Sorting the hip from the hype in new CD-ROMs, Web sites, and books
Is Your Modem Multilingual? If you're a laptop-toting globetrotter, the Mobile Connectivity Guide can help you through the daunting maze of foreign plugs, PBXs, and other incompatibility problems. While the 120-page pocket-sized book has a self-serving side - its publisher, The TeleAdapt Group, sells connectivity tools online and by catalog - the content goes well beyond the company's product line.
The book takes a problem/solution approach to the material and is rich with photos, illustrations, checklists, and charts. You'll learn that phone systems vary far more than power standards: The guide has clear illustrations of 40 different modem/telephone adapters to make your RJ-11 clips work from Argentina to Yugoslavia, as well as photos of the 10 plug adapters you'd need to make your way around the world.
Much of the book is devoted to getting you online, with explanations of such procedures as making your system ignore unrecognizable foreign dial tones (with varying descriptions, depending on whether you're working with Windows 98, WinFax Pro, Macintosh, America Online, or other systems). There are good explanations of manual dialing under a variety of circumstances, how to retrieve company e-mail from an Internet service provider, testing a modem line, connecting under adverse line conditions, connecting with hardwired phones, and more.
The "Foreign Hotel and Office Dialing Checklist" takes you through a number of on-the-road roadblocks. Here's one: Newer PC Card modems tone dial rapidly, sometimes too fast for older analog hotel PBXs. The guide illustrates the computer message you're likely to get and then explains step by step how to slow the modem tone dialing.
If you can figure this stuff out on your own, good for you. For the rest of us, this guide is a lifesaver. It can be ordered online for $19.95 from TeleAdapt, San Jose, Calif., www.teleadaptusa.com, (408) 965-1400.
McGettigan Partners, a Philadelphia-based conference planning company, has created a 15-page guide to successful user group conferences. Since nothing is really ever free, the booklet is also a vehicle for McGettigan to promote itself, but, wisely, that part is minimal, and event planners - especially those new to the territory - will find a lot of good advice on designing and implementing these critical customer events. In fact, just the booklet's list of questions to consider when brainstorming strategies is worth the few minutes it would take to go on the Web and request one.