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Paying Your Bills from Prague

By Stephen H. Wildstrom A reader asks: I work for a multinational company and may be asked to take up an assignment abroad (possibly in Poland, Czech Republic, or Germany), lasting anywhere from six months to two years.s it possible to manage my investments, banking, and bill payments by Internet from abroad? I currently do this from my home or work computer, and would like to continue to do so from abroad.Are there any precautions I should take? I have Norton Antivirus software and the Zone Alarm firewall -- will they work abroad? My company will buy a Dell (DELL) Latitude laptop and a power converter. Is there any particular model of Latitude laptop that is best suited to meet my needs?

A: Fortunately, the Internet is the Internet, no matter where you are. With the exception of a few countries that try to control access, notably China, the same services are available from anywhere in the world. Dialup service in Europe, with the partial exclusion of Germany, is generally both expensive and poor, but broadband and wireless alternatives are available.

Your Dell laptop -- or any other laptop for that matter -- will work just fine in Europe. The only thing you will want to do is replace the AC power cord, the one that runs from the power brick to the wall, with a European version.

STAYING PROTECTED. This cord replacement isn't strictly necessary, since you can use a plug adapter, but it's more convenient. Don't use a voltage converter. The power adapter is designed to work on either 120 volt/60 Hz. U.S. power, or 230 volt/50 Hz. European power.

Norton Antivirus and Zone Alarm will work in Europe just as they do at home -- and running such protection is an excellent idea no matter which side of the ocean you're on. Wildstrom is Technology & You columnist for BusinessWeek. You can contact him at

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