Posts in the ‘Articles’ category

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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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…

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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One of the Benefits of Working at Home

For those who don’t know, I work in a home office in my basement in Maryland. I telecommute for a company in California and I manage projects with people from three continents. I am one of the 2% of the American workforce that is a full time teleworker.

Telecommuting full time is not easy. You have to communicate better and perform better than your office bound counterparts to get the same amount of recognition and career advancement potential.

I have a family to support, so career advancement is an important issue for me. So you may be wondering why I would want to make it more difficult to get a promotion.

One reason is lunch. Yes, Lunch.

I save $7-$10 a day by going upstairs for lunch rather than to the local greasy spoon for my mid-day meal. Of course that $1600 a year is not the reason I like lunch at home. I like it because I get to eat lunch with my two-year old son.

Yesterday, I gave him chicken nuggets for lunch. He ate all but two and then said, “Daddy’s nuggets” and began rotating the plate so that the nuggets were closer to me. Whether this was generosity, a lesson in sharing, or a clever ploy to get out of eating the last two nuggets was anyone’s guess.

In any case when he completed the 180 degree rotation, he stopped, got a funny look on his face, giggled, pointed at the nuggets and then said, “Eyes!” He realized that the 2 nuggets at the top of a blue plate looked like a funny face and was amazed by the discovery.

So there it is. In 30 seconds, I got to see my son plot, plan, execute, use his imagination, discover, and communicate his creative discovery with glee.

This is remarkable to me because last month I was amazed when he started putting together words into sentences that made sense. The month before that I was amazed when he started saying, “Yes” to things instead of the ubiquitous “No, no, no!” that was his response to nearly every previous question or request.

By eating lunch at home, I get to watch my son grow, learn, and discover. I don’t miss out on the mischief, plots and bursts of creativity that only happen in the middle of mundane tasks like eating lunch.

Watching your kid grow up is an amazing thing that I get to do more often because I am not sitting in traffic for two hours day. I know through the little things discovered over lunch that he is smart and becoming more clever everyday. This is a great thing to see, because it let’s me know that the extra $1600 a year I am putting into his college fund will not go to waste.

How To Set up a Home Office Network: Part 1 – Getting Internet Service

How To Set up a Home Office Network
Part 1: Getting Internet Service

The first step in setting up a home office network is to figure out how you are going to connect to the internet. You need an on-ramp to the information superhighway. There are several different ways to get on the Internet. This is good because competition lowers prices and improves features, but bad because marketing geniuses have a gift for confusing everyone about their choices.

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How To Set up a Home Office Network: The Overview

How To Set up a Home Office Network: The Overview

This is a multi-part series to explain in simple language the process of connecting to the internet and setting up a home network.

The Overview – Includes a checklist. Looking for the basics? Start here.
Part 1: Get Service – Choosing an internet service provider
Part 2: Get Connected – What equipment is necessary for connecting one or more machines to each other and the internet.
Part 3: Get Secure – Securing your network from hackers and pests. (coming soon)
Part 4: FAQ – Submit your questions in the comments or using our form. (coming soon)
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20 Rules for Better Conference Calls

20 Rules for Better Conference Calls or “Don’t make me reach through this phone and slap you!”

This article was born from experience. After you have sat through so many conference calls, you just can’t put up with one more heavy-breather, or side-talker or snack-muncher. You just snap.

When that moment comes you have two choices. Go on a manic screaming tirade, or write a sarcastic article. I chose the latter.

Now, you can benefit from my passive aggressiveness. The next time one of your co-workers sends you over the edge with rude conference call behavior, email them the link to this article. They will thank you for showing them the light. (Editor’s note: They won’t thank you… but others may.)

You may notice that these rules are simple and common sense. Yeah, I noticed that too and yet I still had to write the article… Go figure.

So without further ado, here are the 20 Rules of Conference Call Etiquette Read the rest of this article »

Review: Vonage Voice over IP (VoIP) Telephone Service

What is it?

Vonage is a voice over internet (VoIP) telephone service. This means that you make telephone calls using a normal phone over your internet connection instead of over the lines of the phone company. You can call any phone number using this service and the receiver does not need anything special to receive your call.
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Review: Brother MFC-420CN

What is it?

The Brother MFC-420CN is a compact inkjet printer, scanner, copier, fax machine, memory card reader. It has USB2 and RJ-45 network connectivity and it has a document feeder. Read the rest of this article »