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HAL isn't set up to work with telephones.
The modem is not HAL-compatible. Most modem manufacturers do not include the feature where the modem can detect when a phone on the same line as the modem has been picked up. In other words, the modem can only detect when someone calls into the modem from a remote phone, not when someone picks up a regular phone in the house. If the modem being used isn't HAL-compatible, then you can only use remote phones to interact with HAL -- if the modem supports that functionality. (You can also interact through microphones, of course).
The phone line is not correctly connected to the modem.
Make sure that the phone line from the telephone jack is connected to the LINE input of the modem and that the PHONE output is connected to the local (house) telephone. (The hook-up is slightly different if every phone in the house is being set up to work with HAL. Go to the related FAQ for more information.)
Incorrect attention key was used or not used at all.
When you picked up the house phone, you either didn't press an attention key or you pressed the wrong one. The default attention key is the pound (#) key, but if a different attention key was selected in the Telephone Configuration screen, then the pound [#] key will no longer work.
HAL isn't running or the computer's power management is enabled. If HAL isn't running or the computer's power management is enabled (hard drive spins down when not in use), then HAL can't control lights or appliances, download information from the Internet, answer phone calls, respond to verbal commands, or anything else.
Disable the computer's power management if it's enabled. To disable it, go to Start… Settings… Control Panel. When the Control Panel screen appears, double-click on POWER MANAGEMENT. In the Power Management screen, set the field "Turn off hard disks" to NEVER. If the computer's microphone is part of the monitor or draws power from the monitor and you want to be able to talk to HAL at any time through the monitor, then you must set the field "Turn off monitor" to NEVER. If the computer's microphone isn't connected to the monitor in any way, then you can set the "Turn off monitor" field to any option.
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