OK, first off, I am a semi-neophyte with Macs, but I am very familiar with Unix, OS/2, MS Win, etc and modems and all that. However, this one on the "simple" Mac has me scratching my head.
My wife has a Mac Performa 475 (68LC040) with 36 mb RAM and MacOS 7.6.1. The modem is an external US Robotics Sportster Voice 33.6, the special Mac variety. No special modem software is installed, since my wife primarily uses (shudder) AOL for email. We used to use a 14.4 kb modem which also exhibited this same problem, but less frequently (faster modems fail quicker, perhaps?...) In addition, just to confuse life a little further, I have installed FreePPP 2.5.2 so we can contact my ISP (Earthlink).
OK, here is the problem: Whether you use AOL or FreePPP, the connection is usually at some low speed (9600, 12000, 16000, etc). Then the connection only holds on for a minute or two before the line drops spontaneously. With AOL's eternal connect delays, this often means that we don't even complete the connection ritual before it goes away. With Earthlink, you can get Netscape or Eudora running and try to check mail or something before it drops.
I have watched the modem lights, and I notice that the Send Data light blinks every second or so, but the Receive Data light does not blink in return, just before it gives up. I suspect some sort of protocol/handshake problem here, but have no idea where to look for clues. The modem settings specify 8N1, RTS/CTS, and 57600 baud.
I called AOL tech support, and the guy there said to check the Extensions folder for anything having to do with communications, and disable anything that was not needed. I don't know what OT is all about, so I left that alone. Is it necessary in order to use FreePPP and/or AOL? Is it a substitute for those, or what? More importantly, can someone give me some guidance on how to track down this line-drop problem?