Access To Internet Utilities (FTP, WWW and Others) Using E-Mail
31 Dec 1997
Contact: IRRO Secretariat
[THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS DISTRIBUTED FREELY ON THE INTERNET. FOR UPDATES PLEASE NOTE THE AUTHOR'S DETAILS BELOW:]
From: Bob Rankin <BobRankin@MHV.net>
This guide will show you how to retrieve files from FTP sites, explore the World Wide Web, and even access Usenet newsgroups using E-MAIL AS YOUR ONLY TOOL.
Accessing The Internet By E-Mail | Doctor Bob's Guide to Offline Internet Access | 7th Edition - October 1997 |
Copyright (c) 1994-97, "Doctor Bob" Rankin
All rights reserved. Permission is granted to make granted to make and distribute
verbatim copies of this document provided the copyright notice and
this permission notice are preserved on all copies. Feel free to
upload to your favorite BBS or Internet server!
HOW TO ACCESS INTERNET SERVICES BY E-MAIL
If you don't have direct access to the Internet through your BBS or online service, you're not alone. Many of the world's countries with Internet connections have only e-mail access to this world-wide network of networks.
But if you think that sounds limiting, read on. You can access almost any Internet resource using e-mail. Maybe you've heard of FTP, Gopher, Archie, Veronica, Finger, Usenet, Whois, Netfind, WAIS, and the World-Wide Web but thought they were out of your reach because you don't have a direct connection.
Not so! You can use simple e-mail commands to do all of this and much more on the Internet. And even if you do have full Internet access, using e-mail services can save you tve you time and money. If you can send a note to an Internet address, you're in the game.
I encourage you to read this entire document first and then go back and try out the techniques that are covered. This way, you will gain a broader perspective of the information resources that are available, an introduction to the tools you can work with, and the best methods for finding the information you want.
7.0 Address updates, web search update, new usenet posting info, goodies.
6.9 Several new/deleted server addresses
6.8 Homepage by e-mail for German users only; LEO translation service;
Reminders by e-mail; updated mail-to-usenet info; Mercury Mail by
e-mail discontinued; WAISmail section removed
6.7 More servers closed due to abuse; a new Agora; Goodbye to Binky
6.6 Binky is revived; mortgage calculator, homepage by e-mail, URL-minder;
new & updated server addresses
6.5 Forms supporForms support for webmail; New info on Usenet by e-mail; Binky is dead;
Finding the Latest Version This document is now available from several automated mail servers. To get the latest edition, send e-mail to one of the addresses below. To: email@example.com (for US, Canada & South America) Enter only this line in the BODY of the note: send usenet/news.answers/internet-services/access-via-email
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (for Europe, Asia, etc.) Enter only this line in the BODY of the note: send lis-iis e-access-inet.txt
You can also get the file by anonymous FTP at one of these sites:
Site: rtfm.mit.edu get pub/usenet/news.answers/internet-services/access-via-email Site: ftp.mailbase.ac.uk get pub/lists/lis-iis/files/e-access-inet.txt
Or on the Web in HTML format at: http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/hypertext/faq/usenet/internet-services/access-via-email/faq.html
DR. BOB'S PAINLES PAINLESS GUIDE to the Internet (And Amazing Things You Can Do With E-Mail) is different than any other Internet book. It's cheap--only $12.95, and it's blissfully short--just 145 pages. For online ordering, visit Dr. Bob's web page at http://biz.mhv.net/drbob or send e-mail to BobRankin@MHV.net with Subject: SEND BOOKINFO to get complete details.
Please make sure you have the latest version of this guide before writing to the author with questions and updates. Don't give up too quickly on the busy e-mail servers, and if you get an error message, try your request again on a different day or time. If you'd like to keep up with the latest updates and announcements of new versions, send the command:
SUBSCRIBE ACCMAIL Firstname Lastname
in the BODY of a message to the address "LISTSERV@LISTSERV.AOL.COM". In fact, the ACCMAIL list is a great place to ask any questions you have about this guide. You're likely to get a quicker responsponse from one of the list subscribers, because the author gets several hundred messages per day!
Several readers have graciously volunteered to translate this text into languages other than English. Please contact the author if you would like to assist in the translation of this document into another language. The list below shows the status of the translation work that has been done or is in progress. To obtain any of the completed texts, send e-mail with Subject: send accmail.xx (where "xx" is as shown below)
Catalan (5th Ed.) accmail.ca Chinese GB (6th Ed.) accmail.cn
Chinese BIG5 (5th Ed.) accmail.tw Croatian (4th Ed.) accmail.hr
Czech (6th Ed.) accmail.cz Danish (5th Ed.) accmail.dk
Dutch (6th Ed.) accmail.nl Esperanto (4th Ed.) accmail.eo
Farsi (5th Ed.) accmail.ir Finnish (6th Ed.) accmail.fi
French (6th Ed.) accmaid.) accmail.fr German (5th Ed.) accmail.de
Greek (6th Ed.) accmail.gr Hebrew (5th Ed.) accmail.he
Hungarian (4th Ed.) accmail.hu Irish (In progress) accmail.ie
Indonesian (4th Ed.) accmail.id Italian (5th Ed.) accmail.it
Lithuanian (6th Ed.) accmail.lt Japanese (6th Ed.) accmail.jp
Norwegian (4th Ed.) accmail.no Polish (4th Ed.) accmail.pl
Portuguese (6th Ed.) accmail.pt Romanian (6th Ed.) accmail.ro
Russian (6th Ed.) accmail.ru Serbian (6th Ed.) accmail.sr
Slovak (6th Ed.) accmail.sk Spanish (6th Ed.) accmail.sp
Tagalog (In progress) accmail.ph Thai (6th Ed.) accmail.th
Turkish (In progress) accmail.tr Somali (5th Ed.) accmail.so
Ukranian (6th Ed.) accmail.ua
NOTE: Your "send accmail.xx" request MUST be in the SUBJECT line!
This document is continually expanding and improving as a result of the daily flood of comments and questions received by the author. The following individuals are hereby ls are hereby recognized for their work in translating "Accessing" to various languages. (If I forgot anyone, let me know and I'll gladly add you to the list.)
Flesch Balint - Hungarian Ron Barak - Hebrew
Nikola Borojevic - Croatian Krzysztof Buniewicz - Polish
Claude Bay - French Pierre Couillard - French
S. Eivazzadeh, Ali Motamed - Farsi Vadim Fedorov - Russian
Ricard Forner - Catalanian Alonso Gustavo - Spanish
Stefan Greundel - German Mihai Jalobeanu - Romanian
Paavo Juntunen - Finnish Joao Neves - Portuguese
Stanislav Ponca - Slovakian Oe Wely Eko Raharjo - Indonesian
Boonyakiat Saengwan - Thai Vidar Sarvik - Norwegian
Christian Schou - Danish Darius Matuliauskas - Lithuanian
Martin Slunecko - Czech Zvonko Springer - Croatian
Andras Sogor - Hungarian Komatsu Toshiki - Japanese
Rob Vandeweyer - Dutch Dario Vercelli - Italian
Ewa Poskrobko - Polish Martin Weichert - Esperanto
Yassin Ismail Ali - Somalail Ali - Somali Ukranian - Dmitry V. Bisikalo
Brankica Kranjac - Serbian Ivan Stamenkovic - Serbian
Grigoris Miliaresis - Greek Alexander Kachanov - Russian
Many introductory texts on the Internet go into excruciating detail on the history, composition and protocol of the Internet. If you were looking for that you won't find it here, because this is a "how to" lesson, not a history book.
When you buy a new car, they don't make you read "The Life and Times of Henry Ford" before you can turn the top down and squeal off the lot. And when you get a new computer, nobody forces you to read a text on logic design before you fire up Leisure Suit Larry or WordPerfect.
So if you're the type that wants to short-circuit the preliminaries and just dig in, you've come to the right place. I'm not going to bore you with the gory details. Instead, I'll just offer up my Reader's Digest condensed definition of the of the Internet, and encourage you to find out more as you gain skill at using the tools described herein.
Internet (noun) - A sprawling collection of computer networks that spans the globe, connecting government, military, educational and commercial institutions, as well as private citizens to a wide range of computer services, resources, and information. A set of network conventions and common tools are employed to give the appearance of a single large network, even though the computers that are linked together use many different hardware and software platforms.
This document is meant to be both tutorial and practical, so there are lots of actual commands and internet addresses listed herein. You'll notice that when these are included in the text they are indented by several spaces for clarity. Don't include the leading spaces when you try these commands on your own!
You'll also see things like "<file>" or "<name>" appeappearing in this document. Think of these as place holders or variables which must be replaced with an appropriate value. Do NOT include the quotes or brackets in your value unless specifically directed to do so.
Most e-mail servers understand only a small set of commands and are not very forgiving if you deviate from what they expect. So include ONLY the specified commands in the Subject or body of your note, leaving off any extraneous lines such as your signature, etc. Unless otherwise specified, you can leave the Subject and/or body of the note empty. If your mail software insists on a Subject or body, just type "XYZZY" or something equally non-sensical.
You should also ensure that you have one blank line between the note headers and the body of your note. And do pay attention to upper/lower case in directory and file names when using e-mail servers. It's almost always important.
SPECSPECIAL NOTE: The e-mail servers listed in this guide are for the most part operated by kind-hearted volunteers at companies or universities. If you abuse (or over-use) the servers, there's a very good chance they will be shut down permanently. This actually happened to several of the e-mail servers recently, so treat them with respect.
If you have direct Internet access, let others who are less fortunate use the e-mail servers. Try to limit your data transfers to one megabyte per day. Don't swamp the servers with many requests at a time.
FTP stands for "file transfer protocol", and is a means of accessing files that are stored on remote computer systems (sites). Files at FTP sites are typically stored in a tree-like set of directories (or nested folders for Mac fans), each of which pertains to a different subject.
When visiting an FTP site using a "li a "live" internet connection, one would specify the name of the site, login with a userid & password, navigate to the desired directory and select one or more files to be transferred back to their local system.
Using FTP by e-mail is very similar, except that the desired site is reached through a special "ftpmail server" which logs in to the remote site and returns the requested files to you in response to a set of commands in an e-mail message.
Using FTP by e-mail can be nice even for those with full Internet access, because some popular FTP sites are heavily loaded and interactive response can be very sluggish. So it makes sense not to waste time and connect charges in these cases.
To use FTP by e-mail, you first need a list of FTP "sites" which are the addresses of the remote computer systems that allow you to retrieve files anonymously (without having a userid and password on that system).
There are some popular sites listed later in this guide,ide, but you can get a comprehensive list of hundreds of anonymous FTP sites by sending an e-mail message to the internet address:
and include these lines in the BODY of the note.
... (19 lines omitted for brevity) ...
You will then receive (by e-mail) 21 files which comprise the "FTP SiteList". Note that these files are each about 60K, so the whole lot willtotal over a megabyte! This could place a strain on your system, so first check around to see if the list is aready available locally.
Another file you might want to get is "FTP Frequently Asked Questions" which contains lots more info on using FTP services, so add this line to your note as well:
After you receive the site list you'll see dozens of entries like this, which tell you the site name, location and the kind the kind of files that are stored there.
Site : oak.oakland.edu
Organ : Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan
System : Unix
Comment: Simtel Software Repository mirror
Files : BBS lists; ham radio; TCP/IP; Mac; modem protocol info;
MS-DOS; MS-Windows; PC Blue; PostScript; Simtel-20; Unix
If you find an interesting FTP site in the list, send e-mail to one of these ftpmail servers:
email@example.com (United States)
firstname.lastname@example.org (United States)
email@example.com (CLOSED DUE TO ABUSE)
firstname.lastname@example.org (CLOSED DUE TO ABUSE)
It doesn't really matter which one you choose, but a server that is geographically close may respond quicker. (Please DON'T use the first one in the list just because it's there!) In the body of the note, include these lines:
open <site> * use "connect <site>" for dec.com sites
This will return to you a list of the files stored in the root directory at that site. See the figure below for an example of the output when using "oak.oakland.edu" for the site name.
-r--r--r-- 1 w8sdz OAK 1255 Nov 9 16:32 README
drwxr-xr-x 3 w8sdz OAK 8192 Feb 25 05:17 SimTel
d--x--x--x 3 root system 8192 Jan 19 20:26 bin
d--x--x--x 5 root system 8192 Dec 30 05:15 etc
drwxr-xr-x 3 w8drwxr-xr-x 3 w8sdz OAK 8192 Jan 30 17:37 pub
In your next e-mail message you can navigate to other directories by inserting (for example)
chdir pub (use "cd" if "chdir" doesn't work)
before the "dir" command. (The "chdir" means "change directory" and "pub" is a common directory name, usually a good place to start.) Once you determine the name of a file you want to retrieve, use:
get <name of file>
in the following note instead of the "dir" command. If the file you want to retrieve is plain text, this will suffice. If it's a binary file (an executable program, compressed file, etc.) you'll need to insert the command:
in your note before the "get" command.
Tip: Many directories at FTP sites contain a file called 00-index.txt, README, or something similarly named which gives a description of the files found there. If youe. If you're just exploring and your "dir" reveals one of these filenames, do a "get" on the file and save yourself some time.
OK, let's grab the text of The Magna Carta. Here's the message you send to email@example.com (or another ftpmail server):
open ftp.spies.com (The name of the FTP site)
chdir Gov/World (The directory where the file lives)
get magna.txt (Sign here please, John)
quit (Bring it on home)
Here are the commands you would send to to get a file from the Simtel Software Repository that was mentioned earlier. open oak.oakland.edu
binary (Because we're getting a ZIP file)
Some other interesting FTP sites you may want to "visit" are listed below. (Use these site names on the "open" command and the suggested directory name on your "chdir" command, as in the previous examples.)
rtfm.mit.edu Try: pub/usenet/news.answers for USENET info
oak.oakland.edu Try: SimTel/msdos for a huge DOS software library
gatekeeper.dec.com Try: pub/recipes for a cooking & recipe archive
Remember that you can't just send e-mail to ftpmail@<anysite>, rather you send the "open <site>" command to one of the known ftpmail servers.
- The ftpmail servers tend to be quite busy. Your reply may not arrive for several minutes, hours, or days.
- Some large files may be split into smaller pieces and returned to you as multiple messages. You can control this (and also override the return e-mail address) using special ftpmail commands.
- The commands are not the same on every server - send the "help" command to find out how FTPMAIL works on the server you are using!
- Often the ftpmail servers keep local archives. Open the local archives by not specifying a site on the "open" line. Using the local archives gives your request priority so it will be processed before all outside requests.
If the fIf the file that is returned to you ends up looking something like what you see below, (the word "begin" with a number and the filename on one
line, followed by a bunch of 61-character lines) it most likely is a binary file that has been "uuencoded" by the sender. (This is required in order to reliably transmit binary files by e-mail.)
begin 666 answer2.zip
You'll need to scrounge up a version of the "uudecode" program for your operating system (DOS, OS/2, Unix, Mac, etc.) in order to reconstruct the file. Most likely you'll find a copy already at your site or in your service provider's download library, but if not you can use the instructions in the next section to find out how to search FTP sites for a copy.
ARCHIE BY E-MAIL
Let's say you know the name of a file, but you have no idea at which FTP site P site it might be lurking. Or maybe you're curious to know if files matching a certain naming criteria are available via FTP. Archie is the tool you can use to find out.
Archie servers can be thought of as a database of all the anonymous FTP sites in the world, allowing you to find the site and/or name of a file to be retrieved. And using Archie by e-mail can be convenient because some Archie searches take a LONG time to complete, leaving you to tap your toes in the meantime.
To use Archie by e-mail, simply send an e-mail message to one of the following addresses (use the closest one):
firstname.lastname@example.org (United Kingdom)
email@example.com (United States)
firstname.lastname@example.org (United States)
To obtain detailed help for using Archie by mail, put the word help in the subject of the note and just send it off. You'll receive e-mail explaining how to use archie services. If you're the "just do it" type, then enter the command:
where "<file>" is the name of the file to search for, in the BODY (not the subject) of the note. This will search for files that match your criteria exactly. If you want to find files that contain your search criteria anywhere in their name, insert the line
set search sub
before the "find" command. Some other useful archie commands you might want to use are:
set maxhits 20 (limit output, default is 100 files)
set match_domain usa (restrict output to FTP sites in USA)
set output_>set output_format terse (return output in condensed form)
When you get the results from your Archie query, it will contain the names of various sites at which the desired file is located. Use one of these site names and the directory/filename listed for your next FTP file retrieval request.
Now you've learned enough to locate that UUDECODE utility mentioned in the last section. Let's send e-mail to email@example.com (or one of the other archie servers), and include the following lines in the message:
set match_domain usa
set search sub (looking for a substring match...)
find uudecode (must contain this string...)
Note: You'll be looking for the uudecode source code, not the executable version, which would of course be a binary file and would arrive uuencoded - a Catch 22! The output of your archie query will contain lots of information like this:
Host ftp.clarkson.edu (18.104.22.168)
Last updated 06:31 9 Oct 1994
FILE -r-xr-xr-x 5572 bytes 21:00 11 Mar 1991 uudecode.bas
FILE -r-xr-xr-x 5349 bytes 20:00 17 Apr 1991 uudecode.c
Now you can use an ftpmail server to request "uudecode.bas" (if you have BASIC available) or "uudecode.c" (if you have a C compiler) from the ftp.clarkson.edu site.
It should be noted that the latest version of uudecode can be found at the SimTel repository. Send e-mail to listserv@SimTel.net, including any or all of these commands in the BODY of the note, and the requested files will be returned to you by e-mail.
SPECIAL NOTE: For DOS users, there is an EXECUTABLE ASCII version of the UUDECODE.COM program available. This is a rare exception to the rule that executable files must be encoded to survive e-mail transmission. You can receive it via e-mail and execute it "as is". To get a copy, send e-mail to BobRankin@MHVankin@MHV.net with Subject: send uudecode.com (must be lowercase).
For further info on using uudecode, request the "uudecode.how" file.
Gopher is a tool for exploring the Internet and is one way to find a resource if you know what you want, but not where to find it. Gopher systems are menu-based, and provide a user-friendly front end to Internet resources, searches and information retrieval.
When visiting a Gopher site using a "live" Internet connection, one would specify the name of the site, navigate through a series of hierarchical menus to a desired resource, and then either read or transfer the information back to their home system.
Using Gopher by e-mail is very similar, except that the desired site is reached through a special "gophermail server" which gophers to the remote site on your behalf and and returns the requested menu, submenu or file to you in response to a set of commands in an e-mail message.
NOTE: In recen recent years, Gopher has fallen in popularity and most of the gophermail servers have closed down. But still there is quite a bit of information available on gopher servers, and a few working gophermail servers.
Although not every item on every menu will be accessible by "gophermail", you'll still find plenty of interesting things using this technique. Down to brass tacks... let's send e-mail to one of these addresses:
firstname.lastname@example.org Czech Republic
You can optionally specify the address of a known gopher site on the Subject line to get the main menu for that site instead. Here are some interesting gopher sites you may like to explore at your leisure.
Let's be bold and skip the HELP stuff for now. Fire off a note to one of the gophermail servers and specify
You'll get a message back from the servom the server that looks something like the text in the figure below.
Mail this file back to gopher with an X before the items you want.
1. About USCgopher/
2. How To Find Things on Gopher/
3. University Information/
4. Campus Life/
5. Computing Information/
6. Library and Research Information/
7. Health Sciences/
8. Research and Technology Centers/
9. Other Gophers & Info Resources/
You may edit the following numbers to set the maximum sizes after which GopherMail should send output as multiple email messages:
Split=27K bytes/message <- For text, bin, HQX messages
Menu=100 items/message <- For menus and query responses
# ... (some lines deleted) ...
Name=Other Gophers and Informther Gophers and Information Resources
To proceed to a selection on the returned menu just e-mail the whole text of the note (from the menu downwards) back to the gopher server, placing an "x" next to the items(s) you want to explore. You'll then receive the next level of the gopher menu by e-mail. Some menu choices lead to other menus, some lead to text files, and some lead to searches. In the example above, let's select
x 9. Other Gophers & Info Resources
and mail the whole shebang right back at the gophermail server. You should then get a menu with a number of interesting selections including "Gopher Jewels". You'll find a LOT of good stuff along that path. The Gopher Jewels project is probably the best organized collection of Internet resources around.
If a menu item is labelled "Search" you can select that item with an "x" and supply your search words in the Subject: of your reply. Note that your search criteria can be a single word or a boolean expression such as:
document and (historic or government)
Each of the results (the "hits") of your search will be displayed as an entry on yet another gopher menu!
Note: You needn't actually return the entire gopher menu and all the routing info that follows it each time you reply to the gophermail server. If you want to minimize the size of your query, you can strip out the "menu" portion at the top and include only the portion below that pertains to the menu selection you want.
Just remember that if you use this approach, you must specify "get all" on the Subject line. (Exception: for searching, specify only the search terms on the Subject line.) The example below is equivalent to selecting "option 9" as we did earlier.
If this looks like nonsense to you, here's a human translation:
Connect to PORT 70 of the HOST (computer) at "cwis.usc.edu", retrieve the sub-menu "Other Gophers", and send it to me in ONE PIECE, regardless of its size.
Note: Sometimes gophermail requests return a blank menu or message. This is most likely because the server failed to connect to the host from which you were trying to get your information. Send your request again later and it'll probably work.
Speaking of searches, this is a good time to mention Veronica. Just as Archie provides a searchable index of FTP sites, Veronica provides this function for "gopherspace". Veronica will ask you what you want to look for (your search words) and then display another menu listing all the gopher menu items thanu items that match your search. In typical gopher fashion, you can then select one of these items and "go-pher it"!
To try Veronica by e-mail, retrieve the main menu from a gophermail server using the method just described. Then try the choice labelled "Other Gopher and Information Servers". This menu will have an entry for Veronica.
You'll have to select one (or more) Veronica servers to handle your query, specifying the search words in the Subject of your reply. Here's another example of where using e-mail servers can save time and money. Often the Veronica servers are very busy and tell you to "try again later". So select 2 or 3 servers, and chances are one of them will be able to handle your request the first time around.
The path to some resources, files or databases can be a bit tedious, requiring several e-mail messages to the gophermail server. But here's the good news... If you've done it once, you can re-use any of the e-mail messages prevpreviously sent in, changing it to suit your current needs. As an example, here's a clipping from the Veronica menu you would get by following the previous instructions. You can send these lines to any gophermail server to run a Veronica search.
Split=64K bytes/message <- For text, bin, HQX messages (0 = No split)
Menu=100 items/message <- For menus and query responses (0 = No split)
Name=Search GopherSpace by Title word(s) (via NYSERNet)
Specify the search words in the Subject line and see what turns up! You can use boolean expressions in Veronica searches. For a guide to composing Veronica searches, send these lines to a gophermail server:
Name=How to Compose Veronica Queries
Usenet is a collection of over 25000 discussion groups on every topic i every topic imaginable. In order to get a proper start and avoid embarrasing yourself needlessly, you must read the Usenet new users intro document, which can be obtained by sending e-mail to:
and include this line in the BODY of the note:
To get a listing of Usenet newsgroups, add these commands to your note:
send usenet/news.answers/active-newsgroups/part1 (also get part2) send usenet/news.answers/alt-hierarchies/part1 (also get part2 & part3)
To get the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) file(s) for a given newsgroup, try a command like this:
(Substitute dots for dashes if they appear in the newsgroup name.)
If any FAQ files are available, they will be listed in the returned info, and you can request them with a command like:
Once you've handled the preliminaries, you'll need to know how to read and contribute to Usenet newsgroups by e-mail. To read a newsgroup, you can use the gophermail service discussed earlier in this guide.
To obtain a list of recent postings to a particular newsgroup, send the following lines to one of the gophermail servers mentioned previously.
Specify "Subject: get all" and include only these lines in the message body.
(You must replace "<newsgroup>" below with the name of the Usenet newsgroup you wish to access. eg: alt.answers, biz.comp.services, news.newusers.questions, etc.)
Path=nntp ls <newsgroup>
If this doesn't work, you can try another Host by substituting one of the lines below.
Host=gopher.tc.umn.edu (maybe, very busy)
Note that some of these sites carry only a limited range of newsgroups, so you mays, so you may have to try several before finding one which carries the newsgroup you're looking for. When the newsgroup does not exist, gophermail sends something like "'nntp ls <newsgroup>': path does not exist". When a site does not accept outside requests, gophermail sends something like "Sorry, we don't accept requests outside campus".
If successful, the gophermail server will send you a typical gopher menu on which you may select the individual postings you wish to read. If your query returns nothing, or you get a "not found" message, try it at another time of day. The servers are very busy during regular business hours.
NOTE: Gophermail servers are a vanishing breed. You can also get Usenet postings from several webmail servers listed in the WORLD-WIDE WEB BY E-MAIL section later in this document. There are two approaches:
1) Use a webmail server to access a gopher site which carries Usenet. The example from above when translated into a web address would be:
2) Look for an Agora server with a "Y" in the "Usenet Access" column and send a command like this in the message body: send news:<newsgroup>
With a little luck, you'll get a list of recent postings to the newsgroup, and then you can retrieve the individual postings by replying to the message from the Agora server. Make sure not to change the subject line of the reply message, and just put the number of the posting you want in the message BODY.
If you decide to make a post of your own, here are two methods to try:
METHOD 1: Mail the text of your post to:
email@example.com (Norwegian newsgroups only)
firstname.lastname@example.org (CLOSED DUE TO ABUSE)
So to post to news.newusers.questions, you might send your message to:
Be sure to include an appropriate Subject: line, and include your real name and e-mail address at the close of your note.
METHOD 2: Mail the text of your post to:
Substitute today's date instead of YYMMDD and the newsgroup name instead of "group.name" in the address. For more information, send to email@example.com with Subject: help
Use a webmail server to fetch Don Kitchen's helpful document at
"http://www.itsnet.com/~rmstar/" (See "World-Wide Web By E-Mail" below
for help with this). It contains tips on finding out if a mail server supports your newsgroup, keeping your address away from spammers, and an updated list of mail-to-news servers.
Don't know the name of the newsgroup? To search for Usenet groups about "pets", for exam", for example, send e-mail to an Agora server (see WWW section) with this line in the message BODY:
Another way to find newsgroups: Send e-mail to "firstname.lastname@example.org" with
in the BODY if the message. (The quotes force an exact match.)
A service called REFERENCE.COM makes it possible to search USENET newsgroups for postings that contain keywords of interest to you. You can even "subscribe" and receive a daily list of newsgroup postings that match your search criteria. Send mail to "email@example.com" with HELP in the body of note for full details. A similar service called the Vigilant Information Filter is now closed.
The World-Wide Web is the premier Internet navigational tool - a hypertext and multimedia system that lets you hop around the Net, read documents, and access iaccess images & sounds linked to a source.
Have you ever heard someone say, "Wow, check out the cool stuff at http://www.somewhere.com/blah.html" and wondered what in the world they were talking about? Now you can retrieve WWW documents by e-mail using an Agora webmail server.
All you need to know is the Uniform Resource Locator (or URL, that long ugly string starting with "http:", "gopher:", or "ftp:") which defines the address of the document, and you can retrieve it by sending e-mail to one of:
firstname.lastname@example.org (Japan) Y
email@example.com (Japan) Y
firstname.lastname@example.org (United Kingdom)
email@example.com (NSU.RU users ONLY)
In the body of your note include one of these lines, replacing "<URL>" with the actual URL specification.
rsend <return-address> <URL> (to override your return address)
This will send you back the d back the document you requested, with a list of all the documents referenced within, so that you may make further requests.
To try WWW by e-mail send the following commands to an Agora server :
In a few minutes you should receive the Agora help file and the "WWW Welcome Page" which will include references to other Web documents you'll want to explore. Please read the Agora help file, as it contains answers to many commonly asked questions!
THERE ARE SOME OTHER webmail servers listed below, which run software other than Agora. They work pretty much the same, but it's a good idea to request the help file for the server you decide to use.
Note: The GetWeb servers below can handle web pages which contain fill-in forms. Other webmail servers do not provide this ability.
Address Syntax Comments
----------------------- ---------- ----------------------------
firstname.lastname@example.org Gnet.org GET <URL> Send HELP or HELP FORMS
email@example.com GET <URL> Send HELP for usage info
firstname.lastname@example.org GET <URL> Send HELP command for info
email@example.com Use 'Subject: info' for help
firstname.lastname@example.org GO <URL> Same as email@example.com
firstname.lastname@example.org <URL> Limited free searches
Note: The webmail servers are sometimes unavailable for days (or weeks) at a time without explanation. If you get an error or no reply, please retry in a day or so.
There's a lot of great stuff out on the Web, but how do you find it? Well, just like Archie and Veronica help you search FTP and gopher sites, there are several search engines that have been developed to search for information on the Web. But until now, you had to have direct Internet access to use them.
After a bit of research, I have found that it is possible to use several WWW search mechanisms by e-mailby e-mail. Here are some sample queries that you can use to search via Lycos and WebCrawler. Any of these lines can be sent to an Agora server (see above) to perform a search. If you're not interested in frogs, then by all means feel free to use your own keywords.
For Lycos, append a dot to your keywords to force an exact match, or you will get a substring search by default. Separate words with a "+" sign.
For WebCrawler searches you must separate words with a "+" sign. All searches are exact, no trailing dot required.
Another way to access search engines is to send a message to email@example.com with a line like this in the message body:
SEARCH <engine> <keywords>
Replace "engine" with YAHOO, ALTAVISTA, or INFOSEEK, and use your own search words. Here's an example:
SEARCH YAHOO consuOO consumer protection
There are literally thousands of discussion groups that stay in touch using e-mail based systems known as "mailing lists". People interested in a topic "subscribe" to a "list" and then send and receive postings by e-mail. For a good introduction to this topic, send e-mail to:
In the body of your note include only this command:
GET NEW-LIST WOUTERS
To find out about mailing lists that are relevant to your interests, send e-mail to "firstname.lastname@example.org" with
search "keyword" in the BODY if the message. (The quotes force an exact match.) (Of course you must replace "keyword" with your own search word such as "marketing", "bicycles", etc.)
If you're new to the Internet, I suggest you subscribe to the HELP-NET list where you're likely to find answers to your questions. Sestions. Send the command:
SUBSCRIBE HELP-NET <Firstname Lastname>
in the BODY of a note to LISTSERV@VM.TEMPLE.EDU, then e-mail your questions to the list address:
"Finger" is a utility that returns information about another user. Usually it's just boring stuff like last logon, etc., but sometimes people put fun or useful information in their finger replies. To try out finger, send this line (in the message BODY) to a webmail server:
Use one of the e-mail addresses below instead of <user@site> ...
"WHOIS" is a service that queries a database of Internet names and addresses. If you're looking for someone orr someone or you want to know where a particular Internet site is located, send e-mail with
Subject: whois <name>
Try substituting "mit.edu" or the last name of someone you know in place of "<name>" and see what comes back! It should be noted that WHOIS is not a comprehensive listing of all Internet users. It contains mostly network administrators and some "notable" Internet figures.
Another alternative name looker-upper is a database at MIT which keeps
tabs on everyone who has posted a message on Usenet. Send e-mail to "email@example.com" and include this command ONLY in the BODY:
Specify as much information as you can about the person (lastname, firstname, userid, site, etc.) to limit the amount of information that is returned to you. Here's a sample query to find the address of someone you think may be at Harvard University:
send usenet-address-addresses/Jane Doe Harvard
NETFIND is another more powerful search engine that uses a person's name and keywords describing a physical location to return a bunch of info about the person (or persons) who fit the bill.
Let's say we want to find someone named Hardy at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Our Netfind query will be addressed to an Agora server (see list in WWW section) and will contain the only line:
Netfind works in two phases. First it displays a list of internet domains that match your keywords, then it looks for the person in the domain you select. Netfind by e-mail is very similar, in that you'll receive a listing of matching domains from which you must make one or more selections.
Each selection is numbered and there are corresponding "gopher://"
commands at the bottom of the listing. Let's pick the selection for
cs.colorado.edu computer scienc science dept, university of colorado, boulder which means that our next command to the Agora server will be:
If all goes well, you'll receive a list something like this:
full_name: HARDY, JOE (not a real person)
phone: (303) 492-1234
address: Campus Box 777
department: COMPUTER SCIENCE
Note that if you know the person's domain name already, you can jump right in with a query like the latter one above.
You can also try the "Four11 Online User Directory", a free directory of users and their e-mail addresses. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how to search the Four11 directory.
This is a little on the technical side, but anyway the Mail Name Server offers some useful services by e-mail, such as translating host names to t names to IP addresses or finding nameservers for a host. Send e-mail to
email@example.com with a Subject line of 'help' to get info on similar services.
Sorry, there is no way to access TELNET sites by e-mail.
Here are some other interesting things you can do by e-mail. (Some of them are accessible only by e-mail!)
Take a virtual tour of the Internet - hop on The Internet TourBus! You'll receive a short mailing twice a week highlighting fun and interesting sites on the Internet. It's absolutely free, and you can join 80,000 others by sending SUBSCRIBE TOURBUS Firstname Lastname in the BODY of a message to "LISTSERV@LISTSERV.AOL.COM".
The LEO translation service is now available by email, by sending to firstname.lastname@example.org. Theeo.org. The helpfile at
http://www.leo.org/dict/mail.html can be retrieved via webmail.
The E-minder service sends you reminders about your events. For directions on setting e-minder appointments by e-mail, send a message to
email@example.com, with Subject line "e-minder help".
InetWire offers free non-commercial homepages with up to 500KB of space. Make a zip file with index.htm being the home page, put a URL something like "http://inetw.com/home/myname" in the Subject line and then send your zip file as an ATTACHMENT to firstname.lastname@example.org. (If your e-mail program doesn't support file attachments, you're out of luck.)
Try URL-minder by e-mail. Send a message to URLemail@example.com with HELP in the Subject line for instructions.
To calculate your monthly loan payment, spayment, send this line to an Agora server:
(Change the values for principle, interest and term as appropriate.)
A daily news digest from international press and broadcast sources. Send e-mail to inbox@netserve.FT.com with "info nr-world" in the message body.
Order an electronic pizza by e-mail. Send e-mail to "firstname.lastname@example.org" with a subject of "pizza help" for details.
To retrieve the definition of a word, send this line to an Agora server:
The wordserver at email@example.com will serve up A.Word.A.Day,
Thesaurus-by-mail, Acronym-by-mail, Anagram-by-mail and Rhyme-n-Reason.
Yoyodyne specializes in online games. Send mail to "firstname.lastname@example.org "email@example.com".
You can also play games via the PBeM Server, for info, send e-mail to
"firstname.lastname@example.org" with Subject: help
Search the King James version of the Bible. Examples below can be sent to an Agora server. Use "+" to specify multiple words; prefix proper names with "%23"; add "&PHRASE=ON" to find a phrase.
A cooperative, anonymous and humorous exchange of questions and answers. Send e-mail to email@example.com for more information.
Free faxing via the Internet? You bet. For details, send the line below to firstname.lastname@example.org (in BODY of note)
Find out if your congressyour congressperson has an electronic address! Just send mail to the address email@example.com and you'll get a listing of congressional e-mail addresses. You can also contact the President
(firstname.lastname@example.org) or Vice President (email@example.com).
send usenet/news.answers/us-govt-net-pointers/part1 (also part2)
For a guide to finding someone's e-mail addresses, send the line below to firstname.lastname@example.org (in the BODY of the note)
For a guide to communicating with people on the various networks that make up the Internet, send the line below to email@example.com (in the BODY of the note)
Get tons of info on movies, actors, & directors. Send e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org with HELP in the subject line.
If you want to get a current quote for just 1 or 2 stocks, you can use the QuoteCom service. They offer this free service along with other fee based services. For details, send e-mail to "email@example.com" with a subject of HELP.
You can get foreign exchange rates for the U.S. dollar and other currencies by sending one of these lines to an Agora server:
* ANONYMOUS E-MAIL
An "anon server" provides a front for sending mail messages and posting to Usenet newsgroups anonymously, should the need ever arise. To get instructions send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Have a math question?math question? No problem's too big or too small for The Swat Team. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Send your earth-shattering questions to email@example.com
and a US Geological Service scientist will try to help.
F-Prot, one of the top PC virus scanners can be requested by e-mail. To get the current version (uuencoded) send e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org with this message body:
...is a weekly featuring announcements of new and interesting resources on the Internet. To subscribe, send e-mail to LISTSERV@lists.internic.net with "Subscribe scout-report Your Name" in the body.
There's a helpline accessible by e-mail. Send your message to email@example.com -- No syntax, they have humans!
To access the National Cancer Institute's database, send e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org with "help" or "spanish" in the message body.
For a list of Internet Service Providers in your area code, send this line to an Agora server: http://thelist.iworld.com/areacode/???.html (where ???=your area code)
Full-featured service with free trial period. They also accept resellers
who are able to promote the service on a personal home page. For details, send e-mail to email@example.com
Need to get a message to someone in Britain who doesn't have e-mail? Send it to PaperMail! For full details on this fee-based service, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn the history of the Internet from 1950 to 1996, send e-mail to email@example.com
Stumped by those 2-letter country codes in Internet addresses? Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org foewbie.net for an explanation.
Get BABEL, a glossary of computer abbreviations and acronyms by sending to email@example.com with GET BABEL TXT HELP-NET in message body.
A comprehensive guide to higher education financial aid. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with "send faq" in the message body.
A variety of helpful files are available by sending to one of the webmail servers listed earlier in this guide. Use the "send" commands below in the body of your message to the webmail server.
- for additional information on e-mail retrieval services
- for other fun things you can do with e-mail
- more details on using web search engines by e-mail
This file should be somewhere between 1300 and 1400 lines of text, and about 58KB in size. If the file you have is much smaller, or says something like "part 2 of 2" near the top, you're missing something. Most likely, that's because your mail system has file size quotas that prevented part 1 from reaching you. Here's the solution:
To get the file in multiple chunks, send to email@example.com
and enter only these lines in the BODY of the note:
The mail server will break up the file into chunks of 25000 bytes and send them in separate messages. You can change "25000" to another number if it suits your needs.
I welcome your feedback on this guide and can be reached at the following addresses. Send corrections, ideas, suggestions and comments by e-mail. I'll try to include any new services in future editions of this of this guide.
E-Mail : BobRankin@MHV.net
Web : http://biz.mhv.net/drbob
US Mail : Bob Rankin / P.O. Box 39 / Tillson, NY / 12486
Copyright (c) 1994-97, "Doctor Bob" Rankin
All rights reserved. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies. Feel free to upload to your favorite BBS or Internet server!
Persons wishing to summarize this document in other publications may do so, but please include the instructions herein for obtaining the full document. I also request that you kindly supply me with a copy of the article when published.