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Re: The next step?

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  • Stephen Agar
    In message , John and Denny Colledge writes ... [snip] ... I have had good success with the
    Message 1 of 11 , Jun 30, 1999
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      In message <377A94E5.5201@...>, John and Denny Colledge
      <dunorroch@...> writes
      >From: John and Denny Colledge <dunorroch@...>
      >

      [snip]

      >
      >Moving on to Adverts. Presumably Classifieds would take preference at
      >this stage due to lack of funds, as most of our cash will be spent on
      >paper for the Leaflets/Posters option. Is Stephen still prepared to do
      >this? I seem to remember Nick Parish being mentioned as if he would be
      >doing it, at one stage. The chap at work who is into miniature war games
      >gave me a few details which I passed on to Stephen. I gather that Dip
      >was mentioned in those magazines a few times so they at least are
      >possibilities, though we probably need to revisit the advert. The wider
      >the range of gamers we can get the better, but presumably Dip would
      >appeal more to those who are reading war games magazines.

      I have had good success with the wargames magazines - I usually phrased
      it along the lines of "PLAY DIPLOMACY and other boardgames by post. For
      details about the amateur PBM games hobby in the UK write to....." The
      people who read these things are often particularly into military games.

      I am familiar with all the magazines you mentioned - indeed I buy them
      most months. I am willing to place the ads. provided we don't have a 3
      month discussion on how to word the adverts. Indeed, I used to vary the
      wording to see if some were more effective than others.

      >
      >Finally, the Internet. Most people don't really know a) how best to use
      >it, and b) if it all goes horribly wrong, (or should that be horribly
      >right?) could we be swamped? I suspect that Students could be added in
      >here as well. As I mentioned some time ago, most Student organisations
      >have their own web sites these days and they are easily accessible. I
      >mentioned Emeric's site a while back but got no reaction. I came upon it
      >quite by accident a couple of days ago and left a message. He says he is
      >happy to help.
      >

      I am sure he is happy to help - but his site has a reputation for being
      neglected and doesn't get many hits - and until recently had gone for 18
      months without being updated (though it's a lot better now). Personally,
      I think the MfG site is the best bet as a gateway - and the rest of us
      should just try and direct people there - indeed, I will use my
      influence on the Diplomatic Pouch to do that. On the Dip side, I can
      exercise a reasonable amount of influence via the Pouch and my own web
      site (which gets a fair amount of traffic) - but ideally we should link
      up with a US person, as there is no point pushing US people into UK PBM
      zines if they can get a better and easier service in the US. Maybe Jim
      could assist and Jim, John H, Emeric and I could devise an Internet
      strategy - and act together to synchronise links.

      I also have my own Dip mailing list with about 100 people on it, while
      Jim has one with 200. It is easy to spot the UK email addresses.

      Are we going to have a meeting to discuss these things at ManorCon?

      --
      Stephen Agar, Brighton, UK
      www.diplomacy.co.uk
    • Tom Tweedy
      In message , Stephen Agar writes [snip] ... Some of the US subbers who found DIB stayed because
      Message 2 of 11 , Jul 1 6:30 AM
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        In message <atngJGANHre3EwE0@...>, Stephen Agar
        <stephen@...> writes

        [snip]

        >On the Dip side, I can
        >exercise a reasonable amount of influence via the Pouch and my own web
        >site (which gets a fair amount of traffic) - but ideally we should link
        >up with a US person, as there is no point pushing US people into UK PBM
        >zines if they can get a better and easier service in the US. Maybe Jim
        >could assist and Jim, John H, Emeric and I could devise an Internet
        >strategy - and act together to synchronise links.
        >
        Some of the US subbers who found DIB stayed because they thought the UK
        hobby was 'friendlier'. There is no reason why our hobby can't be
        considered 'quicker and easier' as well. Especially if we turn to the
        email side of gaming - as you're doing - to help us.

        It's possible a lot of UK gamers already log on to US links, simply
        because there *are* more US sites with high profiles. How many UK sites
        are there with high profiles? Sites/links that can easily be found. If
        you tried typing 'dalmatian' into any search engine a few months ago all
        you would get would be American sites. That's just an example, and it's
        obvious why, the Americans have had greater access to email/the internet
        for far longer than most gaming enthusiasts over here. I say target the
        US sites and see what happens.

        Tom
      • Tom Tweedy
        In message , John and Denny Colledge writes ... You re the ones doing the work, John [and I
        Message 3 of 11 , Jul 1 7:07 AM
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          In message <377A94E5.5201@...>, John and Denny Colledge
          <dunorroch@...> writes

          >Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel that the number of
          >people who have actually been prepared to do anything so far would
          >suggest that we might be better tackling these one at a time rather than
          >spreading ourselves too thinly in an attempt to do everything. I suspect
          >spreading ourselves too thinly would lead to things being done in a half
          >hearted and fairly inefficient fashion. What is the general view?
          >
          You're the ones doing the work, John [and I have great respect for
          people that can take on such a thankless task in the first place - I'm
          too lazy], I think it's up you to decide [see, passing the buck
          already]. My personal opinion though - if I were doing it - would be to
          tackle them one at a time to make sure the ball keeps rolling. Apathy
          can kill something like this quickly.

          >Here are a few suggestions from myself. As I said earlier, I am aiming
          >to draw up a questionnaire for those who attend Manorcon. One of the
          >questions will be to ask for suggestions of games shops who might be
          >prepared to give out our leaflets when they sell games. They might even
          >be prepared to put up a poster in their shop for us. Now, those who
          >suggested Leaflets/Posters didn't say if this included Libraries and
          >Supermarkets, but I suspect that we are better to go for Games shops
          >first, working on the basis that you try to get hold of people you know
          >are actually interested in games. Seems obvious. We can after all, come
          >back to the Libraries/Supermarkets option later.

          Libraries are a must. Gaming clubs, like chess etc. Schools would be a
          good idea - get 'um young, I say. Hell, if gay people can post leaflets
          outside schools, why not gamers? We don't lurk that much. Well, alright,
          *some* do, but...

          As for shops [supermarkets, game shops, etc] I think that'll be just hit
          and miss [some will, some won't] don't rely on them, but take what you
          can.

          >If Alex doesn't give us the go ahead to use his Introduction, we need to
          >set up a new one, (any volunteers?),or pinch Alex's anyway - with
          >reference to himself of course! We also need to decide if we do or don't
          >want cartoons and if we do, what sort? Allan and Mark are wonderful
          >cartoonists, but it might be useful if they were given a bit of notice
          >to prepare something.
          >
          When presenting information to intelligent people [and most gamers,
          believe it or not are] I hate *too* much flashy artwork. So if you're
          having cartoons, make it just one, please. A good one I saw once [I
          think it was in the original '72 Rulebook] was 6 players lying over a
          diplomacy board with knives in their backs, while the 7th sat there with
          a grin on his face. Trouble is... you really need a *gaming* advert I
          suppose...

          If you can't think of a good one... steer well clear would be my advice
          - intelligent people tend to hate being treated like children [even
          though most of us are! :-) ]. 'Information' is our prime target.

          >Finally, the Internet. Most people don't really know a) how best to use
          >it, and b) if it all goes horribly wrong, (or should that be horribly
          >right?) could we be swamped? I suspect that Students could be added in
          >here as well. As I mentioned some time ago, most Student organisations
          >have their own web sites these days and they are easily accessible. I
          >mentioned Emeric's site a while back but got no reaction. I came upon it
          >quite by accident a couple of days ago and left a message. He says he is
          >happy to help.
          >
          The web/email *is* a good source for advertising, but you must abide by
          the rules, beware of spamming. It is easily the most hated subject in
          newsgroups.

          It *can't* go 'horribly wrong', as you mean it. If we get 1000+ people
          [doubtful anyway] so what? We either cater for them or someone else can
          [new zines starting up etc]. The worst that can happen is they hear
          about us and then drift away to other gaming links [which *we*
          advertise]. Either way we get them hooked on one game or another.

          Tom
        • Tony Robbins
          Finally found time to stop lurking and start posting! It s good to see that the amount of traffic on this list is steadily increasing; I will assume that the
          Message 4 of 11 , Jul 1 3:20 PM
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            Finally found time to stop lurking and start posting!

            It's good to see that the amount of traffic on this list is steadily
            increasing; I will assume that the threat to close it down was just an
            incentive for more activity. As an earlier correspondent wrote, any
            promotion of the pbm hobby is a *good thing*, and all the effort going
            towards this must be applauded.

            I would add a No. 6 to the Top 5: we need an effective means of
            communicating what's going on in the hobby (not only for newcomers, but for
            old stagers as well). Given the number of players, GMs and editors with
            email access, this list has the potential to provide it - but more people
            need to sign up (or be signed up?).

            John H's Starter Package booklet is excellent. However, I would suggest
            that you don't use Eamon Bloomfield/Spire Games as a contact. I understand
            from David Watts that Eamon has been unwell for some months, and Spire
            Games 'may not be promoting the game at all ... or folding the game (plus
            all the others) completely' [quote from a letter received by Alex Bardy,
            reproduced in Mango #8, which arrived today]. One correction - there's
            over 100 RR maps around (page 5); three typos I spotted - p.9: Bus Boss -
            not as popular *as* RR; p.13: Pimley *Award*; p.14: Ratings - discussion
            *of*.


            Tony Robbins
          • Stephen Agar
            In message , Tony Robbins writes ... As the list owner, I can sign people up for this
            Message 5 of 11 , Jul 1 4:33 PM
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              In message <199907011821_MC2-7B90-3D2E@...>, Tony Robbins
              <101234.1602@...> writes
              >From: Tony Robbins <101234.1602@...>
              >
              >Finally found time to stop lurking and start posting!
              >
              >It's good to see that the amount of traffic on this list is steadily
              >increasing; I will assume that the threat to close it down was just an
              >incentive for more activity.

              :-)

              > As an earlier correspondent wrote, any
              >promotion of the pbm hobby is a *good thing*, and all the effort going
              >towards this must be applauded.
              >
              >I would add a No. 6 to the Top 5: we need an effective means of
              >communicating what's going on in the hobby (not only for newcomers, but for
              >old stagers as well). Given the number of players, GMs and editors with
              >email access, this list has the potential to provide it - but more people
              >need to sign up (or be signed up?).

              As the list owner, I can sign people up for this list - but I am loath
              to do it. Maybe I should invite them with personal emails instead... I
              don't think we need more than one list.


              --
              Stephen Agar, Brighton, UK
              www.diplomacy.co.uk
            • Tom Tweedy
              In message , Tony Robbins writes ... I have to admit I didn t find it easy to join this
              Message 6 of 11 , Jul 2 5:27 AM
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                In message <199907011821_MC2-7B90-3D2E@...>, Tony Robbins
                <101234.1602@...> writes
                >I would add a No. 6 to the Top 5: we need an effective means of
                >communicating what's going on in the hobby (not only for newcomers, but for
                >old stagers as well). Given the number of players, GMs and editors with
                >email access, this list has the potential to provide it - but more people
                >need to sign up (or be signed up?).

                I have to admit I didn't find it easy to join this newsgroup. [a]
                because I only heard about it in the latest BUM, and [b] I didn't like
                the large form one *has* to fill in to be allowed on the onelist [I
                don't like giving out all that info online]. It nearly put me off, and
                I'm sure it'll scare others off as well. The only two other lists I've
                seen like this [Jan subscribes to them], all you have to do it put
                'subscribe' or 'unsubscribe' in the subject and you're on or off. It'd
                help if this list was that easy.

                Tom
              • Tom Tweedy
                In message , Stephen Agar writes ... I didn t know you could do that - you don t say so on your
                Message 7 of 11 , Jul 2 5:30 AM
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                  In message <7lZepHAmr$e3EwBo@...>, Stephen Agar
                  <stephen@...> writes
                  >From: Stephen Agar <stephen@...>

                  >As the list owner, I can sign people up for this list - but I am loath
                  >to do it. Maybe I should invite them with personal emails instead... I
                  >don't think we need more than one list.
                  >
                  >
                  I didn't know you could do that - you don't say so on your web page. Why
                  are you loath to do so? I think inviting more people is a good idea

                  Tom
                • John Harrington
                  In message , John and Denny Colledge writes ... Yes, they arrived by post OK John. Pete Birks
                  Message 8 of 11 , Jul 4 4:17 AM
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                    In message <377A94E5.5201@...>, John and Denny Colledge
                    <dunorroch@...> writes
                    >From: John and Denny Colledge <dunorroch@...>
                    >
                    >Hi Folks! Just a quick message to let you know that I have sent out 50+
                    >letters and e-mails to all zines in the UK with the exception of, I
                    >think it was three professional zines and a Dip flyer. It is a shame we
                    >didn't get ourselves organised a couple of weeks earlier as the obvious
                    >place to collect the zines is Manorcon, but at least John should get a
                    >steady trickle of newish zines from a wider variety of editors than in
                    >the past, which was basically what we wanted anyway. Hopefully some of
                    >the editors will mention us in the passing. If they don't make in time
                    >for Manorcon, it can be pretty costly to send them by post, as I know to
                    >my cost! John, I hope mine have arrived OK?

                    Yes, they arrived by post OK John. Pete Birks even sent me some
                    Greatest Hits. Nothing strange in that, you might think, except I print
                    GH and then hand the copies over to Pete (who then posts me a copy for
                    the Zine Bank ....?)

                    We were at the UK Games Fest in Harlow yesterday (Saturday) giving away
                    copies of the Hobby Starter Pack. Not really our sort of crowd, being
                    mainly figure gamers and CCG players, but we managed to sell a few
                    copies of Mission From God - about 8 or 9 - and give away some zines.

                    One guy turned up at our stall and mentioned he used to play games by
                    post back in the eighties. "Have you ever heard of a guy called John
                    Harrington?" he asked. "Yes, he's sitting over there playing Union
                    Pacific".

                    Haven't seen this bloke in over ten years, maybe nearer 15. He's lost
                    contact with the postal hobby but is au fait with German games (e.g.
                    Modern Art) so I'd be astonished if he does not become an active player
                    again. So, that's one we've clawed back. Just another 49 to go this
                    year...

                    The Zine Bank is extraordinarily well stocked at the moment, so much so
                    that I am going to have to buy another expandable wallet to store them
                    in. DON'T let that stop editors sending me more (and not just their own
                    zines) or better still bringing them along to ManorCon. With the
                    Starter Pack published (sorry for those who were hoping to give more
                    feedback but I had to get it done in time for the Harlow event), and the
                    zines in place I think we are (finally) ready to do some advertising.


                    >As John H is nearing the end of the road with the new Introduction to
                    >the Hobby, and the word has gone out throughout the land that we are
                    >looking for samples of zines, it is probably about time to consider
                    >tactics. After an amazing seven entries to the "Top Five Suggestions for
                    >Ways to Encourage New Members into the Hobby", the scores on the doors
                    >are:
                    >
                    >Leaflets/Posters 28 Adverts 21 Internet 19
                    >
                    >Several of those who suggested Leaflets also suggested Posters, so I
                    >have put them together. Those that suggested Adverts didn't say whether
                    >they meant Classified Adverts or those we pay for. The Internet appears
                    >to be very general.

                    OK, I can put a message on uk.games.board, rec.games.board and whatever
                    the Diplomacy one is, mentioning the Starter Pack is available for the
                    price of 4 stamps (or $2 to the International Subscription Exchange in
                    the USA).

                    I can also have a word with Leisure Games, see if they'd be interested
                    in putting some flyers in with their carrier bags, perhaps in return for
                    free adverts in X number of zines - the value of X to be determined by
                    the number of editors who volunteer to run the adverts.

                    Alternatively, we could offer them banner ads on hobby web sites - mine
                    (Fiendish Games), Steve's (diplomacy.co.uk), anyone else? ManorCon?
                    MidCon?

                    I don't know the people at Playin' Games so well but I could try them
                    too. Anyone want to volunteer to sound out Karl Bown (The Games Store)
                    and Phil at Spirit Games? Anyone know anyone at Esdevium?
                    >Here are a few suggestions from myself. As I said earlier, I am aiming
                    >to draw up a questionnaire for those who attend Manorcon. One of the
                    >questions will be to ask for suggestions of games shops who might be
                    >prepared to give out our leaflets when they sell games. They might even
                    >be prepared to put up a poster in their shop for us. Now, those who
                    >suggested Leaflets/Posters didn't say if this included Libraries and
                    >Supermarkets, but I suspect that we are better to go for Games shops
                    >first, working on the basis that you try to get hold of people you know
                    >are actually interested in games. Seems obvious. We can after all, come
                    >back to the Libraries/Supermarkets option later.
                    >
                    >As for the actual leaflets themselves, I have asked Alex several times
                    >if he minds if we use his pro-PBM con. leaflet as a starting point for
                    >our our main leaflet. Sadly, he has either ignored my request or
                    >forgotten it. I have tried again however, so "constructive nagging" may
                    >bear fruit eventually! Sorry, there should probably be a ;-) symbol
                    >there for those who have a problem with my sense of humour. ;-) Note to
                    >Paul. This is a smiley face with a wink, as in nudge nudge, wink wink
                    >say no more!

                    I've got shedloads of the PBM con flyers. They are "generic" - i.e.
                    don't really relate to the PBM con at all. If anyone wants a copy or
                    three to slap up in a library, coffee room, Uni notice board or games
                    shop write to me at

                    1 Churchbury Close,
                    Enfield
                    Middlesex
                    EN1 3UW

                    >
                    >Moving on to Adverts. Presumably Classifieds would take preference at
                    >this stage due to lack of funds, as most of our cash will be spent on
                    >paper for the Leaflets/Posters option. Is Stephen still prepared to do
                    >this? I seem to remember Nick Parish being mentioned as if he would be
                    >doing it, at one stage. The chap at work who is into miniature war games
                    >gave me a few details which I passed on to Stephen. I gather that Dip
                    >was mentioned in those magazines a few times so they at least are
                    >possibilities, though we probably need to revisit the advert. The wider
                    >the range of gamers we can get the better, but presumably Dip would
                    >appeal more to those who are reading war games magazines.

                    Classifieds are fine for slightly off-topic magazines. Free classifieds
                    are even better! We might perhaps stretch to a small display ad in
                    Games Games Games and Counter without busting the budget - we should
                    have over 100 pounds in the kitty by now.
                    >
                    >Finally, the Internet. Most people don't really know a) how best to use
                    >it, and b) if it all goes horribly wrong, (or should that be horribly
                    >right?) could we be swamped? I suspect that Students could be added in
                    >here as well. As I mentioned some time ago, most Student organisations
                    >have their own web sites these days and they are easily accessible. I
                    >mentioned Emeric's site a while back but got no reaction. I came upon it
                    >quite by accident a couple of days ago and left a message. He says he is
                    >happy to help.

                    Search engines are fine but in my view the best way of getting new
                    visitors is via links from similar sites. Fiendish Games has already
                    got a link on quite a few of games related sites but they are not
                    directed to the postal gaming section of our web site.

                    When I have put the Starter Pack on our web site - and Stephen's, I'm
                    not fussed - then we can e-mail fellow travellers and ask for a link to
                    be placed.
                    >
                    >I think the general feeling is that it doesn't matter what we do, we are
                    >never going to get enough new members to actually cause a problem. I
                    >just hope you are right! So, let's be having you. All suggestions on how
                    >to appraoch the above three means of bringing new blood into the hobby,
                    >are very welcome. Remember, I am happy to approach games
                    >shops/distributors to see if they are willing to hand out our leaflets
                    >with any games they sell.

                    I think you are right, we are not going to discover a hidden world of
                    potential postal gamers out there. We might achieve some good returns
                    initially tempting back lapsed members, after which I'd personally be
                    happy with 2 or 3 virgins a month (wouldn't we all).
                    >
                    >Finally, finally. I thought you might find the undernoted of interest.
                    >John, could you update MfG with Pete's new details please? I will send
                    >him a copy of the PUMA review that he asks for. I found this most
                    >encouraging. Hope you do as well.

                    Updating MfG on the web is on my list of things to do. So, sadly, are
                    many other things. At least MfG is quite near the top!
                    >
                    >One important thing before I forget. John H, Stephen and Mark. Jeremy
                    >Tullet has sent me a copy of the NDC flier and has asked me to pass it
                    >on to as many people with their own web sites as possible. I will need
                    >to send this from work tomorrow as my MAC would just throw up its hands
                    >at the sightb of it! Hopefully you can do something with it. Any other
                    >suggestions? I will contact Ryk Downes as well.
                    >
                    I await with breath abated.

                    Oh, one other thing. I saw Chris Tringham on Tuesday - there was some
                    bloke called Agar there too, I recall - and unless my eyes deceived me,
                    he handed over the famous MidCon Hobby Development Fund cheque book to
                    John Dodds. I shall ask John what he plans to do with it - presumably
                    he is going to send it to Nick Parrish.


                    --
                    John Harrington
                  • John Harrington
                    In message , Stephen Agar writes ... I say, go ahead and do it. ... We could do, although one
                    Message 9 of 11 , Jul 4 4:33 AM
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                      In message <atngJGANHre3EwE0@...>, Stephen Agar
                      <stephen@...> writes
                      >From: Stephen Agar <stephen@...>
                      >
                      >I am familiar with all the magazines you mentioned - indeed I buy them
                      >most months. I am willing to place the ads. provided we don't have a 3
                      >month discussion on how to word the adverts. Indeed, I used to vary the
                      >wording to see if some were more effective than others.

                      I say, go ahead and do it.

                      >Are we going to have a meeting to discuss these things at ManorCon?
                      >
                      We could do, although one big meeting might not be productive - could be
                      entertaining if Steve and Mark W. are both there though.

                      I can't believe I am about to suggest this but if we do have a big
                      meeting I suggest we have a strong personality as a chairman, an agenda,
                      a set time limit for each discussion point and an over-riding aim of
                      getting back to the beer and games as quickly as possible! I don't want
                      to spend more than an hour on this and, at the risk of being accused of
                      acting in secret, would prefer a series of informal chats over beer with
                      anybody who can be bothered to seek me out.

                      I'm not sure how this would work - maybe through a flyer on the
                      registration desk saying "the following people are involved in the
                      campaign to promote the hobby. They would be happy to listen to your
                      views over a beer."

                      Ugh. All sounds a bit makeshift, but I feel in my heart of hearts that
                      it is all going to come down to a group of half a dozen people getting
                      off their arses and doing it, and it is up to those half a dozen people
                      to be responsible and do "it" in a way which does not rankle too many
                      people. Put another way, the half-dozen should canvas as many opinions
                      as they can but then be trusted to act without having to get a rubber
                      stamp from the hobby every step of the way. Kind of like MPs (probably
                      the worst example I could have chosen!)


                      --
                      John Harrington
                    • John Harrington
                      In message , Tony Robbins writes ... Aargh! As mentioned elsewhere, I ve already gone
                      Message 10 of 11 , Jul 4 4:42 AM
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                        In message <199907011821_MC2-7B90-3D2E@...>, Tony Robbins
                        <101234.1602@...> writes
                        >From: Tony Robbins <101234.1602@...>
                        >
                        >
                        >John H's Starter Package booklet is excellent. However, I would suggest
                        >that you don't use Eamon Bloomfield/Spire Games as a contact. I understand
                        >from David Watts that Eamon has been unwell for some months, and Spire
                        >Games 'may not be promoting the game at all ... or folding the game (plus
                        >all the others) completely' [quote from a letter received by Alex Bardy,
                        >reproduced in Mango #8, which arrived today]. One correction - there's
                        >over 100 RR maps around (page 5); three typos I spotted - p.9: Bus Boss -
                        >not as popular *as* RR; p.13: Pimley *Award*; p.14: Ratings - discussion
                        >*of*.
                        >
                        Aargh! As mentioned elsewhere, I've already gone to print. Luckily
                        John Colledge spotted the omissions Tony mentions above (and I also did
                        a few proof reads of my own - I like to leave it a few days if I can
                        between proof reading).

                        I'm sorry to hear Eamon has not been well. Without him the UK board
                        gaming scene would be very very different - we'd all be rolling dice and
                        looking at charts, playing games that takes 6 or 7 hours. OK,
                        eventually someone would have discovered German games I guess, but so
                        far as I am aware Eamon was the trailblazer.

                        As for RR, quite simply it cannot be allowed to die. I'll send Eamon an
                        e-mail and see if he would be prepared to sell it to Fiendish Games
                        although from what I heard, the money David Watts was asking for the
                        "franchise" was prohibitive. Not so much the money as the fact he was
                        insisting on including all kinds of paraphernalia in the sale - storage
                        units and what have you.

                        Maybe a licensing deal would be more appropriate. Anyway, that's not
                        really the problem of this board.

                        --
                        John Harrington
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