The Acronym (February 2007 Edition)

February 1, 2007

Dear Clients & Friends,

I had a wonderful Christmas with my family. The moderate weather we experienced throughout December and early January was a major surprise, but a welcome deviation from the status quo. News reports stated that people realized dramatic savings in home heating oil expenses and local municipalities are within the limits of their snow removal budgets for the first time in many years. Readers of The Acronym in Colorado would say that I am looking at this winter with rose colored glasses. My response to them is (taking the glasses off) “Don’t worry, I know our days of wet pants, sore muscles, and frost bitten hands are coming.

I received my first iPod as a gift and I can’t speak enough about how delighted I am with it. After all, I’ve configured, fixed, and taught most of you how to use your iPods over the past 5 years and just wish I had gotten one sooner. My specific model is the iPod Nano, PRODUCT(RED) edition. This is a special edition Nano, released just a few months ago. Apple donates a portion of the sales to Bono’s AIDS charity. The capacity of my iPod is 4 GB and it can hold up to 1000 songs. It can hold photos too and functions as a limited PDA by offering calendar and contacts syncing abilities. Perhaps the greatest satisfaction I have realized from owning the #1 portable music player is that it has helped me tremendously in maintaining a regular level of exercise. I try my best to walk 3 to 4 times per week for 50 minutes, approximately. If you have never heard the term “podcast,” now is the time for learning. A podcast is an downloadable version of a radio program, television program, or other event that can be played on your iPod. It can also be played on your computer through the speakers or even on (cough…) other portable music players because the file is encoded in the universal mp3 format. When I exercise, I load my iPod with a (free) podcast of Bruce Williams’ radio show from the night before. I really enjoy the common sense, straight talking approach that Bruce puts forth even after all these years. I have actually been listening to Bruce’s show since I was about 10 years old.

Here is a little history lesson. Bruce H. Williams is one of the pioneers of national talk radio in the USA. Hosts like “Rush” and “Hannity” who currently have the two most listened to shows in the land, owe a great deal of gratitude to Mr. Williams for the risks he took by becoming the guinea pig for nationally syndicated daytime talk radio in 1981. Back then programs weren’t beamed by satellite, but were transmitted by dial-up modem to affiliate stations. Have you forgotten about dial-up modems already? In November of ’81, Bruce and Sally Jessy Raphael (remember her?) started off as the original hosts on TalkNet. As time went on, Sally’s talents earned her a spot on national TV, but Williams stuck with with radio and has been there ever since. WTIC 1080 AM (Hartford, CT) carried him for a good chunk of those 25 years but dropped him in favor of the Dream Doctor not too long ago and then in March 2006 replaced that pitiful show with the aforementioned Hannity. In my honest opinion, WTIC AM has made a lot of blunders in recent years, but there is not much we can do locally because they are owned by CBS Radio. There is a silver lining however, Bruce Williams is still heard all over the country, but often on smaller stations. Listeners can expect 3 hours of consistent advice, interesting calls from “real” people, and Bruce’s witty commentary. He is currently syndicated by the Business Talk Radio Network (Greenwich, CT) and can be heard on 1150 and 990 AM in the Hartford area, XM Satellite Radio, and live or by download from his website (http://www.brucewilliams.com).

July 1, 2007 will mark my 10th year in business as a computer & technology consultant. Wow, I feel old. I owe a lot of thanks to Bruce Williams for the the inspiration I have received from his radio show. Additionally, Capt. Greg Semrow and Golf Professional, Jim Tennant were two mentors I will always be grateful to for giving me hands on entrepreneurship training at a very young age. Furthermore, my Aunt, Susan Gaughan has played a major role in the background towards my professional development. There is always a consultant behind the consultant. In closing, I would like to thank my Lord, Jesus Christ because without Him none of this would have been possible.

And of course, thanks to YOU and the beautiful relationships we have built,

Kevin

Acronym On The Spot
An Interview with Mr. Bear (aka. Edward Gaberstein) about his first colonoscopy

Kevin: So, Papa Bear, how’s it going?
Bear: I guess you want to ask me about my colostomy that I had at Hartford Hospital. You were there. Why don’t you tell everyone about it?

Kevin: Bear, Bear, Bear, smile and put on a happy face! You had a colonoscopy, not a colostomy. If you had the latter, you would probably be drinking Boost shakes for the rest of your life. And what fun would it be if I told every one. This is your 15 minutes of fame, big guy.
Bear: Boost shakes all day?? No steak, no roast pork dinners, and no Jim Beam? I’d rather be dead!

Kevin: You said it Bear, not me. And just when did you meet Mr. Beam??
Bear: Oh, after my 4th “refreshment” last night. I’ve also met Jose Cuervo before, but only on Cinco De Mayo.

Kevin: Very well. Now why did you decide to opt for the colonoscopy?
Bear: Well I was 57 years old. I knew it was recommended as a routine screening for those over 50, but I was apprehensive. I had to throw my fears out the window when I was required to have it done as a condition for getting on the kidney transplant list.

Kevin: Tell me about the preparation.
Bear: First of all, I want to say that I was well informed about the whole procedure because you guided me all the way through, Coach K. Anyway, I take a lot of medications. Some people may have to stop taking theirs a few days before. Their doctor will instruct them on this. In my case, I had to stop taking my coumadin 3 days before. My colonoscopy was scheduled for 8:30 AM on a Tuesday. I had a very early breakfast on Monday. At about 11 AM, I began the formal preparation. I drank one bottle of sodium pentothol and took 4 stool softeners right away.

Kevin: Mr. Bear, you’d never make a good pharmacist. If you drank that, you’d be dead. It’s magnesium citrate, not sodium pentothol. You were going to take sodium phosphate, but we chose the magnesium citrate because the doctor said it would be gentler on the kidneys.
Bear: Right, right. I remember now. They were 10 oz bottles. I had to choose the lemon lime flavor over cherry, because they day before you cannot have any liquids with red dyes. About 2 hours later I had my first bowel movement. Basically, I spent the whole afternoon on the toilet. I was allowed to drink liquids such as soda or Gatorade, slurp on plain chicken broth, and even enjoy a fruit flavored Popsicle if I wanted. Again, I could not have anything with red dyes because the dye would show up as blood on the diagnostic monitor.

Bear: I wouldn’t want to fool the doctors. Then again, I’ve fooled them for about 10 years because most of them thought I would have died a long time ago. Ding dong, you’re wrong, it’s not time to sound the gong on the old Bear just yet.

Kevin: What are you a comedian now? So when did you have to take the second bottle of that liquid laxative? And how did you sleep?
Bear: Grin and bare it, Kev. I took the 2nd bottle of magnesium citrate at about 6 pm. I was going to mix it over ice with a cocktail, but I was told by the legal department that the ice was fine but I was forbidden from adding anything to it. Too bad. Bowel movements continued until about 10 pm and then I was so “pooped” that I went to sleep without much effort. It was peaceful rest just like when I was a little cub.

Kevin: Wow. Sounds like a full day. Let’s review the day of through the end of the procedure.
Bear: I arrived at the hospital just before 8:30 am and as usual they were running behind. The waiting room looked like a factory. There must have been 75 people getting a colonoscopy on that day. After reading Shrubs and Weeds Weekly for about a half hour, I was escorted into the procedure area and changed into a gown. They gave me a light overcoat as well and this provided just the warmth I needed. An IV line of light sedative was started in my left arm. I was taken into the procedure room, helped onto the table and turned on my side. Soon, it was lights out. In 20 minutes, it was all over.

Kevin: And what happened afterwards?
Bear: I left the hospital about 30 minutes after the procedure. I had to take advantage of the free lunch they offered. I did not feel groggy at all. I was told that the doctor biopsied a small patch of flesh from my colon. It wasn’t specifically considered a polyp at that time. About 3 days later, I received a phone call with the news that it was not cancerous.

Kevin: What are your final words Mr. Bear?
Bear: There’s no need to fear the colonoscopy. It should be an integral part of the over 50 crowd’s preventive health care strategy. Magnesium citrate over ice should be a staple at every fine restaurant and bar. Just remember it wasn’t the first time I got it up………..
Kevin: Mr. Bear, hush tutti! You can’t say that. This is a family friendly publication. Well that’s all the time we have folks. Until next time, this is Kevin  signing off for “Acronym On The Spot” and reminding you that this segment was not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent,or cure any disease.

Kevin
“The Computer Evangelist”
In Business Since 1997


-Publisher,
The Acronym

Your connection for expert computer service, peripherals and accessories sales, small business consulting, eBay sales and more.

Feature Story:
Held Hostage By Your ISP?
Google Can Help!

by Kevin

Companies like Yahoo and Microsoft (through its Hotmail service) used to be your “bread and butter” choices for creating a free e-mail account and accessing lots of handy web-based services. However, there is a 3rd major player in this virtual Internet portal poker game. Google has crept up quietly, releasing product after product from their laboratories – often without much fanfare. Today, depending on who you ask, they are the top destination in cyberspace. Even if you have a paid e-mail account from your ISP, ie. @comcast.net, @sbcglobal.net,@cox.net, @earthlink.com, and so on, IT IS A VERY WISE IDEA TO CREATE A FREE EMAIL ACCOUNT WITH ONE OF THE COMPANIES I MENTIONED ABOVE. Read on to find out why.

Many people feel married to their ISP and held in an abusive relationship, because they dread having to change e-mail addresses. Even if this is not in your plans, creating a free e-mail is a good idea anyway. It is also very possible that your address could be changed without your input if your ISP is bought out or merges with another company, thus bringing to fruition your worst fears. I am using the word fears light heartedly because after all, I feel the fears of changing ones e-mail are irrational. We all know that I have changed my e-mail numerous times and I’m still standing after 10 years. Later in this article I’ll share with you how I beat the e-mail change game once and for all and why (excluding unforeseen circumstances) I’ll never have to change my e-mail again.

One of the first broadband (or high speed) residential ISP’s in the US was the @Home service. Those of you who were users (Internet users, that is) back in the late 1990’s can recall that TCI, one of the largest cable co.’s sold Internet service under the name TCI @Home. TCI, or Tele-Communications, Inc. was purchased by AT&T in 1999 and that ownership transferred to AT&T Broadband when the old phone company split into 4 corporate entities in 2000. Initially, @Home users were able to keep their @home.com address but after 09/11/01, the final cubic foot of oxygen escaped from the already leaking dot-com bubble and many of my customers, along with Internet users nationwide were left without a modem to stand on. The @Home Network eventually went bankrupt. People kept asking, well how does this affect me?. I am purchasing my Internet from XYZ Cable Company and I don’t understand what is happening. Well here is what happened. In the mid 1990’s, established cable co.’s didn’t want to risk large fortunes on two way high speed Internet technology, so a few of them made small investments in a new venture, @Home Network, along with other savvy business men and techno wonks and raised a ton of money through a stock offering. To make a long but interesting story short, @Home not only owned the content it provided until the Fall of 2002, but also all of the fiber optic cable lines the service was provided on. @Home owned the whole enchilada and your cable company was just running the taco stand, dear friends.

Oh, the calls I got that autumn. People were devastated. AT&T agreed in 2002 to buy the hard assets (the network) of @Home and deploy their own cable Internet service. There we were, fall of 2002, football season well underway and no Internet. AT&T had to turn off the @Home network that they had been re-selling to complete the transition of ownership and make a fresh start. In the process most of my cable customers lost Internet anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks. AT&T did come through on their promises to issue billing credits for lost service. However, the vast majority of disenfranchised @Home users had to scramble for a solution. I had just gotten married, and I was still using dial-up back then but I didn’t envy their position for one second. I vividly recall having to assist customers in signing up for a month of dial-up Internet or two to bridge the lapse in cable service or consult others who wanted to jump ship for DSL. Cable Internet was the dominant force in broadband until that point, but after the @Home collapse DSL really began to catch on and has grown ever since. Today, cable Internet clings to a 55% to 45% lead (approximately) over DSL.

I don’t want anybody to think that I favor DSL or cable exclusively. I think either is appropriate for the right individual. In most metropolitan and suburban areas, the quality of DSL and cable Internet service is about the same. Traditionally, though both are considered high-speed, DSL performed at slower speeds than cable. DSL providers (often the phone company) would argue that, “while we may be slower, we can virtually guarantee you the same download speed all of the time.” Before the @Home meltdown of 2002, cable users reported getting download speeds of 10 mbps in the early morning and speeds slower than dial-up at night. To be fair, one of the major criticisms of DSL was that you had to “log on” to be connected. As both of these competing universes, DSL and cable, have matured over the past 10 years they have taken enormous steps and in many cases made enormous capital investments to alleviate the issues I have mentioned.

But what if you want to change? Usually, transitioning to a new e-mail address is the biggest concern and takes precedence over any cost savings or gain in performance you would realize. It doesn’t have to be.

There are a lot of you out there who have DSL, but feel the speed isn’t fast enough because you have 4 computers sharing the same connection. You want to change to cable (typically faster) and understand that it costs a little more, but a pale look comes over you when you think that you will have to give up your “@dslISP.com” e-mail address. Or maybe you’re like a few of my customers and have been paying for that $45 per month cable Internet connection for years and years, but you are a very light user or live all by yourself. You wonder why you are paying for all that speed when you could get away with DSL for about $20 to $25 per month. I would agree with you, 100%. Unless you have some burning desire to pay $45 a month or play a lot of Internet based music or video, this type of Internet connection is an overkill for the empty-nester, single computer household. However, I understand your feeling of hesitation about giving up the “@cableISP.net” address that you’ve had for 4.5 years already.

Change isn’t that bad and really when you stop to think about it, change is one of the few constant things in our world. I’m sure you’ve had to change your home address, phone number, religion or denomination or perhaps some other important identifying credential at least once in your life. Don’t be afraid to let go. All of those things I listed are just markers and identifiers. Changing them doesn’t change who you are. You’re still you, after all… Oy vey, now I’m beginning to sound like Josh Groban. Moving on…. If changing your Internet service provider would really give you some cost savings or sanity in your family’s household, don’t hold back any longer. Let me help you and we can work this out together. In reality, a few sentences and a click of the send button is all you need to let your contacts know about your new email address. I feel very strongly about starting with a universal approach. Before changing ISP’s, you have to create a universal e-email address. Even if you are not going to change, I highly recommend either of the two solutions below to take control of e-mail back into your hands.

2 Options For Going Universal

(1) As I have already said, 3 of the most popular choices people make when it comes to free e-mail are Yahoo Mail, MSN Hotmail, or Google’s “New” GMail service. Unless you have some favorite from the onset, I would choose GMail. Just because you might access your paid e-mail through Hotmail or Yahoo Mail under the terms of a partnership your ISP has made with them, doesn’t make it the independent, universal email account I am talking about. If you use an @yahoo.com account with your AT&T DSL service, for example, and merge it to function as your paid e-mail address from that provider, you could loose the free Yahoo account if you ever change ISP’s. Google has not joined forces with and does not intend to partner with any ISP’s in the future. Another reason why I like their GMail service is because they have the Google search capabilities built right into their web mail. It’s very easy to keep all of your e-mails (except junk, of course) for a long time and never use up the 2 GB of space they give you. Furthermore, I like how Google keeps your messages organized by thread. This means that all of your e-mails will be grouped together, as long as they have the same subject line. This novel idea applies to emails you have received, sent, and forwarded. For years, software like Outlook Express, had this capability but few people knew it existed. In GMail, “threading” is enabled by default and there is no way to disable it to the best of my knowledge. GMail messages can even be downloaded onto your computer through your favorite e-mail program, such as Outlook Express or Thunderbird if you so choose. In Yahoo Mail, this is a $20 a year option. Hotmail used to only offer this if you used Microsoft’s e-mail clients, Outlook Express or Outlook, but I would advise most people to avoid those programs if they can.

(2) I alluded to the concerns over my changing e-mail address and that I fixed this problem. I am happy to discuss how I found a viable, affordable way to ensure that your message will get through because there is no external factor that can influence my decision as to whether or not my e-mail remains the same. I own my domain name and it will be mine forever. No one else in the world can take it from me. Seeing the value in owning a domain name had escaped me for several years. In the early days of my business, I owned a domain name that provided me with a primary e-mail address for about 3 years. Back then the standard rate for domain registrations was $35 per year and they had to be paid two years in advance. During that “golden age” of domains, all registrations were placed through Network Solutions. Eventually it was ruled a monopoly and “NetSol” was forced to play nice and cooperate with other accredited registrars. In addition to the $70 for the domain, I remember having to pay something like $400 for 2 years that gave me a “hosting package” with server space to host a website and the opportunity to create multiple “emails@mydomain.com” When the domain came up for renewal in 2002, I became disillusioned with the whole idea and gave up my ownership of it. Over the next 3 years or so I must have used about 5 or 6 e-mail identities. This drove my customers nuts and I do apologize. In early June 2005, I was going through the process of incorporating my business, and explored the possibilities of domain ownership again. I read some really great reviews of a particular registrar and web host that had become #1 in the business by operating with an ingenious, but old fashioned idea — offering lower prices!!! It didn’t take a Wharton MBA to figure that out. Within hours, my domain was listed with the ICANN, the world wide registry for domain names, for under $15 per year. I was allowed to pay by the year or in multiple year allotments. That day, my email was up and running and you have known me in cyberspace by that moniker ever since. Trust me, it’s been a miracle for both of us.

Even if you don’t own a business, you can own your email as well. Maybe you’d like to be known as “jane @ janesmith.com” or “me @ geraldjohnston.com” As long as the “@domainyouwant.com, .net, .us, .biz, etc is available, it can be yours for a nominal fee. Your domain name doesn’t have to resemble anything close to your name if you so choose. It is yours and can express you in the best way you see fit. It can be humorous, ie. “@sillywilly.us” or a representation of your company @mybusiness.biz. Of the 2 options I have presented for establishing a truly universal e-mail account, I like this option the best. Free web based e-mail may have advantages to your ISP’s, but e-mail at your own domain is even better. When you own something, you have the right to expect service from the company you purchased the particular product from. A good company will allow you to call them for support or e-mail them and provide a prompt response. Some domain registrars are fly by night operations. In any industry with 1,000 or more choices, you’ll find some of those. The easiest and most reliable way for you to get started is for you to contact me and set up an appointment. During that visit, I can help you purchase a domain for less than $15 / year. You will be able to reserve your domain on a one year or multi-year basis. I will help you get registered with the largest and most service oriented registrar in the business. This is the same company I have theacronym.com registered with. If I only accept the best for my business, you should too. Prior to or during our next appointment, I can do a quick search to help you find the perfect dot-whatever name to match your desires. I will serve as your full service domain consultant to get you up and running while holding your hand every step of the way. When we get together, I’ll set up your personalized e-mail in your existing software client or get you started using your domain with Google’s web mail application that I described at length, a custom home page in your browser, a web based calendar that you can use from anywhere, and even a simple web page, if you want. All of the splendor of GMail and Google’s other services can be yours for no additional cost added to the domain fee. I am confident that I can get you started with an e-mail you can call your own in 1 to 2 hours. If you would like to simply purchase a domain and configure your own e-mail set up, please contact me and we can discuss pricing for this option. I think owning your own e-mail address (even for personal use), in conjunction with Google or by itself is one of the most innovative approaches to electronic communication that I have seen in a long time. I’d be glad to help you take advantage of this opportunity, as we have reaped the fruits of technological harvests from years past so many times before.

THE ACRONYM
Published periodically since 1999
http://www.theacronym.com


Next issue: April 2007

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