How to Use E-mail at Ole Miss

This handout will describe how to log on to Sunset, open and read E-mail, and compose new E-mail. First, however, you need to understand a few basic concepts.

Step One: Access to the Campus Network

If you are a dial-up user, there are a number of methods to gain access to the campus network, but in general, they fall into two groups: direct "terminal" access, and SLIP or PPP connections. When using a terminal program (such as "terminal" that ships with Windows 3.1), you call the campus network telephone number, login to Nexus, and then choose the menu option 4, Access Campus Hosts. A new menu comes up listing various "hosts"; you then choose the number for Sunset and proceed to the "Login" section of Step Two below.

SLIP and PPP connections allow users to run multiple programs while accessing a remote network. Free software is available from the Computer Help Desk. To access Sunset using SLIP and PPP, you will also need to call the campus network telephone number, login as stated before, but instead of choosing the "Access Campus Hosts" menu option, you will choose the number for which type of connection you are configured. You will then need to start a separate "telnet" program to access Sunset.

Step Two: Login to Sunset

From a campus computer connected to the network or after completing a SLIP or PPP connection from a home computer, you will need to start a "telnet" program. Essentially, a telnet program allows you to login to a remote computer via the Internet and then use the remote computer as you could if you were there. Most on-campus computers connected into the campus network (such as those in the Weir Hall labs) have set up icons to start telnet and link directly to Sunset without any additional effort--they are usually labeled "Connect to Sunset"or something similar.

If you do not find any program offering direct Sunset connection, you may have to open the connection manually. If you are using an on-campus computers, find the icon for telnet and start the program, and then locate the "Open Connection" option. You then must enter the Internet address for sunset, which is



Figure 1: Login screen for Sunset.
Figure 1
Once you've opened a connection, you will see a screen similar to that in Figure 1. At the "login" prompt, enter your user ID and press [Enter]. You will then receive a "password" prompt. Enter your assigned password and again press [Enter].

On your first login, you will be asked to change your password. Choose a word that you can remember, and be careful typing. The letters and/or numbers you type will not appear on the screen.

You will then probably get a prompt that asks what kind of terminal you have. Almost always that will be the default value (VT-100), so simply press [Enter]. The prompt then will probably be sunset %1. You're ready to begin writing E-mail.

Step Three: Start the E-mail Program

Figure 2: Opening screen in Pine.
Figure 2
There are several ways of reading and writing E-mail on Sunset, but the easiest is the program called "Pine." To start it, simply type "pine" and press [Enter]. You receive a screen similar to that in Figure 2.

When in Pine, you'll see highlighted the option to show a "Folder List." Other options include "C" to compose a new message, "A" brings up an address book in which you can store frequently used addresses, and "S" to setup program parameters. Hitting "Q" quits the program.

Composing E-mail

Before writing E-mail, you need to understand E-mail addresses. A full E-mail address consists of two parts: the user ID and the site domain.

The user ID identifies an individual user; it is the same thing you enter when you log onto Sunset. It is analogous to a name and/or street address on a letter sent through the post office.

The site domain identifies a particular location on the Internet; it is analogous to a ZIP code on a post office letter. Usually, the last two or three letters indicate the type of domain. Colleges and universities, for instance, end in "edu" (for education), companies in "com," government in "gov," network sites in "net," and other organizations end in "org." There are also two-letter codes for other countries. A site domain in the United Kingdom, for instance, ends in "uk."

My full E-mail address is "egjbp@sunset.backbone.olemiss.edu" without the quotation marks. Notice that the "@" symbol separates my user ID from the site domain. When you compose E-mail on Sunset at Ole Miss to another user on the same site domain, it is not necessary to enter the full address; the computer fills in the rest.

Figure 3: The "Compose Mail" screen. Note that my "signature file" is already in place.
Figure 3
Try sending me E-mail. Press "C" to bring up the "compose new message" screen. (See Figure 3.) In the "To:" field, type my user ID (egjbp). Press [Enter]. The cursor moves on to the other fields. "Cc:" is used if you wish to send a "carbon copy" of your message to someone else. Enter your own user ID there. That way, when I receive the message, you will also receive the same message (and you'll know it was sent). The "Attchmnt:" field is used if you want to "attach" a file, such as a program or graphic image, to the E-mail. In the "Subject:" field, enter a short description of what your message is about; again, press [Enter].

Then, you can begin to enter your "message text." Type as you would on a normal word processor--you do not need to hit [Enter] at the end of each line. Normally, paragraphs are separated in E-mail by a double line break; simply press [Enter] twice to do so. When you finish your message, sign it--your name and perhaps your user ID are considered appropriate ways to sign E-mail. You can configure Pine to automatically append your message with a "signature" file--the easiest way to do that is to simply create a text file on Sunset called ".signature" without the quotation marks. (The initial "." is important.) Many users have very elaborate "sigs," as they are called.

To send your message, press ^X--that is, press the [Ctrl] key and "X" at the same time. As a reminder, this command and others are listed at the bottom of your screen. The program will ask you if you really want to send the message; press "Y" (for "yes") if you do, "N" (for "no") if you don't. Once your message is sent, the program will inform you that your message has been saved to a "sent-mail" folder, where you can pull it up later if you want.

Reading E-mail

When you start Pine for the first time, you probably won't have any new E-mail to read. (That's why I recommend you send me E-mail and "carbon-copy" some to yourself.) When you do begin accumulating E-mail, it will be stored in what is called the "INBOX" folder.

Figure 4: Screen showing the "INBOX" folder (highlighted) along with other folders for saved messages and sent-mail.
Figure 4
Folders on a computer are similar to folders in an office; they are a place to store documents. Unread mail is stored in the INBOX folder, and mail you send to other users is stored in the "sent-mail" folder. You also have the option of creating new folders in which to save E-mail.

From the Main Menu in Pine (press "M" to return to it if you're not already there), you bring up the folder list by pressing "L" (or highlighting the "List Folders" line and pressing [Enter]). Press [Enter] again to expand the folder list, and you will see the INBOX in the top left of your screen. (See Figure 4.)

Hit [Enter] to open the INBOX, and provided you have received any mail, there will be a listing of messages sent to you. (See Figure 5.) Notice in the example that messages are numbered according to the date and time they were received. You can configure Pine to sort messages in other ways as well. The "+" sign next to the messages indicate that the messages were sent directly to the recipient. The "A" by message 4 indicates that the recipient "answered" that message. And the "N" by message 6 indicates it is "new" mail that has not yet been read.

Figure 5: Listing of mail in the "INBOX."
Figure 5
To read your mail, highlight the message you wish to read and press "R" (or [Enter]). The message appears on the screen. (See Figure 6.) At the top of the message, you'll see header information stating the date and time the message was sent, who it is from, to whom it was sent and a brief description of the subject. At the bottom of the screen are various commands; press "O" to see other commands. If the message takes up more than one screen, you can press the space bar to scroll down; press the minus key ("-") to scroll up.

To delete the message once you've read it and move to the next one, press "D"; this will place a "D" beside the message in the mail list screen (Figure 5). (Actual deletion takes place later.) If you decide that deleted message is too valuable to delete, press "U" to "undelete." To save the message, press "S"; or, if you want to save it as an individual file, press "E" (for "export")--you will then be prompted to enter a name for the file. To move to the next message without deleting, press "N"; to move to a previous message, press "P."

Figure 6: A typical E-mail message.
Figure 6
To reply to the message--that is, to send mail to the sender and retain the same subject header (except for an added "re:")--press "R." If you like the mail and would like to send it to someone else, press "F" to "forward" the message; you then enter the E-mail address of the person to whom you are forwarding the message. And if you want to compose new mail, with a new subject header, press "C."

To return to the "index" list of messages, press "I." To return to your folder list, press "L." To return to the Main Menu, press "M." And to quit the program, press "Q."

Subscribing to "padge"

You will all be required to subscribe to the online discussion group "padge" for this course. Essentially, this is an automatic mailing "list" in which everything you send to "padge@sunset.backbone.olemiss.edu" will be distributed to every other subscriber.

There are two E-mail addresses to remember with regards to this list. The first is "padge"; this is the address to which all content messages should be sent. The other address to remember is "listserv@sunset.backbone.olemiss.edu." It is to this address that all commands, such as "subscribe," must be sent.

To subscribe to the "padge" discussion group, or "list," compose new E-mail to "listserv@sunset.backbone.olemiss.edu." Remember, if you are on Sunset, you do not need to add the full address--you can simply type "listserv" (without the quotation marks). Leave the subject header blank. Under "Message text" type the single line

subscribe padge [Your Name]

In the [Your Name] section, type your ordinary name by which you like to be called, such as "Sarah Jones." Don't type your user ID. Then send the message by pressing ^X. Eventually, you will receive an automated confirmation message from "listserv" stating you have been subscribed to "padge." From this point on, you will begin receiving all messages sent to "padge" from all other subscribers.

To send mail to the list (and hence, to everyone in the class), simply type "padge" in the "To:" field when composing E-mail. Be sure to enter a brief description of your topic in the "Subject:" field to let everyone know what your message is about.

When you first subscribe to "padge," one thing that concerns some students is that they do not know if their message has been distributed to the list. By default, messages you send to the list are not in turn re-sent to you. To change it so that messages you write are sent back to you (thus letting you know they were successfully sent), send to "listserv" the single line message "set padge mail ack" (again, leave the subject header blank). This sets the program to set your mail option to "acknowledge" your sent mail.

Remember, the listserv address is only for commands; use "padge" for all messages with content.

Step Four: Logging Off

When you finish a session, it is important that you log off. If you are using a terminal in Weir Hall and someone notices you did not log off, you run the risk of some unscrupulous person running amuck.

To logoff, first quit Pine; press "Q" to quit. The program will ask you if you "really want" to. Press "Y" (for "yes"). When you've returned to the "sunset %" prompt, type "exit" and press [Enter]. And you're logged off.

Other things you can do online

Actually, there are many things, but here are a few you might find useful.

Pico: a basic text editor. When you compose E-mail, this is actually the program you use. You can also start this from the "sunset %" prompt. Type "pico" and press [Enter]. If you want to edit a particular document, type "pico" plus the name of the file and press [Enter]. For instance, to set up an automatic signature file for your E-mail, type "pico .signature" and press [Enter]. Command options are listed at the bottom of the screen.

Finger: a way to get information about other users, such as when they were last logged on. Simply type "finger" plus the user ID of the other party. (If the user does not have an account on Sunset, you will need to enter his or her full E-mail address.) Try it on your own user ID.

You can also let the Internet community know a little something about yourself via finger. To do that, you need to enter information into a document titled ".plan" (the initial period is important). Using pico, you can easily set it up.

Newsgroups: newsgroups are online discussion groups on particular subjects. There are literally thousands of newsgroups out there, ranging from the tame (rec.outdoors.national-parks) to the outrageous (alt.sex.bestiality). You read newsgroup postings using what is called a news reader; there are several on Sunset. Tin is a popular one, but Pine itself can be used as a newsgroup news reader.