Microsoft, in true form, has thrown the proverbial monkey wrench into the TCP/IP market. What was known as a lucrative cash cow for some companies, who were able to charge up to $500 for a single license of a WinSock TCP/IP protocol stack with mediocre applications (typically bad versions of Telnet and FTP), is now uncertain.
For all releases of Windows for Workgroups 3.11 and later (I don't think Microsoft even sells plain old Windows 3.1 anymore), Microsoft TCP/IP-32 and TCP/IP are available. The former is a full 32-bit implementation and includes the NDIS 3 protocol stack. The latter is a 16-bit implementation and includes the NDIS 2 protocol stack.
NOTE: NDIS is a stack that lives underneath the TCP/IP or WinSock stack. It enables multiple network protocols (such as Microsoft's NetBEUI, used in Windows for Workgroups, or Novell's IPX, used in NetWare) to live on the same machine. Prior to NDIS (or Novell's ODI), only one network protocol could be used at any give time on a PC. It is now common for some LAN workstations to have both NetBEUI, TCP/IP, and IPX on the same machine at the same time.
Because the Microsoft stacks are LAN-only based, consult your MIS manager or your systems administrator to determine which one you should use. Microsoft gets very picky when you go and change system-level software -- it is harder for the company to support you if you don't use what it would deem as standard. For the most part, I'll limit this discussion to TCP/IP-32, because it will clearly replace the older 16-bit version.
NOTE: Remember, the Microsoft WinSock is meant only for LAN-based connections. If you are expecting to dial up to an Internet service provider, just skip this section.
It is unlikely that Microsoft will ever provide dialup access with the WinSock in Windows for Workgroups 3.11. I suspect that it will ship it with Windows 95 unless it has to change its name to Windows 96 to accommodate actual shipping dates.
The WinSock TCP/IP protocol stack was not ready for production when Microsoft released Windows for Workgroups 3.11. In fact, it really didn't show up until several months later. So you cannot actually purchase a copy of the TCP/IP-32 protocol stack. Both the 32-bit and 16-bit versions are freely available on such online services as CompuServe as well as Microsoft's FTP server:
NOTE: Warning! These instructions are not for the faint of heart, and they are abbreviated for space considerations because LAN-only stacks are not a significant part of this book. If you don't feel comfortable modifying critical portions of your Windows operating system with respect to the network, I suggest that you turn to your systems administrator for assistance. Alternatively, you can pull the full documentation from Microsoft's FTP server:
You must retrieve one or the other of these files (preferably the 32-bit version) and unpack the self-extracting archive to either a floppy disk or to a special directory on your hard drive.
After you've done this step, you can go back to Windows and launch the Network Setup icon in the Network group in the Program Manager. When the Network Drivers screen is up (see figure 11.19), choose the Add Protocol button and select Unlisted or Updated Protocol. When the program asks for the location of the files, direct it to your floppy drive. It will then pick up the TCP/IP protocol stack off of the diskette.
Figure 11.19: Network Drivers screen.
You now have the opportunity to add all of your IP network information, including your IP address, netmask, gateway, and DNS (see figures 11.20 and 11.21).
Figure 11.20: Microsoft TCP/IP address information.
Figure 11.21: Microsoft TCP/IP DNS information.
After you restart your computer, you are up and running with Microsoft's WinSock.
After WinSock is installed, there is no basic usage -- WinSock is pretty passive. In order to do anything, you must run a WinSock-compliant application. The ones that come with TCP/IP-32 are mediocre and are really administrative. I suggest that you browse through the Internet Starter Kit archives at Halcyon for decent applications (most of which are described in this very book):
The applications that Microsoft supplies are diagnostic utilities, DHCP support, and very basic Telnet and FTP. Telnet is Windows Terminal with a TCP/IP back end, and if you've ever used Terminal regularly, you'll immediately find another Telnet client. FTP is even worse because it is command-based. You might as well be back at a DOS prompt.
NOTE: DHCP stands for "Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol" and is another mechanism for setting up an IP address on your machine. It is similar to getting an IP address dynamically, but uses a more modern industry standard client/server model. Under the DHCP model, you lease your IP address from a server that doles out the addresses. DHCP is really meant to be used in an environment where there are more machines than IP addresses. This discussion is really not important to the dialup user.
The most interesting feature of the Microsoft WinSock implementation is its support for NetBIOS over TCP/IP, which will allow Windows for Workgroups users to mount other Windows for Workgroup disks across TCP/IP routed networks. This feature is of no interest to dialup users because this stack doesn't support dialup.
In effect, with special configuration, you can access a Windows for Workgroups, a LAN-Manager, or a Windows NT server anywhere that TCP/IP packets travel, including the Internet. This feature enables you to access one of these servers in Timbuktu. As with Windows for Workgroups, you simply browse and attach any drives, printers, or other device. The connection may take a little longer (think how far Timbuktu is), but it can be done.
You should read the documentation associated with the URL listed under Installation and Setup for configuration of NetBIOS over TCP/IP. I refuse to list these instructions because they are well outside the scope of this book; they require modifications to .ini files with a text editor, and most importantly they introduce security risks for you and perhaps your company.
Microsoft's WinSock TCP/IP protocol stack is one of the first 32-bit implementations, so it should be theoretically faster than other versions. However, I haven't done any benchmarks to prove that point. In fact, I don't really use Microsoft's stack much because it requires a lot of work for me to migrate outside of my current networking environment.
For more information, contact Microsoft at the following address. However, I suggest using its Web page because you may get better results.
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
Just as there are dozens of different video boards, mouses, keyboards, hard drives, printers, and other devices meant for PCs and Windows, there are also many different implementations of WinSock. There are different flavors only because Microsoft did not provide one that shipped with Windows. Microsoft left this up to third-party vendors, and I've attempted to describe only a few. For the rest, I'll just list names and manufacturers. Going into any detail on all of the TCP/IP stacks would have quadrupled the size of this chapter. Besides, going over a multitude of stacks would be boring because they all do almost the same thing (and you've got a perfectly good one on one of the disks in the back of the book).
Each of the stacks listed has relative merits, but most of them are LAN-based solutions and dedicate themselves to Ethernet or Token-Ring. Many of them have SLIP and PPP dialup connectivity, but their strengths usually lie in their ability to fit into a corporate enterprise. This probably does not apply to you.
BW-Connect TCP/IP for DOS and Windows Version 3.1
Beame & Whiteside Software, Inc.
706 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27603-1655
SuperTCP/NFS for Windows Version 4.0
Frontier Technologies Corporation
10201 N. Port Washington Road
Mequon, WI 53092
PC/TCP on Net Version 1.1
FTP Software, Inc.
2 High Street
North Andover, MA 01845
LAN Workplace for DOS Version 4.2
122 East 1700 South
Provo, UT 84606
PC-NFS Version 5.1
Sun Microsystems (SunSoft)
2250 Garcia Ave.
Mountain View, CA 94043
Pathway Access Version 3.0
The Wollongong Group Inc.
1129 San Antonio Road, Room 7117
Palo Alto, CA 94303
Reflection Network Series Version 4.0
Walker Richer and Quinn, Inc.
1500 Dexter Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109-3051
If you went through the various steps to configure your WinSock and everything works, congratulations! You can then skip this section entirely, because it can get a bit technical in places, and if everything works there's no need to dwell on what may not work. Most people don't have much trouble with the configuration, but there are some pitfalls to avoid and some tricks and tips I've learned since the first edition of this book came out. I'd like to share some of the problems and solutions with you here, and although I hope you don't need to read this section, if you do I hope it helps.
Before I even begin to write about what may go wrong, I want to say a few words about how you can best go about isolating problems and then reporting them on the nets or to tech support. If you ask for help on alt.winsock by posting a note that says something like, "I'm connecting to the nets via SLIP, and it doesn't work. What am I doing wrong?" you won't get any helpful responses. You probably won't get any at all because people will have no clue as to what your problem is other than that you don't know how to ask for help. If you follow these steps when working through any problem -- not only a WinSock problem -- you'll be better off.
When you've determined that you have a problem, do the following: Start over completely from scratch and then carefully follow each step in the instructions, noting anything that doesn't seem to mesh between your setup and what the instructions say. If you deviate from the instructions, note that, too. In many cases, following this procedure either solves the problem or reveals where it lies. Don't think of this process as an unpleasant chore, because then you're likely to become careless and miss an important clue. Troubleshooting can be a lot of fun because you learn a lot more about the topic at hand, and you get to solve a real-life mystery in which no one dies.
Unfortunately, because you're all amateur sleuths, you're not always able to find the solution to a problem, and you must consult others who are more knowledgeable or who have a different way of looking at the problem. If you are having trouble with a commercial program, the first experts to turn to should be the technical support staff at the company that produced your program. I've heard good things about most of the technical support staffs of companies that make Internet applications, although quality tech support is unfortunately never a guarantee.
When dealing with telephone tech support people, keep the following points in mind: they probably know a lot more about the program in question than you do; they answer a huge number of calls every day; and the job has a high burnout rate because it's so stressful. You're most likely to get the best help if you're polite and you cooperate with what they ask you to do. If you call and announce that you're a power user and you want to know why this stupid program doesn't work, you're unlikely to get decent help. If, on the other hand, you call, say you're having trouble, and give the information that the tech support person asks for, she can do a much better job in helping you. It never pays to alienate the person whom you're asking for help. Remember that whatever is wrong is not her fault.
If you are using a freeware or shareware application, it usually says whether the author is willing to help via direct email. One way or another, though, there are several places where you can ask for help from other users, many of whom are true experts. Also, the developers of many of the freeware and shareware utilities tend to hang out in these same places and help their users, even if they prefer not to be continually slammed by personal email. The best place to ask for help with Internet stuff is on the Usenet newsgroup alt.winsock.
NOTE: If you don't read these groups regularly, you should specifically ask for replies via email so that you don't miss any answers.
No matter what, if you want any of these people to help you, you must help them first by sending a complete report. In that report, you should include the following information:
WinSock is an elusive animal because it is implemented by a variety of manufacturers. This section is not intended to answer questions for specific WinSock TCP/IP protocol stacks. Rather, it is an attempt to answer general-purpose questions about WinSock.
Q: Why does my computer get "General Protection Violations" messages or seizes and behaves poorly when I run WinSock or TCP/IP-based applications?
A: WinSock is an integral part of the Windows operating system. If you attempt to run an application and WinSock is not running, then bad things will happen. It's like pulling a plank out from under you while you're standing over a pool of water.
Q: Why would WinSock not be running?
A: Under LAN-based protocol, WinSock is usually running all the time or is invoked only when an application calls for it. However, under a dialup situation, sometimes you must invoke the WinSock stack by hand. In the case of Chameleon, you must load Custom and connect by hand before running any WinSock application.
Q: Can I run multiple WinSock TCP/IP stacks?
A: No! Not at the same time. This would be akin to running two versions of Windows at the same time. However, if you're doing only dialup, it is possible to run different WinSocks at different times. Keep in mind that sometimes the dynamic link library (DLL) is named the same from each vendor: winsock.dll.
Q: What is the current specification for WinSock?
A: The current version of WinSock is 1.1 and is adopted by nearly every WinSock manufacturer. It is unlikely that you would be able to purchase any stack numbered 1.0 or less, because it was quickly supplanted by version 1.1. Version 2.0 is currently under spec and evaluation. Because WinSock is defined by committee and not by Microsoft, things tend to move quite slowly.
Q: Is it possible to see exactly what WinSock is doing?
A: Most of the WinSock TCP/IP protocol stacks have some mechanism for monitoring IP traffic. In the case of Chameleon, you can double-click on NEWT (the chameleon icon). NEWT has a number of menus and tables meant for watching IP. Other low-level protocols pass through the network interface as well.
Q: How do I remove WinSock?
A: This is a difficult question because it is manufacturer-dependent. You may want to send the manufacturer mail or give the company a call. In some cases, it is a matter of editing your autoexec.bat to remove references to the application suite (for example, c:\netmanag), editing portions of your win.ini (for example, the [tcpip] section), and perhaps removing the actual DLL from the c:\windows or c:\windows\system directories (for example, winsock.dll). There is no canned answer here for all the stacks.
Q: Why do modem disconnects and reconnects freak out my WinSock applications?
A: This problem frequently happens when you connect to an Internet service provider and use server (also known as dynamic) addressing to obtain your IP address. Typically, your IP address changes each time you connect. If you have been running a WinSock application and you disconnect and reconnect, your WinSock application is likely to think it has the old address. This can cause all sorts of unpleasant problems. It's best to quit all WinSock applications before you disconnect.
Some people have difficulty understanding just what a domain name server does and how it interacts with their operations. I hope this section will help clear up some of those questions.
Q: What is a domain name server?
A: A domain name server (DNS) is responsible for translating a domain name (such as ftp.tidbits.com) into its correct IP address (such as 184.108.40.206). The server's actual address is usually given only as an IP number. In the case of Northwest Nexus, its primary DNS is 220.127.116.11.
Q: Must I always use the DNS server that my Internet service provider tells me?
A: Absolutely not. You can use a DNS server for a machine in Timbuktu if you want. However, because DNS queries are typically quick (or at least you'd like them to be), there isn't any use in naming that server 1,000 hops away. You're just wasting your own time and the Internet's bandwidth. It's best to use a server one or two hops upstream.
Q: What is the backup server used for?
A: If you were traveling to India with a translator, and the translator suddenly fell ill, you'd then have a very difficult time communicating with the population. In the DNS world, it is easy to have a backup because you don't ever want to have to remember the IP address (whereas in India I suspect a backup translator would be expensive). You just give the address of another machine. Some WinSocks allow the use of many backup DNS servers. If ever they don't get a response from a DNS server, they just go down the list until they do get a response.
Q: Sometimes when I anonymous FTP to other sites, they refuse connections because I don't have a domain name. Why does this problem occur?
A: FTP servers typically allow connections from anywhere. However, for security reasons, companies sometimes want to know who you are, not just your IP address. They do a reverse lookup (get the domain name from the IP address). If your IP address doesn't have an entry, then you don't get in. There is nothing you can do about this except ask your systems administrator to assign an IP address for dialup ports or for your own IP address. This problem is becoming more and more well known and understood, so it is unlikely that you'll have trouble with this in the future.
Q: When I type in a domain name, I get messages that indicate that the host is not found even though I know that I typed it in correctly. What's happening?
A: You may have typed in your domain correctly, but perhaps you've typed in the address of the domain name server incorrectly. Computers are unforgiving, and typing in the correct IP address is a typical place to screw up. Don't fret, I've messed up several times. Fortunately, you usually have to enter the domain name servers only once because the WinSocks save your configuration.
One of the reasons that PCs are so inexpensive is that they've enjoyed the fruits of having an open hardware architecture. But this architecture is also the main reason why configuring software to work with the architecture is so difficult. This section will not be your secret decoder ring for solving your hardware problems. Rather, it tries to answer some of the more basic questions regarding hardware with respect to the Internet and Internet connectivity.
I do not get into any questions regarding LAN-based connections because this section could easily turn into a ten-chapter set on the problems that can arise through such connections.
Q: My modem doesn't dial out. Why?
A1: Ugh! Please be more specific. The PC architecture (without enhancement) allows for four communications (COM) ports: COM1, COM2, COM3, and COM4. Not all computers come with four ports. In fact, most only come with two. Make sure that you specify the one where your modem is hooked. Your mouse may take up one of the other COM ports.
A2: Some fax software may be listening to the COM port 100 percent of the time. It is difficult for WinSock to acquire use of the port if another application is using it. You may have to turn off any other communications software while you attach to the Internet via modem.
A3: Even though the PC architecture accommodates four COM ports, you have to use them carefully. COM1 and COM3 are on the same interrupt request line (IRQ), and so are COM2 and COM4. Don't use COM1 and COM3 or COM2 and COM4 simultaneously, or you may lose packets.
Q: I dial, but I don't ever connect. What's going on?
A1: Is your serial port capable of handling high-speed communications? Most computers support the 8250 UART ("Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter"). This capability limits communications to under 19,200 bps. Faster communications with an external modem may require a new UART, which translates into a new serial board. Leave this installation up to a qualified technician. Otherwise, you'll throw up your hands in frustration while trying to get all those IRQs, I/O addresses, DIP switches, and jumpers correct.
A2: Is your handshaking protocol correct? Never use the XON/XOFF handshaking protocol. XON/XOFF handshaking uses control characters that start and stop data flow and royally confuse SLIP and PPP. Use hardware (sometimes labeled RTS) handshaking.
A3: Does your modem cable support hardware handshaking? A poor man's cable uses only pins 2, 3, and 7, and is also a poor Internet cable. Make sure that you get a cable that can use pins 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 20 as a minimum. This includes all of the hardware handshaking lines.
A4: Are your modem initialization strings correct? They must be compatible with your Internet service provider's equipment. You may want to call your provider or the modem manufacturer for the recommended settings. Keep in mind that only part of the modem command set is standardized, so be sure to be specific about which modem you are using.
Q: I dial, but I don't think I'm reaching a computer. What's going on?
A1: Are you in a business that has a public exchange (PBX)? Sometimes you need to dial a 9 or a special code to get an outside line. You may need to pause before you can send the additional phone numbers. For example, a common phone number for Northwest Nexus is 9,1-206-455-8455. The comma is a short pause, and the dashes are ignored.
A2: Do you need to dial a 1 before dialing a long distance number? This is usually true, at least in the U.S.
A3: Do you need to dial the area code? This may sound obvious, but if you're in the 415 area code, you don't need to dial it or even the preceding 1. If your modem has a speaker, carefully listen in on the modem's whines and screams. Sometimes you'll hear the phone company's recording of why the call didn't go through.
A4: Is your provider in one of those new area codes? Before 1995 all area codes had either a 1 or a 0 as the second digit. The year 1995 introduced the first batch of area codes that could have different numbers in that position (such as 360 for western Washington state, outside the Everett, Seattle, and Tacoma areas). Some older PBX equipment cannot dial these numbers without upgrades to their systems. This situation is nothing that you'll be able to solve. Only your company can do fix the problem. Needless to say, this situation should be rectified immediately.
A5: Most of the dialup configurations have a time-out (give-up) of 30 seconds (sometimes more). However, the combination of dialing, pausing, and executing a script for ID and password authentication often takes longer than 30 seconds. Try increasing the time-out value.
A6: Are you dialing the correct number? You can always dial the number on a normal phone to make sure a modem is on the other end.
Q: Sometimes when I'm connected I get disconnected. Why?
A1: Some Internet service providers limit the amount of time that you can use their systems. They may boot you off if your time limit has expired. This is typical behavior for providers that have flat-rate accounting because people tend to hog the phone lines otherwise.
A2: Most Internet service providers automatically disconnect you if there is no activity across the line in a specified period of time, typically ten minutes. You really shouldn't be connected unless you're doing something with the Internet anyway.
A3: Do you have call waiting? If so, you should turn it off before you make your phone call. Consult your phone company's white pages before changing the dial phone number. I've seen at least three different ways to handle it. U.S. West's way is to prefix the number with a *70 (for example, *70,1-206-455-8455 for Northwest Nexus).
Q:< I can connect on occasion but not all the time. What could be wrong?
A: Some modems don't seem to like to connect at 19,200 bps. If you set the speed down to 9,600, they may connect better (unless, of course, your WinSock happens to have a configuration for your particular modem).
Also, I've noticed that sometimes I'll see failed connections on my Northwest Nexus account. Just try again a few times, waiting a bit between tries if you can. I suspect these problems are related to a bad modem, line noise, or some other situation out of your control, and in my experience, they always go away after several tries.
Q: I connect to the computer at the other end, and it looks like it is validating the ID and password but then nothing happens! Why does this happen?
A: There are two different types of connections: SLIP and PPP. Make sure that your provider has given you the correct type of account. SLIP certainly does not work with a PPP account, and PPP does not work with a SLIP account. Also, ask whether your headers are compressed. Under SLIP, SLIP may be listed as CSLIP instead of SLIP.
Unfortunately, if you're using SLIP and you have a CSLIP account, some things may work at some times but not at other times. It is imperative that your computer and your host communications server are speaking the same language.
Well, you know about as much about SLIP and PPP now as you will ever want to, and you've seen a little bit about some of the more interesting WinSock stacks available today. This has been a long chapter and somewhat complex, but that's because I've covered several different packages in some depth. I've tried to provide as much information as possible about subjects that are confusing, and I hope I've removed some of the mystery.
The real fun comes in the next chapter, in which I write about all the programs that rely on the connection that you've established with your WinSock by using either SLIP or PPP. Shall we move on then?
NOTE: WinSock was in fact developed jointly by NetManage Corporation and JSB Corporation. It wasn't until version 1.1 (the current version), that the other players, including Microsoft, got involved.
The NetManage product line is very broad. TCP/IP connectivity used to be synonymous only with Internet connectivity. This is no longer true, as corporate networking environments become more and more complex topologically. Corporations are finding that it is far more productive to use TCP/IP internally as a great network protocol, even though they may never attach themselves to the Internet. All this change is occurring during the Internet revolution. So you see, there are several audiences being addressed here, and it can be difficult to figure out which product is best for you, mainly because the products have similar names. Keep in mind that all the products use NetManage's high-quality WinSock TCP/IP protocol stack.
Originally, NetManage had a single product called Chameleon. It consisted of WinSock (called NEWT) and a myriad of capable applications (such as Telnet, Mail, FTP, and so on). Chameleon had the ability to be LAN-based or dialup (SLIP/PPP)-based.
NetManage spawned several versions of Chameleon, including Chameleon/X, an X Windows server (a windows environment for Unix computers), and ChameleonNFS, a Network File System (a peer file sharing system for Unix computers).
Chameleon is targeted and priced for the corporate environment, so it probably isn't relevant for the home dialup user. However, I do know people that have the Chameleon product for dialup use at home because that's what they use at work.
The Chameleon Sampler was NetManage's free solution for dialup-only TCP/IP. It included mail, Telnet, FTP, Ping, and other utilities. This, in fact, was what we shipped with the first edition of this book. However, with the World Wide Web becoming so prevalent, and the introduction of new products, the original Sampler is being phased out in favor of the newer WebSurfer Sampler.
We have chosen to include the Chameleon WebSurfer Sampler, described following, with this book because it more accurately reflects the needs of the Internet Starter Kit user.
To address the rapidly growing Internet-at-home user, NetManage created Internet Chameleon, which is basically a dialup-only Chameleon product with a couple of twists. First, it comes preconfigured to work with several national Internet service providers. Second, it comes with the entire suite of applications found in the Chameleon product plus NetManage's WebSurfer World Wide Web browser.
We describe the Internet Chameleon in more detail following this section, because it's configuration is far different from either the LAN Chameleon, the Chameleon Sampler, or the Chameleon WebSurfer Sampler.
The Internet WebSurfer contains only the WinSock TCP/IP protocol stack (affectionately called NEWT) and the WebSurfer World Wide Web browser (okay, and a couple of miniapplications such as Ping); NetManage has graciously allowed us to include this package on one of the disks that come with this book.
In fact, if you register your Chameleon WebSurfer Sampler with NetManage online via the Web, you'll have the ability to download its mail and FTP clients. Of course, this is a little redundant considering what we provide on the second diskette. But you can download them anyway and choose which applications you want to use.
NOTE: Registering the Chameleon WebSurfer Sampler doesn't cost you anything. It is really a marketing tracking mechanism for NetManage. Plus, it will enable you to get support. I highly recommend it. The FTP and mail applications are a bonus.
NetManage distributes the Internet Chameleon in two different ways: Full Product and Unactivated. You can purchase the full product from retail stores, direct from NetManage, or you as a bundling from your Internet service provider. You acquire the unactivated product as bundlings with books and other inexpensive mechanisms. For the time being, we'll assume that you have purchased the full product from a software vendor such as Egghead.
Install the files for Internet Chameleon by the usual method of putting the first disk into your floppy disk drive and typing a:\setup (assuming that you've put it in your a: drive). The setup program presents you with a setup screen, asks you what directory to put the files into (the default c:\netmanag is usually fine), and prompts you to insert disks two and three. It then asks you to type in a 16-digit serial number and a four-digit key code in order to validate that you have a licensed copy of the product. These numbers can be found in the paper packaging titled Quick Start Instructions. If you're not asked for the serial number and key code, then you have the unactivated version, and you must use the Instant Internet setup in order to register and pay for the Internet Chameleon software.
If you choose one of the predefined Internet service providers -- CERFnet, Portal, InterRamp, IBM Internet, or AlterNet -- then the installation is almost too easy (and NetManage has won many accolades for this alone). You simply enter in your credit card information (see figure 11.6) for billing purposes (make sure you read all of the terms and conditions) and your personal information, then click on Send. It dials up the appropriate server at your chosen provider's site, swaps information, and then configures your computer to use its service. That's all there is to it. Too easy, I say! Some providers even offer a 30-day trial period -- during which they don't charge your credit card.
Figure 11.6: Instant Internet Account Sign-Up.
NOTE: Although there's a lot of talk and a fair amount of work being done right now to make sending credit card numbers over the Internet a secure process, you're not dealing with the Internet in this case. When the Instant Internet application dials and exchanges the credit card information, it is using a normal phone line, much like the little card-swipey things at retail stores these days. However, the process is about as secure as it can be, and you really have no choice.
It gets slightly more complicated if you have a different provider than any of the five listed previously. You must then configure for NetManage as a service provider, and select from a list of other providers. If your provider is still not on the list, then you must enter all the values for your provider manually. This isn't that big of a deal, because you'd be doing this for every other TCP/IP stack out there.