Retail Therapy for Writers No. 3

Let's talk more about basic office essentials for writers. If you've got some bucks to spend, invest in some of these. For your consideration, today I have 3 office basics you may need.

Fax Me Baby
Are you tired of hassling with fax machines? I had an old Brother Fax that was a dependable workhorse. About three years ago when I got a new color all-in-one, I decided to switch from the separate fax to using the new HP all-in-one. From that point on, I had nothing but trouble. The machine would seize the phone line and never let it go. Long story of troubleshooting and software updates short: I went back to the old Brother.

With another new color all-in-one, this time a Kodak, I tried the fax again but the software is cumbersome. Who writes this stuff? Just as important, who writes the user guides? Sheesh! Tried to switch back to the old Brother, but it finally bit the dust. So I searched for a quick alternative and found My Fax by Kim Komando. Completely easy to use and affordable.

Backup Data

You've all heard to backup your data. There are two rules about this subject.
1. Do it often.
2. Do it regularly by establishing a day and time to take care of this issue.

There are a lot of online data storage sites, some free and some not. If you plan to use something like this, investigate thoroughly to find out how redundant their system is. Remember, when it comes to technology redundancy is a very good thing.

If you need to buy some flash drives to take care of it, read the article at Consumer Reports about these devices.

I use a couple of those for quick backups, but I also have a Western Digital My Book, an external hard drive that looks almost identical to this one. It has a gazillion gigs so I can backup my entire PC with a click. Plus, this very affordable unit is truly plug and play and so easy to use.

Rip It Up
Another friend of ours notified us that he'd been a victim of identity theft. This is so scary. He's the fourth person we personally know who has horror stories to tell. I wrote about this on Wednesday. One thing we should all be doing is shredding everything with our name, address, etc. that goes into the trash. There are a lot of electric shredders out there. I just bought a new one last year. It's very similar to this one.You can find shredders at all the office supply stores. Even Target, WalMart, et al, have them. Get one like mine that shreds credit cards, CDs, and floppies. I mean, what if you put a CD or floppy containing your book manuscript or your backup Quicken Business files in the trash. Someone could pull it out. What would they do with that information?

Using your writer's imagination, you can easily come up with a couple of nightmare scenarios. They download your manuscript, stick their own name on it, submit it, and get big bucks and a publishing contract. Or, they take your financial info and wipe you out!

Never throw data into the trash without shredding it first.


  1. I have an inexpensive fax machine that does double duty as a copier, but I fear the 'all in one' because if something goes wrong, you lose ALL the functions.

    I used to have a copy machine, but when it went kerplunk, I didn't replace it. Instead, as I discovered, the fax machine does a fine job of copying all but the really little bits of paper, and my scanner's copy function handles that.

    We have a shredder (make sure it's cross cut), but most of the stuff dh takes to his office where they pick up and shred from a secure lock-box. I guess there's a modicum of trust that the people who pick up the stuff don't go through it, but considering we recycle everything, they'd have to go through a lot to find anything useful. If it seems something of a truly sensitive nature, we'll shred it at home.

  2. On the subject of file backup, sharing and storage ...

    Online backup is becoming common these days. It is estimated that 70-75% of all PC's will be connected to online backup services with in the next decade.

    Thousands of online backup companies exist, from one guy operating in his apartment to fortune 500 companies.

    Choosing the best online backup company will be very confusing and difficult. One website I find very helpful in making a decision to pick an online backup company is:

    This site lists more than 400 online backup companies in its directory and ranks the top 25 on a monthly basis.