IConnect Tutorial

by Derryck Croker


Probably not the widest used means of getting an Atari connected to the internet, IConnect nevertheless has some great advantages for both beginner and expert. These features do have a price tag however. Using IConnect (or PPPConnect as it's sometimes called) presupposes that the multi-tasking operating system MagiC is installed.

So the pros

  • A full GEM configuration utility.
  • Very easy to set up for the beginner. All settings are held in a single file, so there are no confusing "script" files to lose.
  • A high degree of integration with all ASH internet clients.
  • Automatic connection/disconnection to the internet can be made if required.
  • Fully scriptable with ASH's Scripter, for example automated dial-up and collection of mail and messages from several ISPs in turn while still logged in to the first, and optionally hanging up when finished.
  • Several threads can be active at once, Autosurf (downloading a specified range of web pages to disk) and Autodownload (several file downloads can be active at once) make real time and money-savers. You can be running IRC, Telnet, FTP and mail collection sessions simultaneously while browsing with CAB (memory permitting, of course).
  • Can be used with Atak's aMAIL client for e-mail and (very limited) Usenet.
  • With the addition of IFusion (a utility included with the latest versions of the FTP client Fiffi), almost all STiK and STinG clients can also be used.

And the cons

  • STiK/STiNG compatibility means buying another product, otherwise it will only work with ASH clients, with the exception noted above. With CAB, that means using the overlay that is supplied in CAB's MODULE folder.

So where do I start?
All the necessary files are included on the CAB master disk, so it's just a question of clicking the right boxes in the install program and running it. You'll need to tick the PPP and HSModem options (if not already installed), and it's worth checking afterwards that the HSModem components DRVIN.PRG and either MFP.PRG or SCC.PRG (depending on your machine) run in that order from your AUTO folder, with SOCKETS.PRG bringing up the rear.

Now that's done, open ICONF.PRG and take a look at the dialog box that opens. It looks pretty daunting, but there's really nothing to it. Look on your ISP's technical support page or read its documentation for the details you'll need to complete the configuration.

[Screen-shot: Modem configuration]

I've invented a totally ficticious ISP as the basis for the following, so of course you'll have to insert the right details where necessary! Don't worry if the following screen-shots look a little different. I'm using the latest version which is available as a free download from ASH.

Let's make a start with a name for the connection - it obviously makes sense to call it after the name of your ISP. So click on the New button.

[Screen-shot: New dial-up connection]

Once you've clicked on OK, take a moment to review the remaining buttons. Most of the settings here should work as-is, but if you want to change any of them then a pop-up appears when you click on each option in the main panel. The contents of the pop-up for the first button "modem port" will alter depending on which version of HSModem is installed, Modem1 for the ST range and Modem2 for the Falcon. The second, "Baud", may also need changing. 19,200 is a good choice for a standard ST, higher values can be used with accelerators or faster machines such as the Falcon or TT. Other settings should only be changed if your modem needs special initialisation or hang up strings, refer to your modem's documention for details.

The remaining button "Profi mode" is for techies only, and allows access to parts of the set-up that might need fine-tuning later on, for now it's best left strictly alone.

Clicking on the second icon ACCOUNT in the left panel brings up this dialog:

[Screen-shot: Account configuration]

I've already entered my user name

[Screen-shot: User name dialog]

and password

[Screen-shot: Password dialog]

but you can leave these empty if you wish, and IConnect will ask you for these two strings when it's logging in. A nice touch - if someone tries to "steal" your password by trying to copy the input box to the clipboard with [Control]+[C], the resulting file reads "You can't copy from a secret input box."!

"Local IP address" should be fine set as shown, as connections made via a dial-up connection are assigned an address that changes on each occasion anyway. It's possible that an entry might need to be made here in other circumstances, but that's not something I'll attempt to cover here.

Moving on to the third icon "LOGIN": This is most likely the area that will cause the most problems. Options set here control how IConnect interacts with your ISP when it's logging in. These work with many ISPs I've tried so far:

[Screen-shot: Log-in 1]

This variation might also be useful. I've shortened "Login:" and "Password:" as shown, because this will also catch the lower-case variations. User and password have already been entered in the ACCOUNT dialog:

[Screen-shot: Log-in 2]

And if neither of these work then IConnect's built-in terminal screen can be used to see what your ISP is sending as prompts, make a note of these and the answers you supply to build a successful connection. Making a working script is then a question of using the mouse and key combinations shown to "build" a script from the pop-up.

[Screen-shot: Log-in 3]

I have no experience of a SLIP connection, but you should hopefully find enough information to be able to get this option working if that's the only option that your ISP offers. I dare say that PPP is the most widely-used protocol though (Yes, SLIP was phased out in favour of PPP by most ISPs some years ago - Ed).

Skipping the "Profi"-only and greyed-out "LOGOFF" icon brings us nicely to "DNS":

[Screen-shot: DNS settings]

Here you can enter the address of your ISP's Domain Name System server. It's made up from four groups of numbers separated by full stops ("dotted quad") and can be found on your ISP's support pages. But IConnect is quite capable of asking for the address itself when logging in if this address is entered as shown. Try this setting first, and only if it doesn't work (browsing with CAB doesn't work unless you use the actual dotted quad address of the server you're trying to connect to) enter the DNS address into this field.

And then to the "SERVICES" icon:

[Screen-shot: Services]

You actually don't need to enter anything into this panel if you're only going to be browsing, but it doesn't hurt and will remove the possibility of confusion in the future. All details from your ISP as before, remembering that this is a totally ficticious example for the purposes of this article! If a different password is needed to access your e-mail you can enter the details here (in the fields below the POP server address), or else repeat the entries made in the ACCOUNT dialog. Not copy and paste remember!). Some ISPs require authentication for using their news server.

Enter the details below the news server address as above. I've left the "Time server" address empty in this case. As an option in this dialog, you can enter the actual dotted quad addresses of the various servers. It will speed up the log-in process a little, but you run the risk of the actual machine you're addressing being out of service. Best to use the names instead.

I'm going to skip the "PROXIES" icon, as I've never had occasion to use it, so that brings us without further ado to "SOCKETS":

 [Screen-shot: Sockets]

Here we're setting the path to the various networking components that IConnect needs. Set an absolute path with "Select..." to the ETC folder (you'll find it within the PPP folder) with the resulting file selector, or as here use an environment variable in your MAGX.INF file to point to it.

It looks something like this:


Don't forget to change that path to the one you're using!

And that's it. Click on "Save" and "Quit", and then reboot your computer to activate all these settings.

Now you'll be able to browse the Internet, using ICONNECT.PRG to dial your ISP.

If you've entered additional ISPs in ICONF.PRG (hint, the camera icon above "New" at the top of each dialog copies the current setup as a basis for a new ISP), you can choose between them in the pop-up at the top of the dialog. The ISP selected in ICONF.PRG when last saved becomes the default entry in this pop-up.

Useful links


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MyAtari magazine - Feature #5, August 2002

Copyright 2002 MyAtari magazine