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Choosing Modem Software

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          C H O O S I N G   M O D E M   S O F T W A R E
          
          A modem needs some kind of telecommunications program to
          make it work. Some commercial online services, such as
          America Online and Prodigy, require special software to
          obtain access. Most BBSs and other online services can be
          accessed by almost any telecommunications software
          program. There are dozens of good general purpose
          telecommunications software programs available. There are
          also some real lemons.
          
          There is a Terminal program that comes with Windows 3.1.
          It is what is called a "bare bones" telecommunications
          program. In fact, in my humble opinion, it should only be
          used to download another telecommunications program. The
          Windows Terminal program has Xmodem and Kermit as the
          only transfer protocols. That was fine ten years ago but
          will not do in today's world of high speed modems. Below
          are a few features you should look for in a
          telecommunications program.
         

          WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS SOFTWARE 
                            
          ZMODEM PROTOCOL
          
          The Zmodem protocol has become the industry standard. You
          will want this feature in your telecommunications
          software. Zmodem has excellent error checking and can
          even resume an interrupted file transfer if you select
          this option on your communications software. This ability
          is sometimes referred to as "crash recovery." 
          

          SCREEN CAPTURE
          
          The telecommunications software that you select should
          have a screen capture feature. This is often called a
          capture log. With screen capture turned on, your
          telecommunications software saves whatever scrolls across
          your screen to a text file. Then, when you are off-line,
          you can use LIST (shareware), an editor, or a word
          processing program to review the screen capture file. A
          screen capture text file is often called a capture log
          file. 
          
          
          SCROLL-BACK BUFFER
          
          A scroll-back buffer allows you to review past screens.
          This feature is real handy when important information has
          passed by, and you need it immediately while online.
          Often, a scroll-back buffer is activated by pressing a
          key combination such as <ALT> B. Then, you can use your
          arrow keys to scroll-back. A good scroll-back buffer will
          also have a search feature. 
          

          TERMINAL EMULATION TYPES
          
          Terminal emulation is the ability of your
          telecommunications software to emulate different types of
          terminals. This peculiar term comes from "dumb terminal"
          which consists of a keyboard, a monitor, and no brains
          (or memory). These dumb terminals were used to connect to
          mainframes and minicomputers. These often required a
          particular manufacturer's dumb terminals. Hence, the term
          "terminal emulation." Your telecommunications program has
          different terminal emulations, so your computer can talk
          to a variety of host computers.
          
          Almost all telecommunications software will emulate TTY,
          ANSI, and DEC VT100/101/102. It is nice to have even
          more. If you want to connect to the Internet, it is
          important to have VT100 (or VT102) terminal emulation. 
          
          
          MACRO CAPABILITIES
          
          A macro is a series of keystrokes that are executed when
          a certain key or key combination is pressed. If the
          telecommunications software has macro recording
          capabilities, it can make it much easier for you. You can
          store data such as your name, password, etc., as a macro.
          Suppose you assign your name to the function key labeled
          <F5>. Then, you can press <F5> to type your name.
           
          
          SCRIPT LANGUAGE 
          
          A script file is a collection of commands, instructions,
          or text that can be executed by your telecommunications
          program. A script is particularly useful when you want to
          log on automatically to a BBS or online service. Often,
          the better telecommunications programs have an automatic
          script writing feature.
          

          WINDOWS OR DOS?
          
          If you are primarily a Windows user, you will probably
          want to use a Windows based telecommunications program.
          Some people, who like DOS, think that using a Windows
          telecommunications program is a little like turning on a
          light switch with a broom handle. It is really a matter
          of personal choice. If you are comfortable in DOS, you
          may find that you can get online work done faster with a
          DOS based program.  
          

          COMMERCIAL, SHAREWARE, OR FREEWARE?
          
          Commercial software programs are sold by traditional
          software vendors. You will find commercial software at
          your favorite super computer store or software specialty
          store. However, some of the best telecommunications
          programs are available for trial use as shareware.
          Shareware is a method of marketing software for the
          program's author. Shareware programs are copyrighted. The
          manuals for these programs are usually found on the disk
          in the form of a text file. You can print the manuals,
          using your printer. You can obtain these programs for
          trial use from shareware distributors for a copying fee
          of just a few dollars per disk. You can also download
          shareware programs from BBSs and online services.
          Shareware programs require a separate payment to the
          author if found useful. The wonderful thing about
          shareware is you get to try it out before you buy it. 
          
          According to Boardwatch magazine, the majority of modem
          maniacs use shareware terminal programs. A freeware
          software program has copyright restrictions; however, the
          author is not requesting a registration fee. Freeware
          programs can be found from the same sources that offer
          shareware programs.  Here are some of the better full-
          featured DOS-based telecommunications programs available
          in shareware: Telix, Qmodem Test Drive, and Telemate.
          Ripterm is an easy to set up freeware program. If you are
          looking for Windows shareware telecommunications
          programs, you should take a look at MicroLink for
          Windows. 
          
          Some commercial DOS-based telecommunications programs
          that are excellent include: Procomm Plus, Qmodem Pro for
          DOS, and Crosstalk Mark 4. Some of the best full-featured
          commercial Windows telecommunications programs include
          Procomm Plus for Windows, Qmodem Pro for Windows, and
          Crosstalk for Windows. 

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