Logging onto remote systems via the internet

By Danny Green, Contributing Writer,

This month I will cover the subject of "Telnet". What is it? Basically, you are logging onto another computer over the internet and using it as if it were sitting on your desk. The computer you are sitting at is called the "local" computer. The other one (the one you are connected to) is called a "remote" computer. The term "remote" is used whether the computer is across the room or across the planet. It just means that you are not physically present at the other computer.

Telnet is very easy to use. Just type "telnet". You will be given a prompt "telnet>." Next type "open" followed by the host that you want to connect to. For example, "open". You can also type directly into the command line, that is telnet followed by the host name. For example "telnet". You will be logged onto a federal government BBS. If you don't have an account, (you probably don't) enter "new". After reading some rules, you will be prompted to enter your name and address. You will then be asked to provide a password. You now have an account on a remote system. Have fun and explore!

When using Telnet you must also understand what port number means. A port is a connection between devices. This can also be used to signal to a computer that you have logged on to use a particular program. For instance, there is a program that gives latitude and longitude as well as population for a town. The program is located at " 3000". The 3000 tells the remote host to run the program described. You don't need to know the name of the program or anything else about it to use it. Once you are logged on you can type "help" or "?". Either of these will give you information on how to use the program. The following has been abridged:

Interpret server replies as follows:

0 <city name>
1 <county FIPS code> <county name>
2 <state/province abbreviation> <state/province name>
3 <nation abbreviation> <nation name>
A <telephone area code>
E <elevation in feet above mean sea level>
F <feature code> <feature name>
L <latitude DD MM SS X> <longitude DDD MM SS X>
P <1980 census population>
R <remark>
T <time zone>
Z <postal ("ZIP") code>

Enter the town, state and zip and the program will return some information. For example I used "Garwood, NJ 07027." The program replied:

garwood, nj 07027
0 Garwood
1 34039 Union
2 NJ New Jersey
3 US United States
F 45 Populated place
L 40 39 34 N  74 19 24 W
P 4752
E 100
Z 07027

Some interesting stuff! The biggest advantage I can see for telnet is to run programs on another computer that you don't have or that would take a long time searching databases, for example. Well, I hope you enjoyed this month's column. See you next month!

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