Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

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Random memory: KBurra 'Net Pal

I remember how I used to use a program called “'Net Pal” to connect to the Internet back in my dial-up days. It was really handy, especially because it supported re-dialling when the other end was busy (which happened occasionally) and because it supported dialling a range of numbers until one picked up.

The second function was especially useful because I had an option in my phone plan that made telephone calls free on weekends (this was before wide-spread availability of flat rates). And this caused quite a number of ISPs to spring up that didn’t require a contract; you just called them and entered a fixed username/password combination. They made their money out of the interconnect fees that the other carriers had to pay them to transfer calls to their network, so you just paid your normal phone fees. They were particularly heavily loaded at the week-ends due to the presence of the feature, so you sometimes had to try four or five dozen numbers before you could connect.

What I remember most was that I couldn’t get the program to work at first, so I contacted support about it. And even though I wasn’t a paying customer (I was trying out the shareware version), they did quite a lot to figure out what was happening so that they could fix it: for example, they sent me an instrumented version that logged lots of stuff and asked me to play around with it (try to use it as I usually would), then send them the log file. It ended up being something connected to the fact that I had a German version of Windows installed.

They fixed it and sent me the updated version; and as a thank-you for reporting the bug, they gave me a free licence key. So that was nifty.

I had a look at their web page and saw that it’s still up and that they’re still offering Cookie Pal and 'Net Pal! On the other hand, the web page is “Copyright © 1996-2005” and the software supports Windows 95/98/ME and “now also” Windows NT 4.0 (though a beta version is available that supports Windows 2000 and Windows XP). So I get the impression that it’s not really being developed any longer….

Fun times.

Tags: random memory
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