FROM THE TUSTIN NEWS, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2005


THE DOC IS IN...

How about digital stocking stuffers?

With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to think about digital stocking stuffers.

In my quest for what’s new, my first stop was MicroCenter and a talk with John Caldwell, its manager. I wanted to know how was Black Friday, that special day after Thanksgiving when shoppers break down doors for specials. John said it was very good, with flat screen LCD television sets being the best buys. He gave me an advance copy of their next printed flyer and pointed out that they still would be featuring flat screen television sets at great prices right up until Christmas.

Walking through the store I was struck with the display of parts and equipment used to make your own computer. I was surprised with the vast display but was told that this is becoming a very popular endeavor. There were motherboards, cases, hard drives and bunches of other things that go into a new machine. I suppose someone is there to help if you run into problems.

There seemed to be miles and miles of laptop computers displayed as well as a variety of digital cameras. Wireless networking devices were all around and seem to be the preferred way to network home computers. And, like last year, the display of desktop computers and large, flat screen displays was spectacular. I also particularly like the book section because of its completeness and variety. Since so many programs come without good documentation, third party books like those for Adobe Elements, the photo manipulating program, as well as other programs, are good investments.

Let me point out again that I have no arrangement with MicroCenter but write about it only because it is a major digital player in the Tustin area.

The New York Times predicts that this will be the season for Apple iPods and Microsoft Xboxes, though the latter might be hard to find. They further predict that digital cameras, cordless phones and DVD players will still be hot items.

Before you rush out to purchase your digital dreams, might I suggest that you first check the Internet for both product comparisons and best prices. I use a number of comparison web sites including www.bizrate.com, www.cnet.com and www.shopping.com, though I object to all the cookies that I have to reject on shopping.com. In the past I have purchased items from top rated online stores recommended on these sites and have had no problems.

I must admit that I purchased a digital camera for my daughter from www.amazon.com. They still have very competitive prices, no tax and free shipping on items over $25. She had her camera in less than five days. So it pays to check with Amazon. And my daughter got online and purchased a new laptop computer from www.dell.com. They had a basic laptop for $399 after mail-in rebate.

What I’m saying is that these are “Digital Days,” and there are plenty of goodies out there for any of us, but it pays to shop around and check online reviews before purchasing. So stuff your stockings with fun things and have a great holiday season.

If you would like to hear more about the holiday digital shopping, or other computer topics, visit “Coffee and Computers” at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. ‘C’ Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit. And visit my blog at drart.blogs.com.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.

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Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: www.arholub.com. This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at: doc@arholub.com.


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