Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Computers and the Net are great travel companions - email, instant messaging and chat are invariably cheaper than a long-distance telephone call, provided that you have the right tools and an ISP that offers national or international service. Here are some tips for staying connected when you're thousands of miles away from your desk:
Equip Yourself - Find out before you go what kind of access the hotel offers (dial-up, broadband, or wireless), and pack the necessary cables and adapters. Longer cables are best, in case your room's outlets aren't conveniently located. If you're going overseas, make sure your notebook adapter will work with the foreign power system. Most notebooks less than five years old are already equipped to work overseas. Check your adapter. If it says "Input 100-240-V," you should be fine. If it lists only 120V, you'll need to buy a voltage converter, which costs approximately $40. A good source for cables and adapters is TeleAdapt - www.teleadapt.com.
Look for Broadband - Some major hotels offer in-room high-speed access for as little as $10 a day. Inquire before booking your room.
Guard Against Intruders - Hotel connections, depending on how they're configured, can open your system to hackers and corporate spies. Ensure that your system's security settings are in place, turn off file and printer sharing in Windows and make certain you update your software with the latest security patches; also, install a good virus/Trojan-horse scanner.
Beware of Cafe Hackers - Cybercafes are notorious hacker targets (as are computers set up at conferences for attendees to use). Public terminals can carry a Trojan horse that sends your user name and password to a hacker. If you must use a public terminal, have Symantec's free security check - www.symantec.com/securitycheck - perform a thorough virus sweep of the system first. And be sure to sign off completely from any free e-mail services you use.
Think Security - Frequent travelers who keep sensitive data on their notebooks should at the very least password-protect their systems. A $45 Kensington lock can prevent a thief from stealing your notebook. Or consider a fingerprint scanner or other biometric security system.
Get a National ISP Account - Even if you love your local provider, get a low-cost, limited-use account with EarthLink, AT&T, or another service that has many local access numbers. Using it will be far cheaper than paying long-distance charges to dial up your regular ISP. You can also obtain temporary accounts in many foreign countries.
Note Your E-mail Settings - With your user ID, your password and the names of your incoming and outgoing mail servers, you can check your POP3 e-mail, using any standard e-mail program - including Outlook Express, which comes bundled with Internet Explorer.