Our Inveterate Cyberspace Pundit Tells All

Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D.

The National Psychologist

May/June 1999


NOTE: This is an expanded version of the article that appeared in The National Psychologist

I am an inveterate collector of information dealing with technology. I belong to multiple daily mailing lists which keep me on the cutting edge. I clip articles from my dozen or so monthly technology magazines. I explore new web sites daily and try anything new as soon as it is announced. Here is some of what I have learned. Try whatever appeals to you and then let me know what you liked or didn't like.

1. eFax is a wonderful service that will allow people to send faxes to your e-mail account absolutely free. You don't need a fax machine ever again! Here's how it works. You visit http://www.efax.com/, register and then download their microviewer and install it on your computer. The whole process takes 10 minutes! Next, eFax sends an e-mail message that includes your personal fax phone number. When someone wants to send you a fax, you give them this fax number and the fax arrives as an e-mail message attachment. Simply click on this attachment, save it on your hard drive and then fire up the microviewer to see it. If your fax contains typed text, you can use an Optical Character Recognition program (I like OmniPage from Caere which sells for under $50) to read the fax and convert it to text in your word processing program. If you have a scanner or digital camera, you will have an OCR program bundled with it.

2. Link to http://www.internetguides.com/mhroi.html for a valuable article by David Lukoff, Ph.D. entitled "Mental Health Resources on the Internet."

3. My favorite site for general reference materials is http://www.infoplease.com/ which has an encyclopedia, dictionary, almanacs and much more.

4. You must try Mapquest.com! Enter an address and it will show you a map locating the address which can be enlarged or shrunk. Enter a second address and Mapquest will show you a second map with the best route, plus printed directions complete with distance and expected driving times for each leg of the trip.

5. Like to listen to music while you work? Put a music CD in your CD player and it will automatically play through your speakers. Want to listen to the radio? First go to www.real.com and download RealPlayerG2 (free). Install it and then go to realguide.real.com for a list of music sources on the web. Or try http://www.radio-on-the-internet.com/ for a list of over 5,500 live radio shows.

SOME FACTS ABOUT TECHNOLOGY:

1. GOOD NEWS: The Social Security Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration and NASDAQ have all passed preliminary Year 2000 tests. Further testing will be done in June. NOT SO GOOD NEWS: A recent study revealed that while 47% of small businesses (that's you) claim they are dependent on their computers, 33% of small businesses plan to take no action preparing for Y2K. Please read my article in the January/February, 1999 issue of The National Psychologist for ideas of how to prepare. Remember, all my past columns are housed at http://www.technostress.com/.

2. At this point 50% of the homes in the United States have a computer and 33% of the homes are on the Internet. Predictions by the reliable Forrester Research indicate that by 2003, two-thirds of the homes will be online.

3. In 1996, 82% of those online were male. In 1999, 50% are male.

4. The average Internet-connected person spends 6 hours per week online. Those in the 30-39 year-old age group spend 21 hours per week. The most common online use in e-mail (used by 63%), followed by research (39%) and shopping (31%). These numbers have all risen dramatically from an identical study six months ago which showed 53% using e-mail and 22% shopping online.

5. A Computerworld Magazine study of CEOs both in the U.S. and worldwide, indicated that only 35% of U.S. CEOs log onto the Internet regularly and only 20% of European CEOs log on regularly. Most CEOs either do not use the Internet at all or use it infrequently.

6. DID YOU KNOW THAT 40 pages of text occupies 100K (100,000 bytes) on your computer compared to an hour of music which takes 500 MB (500,000,000 bytes) and an hour of video which requires 2.2 GB (2,200,000,000 bytes). A single photograph, depending upon the format and size, can occupy anywhere from only a few thousand bytes to several million bytes.

7. The most common password used for both e-mail and voice-mail is the word "password." I hope that most of you are using passwords that protect yourselves. Try a sequence of 6 numbers and letters as your password for all accounts. If you need more characters, start the sequence again.

8. There are now 43.2 million Internet Hosts (sites); 60% are located in the United States. The number of sites is growing 46% per year!


9. PC Magazine rates Epson and Hewlett-Packard printers as best in overall service and reliability including machine reliability, repair success and technical support. They also rate Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM as best in service reliability including customer satisfaction with machine reliability, repairs and technical support plus machine technical problems. For notebook computers the best service reliability was for Dell and Gateway.

A FINAL NOTE:

A virus called Melissa hit the Internet in late March. It propagated with amazing speed, although it did little damage other than slowing down e-mail transmission on affected Internet Service Providers. Melissa appeared in peoples' e-mailboxes as a message with a subject of: "An Important Message From _________" with the name of either a friend or a colleague inserted. If the person opened the message and then the attachment, the virus immediately copied the first 50 addresses from their address book. Second, it sent the same message to all 50, substituting their name after "From" in the subject. Most service providers acted quickly to refuse entry to their system with a subject of this format, but quite a few systems were slowed down by receiving so much e-mail.

Melissa was a wake-up call to the Internet and the more I read, the more I realize that this type of virus will not have the same effect in the future. However, as clever as programmers are in eliminating viruses, virus makers are often one step ahead. The moral: Practice Safe Computing. Don't open attachments unless you know the person sending it and you verify (by e-mail or phone) that the person, in fact, did send the attachment.


Copyright, 1998, The National Psychologist. Reprinted with permission. The National Psychologist is a privately-owned bimonthly newspaper which may be purchased for $30 a year. Write or call: TNP, 6100 Channingway Blvd., Suite 303, Columbus, OH 43232; telephone: 614.861.1999 or fax with Visa or MC to 614.861.1996.