Thursday, July 16, 2009

Idle Internet Is No Better Than Unused Internet

Most People are computer challenged. I'm one of them. When my job made it necessary to use computers, I was lucky to have a good friend to teach me. Don't worry that you know little about computers. Anyone can learn the basics; it's like flipping a light switch or talking on the phone or punching in a number.
One of the great values in the computer world is the use of internet. Today you can buy a new Dell laptop for $400; refurbished ones are just over $200. There are some chancy deals for less than $200. So, if you want a computer just for internet only, that's the price range. The cheapest thing is to buy an old computer from a relative or friend is upgrading to a new model.
If you live in Atlanta you can get packages of high-speed internet, cable TV, and free long-distance telephone all for $30 to $40. In Treutlen County you can figure paying about $80 for phone combined with high speed (second level) internet. I've checked out high speed service through satellite or cellular, and concluded it to be too iffy.
Today's students are short changed if they aren't using internet. Caution is a must because (like the world itself) everything is available. Keyboard skills should be taught early. Teachers should be guiding students as they begin to use internet. Books are wonderful, but on-line information is being constantly edited and, hopefully, improved.
For example, we learned in school that John A. Treutlen was born in Austria. Today we can learn from on-line encyclopedias that he was born in Germany. The real facts had been there all the time, but the stories brought out in school history were smoothed out or covered up.
The Treutlen County Board of Commissioners, a few years ago, turned down an opportunity to get broadband internet service. It would have allowed students take laptop computers and use them at home for study and research. The funding was to be in a three-county grant, which Montgomery and Wheeler accepted. The Obama administration plans to improve high speed internet nationwide.
It's easy to get information from the internet. Usually you will find a Q-strip near the top of the screen on which you type in a couple of letters or words. To localize the answers I've found it helpful to add "Soperton" or "Treutlen" to the question. For example, I typed in "Soperton Chambliss" and found an article about the Senator also a list of his local contributors. The first thing most people search or "Google" is their own name. "Soperton John Doe" brought up a Range Fuels article quoting (John) Lee and (DOE) for Department of Energy.
"Soperton Wisconsin history" reveals That "Chief Simon Kahquados is dead at his home on the Rat river near Soperton, succumbing to disease in his poor hovel after months of suffering and want. - December 17, 1930.
Jimmy Kight, a regular coffee drinker at the local DQ, brings up unusual facts learned at the old school. Yesterday, he brought up "ampersand". First thing this morning I Googled it, selected the Wikipedia reference, printed two pages before the paper ran out, took them to the DQ, and everybody was glad I didn't get the other four pages.
We are fast learning the meaning of "information age". Internet has its dangerous, like all of life, but as long as it operates freely it will offer advantages to everybody, rich or poor.
"Education must be a lifelong pursuit. The person who doesn't read is not better off than the person who can't." — Sean Covey (The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens)

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