a Home Office
Commute? What commute?
commuting twenty feet and working in sweats and T-shirt. You might, too.
you rush into the bosss office and tell him where he should stick
his post-it notes, you need to stock your home office.
requirements will depend on your profession. If youre an accountant
you may not need as many toys as a communications consultant or graphics
designer or perhaps youll only need to track hours worked,
billing, or estimating.
one constant, though, the heart of your home office: the personal computer.
a PC isnt difficult, but there are a few things you should knows.
The first is its "gender." PCs have two varieties: IBM/compatible
and Macintosh, and both are available in desktop and portable varieties.
I'm going to get into trouble for this from Macaholics, but while Macintosh
was once the computer of choice for many, its slowly becoming the
beta VCR of the computer world. Macs arent obsolete yet, though
many companies will use them for years to come but its
becoming a Windows world, whether you like it or not. This is despite
new Mac models, in their fancy coloured cases. I mean, when you have to
advertise your computer based on colour, what kind of a straw is that
to clutch at?
if you need to share files with Mac-based people, or just like the Macintosh,
then the Mac can still be a good choice. Don't get me wrong: there's nothing
wrong with Macs, but if youre like the vast majority of people the
IBM compatible will do everything you want just fine.
the IBM/compatible market is by far the largest, we'll deal with it in
standard IBM-type is the Pentium II/compatible, and the higher the Megahertz
"clock speed" the faster it runs. So a PentiumII 400 should
outperform a Pentium II 300, etc. Get at least 64 Megabytes RAM and the
biggest hard disk you can afford; 8 or more gigabytes is a good rule of
also want as fast a CD-ROM drive (or, even better for the future, a DVD-ROM
drive) and a fax/modem with which to communicate. The modem standard is
now 56 Kps (kilobits per second), and you may want to consider getting
voice capability with it so you can use it as a telephone.
recommend Microsoft Windows 98 which, like the CD-ROM and fax/modem, will
probably be included in the price of the computer anyway.
names include IBM, Hewlett Packard, AST, Compaq, Digital, Packard Bell,
etc. There are also "no name" or "house brand" clones
that are often priced better but could have dubious pedigree. Or you can
build your own, if you're adventurous.
serves me well; its guts are all name brand and under warranty, and I
can do minor repairs myself. But if you arent up to performing surgery,
or want security, a name brand may be best. You could pay more, but if
the companys credible and has support phone lines for problems (and
you will have problems computers are stupid!), it
may be worth the extra money.
name computers often include more "bundled" software in the
price, too, which can save you hundreds of dollars as long as its
stuff you actually want.
want to look for a better monitor than may be included with a package
deal, too. Some gorgeous monitors are available, from people like Sony,
NEC, Samsung, and many others, but remember that anything smaller than
fifteen inches will eventually leave you squinting.
into design and/or publishing, a 19 inch or bigger is wonderful, but really
expensive. 17 inches is a good compromise. If you get a good monitor and
a higher end video card (like ATI's All-in-Wonder/Pro),
you can up the monitor's resolution to fit more onto the screen at one
of this, though; you could also end up squinting.
monitors have stereo "multimedia" speakers attached. Speakers
are wonderful, but you can probably buy betters ones separately. You can
choose from various styles and brands, including some from major audio
manufacturers. You'll need a sound card, too, of course, if you want to
use speakers (and you might as well).
are generally sold separately, thought not necessarily so, and your main
choice is between inkjet or laser.
are the business tool of choice, unless you want colour, in which case
youll want an inkjet (unless youre ultra rich and can afford
a colour laser or LED printer). Inkjets can also give you "photorealistic"
output and are generally cheaper, initially, than a comparable laser.
Theyll get you over the long run, though, through ink cartridge
toners expensive, too, but you dont change it as often.
can add incredible flexibility. Scanners come in handheld, flatbed, or
sheet feed types from companies like Mustek, MicroTek, Logitech, and Hewlett
Packard. Handhelds work in emergencies, but flatbeds are best: you can
scan pages from books or magazines without tearing them out and thereby
destroying your source material.
and text can be scanned and then output via printer or fax/modem. You
can also edit pictures and, with OCR (optical character recognition) software,
turn scanned text back into editable copy again.
you have only occasional use for a photocopier, your scanner and printer
can act together to do the job.
usually come with a fax/modem, and thats good: if you want to communicate
with others a fax modem is mandatory.
at less than $100, fax/modems are available as internal or external models.
Internal modems occupy an expansion slot inside the computer, while external
modems take up desk space and a serial port.
are made by US Robotics, Logicode, Creative Labs, Motorola, Hayes, and
a modem, the world becomes your office and youll never look
back. You'll need some kind of modem (either a fax/modem or a cable modem)
if you want to surf the Internet, too. Of course, if you don't have one,
you're probably not reading this!
are other things you can buy, like fancy pointing devices, drawing tablets,
network cards, and video accelerators, but for most home offices these
are unnecessary luxuries.
quality, most computer components are good and if you stick with major
brands and major stores you wont go far wrong. You can
save dollars by being adventurous, but it could cost you down the road.
those boxes, boot up, and get profitable!
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