The Acronym (September 2006 Edition)

September 25, 2006

Dear Clients, Family, and Friends,
I’ve decided to make “Rediscovering The Internet” the focus of my opening monologue this month.

I can recall browsing the Internet since early 1995.  I subscribed to the Prodigy (remember them?) Internet Service back then and at some point they released an upgrade to include very crude browser software and the ability to email people from other services.

In the beginning, you had to learn basic web browsing skills and e-mail.  You learned what a “homepage” was, how to do a basic search using   Yahoo, and how to read news on line.  I had the pleasure of teaching these entry level skills to many of you.  It is now 2006 and your PC may have become a paperweight.  What can you do to take your Internet experience to the next level?

It starts with believing in your PC again, seeing it in a new light as a way to improve productivity, and in some cases being willing to learn a few new skills.

Here are 3 ideas to upgrade your Internet journey to “Version 2006” and beyond:

1.  Stop using dial-up or give up.   Today’s websites are designed with broadband in mind.   If you want the Internet to be enjoyable for you, step up to the plate and subscribe to a cable or DSL connection today!  This will cost you between $25 and $50 per month depending on the service you choose.  If you can find a way to qualify for “special pricing” you may be able to pay as little as $15 per month for DSL.  I am always available to give recommendations.

2.   Experience the library at home.  Need to get the scoop on a person, place or subject of interest?   Make Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org)  your go to reference guide.  Wikipedia is a free, user maintained encyclopedia and has articles in many other languages besides English.  Are there inaccuracies?  Sure.  But the management team at Wikipedia has taken new measures to ensure the objectivity of the information it provides.

All contributors have to register to create or update content on the site.  Some colleges have banned Wikipedia as a reference source for term papers.  So what?  Use the bibliography found at the end of most articles and quote those works.   I’d venture that the handful of colleges that have banned Wikipedia are probably getting lobbied pretty hard by the publishers of paid encyclopedias with free copies of the colossal waste of paper they are peddling as a reward for setting these outrageous policies.   Try using Yahoo Maps (http://maps.yahoo.com) to plan your next trip, White Pages (http://www.whitepages.com) to get correct addresses and even do reverse lookups, and Zillow (http://www.zillow.com) to get the approximate value of your house or even your neighbor’s home if you feel like being nosy!!

3.   Frequently, we type letters in Word format and spreadsheets in Excel format.  We share them with others as a function of our work or organizations we participate in.   Perhaps, your computer crashed .  You needed to re-format the hard drive or you changed computers and the new machine that you bought at the gimmick price doesn’t include any _____ Office software.  (Hint:  That’s why you were able to buy it at that price.)  Never fear, OpenOffice (http://www.openoffice.org) is here.  Open Office is the creation of Sun Microsystems and has been developed for many years.  It is now in version 2.0 and it is a very stable alternative to the $500 Microsoft Office.  Not only can it write files in its own OpenDocument format but it can also read and write to other common formats such as Word and Excel.  I’ve moved out of  my “old Office,” because my new “Office” is rent free.

No need for windows if they always shatter,
Kevin


Really Honest Reviews

by Kevin

Motorola v360 cell phone for T-Mobile

I had been yearning to write some more cellular phone reviews and had read some really positive things about the Motorola v360  — so I decided to test one out recently.   This is the first GSM phone I have reviewed for The Acronym, so the following information may be especially valuable to some of you.

T-Mobile has the least amount of native coverage in the country among nationwide carriers, but  they easily make up for their shortcomings with superior customer service.  In fact, T-Mobile has been ranked #1 or tied for #1 in the J.D. Power survey for wireless phone customer service over the past few years.   They know and will readily admit their coverage is not the best in places like Litchfield County, Conn.  or the basement of a large building you may work in.  However, the voice quality of your calls and customer experience will be top notch in the suburban and urban areas where you are likely to have better reception.  T-Mobile was the first national carrier to have 24 -hour telephone customer service for that extra piece of mind at critical hours.   Until recently, they were the only company that insisted on 1 year contracts instead of the industry standard 2 year schmooze (a policy they have since abandoned).   If value is what you’re after, T-Mobile has it.

The v360 is a flip-phone that has a monochrome, backlit external LCD display and a color internal LCD screen.   It operates on the 850 mhz / 1900 mhz GSM frequencies in North America and the 1800  mhz GSM frequency internationally.  The number keys are large and feel firm and responsive when pressed.   The internal display is very bright and renders text in a crisp manner.   The UI (user interface or software on the phone) is the standard Motorola interface found in numerous cell phones on the market today.   It has not been altered or restricted severely by T-Mobile and is very customizable.

This phone utilizes Bluetooth technology so that you can use a wireless headset if desired.   It also has a port for a corded headset and a port for a mini-USB to USB cable that allows you to sync your contacts, calendar, and other data with your computer.    Apple has an application called iSync built-in that transfers this information to and from the v360 in a very efficient process.  There is a similar program for Windows XP also.

I was impressed that this phone has built in email access not only for accounts like Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL, but also for other POP/IMAP email accounts that you may subscribe to.  Email service and some very basic web browsing are provided through a “t-zones” package that you can add on to your service for 5.99 per month.  This may seem high at first glance, but if you have never had Internet or Email access on your cell phone and wake up one day realizing you can’t live without it, T-mobile probably provides the best value for this service in the industry.   The 5.99 cost includes unlimited use, with no surcharges for minutes or data used.  Few providers in the business can compete at this price point.

The Motorola v360 is sold by T-Mobile and their authorized agents as a complete bundle, which is a  rarity in these times of a-la-carte pricing for phone and accessories. My v360 box included a corded headset, charger, mini-USB to USB cable, and a mini-sized memory card to store your photos (this phone has a camera).

Final Analysis:  Overall I simply couldn’t find too many issues with this phone, other than the fact that T-Mobile has sparse coverage in certain areas.   On the plus side, they made roaming agreements with other GSM providers across the US to enable calling or at least emergency calling in markets where they don’t have native coverage.   Furthermore, you should not buy this phone if you need a device with true international operability.  This phone is only tri-band which means that it only works in the 1800 mhz GSM frequency outside of our continent.    A true world phone is quad-band and will include 900 mhz GSM in additional to the other 3 frequencies.   If you are a globe trotter, do not pay roaming rates of up to 4.00 per minute in foreign countries.   Buy a quad-band GSM phone (if you do not have one), such as the Motorola Razr or Motorola v635 and purchase a prepaid SIM card in your destination country to insert in your phone.   Either of those models can be purchased for around $200, unlocked – meaning they don’t require a contract.

The Motorola v360’s design and performance remind me of the e815 by Motorola that I reviewed for the May edition of The Acronym.       Therefore, I  will have to give it the same Really Honest Rating —> **9 out of 10 stars**
(Note:   This review is not a paid endorsement.  The analysis based solely on the testing of the product.)

The Bear’s Den
World Premiere Column: by Mr. Bear

Hey, what’s a Bear to do?  My nose was  really stuck in a honey jar about a month ago when my monitor just burned out all of a sudden.   Kaput! Fried!  However you want to put it, I was seeing black.

I should have never been in this position in the first place.  I had a beautiful 17” flat-panel Dell monitor that I purchased in the beginning in 2005.  Unfortunately, my car couldn’t seem to pass emissions back in June and then there was the issue of those unpaid property taxes – so I was in a real bind.  In order to pay for the exhaust system repairs on my gas guzzlin’ , 8-cylinder “Bear-Mobile” I had to give the mechanic my monitor in addition to my last dime.  Kevin was able to bail me out by giving me a replacement monitor.   It was one of those CRT models, a big clunker, and it bearly fit on my desk.   Kevin said he got it from the historical society.  I knew he wasn’t joking.

So I was forced to just grin and bear it.  I opened up my wallet and after the flies came out, I purchased a new flat panel monitor from Dell that Kevin recommended.  This was their 20 inch wide screen model.   Through a sale they were having at that time, I was able to buy it for about $440 with free shipping.   It is height adjustable and wall mountable.  It has 4 usb ports and links to your PC to expand its usb capability.  The Bear is in heaven.  Now all I need is a female cub!

The picture is bright and the text is clear.  I have no problem expanding my browser and program windows to the max.   This monitor is perfect for watching DVD’s and video clips from the Internet.  My Mac allows me to also expand the text in emails and web pages so that my tired eyes can see them better.   This 20” inch screen lets me view more BIG text at a given time.   I felt safe making this purchase because Dell backs their monitors with a 3 year warranty.  If only their computers weren’t such paperweights and my Raiders could win a few games, the world would be a better place.

Signing off with care,
The Great Bear

You Don’t Have To Dig A Hole To China….

by Kevin

Since I’ve had more than my fair share of meals at Asian restaurants in Connecticut – I thought I would list some of my favorites with you rather than write a review of the Sony Ericsson z525a phone for Cingular Wireless.   As good as this phone seemed when I received it,  real-life testing proved it was a dud and a half.   The muffled sound quality, echoes, and occasional interference with other signals ruined a nice walk I had recently.  Cingular has my vote for the worst cellular provider in the USA.   I’ll even go a step further and say that Cingular is at the top of my “Companies To Avoid” list along with Stop and Shop and CVS.  Buyers beware!!

Now onto a much more tasteful subject –  foods of the Far East.   Here are a few of my top picks among the various Asian culinary genres.

Chinese:   Chengdu in West Hartford, CT is a place that I could enjoy any day of the week.   The Great Taste in New Britain, CT comes in as a close second due to their exquisite Peking Duck.   Green Tea (Newington, CT and other locations) is a the perfect spot to bring a party and socialize if you don’t care about ambiance.

Japanese:   Japanica, located in Farmington, CT is a great choice for hibachi style cooking.  Not all Japanese restaurants offer this option of having your meal cooked at the table.   Fuji Japanese Steakhouse, a newer establishment in Bristol, CT, makes hibachi cooking their primary focus and puts on a pretty good show for their customers.  When they opened in 2004, Fuji did not have their liquor permit.   If that has changed since, this might be excellent spot to wine and dine next time you go out on the town. I have not tried Little Saku in Avon, CT yet, but I have heard great things about it.

Sushi:   For a good value on this Japanese delicacy try Fuji located on New Britain Ave. in West Hartford, CT.  If David is still the boss, don’t be afraid to ask questions.  He’ll give you the 411 on everything sushi.    If you want something a little more refined and creatively presented try Ginza in Bloomfield, CT or Toshi in Avon, CT.  These two seem to be locked in a fierce battle for #1 “sushi king” of Hartford County.   Ginza and Toshi have each opened sister restaurants in downtown Hartford, recently, on the same street!!    Now that’s what I call a rivalry.    If you’re looking for raw fish on a budget, my first choice would be the sushi bar at Wild Oats in West Hartford, CT.   Even though Whole Foods is my natural grocer of choice, simply because its closer, Wild Oats gives you more tuna for your ten dollar bill, in my opinion.

Vietnamese:   Pho Legal on Park St. in Hartford, CT and Pho Tuong Lai on New Park Ave. (also in Hartford)  both have this mystical magnet that lures me back in for their warm, and satisfying “pho” soup whenever I’m in the neighborhood.  You can really notice the family owned charm in these restaurants.  Avoid at all costs — Pho Boston on New Britain Ave. in West Hartford, CT.   The owner watches over her waiters like a war prison commandant and got into big trouble a while back for not giving them their tips.  I refuse to eat there anymore.   I refer to this house of horrors as “Pho Illegal.”

Miscellaneous:   Indian food is colorful and truly a  unique experience if you have not tried it before.  The Taste of India’s lunch buffet is a blast 7 days a week.  Located on S. Main St. in West Hartford, CT, the dining room does get busy at times, so be prepared to wait.   The $2 more you pay on weekends for a whopping total of $9.95 includes (unlimited) champagne or soda.  Bon Apetit!
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THE ACRONYM
Published periodically since 1999.
http://www.theacronym.com

Look for our next issue: Late November 2006.
The Acronym is distributed by print and electronically to readers throughout Connecticut and the USA.  It is available on the Internet 24/7. Our reader demographic primarily consists of well-educated, professional, affluent, and computer literate individuals ranging in ages from 25 to 85.  If you would be interested in advertising in a future edition of The Acronym please contact Kevin. Various sizes available. Endorsements for your product, service, or organization can also be arranged. Barter of goods and services can be accepted as payment for advertising.