Roadmap96: MAP22 - GopherMail
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"(T)he International Standards Organization
(ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
designated Oct. 14 as World Standards Day to recognize those
volunteers who have worked hard to define international standards
... The United States celebrated World Standards Day on Oct. 11;
Finland celebrated on Oct. 13; and Italy celebrated on Oct.
-- Open Systems Today, 10/31/94.
One of the most frustrating experiences in the world is being told that you cannot do something. For those of you who have only "Level One" Internet connectivity, the past couple of lessons must have been especially trying.
Fortunately, thanks to a server program called GopherMail, those of you with "Level One" connectivity can now access all of the neat Gopher sites that we visited in MAPs 18 through 21. Best of all, you can do it using nothing but a simple e-mail letter!
There are really just four steps to using GopherMail:
- Send an e-mail letter to a GopherMail server. It really does not matter what you type in the body of your letter as long as you don't type the word "help" ("help" tells the GopherMail server to send you its help file);
- GopherMail responds to your letter by sending you a Gopher menu in the body of an e-mail letter;
- You respond to the "Gopher menu letter" by forwarding it back to the GopherMail server after you have cleaned the letter up a little and marked which menu options you want the GopherMail server to send you;
- GopherMail responds to your forwarded letter by sending you the information that you requested. If what you request is another menu, GopherMail sends you that menu in the body of another e-mail letter. The cycle keeps repeating itself. :)
Finding the address of a working GopherMail server, however, can be quite difficult. When I first wrote about GopherMail in the Fall of 1994, there were well over 20 GopherMail servers around the world. Today, that number is much smaller. As a matter of fact, after spending two weeks doing numerous Veronica and Web searches for GopherMail servers, and after sending out well over 100 e-mail letters to "suspected" GopherMail servers, I can only find 7 GopherMail servers that are still working (as of July 14, 1996):
E-mail Address Location firstname.lastname@example.org Brazil email@example.com Czech Republic firstname.lastname@example.org Hungary email@example.com Japan firstname.lastname@example.org Japan email@example.com Netherlands firstname.lastname@example.org USA
Let's try one of these addresses and see what happens! (Actually, I guess now would be a good time to tell you that if you have Gopher access through your ISP or through TELNET, you really should NOT use GopherMail. GopherMail is really only intended for people who cannot access Gopher through any other source.)
To keep Net traffic to a minimum, you should always use the GopherMail server that is closest to you. Since I am in the United States, I am going to use the "email@example.com" address.
I send an e-mail letter to
and leave the subject line and body blank. It may take the GopherMail server several hours to respond to my letter -- just like every other Internet server, GopherMail is almost always incredibly overburdened -- but eventually I will receive the following e-mail letter from the GopherMail server:
Date: Sun, 14 Jul 1996 20:23:12 -0500 From: GopherMail <gopherm@Forestry.Umn.EDU> To: firstname.lastname@example.org (Patrick Douglas Crispen) Subject: mercury.forestry.umn.edu Gopher Server X-Menu: Max. 100 items/message Mail this file back to gopher with an X before the menu items that you want. If you don't mark any items, gopher will send all of them. 1. About CNR Gopher. 2. Search Directory at CNR gopher <?> (Send keywords in Subject:) 3. About GopherMail (the email -> gopher gateway). ... %< snip snip snip ... %< 13. College of Natural Resources (CNR) Computer Help/ 14. Main U of MN Gopher/ 15. Other Interesting Gophers/ ... %< snip snip snip %<
This is a *real* Gopher menu. Just like the UNIX Gopher server examples that we looked at in MAPs 18 through 20, Gopher menu entries that have "/" at the end of them are menus, and entries that have a "." at the end of them are documents. The only difference between this Gopher menu and one that you access through a Gopher client or through Telnet is that you have to send your responses back to the GopherMail server before your responses can be processed.
The bottom of a GopherMail menu letter also has some pretty weird stuff that looks like this:
Split=57K bytes/message <- For text, bin, HQX messages (0 = No split) Menu=100 items/message <- For menus and query responses (0 = No split) # Name=About CNR Gopher Numb=1 Type=0 Port=70 Path=0/About Host=gopher.forestry.umn.edu
Just ignore that for now. Later in this workshop I will tell you about Dr. Bob Rankin's free guide "Accessing the Internet by E-mail." Dr. Bob's guide will explain what all this stuff means.
In MAP04: E-MAIL, I asked you to contact your local Internet Service Provider to learn how to include text in a reply (and how to edit this text). You *NEED* to know how to do this if you want to use GopherMail. Before you send a letter back to the GopherMail server, you need to mark which menu item(s) you want to select. To do this, you put an "X" next to the menu item(s) that you want the GopherMail server to send back to you. For example, to get the "Main U of MN Gopher" menu sent to you, you would type the letter "X" next to the "Main U of MN Gopher" entry:
1. About CNR Gopher. 2. Search Directory at CNR gopher <?> (Send keywords in Subject:) 3. About GopherMail (the email -> gopher gateway). ... %< snip snip snip ... %< 13. College of Natural Resources (CNR) Computer Help/ X 14. Main U of MN Gopher/ 15. Other Interesting Gophers/ ... %< snip snip snip %<
Hopefully, this will send you a menu that looks like the University of Minnesota's main Gopher menu that we visited in MAP21. Mail the "marked-up" menu back to the GopherMail server. Eventually you will get the following reply:
%< snip snip snip %< Mail this file back to gopher with an X before the menu items that you want. If you don't mark any items, gopher will send all of them. 1. Information About Gopher/ 2. Computer Information/ 3. Discussion Groups/ 4. Fun & Games/ 5. Internet file server (ftp) sites/ 6. Libraries/ 7. News/ 8. Other Gopher and Information Servers/ 9. Phone Books/ %< snip snip snip %<
YIPPEE!! This menu *IS* like the menu that we used in MAP21!! As a matter of fact, if you put an "X" next to the "Other Gopher and Information Servers" menu entry, GopherMail will send you to the exact same menu that we visited in MAP18 and 20! As a matter of fact, let's go visit the InterNIC ...
Nah ... I wouldn't do that to you again. :)
There are two final things that I want to tell you, and then you can go play with GopherMail:
- To do a Veronica or a Phonebook search using GopherMail, put the keyword in the subject line of the letter that you send back to the GopherMail server;
- You can connect directly to a particular Gopher site by putting that site's address in the "subject" line of your e-mail letter to a GopherMail server. For example, to connect directly to the University of Minnesota's Gopher menu using GopherMail, just type gopher.micro.umn.edu in your subject line!
If you do NOT have regular Gopher access through a client or through Telnet, play around with GopherMail. You may want to get the "help" document by putting the word "help" in the body of your initial letter to a GopherMail server.
Originally written by Patrick Douglas Crispen