Archive for category Misc.

Fax to Email – Business without Paper

Despite the proliferation of email, faxes are prevalent for a number of everyday tasks, especially in the business world.  For those of you that have to deal with faxes, you know the extra steps they introduce into an otherwise paperless workflow can be a pain in the neck.  Receive a paper fax, scan it, shred it or maybe print a document, just to fax it and then shred it – just wasteful!

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Canned Muffins

There will always be circumstances where you need to go through the print-fax-shred cycle, for instance if you need to sign documents that are emailed to you, but you do have options for most other cases.  A number of online services have sprouted up that enable you to handle your faxes through email.  About a year ago I purchased a home and found myself requiring a fax machine on a number of occasions.  Instead of purchasing my own machine or making an inordinate number of trips to the local Fedex or UPS store, I signed up for an account at send2fax.com.  The great thing about send2fax and similar services is that you can keep all of your faxing electronic and as a bonus you get a unique 1-800 fax number, if you’re using this service as part of a small business, it can help you appear like a larger and more professional organization.


When I signed up for send2fax last year, it was somewhat of a hasty choice because I was busy with a series of other home purchasing-related tasks at the time.  Lifehacker recently conducted a survey of the top five online fax to email services and named myfax as their top choice.  Right now myfax is offering a free 30 day trial [affiliate] to evaluate their service.  Drop a line in the comments if you’ve had success with any of these fax to email services.

[MyFax via Lifehacker]

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Even Walt Loves Evernote

We recently extolled the use of Evernote in the paperless office, but it looks like the software is now hitting the mainstream.  In today’s Wall Street Journal, tech columnist Walt Mossberg has written a love letter to Evernote praising many of its powerful features.

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Offline Strategy – GMail Edition

Courtesy of Flickr User Netwalker

Courtesy of Flickr User Netwalkerz

As many of you know, earlier this week, Google’s popular web-based email service GMail went down to most users for the better part of a day. While some of us used this as an excuse to unplug and enjoy family or the outdoors, others had important business to attend to and were left high and dry. This incident shines a light on a legitimate concern of leaving important services like email entirely in the cloud, but there were steps users could have taken to be prepared for such an event.

The first possibility is to use Google Labs offline GMail which relies on Google Gears. If you haven’t installed Gears, I highly recommend it. It will not only give you access to GMail and Google Calendar while offline (and when Google services go down) but also to a host of other websites. The thing about GMail offline though is it needs to be enabled through the web interface which was down during the outage, so unless you enabled it previously, you were out of luck.

Gmail OutageThe second and more versatile option is to connect to GMail through POP or IMAP using a desktop email client such as Apple’s Mail application.  I recommend using IMAP due to the inherent two-way communication with Google’s servers which provides a consistent user experience across multiple devices.  This is especially useful if you access your email on multiple computers, use the GMail web interface or access GMail on an iPhone or other mobile device.  Like offline GMail, IMAP also has to be enabled via the web interface and I recommend doing that right now.  An additional upside to using POP or IMAP is, during this past outage you were able to continue sending and receiving email unlike with the offline GMail option described above.

It’s probably worth enabling both of the options described in this post as this will provide the greatest amount of flexibility during the next outage.  If you have any suggestions on accessing web services during offline or outage time, please leave your suggestions in the comments.  Also, stop wasting time and be sure to enable these services right now so that you’ll be prepared for next time.

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