Internet Cafés:
Café owners report on use of their systems by business travelers

While we enjoy the benefits of traveling with a laptop, everyone of us has wished at one time or other that there was a better way than lugging pounds and pounds of electronic gear around the world. Internet Café owners believe they have a better way: Use their computers that are already in place and readily available for public hire.

Clearly the advantage of using a computer at an Internet Café is that it eliminates the need for you to take along your own. You walk in the door, sit down, check your Email, surf the Web and then play a few video games while you sip a cup of java.

Generally there are two ways to check Email from a café. With the open connection to the Internet offered by the café, you can use Telnet to connect with another system (for example, your Internet Access Provider or your company’s own computer network). You generally then use a host-based Email system such as Pine or Elm to receive and send Email. To do this you’ll need to know your host system’s Telnet address, as well as your username and password.

Alternatively, you can use whatever software that is provided by the café. The café may have Eudora, or you can use the Email capabilities found within Netscape. To use this software, you’ll need to know your POP account name and your password.

To find out more about how exactly business travelers are using Internet cafés, Roadnews turned to café owners. Thanks to the café owners who shared with Roadnews for their observations and advice which we’ve summarized below:

What do people use your computers for?

Most business travelers use the machines for Email, some Web surfing, some printing of correspondence, and an occasional video game, say café owners.

Can your customers configure the software themselves to retrieve their Email?

Some can, some can’t. There’s someone at the café to help out if a customer needs help.

What do people do with their Email once its retrieved?

Respond to it, print it , or copy it to a floppy — and then forget to delete it.

What advice do you have for would-be customers?

  • Always remember to delete your Email from the café’s system. Almost everyone forgets.

  • Check out Web-based Email systems such as Hotmail and Mailexcite. It’s easier and quicker if you can read your Email by going to a Web site.

  • Remember to bring your POP address (given to you by your Internet Access Provider), and have your password handy.

  • Figure out how to leave Email on your server until after you return home from your trip so that you can retrieve all your Email and have it in one place (In Eudora, go to the Tools pull-down menu, then Options. Find Checking Mail, and check the box to leave mail on the server. In Netscape, go to the Options pull-down menu and select Mail and News Preferences. Hit the Servers tab and check off the option "Left on Server.")

Checking out an Internet Café can be a good way to get yourself out of the hotel room. If you’ve never been in one, you should try it out. You might like it.

On the other hand, there are some clear disadvantages to a Internet cafés. First you have to find one. There are probably a thousand or more around the world at this point, but that’s still a far cry from finding one on every street corner. And while cafés are convenient for quick Email checks, it’s not practical to do extended work there. Only with a laptop of your own can you curl up for a few hours in your hotel room to write reports, play with a spreadsheet or track your road expenses.


To get started with your search for an Internet café, you might try

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