Issue #31 April 29, 2003

1. Hotel Phone Charges Tip

When you are travelling, the cost of dialing in to get your e-mail can add up quickly as hotels now have charges for local calls. At $0.75 to $1.25 per call plus taxes, it is not hard to rack up charges very quickly. One strategy for reducing your overall cost is to investigate sometimes using your Internet provider’s toll-free number (if they offer one). Many Internet providers offer a toll-free 1-800 number for use when you can’t access a local number. There is usually a surcharge for using it, about $6.00/hr or so. If your hotel allows 1-800 calls with no charge (as many do), it may be cheaper to pay the surcharge from your Internet provider than the hotel’s local call charge. For example, if you are just checking e-mail and are connected for 4 minutes, the toll-free surcharge at $6/hour is only $0.40, compared to the hotel charge of almost double that amount. Check your situation to see if this will save you money when travelling.

2. Optical Mouse on Shiny Desk If you own an optical mouse (the ones that have a red glowing light on the bottom instead of a ball), you may want to pack a thin mouse pad when you travel. A couple of times recently I have been in a hotel with a table that has a glass top. Optical mice do not work with glass surfaces because the glass does not reflect the light properly for its purpose. This can also happen with very shiny surfaces. So I travel with a mouse pad in my laptop bag that I can pull out and solve the problem. In a pinch, you can use any solid surface such as a phone book or even a sheet of paper, but make sure the surface does not move as you move the mouse. You should be able to pick up a thin mouse pad at most electronics or office supply stores for a few dollars. Or, at your next conference or convention, see if one of the exhibitors is giving away a mousepad for free!

3. Useful Resource – PCMag shortcut key utility

If you have to type the same words or phrases over and over again, you will want to check out a free utility from PC Magazine. PC Magazine offers a new utility almost every issue that can be a real time saver and this one is no exception. It is called Robotype and you set it up to recognize a short word that represents a longer phrase. When it sees you type that special word, it automatically substitutes your longer phrase, saving you a lot of typing. It can put in paragraphs of information at a time! One use is if you have to send similar e-mails or letters, you can set up standard paragraphs and you could type a one page e-mail or letter with under 10 special words. You can check out Robotype and download it from this link:,4149,958631,00.asp