Recent road trips presented me with dial-up nightmares. Traveling in several states and countries had me changing long-distance access numbers, country codes, pauses between calling card numbers, PINs, and ISP access numbers, to name a few. If you or someone you support is often e-mailing from the road, then manual dialing may help.

Hide-and-seek with manual dialing
A lot of good options hide in Windows 98. Often, they’re in the last place you’d look. When I was searching for calling card dialing options I might have overlooked, the last place I expected to find one was under a dial-up connection’s modem settings. But there it was, as Figure A shows: the Operator Assisted Or Manual Dial check box. Select this option, and the next time you double-click the DUN and then click Connect, a message window appears, as shown in Figure B.

Figure A
The helpful option to enable manual dialing appears, of all places, in the modem configuration.

Figure B
The manual dialing setting tells the modem to wait. You tell it when to connect.

Pick up the receiver and dial your call. When the modem on the other end answers, click the Connect button and hang up. Your modem takes over and whistles up your connection. Manual dialing is an excellent choice when you’re using calling card calls from hotel or airport phones with data lines, because you need to hear operator messages.

Setting it up
To change a dial-up connection to manual dialing, double-click My Computer and then select Dial Up Networking (or choose Start | Programs | Accessories | Communications | Dial Up Networking). Right-click the connection you want to change and select Properties. The properties sheet will have four tabs. The left tab, selected by default, is called General. Click the Configure button located in the Connect Using section. This will open the Modem properties sheet for that dial-up connection.

Click the Options tab. Select the Operator Assisted Or Manual Dial option and click OK twice. You’re now ready to dial manually the next time you use that connection.

Manual dialing is ideal because you can leave the rest of the DUN properties, such as TCP/IP settings and ISP addresses, exactly as they are. For example, you don’t have to make complicated calling card rules or change numbers each time a new situation demands it. Often, when you’re on the road—as elsewhere in life—doing it yourself means getting it done.

Mike Jackman is an editor in chief of TechProGuild, an editor of PC Troubleshooter and Windows Support Professional, and also works as a freelance Web designer and consultant. In his spare time (when he can find some), Mike’s an avid devourer and writer of science fiction, parent to two perpetually adolescent cats, and a hiking enthusiast.

The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein, but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.