FROM THE TUSTIN NEWS, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2004


THE DOC IS IN...

THE COMPUTER STORE CRAZIES

This week’ column was going to be the continuation of the new computer saga, that is, transferring data and programs from the old computer to the new. However, I had occasion to visit MicroCenter the other day and I was blown away.

First, a disclaimer. I have no relationship with MicroCenter. I don’t receive any discounts or other consideration. I just feel that it is a computer treasure here in Tustin and encourage any computer user to visit their store on Edinger at the 55 freeway and meet their staff.

That said, MicroCenter is a cornucopia of gift ideas for the holiday season. John Caldwell is the general manager and with the help of corporate, he has revised the entire store. The new look is “wide open” with large displays of the most popular items. They even removed advertising from the internal windows so that everything can be seen from everywhere. The change is very impressive.

One of the most interesting areas is where computer machinery is displayed. We’ve all heard of “convergence,” and it really is displayed in a room full of large screen monitors and “media center” computers. My wife played Solitaire on a machine that had a 47 inch LCD display while Greg Gilles showed me the rest of the equipment. Each computer was connected to either an LCD or plasma display and the graphics were startling.

Convergence is the concept where all media is centered and controlled by the household computer. In its broadest, cable television, Internet, DVDs, VHS tapes and radio all are connected to a single computer that then either displays or distributes images. This is just starting and still has a way to go, but the results are impressive. Hewlett-Packard now has a “digital equipment center” computer that is housed in a case that looks like a television set top box.

Of course, I had to visit the digital camera display. Wow, have digital cameras come a long way. Four megapixel cameras now are the entry level devices with very attractive prices. At the top end, there are cameras that rival film cameras. They have seven and eight megapixel resolution and have all the features of film cameras including interchangeable lenses. My Canon G3 of just a couple of years ago has been replaced by the G6 that is smaller and has much greater resolution.

For those who wish to network their computers, today’s rage is wireless. No more wires. Computers can be located anywhere in the house. Contrary to mythology, your neighbor or a drive by snooper may recognize your wireless connection but cannot use it without having a password. Robert Bane, the associate in the wireless area can answer your questions and help you get started.

I must mention that there is a whole area full of printers. The newest are the six, seven and eight cartridge color photo printers. They come in all paper sizes, prices and have inks that last decades. What a pleasant change.

John and Greg also told me that MicroCenter has a very liberal gift return policy for the holidays. Buy or receive a gift that you don’t need and you can return it up to January 25th.

If I seem a little carried away in this column it is that I really was blown away with the changes at MicroCenter in addition to all the new equipment on display. Visit if you get a chance and speak with Greg, Robert or John about what you want for the holidays.

If you would like to hear more about holiday computer 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.

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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