Archive for August, 2006

Setting Up a Home Office – 5 Things You Need and 5 Things You Want

Here is a checklist to help you set up your own home office. I’ve listed 5 things you need and 5 things you want. I have been meaning to write this post for a while, but was inspired to do it this week by the ProBlogger Group Writing Project. Check it out after you’ve got your office set up.

1. You need a computer. You want a laptop!
You still get more bang for your buck with a desktop system but the price difference is decreasing every day. By choosing a laptop you gain mobility. Laptops allow you to work in other parts of the house; on the road; or in the office. The fact of the matter is that most hardware power these days is overkill unless you are a heavy gamer, big into video encoding, or perform lots of complicate CAD and graphic work.

2. You need a printer. You want a multi-function printer/scanner/fax/copier!
We simply haven’t achieved the paperless office yet. A printer is still essential. However, since you are taking up the desk space anyway, consider getting a multifunction printer/scanner/fax/copier. You will be surprised at how little these additional features add to the price. Even though you may not need them all the time, you will be glad you have the ability to whip out an occasional fax or copy a contract. Other features to look for are wired or wireless network ready and a document feeder. (Check out our review on the Brother MFC-420cn.)

3. You need a phone. You want VOIP!
Some may argue with me on this one, but hear my case. With VOIP you are paying far less for far more. Most VOIP plans come with all the features you can dream of and include long distance to boot. Many are now even including some international destinations as part of their unlimited plans. The sound quality isn’t always perfect, but VOIP certainly does the job 99.9% of the time and saves you a bundle. (Read and write reviews of various VOIP providers in our Resource Directory.)

4. You need an internet connection. You want broadband!
It’s the 21st century. You need the internet. You need to be connected. You can’t settle for dial-up. It just doesn’t cut it anymore. If budget is your primary concern, I urge you to look at entry level DSL in your area. I have been shocked at how cheap some of these plans have become. If you are still on dial-up and haven’t checked DSL prices in a while, run (don’t walk) to your nearest provider and see what they offer, you may find that you can get a faster connection for less money than you are paying for dial-up. (Read and write reviews of various Broadband ISPs in our Resource Directory.)

5. You need a dedicated space for your office. You want a door!
Designate a comfortable space in your house with the room you need to perform your job. Furnish it with a desk of the appropriate size, a chair with the proper support and make sure that there aren’t a lot of distractions. I highly recommend that your designated space has a door. A door serves two essential purposes. It keeps out noise and distractions when you are working in the office, and it keeps you out of office when you should be living. Work-Life balance is important and a simple door is a great way to preserve it.

Telecommuting Proposals for Congress

I came across two related articles about congress members and telecommuting today…

Yes they are satire. Yes, I do enjoy making fun of our political leaders. Yes, it is generally more fun to mock the party in power, but I believe taking shots at either party is fair game and well deserved.


Be Careful What You Ask For

I am going to file this one under, “Yikes!”

AOL recently released three months worth of search data to researchers. To “protect the privacy” of the searchers, their names were replaced by identifying numbers. Of course it isn’t too difficult to narrow down the identity of an “anonymous” searcher by looking at what they searched for. The author of this article in the New York Times did exactly that.

AOL has since taken down the data and apologized, but the damage has already been done. It has been copied and spread all over the internet now.

The point is that our privacy is slipping away. There are records of everything you do and it doesn’t take much for these records to get out. Be careful. Be outraged.