The Internet is opening the whole world to everyone

Part Two of the Report from Central Europe:

We're safely back from our tour of cybercafes in Central Europe and have many observations and experiences to share.

We spent the last nine days of our vacation in the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic. The city absolutely is amazing. It is like Disneyland, Central Europe. There are castles, towers, bridges and town squares constructed as far back as the year 888. And there were wall to wall tourists, tourists, and more tourists. I think we heard every language spoken except possibly Czech itself.

Once again we had wonderful accommodations in a quaint "pension" outside of the main city. Miluska and Ales Marsik were our hosts at Pension Na Statku, a real find. "Mila" made the most wonderful breakfasts with homemade sweets and thin sliced meats in addition to crepes or eggs and delicious coffee. A great way to start the day. Unfortunately they don't have email or a web site yet but can be reached through their daughter at or by fax at 011-420-2-581-5617. The city was about twenty minutes away via bus and underground and the cost probably was ten percent of what a city hotel would charge.

Our daughter and son-in-law stayed about ten minutes further away with good friends, Pavel and Ivka Jungwirth and their four children. Pavel does not have a computer at home but has one attached to the Internet at the research institute where he works as a world class chemist. We met a few years back while he was a visiting researcher at UCI and have kept in touch. He speaks fluent English and tells me that their children learn English as a second language in the Czech Republic. He says that in order to do chemistry you must know English and many of their textbooks are in English. The world is getting smaller.

Of course we kept up with our email at a number of well-equipped cybercafes in and around Prague. It still is funny sitting down at a foreign keyboard and trying to find the "at" symbol for email and funnier still to see the ubiquitous Windows program in Czech. The icons are the same but the captions aren't.

Finally, being tourists, we had our credit card number stolen. We were so careful keeping our wallets and passports secure from pickpockets but obviously weren't careful enough about letting our credit cards out of our sight. We have our cards but someone took the information and made a large purchase. Fortunately our credit card company caught it and we have been issued new cards and the fraudulent charge will be removed.

Is the Internet changing the world? You bet it is. In a city dating back to the year 888, the cybercafes are full of people keeping up with the new world in many languages. However, it is conceivable that English will become the predominant language because of the Internet. And what is going to happen to the children in the small villages in the Ukraine, where we visited, when they finally get to see the world via the Internet? There was one cybercafe with one computer in Mukaceve, Ukraine, a start.

Another subject: With the summer season upon us there will be no Internet classes until after Labor Day. However, join us for "Coffee and Computers," each Friday morning in the Tustin Area Senior Center conference room, 200 South 'C' Street. From 9 am until about noon we will be there to answer computer questions and have coffee and sweets. If you have questions or just want to talk computer, join us.

Remember, keep the neurons happy, the synapses snapping and enjoy computing.

 _____________________________________________________________________________ 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: 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:

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