compiled by Grover Furr

updated 1/19/99

INDEX for this manual. From here you can jump, with Hyperlinks, to any part of the manual you want.

1. Printing out this manual

2. Logging onto Alpha for the first time.

3. How To Redraw the Screen.

4. Setting Up Your Editor.

5. Installing the 'WIPS' Editor.

6. Some Commands for your New 'WIPS' Editor.

7. Changing Your Alpha Password.

8. Telnet -- the Best Way to Connect To Alpha from Home.

9. Setting Up and Customizing Your Mailer.

10. Mail -- All You Need To Know (Setting Up, Mailing, Deleting, Forwarding, etc.)

11. How To Create Files.

12. Mailing a File from the $ (VMS) Prompt.

13. Uploading A File To Your Alpha Account -- the Best Way, and Two Other Ways.

14. Reformatting your ASCII Text in a File on Alpha.

15. Creating Distribution Lists for Easy Mailing.

16. Creating and Using Subdirectories on Alpha.

17. Connecting To Libraries Through Alpha.

18. Shorthand Commands -- Creating and Using .COM Files.

19. Some Books on VMS, The Internet, etc.

20. A Few 'Advanced' Features (very handy!).

21. "Split Screen" -- Viewing and Editing Two Parts of One File, or Two Different Files, at the Same Time.

22. 'LYNX' -- the Text-Only WorldWide Web Browser on Alpha.

23. Usenet Newsgroups on Alpha with the ANU Newsreader.


This is a manual for Alpha. If you know what is in it, you'll be able to network with your classes, and get on Internet for research and other purposes.


I'd like to point out that Dr David Stuehler of the English Department has put much of this manual, as well as manuals for how to use LYNX, the text-only WWW browser on Alpha, and ANU News, the Alpha newsreader, in an easy-to-use format. His shortened ver sion of this Alpha Manual is especially easy to use.

Links to ALL Dr Stuehler's helps may be found here

And here are specific links to each of Dr Stuehler's helps:.

Going to these sites may save you the trouble of looking through this longer manual. Please check them out!

Thank you, Dr Stuehler!

If you get this manual as an e-mail message on your Alpha account, you can print it out from mail, or make a file out of it and use it from your main VMS directory (the $ prompt).



Open it (i.e. be in the act of reading it), and type 'p' at the MAIL> prompt. When you exit mail, it will be printed on your default printer. If you have never set a default printer, follow these directions:

  1. Get into MAIL by typing 'mail' at the $ prompt:

    $ mail
    , then press the "Enter" key.

  2. At the MAIL> prompt, do the following:

    MAIL> set queue B336$PRINT

    or whatever the printer 'queue' name is for the networked printer you want to use regularly. The one in the English Department is ENGL$PRINT; in the Psychology Department office, PSYC$PRINT; in the first floor copy room, B131$PRINT. The printer in the 3rd floor copy room is B336$PRINT.

    There are many other printers, too. If you want to print in a computer lab, first ask the Lab Attendant what the "queue" address for the networked printer in that lab is.

    If you get confused, check the on-line help. At the MAIL> prompt, type HELP SET QUEUE and see the Examples.


    Let's agree to call it "manual.txt." Open it (you must have done so to be reading this), and, at the MAIL> prompt, type 'extract/noheader manual.txt' and press the Enter key. Like this:

    MAIL> extract/noheader manual.txt [E]

    You'll be prompted that the file MANUAL.TXT;1 has been created in your main directory. You can also consult HELP EXTRACT at the MAIL> prompt.


    At the $ prompt, do this:

    $ print/queue=B336$PRINT manual.txt [E]

    Replace B336$PRINT with any other printer 'queue' name you wish to print the manual on. Make sure the printer is turned ON first, though, and that it has paper in it! You can also check HELP PRINT from the $ prompt.


    You can do this in at least two ways.

    1. if you have the manual in your "root directory" -- at the $ prompt in your Alpha account, either:
      1. At the $ prompt, type 'type/page manual.txt' and press Enter, like this:

        $ type/page manual.txt [E]

        The file will appear one screen at a time. To exit before reading it to the end, hold down the Control key while pressing 'c' (in shorthand, ^C).


      2. You can use the 'edit' function, one you have installed your editor (see the manual for how to do this). The WPS editor has a 'find' function. Using it, you can search for key words in the manual.
    2. If you are using this manual on the WorldWide Web, you can use the "search" function for your Web browser.
      • with LYNX -- the text-only browser you have on your Alpha account, the "search" key is /. Press / and enter the word you want to search for.
      • with NetScape -- the graphical browser in all the MSU Computer Labs, and the one most commonly provided with commercial Internet accounts, the "search" key is Control -F, commonly abbreviated as ^F.

    Once your editor has been installed, enter the file with the editor:

    $ edit manual.txt [E]

    Now, invoke the 'Command' function by pressing GOLD and then the 'open-bracket', or '[' key. The GOLD key is the first function key, or F1, on many PC keyboards (but not on all). The word 'Command' will appear at the bottom of the screen. Now, type 'find' followed by whatever word or text string you want to search for. If you want to find the part of the manual that deals with FTP, type

    Command: find ftp [E]

    and the cursor will find 'ftp', so you can read this section.

If you are using the manual in the editor, be careful not to change anything. But if you accidentally do press some keys, don't worry; it won't change anything when you exit.

When you've finished using the manual this way, type GOLD K to exit. This will leave the manual exactly the way you first accessed it, without saving any changes you may have accidentally made while consulting it.

I'd like to acknowledge the extensive help I've received by the following people:

Minto Gill, Jim Myers, Bob Whitney, Dave Stuehler, Dave Benfield, Marie Cardella, Susana Sotillo, Adele McCollum, Rhoda Unger; Dave Miller of Bemidji (MN) State University, Chuck Lowery of Digital Equipment Corporation/ Pittsfield MA. I'd like to express my special thanks to Laura Kramer and Larry Schwartz who read a draft and made extensive corrections, suggestions and improvements. Whatever problems remain with the manual are my fault alone.

Please email me with any criticisms or suggested improvements.

PLEASE DISTRIBUTE FREELY TO OTHER FACULTY AND, ESPECIALLY, TO STUDENTS! That's what it's for. I reserve only the screenplay rights. Watch for the hit movie "Alpha: The Manual."

Grover Furr, English Dept.


Once you have your account and temporary password, have a lab assistant or someone who knows show you how to log onto Alpha.

When prompted for your name, type your Account Name and hit ENTER [E].

Type your password where prompted and again type ENTER Assuming you've typed it correctly, you'll be prompted that your 'password has expired' and you must choose a new one.

Choose a password that is between 6 and 32 characters long, and that includes either letters or numbers or a combination of them. Then, type it where prompted and press the ENTER key. You'll have to type it once more, to be sure you haven't made a typo.

The VAX will then check all the passwords used by all the Alpha users during the past two years. If it finds no match, your password is OK. Write it down. You'll have to change it every month or so. If the VAX does find a match, you'll have to choose another one.

Now, you're on!


Before we get under way, remember one command: CONTROL-W REDRAWS THE SCREEN

You can "redraw" the screen by holding down the control key and pressing the W key at the same time (the abbreviation for this is Control-W, CTRL-W, or ^W).

You have to redraw the screen often on Alpha, because unintended electrical signals cause the screen to appear other than it really 'is'. Even the cursor can appear to be in a position other than where it really is. Use Control-W frequently, to make sure everything is the way it should be.


This is the name of the operating system used by the VAX. You'll use MAIL commands; editor commands; and VMS commands.


In all cases, the commands may be given in either capital letters or lower-case letters. This is the same in the MS-DOS operating system for PCs, which you may be familiar with.


Now you'll customize your account so that you can send and receive mail, and have a decent word processing program, called an "editor," for creating texts.

First you'll change your LOGIN.COM file to get the right editor. The VMS operating system checks the LOGIN.COM file every time you log in.

At the $ prompt, type 'edit' (without the ' ', of course), like this:

$ edit [E]

* note: [E] always means "press the ENTER key"

If you see one line, and then an asterisk * , then type the letter 'c', and press ENTER. Like this:

* c [E]

But you may have been given a "full screen editor" to begin with -- it seems to vary from year to year.

Now you can see your whole LOGIN.COM file, probably just 5 or 6 lines. Use the arrow keys to go to the end of the file. At the left margin, type these two lines:

$ edit :== edit/tpu [E]
$ mail :== mail/edit

The exact number of spaces between the last letter of the word and the "colon-equals-equals" is not important.

Now look to see whether you have a command in your LOGIN.COM file that says 'EXIT'. If you find a line that says
make sure that that line is the VERY LAST LINE IN YOUR FILE.

This line tells VMS to "exit" the file as soon as the line is read. So, if you put any commands after this line, they will not be read or executed by VMS.

Whatever changes and additions you make to your LOGIN.COM file in the future, make sure that the EXIT command is always at the END of your file.

Now press the Control key (abbreviated ^) and then the 'Z' key (^Z). You may see an asterisk again. If so, at the asterisk, type 'exit', followed by ENTER:

* exit [E]

Now you're at the $ prompt again. Type 'type', like this:

$ type [E]

Your new LOGIN.COM file will appear on screen. Check to make sure you have typed the two new lines exactly as above.


Now you're going to install a powerful editor. It uses most of the keystrokes used by the WPS+ word processor and mailer on ALLIN1. If you know that, you'll have no trouble with this one. If not, don't worry -- we'll be covering the basics in a few pages. Let's call it the "WIPS" editor. Type this:

$ edit eve$init.eve [E]

, and press C [E]

at the asterisk, if you get one. You should get a blank screen with [EOB] below your cursor.

Type three lines into this file:

set keypad wps [E]
set right margin 65 [E]
set paragraph indent 5

Now press ^Z and type 'exit' at the asterisk (again, if you get one). Once again,

$ type eve$init.eve [E]

to make sure your lines are in this file.

Now you have the WIPS editor! More accurately, you ALMOST have it. Your account is still operating under the old, unedited file which it read when you logged on. You have to tell it to execute your NEW, improved file. Of course, you can log off the system and then log back in. Or, you can do this:

$ @login [E]

Using the @, or 'at' sign -- the one you get by holding down the 'Shift' key while pressing the '2' key above the keyboard at the same time -- in this way, tells VMS to execute a file with a .COM extension. This command is useful in other ways, and we'll return to it later in the manual.

NOW you have the WIPS editor! Finally!

NOTE: I suggest a right margin of '65' because the default right margin (79) makes the ends of words drop off when a file is printed on our networked printers. A right margin of 70 would still fit the page, but 65 leaves a nice right-hand margin for any notes and comments you might like to make. A paragraph indent of 5 also looks good.


Now, when you edit, your system will prompt you (at the bottom of the screen) that it is executing the instructions in your EVE$INIT.EVE file. You have WPS emulation.

Here are some (of the commands you will now have. Many of them work with a GOLD key. On keyboards that actually HAVE a gold key, it is that key. On many PC keyboards, GOLD = F1 (the first function key).

I like this command, because I've created a SIG[NATURE] file with my name, address, and so on, which I can now insert into my MAIL messages by hitting F1 G and GETting my file [FURRG]SIG. I'll do it now:

Grover C. Furr

English Department | Phone: (201) 655-7305
Montclair State University | email:
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043 |

There are a lot of other neat uses for Gold G. I used it for this manual -- to string a whole series of files I created separately together into one long file.

More commands:

Other useful commands you'll use commonly with this 'WIPS' editor:

When you want to write directly on Alpha, I think this is the best editor. Try it!

'HELP' (GOLD H) is very good. Try it! Once you get used to this 'WIPS' editor, you'll use it more and more to create, edit, re-edit, etc., texts directly on Alpha.



Every month or so you have to change your password for security reasons. It's VERY easy! Here's how you do it:

At the VMS ('$') prompt, type: 'set password', like this:

$ set password <E>

You will get the prompt:

$ Old password:

Here you enter your current password. Then, another prompt:

$ New password:

Here you enter a new password. It has to be between 6 and 32letters, numbers or symbols. Caps and small letters are notdistinguished from each other. Also, it has to be a password that hasnot been used by anyone on the whole MSU VMS system for the past two years! Do NOT pick your name; your boy/girlfriend's name; your licenceplate, room number, birthday, or anything that might be easilyguessed, please!

You will get a final prompt:

$ Verification:

Type your new password in again. This "verification" makes sureyou didn't make a typo the first or second time.

Congratulations! you have successfully changed your password!



If you have MS Windows 95 or 98, you already have a program called "Hypererminal" in the "Accessories" Program Group. (On the older Windows 3.1 or 3.11, it was called "Terminal", but worked about the same way). You can use it as a communications program to dial in to ALPHA -- provided you have a modem and phone line, of course!

Even if you have an Internet Service Provider (ISP) like AOL, NJI, IDT, ATT, NetCom, etc., you might still want to be able to get directly into your Alpha account -- for example, to use LYNX.

Here's how to do it:

From the Windows Program Manager, click on the "Accessories" Program Group, and then on "Terminal". You get a blank screen with some commands at the top of the page:

File Edit Settings Phone Transfers Help

Click on "Settings". You'll see a list of 8 kinds of settings. Here's what to do.

  1. Click on "Phone Number". Enter "655-7580". Click on OK.
  2. Click on "Terminal Emulation". Set it to VT100 [VT200 if you have it]. "OK".
  3. "Terminal Preferences" -- VERY IMPORTANT!!! At the bottom of this box UNCHECK the box marked "Use Function, Arrow and Control Keys for Windows". Repeat: make sure this is UNMARKED.

    This way your function, arrow and control key commands will be used on Alpha. They will NOT be sent to Windows. This means you can use your WPS editor. If this box is checked, you won't be able to -- because Alpha will never receive these commands.

    Leave the rest of the settings as is, and click "OK".

  4. "Function Keys" -- ignore this.
  5. "Text Transfer" -- set "Standard Flow Control", then "OK".
  6. "Binary Transfers" -- select "Kermit", then "OK".
  7. Communications: careful here. Set Baud Rate 19200; Data Bits 8, Stop Bits 1, Parity None, Flow Control Xon/Xoff.

    MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT 'COM' PORT SELECTED. It's usually COM2 or COM1, but mine is COM3.

    When you try to dial later on, if you don't get any dial tone, it's most likely because you selected the wrong COM port. Go back and try another one til you get it right.

  8. "Modem Commands" - leave as is for now; the default settings worked fine with my Hayes Compatible modem, much to my surprise.

Now, go to the "File" pulldown menu; select "Save As", and name your file "Alpha1.trm". This is the file you will want to "Open" from the "File" pulldown menu when you want to dial out.

Now, try dialing out by clicking on "Phone" and then "Dial". If you have any problems, check (1) your COM port (#7, above); (2) your modem "Originate" string (see "Modem Commands" above). In your modem manual this is sometimes called "initialization string". But it's probably OK, since it should have been stored correctly when you installed your modem.

Now you have a file called "Alpha1.trm". But it only works with the one phone number: 655-7580. There are two other phone numbers you can use to dial in to Alpha and you should make a file for each of them. Do it this way:

Open file "Alpha1.trm" at the File/Open command. Now, change the "Phone Number" in your "Settings" pulldown menu to 655-7581. Then, go to File/Save As, and save this as "Alpha2.trm".

What you just did is to create a second file, identical to the first, except that the phone number is different. All the other settings are the same.

Do the same thing again, for another phone number: 1-800-624-7781. This is a toll-free number that only works from Northern NJ, but can save you toll calls if you are not in the local calling area for MSU. It's often busy, naturally. Name this file "Alpha800.trm" or something like that.

Now you have three files. Open whichever one you want to use, click on Phone/Dial, and off you go!

One caution: on my computer, the $ prompt opens up in the middle of the "login" text (called MOTD, or "message of the day" text). Never mind: just type "mail" or "dir", or "lynx", or whatever you want to do, and the screen will clear.

Good luck!


Unfortunately, many of these commands will not work, or will not work all the time, when you try to use them when you're connected to the VAX with a modem (e.g., from home). But many, and the most important ones, will. If you have a bad connection, log off and try again.


If you have an Internet Service Provider (ISP), you can use "Telnet", one of the six basic Internet facilities, to connect to Alpha from home (or from anywhere you can "get on the Internet").

Here is the detailed information for downloading and installing NetTerm, a very good and popular Telnet client (client = a program that is on your computer and is used to connect with another, 'remote' or "server" computer).


Type 'mail' at the $ prompt:

$ mail


Now you'll get the mail prompt: MAIL> All work will be done from this prompt. Do this:

MAIL> show alL [E]

You will get a list of settings for your mailer. We'll set some of them. Also, you can always use the mail 'help' facility by typing HELP at the MAIL> prompt.

Do the following operations:

MAIL> set personal_name yourfirstname yourlastname [E]

For example, if your name is "Betty Forsythe", you'd do this:

MAIL>set personal_name "Betty Forsythe" [E]

NOTE: You need to use the quotation marks in VMS whenever you have more than one word in a title, subject, or modifier, as here.

Now, your name will show up on the header of all your messages, along with your "account name", which may be your last name, an abbreviation, or a series of letters and numbers that won't help anyone identify you at all!

'Show all' should have revealed that your editor was TPU. If it wasn't, do

MAIL> set editor tpu [E]

This will get your the same WIPS editor you have at the $ (VMS) prompt.

MAIL> set copy_self send,reply [E]

This sends a copy of any message you create to yourself, so you have a record of it.

IF you have a 'networked' printer (a printer wired to the VAX) that you want to print mail messages to, you can do this:

MAIL> set queue queuename [E]

where 'queuename' is a printer like B336$PRINT, the printer in Room B336.

MAIL> set wastebasket_name wb (E>

Your deleted mail goes into a folder called WASTEBASKET. If you decide to retrieve something you have deleted, you have to 'set folder wastebasket'. To avoid typing this long word, just set the name to something short, like "wb", or anything else you want.

That's it! There are other defaults you can change, too (like the one to get a .cc prompt on your mail messages). Try the HELP SET-SHOW and subheadings to see how they work.


Here are the basic commands you need to know to use e-mail. All are from the MAIL> prompt, which you get when you type 'mail' at the $ prompt.

1. SENDING MAIL. Type 'send' or 's'

MAIL> send (or simply 's') [E]

This gets you:

TO: (type the address here) [E]
Subject: (put a subject here) [E]

Now you can type your message. Remember to use the commands of the 'WIPS' editor. Gold-F saves AND sends your message. Unlike ALLIN1, you can't just save the message without sending it.

2. READING MAIL. Type 'dir'

MAIL> dir [E]

gets you a directory of your NEWMAIL folder, if you have any new messages. If you don't, it will give you a directory of your MAIL folder. These, and WASTEBASKET, are the "default" folders -- those the system automatically provides you with.

To read your messages in the order received (which is the order listed in the directory), just keep pressing [E]. To read a specific message, type that message's number and then press [E].


Once you have read a message, it is put automatically into your MAIL folder (unless you've deleted it, in which case it's put into your WASTEBASKET folder).

You can MOVE messages into new folders. You do this by first reading a message and, while reading it, using this command:

MAIL> move Foldername [E]

, where Foldername is the name of any folder you want to create. If you want to save all your mail messages about your course on Marxism in a special folder, you'd type, while reading such a message,

MAIL> move shakespeare [E]

To access a given folder, whether NEWMAIL or MAIL or WASTEBASKET (which you automatically have when you get your account) or any other folder you have created, use this command:

MAIL> set folder Foldername [E]

You may also use the abbreviation, "set fol", or "select", like this:

MAIL> set fol Foldername [E]

or MAIL> sel Foldername [E]

I always use the last; it's shorter.

The foldername is always at the upper right corner of your screen. Now you can get a DIRectory again and see what you have.

To get a list of all the folders you have created, do

MAIL> dir/folders [E]

If you have a lot of them, you'll want to press the 'Pause' button before they all scroll off the screen.


There are two ways to do this.

For example,
MAIL> d [E] (while reading a message)
MAIL> d 1,4-7,19-23 [E] (anytime while in a folder).


There are, once again, several ways to do this:

Finally, you can also mail a file from the $ (VMS) prompt using the following syntax:

$ mail/subj=Subject filename.extension Username

The "subject" field must be enclosed in quotation marks IF it is longer than one word (which it normally is).

The "Username" field must be enclosed in quotation marks IF it contains any non-alphanumeric characters (characters other than a letter or number). This includes Internet addresses; the '@' for distribution lists, and so on. So:

$ mail/subj="Here's my essay!" myessay.asc; "in%""

$ mail/subj="Yet another example";3 "@histclass" , where there is a higher version (4 or higher) of, and where you are mailing to a distribution list named 'histclass.dis'.


You will often want to make a file (at the $ prompt) from a mail message, so you can edit it; save it; and then print it, send it on again, etc. To do this, you EXTRACT the mail message. While reading the message, do this:

MAIL> extract Filename [E]

where 'Filename' is a name you wish to give to the new file.

Usually you will type

MAIL> extract/noheader filename [E]

as this will omit the 'mailer' header, which can be quite long and you will usually not want in your file.


To reply to a message you're reading, type 'r':

MAIL> r [E]

This will get you the address of the sender, plus the same subject line with a RE: in front of it. If you want to change the subject line, type

MAIL> r/subj [E]

and you can choose your own subject line.

If you want to 'quote' from the message you are replying to, type

MAIL> r/extr (E)

and the entire message, header and all, will be reproduced in your answer. You can then edit it and just leave the parts you want to 'quote.'


TO: in%"address" [E]

, where address is a fully-qualified Internet address. So, to send a letter to my friend Fred Jones at (a commercial Internet access provider), I type


TO: in%""


To forward your Alpha mail, so you can receive it all at another email address, do this:

MAIL> SET FORWARD in%""""""    [E]

'' is the new email address to which you want your Alpha mail forwarded.

Remember: three sets of double quotation marks! Don't be afraid -- it works!

To remove the mail forwarding and resume reading your mail on Alpha, use the command



Do this:

MAIL> set mail_dir [.mymail] [E]

(NOTE: This sets a special directory for your MAIL 'housekeeping' files. If you do this, you'll never see them (you'll see something called MYMAIL.DIR;1 when you type 'dir' at the $ prompt; that's all). If you don't, soon your VMS directory will have hundreds of long, long items beginning with MAIL....., and this will be very annoying.)


To create a file, at the $ prompt type 'edit' plus the name you wish to give to your file:

$ edit Filename [E]

Messages at the bottom of the screen will tell you that the VMS system "could not find file Filename" (of course not, you haven't created it yet), and that it is executing commands in the EVE$INIT.EVE initialization file you have created. Finally you will get the following highlighted messages at the bottom of your screen:

Buffer: Filename | Write | Insert | Forward

and the cursor will move to the top left of your screen. Now the editor is ready, and you can type.

Create your file, using the WIPS editing commands when you need them.


When you have finished writing, type 'Gold F' to save your file. Get a directory by typing

$ dir


to see that your new file is in your directory.


On the VMS operating system, a filename consists of three parts, called "filename", "extension" and "version."

For example, your LOGIN.COM file is really called 'LOGIN.COM;1' the first time you make it. After you have re-opened it and saved it a second time, it is called 'LOGIN.COM;2'; after the third time, 'LOGIN.COM;3', and so on.

The '.COM' part is called the "extension." It can be "null" -- that is, empty.

For example, you might have a file named


But a file named


would be a DIFFERENT file. So would these: 'methods.willy;1' 'methods.txt;2'.

VMS saves ALL backup versions of any file until you choose to delete them. If the version is not specified, VMS will execute the MOST RECENT version.

Suppose you want to edit your LOGIN.COM file to add or delete something, and you have three versions: LOGIN.COM;1, LOGIN.COM;2 and LOGIN.COM;3. If you type

$ edit [E]

VMS will automatically put LOGIN.COM;3, the latest version of this file, on the screen. When you save it, the new version will be LOGIN.COM;4. But you will still have versions one, two and three in your directory.


To reopen a file, type 'edit Filename' at the $ prompt:

$ edit Filename

Remember to add the extension, if any, and that you will get the latest version (the one with the highest number), unless you specify the version you want to edit.

After you make changes, save it again with 'Gold F' and you will have created a new version.


The command to delete is 'delete', or simply 'd'.

To delete the file methods.txt;1 type

$ d methods.txt;1 [E]

If you forget the extension, the system will prompt you that "an explicit version number or wildcard is required." Add the version number.


The "wildcard" on VMS is the asterisk *. It can be very useful, as well as a little risky.

To see a list of all your files whose names begin with the letter 'm', type

$ dir m* [E]

This can be very useful if you have forgotten the exact name of your file, or remember the name but not the extension or version number.

If you have three versions of 'methods.txt', called 'methods.txt;1', 'methods.txt; 2' and 'methods.txt;3', and for some reason you DO want to delete them ALL, you would type this:

$ d methods.txt;*

Be very careful when using the wildcard. Personally, I never use it to delete anything.

If you want to delete ALL versions of ALL your files EXCEPT the latest ones, use the 'purge' command.

$ purge [E]

will delete everything except the latest versions of every file in the directory.


You know how to create a file to mail. You can edit it directly at the $ prompt, using your WIPS editor. You can write it with a word processing program on a microcomputer, and UPload it to Alpha, using either FTP or a modem and communications program; or you can create it from a MAIL message by EXTRACTing it.

For anything but a brief message, I find it better to create a file at the $ prompt; edit and re-edit it, saving it several times; and then mail it when I'm done.

You can't do this from the MAIL program. You can either mail it or quit it, but if you quit it, you lose whatever you've written, unlike on ALLIN1.

To mail a file from the $ prompt,

$ mail/subj="Here You Put What You Want To Appear on the Subject Line" Filename.ext;# address

, where "Filename.ext;#" is the full file -- e.g. "[furrg.manual]man7.;1" (this file I'm working on now), and "address" is the address of the person you are mailing it to, e.g. FURRG, or LYNDE, etc.

IF the address is not "alphanumeric" -- if it has any characters in it that are not either numbers or letters -- it must be enclosed in quotation marks. If you were sending your file to a distribution list, you'd have to put it in "" because you have to put '@' in front of any distribution list name, and '@' is not alphanumeric.

NOTE: in a little while you will learn about Distribution Lists and Subdirectories. The commands above apply to them, too. So, if I had a distribution list of all of YOUR accounts, and this list were in a file called 'myclass.dis' in my "misc" subdirectory, and the file I'm mailing were in another subdirectory, called ".classes", I'd send it to you like this:

$ mail/subj="MAILING A FILE FROM THE $ PROMPT" [furrg.classes]man5b.;1 "@[furrg.misc]myclass"

If both your file and your distribution list were in the same directory or the same subdirectory, and you were also in that same (sub)directory, you could omit all the stuff between the brackets [], which makes it much simpler.


1. THE COPY-AND-PASTE METHOD. This is by far the easiest method, though I also give you two others below.

1. Write your file using whatever Word Processing software you like (MS Word, WordPerfect, WordStar, etc.). Correct it for grammar and spell-check it. Get it in final format.

2. Make sure you have a "blank line" between all the paragraphs of your (text) file.

3. Connect to Alpha. If you're not networked, but working from home, you'll have to dial into Alpha, or dial into your ISP and then use your Telnet client (like NetTerm, see above) to connect to Alpha. Log on.

3. Open a file in Alpha at the $ prompt, using the 'edit' command (see above).

4. Open your Word Processing program, and then open the file you wish to Upload to Alpha.

5. Select (highlight the entire text of the file with your cursor.

6. Press the 'Copy' button at the top of the screen, or click on "Copy" under the Edit pulldown menu.

7. Move your cursor back to your Alpha file (which is now empty), and use the "Paste" key (or, the "Paste" command in the Edit pulldown menu on your Telnet client).

8. Save your file, using Control-Z or GOLD F (see above).


FTP is another of the basic six facilities of the Internet. Here's how to use it to upload a file.

Make an ASCII text file of any text you wish to upload. Every Word Processing program -- WordPerfect, WordStar, Word for Windows, Word for Mac, MacWrite, and all others -- will do this. You may have to consult the manual.

** NOTE** on Word for Windows 6.0 ASCII is called "DOS Text with line breaks", for some reason.

Name the file 'Filename.asc', where 'filename' is whatever name you want it, and the extension '.asc' will tell you it's an ASCII file.

Bring your floppy disk, with the ASCII file you want to upload, with you to any MSU computer lab. If you created the file on a MAC, you have to use a MAC lab, of course, like the ones in Sprague Library, Second Floor, or Chapin Hall.

2. Once in the lab and at a networked PC, find 'FTP', or "File Transfer Protocol", on one of the menus (often the 'Utilities' menu). Follow the instructions to use FTP to connect to your account on Alpha. You'll need your login name and password.

3. When you've logged in, you'll get a message that you are at your root directory. It will look something like mine does:


This is your 'dollar-sign' directory on Alpha. Type 'dir' and see that you'll get a listing of your Alpha directory.

Your prompt is also no longer $ (the VMS prompt), but


[Note: on many ftp systems the ftp prompt is the asterisk, *. If this is what you get, don't worry]

4. Do this:

ftp> lcd a: [E]

for 'local change directory to a:'. You will be prompted that your local directory is now a:\. Now you have opened a pathway between your Alpha account and the A: drive of the networked PC you are at!

5. To get a directory of your a: drive, do this:

ftp> lls [E]

for 'local list'. [Logic suggests it ought to be 'ldir', and on many ftp systems it is, but not on this one]. You'll get a directory of the disk in your a: drive. You'll see your file with the .ASC extension, the one you want to load up to Alpha.

6. Now, do this:

ftp> put Filename.asc [E]

'Put' is the command to send a file from a local address to a remote one. The opposite command is 'get.' Try it sometime!

(NOTE: I've found that using the command 'ls' ("list") instead of 'dir' ("directory") shows the filenames on your Alpha account in the format that ftp will recognize them, whereas the 'dir' command gives the filenames as you see them in Alpha, but in a slightly different format that ftp will not recognize.

So, when DOWNloading a file from Alpha to your a: drive, use the 'ls' command to list the files in your Alpha directory, and then enter the filename in the form you see. Then it will work.)

The transfer will take place extremely fast. When it is done, do

ftp> dir [E]

to get a directory of your Alpha account again. This time, your file should be there, only it will be called 'Filename.asc;1'. Remember, VMS files have a 'version' number as well as an extension.

If you have too many files to easily see the one you want, do this:

ftp> dir f*.*;* [E]

which will give you just files beginning with 'f'. Remember '*', the "wildcard" character, which can stand for any alphanumeric character or series of them?

7. To log off from ftp, type 'bye', like this:

ftp> bye [E]

Lots of ftp systems have implemented 'exit', 'quit', etc., to be equal to 'bye.' But they ALL recognize 'bye', or so I'm told.

Now, you can edit your uploaded ASCII file further, if you want. But probably all you wanted to do was to mail it and get out of the lab! So, do it! You're done.



You can, of course, upload from home as well, but you have to use the uploading commands specified by your communications software, and you must use KERMIT, the protocol used by VMS.

Before uploading, type

$ kermit [E]

to get the KERMIT> prompt on Alpha.

Then, type 'receive' and the file name you want the uploaded file to have.

KERMIT> receive Filename [E]

Now issue the commands for uploading specific to your communications software. Be sure to choose "Kermit" as the upload "protocol". The file will be uploaded. When it's done, exit Kermit this way:

KERMIT> exit [E] , which will return you to the VMS prompt ($).

Downloading is done similarly, except the KERMIT> command is "send".


(if it doesn't look right when you've uploaded it to Alpha)

Sometimes a text just won't come out with the proper line breaks even when you've made an ASCII file out of it.

Also, sometimes some "formatting" characters -- like 'R' and 'S', or '$' on both sides of a word/phrase to mean "underline' -- are not removed properly. Who knows why? Probably because you didn't really make an ASCII text file.

Here are a few simple things you can do with your editor to make the text look better.


1. Make sure you have a BLANK LINE between paragraphs. The Alpha 'WIPS Plus' editor we use doesn't recognize indents as new paragraph markers. If you don't have a blank line between paragraphs, all the paragraphs will be run together into one when you reformat.

When you've done that,

2. 'edit' the text (open it with the 'edit' command).

3. Do this:

At the Command: line (GOLD [ to get the Command line), type 'select all'. The whole text will be highlighted.

Now, at the Command: line (GOLD [ again), type 'fill'.

Your whole text will be reformatted according to the settings in your EVE$INIT.EVE file, which are "right margin 65" and "paragraph indent 5", as you will remember.


If you still have some formatting characters, like '$' or 'R' and 'S' , etc., here's how to remove them AFTER uploading the ASCII file to Alpha.

1. At the Command: prompt (GOLD [ , remember), type 'replace.'
You'll be prompted for the 'string' (sequence of characters or words) to be replaced, and the sequence to replace them with. You want to remove the '$', say, and replace with nothing.

2. When prompted for 'all', type "all."
This will remove all the formatting characters you've chosen to remove.

Now you have a nice, clean ASCII text file, with proper line breaks, and can edit or mail it.


You can create distribution lists, so that you can send one message to a whole group of people -- say, a whole class -- at once.

You can also create a distribution list for a single person. This is useful if that person has a complicated address that you'd have trouble remembering, or simply a long address that would be trouble to type.

If you want to create a distribution list for a friend named, say, "Purdy," whose account name is E3304015 because he or she is a student, and student accounts look like this, follow these directions:

1. At the $ prompt, type 'edit purdy.dis'

$ edit purdy.dis [E]

2. You'll then be put into the editor (ignore the message that there is no such file. Of course there isn't; you haven't made it yet). On the first line type the account name -- which is what the VMS Mail system knows "Purdy" as. E3304015

3. Now save the file (GOLD F).

You'll now get a message that says something like:

file [YOURNAME]purdy.dis;1 created.

When you want to send a message to Purdy, you now don't have to remember his/her account name, E3304015. All you have to type is the first part of the filename -- the part before the .dis -- preceded by the @ sign:

MAIL> send [E]

TO: @purdy [E]

The VMS Mail system recognizes this as a DIStribution file, and reads the account name within it.

NOTE: the 'at' sign, @, means something a little different here in the MAIL facility than it does in VMS, at the $ prompt. There, you'll remember, it tells VMS to execute a file with a .COM extension. Here, in MAIL, it tells MAIL to look in a directory for a file with a .DIS extension -- a distribution lists.

The same technique works for Internet addresses. Type your recipient's Internet address on the first line, preceded by in%" and ending with ".

So, for example, to create a DIStribution list (or file) for Fred Jones, whose internet address is, do this:

$ edit fredj.dis [E]
(or whatever you want to call the file)

In the editor, type one line:

in%"" [E]

,then save the file.

This is very useful for Mailing Lists, which have long Internet addresses. Create one distribution list for "posting" on the Mailing List, and another for sending messages to the Mailing List itself (such as "setting nomail").

You can of course put in as many addresses as you like to create long distribution lists. Just put one address on each line.

So, if I want to have a distribution list for BOTH my friends Purdy and Fred, I could do this:

$ edit purdyfred.dis [E]

and then enter two addresses, one per line: E3304015

Then I'd save the file with Gold F. Now all messages sent to this list would go to both friends.

Distribution lists are so useful, you will probably end up with quite a few. Use the "wildcard" asterisk to get a directory of only your distribution lists, like this:

$ dir *.dis;* [E]

and you'll have a list of only those files which have '.dis' as their extension -- in other words, your distribution lists.


This powerful feature is very useful for classes.

First, create a file that has the account numbers of your students, one per line, in it. You'll have a long list of account numbers. Then mail it to your students, with the following instructions:

Students: I will send you a distribution list for the whole class. You'll know you have them because the Subj. line will tell you it's the distribution list for your class or group. When you read it, it will be a list of account numbers (including your own somewhere in it) after the message header. We will call this distribution list 'myclass.dis'.


1. Read it.

2. At the MAIL> prompt, type EXTRACT/NOHEADER myclass.dis [E]
You can name these files anything you want, as long as they end in ".dis".

It's now in your directory, under the name


3. Now, exit mail by typing EXIT [E] at the MAIL> prompt.

4. At the $ prompt, type

$ type myclass.dis;1 [E]

There should not be any header in your distribution list. It should be ready to use right away.

If you forgot to type /NOHEADER after EXTRACT, so that the mail header is still there, use your editor (backspace, F3, etc.)to remove the header lines (From:, To:, Subj:). You must get rid of everything but the list of account numbers. Then save the file.

Now, when you want to send a message to everyone in your class, you can use the distribution list, like this:

MAIL> s [E]
TO: @myclass [E]

You must use the @ sign (above the number 2) to tell the mail system it's a distribution list. Your message will then go to everyone in the class.


It's useful to make distribution lists for groups within the class, as well as for the whole class. These lists can be sent to everyone in the group. As professor, include your name in each distribution list. Now the students in the group can communicate among one another about projects, discussions, and so on, and you will receive copies, so you can see how they are doing and help out.


I find this very useful, but lots of people don't know about it. Subdirectories are a good way to organize many files, especially if you put some appropriate commands into your LOGIN.COM file.

To find out what your "device" and current directory is, type:

$ show default [E] (or just "show def")

You'll get something like mine, which is:


This shows I'm in my main, or 'login', directory, the one the system puts me in when I log in. Your LOGIN.COM file, and other files that have commands for the VMS system, like your EVE$INIT.EVE file, have to be in your login directory. I also keep all the distribution lists in this directory. Also, it contains all your subdirectories.


Let's create one called CLASSES, so you can keep all your files specifically for your classes, in it (exams, handouts, whatever).



$ SET DEF {DISK$USER3:[FURRG]}.CLASSES] [E] The part between the {} doesn't have to be typed; you can simply type


; I just show it here to remind us that [.CLASSES] is shorthand for the longer line.




Make sure you are in your login directory. Then,

$ DIR *.DIR;* [E]

will give you a list of all your directories.

You can have subdirectories of subdirectories, too. So, under your subdirectory [.CLASSES] you could have more for each type of class. For example,




$ SET DEF [.CLASSES.LINGUISTICS] [E] (to move to this new subdirectory).




$ COPY Filename.ext;1 [.CLASSES.LINGUISTICS] [E]

or to whichever subdirectory or directory you want to copy to.

Then you have to DELETE the file from the subdirectory you don't want it in anymore. You can't just "move" the file from one subdirectory to another, like you can move mail messages from one folder to another.


$ SET DEF [-] [E] moves you "up" one level; e.g.



$ SET DEF [-] [E]



$ SET DEF [-] [E]



TO DELETE A DIRECTORY (be careful -- you should not have to do this very often).

Go to your login directory.

First, you must give yourself deleting privileges for this directory.


(O="owner", yourself; "d"= "delete")



Now, see my sample LOGIN.COM file for the commands I use to move among subdirectories easily, without typing these complex commands all the time. Briefly, what I've done is to put all the "SET DEF [.SUBDIRECTORY]" commands in my LOGIN.COM file, and set up short commands to invoke any of them.

For example, the line in my LOGIN.COM file that states

$ classes :== set default [furrg.classes]

means that I can change to my [.classes] subdirectory by simply typing 'classes' at the $ prompt, instead of typing 'set default [.classes]'.

Remember that * means that everything after the * is optional. If my LOGIN.COM line were written

$ clas*ses :== set default [furrg.classes]

, then I could switch to my [.classes] subdirectory by typing any of the following


You can set up subdirectories for each of your research and hobby interests, and for each of your classes.


We have the ability to search the book collections of all local academic research libraries by 'telnet' either from school or from home with a modem.

I've found this extremely useful for research, especially since Inter-Library Loan is so overloaded, due to cutbacks.

Lots of libraries that were once accessible only through Telnet are now also on the WorldWide Web. But many are not, so it's important to learn how to do this.

Perhaps this is mainly of use to people in 'esoteric' areas, in which books and journals are hard to find, like Medieval Studies (my area). But we can probably all use it sometimes. And it can be useful to check exact bibliographical references, too.

Here are directions for accessing the collections of local research and academic libraries. Please note that it's not yet possible to access other State College libraries through TELNET.



$ telnet [E]

(for example), Or

$ telnet [E]

TELNET> open [E]

From SATURN: same, but from Utilities Menu (7).


There used to be avery large listing of Telnet-accessible Library Catalogs, well over 100 pages long. It is no longer kept up to date.

I have found another resource, a 'gopher' server which you can access on your ALPHA account through LYNX, the text-only WorldWide Web 'browser.' Here's the address:


This will get you right into a huge, categorized list of telnet-accessible libraries.

For instructions on how to use LYNX, see below.


-- is another matter entirely. Call the library involved. I know Rutgers, NYPL, and NYU are accessible to MSC faculty with a faculty card (no borrowing privileges). Princeton charges $15, and has weekly and monthly rates (alumni free). Sprague Library may be able to help you with the others.


It's hard to remember some commands you'd like to use from time to time. For example, to connect to New York Public Library's on-line catalog, you have to remember to TELNET to: [E]

You can set up files with the extension .com to perform certain commands that are too hard to remember. This is very much like setting up distribution lists -- .dis files -- so you don't have to remember complicated Internet addresses or other lists of addresses.

Let's create a file to connect to the New York Public Library. All we have to remember is that it's called 'nypl'.

$ edit [E]

, just like creating any other file. Now, enter the single line


and save the file (F1 - F).

Now when you want to telnet to the New York Public Library, just do this:

$ @nypl [E]

and VMS will execute the command 'telnet [E]' for you.

Once connected to NYPL's computer, you'll still have to remember what to do (type 'nypl' as your logon, in this case). But you can easily create .com files for every library you often telnet to. If you have a 'pilot' account with NJECN, you can create a file to connect you to that.

Similarly, if you have FTP sites that you frequently connect to, try creating .com files for them.

For example: I like to look into the "Chomsky Archive" to see what the brilliant dissident Noam Chomsky has written, so I can download and read it. The Chomsky Archive has this rather complex address:

ftp /user/cap/chomsky/

In other words, it's at Central Michigan University (CMU), in the subdirectory /user/cap/chomsky/ (these symbols are UNIX commands to connect to a subdirectory. See the ROADMAP help files on FTP).

I can never remember ''. But I CAN remember "@chomsky". So my file "" contains the single line

ftp ftp [E]

(the first 'ftp' is the command; the second one is the first part of the address).

Whenever I type

$ @chomsky

I'm automatically connected to this ftp site. But I still have to remember the subdirectory /user/cap/chomsky/; I can't command the CMU computer through a command issued on the MSU VAX.

(NOTE, Fall 1996: the Chomsky archive has now moved to the WorldWide Web, so my file "" now reads:


But it's the same idea: make up a .COM file to remember all this for you!


VMS (the Operating system on 'Alpha'):

Peters, James F. III, and Patrick J. Holmay, The VMS User's Guide. DEC: Digital Press, 12 Crosby Drive, Bedford MA 01730. Order number: EY-6739E-DP. About $30.00.

This is an excellent, textbook introduction to VMS.

On-Line Help. Type 'help' from either the $ or MAIL> prompts, to get on-line help. Have patience -- it's very thorough, but written in a laconic, manual style.


There are tons of things on Internet. Here are some I've found helpful.

ROADMAP: The email course given in October-November 1994 by Patrick Crispin at U. Alabama/Tuscaloosa. You can get instructions on how to get all the lessons sent to you by sending the following mail message:

TO: in%""
Subj: (leave blank)

A one-line message:


This will get you a file with instructions for how to order the ROADMAP lessons one week at a time, so the U.AL/Tuscaloosa computer does not get overloaded.

ROADMAP is really very good! It comes in 'bite-size', readable lessons, and is well-written. I recommend it highly.

Hahn, Harley, and Rick Stout, The Internet Complete Reference Osborne, 1994. About $30.00. This is an excellent introduction to Internet, very well organized and easy to read.

Hahn, Harley, and Rick Stout, The Internet Yellow Pages. Osborne, 1994, but get the latest edition. Have your local library get this and all the updates. There's tons of information here.


One of the most useful ways of retrieving information on Internet is through 'anonymous FTP.' The ROADMAP course has an excellent less on this. If that is all you want, then email me and I'll forward it to you. But I do highly recommend you get the whole ROADMAP course. It will give you practice, and make you at home on Internet quickly. Plus, it's fun to read!

SCOTT YANOFF'S LIST OF INTERNET SOURCES. Yanoff is one of the great Internet experts. This list is updated about twice a month. To find out how to get it, type this at the $ prompt:




You don't need to know about these features in order to use Alpha successfully. But they are very helpful at times.

Don't be scared by the word 'advanced.' There's nothing complicated here.


If you put the command

$ set broadcast=nomail

into your LOGIN.COM file, you will not be prompted by incoming mail messages when you are editing. These can be annoying, since they mess up your screen, which you then have to redraw with ^W. You'll still be prompted if someone PHONES you, though, and in certain other cases. See HELP BROADCAST at the $ prompt.


If you put the command

$ type :== type/page

into your LOGIN.COM file, you can view (but not edit) a file using the command

$ TYPE Filename


one page at a time. Otherwise, the entire file scrolls rapidly off the screen. CTRL-C (^C) exits the file if you want to quit before reading the whole thing. See HELP TYPE.


If you are a heavy user of mail, you should use the COMPRESS command twice a year or so. It consolidates space in your MYMAIL directory, and can free up thousands of blocks.

At the MAIL> prompt, type COMPRESS [E]

This will take a few moments. After it's completed, exit MAIL and do this at the VMS $ prompt:

$ delete [.mymail]mail.old;*

This puts you into the .MYMAIL directory you created early on, that keeps the "housekeeping" files for your mail system, so you don't have to see them in your main directory.

If your mail directory isn't named .MYMAIL, you should look in your root directory (what you get when you type $ dir [E], and see what it is named. It may be called MYMAIL.DIR, or MAIL.DIR -- something like that.

When this is done, get back to your main directory by typing

set def [-]

How to Read One Text on Alpha While You Are Writing Another

The Split Screen function -- called "windows" on Alpha -- is common to most full-featured Word Processing programs. It permits you to display two (or more) passages from a single file at the same time, by "splitting" the screen into two (or more) "windows", each one displaying a different part of the same text.

(NOTE: Let's not confuse what VMS calls "windows" -- the subject under discussion here -- with MicroSoft WINDOWS (r), the popular operating system. The latter is far more powerful, and works differently.)

For example, if you want to write comments on a text someone else has sent you by e-mail, you would first "extract" the mail message. This creates a file at the $ prompt, in whatever directory or subdirectory you specify. (See earlier in the Manual for how to create and use subdirectories).

Then, you would exit from MAIL and, at the $ prompt, open the file with the 'edit' command. Your screen would then display the beginning of that file. If you wanted to write comments on a file which you already had at the $ prompt, you could just open it with 'edit.'

Now, press GOLD-[, the 'Command' line. The word 'Command' appears at the bottom of the screen. You then enter the command TWO WINDOWS (abbreviated: tw w), like this:

MAIL> Command: tw w [E]

Now you have TWO screens, each of which displays the beginning of the file. Your blinking cursor is in the LOWER window.

You can move around in this window while the beginning of the file is still displayed in the upper screen. You can move around in each window independently. Now, you can move to the top or bottom of the file in one window and write your comments, while moving slowly through the file in the other window to read it.

The command for changing between windows is OTHER WINDOW (abbreviated: ot w). Again, press GOLD -[ and enter 'ot w' at the Command line.

REMEMBER: you are still only looking at two places in ONE file. Any changes you make in one window will be visible in the other window when the changed part of the text appears in it.

You can ENLARGE WINDOW or SHRINK WINDOW to make one screen bigger or smaller than the other. Move to the window whose size you want to change with the 'ot w' command, and use these commands. For example:

Command: enl w 5 [E]

enlarges the window where the cursor is by 5 lines. The other window shrinks by 5 lines, of course. The corresponding command 'shrinks' the window.

USES: You can write comments on a student paper by reading the paper in one screen while writing your comments, say at the top of the paper, in the other screen. When you save the file using GOLD-F, both the original paper and your comments will be saved to a new file.

RETURNING TO A SINGLE WINDOW. You can get back to one window with the ONE WINDOW command, and may abbreviate it like this:

Command: o w [E]


The Split Screen, or 'windows', feature can also be used to write or edit two different files at the same time, or write one file while reading another.

If you use this feature to comment on a student text, your comments would end up in a separate file. You'd have TWO files: the original text, without comments, and a file with your comments, but not the original text.

Here's how to open a second file in the second window.

1. Open the file with the 'edit' command.

2. Open a second window with the TWO WINDOWS command (see above). Your cursor is now in the lower window.

3. Now press GOLD-[ to get the Command line, and enter the command OPEN plus the name of the second file you wish to create.

Command: open comments.txt [E]

The beginning of the first file disappears from the lower screen, and the status line indicates that you have opened a new buffer, called 'comments.txt'. The first file remains in the upper screen.

Now, when you write in the lower screen, you are writing to a second file.

However, when you save either file, you must also save (or kill) the second file. VMS will not let you save one while con- tinuing to work on the second one.


Frankly, I use this facility more often by far than that above, and you probably will, too.

Much of the time you will be receiving texts by e-mail. You'll want to read them; make comments directly on them; and send them back to the person -- often a student -- who sent them to you. You'll want to keep a copy in your files.

And you WON'T want to go to the trouble of "extracting" the e-mail message in order to make a file; exiting MAIL; opening the file with the 'edit' command; and then, when you are done, saving the file, getting back into MAIL, and mailing the file!

You'd prefer to stay in mail and just "reply" to the message. Well, you can! Here's how.

Open the e-mail message you want to read and comment upon. You don't have to read it yet. Just open it, and use the 'reply/extract' command: MAIL> r/extr [E]

The 'r' ("reply") command creates a 'reply' message, and the 'extr' ("extract") subcommand places the contents of the original message into your reply. You are sending the original text of the e-mail message back to its recipient -- in other words, returning the student's paper back to them, just as though you were "handing it back."

If you want to be very sharp, you can use the 'reply/ex- tract/subject' command to change the subject line as well.

For example, let's suppose a student has sent you an essay with the subject line "Essay on Mark Twain." The subject line will look like this:

Subj: Essay on Mark Twain

If you use the 'r/extr' command, your subject line will look like this:

Subj: RE: Essay on Mark Twain

The default on 'reply' messages is RE: + original subject line. But say you use the 'r/extr/subj=" subject here" command (see section on MAIL earlier in the ALPHA manual). Now, you can select a more appropriate subject -- say, "Twain essay, with grade and comments." You'd enter:

MAIL> r/extr/subj="Twain essay, with grade and comments"

, and the student will get their message back with the following subject line:

Subj: Twain essay, with grade and comments

As you'll remember, you don't need the quotation marks if you have a one-word subject.

But you haven't yet read the message, much less added your own comments! Here's how.

  1. Open a second window, with the TWO WINDOWS command (above).
  2. In the second window, move to the beginning or end of the message -- wherever you want to insert your comments.
  3. Switch back and forth between windows, using the OTHER WINDOW command, as you alternately read the message in one screen and write your comments in the lower screen.
  4. When you are done you can look at the whole, if you want, by invoking the ONE WINDOW command (see above).
  5. Whether you do step 4 or not, when you are finished you can send the assignment, now with your comments in it, back to the student by pressing GOLD-F, which saves and sends a mail message, as you will remember. How will you keep a copy? Well, long ago you used the SET COPY_SELF SEND, REPLY command in MAIL to make sure you get copies of any messages you originate ('send') or reply to ('reply'). Remember?

    MAIL> set copy_self send, reply [E]

    You only did this once, and you get your "carbon copies" forever, until you change this setting.


    NOTE: To get a fuller guide to LYNX, jump to Dr David Stuehler's LYNX help manual HERE!

    You can "browse" the WorldWide Web (WWW) from your Alpha account with a text-only "browser" called "LYNX". (The name is a play on words: you press on highlighted "links" to "link", or connect, to other "pages" on the WWW). Simply type "lynx" at the VMS, or dollar-sign, prompt, like this:

    $ lynx [E]

    , and you'll be connected to the Lynx Home Page.

    You'll probably want to make some other page your own "Home Page", however. You can use .COM files to do so. Let's suppose you'd like to make the MSU Home Page your own home page. This means that, when you open Lynx, the page you are on is not the Lynx Home Page, but MSU's. Simply make a .COM file -- we'll call it "" -- like this:

    $ edit [E]

    Now, put the following single line into the file:


    , and press GOLD F to save this file.

    Now, when you type '@home' from the VMS prompt, like this:

    $ @home [E]

    , you'll be immediately connected to the MSU Home Page.

    You can make as many .COM files like this as you like. I have one that connects me directly to Altavista, the terrific "search engine" run by Digital Equipment Corporation. I call it "", and it has the single line:


    in it. When I type '@alta' at the $ prompt, I go straight to Altavista, where I can search the Web's most powerful search engine for any key words I want. You can also search ALL the posts in ALL the Usenet Newsgroups -- a phenomenal convenience.

    There's a lot more to be learned about LYNX. Once you're on, you'll see the most common commands at the bottom of the screen. Try them all. The MOST useful one, of course, is 'G' for 'GO' -- press 'G' and enter any URL, or WWW address (most begin with 'http://'.

    If you find a site you like, you can add it to your 'bookmark' file by pressing 'A' (for 'Add'). You can then add to your Bookmark file the _page_ you are on by pressing D (for 'document'), or the 'link' your cursor is on by pressing 'L' (for 'link'). Then you'll never have to type out the full URL, with the 'http://' business, again! To see your Bookmark file, press 'V' (for 'View'); left arrow brings you back to the page again.

    Eventually you'll want to know the whole set of useful LYNX keystroke commands. You can get them from the LYNX Home Page. Or, you can go to the following address:

    , and get them from a useful little manual on "Using Internet to Help You Write Your Term Paper." Once on this page, press the '/' key (the 'search' key) and then enter the words "current key map." This will put all the LYNX keystroke commands on your screen.


    You can now get the Usenet Newsgroups -- subject-oriented bulletin boards -- on your Alpha account too! Just type 'news' at the VMS ($) prompt:

    $ news [E]

    After a little accessing you'll be connected to the MSU news server, called ''.

    There already exists an excellent little manual on how to use "ANU News", which is the name for this newsreader facility that runs on Alpha (ANU = "Australian National University", where it was developed), so there is absolutely NO reason to write one up here. You can get it from the WWW at the following address:

    If you are not reading this manual on the Web, connect to LYNX (see the previous section of this manual); press 'G' for "GO"; and enter the URL above. You'll be connected to this manual.

    You can download the manual, or any section of it, by pressing 'P' (for 'print') and then selecting the option "Save to Local File." You can then name the file anything you want before pressing Enter once again. Then you can, of course, read the file using the 'edit' command, or print it out and study it at your leisure. It's great!

    Or, you can just go to it from here, if you are reading this on the Web Page itself!


    ... can be inserted here. Let me know what features are left out, and I'll put them in.

    Grover Furr
    English Department
    Montclair State University

    GO TO my Research Page; my Politics and Social Problems Page; my Vietnam War Page; my Media and Journalism Page; or my Home Page!

    Email me your comments, criticisms and suggestions! | | last modified 19 Jan 98