This is a very crude page right now that I am tossing together on the Web Blaster in order to help people find ways to connect to other Gymn interested people on the Net. When I get time I'll fix it up, and add info on other communication options as well, such as Powow.
Perhaps the least known method of communication is IRC, or Internet Relay Chat. IRC is a conference-type of chat similar to that used on AOL. It is a simple and reliable means of communication that has been in use for several years. What you have to do is download an IRC client and connect to an IRC server. For gymnastics there is a #gymn channel on Dalnet and also a few fan- oriented channels, such as #marinescu on Undernet. There are IRC Clients available for both PC and Mac systems. Most Unix people can connect directly through their shell accounts.
It is also the download site for what is probably
the most popular IRC program in use for the PC.
Well the first thing you have to do enter the setup information so the IRC server knows who you are. For the most part that means filling in
a.Your orgaization (Internet Provider)
b.Your IP Number (xxx.xxx.xx.xxx)
mIRC is set up to try to fill that in for you. Otherwise you'll have to fill it in yourself. There are *all kinds* of fancy options but I won't get into that. You can ask someone how to use them when you get online. Now somewhere in the setup, probably on the box that says "IRC Servers" you will find a box to fill in your user info. They ask for a "real" name but things being as they are these days I just put my username in there instead. You'll also be asked for an email address and two nicknames to be used while online- a primary nick and an alternate in case someone else on the server is already using that name today.
The next thing you have to do is find an IRC server to connect to. Most IRC programs come with a pop-up box that already has servers filled in. My experience has been that most of these server lists are outdated. For DALnet, which is where #gymn is, I have had the best luck connecting to toronto.dal.net or phoenix.dal.net . Phoenix has been bragging lately about how many folks they can have online at a time, so they are a pretty good bet. There are gymnastics channels on the other nets as well - the other major nets being Undernet and EFnet.
Once you've selected a server, you simply select "OK" or "Connect" to connect with the server of your choice. If you are behind a firewall you will probably have to
dis-able it before connecting. The server will not let you in if they can't find out who you are (it's their house after all).
If you're a Trumpet Winsock user the way you would do that is to go to File:Firewall Setup and click the box that says "enable firewall" so that it's unchecked. If you have trouble using some of the other cool Net services, such as Powow, Archie, FTP and Gopher, or some of the Netscape plugins such as Real Audio the firewall could be the main culprit. Don't count on the folks that design these products or even your sysop to know why these don't work either. For almost a year I couldn't use any of these things, despite sysops and software support people trying to help until one day I discovered, all on my own, that the firewall was the problem.
...but what was all that stuff that just happened?
When you first connect to the server your computer may look and sound as though it's gone mad. All kinds of gibberish will scroll past you with lightning speed and you'll hear a series of pings. Disregard all that stuff; it's just the server talking to your computer and vice versa. Most likely a box will have poped up asking which channel you want to join. I strongly urge you to check out #ircnewbies esp if you want to practice or ask questions. For Gymn of course you would enter #gymn . That takes you into the room where you will most likely see danafan's topic pop up. Usually it has something to do with Gymnastics Canada. Somewhere, probably to the right of the chat area, you'll see a list of who is currently in that room. From there, it's easy as pie; just type in your message on the line and press "enter".
Occasionally, you will see names in a room that look like this: *name*; don't get angry if they don't talk to you because they are bots and not real people. I'm not even sure what they are there for, but at least now you have enough info to get hooked up.