Thursday, January 18, 2007

A look behind the scenes

There are a fiew pieces of technology that I have running locally that make all the mayhem I create in Maryland possible. Actually, it's a lot of technology and this is just a picture of the stuff that's running here. Almost all of it has some counterpart in the real office that also has to be up and running for things to work well for me. The amazing thing is that on my side of the equation, it didn't really cost that much to get set up -- less than two grand for the PC and multi-function printer/scanner/fax, some software to make it all useful, some free tools. Here's the rundown on the hardware:

PC: Nothing special here, just the usual Dell desktop.

Multi-function printing device: HP OfficeJet 7210 All-in-One. Works great, but because my desk is a little stylish (read somewhat flimsy) it causes everything to shake when I'm printing. It makes the cat happy -- she can bat at my Harvey Pekar bobblehead figurine as it nods in assent at the brilliance of the documents I'm printing.

Webcam: I use a Logitech Fusion. The headset that came with it stank, so I've been through several iterations, and now have joined the Bluetooth crowd (despite my paranoia that Bluetooth is actually how the Machines will Rise -- please refer to Terminator 3 for an example of what can happen when all your household devices start to have their own little networks that you don't really have control over. But I digress.).

Headset: Plantronics PLT 510. Comfy, not too noisy, I don't get too many complaints from my videoconferencing partners. Wireless is just a little more complicated than wired, but much more comfortable. If I could get my desk phone to also be bluetoothy, I'd really be stoked. As it is, I use a separate, wired headset with the desk phone so I really look like a dork when I'm taking a call and I'm on videoconference. But you can never look too dorky, really.

Phone Service: VOIP. I won't mention the company name here, because I would hate to seem like I'm endorsing them. It's good enough, though sometimes prone to random call dropping and echooooooing. The VOIP was critical to maintaining a local telephone number with fairly reliable service. I'm not certain that I might not switch to a Maryland-based cellphone at some point, because frankly it couldn't be worse sound quality than VOIP is. VOIP has some cool features that help when I'm "out of the office" (e.g. back in the real office). Like I can forward my desk phone to my cell phone and people call me at the same number they know, and it rings where ever I am. I can get my voice mail from anywhere there is an Internet connection, get voice mail in my email, it's hours of fun for the whole family. Well, me.

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