What do you do with your computer?

Do you need a powerful computer?
Email and Web Browsing
Most of the people I work with, businesses and gamers excepted, use their computers only for internet, email, pictures, music, and a few other non-processor intensive programs. For email, I recommend Windows Live Mail unless you have Outlook 2007 on your computer. Or you can use webmail, such as gmail. For Internet, there are 3 competing browsers: Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Google Chrome. I recommend Firefox for everyone except people using older (but still XP) and slower computers. Then Google Chrome might work best.

Netbook, Laptop, Desktop
Do you need more than a netbook?
In the past, most people had desktop computers. Why? They were (and are) significantly cheaper than laptops and much cheaper and easier to repair. But now, the netbook has entered the market, a small-form laptop under $400. Other than price and size, a netbook is not as heavy duty as a laptop and probably not worth repairing or updating other than adding a new hard drive or memory. It also has no DVD drive.  You might even consider it a disposable computer. You won't be happy running a processor intensive program like photoshop on it, but if you only want to touch up red-eye or crop a picture or a half-dozen other things, you can do it with Splashup Light. It's free and very easy on any computer. It works well on a netbook.  So if you want something inexpensive, small, light and sufficient for ordinary computing needs, look into a netbook.

Buying a Netbook.
MSI Wind
Before I purchased a Netbook I researched all of them. The one I purchased was the MSI Wind. I purchased that one for several reasons: MSI products have always worked well for me, the Wind received respectable ratings from sites I trust, and it came in black. The most important reason I bought it was the screen size: 10 inches. Most netbooks have 8 inch screens. I think bigger is usually better especially when you're heading toward smaller.  The downside, to make the small form computer, some of the keys are smaller and the touchpad is awkward to use.  My solution:  a Bluetooth Mouse.  The netbook I purchased came with Windows XP, but I put Windows Vista on it with no problem and am also running The next version of Windows, Windows 7 (beta) with even fewer problems.  This netbook works very nicely for my needs and may also be sufficient for yours.

If you would like more information about other netbooks or anything else discussed in this newsletter, check out the links, email me,  or call me.

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The Kindle 2 and my Philosophy of Book Management

I previously blogged about Amazon's Kindle.   I love to read and think it's an amazing device.  And now, it has gotten better.  I'll tell you about some of the good things, but I have to note that it alone costs twice what I would spend on books in a year and those Kindle books can't be passed around.  My philosophy of book management is to read a book.  Then, if that book is extraordinary and wonderful, I will keep it and pass it along to others to read.  If it is an ordinary good read, I will still pass it along.  And if it is bad, I will dispose of it.

The new Kindle is thinner than most cell phones, has a battery that only needs to be charged once a week with continuous use, and can hold about 1500 books.  It's about the size of a paper back and can be read 1-handed.  The text size can be changed to suite you and books usually cost about $9.99.  That's no deal because the actual book would cost about 20 cents more.  Newspapers are different prices.  And the new Kindle has text to speech.  I don't know how that works, but it might be good for someone with limited vision. 

If I used the Kindle, I would not be able to pass along my books, but I would be able to read more easily in bed.  If I used the Kindle, I would not be able to pass along my books, but I could still tell others about them.  If I used the Kindle, I would not be able to read some authors I like simply because they're not popular enough to be released in Kindle format.  (eg. Mark Steele's books Flashbang: How I Got Over Myself and Half-Life Die Already: How I Died and Lived To Tell About It--a couple of book that always make me laugh)

So, if you're a person that likes to ready anywhere, everywhere, the Kindle might be for you.  And if you want text to speech or larger print, the Kindle might be for you.  But for me, I'll just stick to paper for now.

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Diminishing Networks and What to do About It

I spoke with a client this week who need to remove people from her address list because they had died.  She spoke about her network becoming smaller and smaller.  If you look at a teenager or young adult's social network (such as Facebook or MySpace), it may number in the 100's.  If you look at a 50 something person's it may number in the 20's or 30's at best (unless they have a lot of work contacts there).  And if you look at a person in their 80's there may be no social networking site at all, but just a paper address book that keeps diminishing.

And if it's a 50 something person, they can't claim network diminishment because of death of friends.  So what is it?  I think as we become older, we retain the friends that we can communicate with frequently and whose life experiences we have shared.  As a young adult, everything and anything and anyone is a possible friend.  And time expands to fit in almost all we want to do.  As an older adult, time is less expansive, fewer things seem possible, and life becomes so difficult that the easy relationships are the ones we lean toward.

What's the answer for the older adult?  Find a younger adult and make an effort.  Even if you didn't have any older adult friends when you were a young adult, you can still be an older adult friend to a current young adult.  No, it won't be easy with the younger adult juggling school, work, or children.  And it won't be easy building any shared experiences.  But it still may be worth the try.  There are a couple of younger women I would like to know better.  Now, whether they want to know me better is another matter!

And for younger adults. . . if you want to be helpful, take the initiative.  Contact an older adult and offer friendship. . . even if you can't afford lunch--the older adult will be willing to do free things or even pay for lunch.

What do you think?  Have any ideas?  Please comment.

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Jonah poems

I am currently reading the book

by Thomas John Carlisle, published in 1968, a collection of poems about Jonah.

Here are 2 of the shorter ones:


I will demonstrate

my immediate


providing You comply

with my demand

for a more satisfying




The word came

And he went

In the other direction.


God said: Cry

tears of compassion

tears of repentance;

cry against

the reek of unrighteousness;

cry for

the right turn

the contrite spirit.


And Jonah rose

And fled

In tearless


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Favorite Christmas Recipe: Mashed Potatoes and Carrots

I made this for the first time at Christmas and I like it far better than regular mashed potatoes.  I tripled the recipe which was far too much.  I will make it just as it is for next year.


  • 4 cups carrots, in 1/4 inch slices (about 1 lbs)
  • 1 lb potato (I used red skin and left the skins on)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup onion, minced (about 2 small)
  • 3/4 cup water, hot
  • 1-1 1/4 cup milk, hot
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 2-3 ounces bacon, diced, fried crisp (optional)


  1. 1
    Heat oil in a medium-sized pot with a tight fitting lid over medium high heat. Add onions and carrots and fry until onion is transparent, about 2 minutes.
  2. 2
    Add water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. 3
    In the meantime peel potatoes and cut into 1 inch dice. Add to carrots,cover, bring to a boil again and cook over low heat for 30 minutes until vegetables are completely soft and almost all liquid has evaporated.
  4. 4
    If there is some water, cook it off uncovered over high heat, shaking pot to avoid sticking.
  5. 5
    Mash vegetables with a masher.  I leave them lumpy for better texture.
  6. 6
    Add milk gradually, beating with a whisk until desired consistency. Depending on the starch in potatoes this might require about 1-1 1/4 cups milk.
  7. 7
    Add butter, salt, cayenne and nutmeg to taste.
  8. 8
    If using fried bacon bits, mix one half into vegetables and sprinkle other half on top

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New Reviews--Sansa View, Music sources

I have been using the Sansa View for several months now.  I bought a stand-alone mp3 player because my PDA just wasn't convenient for playing music.  Why didn't I buy an iPod?  They are expensive, need to use iTunes and not exactly what I wanted.  My tech philosophy is to use whatever is most popular because that is what my clients will be using and it's helpful to me to know the technology inside out.  But an iPod was just too expensive for that.

I purchased the Sansa View 16GB refurbished for about $70--the iPod would have been more than twice that.  I can use the Sansa View with Windows Media Player or any other music player.  I tend to use Windows Music Player for its ease of use and simple layout.    I am using MediaMonkey to set up playlists and sync because it makes it easy to do so on the Sansa View.  I buy my music from Amazon because the mp3's are easy to download, go right into my Windows Media Player library, are DRM free, and are competitively priced. I don't use iTunes because of its proprietary format.  And artists that I really like, I buy on CD. 

The Sansa View is easy to use.  What I like--it saves the last thing I was listening to so I can go right back to it.  It's easy to pause, skip, play by feel in my coat pocket.  It works with a standard headphone jack so I can plug it right into my car.  It is thin and the battery lasts for 8 hours or more of playing.  And Sansa is popular enough that there are boards devoted to it.  So, for me, it's the best of all music players until the next best one comes along.

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This made me laugh!

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