The laziest path to the Internet

by Nhan Tran

This article describes how to use the Terminal program that comes with Microsoft Windows 3.x to access the Internet...


There are probably many members who want to get on the Internet, to have a taste of the information superhighway, but don't know much about computers and data communications. This article is for you. It will, hopefully, show you how to walk (not surf) the Internet with the (free) Basic access the group is offering to its members...

The term "user-friendly" is still a joke in the data communications field. Most software packages assume that you know about baud rates, data bits, Xon/Xoff, etc. The Advanced Access software kit contains programs which are relatively easy to set up, but some people still can't make it work the first time. That's why the TIP helpers have been very busy, and why the Internet Clinic was started. I have used a variety of software kits set up for various Internet service providers, and believe me, the TIP software kit is the easiest to set up. So if you only have Basic Access, don't know much about computers, have never used the BBS (Bulletin Board Service), there is an easy way...

I will assume you have Windows on your PC. There is a program called Terminal that comes with Windows. I don't call it a good program and definitely don't recommend it for any serious net surfers, but it's free (with Windows) and easy to configure.

First of all, you have to find the Terminal icon in program manager. It is normally in the Accessories group. The icon is a PC with a telephone. Double click the icon. Select the Settings menu. It has eight different configuration settings. Let's go through them.

Click on Phone Number. In the first input field (Dial), type 239 7877 (the TIP phone number). In the second field (Timeout If Not Connected In ... Seconds), enter 60.

This means that Terminal will try to call the number every minute until connected or cancelled. Increasing this number will lengthen the interval between dialling. Click on the check box Redial After Timing Out so that Terminal will keep dialling. Click on the check box Signal When Connected (I normally start the dialling, then play a game until Terminal beeps, signalling the connection). Then click OK.

Select the Settings menu again and click on Terminal Emulation. Click the radio button DEC VT-100 (ANSI). This is the one I chose and it works with TIP. Don't forget to click OK.

Next, select Terminal Preferences. The dialogue box has quite a bit information. In the Terminal Modes box, turn Line Wrap on (to wrap the text when it reaches the right margin of the window), Local Echo off (if you turn it on you will see your terminal screen "stutter" because every letter you type will be displayed twice), Sound on. In the CR->CR/LF box, I have left both check boxes off because it does not affect what we are trying to do. The Columns box allows you to set the number of characters per line. I choose 80 because my eyesight is not good for small fonts and I don't want to scroll horizontally. The Cursor box lets you set the cursor; choose whatever you like. The important box is Translations. Select none. Make sure the IBM to ANSI check box is off. Also set the check box Use Function, Arrow, and Ctrl Keys for Windows to off, otherwise you won't be able to use the function keys in Pine (see below).

Let's skip the Function Keys setting (we have the mouse <g>), Text Transfers and Binary Transfers (we are not transferring files with Basic access), and go straight to Communications. The Baud Rate varies with modems.

Check your modem manual to find the correct rate. Terminal only handles up to 19200, which is good enough for text-only communications. Set Data Bits to 8, Stop Bits to 1, Parity to None, Flow Control to Xon/Xoff and Connector to COM1: or COM2:, depending on where your modem is plugged in. I have a serial mouse in COM1 so I use COM2. If you can't work it out by looking at the back of your PC, try COM1: first and if it doesn't work (ie. nothing happens when you click Dial) change it to COM2:. Leave Parity Check and Carrier Detect off.

Select the Modem Commands setting. For Dial Prefix, enter ATDT if your phone is tone dialling, or ATDP if it is pulse dialling. Hangup Prefix is +++, Suffix is ATH. Leave Binary TX and Binary RX blank. The Originate field is used to initialise the modem before dialling; look up your modem manual for the modem initialisation string and type it in. My modem is an old Netcomm Pocket Rocket 1234 and the default command works. Select Hayes for Modem Defaults unless your modem is a MultiTech or TrailBlazer. Click OK.

Those are all the settings you need to make. Now select File menu, Save As and enter PCUG or TIP or whatever fancy name you like. Terminal will give the default extension .TRM to the file name.

To call the TIP server, select Phone and click Dial. The Terminal dialogue box will appear and something should be going on in the Terminal window. If nothing happens, check your modem and make sure it is connected to your PC and the phone socket. When you are connected to the TIP server, the dialogue box will disappear. Enter your login ID and password and follow the instructions on the screen to connect to Supreme - now you are on the Internet!

The first thing you have to do on the first login is change your password. Once you have connected to Supreme, Pine is your program for email and news. It is an old-fashioned program for tree people like me, but it works and on-line help is available.

Compose the first message and send it to yourself. You will probably receive it even before you log out. You can try sending a message to me (

After logging out of the server (by typing bye at the menu), select the Phone menu and click Hangup.

Close the Terminal window. Double click on the icon in Program Manager again. Select File menu, Open. Click on the name of the file that you saved earlier and click OK. The file name will appear on the Terminal window title. Then select Phone menu and Dial to connect to the TIP server.

If you want to use the TIP configuration every time you run the Terminal program, you can set it up in Program Manager. Close the Terminal window if it is still running. In Program Manager, click (not double click) Terminal, select File, Properties. In the Command Line field, type in TERMINAL.EXE followed by the name of the file you saved earlier. Don't forget to leave a space in between.

There has been discussion on whether or not to disallow terminal access. Even though the committee has not yet made a decision, there is a possibility that the access may not be available in the future.

Until then, happy netwalking.

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