The Apple Blossom

Volume 1, Number 3

You Ain't Never Had a Friend...Like GEnie

As anyone knows who is involved with Apple II computers, finding support can be difficult--most stores don't carry software or magazines for the Apple II, asking questions at an "Authorized Apple Dealer" usually results in blank stares from the tech supp ort personnel ("Now, is that an LC II or a Mac II that you are talking about?"), and you are constantly barraged by questions about why you don't upgrade to a "modern" computer.

Those facts are what led to the creation of The Apple Blossom--I saw that there was a need to get the word out about the software and hardware makers who support the Apple II, along with the journals that can help keep you informed about usin g your computer.

But the greatest source of information isn't a magazine or newsletter--it's GEnie, the online service run by General Electric. GEnie has two "roundtables" devoted to the Apple II--A2 and A2Pro, the latter specifically for programming questions. The A2 file library has over 22,000 files in it, including archives of past discussions of hardware and software. There are several resident "gurus" who do everything from offer advice to making custom cables to repairing hardware gone bad. Most of the compani es that still sell Apple II hardware and software are represented in their own categories, and it is here that you will find the latest in great shareware and freeware. There are also nightly chats where you can ask a question and often get an immediate answer. GEnie is a text–based online service, meaning that you can use any telecommunications program...from Jim Frerr's freeware Comm System to commercial applications like ProTerm or ANSITerm. Navigation through typing keyboard commands. GEnie supports connect speeds of 9600, 2400 and 1200 bps (there has been a surcharge in the past for speeds above 2400 bps, but that is being wiped out as of August 1), has full Internet access (newsgroups, world wide web, ftp, telnet, e-mail), and connections in most cities. There are also ways to connect via an 800 number and Sprintnet numbers (use of both of which, however, means paying surcharges).

The cost for GEnie is $8.95 per month* for 4 hours of non-primetime (after 6 p.m.) access, with additional hours costing $3.00 each. As with any online service, there are many interests other than computers represented on GEnie, with roundtables for s tamp collecting, art, travel, cooking, and more. All of the roundtables are accessible from your Apple II. Sign up information appears below.

In addition to using regular telecommunication programs, there are several offline navigators available for GEnie, for both 8–bit Apple IIs and the IIGS. An offline navigator lets you read your e-mail and bulletin board messages when you aren't connec ted, and to write your replies. Then, when you are ready to connect, the offline navigator starts up your telecommunication program, uploads your mail and messages, and downloads any new mail, bulletin board messages, and files you have requested. Some o f the navigators work within AppleWorks, allowing you to use its wordprocessing capabilities to create your messages, and others have built-in editors. Some of the telecommunication programs supported are: Spectrum, ANSITerm, ProTerm, Talk Is Cheap, T imeOut Telecom, and Point–to–Point.

If you aren't online yet, I strongly urge you to consider GEnie. Modems don't cost very much now days ($49.00 for a 14,400 bps fax/modem is common—$49.00!), and the support you can get is phenomenal. It is not unusual for someone to post a me ssage requesting advice or help on GEnie and to get an answer within four hours; updates to software (such as AppleWorks 5.1) are made readily available; and even questions about PCs and Macs (especially how to use them with Apple IIs) get quick answers.

Sign up Information for GEnie

To join GEnie, set your modem to 2400 baud (or less) and half duplex (local echo). Have the modem dial 1-800-638-8369. When you get a CONNECT message, type HHH. At the U#= prompt, type: JOINGENIE and hit the RETURN key. When you get the prompt asking for the signup code, type DSD524 and hit RETURN. GEnie will then prompt you for your signup information. For more information call (voice) 1-800-638-9636. Join GEnie now and receive $50.00 worth of online credit.

*Note (updated Oct. 31, 1996): Genie has gone through many changes since this article. Some RoundTables are gone, although the A2 and A2Pro are still the same, but the owner and the prices are not! There is no longer a basic plan (called GenieLite) avail able now either.

Genie (regular) now costs $23.95 per month for new members ($18.95 for members who were subscribers before February 1996). For that fee you get 9 hours of email and RoundTable activity, with additional hours priced at $2.75. For users who spend 6-7 h ours online per month, this is actually cheaper than the old price structure.
Unfortunately, the folks in the middle, those 4 hours per month users, get stung by this and see a price hike. Genie is just as good for an Apple II user as ever, but if you are only a casual user, it may be out of your price range.
In fact, the $18.95 per month proved to be too costly for me as well...despite the great advice and friendships you can find in the A2 Roundtable, one of the nicest spots in cyberspace, I gave up my membership today. With a Delphi account costing jus t $35.00 for the YEAR (unlimited time), and America Online changing the basic account to $19.95/month for unlimited access, I felt that these were the two services I had to keep (as my family uses AOL heavily, and it serves as my Web space too!).

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