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BioMOO VR web interface now open

Eric H. Mercer Mercer at caltech.edu
Fri May 5 21:03:30 EST 1995

    BioMOO  --  The Virtual Meeting Place for Biologists

  The members of the BioMOO community are pleased to announce the
establishment of BioMOO's multimedia interface.

  BioMOO is a free collaborative, networked, virtual environment
for biology professionals.  It provides an internet-accessible virtual
location and simple, widely available text (telnet) and multimedia
(World Wide Web) user interfaces for members of the international
biology research community to:

-- Host journal clubs, seminars, poster sessions, or complete

-- Meet scientists from around the world working in a wide variety of

-- Establish a central resource for internationally accessible
   information, taking advantage of the "virtual place" idiom for
   organization and presentation.

-- Use a set of basic "virtual object" components for building
   demonstration and training mechanisms.

-- Utilize various tools provided for classroom teaching given
   geographically dispersed students and teachers.

-- Meet programmers experienced in building virtual objects for a
   variety of purposes, and interested in new projects for general

-- Use an e-mail exploder and automatic archiving system for e-mail
   conferences, supplemented by real-time discussions in BioMOO
   meeting rooms.

** Provide a publicly available front-end for outside systems, in the
   form of virtual objects which dynamically interact with systems
   running off-site.

** = Under development.


  BioMOO's new multimedia interface makes it the premier
international networking tool for biologists seeking a simple,
inexpensive means to communicate text and graphics all in real time.
The graphics interface requires graphical access to the World Wide
Web, the recent internet extension that allows users to easily access
images, sounds and movies using simple web browsing tools like the
programs "Mosaic" or "Netscape."  All text-based features have been
retained, permitting users without graphics capabilities to use all
relevant BioMOO features such as real time text communication, a
consistent virtual space, and useful objects within it.  No
commercial software is needed to use BioMOO.

   A tutorial and other help systems are provided for training at
every levels of experience once you've reached BioMOO.  The graphical
interface is completely intuitive, using familiar metaphors to
represent all aspects of the virtual space.  A summary of the most
common commands for using the real-time text interface is appended to
this note.

    Established in late 1993 by Gustavo Glusman and Jaime Prilusky at
the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, and featured in Science
magazine (264:900-901,1994), BioMOO has proven to be a stable,
flexible, and effective means of harnessing the internet for
scientific communication.  The BioMOO community (currently
approximately 900 members from over 32 countries) welcomes all
interested biology professionals to visit BioMOO and use its
resources for furthering communication in the international biology
research community.


Connecting to BioMOO

  To reach BioMOO, establish a telnet connection to the
Weizmann Institute of Science's Bioinformatics server at
bioinfo.weizmann.ac.il (port 8888).  Depending on your computer you
may need to do this by running a Telnet program and entering
"bioinfo.weizmann.ac.il 8888" into a field, or by typing a command
such as:
    telnet bioinfo.weizmann.ac.il 8888
    telnet bioinfo.weizmann.ac.il:8888
    telnet bioinfo.weizmann.ac.il/port=8888
    telnet bioinfo.weizmann.ac.il#8888
  A final option is to connect via Gopher at bioinfo.weizmann.ac.il
(port 70).  Some communication programs require a numeric address, in
which case you should replace "bioinfo.weizmann.ac.il" with
  After you connect and the BioMOO introduction appears, type "guest
<name> <password>" to connect as a guest character, replacing <name>
and <password> with ones you choose.  This will allow you to explore
BioMOO without requesting a permanent character.

  If you have access to a graphical web browser, you can also
establish a parallel web-MOO link that will allow you to see images
in BioMOO as well as provide a graphical interface.  You must first
establish a telnet connection as described in the previous paragraph.
If you didn't set a password when you connected, you can set one from
inside BioMOO by typing "@password <password>", replacing <password>
with your own.  Then connect to the web authentication system by
pointing your web browser to "http://bioinfo.weizmann.ac.il:8000" and
entering the name and password you selected.  Select "The Viewer"
>From the list of web applications, and you'll have a graphical view
inside BioMOO.


Contacts for questions:

Gustavo Glusman  Gustavo at bioinfo.weizmann.ac.il
Paul Hansen      phansen at together.net
Eric Mercer      mercer at caltech.edu
Jaime Prilusky   lsprilus at inherit1.weizmann.ac.il (system/resources)
John Towell      m50jft1 at hayek.cob.niu.edu

Internet Sites for Additional Information:

BioMOO WWW Home page: http://bioinfo.weizmann.ac.il:70/1s/biomoo

BioMOO Command Summary
    (WWW): http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~mercer/htmls/BasicMOOCommands.html
    (ftp): ftp://ftp.cco.caltech.edu/pub/BioMOO/command_sum.txt

BioMOO Frequently Asked Questions sheet:

Home page for the Globewide Network Academy's Virtual School of Natural
Science, which uses BioMOO as its campus:


Commonly Used BioMOO Commands

  The following commands assume, for demonstration purposes, that
"Jane" is your name in BioMOO.  Text given in angle brackets
"<...>", should be replaced by the appropriate text, omitting the
angle brackets.

  You speak the given <text>.  For example:
      "Hi, I'm new to BioMOO.
causes everyone in the same room as you to see:
      Jane says, "Hi, I'm new to BioMOO."
  If your lines are getting broken in the middle with other people's
speech, try typing "say" (or a double quote character) without
<text>.  This will allow you to enter a line of text without these
disturbances.  A better long term solution is to connect to BioMOO
using a specialized client program instead of telnet (see

  You "emote" the given text, which appear as a third person
statement.  For example:
      :is learning to use BioMOO.
appears to all people with you as:
      Jane is learning to use BioMOO.
  Just as in "say" (explained above), entering "emote" (or a colon)
without <text> will permit you to enter a line of text without it
being broken by other people's speech.

to <person> <text>
  You specify that you're speaking to <person>, although all in the
same room see it too.  For example:
      to Mary Have you been here before?
appears as:
      Jane [to Mary]: Have you been here before?

page <person> <text>
  You send a private message to someone, not necessarily in the same
room as you.  For example:
      page Mary Are you busy?
results in Mary seeing:
      You sense Jane is looking for you in the Central Room.
      She pages, "Are you busy?"

  A listing of who's connected to BioMOO at the moment.

info <person>
  Assorted information about the person that they've made available.
The commands "@whois <person>" and "research <person>" provide the
same information in alternative formats.

join <person>
  You teleport to whatever room <person> is located.

  Use this to move south. You can generally abbreviate it to just "s".  In a
similar fashion, all compass directions may be available depending on the
local topography, as well as "up" and "down."

go <location>
    Move directly to the place in BioMOO named <location>.

look <object>
  Look at a virtual object and see its description.

examine <object>
  Examine a virtual object to discover what commands may be used on
it and how to word them.

  Access the BioMOO help system main menu.  Use "help <subject>" to
read information concerning a particular subject, or "help <object>"
for help on a particular object.

  End your BioMOO session.

Eric H. Mercer                  California Institute of Technology
Division of Biology; 216-76     Pasadena, CA  91125
(818) 356-6822                  mercer at caltech.edu

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