Communication for the refugees of Hurricane Katrina must be a horrendously difficult affair - especially for those without cell phones. If regulations were relaxed, Voice over Internet technology could allow all affected people to recieve and send calls and messages using their regular phone numbers. This would mean reassigning the phone numbers from destroyed phones to online delivery. The major challenge would be providing refugee centres with enough computers with high speed Internet access.
Stuart Henshall and Tom Evslin elaborate further. Great kudos to them and others thinking about how tech can be used to help in this great disaster.
Apologies to anyone who has been looking for more draft stuff from my (at this point, still) upcoming Internet handbook. I have put that project on hold for the time being as I devote more time to working hard to earn support for my bid for a seat on Kamloops City Council.
I will keep on blogging tech items of interest. Thanks. Resume Party.
am not a parent. But, I figure its got to be difficult to decipher
all the offers coming from computer and technology stores this time
am not student entering one important academic year or the other.
But, I figure it must be a challenge to keep up to date with the the
technology that will truly help get the best marks.
don't teach at a school, college, or university. But, I figure there
must be at least some apprehension about students plagiarizing from
the Internet, using inappropriate technology in class, or simply
causing internal feelings of extreme inadequacy.
here are a couple of suggestions. First, decide what your children
need in terms of tech for school. Second, figure how much you want to
spend and stick to it. Third, consider what you are buying is not
really the technology, but a relationship with a good salesperson.
computer salespeople don't talk in complicated tech terms.
computer salespeople take pains to ask you what you are looking for,
and then steer you only to products that will match your needs.
computer salespeople will be patient with you when you make one of
those panicked support phone calls.
the 2005/2006 school year should be the year of multimedia. Not only
can you find now search video clips more easily with the new video
search features at Yahoo, Google, and Blinkx.tv – you can also more
easily create your own videos and put them on the Internet on sites
as you are learning and creating, please also consider contributing
on the world's largest entirely user created encyclopedia –
but not least, my friends the teachers. If your school has the funds
to subscribe to a service like turnitin.com, this could help detect
plagiarism. Otherwise, if you suspect essay passages are
plagiarized, copy and paste them -within quotes- into your favourite
cellphones going off in class? The best policy is to have a clear
policy - like "please turn off your cell phones during class".
Cellphone signal jammers are still too expensive.
as for internal feelings of inadequacy, my father was a
neurosurgeon, my mother a bridge master, and my sister well on her
way to a PHD. Sorry, join the club!
Sometimes the most critical technology is the most simple. According to this USA Today article, hotels are re evaluating how easy their room alarm clocks are to operate. A short snippet:
The new models introduced by Hilton, Accor and Omni display two sets of
time simultaneously, one for the alarm. They use specific words — on,
off, AM and PM — instead of dots. Written instructions are inscribed
Lets not let hotels entirely off the simple is better hook though. If you read the article, a parallel push is to outfit alarm clocks with jacks from mp3 players so that guests can presumably get better sound quality. Sorry, I think that confuses the situation again, especially for the business traveller. And the noise might bother others.
Playing with words and trying to find the right combination to introduce the chapter of my upcoming book on email.
Email has become so commonplace to those who use it. We no longer stop to consider how drastically our global communication system has changed for the better.
A few short months before writing this book, I attended the annual convention of Rotary International, the well known worldwide service organization. I met people from many different countries at the convention. As I collected business cards, I has no real worry about keeping in touch with these people.
Through email, I could avoid long distance telephone fees and long delays in sending letters. I could retain a record of my communications with my new friends. And I could easily communicate with the whole groups or people from certain areas of the world.
Don't get me wrong. There are occasions when I would rather pick up the phone or post a letter than send an email. But, I often choose email because of its many benefits.
In 1996, I started using email because of love. I was dating a woman who lived in South Africa. I lived in South Africa for a while as well but, after two years of globetrotting, I moved back to Canada. My lonely heart soon became the mortal enemy of my phone bill - my monthly long distance charges were running into the hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. I decided that if I were to save my phone line from disconnection, I needed a computer, email access, and an email account. It is hard to believe but this, at the time, was the cheaper option.
Email does have its downsides. Namely, those awful junk email spam messages that appear in many people's inboxes.
I will make you a promise. As well as showing you the many great things email programs can do, I will also give you detailed instructions on how to minimize the downsides.
As a so called computer expert, I sure put my foot in my mouth when I wrote a newspaper column in June with an offer to share with my readers some research I was soon to do on the best laptops for different purposes. I got a lot of response to that column from people who wanted the information.
I started to think about how I was going to conduct the research. And the I got very scared. Preliminary checking around convinced me that I had bitten of a heck of a lot.
Okay, but I am still going to try.
There is a huge variety of different laptop models out there. And obviously different laptops would work better for different purposes.
Laptops can be divided into 3 very general categories (there are a lot of sub categories within these categories).
Desktop Replacements - laptops you can move around, but most of the time don't. Have a lot of the similar features as desktop PCs. Approximately 7 to 10 pounds.
Mainstream - made for mobility, but has many features - lighter than desktop replacement, better battery life. May not have all the features of desktop replacement. Approximately 4 to 7 pounds.
Ultra Portable - made for frequent mobility - often don't have internal CD or floppy drive. Should have better battery life. Usually under 4 pounds.
When buying a laptop, you should decide which of these 3 categories appeal to you and also decide your budget. Budget is a pretty important consideration because it will determine how much extra you can spend on the things that you would like to have, but are not totally necessary.
Here are my minimum recommendations for a laptop computer:
512 mbs of RAM recommended specs for Windows XP
40 mbs of HD space more than enough space typically, except for repeated video storage and editing.
wireless inbuilt increasingly useful when "on the road"
DVD / CDRW Combo I would personally even skip the DVD, if you don't watch a lot of movies, but almost every laptop comes with a DVD player now. The CDRW burner is great for back ups.
Back up solution Not really part of the laptop but critical, critical and often overlooked. Do you have a way of backing up your computer files or doing things like moving your digital pictures onto another storage medium or device. Options include CD burning, an external harddrive, or one of those USB flash drives.
You notice I didn't mention processor speed (eg. the pentium number) because all new computers today, unless you doing high end things like video editing or gaming, are fast enough to perform any task.
There are things that, when I see them, make me feel that the laptop manufacturer was really thinking about the benefit of the user:
Various jacks and ports on front and side rather than on the back: I hate reaching aroung any computer to have to plug stuff in. I love it when I see USB ports on the side ledge of the laptop keyboard and headphones and microphone jacks on the front ledge. Full marks!
Long Battery life: A laptop is not a laptop unless it offers at least 3 hours of battery power. Anything less is a mockery of the name.
Now, the moment you have been waiting for and the hardest part, recommendations on specific laptops. I took a tour one day through one or two computer stores I trust and found 2 I want to recommend. These 2 computers are in the mainstream category, so here are some other tips.
Find a trustworthy computer store and talk to a salesman about the options: I have given you a baseline of recommended specifications. You need to find a good computer store that will back up it's products. Ask about their warranty - how long? do they have an in house repair department? can you have a tour?
Read the recommendations at PC World and from Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal. These are American centred but provide good pointers for everybody.
Okay here are the two laptops I looked at and liked a lot: