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NULL mag Issue 03 11 Nuskooler Interview!

eZine's profile picture
Published in 
null magazine
 · 26 Dec 2020


Nuskooler is the programmer behind Enigma BBS software, which lately
drove my attention. So i had to ask him about and as you will read, he
certainly knows his "things"... ;)

First of all... i have to ask... what nuskooler stands for? how you choosed
this nick name or someone else gave it to you?
The name NuSkooler actually came about as part of my interest in
nu-skool style breakbeat electronic music. If I remember correctly,
this emerged as part of my time on a UK based breaks forum.
What's your computer background? How you started?
I started with computers at a early age -- around 8 years old. My
grandfather had built computers from kits which I toyed with. From
there, one of my childhood friends father had a few Apple computers
for whatever reason that we'd code on. Eventually my parents purchased
a machine that I could code on at home. I've been professionally
programming for over 20 years.
Professional programmer you say? i don't want to ask details, cause its
a big issue, but still, can you tell us what tools and which programming
language you use most?
Language depends on the task at hand, but professionally I'm generally
using C++ or Node.js. If it's kernel work C is really the only answer.
Other projects include Python, Lua, etc.
How you involved with BBSing?
Another childhood friend. I remember his dad had a machine with a
modem, which we really had no clue about. But one day we managed to
call a board up that I guess his dad had been connecting to. From
there it kind of just exploded. We were introduced to the BBS scene
and there was no way to go back. You call a board and get it's list,
then call all those boards, and so on. Later on in life of course
there was war dialing, and the warez scene, but that's a whole other
War dialing for sure is a "lost art", but i think its been replaced by
war driving, do you agree? also warez is replace by torrentz and stuff...
can bbses find a role in these new areas/technologies? could someone
build a torrent search engine / cache of sort, in a bbs?
I think war driving for WiFi / Bluetooth is certainly the modern
equivalent of wardialing! Also, scanning for open Telnet ports could
be a comparison.

On my list of items I'd like to build in ENiGMA 1/2, there are notes
on serving Torrents
Who are you right now, in the scene?
I'm not 100% sure what you're asking here. I'm a Blocktronics member
though I'm nothing compared to many of the other ANSI masters in the
group. ACiDic modding, and that's really about it these days. Back in
the day I made various contributions to the HPAVC, warez, and ANSI
Whats the motive behind your will to make a bbs software now days? is it
just nostalgia?
I think there are many reasons here. Nostalgia is certainly one of
them. As a kid I had written a couple of half baked BBS softwares in
Pascal, but that was at the end of the era so it was a bit too late.
For ENiGMA 1/2, I figured it would be a fun hobby to do something I
always wanted to + I wanted something to learn more Node.js with. I'm
also back-lashing a bit against the modern corporate controlled web
and social media. I think we've lost a lot of what the Internet
"should be" and let it become yet another commercial swamp.
What the internet "should be"? do bbses have a role in it?
I think the more we can put power back into the users hands, the
better. In the early days of the Internet this was much more the case.
There are certainly nice things these days, but the corporate
ownership and users-as-products is a major problem. I think BBS's are
just one of the ways people can get out of corporate control.
Decentralizing content via new protocols is something I'd like to see
boards take a role in. It's a shame when a board gets taken offline
and all of the content is lost.
What's your opinion about the Scene in general... ANSI art & BBSes in
general (programming, modding). Do they cooperate or they are two different
I think the ANSI scene was very tied to the warez and BBS scenes back
in the day, but these days they are separate scenes that happen to
overlap a lot. ANSI is done for the love of the art, not scene cred
these days, and that's a very good thing. However, most ANSI/ASCII
artists were involved in the scene wone way or another at least in the
past, so working with boards and generating art for them may always be
coupled. As for modding, some people (like myself) just love to code,
so modding is another avenue for that -- and the same coupling applies
when it comes to boards there.
Do you think that you get supported by the scene?
Of course! ANSI and ASCII artists from Blocktronics, iMPURE, Fuel, and
so on have contributed art for ENiGMA 1/2 and my board Xibalba.
Do you think, that if ANSI Art and BBSes are pushed as a
retro-fashion-thing to the InterNet, will do good for the Scene or not?
Absolutely. I think a lot of people fall into the same back-lash
category as myself. Nothing is better than young blood coming in and
discovering the past.
From your perspective, what is it, that makes a "good" BBS? Is it the ANSI
art? the scripts/mods?
All of the above! I really dislike logging into a board that's a out
of the box setup. You'll probably never see me again. Custom boards,
which includes the mods and art are the best!
Do you think that users prefer bbses that use a specific program? because
they feel more familiar with it?
When I was a kid I would download and try out every single BBS
software I could get my hands on. The reason for this was I like when
people explore different paths. If you're not different, why do we
need you type of a thing. So yeah, I love software / boards that do
their own thing. Look at ENiGMA 1/2's file base implementation. It's a
bit off the walls if you compare it to the classical approach -- and
some people may hate it. But hey, it's different -- and of course, you
can mod it!
From what i have seen, Enigma has integrated some new technologies, that
aren't used in the old days. Do you think that users/sysops are ready to
embrace them? or because they are familiar with the old tech, they think
that Enigma is "strange" or difficult to use?
When thinking of the people that use ENiGMA 1/2, I think the newer
tech and differences may be a big part of why they're using it. Is
some of it "strange"? Probably, but again, I like the strange.
What's the future of Enigma? Are you thinking to incorporate more new
Of course! I have a huge To-Do list for ENiGMA 1/2 in addition to the
tickets open on GitHub. At some point I'd like to collaborate with
other devs to create a new decentralized messaging (and other)
protocol for example. Immediate plans (and work in action) includes
re-writing the FSE to bring in a lot of new functionality as well.
Do you think BBSes have a future? or are just a retro-thing that will die
as time passes?
You never really know, but at least for the time being, the retro
computing movement in general is getting stronger, so I have to think
that includes some BBSing.
Did Raspberry Pi and other SBCs, resurrected the retro-scene in
general and so, also BBSes?
Judging by the number of people that run boards and RetroArch on the
Pi, I think it's undeniable.
Do you have any advices for a new Sysop? What he should be aware of?
Be different! If you're going to run a board, mod mod mod, and mod
some more. Everything should be a unique experience! Realize from the
start that your "call" count will likely not be huge, but if you're
running on something small like a VM or a RPi, it's going to be OK
What's your opinion about null magazine? are you reading it?
I love what you're doing with Null Mag. I can read articles on the web
all day long, but getting a downloadable disk mag feels more tangible
and certainly more retro!
Lately we see users, who care about their private information, closing
their social media accounts. Specially after the Facebook incident. Do you
think that in the future more and more users will leave those centralized
social media and look for, more decentralized or local "chat-areas", like IRC,
BBSes, forums etc.
I honestly hope so. While I use FB and like the idea of connecting to
people that I probably wouldn't as much otherwise, being the product
of a corporate world really sucks.
You mentioned it also before, about the corporates and the internet...
do you think that the internet is under siege of big corps and can bbses
play a role in this war?
I touched a bit on this above. Definitely so! Part of that is moving
to encrypted channels as well. Your un-encrypted data _is_ being spied
on, bought and sold, etc. The "I've got nothing to hide" fallacy
really needs to die.
As a professional programmer can you tell us, if its possible to
create a complete secure bbs system, that people can use as a "free"
place to speak and exchange files? using ssh, guarantees a 100% secure
system or not?
SSH is a huge step, but once you send data to a board you must trust
that it keeps it that way. If nothing else, the +op likely has access
to the data. Is it encrypted? Is it being sent out to other
boards/etc. over non-encrypted channels? Decentralized systems can
help a lot here. If my data is only constructable by a "web" of trust,
it's a lot harder to break the system maliciously or by negligence.

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