It’s official. Everyone in the country has high speed Internet access now. How do I know that? Because my mom is getting it (tomorrow to be exact) and I’ve always known she would be the last person in the country with broadband access. She’s finally leaving the world of dial-up and as we were talking the other day I realized there’s a lot of stuff she’s going to want and/or need to do now that she’s got a good connection.
Here’s my list of ten things she’s going to need to do. (By the way, mom, when you read this I’ll walk you through it. This is just our list to get started.)
1. Download Firefox. Forget Internet Explorer as your web browser. Firefox is the way to go. It’s so much more stable than Explorer, has great add-ons, uses tabs for multiple pages (though the new Explorer actually does this now), and doesn’t make that clicking sound all the time.
2. Update your anti-virus software. If you already have an anti-virus program, make sure you’re running the latest version and set the auto update feature to update automatically. If not, you can use a free version of AVG to give you basic coverage.
3. Set up a Google account. Google is more than a search engine. Much more (with more on this below) but you’re going to want a Gmail account to get started even if you want to stick with your current email. Once you have that you’ll be able to fully utilize the world of Google (again, more on this below.) I’ll send you the Gmail invitation to get started.
4. Get a webcam. I have Logitech webcam but there are other good brands too. With free services like Skype, Tokbox, and ooVoo we’ll find one that works for us to connect via live video so you can talk with the grandchildren.
5. Download iTunes. This will become your music and download destination. You can listen to online radio stations, create playlists from CDs you have, download podcasts (I recommend you get mine first of course), and purchase new music. When you get an iPod we’ll talk more about this too.
6. Upgrade programs. It’s likely that you’re not running the latest version of Windows, so we’ll check that out along with your Adobe Reader version too. Even though you won’t use Explorer and Windows Media Player much we will make sure you’re up to date there as well.
7. Discover Google Maps. You’re going to love this…maybe. Be sure to look up your address first and check out the satellite view. Ok, now relax. It’s okay. Pretty cool, huh? It’s really helpful and once you’ve used it a few times you’ll be hooked on it for all future direction needs.
8. Discover iGoogle. We’ll be setting Google as your default homepage in Firefox and with that and your Google account you can customize your hompage to include several of the things here in this list plus news, weather, and many other things you might want to see right off the bat when you open your browser.
9. Discover Google Reader. I’ll explain RSS feeds and all that stuff when we talk…but all you want to know is that there’s a way for you to bring the content of blogs and many websites to you rather than going through your bookmarks to visit all of them. Google Reader can make that happen. Now you see why Google is more than a just a search engine (as noted in #3 above.)
10. Discover Wikipedia. Remember that Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia set you got us when we were kids. This is like that but bigger and easier to find stuff. You personally can add to it too. You may find that you can provide some insight on American literature for instance, and you contribute by signing in. I’ll explain when we talk.
Any MicroExplosion readers have additional thoughts?