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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


July 28, 2008

Windows Vista and Beyond

Steven R. Berryman

When my kids convinced me that computers and the Internet were here to stay, I invested some time, mostly via trial-and-error, to set up a system of my own. Recently I sat back and took stock of what had eventually become the cyber-center of my organizational universe.

 

In the old days, back when I had to work retail for income, fate took me to a Hecht Company electronics department in the old Montgomery Mall. The IBM C34 PC, or personal computer, was all the rage and we sold them like hot cakes.

 

Anyone could have sold them: stack-em high, and watch em fly was the motto. I didn’t even get it at the time, as I didn’t even use what was called by Bill Gates at the time, “the Killer App, – or Application,” Visi-Calc. This was the software application that brought computers into the modern business mainstream.

 

Visi-Calc was a spreadsheet program that anyone could buy and program. It turned any spreadsheet into live interactivity. Change any number value, and the rest automatically changed accordingly!

 

Through the wizardry of the silicon chip, it allowed one with minimal experience on the keyboard to create a spread sheet where any value change in one column magically fixed and updated all the other columns and values.

 

This was quite the trick at the time, and it was like magic. As Mr. Gates credits, this one program caused business computers to take-off. Scientists and graphic users took to the Apple system at the same time.

 

Forget that one could play cards electronically on a computer back in 1989, especially “concentration” with all the visual special effects; that was only the icing!

 

To me, though, the connection the “Internet” held the most fascination. Via the telephone modem with the old land-line connection whirring and wining, the world was now present and only a mouse-click away.

 

Even looking up the weather, or a stock quote, was cool!

 

The Internet Service Provider (ISP) Prodigy was born.

 

The original Internet was not an invention of Al Gore, as legend sometimes holds, but an offshoot of our research scientists, who intended to share information rapidly from university lab to university lab with an instant connection called a “link.”

 

The links caused packets of digital computer data to be able to run from one computer to another and back at light-speed, and know where to go and when to stop.

 

These original computer whiz kids worked for DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, where they did what they cannot tell sometimes.

 

What their communications work facilitated became the framework for what we rely on today.

 

Currently…My system uses 2 separate monitors, doubling my work surface and enabling me to drag and drop items from one screen over to the other. It’s very handy to be able to simultaneously have a document open to write on and to also be searching for information on Google.com with which to work.

 

For me, though, the desktop proved to be my “killer app.” Arranging and inventing my string of icons visible on the desktop proved invaluable in organization.

 

First, find my media icons, starting with www.TheTentacle.com of course! I daily go from there to www.washingtonpost.com  to equivalents from The New York Times, to the Wall Street Journal, to our own Frederick News Posts and Gazette.

 

A favorite site that is also my icon to click is www.DrudgeReport.com, which is the world’s most visited web page. This portal site takes one to anything on The Associated Press, plus syndicated columns directly. Matt Drudge sorts stories out for you ahead of time and you just click the link.

 

For searching, there is nothing that can touch google.com of course. The little known secret is that one can also program pre-set searches on any topic of interest, and have the results come directly to you via an Email either daily, or as it happens.

 

For example, in my activist life, I need to be first to know when various news hits, especially if my name is involved, so I have a dedicated search term “Steven R. Berryman” that always pulls content down off the Net in real time for me.

 

Recently this technique showed me that a project of interest had even hit Internet magazines in Russia, and I found out seconds after it was published – or posted – via this method.

 

Then I use Microsoft Outlook and Windows Mail to consolidate several Email accounts into one for me and keep things organized until the world stops rotating quite so quickly.

 

There goes another hour!

 

Finally, I have a desktop folder set up for each of my pet projects, from work accounts, to the kids, to bank accounts, to my activist items. Each blog I write or service has its own icon also.

 

Ironically, the computer was originally invented as a timesaving and organizational efficiency tool for us. As a result, I only have time now for what I have created above by giving up on all television – except for Meet the Press, of course!

 

Perhaps that’s best.

 



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