Sprint Brings WiMax to Baltimore

This week, Sprint Nextel Corp launched WiMax in Baltimore, Maryland under the brand name XOHM. WiMax (which stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, aka 802.16 and 802.16e) is a broadband wireless technology that allows high speed internet access without wires. WiMax is similar to the ubiquitous WiFi you find in homes, airports, and coffee shops except it offers a much greater range and the ability maintain connectivity on the move.

XOHM is designed to be a direct competitor to cable, DSL, and FIOS in the home, providing competitive speeds without the need to install wires, cable, or fiber optics to the house. It is also a direct competitor to data services provided by cellular companies, providing twice the speed for a more competitive price.

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How to Set Up a Home Office Network Part 2: Getting Connected – A Visual Guide

There are a lot of ways to set up a network. How you do it depends on how many devices you want to connect, what they do, and where they are in relation to each other.

In this article, I am going to give several scenarios with visual guides. I will start with the simplest scenario and gradually add devices and functionality. This should help you understand how networks are built and what equipment is necessary to achieve your goals.

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Software for Starving Students (and other cheap folks)

If you are looking for a package of free software for your starving student or starving entrepreneur, check out SoftwareFor.org.

The good people over there have compiled a fairly large collection of best-in-class free software applications. The package includes multimedia, utilities, internet, academic tools, games and productivity software that would appeal to or be useful to a student. A complete list can be found here.

There are two different packages available, one is for Mac OS X the other is for Windows. The packages are in the form of CD images that you download and burn to disk.

Start Thinking about Taxes

Tax season will be kicking off in a few weeks in the US. At least it will be for the proactive among us. Most of the rest won’t even consider their taxes until the second week of April.

I like tackling my taxes early and every year at about this time I am faced with the proposition of going with TurboTax (which I have used for over a decade) or switching to the cheaper TaxCut software from H&R Block.

Last year things came to a head when I found out that some of the investment tax wizards I needed were moved from TurboTax Deluxe to TurboTax Premier and I had to buy an upgrade in the middle of doing my taxes. It was pretty annoying, but it was easier to pay to unlock the upgrade than switch to a new software package mid-stream.

This year it looks like the people from H&R Block are really sweetening the deal by offering much more for much less in their assorted TaxCut software versions. The question is whether it is worth trying something new and risking having to start all over with a more expensive product later or simply going with the more expensive product that you know works.

I checked out the TaxCut Software Complete Features List and it appears that this software should do everything that I expect it to. But I will only find out by taking a chance and making the leap.

Does anyone have any advice? What do you use? How complicated are your taxes? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Home Office Resolutions

I am not big on New Year’s Resolutions. Generally, I believe that if you realize you want or need to make a change in your life or behavior, you need to do it at the time your realize it. Why wait?

However, the beginning of a new year is an awfully convenient time to evaluate where you are and figure out where you want to go and how you want to get there.

So in the spirit of convenience and the need for a topic to write about, here is my list of Home Office Resolutions in no particular order!

  1. I resolve to shower and get dressed most days before I go to the home office.
  2. I resolve to exercise 1-4 times a week or when it is convenient. (Whichever comes first)
  3. I resolve to be genuinely interested in my job and be very disciplined in my performance of it.
  4. I resolve to put my family first and keep the door to my home office closed when I am not supposed to be in it.
  5. I resolve to be funny. Okay, at least I resolve to be funnier… that shouldn’t be too hard considering my starting point.

Happy 2007! Good luck with your resolutions. Feel free to share yours in the comments section.

Don’t Be Indispensable – If You Want To Get Ahead

Many people think that if you want to get ahead you need to make yourself indispensable. This sounds logical and intuitive, but it is wrong.

Being indispensable is a fine way to gain job security, but this is not the same as getting ahead and job security is never permanent no matter how indispensable you are. Eventually some person, some technology, or plain bad luck will disrupt the status quo and your job security will disappear.

The truth is that if you make yourself indispensable, you can’t take a vacation without being bothered. If you are indispensable, you can’t get promoted because it would be too inconvenient to backfill your position. If you are indispensable, you will continue to be stuck doing the same job, the same tasks, until that job ceases to exist.

You don’t want to be indispensable.

This does not mean you shouldn’t do a good job. You need to do a good job. You should be doing a great job. But don’t be the only one that can do that job. Be a leader. Be dynamic. Teach others to do the job as well as you. If the job is too hard for others to do, then find ways to make it simpler. Create processes, procedures and tools that make your job so simple a hamster could do it. Make yourself obsolete.

As you become obsolete, expand your job to include other difficult tasks. Become great at doing those tasks. Find ways to make doing those tasks simple. Teach others to do them. Make yourself obsolete.

Make yourself obsolete. Make yourself obsolete, again and again.

Soon you will find that you are not great at doing tasks. You are great at solving problems. You are great at seeing the big picture and breaking it down into simple components. You will not be indispensable in your job because you are an expert at finding ways other people can do your job easier and cheaper.

You can be promoted and you can get ahead because you are not indispensable in your current job and the next job is always harder. Until you start doing it…

A Shocking Discovery: Most mothers don’t get enough sleep

A new report was unveiled today that found that U.S. mothers do not get enough sleep!

Um… did they really need a study to figure this out? Have the sponsors of this study not met any mothers before?

Well, upon further investigation, it appears that the study was sponsored by a pharmaceutical company that wants to encourage sleepless mothers to talk to doctors about prescription sleep aids. And guess what? That paraceutical company happens to sell prescription sleep aids!

They have a website called Sleepless Moms with tips on how to get more/better sleep, but none of the tips really address the societal reasons mothers are pulled in so many directions that they don’t have time to sleep.

What strategies do you use to balance work and life and still have enough time to get a good night’s sleep? Leave a comment and share your experiences.

Book Club: A Short History of Nearly Everything

I just finished a fantastic book by Bill Bryson that was written a couple of years ago. (What can I say, I am a little behind on my reading list.)

In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bryson takes on the enormous task of explaining the entire universe and our attempts at understanding it in an entertaining and easily accessible manner. Remarkably he succeeds.

This book is fascinating and hysterical at the same time. Bryson uses nickel and dime words to explain complex scientific observations and theories. He touches on a vast range of scientific topics from the beginning of the universe, to biology, geography, and black holes.

Some of the most engrossing and comical aspects of the book are descriptions of the scientists and their centuries long quest to uncover the mysteries of nature. The drama, eccentricities, stolen ideas, and feuds are simply unbelievable.

It struck me while reading this how little we really know and how recently we uncovered what we do know. The book was written in 2004 and already some of the items discussed have been turned on their heads.

The scope of this book is too broad to get terribly deep or completely accurate about any one topic, but that is not why one reads this book. This book is a written by a layman for laymen and it is a great place to get an extraordinarily entertaining overview of nearly everything.

How to get promoted when you work from home

One of the dangers of working from home is that it is more difficult to move your career forward. “Out of sight, Out of mind” often applies to telecommuters. What options are available to the upwardly mobile teleworker? How do you set yourself up for promotion when the odds are stacked against you?

I’m glad you asked. It turns out that the steps that are necessary to get promoted when you work from home are the same as those that are necessary to get promoted when you work in an office. Like everything else however, the telecommuter must work smarter.

Here are the 3 steps to getting promoted:
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New Web Site: Web Worker Daily

Om Malik of GigaOm recently introduded a new website called Web Worker Daily.

This site is going to highlight the lifestyle, work habits and technology of the mobile web workforce or the Web Bedouin as they call it.

The lead writer is Jackson West and he seems to have a nice readable style. I will be keeping an eye on them to see how much they cover issues facing home office workers. However, if you find yourself outside of the home office a lot, you should check them out too.

Welcome to the neighborhood!