We've learned most of these tips the hard way;
setting up in a hotel room, ready to check email,
and the 32-bit application we just loaded before
departing won't run over the 16-bit operating
system. We've had computer crashes at important
meetings. We've had batteries bail out just
minutes into the second leg of a long flight
when we could have charged batteries during
a boring layover. We've seen portables bring
home nasty viruses to the home and office. We've
forgotten passwords that were so unmemorable
and unhackable that we ourselves couldn't figure
them out. We offer the following tips that others
might learn from our trials and tribulations.
1. Create and bring setup and boot disks
A member of the IT staff learned this the hard
way recently; bring setup and boot disks, as
well as any necessary registration numbers for
re-installs and downloads. Boot disks, or startup
disks, is a floppy disk which contains all of
the system files necessary to get your computer
started. To do this in Windows 95/98, go to
Settings under the Start Menu, choose Control
Panel, then Add/Remove Programs. Choose the
option labeled Startup Disk.
2. Load your virus protection
Many people load their virus protection on their
home computer, but forget to do so on their
portable computer. A virus is a virus is a virus,
no matter where you get it.
3. Review your work habits, and make sure you
have all the software and frequently-used files
you use while working at the office.
This will keep you from getting caught on the
road without a rarely-used, but essential, piece
of software or file. For tasks or files you
use often, creating template files can save
you tedious reconstruction of document structures,
for example, and maintain consistency in the
look and feel of documents created or modified
on the road.
4. Use the same software, even the same versions,
at the office and on the road.
While on the road, comfortable work habits are
already difficult to maintain; you don't need
the added frustration of changing your routines
for a different version, or, worse, different
brand, of software, especially for high-volume
tasks like word-processing and email.
5. Test any new software before you leave.
The intro says it all; make sure there are no
conflicts in your software and operating systems;
check that that easy install actually results
in easy use.
6. Bring contact numbers for technical support.
Bring phone numbers, and bookmark Web sites,
for companies from which you may need technical
support or downloads during your trip. As with
passwords, it might be best to write these down
in an appointment book, or somewhere else that
will always be with you, so you don't have to
travel with countless slips of paper.
7. Check ahead for any unusual connector requirements.
Ask when making your reservations if you can
plug into their phone system with a modem.
8. Write down any necessary passwords.
If you tend to save passwords instead of retyping
them every time you log on to an online service,
Web site, or software package, you'll need to
either to load them or your computer or write
them down somewhere.
9. Load up the carry-on bag.
Pack your phone cord and extra battery, in your
carry-on computer case. Airports, and even airplane
seats, now have phone jacks, and, in some cases,
direct Internet connections, on pay phones.
To have the connection, when the connectors
are in the cargo area of the plane, can be a
very frustrating experience.
10. Work, and/or recharge your battery, during
Most airport gates have an outlet nearby, if
for nothing else than vacuuming the area. You
can often plug in your computer to do work without
running batteries down, or recharge your batteries
for work during the next flight.
11. When you return, copy any important or changed
files to your desktop computer.
When you make small changes to documents on
the road, you can easily use an older version
when you return without noticing it. If you
immediately copy all of the new or altered files
back onto your desktop, and perhaps even delete
the files from your portable after the transfer,
you can eliminate confusion and version conflicts