As a youngster, I once opened up the casing of my PC to look at all the inner workings. Of course, there wasn't much to see as far as moving parts, but I got a kick out of it. Those days came flashing back when I recently bought a speedy 33.6-kilobit-per-second (Kbps) external modem for my Mac. I was thrilled at the prospect of opening up my Mac and having a look 'under the bonnet'. For those clever enough to understand what I am talking about, you know I did not actually need to open the computer to install an external modem. However, I decided it would be best to remove my internal 14.4 Kbps modem before installing the new one. Having unplugged the computer and spun it around, I got ready to remove the back cover. When the cover was off and I could see the motherboard, I slid it out gently and admired the craftsmanship. After removing the internal modem, I pushed the reset button and slid the motherboard back in, confident I would see it again someday. With everything else back in place, I connected the external modem to the computer and turned the power on again. I removed the old modem's software and installed the new stuff. I restarted my machine and attempted to connect to the Internet. Nothing happened. An hour later, I realised I had not changed the initialisation string in my Config PPP. A moment later I was cruising - and much faster than with my old modem. However, my new modem was still cutting out and I was not happy zooming down the information superhighway having to change a flat tyre every five minutes. Either there was something wrong with my Internet service provider or my computer. After asking around, I decided new Config PPP software was the answer. After a quick search on the Internet for FreePPP I had my sights set on the site at www.rockstar.com . The site is maintained by Rockstar Studios Inc, a founding member of the FreePPP Group and a primary developer of the Internet Setup Monkey configuration utility and the FreePPP SDK. The site offers alpha and beta test versions of FreePPP software. The alpha version is distributed on the Internet for evaluation purposes only. The site warns that users looking for stable, reliable connections should stay away from test versions of the software. However, the software I downloaded appears to be working fine. Beta versions of software are not ready for final release and your decision to use them depends on your attitude to risk. Eudora, maker of the popular e-mail program, offers a seven-part quiz at its site ( www.eudora.com ) to determine if you are a candidate to use beta versions of its software. Anyone answering no to any of the questions should think again about using the software, it says.