I originally started e-mailing on the Internet way back in 1986 when, through a BBS account with Mission Impossible, affectionally known in those days as mish, or Miss Imp, I had access to the Internet.
Naturally, when our home grown Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web, I took to that like a duck takes to water.
Over the years I have experimented with Gopher, E-Mail, News Groups and the Web. Gopher was fine but for quick assistance, I found News Groups an ideal way of finding information in a hurry. The web took a long time to come of age, and as it did, many of the wrong sort of people started inhabiting News Groups and flame wars developed with filthy language and uncouth manners. In addition, people wrote software which trawled the news groups collecting e-mails for spamming purposes.
Between 1997 and 2000 I experimented with lots of e-mail providers. The free ones and the paying ones and one day I discovered CIX. Since I opened an account with CIX it has been my main e-mail provider ever since.
There are two parts to ones subscription to CIX. The first part is the same as most other ISPs provide – e-mail and access to newsgroups.
It is the second part which enraptured me and caught my imagination. The best way to describe it is to give an overall picture and then describe what I manage to get out of it.
There are over 10,000 conferences on CIX. Half of them are completely hidden and are private conferences between groups and companies, used, quite often, for inter-communications and brainstorming.
The rest are visible and half of the remainder can be joined instantly, whilst the other half restrict your joining until you have e-mailed the moderator and requested entry. Often you have to prove you have a good reason for wanting to join. For example I had to prove I was a journalist for the hacks conference.
I can hear many of you actually saying, “So what, that’s what we have newsgroups for.” I hear you, but believe me, CIX is totally different. For one thing you can’t have private and restricted access newsgroups. And another if you spam a CIX conference you get quickly removed by the moderator and, if you persevere, by the owners of CIX. Bad language is frowned upon. And, what is more important, because you are all part of a closed community, people are friendlier and more willing to help one another.
There are conferences for just about every type of computer hardware and peripherals, and also for software as well. There are conferences for photographers, Skype Users, Mobile Phone users, hardware owners (specif) and software owners (also specific) to name but a few. And remember, there are around five thousand of them, and over a thousand different topics of interest.
There is a noticeboard where you can send a short postcard up, for example, asking whether anyone knows of good restaurants in Cape Town as you are going there on holiday (“Panama Jacks” is a good one). Literally within minutes replies will start rolling in to your e-mail address! And a PC Noticeboard where you can advertise for help on a specific computer matter. There is an active auction conference where I have sold many of my possessions no longer needed. And bought others!
I wanted to join a conference for business brainstorming but couldn’t find one. I put a notice up on the noticeboard conference and within half an hour got enough messages to assure myself that this could be a success. I downloaded extra “conference moderator” software and set up my conference. Within twenty-four hours there were a dozen of us ready and able to help each other with brainstorming ideas.
A group of Cixen (name given for people on Cix) started up an Internet business, all drawn from a single notice up on the noticeboard conference!
For unlimited access through the telephone lines it is £15 a month for both ISP and conferencing, although occasional users can get in for half that price. The company has recently been purchased by Pipex but don’t seem to be wanting to end the conference facilities. If they did, they would decimate their income over night.
You can now enjoy web based conferencing for around £7.50 a month if you don’t want to use the ISP facilities.
I will post the link for the Pipex page to subscribe to Cix as an ISP later, as a comment. Meanwhile follow the link below for the online conferencing.