FROM THE TUSTIN NEWS, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2000


THE DOC IS IN...

The Internet is here to stay

It's hard to believe that another year almost is over. Time really flies when you are having fun, and I hope we all still find computing to be fun.

This last year has seen a number of changes. Probably the most unsettling has been the change in "dot.com" stocks. I keep hearing some of the pundits saying, "the Internet is over." I don't believe that for a minute. It has changed too many lives and is here to stay. Possibly the bandwagon frenzy in the stock market is over and people may now wait to see who is going to be a winner before investing. Any new technology has a settling in period and this probably is what we're going through now.

For myself, this has been a good year. I discovered eBay. It has been there for a long time but this is the first year I have participated. I registered and became an eBay seller. I put up items for friends and myself and, to my amazement, most of them sold. The process still is a little nerdy but they have easy ways to get started.

Ebay claims they have over four million items for auction at any one time and over 16 million people browsing for bargains. It probably is true since I have sold everything from an outboard motor to a Persian holy water vessel. If you haven't tried eBay, go to their web site at www.ebay.com and browse. You'll be surprised at what you find. Read their excellent tutorials if you don't understand auction sites and then give them a try.

Voice over IP (VOIP) is something else I have tried this year. VOIP means that you can make telephone calls over the Internet. I am using software from Net2Phone, www.net2phone.com. If you place a call to someone who does not have net2phone on their computer, the call goes from your computer to the regular telephone company and you can speak for a rate of around three cents per minute. If the other person has the software installed, you can speak computer-to-computer for free.

VOIP still is in the infant stages and sometimes there is an annoying echo at the other end and from time to time, little bits of the conversation get lost on the Internet and there are breaks in talking. But all in all, it is fun to play with and I always start my conversations by saying, "this is R2D2 calling." By the way, I had trouble using my computer's microphone and speakers with Net2Phone, so I purchased a "Yap" phone, which is a separate handset like a regular telephone. This cuts down on the echo.

Even though VOIP is relatively new, it is improving daily and will be used more and more on the Internet by individuals and businesses.

What has stalled this year is high speed Internet access from either the telephone company (DSL) or from the cable companies. I'm still waiting for DSL in my neighborhood but I think the wait will be worth it. Maybe this coming year they will get more equipment installed so we all can enjoy the benefits of high speed access.

In the year ahead, watch the new Internet appliances, those single purpose devices that just connect to the Internet for email or web browsing. They may open the Internet to a whole new group of "non-techie" users.

Also, there might be a bright side to the current downturn, since there seem to be some really good buys in personal computers now. Check Dell and others for either great discounts or nice accessories included in the price of new computers.

And, of course, can't summarize the year without mentioning that the Friday morning "Coffee and Computers" has been a great success. More and more people are coming to the Senior Center to participate in these free get togethers. They start at 9 and go until the last person gets hungry, around noon. Bring your computer questions and come in and visit.

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

Happy Holidays and have a great New Year.


 _____________________________________________________________________________

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.


Return to Doc's Home Page