NewDeal Hot Tip 1109

[Hot Tips for...] Telecommunications

NewComm Tips

A collection of suggestions, hints, questions and answers about using NewComm

Auto-answer Mode

While NewComm doesn't have an auto-answer mode, you can set your modem to auto-answer from the NewComm screen with a simple AT command:
The number 1 is how many rings you want before the modem picks up the phone line. You can use 2 if you prefer two rings before the modem answers. If you plan to communicate directly with someone using a modem on the other end of the phone, choose Half duplex in Terminal from the Options menu so you can see what you type, as well as what the person on the other end types.

The time-before-hang-up is also controlled by the modem. You can tell the modem how many seconds to wait by issuing the command

where X is the number of seconds to wait. The default is usually 30 seconds. You can issue the command directly in the NewComm window, just type ATX7=60, for one minute for example.

Call Waiting

To disable call waiting in a NewComm script, use a command like this:
DIAL "*70,555-1212"
Be sure to include the quotes. Use 1170 is for pulse dialing systems. *70 is for tone systems. Some geographical areas use different codes to disable Call Waiting. *70 is the most common, but if this doesn't work for you, ask your local phone company for the correct code.

Disappearing Cursor

Question: My cursor disappeared from the NewComm screen and ended up below the window. After restarting NewComm it was fine. It happened while I was editing some script files in Text File Editor and then running the script files.

Answer: Check your screen size. The cursor can get lost if the number of rows is not 24, or if it doesn't match the size expected by the system you are calling.

Dialing Long Numbers

Question: I'm trying to enter a dial out number, a long distance access number, a credit card number, and then the number of the BBS I'm trying to reach. NewComm's scripts don't seem to be able to handle a number this size. What can I do?

Answer: The work around of last resort is to dial the number manually by entering ATDT at the prompt in NewComm. Alternately, you can type the long number in the Message box and click Send when you want to dial, to save yourself some repetitive typing.

NewComm Forgets My Settings

If you're having trouble with the NewComm Protocol box (the one with the BPS rate, COM port settings, etc.) popping up each time you start NewComm, try this fix:
  1. Run Preferences, Modem.
  2. Check your COM port setting on the first box, then click Speed and Format Options.
  3. If, after checking Speed and Format option in Preferences, you have no changes to make, make one anyhow. Change Handshake from None to Hardware and back, for instance. This will make the Apply button active at the bottom of the Speed/Format box.
  4. Click Apply and click OK on the original box. If OK is not active, again, make a change and then change it back, to force the OK button to become active.
  5. That should solve the problem (and any difficulties you may have with NewDex not dialing, too).
If that doesn't work, make a fresh copy of GEOS.INI from installation diskette number one and configure your modem in Preferences, Modem before launching NewComm.

Maximizing the NewComm Window

There is no maximize button in NewComm. In the View menu, choose Window Size. This will give you the opportunity to specify the number of lines and columns you want in the NewComm window. It also will have the effect of changing the window size--you've just got to be sure this matches the lines and columns being sent by the computer you are dialing in to.

Multiple COM Ports

Question: I need a telecom program that can have multiple windows open so I can compare readings from several different computers on the screen at one time. Will NewComm do this?

Answer: If you have multiple modems and multiple phone lines (or the equivalent of such), you can run a different instance of NewComm for each line. For this to work, each modem and line must be addressable through a different serial port.

Script Display

Question: The only way to exit from the Script Display window is by clicking CLOSE. Once the script has been executed successfully, why can't it go away on its own?

Answer: We thought about having the script display go away after the script executes but decided that there might be information in the display that would be useful to see. The best way to handle this is to have a script command that closes that window. That way, only when the script determines that it has successfully executed will the script display be closed. The STOP button is linked to the :ABORT label in the script. When you click on STOP, script execution jumps to this label. If you want to be able to press STOP without hanging up, you will have to change the script code at the :ABORT label. When the script is attempting to hang-up, make sure that it correctly grabs the modem's attention with the command "+++".

Empty Capture Files

Question: When I use text capture, it quits immediately and leaves me with an blank text capture file. Why?

Answer: When using Capture to Text File from the File menu, a file selector dialog appears asking you to choose a directory and a name for the capture file. Once you've done that and clicked on the Capture button, you'll see the Capture Status dialog box. At this point, the Stop Capture button in the Capture Status dialog box has the focus. If you hit ENTER now, it stops the capture. What you need to do is move the mouse pointer away from the Capture Status dialog box and click once on the NewComm screen to make NewComm the active screen. If you don't, the first time you hit ENTER in response to a BBS prompt, the enter will actually be directed to the Stop Capture button.


Question: I tried calling a friend using the TTY emulation, but I kept getting a No Carrier message. I tried connecting to another BBS immediately afterwards and connected with no problem at all, so that means the problem lies in the software. I thought TTY baud rate was only 35.5 or 45.5, something like that. There's no such baud setting in the software, so how do I use the TTY emulation?

Answer: The NewComm TTY emulation is only for screen and cursor control codes. As you correctly surmise, a matching baud rate would also needed for successful connection to someone using a true TTY terminal.


NewDeal uses UNIX-like termcaps for terminal emulation. This explains NewComm doesn't fully support the VT100 specification. It was not our goal to make the world's best communications program. We wanted a simple terminal emulator that could be multi-tasked in the environment. We use NewComm to get onto our company mail system and it works great for that.

UNIX termcap files provide a standardized interface to a wide range of terminals. The termcap files are used to map desired screen effects to the escape sequences of a particular terminal. We reasoned that by building a software state machine, we could use the termcap files in reverse, i.e. take escape sequences being sent to NewComm, look them up in the termcap definition for that terminal, and effect the desired result on screen. The benefit of this approach is that UNIX termcaps have been written for nearly every terminal known to man. In theory, with the state machine complete, we could support any desired terminal.

In designing NewComm, things did not work out quite as well as we planned. One major problem that we did not anticipate was that NewComm's terminal emulation would only be as accurate as the termcap definition file. In reality, most UNIX termcaps do not fully map all of the capabilities of a given terminal. It depends on who wrote the termcap. Finally, we didn't even end up using all of the wide variety of terminal types because we had no way of testing them.


If you would like to download multiple files in the shortest amount of time, then Zmodem is for you. It's possible to add Zmodem to NewComm as an external protocol.

Several versions of the modification are available for download on the Internet. They use short batch (.BAT) files to access an external program based on DSZ/GSZ from Chuck Forsberg and Omen Technology. DSZ/GSZ, and its graphical-based successor, provide ways to access Zmodem file transfers. A couple of the versions also give you access to Ymodem protocols. If you've used NewComm to download from local BBS's or other online services, you've been limited to only the Model-T of transfer protocols, Xmodem.

You'll notice some handy functions when using Zmodem transfers, including the ability to download several files at a time, and to automatically write them to the download directory on your hard disk without further intervention from you. The downside to all of this is that you won't be able to multitask during external protocol downloads.

Whichever modification you choose, you'll need DSZ or GSZ, and you'll need to add the directory where DSZ or GSZ are stored to your PATH statement. In other words, if you keep the DSZ/GSZ files on the D: drive in the \ZMODEM subdirectory, your modified PATH statement might look something like this:

You'll also need to add an environmental variable statement to your AUTOEXEC.BAT file, so DSZ/GSZ will know what your COMM port is:
It's important to type the statement exactly as it appears above, modifying it only for the actual port number: 1, 2, 3 or 4. Be sure not to put any spaces on either side of the equal sign. For instance, set DSZPORT = 2 will not work.

The rest of the modifications are straightforward, but be sure to consult the README files bundled with the programs. The final step involves placing the batch file which will call the external protocol from the \WORLD subdirectory. The Zmodem utility I use requires two batch files in \WORLD: one for uploads and one for downloads. Some of the others use just one batch file for both uploads and downloads and call an external shell where you specify the filenames and whether you intend to download or upload.

Create a launcher for the batch files, so you can specify command line arguments like the names of the files you wish to upload, using the Ask For Options Each Time choice in the DOS Launcher Settings dialog.

External Kermit Support

It is possible to add external Kermit support to NewComm. Why use Kermit? Kermit is almost universally supported by academic computing systems. In fact, you rarely see X,Y, or Zmodem supported on a university computer, and Kermit is free.

The key line in the batch file I later converted to a .COM file is

When you want to transfer a file, start the remote host Kermit and put it in server mode (while logged in via NewComm) then run KERMIT.COM. This brings up a dialog box in which you type
get filename (to download a file)
send filename (to upload a file)
CR (with no parameters, to enter Kermit terminal emulation)
For more information, see the Kermit documentation.


If you are having trouble dialing into certain bulletin boards or telecommunications services and you have an MNP modem, try turning off the MNP feature.

This can be done with an AT\N1 command from NewComm or by adding \N1 to your modem initialization string.

Some modems default to MNP on and some default to MNP off. Some online services don't like MNP and will just hang-up after connecting. MNP stands for Microcom Network Protocol. It is an error-detecting communication protocol. MNP support is graded by level. Most newer modems are MNP 5 which means they support MNP levels 1 through 5.

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Last Modified 2 Mar 1999