
  2. If your Browser will run - find your Network & Cache Preferences.
    Clear both the memory & the disk cache & do it REGULARLY. Reduce the cache size - about 3000K seems OK.

When I call in it logs on but my Browser doesn't seem to do anything.

Check the origin line at the bottom - depending on what site it's trying to connect to there may be congestion, or the site or link may be down. Click on your red "stop" button and try another site. If your browser cannot connect to our site, try entering - if that works, you have a problem with your DNS. If you are not using Trumpet, it is most likely that you have not set up your TCP/IP (or MacTCP) correctly. Refer to your documentation and modify your configuration as required.

Your Browser is very slow, stops working or crashes.

If the disk cache has been cleared and problems persist you may not have enough memory for the program to run. 4Mb memory is not enough to run Netscape or IE properly. Although you may get them to work, they just won't operate properly with under 8Mb. One extreme case saw a system take 22 minutes to load one page with 4Mb, and 30 seconds with 8Mb installed! VIRTUAL memory does not count. 8Mb PHYSICAL memory is required. Mac users: System 7.5.3 and later really require at least 16Mb of Memory to run ANYTHING properly - including the OS!

Netscape complains it can't find our Server DNS entry:

  • Trumpet may have crashed or dropped the line; Trumpet not running (make sure you MINIMISE Trumpet NOT close it);
  • Timing bug in Netscape. Clear the message and click on the "home" button. if nothing happens after 10-15 seconds, check your modem. If your modem does NOT have the CD light on, the connection has broken. Call again. If it persists, call us.
  • Insufficient memory OR system resources low - close down & re-start;
  • Browser disk &/or memory cache corrupt - clear, close down & restart.

Internet Explorer causes GPF if favorites.htm file is corrupt.

Rename the file to sometinge else and start again.

Netscape causes a GPF or equivalent when attempting to use "Net Search" in Netscape 1.2, 1.1N or earlier:

DON'T use the "Net Search" icon!!!

  1. It uses search engines already accessible directly on the net;
  2. The Netscape site is busy, congested and therefore SLOW.
  3. As of Sept. 96, Netscape's site no longer supports their earlier browsers.
  4. We have direct links to the major search engines linked off our WWW Points of Interest page - "Search Utilities".

Problems with e-mail Programs:

Eudora asks for password:

When you go into Eudora's set-up, even if you don't change anything, Eudora will forget the password when you press OK. So if you go into Eudora's set-up, but DON'T change anything, select CANCEL instead of OK. Eudora should remember your password once it has been entered UNTIL you change something.

My mail is not working/I don't get any mail:

Your mail will NOT magically come to you, you have to tell your e-mail program to GO AND GET IT! With the supplied software (Eudora) use File .. Check Mail. For other packages refer your documentation. If you have set Eudora to queue your outgoing mail, you will need to manually send it (File ... Send Queued Messages). To test your mail set-up at any time try sending mail to yourself, then immediately check your mail.

Problems with IRC:

Can't get onto University IRC servers (eg Wollongong).

Many Universities have closed off their IRC servers to non edu domains (edu=universities/schools etc). Try instead.

Speaking of Trouble ...

Ready or not ... Java/Active X etc are here and the industry would have you believe they are here to stay! We have covered extensively in previous issues the risks involved in exposure to Java (and Active-X). Current trends in the computing industry are indicating the developers are running with Java and similar languages for the development of current and new applications.

Rumors abound that the next "generation" of computing may be totally operating-system-less! Your investment in your current OS (both in $ and learning curve) may be the last you'll spend!

Implications are that applications written in Java (or whatever evolves from Java/Active-X etc) will be pretty well-cross platform, and probably won't need an OS to work under. The same program out of the same box will run on your Mac or PC.

The major Operating System manufacturers - particularly Microsoft and IBM - have been saying for some time that there is no money to be made in Operating Systems, and that applications programs are where the future lies. These same people, along with most other applications developers, have been heavilly pushing Internet connectivity to the point where many applications already rely on access to the Internet to be fully functional.

It would seem that like it or not, we will ALL sooner or later have to accept Java/Active-X and the inherent risks.

Heading Trouble off ...

NOW would be a good time to investigate and put into place safe computing practices to prevent any unfortunate Java security breaches.

Safe computing practices

The ONLY way to be sure that no-one "breaks in" to your system to pinch any sensitive data you may have is not to allow any machine holding sensitive data to have access to the Internet. Remember, firewalls won't protect you from a cleverly written Java application. All machines on your network are at risk even if only one machine on that network has Internet access.

Schedule and keep regular back-ups of your machines. The general rule of thumb is that if it is more inconvenient to re-build and re-construct your data after a major security breach (eg a malicious java applet re-formats your hard disk) then you NEED to perform REGULAR back-ups, and make sure they work!

Home users ...

Home users, you are just as vulnerable as major corporations. While you may not be actively targeted by an "intelligence gathering" applet (unless you've upset the CIA or similar :-) you are at risk from destructive applets - they won't discriminate.

Articles written by secuity experts indicate that malicious applets will most likely frequently masquerade as exciting or fun sites to visit - bait for the unwary. As home users, particularly teenagers, actively seek out these types of activities, you are in a high risk category for something nasty.

Remember, malicious Javas are the viruses of the on-line world. They are developed by the same kind of people. If you've ever been hit by a virus you will appreciate how it is going to feel when you get hit by a malicious java. Unfortunately, no anti-virus program is going to help you - a cleverly written java can be totally undetectable - just another program running on a trusted host.

If the word "back-up" is a new one for you, it's about time you learnt what it is all about!

Speaking of viruses ...

The Internet is probably the ultimate in mass distribution networks. To protect yourself from conventional viruses you should always take the same precautions with software off the net as you would with a floppy disk of unknown origin. Scan it!

As a general rule, you can't infect your machine from a conventional virus simply by downloading a program. The infection occurs when you RUN that program.

So, before you download something,

  1. scan your machine to make sure it's clean;
  2. when you download something, scan it, if it's clean so far
  3. extract it (if a zip file or similar) and scan again; if still clean,
  4. install it and scan again.

It is IMPORTANT that your Virus Scanning program is one that is updated regularly, and that you make sure you update it! Programs that claim not to need to be updated have proven to be unreliable.

You can minimise your risk of contracting viruses by only down- loading software from reputable sites, but with some programs, particularly games, this is not always practical.

Even if you have taken all possible precautions, when new viruses are developed, there are always those who get hit before the new virus is identified.

Practice safe computing - back-up and scan!

HTML Authors Corner

We would like to welcome the "Friends of Chiltern Park" Home Page which has relocated to our Web Server. Drop by and have a look at

I'm sure you will agree it is a valuable addition to our Regional Information pages.

CGIs - do your homework first!

Simply linking from your page to an executable program or script won't cause it to be run by the server.
Many sites don't allow users to run CGI scripts at all. Consult your web server's administrator.

Exerpts from More next issue ...


Timed local data calls - update

We have been advised by the Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, in writing, that residential customers will soon have legislation in place to ensure that where they currently enjoy local call access to services, whether they be voice or data (fax/internet etc) THEY WILL CONTINUE TO BE ABLE TO CALL ON AN UN-TIMED BASIS.

There is no such planned legislative protection however for businesses using data services.

From the Helpdesk

Calling the Help Desk for support:

  1. Ensure you have thoroughly documented the symptoms of your problem BEFORE calling the Help Desk - i.e. WRITE DOWN any error messages you are seeing EXACTLY as they appear. DON'T rely on your memory. A thorough description of your suspected fault will not only assist Help Desk personnel to resolve your problem, but you may find the solution yourself simply by looking more closely at the problem!
  2. Make sure to identify yourself & have your username & password ready.

Comments and questions to the editor:-
Post: Albury Local Internet Pty Ltd,
PO Box 577, Lavington, NSW 2641;
Phone 060 40 2692 Fax: 060 25 7144

©1997 Albury Local Internet. May not be reproduced in whole or in part without express written permission.