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Quick tests can ease the pains of getting on line

Dec. 31, 1995


If Santa Claus brought you a new home computer or a modem for your existing computer, you're one of the thousands of lucky gift recipients around the country.

A modem is practically standard equipment on new computers; after all, it's a vital link to reaching out and accessing someone.

OK, you have a computer and a modem. Now what?

My father's oft-quoted adage ``If all else fails, read the directions'' rings as true today as it was when I opened my first can of Tinker Toys. Read over the documentation included with the modem and telecommunications software.

A factory-installed modem probably doesn't need much testing. It'll likely be properly configured for your setup. But should you install your own modem, you'll need to test it out. Note: If installing your own modem, be certain all connectors are properly seated. If you are uncomfortable with installing it yourself, a computer retailer or technician can help.

THIS IS ONLY A TEST. Once a modem is properly installed or attached, it can be tested with a telecommunications program.

A factory-installed modem should have software with it. Run the software, and get to a terminal screen. The documentation should be helpful here.

Once the terminal screen is showing, type the command "at" and hit enter. The modem, if properly installed, should return with OK. Next, type in "atdt" ("atdp" if you have pulse dialing) at the terminal screen and hit return. You should hear a short dial tone.

If nothing happens, refer to the installation instructions. If you're running Windows 3.1, be sure there are no COM port conflicts. Macintosh users may need to be aware of possible conflicts between existing software and any new telecommunications software for use with the modem. For my own PC's most recent modem upgrade, I disabled an unused COM port due to a conflict with the modem.

If the tests indicate all is well so far, you might want to try connecting to a computer bulletin board system (BBS), on-line service or call an Internet provider and sign up.

A top-notch Internet provider offers technical support in case of trouble. Tech support can walk you through most problems, lessening the frustration of unsuccessfully trying to get on the Net.

SPEED TRAPS. Once you've established a high-speed connection via your modem, there can be trouble keeping it. Some things to keep an eye on include:

· Telephone options. If you have Call Waiting, be sure to disable it or a phone call while you are on line will bring your connection to an abrupt end.

· Check your modem's connection speed. If your 14.4k baud modem is connecting at 2,400 baud, there's something wrong somewhere. If the computer you are connecting to supports your modem's highest speed, check the software configuration.

· Line noise Ï sometimes difficult to detect with the ear Ï can wreak havoc. Noise can be generated on a telephone line by a variety of things, including poor telephone connections in the home; poor wiring or even line placement near an electrical appliance.

· Check the manual for your modem to ensure the proper elements are contained in the init string.

NOTHING BUT NET. University of Kentucky basketball fans can now find audio broadcasts of their favorite team live on the Internet.

Using RealAudio software configured to work with a World-Wide Web browser, Big Blue fans will be able to hear live UK Radio Network broadcasts.

Mikrotec Internet Services and Sports Communications will offer the service at no charge, and add additional programming once the site if fully established.

To use the service, users will need a sound card and modem with a minimum speed of 14.4k. For more information call Mikrotec at (606) 225-1488.

ELVIS ON THE NET. Celebrate what would've been Elvis Presley's 60th birthday in January with a cybertour of Graceland, his mansion in Memphis, Tenn. The tour includes photos of the King's Ferrari, his final resting place and the infamous Jungle Room.

MORE CATS. Another Web site for Wildcat fans is Kentucky Connect, the Lexington Herald-Leader's Internet provider service home page.

Kentucky Connect is a jumping-off point for the on-line version of the Herald-Leader and for a UK basketball Web site called KYHoops.

KYHoops on Thursday offered a three stories on UK's romp over Rider, and a column by Jerry Tipton. It is updated regularly.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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