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alt.galactic-guide FAQ: Project Galactic Guide (PGG) Information

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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Archive-name: galactic-guide/faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly, sorta
Last-Modified: 1995/09/06
Version: II.1.9

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             Project Galactic Guide Frequently Asked Questions

             FAQ     Mk. II    Release 1.9    6 September 1995

This is the Mostly All-New FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) information file
for the Usenet group alt.galactic-guide.  This file is intended to provide
you with answers to your frequently asked questions and is 97% fat-free with
no preservatives or artificial flavours.

1.0  What is the alt.galactic-guide newsgroup?
2.0  Who's in charge around here?
2.1  So who do I send articles to?
3.0  Format of the articles
3.1  Article text do's and don'ts
3.2  Article content and legal stuff
3.3  So where can I get article ideas then?
3.4  The article lifecycle
4.0  The PGG Mothership
4.1  Mothership mirror sites
4.2  Mothership directories
4.3  Other ways to get PGG materials
4.4  Supported computer platforms
4.5  A bug in the TG! software
5.0  World-Wide Web (WWW) sites
6.0  Fully Spammable Marketing Pitch
7.0  Miscellaneous questions

[**] Indicates new stuff (revised and/or added) since the last FAQ release.


1.0  What is the alt.galactic-guide newsgroup?
This newsgroup was created for the sole purpose of allowing uninterrupted
communication between people involved in Project Galactic Guide.  What is
this project, you ask?

It all started back in, oh, November of 1991 in the
newsgroup.  For the uninformed, Douglas Adams is the author of a series
of humourous s/f books centering on the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
In these books, the characters write for and frequently consult a sort of
electronic encyclopedia which has an entry on just about everything.

Paul said, "Hey, why don't we create a REAL guide to the galaxy?" and
everyone else said, "Sounds good, let's do it!".  So, with great fervor
we started working on the skeletal structure of Project Galactic Guide,
although at that time, we often called it "The HitchHiker's Guide the Known

It was originally supposed to be about REAL things (as opposed to made-up
things), but we eventually broke down and decided to incorporate EVERYTHING.
So, now we'll take humorous entries about fictitious things (done in the
Douglas Adams style, of course), and humorous entries about real things
(also done in the Douglas Adams style, of course).


2.0  Who's in charge around here?
Well, not anyone, really.  Er, actually, I suppose there *are* a couple of
froods who tend to have a bit more input about things than others, but
really it's mostly chaotic.  Well, not actually *chaotic* but instead maybe
something a bit more like a good recess.

The aforementioned Paul Clegg is one of PGG's Founding Fathers.  Paul has
since retired from active PGG work, but he still lurks around and can often
be heard rattling his chains at us.  His action figure should be available
for the holiday season (along with the PGG Mothership playset), and he might
still be available via email at:  [**]

Steve Baker helped get the project rolling with his "The Guide!" software
for IBM/MS-DOS machines in the spring of 1992.  He was extremely active as
an Editor, the Librarian, the Mothership Captain, and PGG Spam Minister.
He has since retired to his thoughts and his dreams, but has been known to
lurk newsgroups at all hours.  Write to him at:  [**]

Alexander Lachlan McLintock is the newest PGG Editor, but he's actually
been involved with PGG for a long time.  His articles are numerous (and
often times humourous), his insights are luminous, and his email box is
voluminous.  Please send articles and other words that rhyme with
"numerous" to:

Roel van der Meulen joined the project in the fall of 1993, and is an active
PGG Field Researcher Recruiter (he finds new articles and authors for PGG,
in addition to his own work).  He also maintains the PGG archives contents
file and one of the fine WWW sites.  Roel's Internet email address is:

Jeff Kramer is compiling the "PGG Report," a regular newsletter with lots
of great information about the Project and its activities.  He also admin's
one of the PGG WWW sites.  Jeff is available at:

There's a lot of others out there who have contributed t-shirt designs,
press card information, great ASCII text art, articles, ideas, suggestions,
comments, et al... but to avoid this becoming one of those "Hi folks"-type
things, we'll just leave it at that.

2.1  So who do I send articles to?
Alex seems to be around a whole lot, and he's gotten his shots, so please
feel free to send lots of interesting stuff to him!

To answer the question, however, let's just say that you should send your
articles to one of the PGG Editors:   -- Alex

We also have a fourth editor, Michael Bravo, who handles articles written
in the Russian language.  If you have written an article in Russian, please
send them to Michael (


3.0  Format of the articles
The articles that are accepted are organized by category and compiled in
article "archives."  Each archive file contains 25 accepted Guide entries.
These archives are stored and available for download from the PGG

We've decided upon a simple ASCII text format for the article entries.  The
specs on the format are contained in the "" file.  It's really
pretty simple, with just a few header token-type things that define useful

The fine folks at PGG spent about a year discussing, debating, formulating,
postulating, configuring, finalizing, and neglecting a nifty but complex
text format.  It was complete with crazy text formatting things and lots of
other fun and wonderful features, but it never really caught on.  Oh well.

We're currently investigating the possibilities of porting the article
archives into HTML (HyperText Markup Language) for use with html and WWW
viewers.  For now, however, standard ASCII files are just fine!

3.1  Article text do's and don'ts
Here are some of the guidelines we've established for the contents of PGG
articles.  Please observe these and your friendly neighbourhood editors
will thank you!

1.  Please do NOT use TABS!  They are very troublesome on different
    computer platforms.  When writing, use spaces with a non-proportional
    font like Courier or System.

2.  Please put TWO spaces after each sentence stop (period, exclamation
    mark, etc.)  That's an old standard which we've adopted.

3.  Please check your spelling if possible; authors from around the world
    have new and different words and slang which we may not be aware of.  If
    we can't figure out the word, based on its context we'll figure it's a
    new or foreign word... and that's how typo's slip through the cracks!

4.  Please read some existing articles before writing your own.  You can
    learn a lot about the format and style of the articles by observation!

3.2  Article content and legal stuff
You are welcome to write about anything.  Yes, no matter how bizarre or
crazy, please write about it.  Really.  Anything.

Er, except, we don't want you to regurgitate Adams' material.  Not only is
this very unoriginal, it's also known as plagiarism.  (Unless DNA himself
decides to write it for us!)

In general, please do NOT copy other people's work or ideas.  We don't want
the project stopped because we violated some silly copyright law!

3.3  So where can I get article ideas then?
We have a PGG Idea Bank, chock full of great ideas that beg for exploring.
They're frequently posted to the alt.galactic-guide newsgroup, and all are
available on-line at the Mothership.

When posting an idea, be sure to include your name and email address for
proper credit down the road.  Conversely, when using an idea, just go ahead
and write your article and credit the idea's originator in the header

3.4  The article lifecycle
This describes what your Friendly Neighbourhood PGG Editor does and presents
"a day in the life of an article" so to speak.  Erm, actually, the articles
themselves don't really speak much; that's just an expression, so let's
carry on.

1) A young, up-and-coming comedian/researcher/student/author/human/whatever
   stumbles across, gets hit with, becomes infected by, is arrested in, has
   a good time from, purchases large quantities of, or otherwise comes up
   with a great idea for an article (or consults the Ideabank, which is
   sometimes less painful and/or costly).

   She/he/it/they then write an article about the person/place/thing and
   send the article to an editor via email.  (Please see Section 2.1,
   above, for info on who the editors are and where to send stuff.)

2) The editor send a message back to the author, stating something like:
   "Blah blah, thanks for the article, blah blah blah, I'll edit it for
   format and stuff, blah blah, you'll get it back pretty soon for author
   confirmation, blah blah, give me all your money, etc. etc."

   This message is the author's "receipt" that the editor received the
   article submission.  If you don't get one of these, then the editor
   hasn't received your article yet!

4) The editor edits the article and performs routine grammar and spell-
   checker things on the article.  Note: if the editor thinks that the
   article (1) violates a copyright law, (2) is a copy of other work, or
   (3) is hopelessly lame, the editor may nix the article for good.

5) Assuming that everything is fine with the article, the editor then sends
   it back to the author for "author confirmation."  (This is often times
   abbreviated as A/C.  Humm, if the author and the editor had a Direct
   Connection, would this be AC/DC?  My, it must be getting late...)

6) The author reviews the modified article, and then lets the editor know
   that things are alright.  If the author has additional changes with the
   article, they go back to step one and start over.

7) Once the article is approved, the editor assigns the unique Article ID
   information and sends the article to the PGG Librarian.  The Librarian
   adds the approved article into the article archives and posts the
   article to alt.galactic-guide.


4.0  The PGG Mothership
The Mothership is an Anonymous FTP site where you can download PGG info,
articles, programs, t-shirt images, reports, and other great stuff.  To
get to the PGG Mothership, FTP to the following site:


When you connect, use the "anonymous" user ID and specify your full
Internet email address as the password.

The Mothership is "pub/galactic-guide", which is actually just a link
to "pub/swbaker".  Thus, if you're using an FTP server which doesn't show
the logical links, go into the "swbaker" directory.

NOTE:  When downloading files from the Mothership, be sure you are in
       BINARY mode.  A lot of folks have been sending me email complaining
       of corrupt .ZIP files, etc... it's because they are trying to get
       the binary file in ASCII mode (which is the default, unfortunately).

       You only need to type 'binary' once, but unless you're using a web
       browser like Mosaic, you MUST type this EVERY TIME you connect.

4.1  Mothership directories
The corridors of the Mothership contain many interesting rooms, including:

     This is the place to look for the latest and greatest in articles
     and other important Project Galactic Guide stuff.

     Currently, the following article archive files are on-line, each
     containing up to 25 articles (the current quantity standard):

       REAL01.NEW            "Real" articles (i.e., fact)
       REAL11.NEW  [**]

       SREAL01.NEW           "Semi-real" articles (i.e., muddled reality)

       UREAL01.NEW           "Unreal" articles (i.e., fiction)
       UREAL05.NEW  [**]

     The X Windows Project Galactic Guide article reader system.  In
     this sub-directory are installation files as well as text readme
     information files.

     NOTE: This stuff is the source code which needs to be compiled on
     a unix system which has X, and, most importantly, the Motif widget

     A great addition to PGG lore, this is a scripting system to use
     the AmigaGuide-based system with PGG articles.  Both the binary
     .lha archives and the ASCII uuencoded versions of the .lha files
     can be found in here.

     This is where you will find an article-reader system for the Amiga
     computer systems.  Both the .lha archive and the uuencoded version
     of the .lha file can be found here.

     If you're an Acorn Archimedes user, this directory is for you.
     In this directory you will find your article reader system in the
     ever-popular uuencoded spark file format, ready for transfer.  Enjoy!

     Here's where you'll find all of the article archives in PK-ZIP
     format.  Check out the file 'ARTICLES.ZIP' and you'll be all set!

     pub/galactic-guide/bbs  [**]
     Information about using PGG articles on-line with your BBS system!
     Inside you'll find a handy .ZIP file with all the details.

     Here's where you will find all the general Hitchhiker's Guide fan
     stuff.  Among other goodies are the two Hitchhiker's/Star Trek
     cross-over scripts, .gif pictures, and more!

     In here is the complete ASCII index of every topic from all five
     Hitchhiker's books as well as the Radio Scripts!

     From the makers of the Hitchhiker's Guide Index comes the complete
     index to the Dirk Gently series... and you can find it all here!

     pub/galactic-guide/html  [**]
     A great (but slightly outdated) version of the PGG Article Archives
     converted into HTML format, complete with index and everything!

     Want to write a PGG article, but don't have any ideas?  Check out
     this directory!  In here are a wealth of article concepts and
     thoughts, ready for the picking!

     This directory contains information and illustrations for Project
     Galactic Guide and the T-Shirt design.  Many different ideas and
     images are stored here.  Come and see what we may look like when
     we're "out in the field!"

     pub/galactic-guide/in-box  [**]
     This directory has a whole bunch of PGG articles that had been piling
     up on Steve's side.  He has since created this directory to store
     them all, for future editors to pick up and work with.

     Here are screen shots from the new version 1.3 of MacGuide!

     This directory contains general PGG information files, like the
     alt.galactic-guide Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) file, and info
     on formatting your own text articles for submission to PGG.

     Here it is, the PGG Guide Reader for Macintosh systems!  Yes folks,
     we finally have one after years of waiting, wondering, and hoping!
     Come on in and check it out!

     pub/galactic-guide/pgg2html  [**]
     You want HTML conversion tools?  Well, you got it, buddy!  This here's
     a bunch of stuff to convert PGG articles into HTML.

     pub/galactic-guide/reports  [**]
     Here's the set of all official PGG Reports to-date.  Lots of great
     behind-the-scenes info about Project Galactic Guide!

     This contains another cool Project Galactic Guide system, The Atari
     Guide (TAG!).  The files here are 'stgde101.zoo' (the binary archive
     file containing the programs and documentation) and 'stgde101.zoo.UU'
     (the ASCII uuencoded version of the file).

     The Guide! for DOS is one of the pioneer reader systems of PGG lore.
     Requirements are an IBM-compatable 286/386/486/Pentium system, and
     Ega/Vga color and hard drives are recommended but not required.
     A mouse is supported but is also not required.

     This sub-directory contains The Guide!-specific files, like the
     latest program and executable files, the complete archives pre-
     processed and ready for use (COMPLETE.ZIP), icons for OS/2, and other
     support and dox files.

     This is the sub-directory containing The Unix Guide (TUG!), code,
     dox, and support information.  A new alpha release of TUG! (version
     2.1.1pl1) is available in the /pub/galactic-guide/tug/alpha

4.2  Mothership mirror sites
If having all of the PGG archives, programs, gif files, and other goodies
at one centralized location isn't good enough for you, you may be pleased to
know that it isn't!  That is to say, the stuff is available from more than
one Anonymous FTP site.

The PGG Mothership is mirrored at:


4.3  Other ways to get PGG materials
There's a lot of BBS systems that carry Project Galactic Guide stuff.
Honestly -- I'm positive there's a lot of them... although the FAQ file
doesn't really reflect this.  Yet.  Just give us some time and soon
this list will have a lot of numbers.  Really.

     Area/Region       BBS Name                          Number
     ---------------   ------------------------------    ----------------
     Mass., USA        Sea of Noise                      +1 203 886 1441

In addition, you may contact one of the following hoopy froods who have
volunteered to distribute PGG materials in their local countries.  Please
email them first, since snail mail addresses have been known to change!

     Country           Contact
     ---------------   ------------------------------
     Denmark           Christian Moensted
                       Vilhem Bergsoees Alle 25 A
                       DK- 2860 Soeborg

     Sweden            Henrik O A Barkman
                       Abrahamsbergsv. 68
                       S-161 45  Bromma
                       (email:, Fidonet: 2:201/274)

     United Kingdom    Alex McLintock
                       14 Lynton Avenue
                       St Albans
                       AL1 5PD

                       "UK people can contact me for a copy of the guide
                       for DOS or the Guide for the Acorn Risc machines.
                       Simply send a formatted HD disk, return SAE, and a
                       nice letter.  The 'cost' for this service is that
                       you write an article!"

     United States     PGG Batch Mail Center, Midwest Division
                       c/o Ryan Tucker
                       5055 NE 38th Ave
                       Des Moines, Iowa  50317-8035

                       "I can take anything HD, please supply return
                       postage or your disk will be assimilated, and please
                       try an FTP-Mail server first.  :-)"

4.4  Supported computer platforms
While having the articles themselves is pretty fun, actually being able to
do something with them is even better.  The following computer platforms
are supported with PGG article reader systems:

     o  Acorn Archimedes
        Author contact: Alex McLintock  (

     o  Amiga

     o  Atari ST

     o  IBM/MS-DOS
        Author contact: Steve Baker  (  [**]

     o  Macintosh
        Author contact: Rickard Andersson  (

     o  Unix
        Author contact: Dave Gymer  (

     o  X Windows
        Author contact: David Squire  (

Each of the programs is available in its own subdirectory on the Mothership.
Questions about a particular program's use or functionality should be
directed to the program's author or posted to alt.galactic-guide.

4.5  A bug in the TG! software
Yes, it's an imperfect world.  Sorry.  To add to the chaos, there's an
ever-so-slight little glitch in the TG! software for IBM/MS-DOS.  Yes, it's
true.  The program chokes with a Runtime Error when processing a very small
minority of articles (in fact, only two articles reveal this problem).

The glitch is in Steve's handling of the huffman encoding decryption routine
in the TG! reader program, Guide.EXE.  The two articles are _Lecture Games_
and _Mating Habits of the McBain Initial_.  These fantastic articles have
numerous long ASCII lines and drawings that are throwing off the algorithm a
bit.  Steve plans to fix this problem and add some long overdue enhancements
to the system.

"We apologize for the inconvience."


5.0  World-Wide Web (WWW) sites
For those who can view html documents (including users of Mosaic, Cello,
and WinWeb), there are a number of froody WWW sites:

     Operator:  Roel van der Meulen

     Operator:  Charles Briscoe-Smith

     Operator:  Nick Williams

     Operator:  Jeff Kramer

     Operator:  James Tilton

These all have links to the Article Archives, the PGG Mothership, format
and article information, and many have on-line archive search and article
retrieval capabilities.


6.0  Fully Spammable Marketing Pitch
Please be on the lookout for the following officially-endorsed PGG Spam:

From: (A Tribal Smile)
Subject: PGG General Information and Marketing Pitch
Date: Tue, 2 May 1995 08:45:24 UFO

Greetings from the Mothership!

Project Galactic Guide is dedicated to bringing the highest-quality articles
and information to the intergalactic hitchhiker.  Well, we're dedicated to
bringing fine articles to the Earth-bound hitchhiker.  Er, actually, we're
dedicated to mostly harmless stuff for those who bother to read it.  Um, now
that I think about it, we're dedicated to, well, sometimes producing a few
articles, but mostly we bicker about new PGG article formats.

Anyway, YOU too can participate!  Yes, you can be a part of the project
mentioned in Wired magazine!  Be the envy of your friends and family!  Secure
riches and fortunes for generations to come!  Actually have something to do
on Friday nites!

Here's a testimonial from one of our rabid PGG supporters (you may have seen
his frequent posts to numerous Usenet newsgroups):

Hello, my name is David Rhodes.

In the spring of 1988, I was homeless, the repo man just had taken my 1972
Vega, and I was a destitute bum.  Now I roll in riches and can buy anything
I want.  Now that I'm involved with PGG my life has turned around!

My friends and family adore me and I shower them in gifts.  I now dine with
legends like Tom Vu (the intergalactic no-money-down real estate genius) and
Dionne Warwick (spokesmodel for the Psychic Friends Network).  I always have
front-row tickets to Wayne Newton and the annual "Elvis-o-rama."

You too can share in this fabulous life of luxury and pleasure!  Just write
*one* PGG article and forward it on to *five* friends.  Have each friend
write one PGG article and forward them on to five of *their* friends.  Soon
you will have 50,000 PGG articles!!

Well, there you have it!  PGG can give you the pleasure and joy you've
always dreamed of!  Start writing articles, and the rest, as they say, is

The PGG Mothership is an Anonymous FTP site where Project Galactic Guide
materials are stored.  Programs for IBM, Mac, Amiga, Unix, Acorn, Atari,
and others are *free*!  Be sure you're in Binary mode and connect to:

All of the PGG articles, t-shirt images, reports, and Douglas Adams-related
fan materials are free for your profuse enjoyment!  Share and Enjoy!!

Your sincere and humble friend,

"Not only am I the Editor, I'm also a client."


7.0  Miscellaneous questions
Q:  What's with 42, who is Douglas Adams, and why should I carry a towel?
A:  Please see the Usenet group; the a.f.d-a FAQ has
    answers to all of these questions and more!

Q:  How can I get a PGG Press Card?
A:  As soon as they're finished, you'll be able to get an Official PGG
    Press Card from Jason Kohles (

Q:  What good are the PGG Press Cards?
A:  They may actually get you in some places, and besides they look cool.
    There's an article on what to do with your Press Card; check it out!

Q:  What's up with the PGG t-shirts?
A:  Among others, Stephane Lussier ( has come
    up with some great graphics and motif ideas for the Official PGG
    t-shirt.  They're available for review on the Mothership.  As soon as
    we decide on how the shirts will look, and as soon as someone makes
    the shirts, then you'll be able to order them!  For more information,
    just follow the t-shirt threads on alt.galactic-guide.

Q:  Do you need more editors?
A:  Not really.  Alex has now joined the ranks of Editordom, and now we're
    pretty much all set.  Thanks for asking, however!  If you really want
    to help the project, we can always use more researchers, reporters,
    and recruiters!

Q:  Is there a Macintosh Guide Reader?
A:  YES!  Please see Section 4.4, above.

Q:  Is there a Microsoft Windows-based Guide Reader?  [**]
A:  Sorta.  It was being developed.  Under construction.  Something like
    that.  But if you'd like to start writing one, we're definately in need
    of something other than vaporware!

Q:  Can I submit an article in HTML format?
A:  No, not yet.  But we are thinking about it.
    Contact ( if you think you have a need for
    HTML.  But for now use the same format as in the posted approved

Q:  Can I get the whole guide in HTML format?
A:  Well now you can!  Martin Vorlander took some of Alex's code and
    improved it greatly.  The aim is to provide programs which take the
    current PGG format and re-write as lots of HTML files - fully indexed
    and cross-referenced.  This does not need a net link but it does need
    some kind of HTML browser on your machine.  Please email Martin
    ( for more info.

Q:  There aren't many pictures in the Guide, are there?
A:  No, but this is mainly due to the problem of making them portable.
    If you have some pictures which you think are suitable then contact
    one of the editors with details.  We can discuss formats and so on

Q:  Is this the end of the PGG FAQ?
A:  Yes.

Q:  Really?
A:  I mean it this time.

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM