I have been having great fun with my new modem. As Paul can testify, I can now send whimsical letters and pictures to any fax machine in the world. And just a few hours ago, Robert became the first Archipelagoan to transmit his Contributions stack by phone!
[Incidentally: THANKS, Robert, for sending the optimization program. It seems to have solved the problem I was experiencing.]
The whole process is quite simple and takes about ten minutes for a typical transit stack. Sending a disk full of gifts would take an hour or more. The modem itself costs $100 and up, depending on its capabilities. If more of you acquire these magical little boxes, we might want to consider setting up an Archipelago Bulletin Board some day.
It might work something like this. Assuming that I have a second telephone line put it, you could call into Command Central any time of the day or night by clicking a special program on your own machine. The program would automatically dial in and verify that you were a member. You would then seem to be back on your desktop (with trash can, folders, etc.) except that a new Command Central folder would appear. To send me your transit stack (or anything else) you would just drag the stack INTO this folder. To receive the latest voice volume or sound club stack or gift folder or whatever, you would just drag it OUT of this folder and on to your hard disk.
We could use the bulletin board for other purposes, like passing files easily from one member to another. It could also serve as a remote archive for ancient voice volumes and other seldom used files. I still have all of the reservations expressed in my "Ebb and Flow" card (see VC 17 John 15), but perhaps some compromise architecture could be worked out that would preserve the volume structure of Archipelago while speeding up the turn-around time.
All of this is possible RIGHT NOW. The one major hitch is money. Each of you would have to buy a modem (although this is probably a good investment anyway). You would also incur substantial long distance phone charges to Canyon Creek (unless we all chipped in for an 800 number, which would probably end up costing more).
Ideally, I would need a dedicated computer, hard disk, and separate phone line. I could probably run the bulletin board in the background on my current machine, but it would be a major nuisance. It would also be possible to do without the separate line, but this would mean that you'd have to call me first and then wait a minute while I set things up and then call again using your modem.
A separate phone line would cost about $200 a year, but if we no longer had to deal with disks and mailers and postage, your current subscription fee would cover more than half of this expense.
Does any of this sound appealing? Do any of you see other advantages or disadvantages? Would it be worth the extra expense?