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VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism

with Michael Lee Stills

Learn tips and hints to use a variety of electronic and technical equipment to enhance work with volunteers.

Computer Image

~ January 2004 ~ Topic

Going Digital in 2004

Sorry I am late this month with Tech Tips. My computer gave up the ghost this New Year. Actually the video card quit and I couldn’t get anything on my monitor. All for the better actually, I have not had high-speed Internet access at home since I moved last May. Over the holiday’s I finally got word from Comcast that I could now get Cable DSL. Well, I could have but I needed a better computer to actually use it, something about needing a faster processor. Ugg…I really hate technology sometimes. So this weekend I ordered my new computer, which should be here by the end of the week. We’ll see.

While I was upgrading the technology at home, I also upgraded my cell phone service. I joined a family share plan and now my wife, parents, and I will have the new Internet ready, text messaging, game playing phones that share all the minutes. That should be here later this week as well. Time will tell, but I can’t wait to try out the text messaging. How can you use this with your volunteers? More about that in future Tech Tips.

So just what did I get.

Well, I have a new Pentium 4 processor, an upgrade over my Pentium II. It seem like with each new processor, the capabilities that it allows for soon overwhelms the old processors. This is what keeps us in the cycle of upgrading our software and hardware to the point that you eventually need to buy a new computer. I happened to be able to keep my PII going until the hardware just gave up. There are a few new things for me this go round which I am looking forward to learning.

Memory Key

I got a floppy drive with a Memory Key. Supposedly it can store the equivalent of 89 floppies on a device the size of a large key fob. The advertisement says it is for storing “small files” – Yeow – 89 floppies is a small file!

I have not used my floppies for some time. When it came time to transfer data, I usually just sent an email attachment, which could be downloaded from another computer. However, as I discovered when I lost my DSL in May, uploading today’s files can take a long time on dial up. Tradition was to load it onto floppies. However, even with archiving or zipping capabilities, many of my files were still too large for the floppies, and I would have to use multiple floppies. With the Memory Key, that is no longer a problem and it is more convenient.

You have a Memory Key as well don’t you? No?!? Oops, now how are we going to share files? Yep, this could be a short-term problem until the Market catches up. In mean time, I also ordered a 10-1 Digital Media Reader/Writer.

Digital Media Reader/Writer

Supposedly with this device I now have access to almost all the ways digital media is stored. This device should allow me to write to other file formats as well as read them. Formats like MP3 music, digital cameras, PDA’s or just about any other portable device that now uses digital media to read, store and share information. I look forward to telling you more about the possibilities with this new device.

DVD Players

I recently bought a portable DVD player for my daughter for when we travel long distance in the car. With my new computer, I can create presentations, slideshows, etc. that I can put into DVD format and then read it on the DVD player. Think about the possibilities.

For example, I recently became a 4-H leader (for my daughter). Because they were not going to have an orientation for some time, they sent me a video to watch and a paper quiz to complete. With my computer I could have created the same video presentation and included the quiz and a certificate of accomplishment all on a DVD. You could watch it on TV or the computer and print out any forms from the computer. Because it would be in digital format, keeping the info current would be a lot easier. I could film any new segments on a digital camera or video recorder, upload to the computer, edit and burn a new DVD to send out. I have hinted at this with you in the past, but now I can try it out for myself. I’ll let you know how it goes this year.

Digital Voice Recorders

Maybe sometime in the past you bought a portable tape recorder with those mini tapes. Well, today they too come in a digital form. I recently went to the local outlet store and bought one. It allows me to keep many messages without the need for tapes. It is a great way to quickly “jot” down information to be retrieved later. Unfortunately I didn’t get the one that connects to the computer. If I had, I could dictate a message and upload it to my new computer. I could either keep the voice message or send it along in either a document or attached to an email. Another thing I could have done is have the voice translated into text, cleaned up any “misunderstandings” and edited it as a Word document. Cool eh?

Digital media today is offering lots of possibilities to create, share and transfer information. They say power in today’s society is not in who controls the most money but in who controls the information. Much of today’s information will be delivered in digital format. So get control and increase you power. Go Digital.

Hope you all had a happy holiday season.

Do you know of a better way? Or do you have any questions?
Drop me a note at Michael@MichaelStills.com.

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