You're in your hotel room, ready to put the final touches on tomorrow's sales pitch. Oh no! You left that spreadsheet with the latest projections back at the office. Don't worry. You can still get the data, if you have the right software.
LapLink for Windows 95 and ReachOut are the best of the so-called remote control programs for Windows, which enable you to make direct contact with your PC when you're off-site.
With an interface that looks like the standard Windows Explorer, LapLink lets you dial up your office computer, check a directory or folder for updates, copy new files, check for conflicts, and get off line. You can connect to another computer in just about every conceivable manner: by modem, ISDN line, the Internet, a local area network, or an infrared IrDA port. Before you head for the airport, quickly copy files from your desktop to your notebook PC by using a serial or parallel cable.
ReachOut ($139) from Stac offers many of the same functions as LapLink, such as remote access to your system for copying and updating files. Better yet, ReachOut works with your Web browser so you can set up your office PC as a kind of private site on the Net. Use your regular Internet access account and surf over to your PC, enter the password you've set, and you're in.
You might want to load a plain-Jane terminal emulation program onto your notebook computer, for those rare occasions when you need to connect directly with the corporate mainframe or there's no Internet access available. The easiest, most flexible program is Hilgraeve's HyperAccess for Windows 95 and NT ($70). Its made by the same folks who wrote the much more basic HyperTerminal program that comes with Windows 95, and it will get you into most of the older computer systems out there. It also lets you use Internet telnet connections and get to Web sites just by clicking on displayed URLs.
To manage a high volume of faxes — incoming and outgoing — you need a program with a variety of cover sheets and delivery options. Symantec's WinFax PRO 7.5 ($80) is the best of the stand-alone faxing programs. Use it to fax one memo to numerous recipients or to fax on the cheap over the Internet — especially helpful when you're on the road.
Coordinates: LapLink for Windows, Traveling Software Inc., 800-343-8088, http://www.travsoft.com ; ReachOut, Stac Inc., 800-279-7822, http://www.stac.com ; HyperAccess for Windows 95 and NT, Hilgraeve Inc., 800-826-2760, http://www.hilgraeve.com ;WinFax PRO, Symantec Corp., 800-441-7234, http://www.symantec.com .
A version of this article appeared in the April/May 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.