In the August 1993 issue, I discussed modems, which are devices quite similar to telephones, however they allow computers to communicate with each other. I also discussed some communication concepts and the major decisions you need to make when choosing a modem. These decisions were the speed of the modem, its fax capability and its internal or external configuration. Communication software packages are needed to allow a modem to communicate with other computers, much like a printer needs a word processing program in order to print. I continue this article by discussing some of these communication programs.
In the process of installing your modem, be sure to follow the instructions in the modem manual carefully. An external modem needs to be cabled and connected properly and an internal modem needs to be configured so it won't conflict with existing devices in your computer.
Some modems have diagnostic software included so you can test your modem and verify the COM port address. Running this program or other diagnostic software (such as QAPlus/fe from Diagsoft) is well worth the time to run.
With a communication program, you can send and receive information and files to and from a remote computer. In fact, this article was transmitted electronically by modem. These programs can range from quite simple teletype simulation programs (CAPS only, no graphics) to programs which support color graphics and sound. Some programs can work with multiple modems attached to a computer and some can connect via a network modem.
These programs also vary in their ability to emulate (simulate) different types of terminals, support different types of file transfer protocols and the way you interact with them (through Alt keys, Pull-down menus or a combination). Some of these programs also allow a fax modem to communicate with other fax machines.
I have separated communications software into two categories. I will describe some of the programs that run under DOS in this issue and those that require the Windows operating environment will be described in the next issue. They are listed in alphabetical order by company name.
Procomm Plus, from DataStorm Technologies, Inc., is a powerful communications program with 33 terminal emulations, many popular file transfer protocols and mouse support. A powerful scripting language, ASPECT, is also included which allows you to create an automated script which can automatically call a remote computer, enter any necessary identification and then access the needed information completely unattended. It is controlled with Alt key combinations and also has a pull down menu system.
QModem Pro, from Mustang Software, Inc., is the first program to support the RIP (Remote Image Protocol) graphics interface. With this feature, you can call a RIP equipped bulletin board, and you will be able to view full screen graphics and control the bulletin board with a mouse click. This makes standard bulletin boards look more like Prodigy and America Online. This program also has many terminal emulations, 10 file transfer protocols and mouse support. It also has a scripting language and can even create a script as you type commands during a communication session. It can also send faxes using a fax modem. It also is controlled with Alt key combinations and has a pull down menu system.
Smarterm 340, from Persoft Inc., accurately simulates many Digital Equipment terminals including the VT340 with ReGIS graphics support and also the Tektronix 4010 and 4014 terminal. These simulations are very useful when communicating with Digital Equipment computers and other UNIX systems. It also includes several file transfer protocols and can communicate via a network modem.
HotFax, from Smith Micro Software, Inc., supports fax modems and does an excellent job of simulating a Hewlett Packard 3 printer as a fax device. This allows you to send a document with HP3 "codes", from a word processor, to another fax machine and it will look very similar to what you would get if you printed it on an actual HP3 printer. This program also supports regular modem to modem communication and it includes popular file transfer protocols and can simulate several DEC VT terminals. It is controlled through a pull down menu system and several functions are controlled through Alt keys.
© 1993 Rick Smith All rights reserved.