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How to set up a home office


Space, furniture challenges and 'is the room warm or is it ... Windows 95, Windows 98, OS2, NT Workstation, NT server, Linux (and a partridge in a pear tree... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: How to set up a home office

How to set up a home office
  • Pat Berastegui Egen
  • Session 7214
  • SHARE 92 San Francisco
  • February 1999

Topics to be Covered
  • What was our goal
  • Description of our equipment
  • Telecommunications Adventures
  • Joys of ISDN
  • To Fax or not to Fax two phone lines or three?
  • Power, protection and backups
  • Space, furniture challenges and is the room warm
    or is it just me?
  • Some lessons learned
  • Addendum - some web sites to check out

What were our goals
  • Connect all our computers to a network
  • share printers, phone lines, modems etc
  • Be as economical as possible (translationcheap)
  • Use technology to make copies, send and receive
    faxes - limit the amount of equipment to do this
  • Make sure equipment fits in our allotted space
  • Keep it to two phone lines
  • Have our server on line 24x7 to the Internet
  • Backup everything, often, to one device
  • Access our LAN remotely, but protect it from

Our LAN setup
Our hardware
  • The server
  • IBM PC Server 315, 20 GB hard drive, 56 KB modem
    (currently not being used)
  • runs Lotus Domino and NT Server
  • My machine - used predominately for my work as a
  • Compaq Presario 9564, 200 MHz,7 GB HD, 33KB
  • Windows 95 and NT workstation
  • Dons computer - used half for helping with the
    company and half to dial into mainframe for late
    night systems programming support
  • Dell XPS-D333, 333 MHz, 13 GB HD, 56 KB modem,CD
  • shares keyboard and monitor with server (using a
    data transfer switch)
  • Windows 95 and NT workstation
  • Frankenclone, home built, 200 MHz, 24 GB HD,
    parallel port zip drive, 5 1/4 floppy drive
  • Windows 95, Windows 98, OS2, NT Workstation, NT
    server, Linux (and a partridge in a pear tree...)
  • Every machine has a CDROM drive and they are all
    peer-shared on the LAN - from all operating

Why this setup?
  • Most of it we already had
  • New are scanner for copying,zip drive,CD burner,
    color printer for brochures, data transfer device
    to share a keyboard, mouse and monitor (to save
    space) and an upgrade to our existing LAN to add
    the ISDN router and hub.
  • A lot of the different types of hardware
    peripherals are to support requests that come in
    from my customers
  • Example one of my customers brought a zip disk
    with his data - guess what, we did not have a zip
    drive we do now.
  • You may not have these same requirements.
  • However, have you ever used some piece of
    hardware at an adjoining office or cubicle or
    used something off a server that would not be
    available if you were now working from home?
  • If so, you need to make sure its either
    available in the home office or can be reached in
    some other manner
  • Some of you may ask why we did not set up the
    server as a domain controller?
  • We figured it would be a Pain and we dont need
    the security at this time

Telecommunications Adventures
  • One of our key goals was to not add another
    telephone line or change out our existing
    telephone equipment
  • We knew we needed to be able to do the following
  • Have a server connected 24x7 to the internet that
    would need to send out information as well as
    receive, meaning lots of two way traffic
  • We wanted fast connectivity to the Internet for
    research and problem resolution
  • We would need to be able to dial into a mainframe
  • We needed to be able to dial back into our own
  • We needed voicemail, message waiting, conference
  • We did not want a separate phone line for a fax
  • this has turned out to be our most challenging
  • We dont want to raid Ft. Knox to afford this

What are our options?
  • Living in a small town means our options are
    limited however, we researched the top choices -
    ADSL, ISDN, Cable, Really fast modem
  • ADSL (Asymmetric digital subscriber line)
  • moves Internet data more quickly downstream than
    it does upstream.
  • achieves download speeds of up to 9Mbps and
    upload speeds of up to 1.5Mbps
  • Requires a special ADSL modem, but it connects to
    a standard analog telephone line
  • Exploits unused frequencies on existing phone
    lines allowing you to use same line for telephone
  • Service restricted to within 2 miles, just
    getting ramped up and not available in many large
  • supposed to be cheaper than ISDN
  • ISDN (Integrated services digital network)
  • digital line for both voice and data
    transmission, widely available permits fax,
    data, voice on same line
  • top speed of only 128Kbps both directions and
    often difficult to set up
  • expensive phone-company and ISP charges. A
    reasonable upgrade for many analog modem users,
    but not smart if you have access to satellite or
  • Cable
  • uses the existing cable TV infrastructure and a
    special modem to let you surf the Net at speeds
    of up to 30Mbps. Actual speeds reach only around
    1.5Mbps downstream and 300Kbps upstream
  • potentially available wherever cable TV is and
    provides high-speed downloads and uploads
  • inexpensive but you share bandwidth with others
    in your area
  • difficult to get in many older, urban buildings.
    A long-term choice for homes but not if we want
    to run a server that is accessed from outside
  • Really fast modem - still only 56KB but getting

The Joys of ISDN
  • Based on our requirements of needing good two way
    traffic, and the fact that ADSL and Cable are not
    available, we went with ISDN
  • Note, Tennessee is the cheapest state for
    residential ISDN
  • Now, for the setup. It turns out the press is
    right. Setting up ISDN is not really easy but
    its not as hard as they say
  • If you are not comfortable with IP addressing,
    sub-nets and the basic idea of routing, you need
    to find someone who is - usually your ISP
  • The Bell person is your friend. If they
    understand what they are doing, they can make all
    the difference in the world. If they dont, and
    that seems to be the greatest trouble with ISDN
    setup, then youre toast. We lucked out with
    ours. He turned out to be one of the top experts
    in the Southeast
  • Once we figured out SPIDS (service profile IDs)
    it was all downhill
  • Note our ISP had not yet defined our domain
    name, so we were on the Internet long before we
    even knew it because we did not know how to find
  • We saved over 150 setting it up ourselves
    instead of letting the ISP do it
  • Our router is from Netgear, cost around 350 and
    very easy to set up
  • Another good user-friendly ISDN modem is
    Motorola's BitSURFR Pro modem (800-894-ISDN, 495) - comes with a user's
    guide that has extensive setup specifications to
    help you place the right order and an easy setup
  • Note if you go the ISDN route, find out what
    your ISP recommends - they will end up having to
    support it anyway so go with what they know.

To fax or NOT to fax
  • Ok, we have our ISDN line that turns out to be
    really two phone lines
  • one for regular phone usage (my business line)
    and one that is connected full time to the ISP
    for our server the business line has voicemail
    through our telephone carrier
  • Also, we still have our regular analog line that
    acts as our home phone
  • Switched it to using a simple, handy dandy
    answering machine with a tape
  • In order to receive faxes on my machine, it needs
    to come in through the analog modem, attached to
    our original analog line
  • we could have bought an isdn modem, but since
    were trying to be frugal, this was not an
    option, as it may not be for you either (they are
    not cheap)
  • We installed MS Personal Fax on NT and guess what
    - its not supported
  • its not smart enough to sense that the phone
    call coming in is a person, not a fax and route
    it to the carrier voicemail. Turns out few
    programs do
  • I have to answer the phone, hear the screech and
    turn on the manual answer - mostly cool unless
    Im not home. That, by the way, is what the
    manual says to do
  • Side note finally get my mom to start leaving
    voicemail and the first time she tries she gets a
    funny screech - try to explain that one
  • tried running WinFax for NT but its having some
    technology moments
  • Status Im researching a box that allows you to
    plug in three devices to one phone line and it
    senses which is what, including routing to a
    telephone service like ATT for voicemail

Power, Protection and Backup (or the almost
three Ps)
  • When you start bringing in additional equipment
    to set up your home office, you need to be
    careful about power
  • Lots of home daisy chain their power circuits
  • this means the power to your office may share
    power with another room
  • Look at the amperage and wattage of all your
    devices, especially laser printers and photo
  • Check your power outlet - you may be able to tell
    if it is daisy chained, but probably not
  • Do the math and if your equipment is more than
    the circuit, you may need to isolate or dedicate
    some of the power to your office
  • If you are going to want to dial into your home
    office computer, you will want to keep it up and
  • To protect any data and to ensure it has time to
    reboot during a power flicker, you may want to
    invest in a small UPS. Our American Power
    Conversion unit ran around 200 for a 500
    volt-amp UPS.
  • You will now have more data and possibly more
    equipment with data, so you will really need to
    make sure you do backups.
  • The larger hard drives are making backups a lot
    more challenging
  • We bought a Sony SDT 9000 that backs up 24 gig
    per tape

Space, furniture and heat
  • When you start adding desks, filing cabinets,
    small conference tables, equipment, printers,
    scanners, copiers, etc you run out of space
  • You need to be creative in how you arrange your
    furniture setup
  • Im still looking for the perfect setup
  • Currently, our desk is a door over two small, oak
    filing cabinets
  • I thought this was pretty unique until I logged
    onto a web site that talked about furniture for a
    home office - their advertisement said living
    with a door over two filing cabinets?....
  • It turned out I was used to working at an L shape
  • Since my desk is not set up that way, I miss it.
    So, when you are planning your office, look at
    how you work today and what is most comfortable
    for you. Its more important than one would
  • After putting all this equipment up in our
    office, it became immediately apparent that the
    room does not need any heating in the winter.
  • Be prepared for an additional heat factor - we
    had to install a fan.
  • The photos on the next page are of a creative
    corner unit my son designed and built to house
    our printers, the server, the routers, the stereo
    and the TV
  • No, the last two dont have IP addressesyet.

Creative furniture solutions
Lessons Learned
  • You keep discovering things you dont have
  • paper cutters, rulers, large envelopes, manila
    file folders, pencil sharpeners, heavy duty
    staplers, binders, index tabs, etc, etc.
  • filing cabinets and cabinets for the supplies
    (the ones you had to buy above)
  • Oh, gosh, the manual for that is back in the
    other place....
  • The guy at the ISDN department at our telephone
    carrier was wrong - you cant use regular phones
    connected to an ISDN line. Oh well.
  • Faxing turned out to be a huge issue.
  • I talked to some friends who are members of a
    small business organization and they echoed the
    same thing about faxing - so its not unique to
  • You make a surprising amount of copies
  • when you use a scanner, you really pay attention
    to that fact
  • The idea of gee, you work at home now, you have
    all that spare time
  • Well, since your office is so close, you tend to
    stay in it more. Really!
  • I learned I needed to get up, get dressed, and
    go to work. That discipline has helped a lot
  • Devices that do more than one thing are the way
    to go
  • All in one printer/fax/copier/scanner. Note the
    ones we looked at didnt work on NT (sounds like
    OS2 doesnt it)
  • Our prior planning kept us on budget - so Plan,
    Plan, Plan

Web sites of interest
  • You may find the following web sites of help
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