Log on to preparedness

The events of September 11 were horrible and tragic. Their aftermath will be felt for a long time. One of the aspects of these events was how computers played their part before, during and after the attacks.

On September 15, the Pew Internet and American Life Project surveyed, "How Americans Used the Internet After the Terror Attack." Their results were most interesting and can be viewed at

Their conclusions were, "The Internet was not a primary resource for news or outreach for most Americans after the terror attacks, but it was a helpful supplement to TV and the telephone and many found it useful for expressing their sorrow and anger at the assault." Not a surprising result since 81% of all Americans were glued to CNN or other television channels for their news.

However, in the two days after the attack, 74% of all Americans reached out to loved ones and friends by telephone or by the Internet. Thirteen percent of Internet users "attended" virtual meetings on the Internet where they posted their thoughts to share with others.

While the Internet might not have the immediacy of television news, it does offer a rich and in depth method to view the world. Just one example is the ability to sample worldwide reactions by reading electronic editions of world newspapers. Using the search engine,, I found the Times of London,, and the Jerusalem Post, Using the search terms, "world newspapers," the site,, came up which listed newspapers in dozens of countries. Just another example of how the Internet is shrinking the world.

There are many computer stories also. If you don't usually backup your work on your home computer, think of the international law firm who had offices in the World Trade Center. They were lucky that most of their employees were able to escape. They immediately rented another office site and were able to get up and running because they routinely backup all their computer data and keep it offsite. They retrieved all their documents and all their emails and got back to work.

On a darker note, it is possible that terrorists or others make use of readily available encryption programs to correspond via email. With current technology, these messages are unbreakable. The use of "strong encryption" poses a great challenge in the wars on terrorism, crime and drugs.

In the wake of this recent tragedy, the use of computers and the Internet was both a great asset as well as a possible threat. Hopefully the good shall far exceed the evil and more and more people will recognize the ability of the Internet to foster community and increase our understanding of the world.

If you would like to hear more about this subject, 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. And register for the new computer classes.


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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