Road Warrior, arm thyself for international travelDealing...

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July 27, 1998|By Gareth Branwyn

Road Warrior, arm thyself for international travel

Dealing with old pay phones, international phone systems, and the increasingly common digital phones found in many businesses and hotels requires tools to keep your laptop Net-connected.

If you're hooking up via a pay phone or international phone that uses a foreign wall jack, you need to use a device like the Konexx Koupler ($149). This lightweight (9 ounces) acoustic coupler can handle baud rates as high as 26 Kbps, although pay phones, old phones and line problems can reduce speed to 2,400 bps or less. To use it, strap the device onto the telephone handset so that the rubber suction cups connect to the ear and mouthpieces.

On the other edge of the phone spectrum are digital PBX ("Public Branch eXchanges"), now used in many hotels, offices and elsewhere. These won't work with most modems and can damage them. To connect safely, you need an analog-to-digital converter that translates your modem's analog signals into digital ones. Konexx's Mobile Konnector ($149) is designed for this task. Again, under most circumstances, you won't need such a device (always ask the hotel or office in which you're connecting if the line is analog or digital).

Information: 619-622-1400 or

Furniture maker Herman Miller recognizes the importance of comfortable and efficient seating for those of us who work on our cans all day. Since 1976, the firm has designed a series of award-winning work chairs that are extraordinarily comfortable and beautifully crafted.

The Aeron chair ($900) was designed to fit all users and offer as many adjustments as possible, including lower leg length, seat depth, hip breadth, back height, elbow height, lumbar height and lumbar depth. The chairs are available in three sizes, based on your height and weight.

A chart of body sizes and chair dimensions on the company's Web site can help you choose.

A unique feature is the woven elastic fabric used for the "seat pan" and back. The material evenly distributes weight over its surface to conform to each person's shape and to minimize pressure on the body. The material also lets air pass through, preventing body heat buildup.

You can fine-tune the seat tilt (and all the other adjustments) to minimize stress as you assume different seating positions. All controls are within easy reach and can be adjusted while seated.

The Aeron chair is incredibly well-designed and well-made. It's also a thing of beauty - as much a sculptural object as a piece of office equipment.

Sure, 900 bucks is a lot of money for a chair, but given the loss of work efficiency and the chiropractic bills a bad chair can cause, in the long run, the Aeron represents money well spent.

Information: 616-654-3000 or

You can find full reviews of these and other neat gadgets at

Pub Date: 7/27/98

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