Whenever I go online, the connection [goes down]-usually after a couple of minutes, sometimes an hour. What can I do to stop this from happening?
-M. Clark, Philadelphia
Faulty lines or heavy traffic can knock down or lock up a service. Unless you have a backup ISP, there’s nothing you can do in those instances.
In addition, many online services, such as Earthlink and AOL, automatically log you off if their server doesn’t detect any online activity after a certain length of time. Unfortunately writing or reading messages in your e-mail doesn’t count. However, there is shareware out there that you can use to fix the problem. Better still, you can just pull a fast one over your computer. Enter an online chat and keep the window open in the background. This way your system will see there is some kind of activity and you won’t have to worry about any time-outs. Also, check to see if your service provider allows you to change the time-out time to “never.” Go to Options in your e-mail menu bar.
If you have call-waiting, the problem could be that incoming calls are knocking you offline. In that case, you want to disable call-waiting before logging on. You can set up your computer to do this automatically by locating the dial-up number for your ISP (it’s in the Dial-Up Networking folder in My Computer for Windows users, and in Remote Access in Control Panels for Macs). Type *70, (with the comma) or 1170 in front of the dial-up number. When you log off, call-waiting will resume. Should this fail to do the trick, call your local phone company to find out the proper code for disabling call-waiting in your area.
Mail your technology-related concerns to Cyberwise at black enterprise, 130 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.