Technology Tips for Silver Surfers: A Quick Look at the Basics of Internet Communicating
I find it somewhat frustrating to be over 3000 miles from our children and grandchildren. At the same time I am very skeptical of the security of the various social networking venues available out there (not to mention that I have no desire to document my day minute by minute, divulge personal information to anyone, or learn about the same details from others no matter how close they may be to me). Having said that I thought I might research the various ways to stay in touch with those far away. I am assuming that we can all turn on and use our computers (you are reading this after all!).
As yet I am not so sanguine about the various smartphone-type instruments out there, but I’ll get to those in a later episode.
The first and most common is email. There are any number of sites that provide free email for you. The most common are (in no order) hotmail.com, gmail.com, live.com.
Free Email Reviews is a site that lists ten email account sites available and a summary of each.
Skype is a free service that allows us to make calls over the internet as well as provide the ability to have visual conversations through the computer cameras on each end of the conversation.
Now let me dip a toe into the social networking media which has a great upside, but has the downside of providing too much information and making one subject to some really inappropriate and offensive postings.
YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the leading media in social networking (a more comprehensive list is available at eBusiness Guide).
Except for Twitter, which is limited to messages of 140 characters, each of these can actually be a good source of video or other updates on how to do almost anything from cooking a meal to cleaning a gun.
In addition to this, our children can post videos of our grandchildren (those of perfect looks, demeanor, and intelligence) from any distance. They can be a good source for following companies, people and news.
Having said the good parts, it is safe to say that horror stories about misuse of social media abound and there is virtually no limit to what can come over social internet sites or what information swindlers and perverts will attempt to obtain via social networking. A nice starting place for a more thorough introduction can be found at Connect Safely.
Search engines allow us to find information on virtually anything we need or want. Just open your favorite engine, type in what you want to look for and press enter. Then you will be introduced to a huge number of sites that meet your request. There are a number of search engines listed at The Search Engine List, but Google dominates the market and Bing is a distant second.
I have found that, like most communication innovations, starting with the printing press, there is a huge potential for both good and evil. I have found my laptop and internet connection to be the greatest library I have ever had access to. At the same time, I am very cautious with what I allow into my home over the internet and share with others over that same internet.
I advise you to also be very frugal with what you divulge with this wonderful tool.