Friday, October 20, 2000

George Mindling Column 10-20-2000

More Internet for Seniors


When a master makes an error, it is called an "oversight." When somebody like me goofs up. it's called a mistake. I made the mistake of not mentioning the excellent personal computer senior education program conducted by Edison Community College in Punta Gorda in my last column.

To make amends, and to help the many seniors who can benefit from the program, contact ECC at. 637-5654 for classes and schedules. It is a partner with the Charlotte County Foundation in putting together the Learning in Retirement series. It has a program for absolute beginners that even I am tempted to take.

The most-often asked question I get is from residents of Punta Gorda asking how to access America Online without incurring long-distance telephone bills. There is a way, but you have to use another Internet service provider (ISP) to get to AOL.

If you use a local ISP and there are several reliable ones in Punta Gorda (check with the Chamber of Commerce, 639-2222), you can simply sign on to AOL at its Web site at http://www.aol.com using the Internet Explorer browser that comes with Microsoft Windows 98, or Netscape Navigator. They have a user sign-on right on the homepage. They also offer a service that allows subscribers to access AOL at a reduced rate of $9.95 (bring your own access) from the usual $21.95.  You use the other ISP as a standard access. The usual ISP charge is from $17.95 to $24.95 monthly, depending on the ISP. This is in addition to the AOL charge. It is still cheaper than long-distance charges if you spend quite a lot of time online. As far as AOL adding a toll-free number in Punta Gorda. I don't have an answer and wouldn't hold my breath waiting.

I would like to answer the perennial upgrade question: "Should I upgrade to the new Microsoft windows (enter your upgrade numbers here). This time it is Microsoft Windows ME. or Millennium Edition, currently offered at the reduced rate of $49.95 to $59.95. It will go up by the end of the year when the gracious introduction period expires.

From what I've seen and read, I think the main reason for "ME" is simply to make Bill Gates richer still. The prime difference from Windows 98 SE is in video and multimedia handling, not a hot-point for most PC users. Until I hear otherwise, I think I'll let this one pass. And no, Windows 2000 is NOT the follow-up to Windows 98. Windows 2000 is for commercial use as a next generation of Windows NT.

The Windows NT name has long been associated with "system hang" and the infamous "blue screen of death," so Microsoft judiciously dropped the NT label from the program hoped to be the best commercial and server software our of Microsoft.

Windows 2000 seems to be correcting a lot of bad images; let's hope they keep it up with the consumer programs as well.

George Mindling  ©  2000

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