NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, May 2009
Editorial Bits
By Patrick Libert,
Editor, Danbury Computer Society, CT

dacseditor (at) optimum.net (click to email author)

This article has been obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).

Computers and Healthcare
We have all probably had it “up to here” with the health care debate. Medicine is in the twenty-first century; medical record keeping in the nineteenth!

Pet peeve? When I visit my physician’s office, a new computer monitor adorns the exam room. Is it used to access my medical history during my visit? Not in the least! It’s much easier to leaf through a copious file folder, unable to find (once again) whether or not I had a recommended exam the previous year. Time wasted: several minutes which could have been better utilized to discuss current health topics.

In my opinion, the only way in which we are going to accelerate this modernizing process is to use the populist approach. Tell your doctor(s), your hospital, your medical insurance company that you demand an immediate improvement. You will be pleasantly surprised at the power of a letter or of an email. I do it all the time; so can you!

Social Networking
That relatively new phrase now permeates our daily conversations and actions. The press sometimes depicts this new web-based activity as a waste of time, a fad which will eventually disappear. On the contrary, this is a technological evolution which can help everyone.

Whoa! Hold on for a minute. Let’s not just think of this as an online dating service, or an activity reserved for teens. On the contrary, social networking is a remarkable way to communicate with existing and long-lost friends and family with little delay.

In my case, having several siblings and friends in Europe, we are now able to rapidly exchange comments, photo albums and various files thanks to social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I would even include Skype as a form of social network because we can speak to and see each other and bring our family communications to a degree never before possible without crossing the Atlantic.

Were I not retired, I surely would be actively participating on LinkedIn to broaden my professional knowledge and network.

New and Notable
Readability! (http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/) How cool is this! How many times have you opened the link to a web page and seen a gobbledygook of mixed messages and ads surrounding the article you really want to read?

Install this free bookmarklet in your browser’s bookmark bar, click on the bookmark after you have chosen the page you want to see. Abracadabra! All the clutter on the page is removed.

Many of you may already be aware of this site http://www.komando.com/. Kim Komando has a syndicated nationwide radio show and columnist. Her site has a multitude of useable information for all computer users, PC or Mac. I have bookmarked many links found on her web site.

Snowtape (http://snowtape.com/)
I have been experimenting with the free version of Snowtape. This software allows me to listen to a radio stream and record at my choosing any portion of the broadcast. It then transfers automatically to my iTunes music gallery for future listening. There are other similar applications but, so far, this is my favorite.

Browser Speed
Being primarily a Mac nut, my principal browser is Safari. I also use Firefox and Opera 10.10 regularly. Less frequently, I have used Flock and, very recently, Chrome now that I have an Intel mac.

I like Firefox but find it to be at times a little slow compared to Safari 4. There appears to be a lot more going on in the background with Firefox which may explain the speed differential.

Chrome is mean and lean. It is very fast on my Mac and as it adds more functions and extensions, I may use it more often, ever mindful that as a Google product, it probably is the equivalent of having a spy cam watching all my actions.

Opera continues to amaze me with its multiple capabilities allowing the browser to serve as your email program, your RSS reader and many other functions integrated in the browser. The latest release is version 10.10 but there is much more coming from the developers. I have been a beta tester for Opera since mid-2003 and I can tell you that this is an exciting venture. The speed of the latest version matches that of Chrome but in a much more complex offering. Stay tuned.

Lala (http://www.lala.com/)
After reading last month that Apple had bought lala, I joined their site and began to delve into their music library. According to some, Apple’s motivation for this investment was to have the capability of having members not only download their mp3 music but to have the option of assembling a music collection “in the cloud.” Great idea!

Lala has an extensive music library which one can download to one’s computer or, at a much lower cost, buy and add to one’s lala “cloud” collection. I used the free 30 song credits offered for joining to save many different songs in my new account. I can sign on to my account on the lala.com site, access my “collection” and play it through my computer. If networked to my home audio system, I can listen to this music in different rooms.

The cost? The price to download a song varies from $0.79 to $1.29. However, adding a song to the cloud collection: TEN CENTS! In my opinion, that makes it a very attractive way to compile a substantial collection of one’s favorite music.

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