You got questions about computers; I got answers
Ken from Kaimuki asks how to determine the speed of a DSL connection. He's not certain if he's getting the speed that he's paying for.
First off you'll need to know exactly how fast a connection you're paying for. The standard for DSL download is up to about 3 megabits, but it can vary depending on the time of day, which would determine the kind of demand there is for bandwidth.
I would definitely check out www.speedtest.net. This is an incredibly easy way to check what kind of speed you have. All you have to do is click on the location closest to your own. Also the Cnet Bandwidth Meter speed test over at reviews.cnet.com/7004-7254_7-0.html. Enter your area code, the type of connection you have and your ISP and, bingo, you'll have a number.
How can you tell if this is any good? CNET has an interesting chart that allows you to compare your service with other ISPs around the country. It should give you a good idea of where your service stands. The speed from my home in East Honolulu was 3303.6 kbps. (The median around the country, according to CNET, is around 2200 kbps.) Another popular site is www.dslreports.com.
In Kailua, Beth is interested in a birthday present for her niece and is thinking about getting an MP3 player. With so many out there, which one should she consider?
Well, Beth, there are a number of excellent media players. Some of the manufacturers include Creative Labs, iRiver and SanDisk. However, the granddaddy of them all is Apple with its iPod, and I think it's still the best. Not only is it well engineered and easy to carry, it's perfectly matched with the iTunes system so that you have an incredible selection of music. For $250 you get 30 gigs of storage, which means you roughly get 7,500 songs (or about 75 hours of video), or, for $100 more, you can get the 80-gig unit. Then, of course, the brand name Apple is an icon of cool. What more could your niece want?
You can also check out the Zune, which is Microsoft's newest entry into the game. From everything I've read, they have some catching up to do with the iPod.
A reader from Waianae who did not want her name used asks me where to pick up an inexpensive computer for a child. If you go online, it's possible to purchase used XP computers in the $300-$400 range. A good place to start is craigslist (honolulu.craigslist.org/sys), which has all kinds of gear. Of course, there's no way of knowing what kind of condition the computer will be in ,so be sure and test it before you buy. Chances are if it runs well, it's going to last for a while.
If you're with a non profit organization and need machines for a school contact Ken Goldstein, who runs an outfit called Hawaii Computers for Kids (www.catii.com/comp4-kids.html). He takes surplus equipment and software from businesses and distributes them to schools statewide. To find out more about the Hawaii Computers for Kids Program, or to arrange to make a donation, please contact the Detwiler Foundation (1-800-939- 6000, ext. 19) or any Rotary Club member.
is general manager of digital phone at Oceanic Time Warner Cable. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org