Future of Flash/archive's egrep function

Bart De Pontieu (BDP@MPEPL)
Fri, 24 May 1996 17:24:24 +0100 (CET)

Hi SeeSat-ers,

I would like open a discussion about the future of Flash, the newsletter
of the Belgian Working Group Satellites, which has recently become bimonthly
(see my previous message for details on where to find samples of Flash on
the net).

Those who are on Internet and who regularly read Flash, must have noticed
that for quite some time now Flash has been largely filled by stuff that
appeared on the net first (esp. SeeSat-messages) and is thus loosing its
significance. Flash is printed on paper (imagine that :-) and sent to about
70 subscribers, of which I estimate about 1/3 is on Internet (where Flash
can be retrieved much faster than through snail-mail). Flash was originally
intended to be a means of improving contact between the BWGS-members, but has
over the past 10 years gradually changed. It used to be devoted exclusively
to flash periods (hence the catchy title :-), but that has been relaxed
completely, it is open to any contribution about visual satellite observing.

What is my point? My point is that in its current form I do not see any
future for Flash after 1996 (a volume which we are obliged to publish, given
that people paid subscriptions!). Contact between the BWGS-ers is swift and
well-established through e-mail, SeeSat-L and our private little Dutch-speaking
newsgroup BWGS-L devoted to administrative BWGS-stuff. So Flash is no longer
needed as a means to improve contact between the BWGS-members.

I do see a (possible) future for Flash (whether on paper or Internet) as a 
regularly appearing (bimonthly?) magazine devoted to lengthy, thorough, 
serious, etc... observing projects, analysis, etc... A bit like Flash 101, 
which was just published. In other words, a magazine containing those messages 
that are too long for SeeSat-L, or messages that just *need* figures and 
graphs for good understanding. Of course, such messages are now (more and 
more) also being put on diverse WWW-pages by various authors, but having a 
magazine to compile them would focus attention on those articles, and it 
would probably also focus the concentration of the authors during writing :-)

I don't know if such a future is realistic, since I don't know whether our
visual satellite-observing community (as gathered in SeeSat-L) is interested
in such a publication. So, I'd like to hear your comments about the above.
Support for such a publication should also go further than 'yes, that's a
good idea', the real question is whether enough articles will be produced to
make it worthwhile. 

I want to stress that I'm just taking Flash as a starting point, because it
already exists. I've noticed in the past that Flash is way too much identi-
fied with the BWGS or more specifically with flash periods, and the publication
I see a future for should not be limited to the above. So, I'm perfectly
willing to drop the Flash name altogether, and will gladly open up the 
'editorial staff' to non-BWGS-ers (though that is a pretty vague term any way) 
if that is so desired. So, the question then becomes : "Do you see a future
for an english-language magazine devoted to visual satellite observing ?".
I hope I'm not overlooking an already existing magazine (Satellite Times
doesn't fit the above description, does it?).

To add some usefulness to this message, let me comment on what Walter writes:

>Newbies, welcome to SeeSat-L.  We're glad to have you aboard.  There are 
>many messages in the SeeSat-L archive on this subject.  You could try 
>egrep'ing on glint, 1933, and "solar panel" in latest, old1 and old2. 
>Let us know what you are seeing. 
Welcome to the newcomers from me too. Don't hesitate to write an introduction
about your interests in satellites, even if you don't see many appearing on
SeeSat-L right now. Each day sees new subscribers, and I'm getting the
impression people are too shy to write introductions, because they don't
see any appearing on SeeSat-L. Talk about negative feedback loop :-)

Anyway, to clarify what Walter alludes to, all old SeeSat-L messages are
archived on our e-mail archive server. You can search this archive for 
keywords by sending a message with Subject "archive" (without the quotes) to
and in the body comments of this form:
egrep "solar panel" old1/*
egrep Mir latest/*
egrep tether old4/*

The archive server will then return you a list of all messages which contain
that word or expression. Our message archive is subdivided (for practical 
computational reasons) into 5 subdirectories (currently):
old1 contains message no. 1 to 499, old2 contains no. 500 to 999, etc...
latest always contains the last <500 messages. In the near future old5 will
be created, which will contain messages 2000 to 2499, and so on.
Each of these old1, etc... subdirectories contains a file called index
which contains for all messages in the subdir: Subject, Date, Author

All of these files can also be 'get', but for more details, you might want
to send "archive help" to the request-address. I just wanted to clarify the
way our archive is structured, and esp. how one can search through it. The
latter is a very powerful option, and it is only used by a few people.

Bart De Pontieu --  Max-Planck-Institute for extraterrestrial Physics, Garching
bdp@mpepl.plasma.mpe-garching.mpg.de -- http://www.rzg.mpg.de/~bdp/eurosom.html
            Join us at Eurosom 2: October 22/23, Ghent, Belgium
BWGS-coordinator -- Flash editor -- SeeSat-L administrator -- would-be-observer
        "Nobody told me there'd be days like these" -- JOL (1940-1980)