A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....
Recommended Web Sites & The Further Adventures Of The Little Performa That Could July 30th, 2001
The Little Performa That Could
Some readers will be familiar with my little Performa, but for those who aren't, here is a brief history. My very first Mac was a Performa. It is a Performa 540 all-in-one computer, sort of the precursor of the iMac. It's a 68K Mac, and I don't even remember what OS I had. My son traded a local dentist some work for the dentist's old computer and a printer. (He is such a good boy, my son, not the dentist.) I learned to use a Mac on that machine and I was so proud of it. I started with almost no skills. On my personal web page I have a list of the 10 reasons I like Macs. All the reasons I list are about that Performa. In December of 1999 I got the iMac that I currently use. Shortly thereafter I wrote a column about the Performa and the fact that I had passed it on to my father who was learning to use a computer at age 83. Daddy (can you tell I'm from the south?) used it about a year and then decided it wasn't fast enough for him, which I thought was a real hoot. I did fine with it for 3 years. Daddy upgraded and I brought the Performa back to Austin and had a drawing in my office to see who would get it. We have a number of entry level positions in our division and most can not live in Austin, buy a computer, and eat, so guess which one they do without. The Performa and the printer went to one of our secretaries. The only stipulation I had was that the recipient give it to someone else rather than sell it when she no longer needed it. Now the young woman is getting a new computer as a gift and we are once again passing the Performa on to someone else. Understand, this Mac is now about 8 years old (give or take a bit) and it has never broken down. I crashed it once, but Norton Utilities brought it back. My son has tweaked it a bit, but that is all. Are Macs great or what?
How Will I Spend My Fall Vacation?
I am planning a vacation for the fall and will be traveling to a part of the US that I have never visited. Along the way I need airline tickets, a rental car, and other assorted things including a place to stay. For those who are frequent travelers this does not sound like a big deal. It is a big deal to me because I have not had many opportunities to travel for pleasure. While researching on the internet I found a number of sites that I found to be extremely helpful. Some will even be helpful to experienced travelers or those traveling on a tight budget.
Planning For Flights, Hotels, and Rental Cars
Travelocity.com, Orbitz.com, Expedia.com, Cheaptickets.com, and Travelscape.com, are all sites where you can research for the best deals on flights and other travel necessities. The user enters their destination, preferred departure time, and the dates; and the site pulls up all flight options that meet your criteria. These sites are easy to use and are a good place for newbies to explore what the Internet has to offer.
I quickly found out that for my trip the airfare was half as much if I traveled on Saturday rather than on Sunday. I was able to further determine that if I wanted to arrive at my destination before dark (I get lost going to the corner) I needed to rethink my plans. I found that as a general rule, Sunday flights tend to leave much later in the day than other days of the week. I was able to determine which airport was the best option and how much layover time between flights there will be. Do I want to spend three and a half hours in the Chicago airport? I think not. I was able to look at all my options and decide what was best for me.
The last time I traveled I felt I was at the mercy of the travel agent who had all the information and only shared with me what she thought was appropriate or for which she received incentives to sell. I wanted to decide this for myself. As part of my research I was able to find out what the various taxes were at two different airports, both for the flight and for the car rental. I was even able to review the various rental car companies rules. For instance, on paper there appeared to be a real difference between what the car rental firms charge. By reviewing the fine print and noting what is included or required for each company, I was able to determine which company truly met my needs. I don't need extra insurance because I was able to determine what my own auto insurance will cover and what it will not, so I don't want a company that makes me add it. Some of the car rental places offer senior citizen discounts, other do not.
I also found out that most of the car rental places don't take debit cards as a security deposit and that what ever card you use must have enough credit on it to cover the car rental fees. They will, however, allow the use of debit cards to pay the bill at the end of the trip. I can, if I choose to do so, purchase tickets and reserve rental cars directly on these various travel sites. Information about hotels is not quite as clean. I assume that hotels are included when they pay to be included because not all sites listed all hotels in a given area. I was able to determine the cost of rooms to the penny, including taxes which is a nice option when on a budget.
Now that all of that is settled I just have to come to grips with the fact that unlike Texas, there are states in which one can drive from one border of a state to the other in less than a day and a half.
If you have any questions, comments, or tips, let me know and I may include them in a future column.
Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping. To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.
Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color,
covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.
Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.