You Asked Us- PC

by Alan Zisman (c) 1997. First published in Computer Player, August 1997

I live in Scarborough and i have just bought a USR 56k modem! But the
maximum speed I can reach is 31.2! :( First I thought it was my modem but
when I brought my computer to my ISP (they have crystal clear phone
lines), I connected and got speeds up to 45k! What can I do to make
my phone lines better (or what can I ask bell to do to make the lines

* Surprise! You've discovered the normal behaviour for a so-called 56k modem. Government regulations, in both the US and Canada, about the amount of voltage allowed on a so-called Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) line limits these to 53 Kbps at best. In the real world, this is rarely attained. Instead, speeds in the 45-49 Kbps are more likely. And as soon as there's any noise on the lines, performance drops down to standard 33.6 Kbps... or slower. And that's for downloads only. Uploads are limited to 33.6 Kbs at best. Finally, there are currently two competing standards for 56 Kbps modems... and you need the same standard as your Internet Service Provider.

Since you've got a US Robotics modem, use it with a telecom program to phone USR's toll-free line test number: 1-888-877-9248 to see if your phone line will support higher speeds.

When I lose power (electric goes out, etc.) Win95 SR2 boots up to a SCANDISK prompt, telling me I might have errors and to "Press any key to Continue".  Is there any way to bypass this? I can not be at home every time we lose power,.

* It's not a bug... it's a feature. The newest version of Windows 95, so-called OEM Service Release 2 (aka Win 95b) automatically wants to run Scandisk if the system restarts without having gone through the official Shut Down procedure. In this way, it attempts to check for, and repair any file system damage caused by the shut down.

You can turn this off, if you want... like most of Win 95's boot features, it's controlled by the text system file, MSDOS.SYS. You can edit this file in DOS Edit or Notepad, but you'll have to turn off its read-only and hidden attributes first. Then, add a line to the [options] section reading:
Save, and restore the read-only and hidden attributes.

Thanks to your article on operating systems, now I know why my 1.6 gig hard drive has been used up so fast.  I want to partition my hard disk using FDISK from Win95, but I am afraid to lose data since it wouldn't let me create an extended partition, and all data would be lost if I delete the primary partition(because it said so).  What should I do?  Note I know there are partition utilities out there that would do the job painlessly, but I don't have the budget.

* You're right... changing your current partitions using the DOS (or Win95) FDISK will destroy your data. Utilities such as PowerQuest's Partition Magic is a non-destructive option, but costs about $99 (CDN). Probably, the best thing you can do is to backup your data files, then run FDISK, and set your new partitions (creating two partitions will cut your cluster waste in half), then reinstall Win 95, your applications, and your data. Windows 95 Backup isn't installed by default, but can be added by going to the Control Panel's Add-Remove Programs icon, selecting the Windows Setup tab, and double-clicking on the Disk Tools item. Add a checkmark besides the Backup icon, and click OK.

Hi Alan, I was  wondering about the Internet Phone program, I got in a "communication" CD that came with my modem. Upon installing it, I don't fully understand what is Full /Half duplex and how can I change it.  And is it really true that i can talk to people like over the phone over the net?
 Alex Schwartzman

1) Yes... you can use the Internet as a sort-of long distance phone; you and the other party need to be on the Net at the same time, and you need to contact via a server that supports your software... you'll probably find it somewhat awkward to use, and low-fidelity... but the price is right!

2) In order to do this, you need a sound card that supports full-duplex-- that means it can access its input and output stages at the same time; otherwise, you're limited to the kind of communication we associate with early radio-- one person talking, the other listening, then reversing roles. Most recent sound cards support full duplex, but not all do, and in many (such as the popular Sound Blaster 16), you have to specifically turn it on, using, for example the Windows 95 Control Panel.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan