Frequently Asked Questions
Revised 2004-03-04

The following topics are covered in this FAQ:


Terms of Service

Revised 2004-12-20

This system is restricted to users 13 years of age and older. Users who are not 18 years of age may register and use this site only with the consent of a parent or guardian who must consent to the terms of service when asked by the system.

This system is partitioned into topic "forum" areas on various subjects. It is expected that you will post your messages only in a forum that reasonably corresponds with the subject matter of your message.

Some forums may permit you to read them without being registered as a user. You must, however, register to be able to post messages.

You agree to keep your email address up to date and current. You understand that if the system attempts to email you for any reason and that email is returned as undeliverable, that your account may be suspended or cancelled.

Trolling, "flaming" or the calling of names is expressly prohibited, even if you couch your insult in the form of a reference to some other work. For instance, calling someone "the 5th word on the 234 page of Websters", where that word is a personal insult, is just as bad as actually typing the word itself.

Any action taken to impair the functioning of the system or damage its enjoyment by other users is prohibited. This includes but is not limited to actions such as initiating message "floods", using any robotic device or program to access the system, or intentionally exploiting "bugs" which you may discover. If you accidentally discover some operational misfeature, please report it using the link at the bottom of the top-level page.

Creating of multiple accounts linked to one person (known as "sock puppets") or the sharing of access accounts is prohibited. The system enforces a one account per email address policy; using multiple email addresses to circumvent this policy is not allowed.

Accounts are for your personal, exclusive use. If you are signing in from a shared computer, please do not click the "Remember Me" button on the login screen to prevent the storage of a persistent cookie. Clicking "Logout" will clear any stored cookies that may be on your system for this site at any time.

Commercial exploitation or "mining" of the data on this system is prohibited, and violators are subject to prosecution. This explicitly includes but is not limited to the posting of commercial messages without explicit permission, the "spamming" of users on this board, or the solicitation of users via the private email system contained herein. There may be commercial areas on this board - if there are, you agree that you must read and abide by the policies found in the "sticky" post(s) on that board, if any.

Any violation of system policy may result in those actions being "outed" to the user population through public posting by the administrators. You have no expectation of privacy in your actions here; the very intent and purpose of this system is to provide and promote a public forum for discussion.

We do not restrict the use of language, and as such you may see 'curse' words here. If this bothers you, then it is likely you will not want to participate in this forum.

However, content that offers or describes the construction or use of destructive devices, firearms, illegal drugs, or any other item or act that is illegal under any jurisdiction in the United States of America is prohibited. This includes the posting of any material that would be illegal to provide to a person who is not of the age of 18 years (e.g. sexually explicit material.) You are responsible for the material you post to this forum.

We expect you to respect copyrights and other intellectual property while using this system. Reproduction of copyrighted material without express permission is prohibited. Reproduction of material that appears on this board elsewhere, without the express written permission of the author and Scubaforum.Org is also prohibited. If you wish to cite material on this forum, the use of a link to the appropriate posting elsewhere on the Internet (causing the original text to appear from this system when the link is followed) is permitted.

The linkage of images or to any external site that violates any of these terms is prohibited in messages on this site, or in your control panel settings.

Images that are linked to postings must be less than 50kb in size (each) and no more than 640x480 pixels. Larger images cause disruption of user's display screens and will be removed or the entire posting hidden at any moderator's discretion.

Your account here is a privilege, not a right, and may be withdrawn by the administration of the system at any time. We also reserve the right to edit messages.

Since we cannot be everywhere at once, there is a "REPORT POST" button under the user name of each posting on this system in the form of a graphical image that says "Off Topic". If you believe that any posting on the system violates the terms of service, please click this link and alert us. Using this facility will email all of the moderators of that particular forum a copy of your complaint, along with a link to the suspected posting.

You agree and understand that while we will endeavor to respond to complaints, we cannot be everywhere at once, that we cannot guarantee a response within any particular timeframe, and that the software design on this system does not generally permit the practice of prior restraint (e.g. "editorial control") As such it is entirely possible that offensive postings or materials that are in violation of these terms of service may exist on the system at any given point in time, and you consent to the potential display of same by accessing this forum.

By posting here you are granting an unlimited, royalty-free license to the system adminstrators and owners to use your contributions in any compilation, without limitation.

Any violation of these terms of service may result in the removal or "hiding" of the offending postings or suspension of your account. Serious violations may result in permanent banishment of your account or even the IP block from which you use the Internet. Apparent violations of the law will be reported to the appropriate authorities.

We have undoubtably forgotten something in this document. The owners of the system reserve the right to interpret this document liberally and all decisions made by the administrators are final. If you believe your account has been unreasonably or unfairly restricted, you may use the "contact" link at the bottom of the top-level page to email the administrators directly.

We reserve the right to make changes to this document at any time with or without notice to you.


WAIVER, ASSUMPTION OF RISK, AND RELEASE

This forum exists to discuss an activity that is inherently dangerous. Scuba diving, in all of its forms, involves intentionally entering an environment where you cannot breathe without mechanical assistance.

In addition, diving involves the risk of severe injury, including the possibility of permanent injury or disability or even death from various inherent risks in the sport, including but not limited to arterial gas embolism (AGE), Decompression Sickness (DCS) and marine life. Indeed, it is entirely possible to suffer an embolism and die while using scuba equipment in a swimming pool.

It is also entirely possible to run out of breathing gas as a consequence of unforseen circumstances or inattentiveness, which can lead to death by drowning. Finally, your equipment can fail or be misused, whether properly maintained or not, which can result in the loss of buoyancy control, inability to breathe, too-rapid ascent, embolism, drowning and death.

It has been said by some that diving is akin to bowling in terms of risk of injury.

While from a statistical perspective this may be strictly true, it is the considered opinion of the owner of this site that nothing could be further from the truth. You might break your toe bowling from dropping the ball on your foot. It is unlikely for you to inadvertantly kill yourself at the bowling alley.

Diving deeper than you can easily and slowly ascend from on one breath, diving in cold water, diving in the open ocean or where predatory marine life exists, entering wrecks, caves, caverns or other "overhead" environments, intentionally or unintentionally exceeding the "no decompression" limits, breathing gasses other than air, spearfishing and more greatly increase the risks inherent in scuba diving.

Being overweight, in other than excellent cardio-pulmonary health, taking or needing many prescription, over the counter or even herbal substances, not to mention consumption of legal and illegal drugs, including but not limited to alcohol and tobacco, may significantly increase the risks inherent in scuba diving.

It is strongly advised that you consult your personal physician before beginning to scuba dive or increasing the difficulty level or complexity of diving you undertake to obtain advice as to whether the activity you are about to undertake carries an acceptable level of risk to you. You are also advised to reconfirm the acceptable nature of this risk if your health or personal status should change in any material fashion.

No information on this forum is or may be construed as medical advice, as medical advice in the context of a doctor-patient relationship requires personal knowledge, review of facts and a personal examination that cannot be provided on the Internet.

It is the considered opinion of the owner of this forum that you should never make a dive, even under instruction, that you are not prepared for in all respects, including but not limited to your mental state, your physical condition, your skills, equipment and knowledge.

IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH ANY DIVE YOU CONTEMPLATE, OR IF YOU ARE ABOUT TO RELY ON ANY OTHER PARTY TO SURVIVE YOUR EXPERIENCE, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO AN INSTRUCTOR, YOU ARE STRONGLY URGED NOT TO DIVE! HAVING AN INSTRUCTOR OR DIVE BUDDY ALONG DOES NOT RELEASE YOU FROM YOUR REPSONSIBILITY IN THIS REGARD.

EVERY INSTRUCTOR, PRIVATE OR STATE-RUN DIVE SITE OR CHARTER BOAT OPERATOR THE OWNER OF THIS FORUM HAS EVER SPOKEN WITH HAS REQUIRED YOU TO SIGN A WAIVER FAR MORE COMPREHENSIVE THAN THIS BEFORE HE OR SHE WILL TAKE YOU UNDER INSTRUCTION OR ALLOW YOUR ON THEIR SITE OR CHARTER VESSEL.

INDEED, VIRTUALLY ALL OF THESE WAIVERS FORCE YOU TO HOLD THESE PARTIES HARMLESS EVEN IF THEIR NEGLIGENCE IS INVOLVED IN YOUR INJURY!

BE AN INFORMED DIVER AND NEVER MAKE "TRUST ME" DIVES!

THIS EXTENDS TO ALL FACETS OF DIVING, INCLUDING EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE, SELECTION OF BREATHING GAS, SELECTION OF DIVE SITES AND YOUR OWN PERSONAL PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CONDITION.

You are very likely, indeed, it is nearly guaranteed that you will encounter material on this forum that describes dives, equipment maintenance, procedures and other diving-related activities that you are not qualified to undertake. You accept the responsibility for understanding the risks inherent in any such material discussed here, AND YOU AGREE NOT TO UNDERTAKE ANY SUCH ACTIVITY UNLESS YOU ARE PROPERLY QUALIFIED AND EQUIPPED TO DO SO.

By using this forum you are agreeing that the owner, sponsor(s) and others on this board are NOT acting in any professional capacity, that their opinions are not to be relied upon. If you want or need such a professional relationship and the ability to rely on what you discuss, you must contract with them off this forum for that relationship in a way that is mutually satisfactory.

You WILL encounter distinct and contradictory opinions on various matters on this forum. You are solely responsible for the weight you assign to any opinion presented here, and are solely responsible for following any advice given. You are cautioned that no expert can, will, or has passed on any information presented here and that the postings contained herein are solely the opinion of their respective authors.

We want you to come back and visit us often! Please dive safely and only within your own personal comfort level, considering all of the above.

You hereby release and hold harmless, for yourself, your heirs and estate the owner of this forum, the users and posters on this forum and any advertisers for the use of or reliance upon any information you find on this forum, irrespective of who has posted it or what they have stated or represented. If you are unable or not competent to judge the veracity of any opinion presented here, it is your duty to confirm the opinions, statements or positions taken with experts of your own choosing, and you are strongly urged to do so.

In order to use this forum, you must agree and consent to these terms of service and release. Your signature's electronic timestamp will be indelibly recorded in the system's records.


User information

When signing into the system, you may set the "Remember me" checkbox. If you set this box, then a "cookie" will be stored on your computer which contains a key to your user authentication. This code will remain valid for up to one year, unless you explicitly click "Logout" or clear the cookies on your browser.

All user information you enter other than your email address, password, and current status is visible to other users. Information on your interests, birthday and other data is voluntary and not required to access the system.

Your password and login ID are your "keys" to the system and should be guarded appropriately. You can change your password at any time from the control panel.

When registering for an account the system will email you at the address you provided with a validation URL. This special URL will be valid only one time, and is required to "unlock" your account. Until you visit that URL, your account can be signed into but most functions of the system will be disabled.

For security reasons, if you change your email address the system will temporarily lock your account and issue a new validation URL. You must visit that URL to unlock your account. If for some reason you do not receive this email, you will need to contact the admins via the link at the bottom of the top-level page to arrange to have your account manually unlocked.

You may upload a custom "avatar", or user "picture", to your account via the control panel. The image MUST be 100 pixels wide, and may not exceed 20kb in total size; the system will reject too-big files. (If the image is not 100 pixels wide, it will be resized by the software with almost-certain undesireable results.) Square 100x100 pixel images are recommended. The file must have an extension of "GIF", "JPG" or "BMP" and must be one of those three types for it to display properly. If you have an avatar uploaded, it will display under your name on all posts you make; changes to your avatar will show up on all previous and new postings immediately. You may see your current avatar and either change it or remove it entirely from the Control Panel. Inappropriate avatars or those which do damage to the display of the messages on the board will be removed by the administrator; see the TOS.


Subscriptions

This forum system supports a "subscription" mechanism for all registered users. If you have selected a notification period in your user control panel, the system will begin tracking message threads you participate in automatically.

If you subscribe to message forums, then the system will cease tracking new individual messages in that forum, and will instead notify you on all message activity in that forum (whether you were active in that thread or not.) This notification will contain a link to the forum, rather than to an individual message's new content. Note that existing thread subscriptions will remain active, however, unless you manually remove them.

You may also elect to be notified when new email is sent to your personal email box.

Note that if you have selected a notification period then you will be notified only when that period has passed since the last time you were notified, and only once until and unless you sign on again. For example, if you have the "General" forum subscribed to, and someone posts with your notification period set to one hour, you will be notified within one hour of that time. However, if a second person posts, you will not receive a second notification email until and unless you log back into the forum.

If you enable subscription notification, you may wish to sign on with "Remember me" (see below), otherwise the links you are sent by email may be invalid, as many functions will not operate unless you are signed in. If you do not wish to have a persistent session on your computer (e.g. you are using a shared computer), you can avoid this problem by opening the forum before clicking the links in your email; once your browser is open and you are signed on, your session ID will remain valid until it is closed. Note that following emailed links without being signed on, either individually or via the "Remember Me" facility, may either result in the display of error messages (e.g. if you attempt to access your email) or non-intuitive output (e.g. the system will take you to the new posts on threads you are following, but has no way to know where to place you if you are not signed in.)

You may disable notification emails entirely by turning off the period in your user control panel; this will not affect existing subscriptions but will prevent any new ones from being entered. You may also go to the "Subscriptions" tab off the control panel and add subscriptions to forums (or your email), or remove any existing subscriptions.

For a new user, notifications and subscriptions default to immediate.


Forum Email System

The forum software supports an embedded "email" system. If you have private messages, you can access them from the link which will appear on the top level forum page. Email may be sent from a top-level link as well, by typing in the user's name (on the forum system), the subject, and the message.

If you read a mesasge from a given user, and click on their user ID at the left of their post, you will see their published user information. There is an active link on the button bar to initiate an email to that user on the user details display page.

You read a message by clicking on the top level link displayed. Once you have displayed a message, you may delete it or reply to it directly from the display page - either action will result in you being returned to the email "folder".

From the top level, the system permits "marking" of multiple messages. The selector at the bottom gives you the option of either deleting all marked messages, or emailing them. If you select "email", then those messages will be sent to your registered email address in the system's files for "offline" archiving.

Note that while "email" is stored in such a fashion that it should only be available to your login id while you are signed in, there is no means of guaranteeing that email will not be intercepted. As such if you're concerned about the possbility of interception either do not use the email function or "forward" your email to your own computer system and remove it from the forum.


Privacy and Cookies

This system uses cookies to control access and allow you to post and view messages; they are necessary to the operation of the software. Disabling cookie storage on your browser will make it impossible for you to log in, post messages and use the system normally.

This system will store only one cookie on your machine in the form of a randomly-generated number that is used by the database system as a "key". This number can only be linked to your user identification on this system - it is not possible to discern your user login name, password or other identifying information from the cookie itself stored on your machine.

If you check "Remember me" when you sign on, that cookie will be stored on your machine across uses, and will remain valid for a maximum period of one year. You may remove it at any time by clicking "Logout". If you do [b]not[/b] click "Remember me", then the cookie will be set to expire automatically when you close your browser session, but will remain active in the system's database for quicker access. Even if you never log out and have selected "Remember Me", once a year the cookie will expire and you will have to sign back on manually.

You may sign in from more than one computer without the system complaining; however, if you click "Logout" you will cause ALL sessions for your login ID to become invalid, irrespective of what computer they may be on. This is an intentional security measure; using the "Logout" function clears the internal database cookie stored for your login ID, which causes all sessions for your login ID to be invalidated and require that you once again log into the system.

All posts here are d. Even if you edit a post, any moderator or administrator of that forum can see the original content you posted. That cannot be erased except by an explicit administrative action from outside the forum software; it is "write-only". This provides you with both protection against claims by others (including moderators!) that you have posted something "bad" when you have not, and also protects the moderators against claims that they censored something when they did not. However, it also means that your accountability for your words is irrefutable.

We refuse to "snow" you about claims about so-called "encryption" on messages here. A short primer - secure encryption requires at least one key that only you have. A stored password on the system is NOT sufficient, as that password can be easily looked up by the administrator, and once looked up the administrator can query the database directly for whatever he or she wants to look at. Thus, forums that claim to "encrypt" your email on the system are about as secure as someone putting a 10-cent lock on a suitcase. As such all data stored in THIS software is stored in plain text, and we make no claims that an administrator (someone with actual administrative access to the computer on which the software runs) cannot access anything here. If you need secure email, get a copy of PGP, learn how to use it, secure your private key on something only you have (e.g. a floppy disk or "dongle") and use that for your secure email transactions. If the system is compromised by an intruder, or if the administrator needs or wants to get to any content stored here, he or she can.

However, the system does make every attempt to enforce your user permissions against intrusion from the OUTSIDE; to "cheat" you would have to have a valid session cookie from another machine that was left logged in. For this reason if you are concerned about security we strongly recommend that you click "LOGOUT" when you are finished - this clears the cookie not only on your machine but also removes it from the database here, thereby making it impossible for someone to get into your account without your password. We also permit passwords of up to 20 characters, require one of at least five characters, and strongly recommend frequent passwords and STRONG passwords (e.g. those with both letters and numbers or symbols contained within.)

We will not sell, share, or market your user data without your consent. To the extent that commercial entities wish to make offers to you in connection with your membership here, they will be able to do so only via a posting or electronic transmission inside this system.

To help prevent you from being spammed, the software does not display your email address when someone looks up your user ID, nor is it publically accessible to other, non-administrative users. To further help prevent your email address from being picked up by persons who would spam you, we also strongly recommend that you not post your email address in public messages here on the board. The system will, however, send you emails in accordance with your wishes regarding message notification, and the administrators may, in the event it becomes necessary, transmit an email to all or selected groups of users to notify you about operational issues, upcoming downtime, or other important board-related news. This facility will not be used for any marketing purpose by the owners of this board, nor will the operators make this facility available to outside parties. WE VALUE AND UNDERSTAND YOUR PRIVACY!

We are, however, unable to guarantee the security of your user data on this system. Specifically, it is possible that an unauthorized intrusion into this system, or the service of legal process, will cause the release of some or all of the user data stored herein. You explicitly consent to this risk by signing into and using the system contained here.

You may withdraw your continued consent to this policy at any time by emailing the owner of the system at the link provided at the bottom of the top-level page. Withdrawing your consent will cause your account to become permanently inacessible and your email address blocked from future registrations; any comments you have previously posted will, however, remain in accordance with our terms of service, and any data already submitted will remain.


Details on the Software

This package is a custom software product and is Copyright 2004 by Karl Denninger. It is based on the former "AKCS" software product which was a text-based message forum system written in the late 1980s. AKCS, in turn, was based on a message forum system that ran on the TRS-80 Model IV as a multitasking executive, originally developed in 1982/83. That system broke new ground in several areas, including being the first forum system on a personal-ownership microcomputer to support cross-machine conferencing and email delivery. The original AKCS product was one of the first message systems to support threaded-mode conferencing in a multi-system, networked environment.

The AKCS-WWW package was developed with a primary focus on quick response. Indeed, we believe you will find that in terms of actual performance it simply leaves the other alternative products in the dust. Not only in the area of CPU performance - but also in the performance perceived by the user! This is especially true for users that are not on high-bandwidth broadband connections. There is just no substitute for tight, "C"-based code. Tests have shown that the forum is very usable even from a slow, cell-phone GPRS connection into a laptop - a tough test for any environment.

Unlike most other forum packages, the full-text search facility has almost no impact on system performance when it is used. Indeed, almost all of the overhead is incurred when a posting is made, rather than when a search is performend, in that the indices necessary for the searches are built and updated at that time. Full-text search, however, does have an impact on system storage requirements - significantly more storage is required to store a forum on disk that has full-text indexing enabled.

This product operates on the FreeBSD operating system, and uses Postgres as its SQL database. The SQL transaction functions are heavily used in order to maintain concurrency control and guarantee proper synchronization of data across the various database tables. All data is stored inside the database, including binary images such as avatar pictures - there are no "external" links to filesystem data.

This package is entirely written in "C" as a compiled binary executable, and is data-driven for all user display functions. This permits the almost unlimited customization of the displayed environment to suit the particular forum being implemented for a given function or feature set.

While the web server used here is Apache 2.x, there is no particular tie in the product to that architecture. The CGI interface is, however, heavily used and MIME/multipart form upload support (that works correctly!) is required in order to handle binary image uploads (such as avatars.)

There are no known specific web browser constructs used in the base distributed display templates, but as the author is unable to personally verify all available browsers, correct operation across all former, present and future browsers cannot be assured. No particular attempt is made to support text-based browsers such as LYNX; this software is inherently a graphically-rich environment, and as such no special attention has been paid in the base template files to enhance for or accomodate text-only displays.

This package is under current development and the feature set is expanding on a regular basis.

If you would like to discuss using this product for your own forum, please email Karl Denninger.


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