I’m a marketer and marketers love to make analogies. They love making analogies like
salespeople love getting paid. See what I mean? We just can’t get enough of them!
So when we recently moved and I started web commuting from Massachusetts to my home base in California, I had to come up with a good analogy. After reaching deep within, I came to the conclusion that web commuting is like watching a new season of American Idol. Am I saying that because I just watched the season finale of American Idol and just am not that deep? Well, yes. But there are similarities.
For sure, both involve sitting on your butt staring at a screen for extended periods of time. Then there are a lot of those frustrating “Why do I have to deal with this?” moments before any real action starts happening. You’re seeing new faces and everyone involved is trying to find their groove. Finally, there’s the feeling that although things are the same, they’re also entirely different … and hopefully interesting.
With that said, here’s what I’ve learned just after a month of web commuting. I don’t know if any of these tips also apply to watching American Idol, but if they work for you, then you’re welcome.
Make Sure Your Infrastructure Is Ready
You’ve got 4 walls, a roof, electricity and access to a toilet? Good, here comes the hard part. If you don’t have high-speed Internet access set up, give yourself a good 2-3 weeks to get it hooked up.
Dealing with the local DSL provider, whom shall remain anonymous but whose name rhymes with Duh-rizon, has been awesome and amazing. Awesomely, amazingly inconsistent. Even though I called to have DSL set up before even arriving in Massachusetts, the order was successively delayed, canceled without notification and then delayed again. It took some special magic from a rep named Howie to get things right, so Howie from Massachusetts, if you ever read this, I owe you a case of Sam Adams Boston Lager for all of your help. And anonymous DSL provider, if you’re reading this, you need to give Howie a big raise.
One word of caution about DSL and why you might consider cable — although you can get fast download speeds, most providers cap what you can upload at 768 kbps. This has caused me to cut out of conversations sometimes when using Skype, which brings me to…
Use Skype With A Headset
If you’re working from home and don’t want to spring for an extra phone line for work and don’t want to use your cell phone all day, Skype can be your best friend. So affordable, so functional, so high-quality, it’s like a piece of IKEA furniture that’s actually made from real wood. With prices as low as they are, you almost feel bad for the phone companies — until they screw up your DSL order and you have to consciously make an effort to unclinch your fists while on the phone with them. I use Skype with a corded Plantronics headset, but I’ve got my eye on this cordless one. If you’ve got any opinions about it, I’d love to hear them.
Or, Use Skype With A Regular Phone
I haven’t tested this out and it’s gotten mixed reviews, but if you’re old school and need to have the reassuring weight of a handset on your ear and your neck constantly tilted at a 45 degree angle, then you might want to check out this D-Link Skype USB Phone Adapter that will connect your regular handset to your PC.
Why do I love Snagit? Because when you work remotely, a picture is worth a thousand emails. If I need to point out something quickly, all I need to do is hit the HotKey and I’ve got the screenshot — there’s no mistaking what I’m talking about. It’s so functional I have nothing else to write about.
Buy The Keurig B60 Gourmet Single-Cup Home Brewing System
I have to admit I feel very bad for my coffee maker at home. It’s capable of brewing a 12-cup carafe of piping hot coffee, yet every morning all I drip in is enough water for a piddly 8 ounce cup. This was never a problem back at the office where coffee was consumed in Big Gulp containers, but my poor coffee maker at home quietly endures the less than glamorous task I give to it each morning. Which is why I’m thinking of putting it out to pasture in exchange for this Keurig single-cup brewer. It sounds so good I’m surprised it’s not made by Skype.
Install FoxClocks for Firefox
My coworker turned me on to a nifty Firefox add-on called FoxClocks for displaying different time zones. Not that useful for figuring out the 3 hour time zone difference between MA and CA, but definitely helpful when trying to schedule a morning conference call with someone in Sydney and you haven’t had your 8 ounce cup of coffee yet.
I’ll keep posting an any new tips and tricks I find that make me a more productive Web commuter, but would love to hear if anyone else has ideas.
Photo by: c1ssou