Once the three-month deadline is up, he swings into a more interactive persona as his work is edited, honed, and refined. "I try to do face time every 90 days, just to put faces and names together," Heaton reports. He also makes a point of sending his home office colleagues "unsolicited status reports from time to time - kind of 'here's what I'm writing and here's how far along I am.' It helps them not to worry." Still, Heaton is the first to admit that he's "out of the loop of office politics." But maybe, he adds, that's not such a bad thing.

jon cannell is a seattle-based illustrator whose work has appeared in fast company and context magazines.

telecommuters' tool chest
sid heaton, senior technical writer
current setup home network of three computers (a dell latitude cpi laptop and two dell gxa optiplex workstations) connected by a cisco aeronet 340 wireless lan and a cisco hub to a dsl connection, and an hpdeskjet 560c printer

wish list "faster processing for my pcs, and a laser printer," says heaton, "so i could see my pages in a higher quality when they go to print."

potential upgrades the dell latitude c600 features a speedy 750mhz piii processor and 128 mb ram, and a three-year, next-business-day, onsite warranty. around $2,000, www.dell.com. the hp laserjet 3200se runs nine black-and-white pages per minute at 1200x1200 dpi, with fax, scanner, and copier functions, and 8mb of programmable memory. $599, www.hp.com

susanne kirk, vp/senior editor, simon & schuster scribner
current setup an ibm thinkpad 600e, nokia 5100 cell phone, and hp inkjet printer

wish list "i travel a lot, and my current laptop gets a bit heavy when i'm lugging it around airports," says kirk. "and a handheld organizer and a scanner would be nice."