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A couple of tools I use to manage old technologies while traveling.

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Hi everyone, this is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some of the many questions I get at askleo.info.

I just returned from a week away from home on a business trip. With the internet becoming fairly ubiquitous - and in fact a requirement for an "internet entrepreneurs conference" - you can imagine that I remained quite connected. A combination of WiFi, a cell phone data plan, remote access and virtual private networks, and I was pretty much jacked in whenever I wanted to be - almost as if I was at home.

There are a couple of "old" technologies, however, that while almost as ubiquitous, now require a little special handling for the road warrior.

To be honest, I'm amazed that faxes are still being used with such regularity. At their best, FAXes are the moral equivalent of a low quality image scan reproduced on a mediocre printer. With higher quality scanners, printers and the internet all being common place, you'd think that FAXes would die a quiet death. Sadly, that's not the case.

A couple of years ago I ditched my dedicated FAX phone line for a service. I still find myself dealing with faxes on a regular basis, and now use maxemail.com. Faxes sent to my fax number are emailed to me as PDF files. Naturally maxemail also supports sending faxes by simply uploading a document in any of several file formats. Sending and receiving FAXes using any of a number of services like this makes you totally location independent. All you need is your internet connection and you're good to go.

The other "old" technology is the lowly telephone call. One of my pet peeves about hotels are the outrageous rates that they charge for long distance phone calls. The solution I've used in the past is to use my cell phone, with oodles of nationwide long-distance minutes included. Sadly, cell coverage still isn't what it should be everywhere, and calls can quickly turn into a nightmare of repeated "can you hear me now?" where the answer ends up being no.

My solution is to have have my own toll free number. There are several services out there that, for very low fees, will provide a toll free number that you can then forward to wherever you like. I have a toll-free number provided by accessline.com that forwards to my home. Hotels typically provide local and toll free callfor free, so I can call home from anywhere on the road at dirt cheap rates. Yes, services such as Skype and other VOIP solutions also come to mind, but while you can typically assume there ther eis an internet connection these days, you can't always assume that it will have the bandwidth or connectivity that a good VOIP connection requires.

I'd love to hear what you think. Visit ask leo dot info, and enter 10151 in the go to article number box. Leave a comment, I read them all.

This is a presentation of askleo.info, a free on-line technical question and answer service. Hundreds of questions and answers are online and ready to help solve your computer problems.

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Article C2619 - April 13, 2006 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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1 Comment
Greg Bulmash
April 15, 2006 1:51 AM

Today I got a PDF of a document I was supposed to sign and send back. I printed it, signed it, slapped it onto the flatbed scanner, made a PDF of it, and e-mailed it back.

I haven't owned a fax machine for years.

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