- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Relocating, across town or, as I recently did, across the country, is not without its challenges and rewards. The discovery of a new neighborhood and meeting new neighbors, finding your way to the office, even the inevitable cleaning and rearranging of a home office all have their advantages.
Along the way, I picked up some lessons and experiences that might be useful if you have a move in your future. One report states that 20 percent of Americans move each year; in the late 1990s, the IRS reported that 5 million taxpayers send in returns from new addresses each year. (The current economic downturn might reduce impetus to move for some, while spurring it for others.)
Save original boxes, if you can:
This will earn me the enmity of many a spouse including perhaps my own but having original boxes for computers, printers, monitors and, particularly, delicate items such as an Apple iMac or a laser printer, can help make your life much easier when it comes time to move.
Yes, you can get large size boxes at the U-Haul store, and yes, there are alternate packing materials that will probably secure your stuff, particularly for a short haul. But I felt much better about sending my personal "treasures" across the country in their original boxes. Where I'll put those boxes now is, of course, another story.
If there's room, it's a good idea to pack similar and related items together. I threw a printer cable in with my printer, the mouse I like to use in with the iMac, and so on. If, like me, you have a bunch of devices, try to put the power strip in with one of the main items, so you can easily set up multiple devices upon arrival.
Arrange for your Internet service early, if possible:
On moving day, I had a stroke of luck: Brian from Comcast Cable of Montgomery County happened to be on site, and we were able to get service that day. Our phone service will be on shortly installation schedules, don't you know but at least we were able to e-mail family and friends and let them know we were OK.
One of the nice things about the Comcast deal doubtless the product of a couple of years' experience helping new customers get settled is that the firm offers a "self-install" kit that includes a Motorola Surfboard SB4200 cable modem, and connecting Ethernet and USB cables, that can hook up to a cable outlet in the room where the computer will sit. I was able to get online with the Mac in a few moments. Windows XP users can take advantage of the USB feature.
Use an online change of address service: You can have the U.S. Postal Service process a change of address electronically, for a $1 fee, if you file through www.usps.com. By typing in the new information, you reduce the chance that someone will misread your handwriting, and you can be sure of what you are entering before you approve the change. The Postal Service will send a letter to your old address to verify that you are really making the change.
Many magazines and other businesses will let you change address online as well. This not only saves time, but again allows you to control how your publications and bills are addressed, so they reach the right place at the right time. As a last resort, e-mailing the magazine's customer-service department or publisher should yield results.
Moving is, I'm told, one of the most stressful of life experiences, after losing a family member or getting married. A little planning and preparation, using your computer along the way, can make the change easier and perhaps even fun.
Write to MarkKel@aol.com with comments or visit the writer's Web site, www.kellner2000.com.

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