by Mark H. Anbinder
Apple's Communications Toolbox (CTB) promises a utopia of consistent and powerful communications software capabilities, which would be a boon to developers and users alike. While the current version of the CTB fulfills much of this promise, it still has a number of shortcomings in terms of functionality and reliability. An example of such a shortcoming is the Apple Modem Tool, the basic connection tool that most CTB users will use when setting up a modem connection. Its fixed set of supported modems and non-configurable modem initialization routines provide a real roadblock to users who have an unsupported modem or want to change their modems' settings.
The solution to this problem has arrived, in the form of a new, free utility from Information Electronics, called AMT Configure. This small, easy-to-use application allows users to customize the initialization strings in the Apple Modem Tool's built-in modem definitions, as well as add, customize, or remove definitions for new modems that the tool doesn't already know about. AMT Configure supports versions 1.0.x of the Apple Modem Tool, and a future version of AMT Configure will support an upcoming new AMT version.
Information Electronics is a small but prolific software company based in Hammondsport, New York. They offer a wide range of add-on products for CE Software's QuickMail electronic mail package, including mail forwarding, UUCP and SMTP gateways, and a Second Sight BBS gateway, as well as a growing collection of attractive TrueType and PostScript fonts.
AMT Configure is well designed, and offers a clear user interface. The user must open the Apple Modem Tool file, which is within the Extensions folder (or the Communications folder in System 6 installations of the CTB). After that point, customizing a modem definition is a simple matter of double-clicking on the modem's name in a scrolling list, and making any necessary changes in the dialog box that comes up.
Among the configurable elements of the modem definitions are the modem name, the initialization string (a string of commands that will be sent to the modem when it is first accessed by the Apple Modem Tool), the ring response string (the text sent by the modem to the computer when a ring is detected), and a checkbox to determine whether the CTB will close the connection if the modem drops its DSR (data set ready) signal.
Editing a modem configuration string appears to be difficult, but actually is fairly straightforward. Each modem has a set of commands (usually a subset or superset of the "AT" commands defined by Hayes), and you can enable or disable certain features of the modem, or select certain options, by invoking the corresponding commands. If you have trouble deciphering the commands described in your modem manual, you should be able to find a local modem expert who will be able to help, or the modem company's tech support personnel may be able to help you decide which commands are appropriate for what you want to do.
Because it is a free utility, Information Electronics understandably says that they will not provide end-user support for AMT Configure. The utility will be bundled with all of their products, and will also be available from the "usual gang of suspects" (the usual sources of free software), beginning with Memory Alpha BBS at 607/257-5822 and America Online. It should be available by the time you read this.
Mark H. Anbinder -- firstname.lastname@example.org