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Technology for dummies

My kingdom for DOS and a 6” floppy!

September 14, 2009


The Scene

IT IS no secret that today's grade schoolers are much more technologically savvy than their parents.

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THE WORLD of technology can open doors for both young and old. Games, information and long lost friends may be right at your fingertips.

I, like many, find the need to turn to my children whenever I have a question concerning anything connected to computers, cell phones and the like. Heck, I have a difficult time trying to get my DVD player to work!

With technology making advances, literally at the speed of light, keeping up can be quite a chore. The following is an attempt to explain about these technological advances and help you amaze the younger members of your family with your insights into today's technology.


E-mail stands for electronic mail. While it originated as an after thought to the beginnings of the Internet, it is currently one of the most popular services of the Internet. Internet e-mail can be sent to anyone in the world who has an Internet e-mail address.

Messages are posted electronically to individuals at specific addresses much like conventional mail. The address denotes the computer that the individual employs as a mail server. A mail server is like a local post office: it is a computer that sends and receives electronic mail for a specific network.

Unlike conventional mail, e-mail is much faster. Conventional mail is sometimes called "snail mail" by e-mail users.

Multiple copies of a given message can be sent to different parties automatically with no more effort than indicating the distribution list of addresses. Replies to e-mail can be automatic too. Most mail programs allow the user to reply to the sender and include part or the entire original message. A major difference between e-mail and conventional mail is that while postal letters are not entirely secure, e-mail is even less secure. Unless the message has been encoded, it could be intercepted without your knowledge. For this reason, ordinary e-mail should never be used for sensitive communication.

Web searches:

Searching the web can be overwhelming to beginners who don't know where to start, what's the best stuff to look at, or even how to navigate the web successfully.

The first thing one should realize is that the Web is huge and contains vast amounts of information. Virtually any topic one can think of is covered in detail somewhere, and finding information about anything is easy if you know where to look.

There are services on the web where one can go to retrieve this information that's somewhere out there on the web, and these services are better known as search engines. Basically, search engines are just huge databases of indexed information. They don't necessarily contain the information itself, but they have the addresses (or URLs) where it can be found.

Search engines are out to make money, so while they offer a search service for free, they have to sell ad space to various companies in order to pay the bills, according to Search engines are also intensely competitive, and are constantly updating the way they index their information in order to market themselves as more efficient than the next guy.

Two of the most recognized search engines are and

Most search engines will give great information; however, if specific information can not be located on one engine, simply try another.

Shopping on the web is extremely popular, and is easy, secure, and convenient. Shoppers can find great deals, search for obscure items, and order in complete privacy. One of the best ways to shop online is to use a shopping search engine.

Other things to do on the web include getting local news, locating people, playing games, furthering education, check local weather and get free software updates.

Here's a little trick from when using a search engine to look up something on the web, use quotation marks.

When one uses quotation marks around a phrase, the user is telling the search engine to only bring back pages that include these search terms exactly how they were typed in-order, proximity, etc. This could save loads of time!


Two of the newest phrases in the English language these days seem to be "Follow me on Twitter" and "Didn't you get my tweet?".

In order to understand these phrases one must understand Twitter .

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that asks one question: "What are you doing?" It enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers who are known as followers.

Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access. Users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS) or mobile texting, instant message or the web. While the service costs nothing to use, accessing it through SMS may incur phone service provider fees.

According to, Twitter is a privately funded startup with offices in the SoMA neighborhood of San Francisco, Calif. Started in March of 2006, Twitter has grown into a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices.

In countries all around the world, people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens-from breaking world news to updates from friends.

Twitter is ranked as one of the 50 most popular websites worldwide by Alexa's web traffic analysis. Although estimates of the number of daily users vary because the company does not release the number of active accounts, a February 2009 blog entry ranked Twitter as the third most used social network based on their count of 6 million unique monthly visitors and 55 million monthly visits.

In March 2009, a blog ranked Twitter as the fastest-growing site in the Member Communities category for February 2009 with a monthly monthly growth of 1,382 percent, Zimbio of 240 percent, followed by Facebook with an increase of 228 percent.

And, if all else fails, just ask a third grader. I'm sure they can help out even the most technologically-challenged adult.

Contact Graham at - she'll respond as soon as she figures out how to use her email.



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