Last-modified: 9 Feb 1998
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** Periodic posting of this message will cease after January 2003 **
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1) Introduction To The Archive Files
2) How You Can Help
3) Computer Technical Details (HOW CAN I GET THE FILES?)
4) Indexing Files
5) See Also
6) Where To Report Bugs
8) Planned Changes
9) What's Changed (since the last version)
To find the beginning of section 5 search for a line beginning with
`5)', there will be only one.
Subject: Introduction to the archive files
1) The alt.backrubs archive is my own collection of postings from the
Although the archive is chock full of interesting and informative
postings I can't guarantee that anyone will find what they want there. I
saved these posts because I was interested in them. I haven't even saved
all the postings about topics I'm interested in (although I collected
everything informative between about November 1991 and November 1996). I
haven't saved anything about the old backrubs exchange programme and little
from the seemingly endless arguments about sex and massage. There are
entries about the new backrubs exchange programme in the frequently asked
questions list (with answers) which is posted to alt.backrubs every two
The archive is not complete because there have been times when I
could not read the group. My site didn't receive alt.backrubs for the
first few months of 1991, and other connections weren't terribly reliable.
There is a record of a newsgroup creation message for alt.backrubs from
February 1991. As well, two posters recall the group existing before 1991.
The archive was opened to the public in December 1992. I was
trying collect all the informative articles since about November 1991. In
November 1995, the size of the task and of other commitments forced me to
stop actively archiving posts. Until early November 1996 I was collecting
everything posted to the group but major archive updates were sporadic. As
of early November 1996 I have ceased because my main alt.backrubs newsfeed
was cut off for reasons beyond my control. If you see something in
alt.backrubs that you think should be in the archive then send it to me by
Subject: How You Can Help
2) I will appreciate receiving by e-mail copies of the few articles
that readers believe must appear in the archive. I have asked for the
exchange list to be mailed to me when it is posted so that the
exchange.update file can be kept current.
Please send me mail if you find something wrong with the files or
if you know of a different site where I could keep the files. I welcome
all constructive criticism.
Subject: Computer Technical Details
3) Copies of the alt.backrubs archive are kept at four anonymous FTP
sites. The main site is ftp.csd.UWO.ca. Mirror images of the archive are
kept at SunSite USA (Sunsite.UNC.edu), SunSite Japan (sunsite.sut.ac.jp),
and Lysator (lysator.liu.se). Information about the FTP sites is
summarized in the chart below. For information about FTP consult the
section entitled `See Also'.
Special If you send e-mail to email@example.com you will be
Instructions: sent information about how to use the many services
Located in: North Carolina, USA (GMT -5)
Located in: Tokyo, Japan (GMT +19)
Contact: ISG@sut.ac.jp or
Located in: Link\"oping, Sweden (GMT +1)
Special * Please connect during off-peak hours (between 7pm and
Instructions: 7am). The server is in the Eastern timezone which is
5 hours behind GMT during standard time.
* Read about the special access features (including
automatic uncompression) in the pub/README file.
Located in: Ontario, Canada (GMT -5)
Most of the files in the archive have been encoded by the Free
Software Foundations GNU product gzip. The compressed files all have `.gz'
at the end of their names. These files cannot be read normally without
first being decoded. These files are smaller so they take less storage
space and can be transferred over networks faster. All FTP sites (and FTP
mailservers) provide a way to transfer the compressed files. Some FTP
sites provide a method to decode files as they are being sent,
ftp.csd.uwo.ca is one such site. For information about the automatic
decompression feature at the ftp.csd.uwo.ca site read the file
~ftp/pub/README at that site -- the file is only at that site because the
file is not part of the alt.backrubs archive.
If you want to transfer the (smaller) compressed versions of the
files to your site, for decoding, the transfer must be in binary form and
you'll need gunzip or a similar program to read the files. The file
`00README' in the archive contains information about where you can obtain
the program. It is the only file in the archive that is not compressed or
solely for indexing.
The files are in mailbox format (so you can read them as ordinary
text files or use any standard mail reader to treat them as a list of mail
messages). See the section entitled `See Also' for pointers to information
about FTP and FTP-by-mail.
There is World Wide Web access to the archive at the following
Mirror in USA
Mirror in Japan
Mirror in Sweden
Main site in Canada
When you connect you can read the category list (Archive.Index) and
follow links from the files listed there to their descriptions in the
Abstracts list. From the Abstracts list you can go right to the compressed
files. Those users with browsers that automatically uncompress files for
reading (it's very easy to do, I'm surprised more browsers don't do this
yet) will be able to read the files directly.
If you see something wrong with any part of the WWW interface
please send me (firstname.lastname@example.org) a note with the details.
This post is automagically posted, every 30 days to alt.backrubs,
and alt.answers by the MIT faqserver. Hopefully soon, it will be posted
every 10 days to alt.backrubs as it used to be.
Significant change to the archive may also be announced in
comp.archives. Postings to comp.archives may be duplicated in alt.answers
and news.answers but will not be cross-posted as this causes problems at
the MIT archive.
Subject: Indexing Files
4) I have tried to use short descriptive filenames. However the
subjects of many files overlap so I've included some files, with `->' in
their names, just to help users find the files they are interested in.
There is a category list is in the file `Archive.Index'. All the
files that have `->' in their name are for indexing only. The file
`Abstracts' contains a brief description of every file in the archive. I
use it to determine where to put postings.
I plan to change the filename from Archive.Index to Categories once
Lorre Smith's index of the archive (see Subject 8, below) is integrated
into the archive. The WWW interface already includes a Categories.html
Subject: See Also
5) The alt.backrubs FAQL (frequently asked questions list with
answers) is posted every 14 days to alt.backrubs, news.answers and
alt.answers. It contains lots of useful information. You can retrieve the
FAQL using Anonymous FTP from the rtfm.mit.edu site (it is in the directory
`pub/usenet/news.answers/backrubs'). Hopefully, we will soon return to
If you don't know what Anonymous FTP is then I suggest you read the
article entitled `Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Usenet' that
is regularly posted to the news.announce.newusers and news.answers
newsgroups. For more information about Anonymous FTP or how to retrieve
files from FTP sites using only a mailserver see the Anonymous FTP FAQL (see
below). The file `00README' in the archive contains some information about
programs to reverse compression for Apple Macintosh computers.
The Anonymous FTP FAQL is posted regularly to the following 8
newsgroups: alt.sources.wanted, comp.archives, comp.archives.admin,
comp.sources.wanted, news.newusers.questions, alt.answers, comp.answers,
and news.answers. It is also stored in the rtfm.mit.edu FTP site in file
Using a mailserver to retrieve compressed files from the archive
(all the files, except the zero length ones and `00README', are compressed)
will probably require the use of another decoding program (atob or
uudecode). Both programs are widely available and almost certainly
installed at any multiuser site. FTP mailservers might be able to use the
automatic uncompress feature at the UWO site. I haven't tried it so I
can't say for sure. The mailservers are intended for people who cannot use
an interactive FTP program. So the mailservers can continue to provide
that service, you should use them only if you cannot use another method.
If your only access to the 'net is by mail then you will likely be
interested in `Doctor Bob's Guide to Offline Internet Access'. That guide
is posted regularly to the following 8 newsgroups: alt.internet.services,
alt.online-service, alt.bbs.internet, alt.answers, comp.mail.misc,
comp.answers, news.newusers.questions, news.answers with Subject `Accessing
the Internet by E-Mail FAQ'. It is also stored in the rtfm.mit.edu FTP
site in file `pub/usenet/news.answers/internet-services/access-via-email'.
Subject: `The simplest way to put it, Doc: I've got problems.'
6) If you find something wrong with the archive, or have suggestions
about how to improve it, please send mail to email@example.com. Check out
Subject 8 for information about what changes are planned.
If you are having trouble with the UWO FTP site please send mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org. If I can't solve the problem then I will pass the
information on to the site's FTP administrator. If I don't reply to your
mail within five days I haven't received it.
7) The archive would not be possible without the permission of the
head of sysgrp at uwocsd. Thanks, Dave. Thanks as well to Jonathan Magid,
Devendra Narayan, and Martin Stjernholm for mirroring the archive.
Thanks as well to all those who post interesting, informative and
stimulating articles to alt.backrubs. It's because of you that there is
anything I find worth preserving in the archive.
I must not forget to thank those who have taken the time to point
out errors in and make suggestions about this post and the archive. I'm
grateful for your advice and interest.
Those of you reading this post in news.answers or alt.answers
should also be grateful to the news.answers moderation team and others at
MIT who make that archive function so smoothly.
If you're reading this with a WWW browser and the formatting is a
mess or you hate the navigational links, don't blame me. I didn't write
the brain dead robot that butchered (er, deconstructed :)) the text.
Subject: What's planned
Lorre Smith, a senior professional librarian, is preparing a
comprehensive index to all files in the archive. I have a first draft of
the index now (Aug 1996).
Subject: What's New
Since 8 Feb 1998:
The archive is now mirrored in Sweden too. I corrected some of the
dates (the FAQL is posted every 14 days). I added some text to make it
clearer that I welcome suggestions of articles to update the archive with.
J. Blustein <email@example.com>
A donkey laden with books is neither an intellectual
nor a wiseman. For it is said: `however much one
studies, one cannot know without action.'
The Wicked Kubla Kubla in _The Fourth Tower of
Inverness_ by Meatball Fulton
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Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer:
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