Updating Technology for 2005

Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D.

The National Psychologist

January-February 2005


The holidays have come and gone so now it is time to take advantage of the after-Christmas sales and consider the following.
 

A New Computer

If your computer is 3 or more years old, now is a great time to buy a new computer.  What do you need?  First, what type of computer is best for you?  For years I used a desktop and still do at my university. But my home computer is a laptop.  I love the laptop because it takes up less desk space and often I sit on my bed with the laptop where it belongs, on my lap.  It is portable and prices are more than competitive.  Second, what brand should you buy?  I have worked with lots of people and have found that Dell, HP and e-Machines have been the easiest to buy, set up and use.  Go online and put together your own computer so you can see the options.  When I bought my Dell laptop I priced options and ended up with a great machine for under $1,500.  You can get an even better one now for the same price.

Third, make sure that your computer has a very large hard drive.  Most programs these days take up major chunks of hard drive space and documents require space to accommodate pictures, charts, etc.  I would go with at least 80 GB (gigabytes) and get 120 if you can afford it.

 Fourth, too little RAM and your computer slows to a crawl.  Get at least 256 MB and 512 if you can.  Fifth, you should have an NIC card and built-in WiFi.  Even if you don’t want a wireless network or a broadband connection (DSL or cable modem), this allows you to make use of those wireless networks that are showing up at Starbucks and elsewhere.  Sixth, think carefully about your monitor.  For a laptop, the monitor size depends on how large a machine you want.  If you can handle a larger laptop, get one with a 17” monitor.  For desktops, it depends on your available space.  If you are pressed for space, get a flat screen monitor which will add about $150 and save about 18” of space.  Seventh, you need a CD-RW drive to make and play CDs and to for back up your work.  If you want to play movies on your computer get a combination DVD-CD-RW drive.

Finally, make sure that you have at least two USB ports.  These little openings allow you to plug in your printer, digital camera, etc. and are invaluable.

Mobility

If you need information from your computer to be transportable to another computer you should buy a “flash drive.”  Also called “keychain drives” these little gadgets can hold gobs of information for very little money.  I got one that holds 2.26 GB for Christmas for $90.  A smaller one (512 MB) costs under $40!   I like the larger one because I like to bring music from home to campus (I am a major classic rock fan – Fleetwood Mac, Yes, Genesis).

Digital Cameras

Did you get a digital camera for Christmas?  If not, now is the time to buy.  What you need depends on what you plan to do with the pictures.  If you simply want to take pictures and either put them on a website or print 5 x 7s you only need one that has about 2-3 megapixels.  I found several good ones (Canon, Olympus, Fuji) on mysimon.com for around $100.  Make sure you get a decent size flash memory card that holds lots of photos. A 256 MB flash card ($50) stores over 200 pictures; 128 ($30) stores around 100). 

Update on Online Dating

One year ago I wrote “Looking for the Perfect Match” for TNP (http://www.csudh.edu/psych/tnp43.htm).  Online dating has exploded in the last year.  In October 2003 Yahoo Personals had 6.2 million unique visitors followed by Match.com (5.5 million), eHarmony (3.2) and Friendster (1.0).  Now more than ever more of your clients will be pursuing online dating.  My TNP article still contains pertinent information.  Also check out John Suler’s website for fascinating reading (http://www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/psycyber.html)

Internet Addiction

Internet addiction is rampant.  Recent studies have shown that increased use of online shopping, gambling, research and games is related to increased depression.  Other studies have pinpointed communication excess (email, IM) as harbingers of psychological problems.  More can be found on Kimberly Young’s informative website (http://www.netaddiction.com/articles/articles.htm).

Future Shock?

Even Alvin Toffler did not anticipate some of the recent neuropsych research.  Several studies have shown that fMRIs pinpoint regions of the brain responsible for lying and conflictual emotions.  Gordon Lightfoot’s “If you could read my mind” may soon need to be changed to “you can read my mind.”

Physical Health

Excessive use of the computer keyboard and mouse can and will lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.  Experts make the following suggestions: (1) stop typing every 30 minutes, walk around and rotate your wrists and (2) make sure your hand and forearms make a right angle when you type.  To do so either buy an ergonomic keyboard or simply roll up a dish towel and place it under your wrists.  Recent research also shows a link between extended computer use and glaucoma.

Interesting Websites

Wikipedia.org.is a “free content encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”  This may sound like a springboard for chaos but actually it provides a forum for up-to-date information on any topic.  I compare it to an ever-changing Encyclopedia Britannica.  I use it often and find the information quite informative.

To listen to one of over 300 music stations around the world go to www.shoutcast.com.  Right now, I am listening to Virgin Radio Classic Rock from London playing Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.”  If you want to get fancy, go to http://zdnet.com.com/Streamripper-for-Winamp/3000-2168-10158071.html?tag=txt and download a program called Streamripper.  This is a program that works with Winamp, the music player that comes with most Windows systems.  As you listen to the song it stores it on your desktop with the group and song name.  You often get the DJ talking but I make my own CDs with a variety of songs and it sounds like listening to a radio show that only plays my favorites.  Since CDs cost a quarter it is a bargain.


Copyright, 2005, 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.