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i don't like the way connections seem to be handled: you call your connections, ask something and the GM has to throw some dice to see if he knows or don't.

Very fes roleplaying in there and very much luck. Do you have better ideas? do you handle it another way?
Errhhh, you're supposed to roleplay it as well. The roll is just if you haven't decided on what the contract should know, or if he's buddy enough to tell the PC.

As with anything else, if you don't like it you change it. So just decide in advance which contacts know what and roleplay all the interactions. That's a MAJOR part of Shadowrun right there. The run itself is just the climax of the story.
There are many ways to do it. As FotD says, the rolls are just if the players come at you out of left field and ask "does my street doc contact know anything about Yakuza smuggling schedules?" Rather than just saying "uh, no! He's a street doc!" You can roll to see if maybe some patient has been talking too much.

Conversely, if they ask the same question of some mobster contact, you - as an ever prepared GM - should have a good idea of whether he knows, and what. Roleplaying should be used to determine whether the contact likes the PC enough to spill what he knows, and for how much.

I do tend to enforce the rolls to determine whether a contact is around to be contacted. Or if the contact would definately know the info they need, but I don't want to give it to them yet, the contact will be temporarily unavailable.
Always subject to the GM's needs. There will be contacts that no matter how many successes you get they simply won't know.

I like how the SR Missions set up the contacts knowledge and die rolls for it.
remember, the contacts are supposedly people with their own life.

as in, i may well know a lot of people, but if i need info in a hurry, i still may not be able to get hold of them at all hours of the day. and even if i do, the info may be to hot or they didnt like being disturbed at that time and so on...

there can be a million and one reasons distilled into those dice rolls, that when explained may have made the actions of the contact seem reasonable. but when not explained by anything other then the roll of a dice, they appear totally random...
I would assume that my players would know better than to ask a contact who has nothing to do with the situation they are looking for. I sometimes will roll in advance and roleplay out the revealing of the situation. I'm fond of the concept of the sammie asking his hacker buddy to dig up some dirt and the hacker popping down the chat window, popping up some searches, messing around a bit while eating a burrito, schooling some n00b at an FPS and then popping back to the sammie with the desired information with a little roleplay to decide what needs to be exchanged back "you owe me one..""how about those concert tix...""So when are you gonna set me up with that hot elf chick...""That is worth at least a couple hundred nuyen..."etc.
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