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How to: Dial a telephone from within our programs

If you would like to use our software to dial telephone numbers for you, you will first need a modem installed in your computer. Modems are less common in these days of broadband, but we used to use them all the time for Internet access. The word “modem” stands for “Modulator/Demodulator” and converts digital signals that your computer uses to analogue ones that are compatible with a phone line. In order to connect to another computer, the modem needs to be able to dial a number, and it’s this feature that we will be using here. We won’t be actually connecting to another computer, rather dialling the number and then leaving you to speak to the other party.

Any hardware connected to your computer requires specific software that understands this hardware and tells Windows how to communicate with it. This software is known as a “driver” and must be installed, together with the modem itself in order that Windows can use it.

You might well have an old modem lying around, and this should work fine. Modems come in one of three flavours:

Internal Modem External Modem USB Modem
(a) Internal Modem (b) External Modem (c) USB Modem

a) Internal Modem
These require you to remove the cover and install a card inside the machine. There will be instructions accompanying the modem, and you should follow those to install the modem and any drivers it requires. Then return here for linking it with our software.

b) External Modem
These older-style modems are typically connected to the communications port, or COM port, at the rear of your machine. Modern machines don’t always have a COM port as they have been superseded by USB. If your machine does not have a COM port, then you can purchase a USB-COM converter, or alternatively obtain a USB modem. This modem will require drivers in order that Windows can use it. These should be installed prior to returning to this document.

c) USB Modem
This is the most modern incarnation of the modem. It will come with instructions. Usually you are required to install the drivers before connecting the modem to any available USB port. Please follow these instructions before returning to this document.

If you wish to buy a USB modem, they can be obtained for under £30 from many online retailers. One example which we have had great success with is available from this link:

Hayes USB Modem

Here are some Amazon alternatives, which we cannot recommend, but may well work.

Regardless of which modem you use, it will have to be connected to your phone line. Specifically the same phone line to which your telephone is connected. If you have broadband installed, you will probably have a microfilter connected to the telephone wall-socket. This microfilter will have two ports on it; one labelled “ADSL” and the other labelled “Phone”. The “ADSL” port is only suitable for your broadband router and should be left alone. The “Phone” port is the one that you should connect your modem to. As this will probably already have your telephone plugged into it, you will need a “doubler” to allow you to connect two devices to the same port. The following table shows these connectors and how they combine. The modem replaces one of the telephones in the bottom illustration.

ADSL Microfilter Telephone Doubler
ADSL Microfilter Telephone Doubler
Connecting two devices through a doubler to an ADSL microfilter
Telephone Connection

Once you have installed your modem, together with any drivers and connected it to your phone line, you are ready to connect it to our software. Firstly, you will need to confirm that the modem is visible in Windows Control Panel, which is listed in the Start Menu:

Control Panel 1
Once in Control Panel, you will see an option for “Phone and Modem”. Click here to access your computer’s modem settings:

Control Panel 2
The following dialog box will appear. Select the “Modems” tab:

Control Panel 3
You should see a screen similar to the following, although the modem listed might have a different name:

Control Panel 4
The first thing to note is that the modem is installed in this computer, and therefore our installation of the modem and its drivers has worked. Secondly, we must make a note of the “Attached To” entry alongside your modem. In this case it is “COM1”, but may well be “COM2”, “COM3”, or similar on your machine.

Having noted this setting, you can click “OK” and leave this dialog box. You can then close Control Panel and return to your desktop.

Now you should run whichever of our programs you are using. In this example, we will use the Horse Program, but configuration will be similar in any of our other programs. Once running, you should see the start form:

Control Panel 5
Click on the “Start Program” button to open the Main Menu:

Control Panel 6
Then click on the “Settings” button in the right-hand column, bearing in mind that the button might be in a different location if you are using a different program:

Control Panel 7
Click on the “Set Telephone” button, which in this case is located about a third of the way down this screen. The following pop-up dialog box will appear:

Control Panel 8
This dialog box is asking which COM port, the modem is attached to. This is the setting that we noted earlier. Click on whichever COM port you noted, in this case “COM1”, and then click on the “Save” button. You should then see the following dialog box:

Control Panel 9
Click on “OK” and then “Close” on the previous dialog box. You should then see the following:

Control Panel 9
Click on “OK” and then “Close” to return to the Main Menu:

Control Panel 11
We are now ready to dial a number! You can dial a telephone number wherever you see one on a form. In this case, the Address Book contains telephone numbers for our contacts. Click on the “Address Book” button located in the first column of the Main Menu:

Control Panel 12
We have searched for our contact using the “Select Name” search box at the top of the form, and we wish to dial their mobile phone. We click in the “Mobile” field located towards the bottom of the form. You should click in whichever field contains the number that you wish to dial:

Control Panel 13
To actually make the modem dial the number, we double-click on the number itself. In this case that’s the field highlighted in blue. The following dialog box appears on the screen:

Control Panel 14
Before you click “OK”, you should pick up the handset, or press the “off hook” button on modern phones. This opens the line for you to speak. When you click “OK”, the modem will dial the phone number. You will hear these tones in the earpiece. Once the modem has dialled the number, it will disconnect, leaving you free to speak to the other party.

That’s the end of these instructions. We hope that you have found them useful. If you have any questions, please contact us at: grcshaw@shawprograms.co.uk