From the January 1998 issue of Startups

As the name suggests, Purveyor of Fine Verbiage owner Dana Larson has high standards when it comes to her marketing services company. Larson's homebased Vancouver, Washington, business develops ad copy, point-of-purchase displays, and full-color brochures, posters and advertisements. When printing samples of large posters or materials to show her clients, Larson used to resort to tiling documents and taping them together or sending them to a service bureau because her printer couldn't handle large pieces. This was a hit not only to her pocketbook but to her professionalism, as well. She recently solved her problem, however, when she bought a Hewlett Packard (HP) DeskJet 1000Cse Professional Series color inkjet printer, which handles tabloid-size (11-by-17-inch) jobs. "The combination of excellent color and tabloid capabilities are the [DeskJet's] most important benefits," says Larson.

The DeskJet 1000Cse ($596) prints in color as well as black and white. Three paper paths let you print on several surfaces, including plain, glossy and coated paper; transparencies; envelopes; and labels. You can even print posters up to 54 inches square or banners using HP Banner paper.

This printer is also powerful. With 600 dots per inch (dpi) resolution, it prints black text at up to six pages per minute (ppm) and color at up to 3.5 ppm. And Larson is impressed with the advanced print technology, which blends and layers color for clear output.

Larson also likes the booklet feature, which simplifies print jobs with numeric pages; users can print double-sided booklets paginated in the proper order. The "n-up" feature also lets you shrink and print up to eight pages at a time side-by-side on a single sheet of paper without having to reformat.

The Deskjet 1000Cse printer supports Windows 3.1 and higher. Available through most computer retailers, it comes with a print kit that includes Corel Print House Select 1.1., MySoftware's MyColorMarketing Materials and a sample pack of 11-by-17-inch HP Bright White high-quality paper. For more information, visit http://www.hp.com or call (800) 752-0900.

Now Ear This!

Do your ears get sore to the touch after hours of talking on the phone? Well, listen up because there's a solution: Ear Buff.

The Ear Buff ($4.95) is a soft, square cushion designed to fit most office telephones. Peel off the adhesive strip, stick the cushion to the handset, and you get a soft pillow for your ears during those marathon calls. For those with cellular phones glued to their ears, there's also the Cellular Ear Buff in both black and teal. The Ear Buff is available in raspberry, teal, royal blue and black. Look for it at select Longs Drug Stores and Thrifty/PayLess Drug Stores, or call North American Products Co. at (800) 99-EARBUFF.

No Frills

If you're in the market for a notebook computer, you've probably noticed that many models include countless bells and whistles, sending their prices through the roof. One exception is Compaq Computer's Armada 1530DM portable computer. Starting at $2,499, it's a more value-oriented model, but it still has the power and speed a business demands.

The Armada 1530DM has an impressive 133 MHz Intel Pentium processor with MMX technology, a generous 1.4GB hard drive and 16MB RAM (upgradable to 80MB). With these kinds of features, there's even enough power and storage to handle high-end graphics and presentation applications to create sales presentations and show them on the 12.1-inch STN (Super Twist Nemotic) display.

Other standard features include a 33.6 Kbps data fax/modem with full duplex speaker phone, 10-speed CD-ROM drive and a choice of Windows 95 or Windows NT. One useful function lets you simultaneously talk on the phone and transmit data or a fax using a single phone line. If you want to make a call and send a fax at the same time, just plug the computer into the phone jack to send the fax and use the speakerphone to conduct your call with JustConnect Software (included). The Armada 1530DM is available through authorized Compaq dealers; for more details, surf over to http://www.compaq.com or call (800) OK-COMPAQ.

As Mobile As It Gets

The Telenium from Panasonic Telecommunication Systems is part of a new generation of telephones that work in both cordless and cellular modes. At home, the Telenium ($199, excluding an activation fee) functions as a 900 MHz cordless phone whose calls are charged at land-line rates. But take it 1,000 feet away from the base, and the phone switches to analog cellular mode and calls are charged at higher rates.

Available through cellular resellers nationwide, the Telenium works well in home offices because it bundles both cordless and cellular features into one phone at a good price. Since you still have two numbers (one for cellular service and one for home), you can cut down on air charges by giving the cell phone number only to select clients. And, if a phone call is made to your cell phone number when you're in the office, the call will be automatically transferred to your home if your area has Authorization and Call Routing Equipment service.

The phone features a built-in charger, caller ID (in cordless mode only), 30-channel scan and an alphanumeric display. Cordless talk time is about 170 minutes with 20 hours standby; cellular talk time is 90 minutes with 12 hours standby.

The base station has speed dial, a speakerphone, an intercom with two-way paging, and caller ID storage for the last 30 calls received. You can also register up to three handsets, so when you have one phone near the base unit and one phone at a desk, the call can be transferred.

Wireless Act

With the long hours you put in, you may feel like you're tied to your desk. Add ugly mouse and keyboard cords to the mix, and your office can begin to look cluttered. If you'd like some freedom, wireless keyboards may be the answer. Instead of cords, wireless keyboards use infrared or radio frequencies to communicate, run on batteries and have touchpads built into the keyboard so there's no need for a mouse. As computing becomes more mouse-driven, it's convenient to have a keyboard and mouse in one unit.

One model to consider is Interlink Electronics's VersaPoint Wireless Keyboard ($159.95). Plug the infrared receiver into your computer, and this ergonomic keyboard--powered by four AA batteries--will function up to 50 feet away.

To use the integrated pointing device, you can either tap your finger on the VersaPad touchpad or use the stylus for more sensitive jobs.

The keys are smaller on this keyboard, feeling more like those on a notebook computer. So if you do heavy keyboard work, this product probably isn't for you. But if you need a keyboard for, say, Internet browsing and light word processing, the VersaPoint keyboard is a good option. It's available through computer resale outlets, or Interlink Electronics at (800) 340-1331, online at http://www.interlinkelec.com

Talking Tech

Need For Speed?

Do you frequently e-mail large graphics files, download a lot of resources from the Internet, or just lack patience? If so, you may have grown weary of the sluggish pace you've been encountering on the Internet and are looking for a solution.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) service is one way to pick up the pace. ISDN uses the same wires as the current telephone network, but it carries information digitally in bits rather than as analog sound waves. Data moves much faster--up to speeds of 128 Kbps--and the time it takes to connect to the Internet is also reduced.

If you're considering ISDN, the first step is to call your local telephone company and find out whether service is available in your area. Although ISDN service is widespread, not all areas are served yet. Your local service provider will then either need to activate an existing line or, in many cases, install a second line for you.

Then, probably the best route to take is to purchase a complete ISDN package from your provider, if it's available. Pacific Bell, for instance, has one solution called the Pacific Bell Home Pack, which starts at $299 and includes an ISDN line and modem, Internet software, and a user's guide. These packages are the most desirable options because the service, installation and often the equipment come bundled together, so you don't have to worry about buying the right technology and setting it up yourself.

However, if you'll be doing it on your own, you'll need to become familiar with terms like terminal adapters, ISDN phones and Multilink PPP (see the above box for an easy-to-find ISDN resource). Keep in mind that ISDN service will definitely be more expensive than your standard service, with monthly fees ranging from $40 to $80, and it's been known to take several months to get up and running. So don't undertake this project unless you're sure your business demands it.

FYI: Check out this Web site for more ISDN information: http://www.ascend.com/1097.html This site contains a thorough explanation of how ISDN works, an analysis of its advantages over analog solutions, and more.

E-Mail Overload

A "You've got mail" message is enough to send you into a tizzy when you're experiencing e-mail overload. That can be often, especially if you rely on e-mail to communicate with virtual employees, suppliers and clients. If you're getting bombarded by e-mail, you need to implement some common-sense practices.

One method is to get separate accounts for business and personal use. That way, you don't have to sift through messages from your brother to get to those from your top clients. Also, minimize mailing list subscriptions, ask people you work with to keep their messages short, and urge obsessive e-mail senders to reduce wasteful messages. "Look hard for nontechnical solutions to cut back on e-mail," advises Linda Lamb, author of Using E-Mail Effectively (O'Reilly & Associates).

Once you've done that, get to know your e-mail program. Some applications, like Eudora Pro Mail from Qualcomm, can sort mail into personal mailboxes and folders, and have automatic reply features and audible alerts to let you know you have mail. Following practices like these will keep your e-mail box from backing up like rush-hour traffic.

Online Rx

You've been having problems with your computer--it keeps crashing, leaving indecipherable error messages on screen. When deadlines hang in the balance, a busy signal from tech support won't do. You need technical expertise--and fast--but don't want to pay an arm and a leg for it. What do you do?

Immediate help is available online. Most vendors' sites offer free technical advice that can help you solve a problem quickly. One excellent site is Microsoft's (http://www.microsoft.com ). Here, you can get answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), read help files or use troubleshooting wizards.

If you're willing to pay a fee, try http://www. tuneup.com For $3.95 a month, you get unlimited PC virus and disk maintenance support. Users can repair complex items like damaged files; members can also check out BugNet Alert for fixes to the latest bugs, search the TechDirectory for support contacts and visit the FAQ Library.

For those who prefer phone support, IBM offers IBM ServicePac. Subscribers sign up for "packs" of five, 10 or 25 tech support calls starting at $169.98. Upon receiving a card with IBM's toll-free number and a personal authorization number, you can call for answers on how to install and use both IBM and non-IBM software, have problems fixed remotely or even get replacement PCs shipped directly to your door. Call (800) IBM-4-YOU, or visit

Contact Sources

North American Products Co., 111 N. Vermont Ave., Glendora, CA 91741, http://www.earbuff.com

O'Reilly & Associates, 101 Morris St., Sebastopol, CA 95472, (800) 998-9938, ext. 214

Panasonic Telecommunication Systems, (800) 441-PANA, http://www.panasonic.com/telenium

Purveyer of Fine Verbiage, (360) 573-7700, purveyer@aol.com