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A_Hitchhiker_s_Guide_to_the_Internet

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					A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Internet

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697

Summary:
Working on the Internet means sharing your office space with millions of
others. Here are a few tips for success in the global cyber-office.


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Article Body:
"Where do you work?"
<p>
"Planet Earth."
<p>
Sound familiar? No? Well, it should. More and more people are working
from home on the Internet, and there are two things you should know about
your office when you work on the Internet.
<p>
First, your office will be very, very small and very, very lonely, as I
chronicled in my <a
href="http://www.thehappyguy.com/hermit.html">"hermit" articles</a>.
<p>
Second, your office will be very, very big and full of many, many people
from every corner of the planet, mostly trying to sell things to each
other. That is because when you work from home, Planet Earth is your
office and theirs.
<p>
For instance, would you believe that a man on the Internet in the Ukraine
delivers the local <a href="http://www.weather4you.info"> weather
forecast</a> in Sydney to Chicago? So much for sticking your head out
the window.
<p>
I have a client in the UK who sells machine parts through a website
selling <a href="http://www.gm-exports.com">ceramic & ball bearings</a>
to every country in the world ... except the UK, of course. Doesn't that
make the local hardware store redundant?
<p>
With so many clients crowding into my office, I could use some <a
href="http://www.thehappyguy.com/articles/stress-relief.html">stress-
relief techniques</a> around now.
<p>
<b>Office Politics in the Global Office</b>
<p>
My clients live on almost every continent, and the only thing that
occasionally gets in the way of seamless communication are time-zone
differences. (If Columbus would have minded his own business, we wouldn't
face even that challenge!)
<p>
What's more, my clients are not always English-speaking, and neither are
all of my clients' websites. Can you say <a href="http://www.dotcom-
monitor.de/network-monitoring.asp">netzwerk überwachung &
netzwerküberwachung</a>? I do search engine optimization in four
languages - English, French, Spanish and German - which tells you
something about the global office in which some of my clients sit.
<p>
But there is more than just language that makes the global office a
tricky workplace to navigate. Aside from the lack of water coolers and
washrooms, most of the world works in metric, but the biggest Internet
market works in imperial. So some customers won't know what a mile is,
and others won't know what a kilometer is.
<p>
And everybody spells funny to someone else. Is it honor or honour?
Center or centre? Folks or peeps?
<p>
Fortunately for me, I live in Canada. 95% of Canadians live within a
stone's throw of the US border. (They are all folks, by the way.) So we
officially learn to spell and to count the way the British do (but they
are still not peeps). Nevertheless, Americanisms sneak across the border
by osmosis, perhaps due to an attack dog budget shortfall at the illegal
aliens department.. At least I'll know what a mile is – it's that thing
people want to take when I give them an inch.
<p>
And what about currency? I make it simple. I use US dollars, because
that really is the currency of the Internet. But I also accept <a
href="http://www.paypal.com">Paypal </a> payments, so anybody can input
their favorite currency and out pops US dollars on my end. I wish more
people would do that. I could use more dollars.
<p>
If none of that phases you, consider time zones. Just as a client in
Australia is waking up, your client in the United States is going to bed.
And how will they reach you when you are not in the office. Tools like
<a href="http://www.email2phone.net">email to phone</a> can help. So can
insomnia.
<p>
Nobody twenty years ago would have imagined that you and I could sit at
home and type words into a TV screen to make a comfortable living.
Welcome to my office – Planet Earth.
<p>
Hmm. Right now I am reading <i>The Hitchhiker's Guide to the
Galaxy</i>...I wonder if I can work from home on the Internet on any
other planets...

				
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