This text assumes that you understand the basics of telnet, and how computers talk to each other. (Considering what you must have done to be able to read this in the first place, this is not such a bad bet.) If you're still shaky on these concepts, however, help may be found here, here and here. If these are not enough to satisfy you, try searching for the topic that perplexes you most at Yahoo or Lycos.
A program called "telnet" allows your computer to speak to the computer far away.
If you are using a Mac, a NeXT or a Windows-based PC, click here to see the appropriate instructions for getting to telnet. If you are using something like Lynx to see this, and have a plain UNIX account, follow this link. If you are using Netscape or Mosaic to view this, you can take a shortcut here, but the shortcut is often tricky and sometimes doesn't work if your viewer is set up incorrectly.
UNIX telnet is relatively easy. You'll have to quit whatever browser you're currently in to do this, or open up another window; but do whatever you have to do to get yourself to a UNIX prompt, which looks like this:
or something close to that. At the prompt, type:
telnet <hostname> [port number]
where <hostname> is the name of the computer the MUCK is running on, and the [port number] is a series of four numbers that usually follows a MUCK address. The port number tells telnet which bit of the MUCK server to ask to speak with, and is very important.
For example: telnet ft.furtoonia.net 9999
Your computer should respond with a screen that gives you the name of the MUCK to which you have just telnetted, as well as a suggestion that you enter your username and password. Since you won't have a registered character, type connect guest guest at this prompt and hit return. You should now be logged on to the MUCK!
If you run into painful problems at this point, see the common problems section below.
If you chose this section, the computer you're on has a lot of windows crowding its screen, whether copyrighted or not. Somewhere amongst the blather is going to be an icon, folder or executable file marked something like "telnet" or "communications". Open it and fiddle with it for a while. There are literally dozens of telnet programs out there and I can't hope to explain to you all of them but most have help menus and such; try those before you panic. It's a pretty good bet you've got the right program if the icon has a picture of two mating computers on it or a telephone ringing or something funny like that (my telnet icon has a mime on it for some reason).
When you've found the telnet program, ask it to connect somewhere. Usually this means pulling down the "connect" menu from the top bar of the window, or using "File - Open" or something like that. The program will ask you for a hostname; reply with the address of the MUCK, including all funny numbers that come after it. In general, the format will be similar to this:
<hostname> [port number]
(For example, FurToonia's address is ft.furtoonia.net 9999.) Enter the address exactly as it is given to you, and the program will whir, and beep, and usually come up with a screen giving you the name of the MUCK you're connected to, and a suggestion that you enter your username and password. Since you don't have a registered character, type connect guest guest at this point and hit return. You should now be logged in to the MUCK!
If you hit painful problems at this point, it would probably be best to see the common problems section at the bottom of this page.
Sometimes this works, and sometimes this doesn't. It depends on how well the guy who set up the Netscape or Mosaic program on your computer did his job. The idea is simple: turn the MUCK address into a URL (uniform resource locator) in the web browser.
MUCK addresses are usually given in the form <hostname> [port number] ... for example, FurToonia's address is ft.furtoonia.net 9999. Turn this into a URL like so:
MUCK address: ft.furtoonia.net 9999 MUCK URL: telnet://ft.furtoonia.net:9999 MUCK address: furry.com 8888 MUCK URL: telnet://furry.com:8888
Easy, huh? Then just enter the resulting URL into your web browser and see what happens. If you get something funny like "Could not find application" then you're probably zapped; but see the common problems section at the bottom of this document just in case.
If you'd like to test whether this shortcut works right now, follow this link to FurToonia and see what happens.
telnet 126.96.36.199 9999
If your computer still won't let you connect, try posting to rec.games.mud.d or a similar MUD or MUCK-related newsgroup, or ask your sysadmin or computer guru.