We asked Miriamne Ingalls to identify some common mistakes that she sees companies make in their Net arrangements. In addition to teaching a computer class at Cleveland State University and organizing user-group meetings, her solo Internet consulting practice has catered to small graphic-design shops as well as clients such as the billion-dollar Cleveland Foundation.
Faster isn't always better
Many companies are upgrading to faster modems. Unfortunately, few coordinate the upgrade with their Internet service provider. "If you decide to upgrade to a 56K modem, ask your service provider if they have any particular standard or model," Ingalls recommends.
Until recently, modems had no universal standard. Now that they do, there are some translation problems. "What we're finding is that the older modems don't work as well with the new standards," she says, resulting in systems that maddeningly hang up constantly and have to redial or connect at slower speed.
Failing to consider the travel staff's needs
Companies with all their offices in a single city often choose a local service provider, with little problem. But when employees travel and try to use the Net, long-distance charges can quickly get prohibitive without access to a national provider with local dial-ups in all major cities. For Internet access from overseas, she adds, Compuserve is still perhaps the only service that works smoothly.
Choosing the wrong e-mail package
"If I was to be strident about it, I would say most companies' e-mail package should be Eudora, because it handles attachments well," says Ingalls. Companies that transfer a lot of large files over the Net should consider an additional step-renting dedicated FTP, or file transfer protocol, space from the service provider, which will make those transfers run more smoothly.
Wasting server space by failing to compress files
Ingalls recommends investing in so-called decompression utilities. For those in a Windows environment, she recommends Winzip, and for those using Mac, a product called Stuffit.
Failing to add important Web-browsing enhancements
"The more you surf the Net, the more you will need an Adobe Acrobat Reader (for help in downloading large text files) and Real Audio (to hear audio clips)," Ingalls says. "People will try to convince you that you need a lot of other stuff, but you probably won't. Either the other browser enhancements won't work or you won't use them enough to justify it." Cost isn't a factor: Both products are freeware.