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Chapter Four. Working While on the Road > Printing and Faxing on the Road

Printing and Faxing on the Road

One of the luxuries of working from an office—even your home office—is that you have access to office amenities such as office printers and fax machines. When you're on the road, you may find yourself in need of these tools. Let's look at a few ways you can have the benefits of your work or home office using some smart Global Mobile thinking.

Printing via hotel fax machine

Imagine that you check into your hotel room and discover you need a hard copy of a document for a meeting that occurs in a few hours, and there are no printers available. If your laptop comes with an internal modem capable of sending and receiving faxes, consider using your computer's built-in faxing capabilities to send a fax to yourself at the hotel's front desk. The process is extremely simple—you are essentially “printing” a document to a remote fax machine.

This works in a pinch, though bear in mind that the hard copy may be less than crisp, depending on the fax machine. Also, most fax machines print header and footer information on every page, breaking the illusion of a document produced on a normal printer. Additionally, some hotels still use thermal (curly and thin) paper. Finally, consider that hotels may charge a pretty penny for each page you fax to yourself (only you can determine whether using this method is acceptable and worthwhile). But, in a pinch, self-faxing works.

If you don't have a modem already installed, now is the time to get one. You can pick up a decent modem for under $30 from any computer retailer.


Take some time to learn the faxing software that came with your computer. Both Windows XP and Mac OS X (10.3 and above) ship with faxing capabilities, but you need to configure them first. Of course, even with properly configured software, you need to have a fax-capable modem in your computer, and it must be connected to an analog phone line with a normal telephone cord with RJ-11 jacks on both ends.

Bluetooth printing

Bluetooth printers are becoming more commonplace. Bluetooth, as discussed in Chapter 7, is a short-range wireless networking technology. It's primarily used to connect devices and peripherals to each other and your computer without cumbersome cables. If you come across a Bluetooth-enabled printer when you're on the road, and you have a Bluetoothenabled laptop, you can send your documents wirelessly to it at a nearby of.ce or even a copy store.

Anyone who has access to a Bluetooth printer can print to it within 30 feet or so. Laptops and PDAs alike can do this. Many printer manufacturers (including Hewlett-Packard and Epson) offer Bluetooth-enabled printers—check the Web sites of these companies for information on the latest models that offer Bluetooth connectivity and hope that you encounter one on your travels.


Setting Up and Configuring Windows XP Fax

Although faxing capabilities come with Windows XP, they aren't turned on by default. However, by running the Fax Configuration Wizard, you can set up your PC to both send and receive faxes.

1.
Choose Start > Control Panel and click Add or Remove Programs.

2.
Click Add/Remove Windows Components. Select only the “Fax Services” checkbox and click Next.

3.
Choose Start > All Programs > Accessories > Communications > Fax > Fax Console (the center of XP's faxing universe).

4.
In the Fax Console application, choose Tools > Configure Fax. This opens the Fax Configuration Wizard. Click Next.

5.
On the Sender Information page, include your name or your business name and your fax number and anything else you'd like your recipients to know.

6.
On the Select Device for Sending or Receiving Faxes screen, your modem will already be selected unless you have more than one. (In that case, select the right one.) Specify send and receive options and whether you'd like to manually or automatically answer incoming faxes.

Choosing “manual” will require you to click File > Receive a fax every time you answer the phone and hear a fax noise. Choosing “automatic” enables your laptop to manage the incoming call.

7.
On the Transmitting Subscriber Identification (TSID) and Called Subscriber Identification (CSID) screens, input your business name and fax number.

8.
On the Routing Options screen, specify how incoming faxes will be handled. All of your faxes are stored automatically in the Fax Console, but you can also print a copy.

If you want to change any of these settings, just run the Fax Configuration Wizard again. To open the wizard, choose Tools > Configure Fax.

Now that you're set up, you can fax pretty much any document on your computer. Simply choose Fax Printer as the output device when you print. This will initiate the Fax Console, where you'll choose the recipient and enter the fax number.

Setting Up and Configuring MAC OS X Fax

The following instructions only apply to Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) and above. (To add faxing capabilities to earlier versions of the Macintosh operating system, consider buying a third-party application page-sender—see www.smileonmymac.com.)

1.
Open the document you want to fax.

2.
Choose File > Print.

3.
Click Fax (at the bottom of the Print dialog box).

4.
Type the fax number of the user to whom you want to send your fax in the To field.

You can also pick users directly from the Address Book by clicking its icon to the right of the To field. Just make sure you have a fax number listed for each user you choose.


5.
If necessary, type the dialing prefix required for the phone system you're using in the Dialing Prefix field. (For example, if you need to dial a 9 to access an outside line, type 9 in the Dialing Prefix field.)

6.
Make sure the desired modem is chosen in the Modem pop-up menu.

7.
If you want to send a cover page, select the Cover Page checkbox and type a message in the large field below.

If you have a combination of options that you frequently use when faxing a document, you can save them as a “preset.” After choosing your options, choose Save As from the Presets pop-up menu and type a name for the set of options. If you want to use this set of options when you fax a document, choose its name from the Presets pop-up menu.


8.
Click Fax. The fax will be sent as soon as your modem is available.

If you're using your modem to access your dial-up account, the fax will be sent after you disconnect from the 'net. Unless you sign up for a virtual, Internet-based faxing service (such as www.efax.com), your fax will be sent using old analog telephone technology and not transmitted digitally over the Internet.

Receiving Faxes on Your MAC

In addition to sending faxes using your Mac's modem, you can also receive them, provided your computer has been set up properly in advance. The incoming fax is saved as a graphics file on your hard drive, allowing you to view, print, and forward it using the same programs you already use for your other graphics files. You can even select how you want to be notified that you've received a fax. For example, you can have incoming faxes print automatically or be forwarded to you via email.

1.
Choose Apple > System Preferences and then click Print & Fax.

2.
Click Faxing to display the fax options.

3.
Select the “Receive faxes on this computer” checkbox.

4.
Enter your fax number in the field provided. This will show up on the sending fax machine's display or status report.

5.
Enter the number of times you want your phone line to ring before your machine receives the call as a fax.

If you have a phone-answering machine or message center, you should set this number at a higher number of rings than your message service, otherwise all incoming calls will be intercepted by your laptop.

6.
Choose one or more of the options you'd like performed after a fax arrives:

  • Save it as a graphics file to a particular folder or the desktop

  • Automatically email it as an attachment to a particular email address

  • Print it on a designated printer

That's it. The next time your phone rings, the computer will answer after the specified number of rings and act just like a normal fax machine. This can be annoying for human callers if you don't have your modem connected to a dedicated fax line, so try to pick up the phone before your computer does, unless you're expecting a fax transmission.

If your Energy Saver preferences automatically put your Mac to sleep after a certain period of inactivity, select the “Wake when the modem detects a ring” checkbox in the Options pane to avoid missing any incoming faxes.


Remember: To receive a fax, your computer must be turned on and connected to an open telephone line. If you're using your modem to connect to the Internet, it can't receive a fax at the same time.

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