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Long Beach California, 90815-0679
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From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 12

By Jay Beeler

For those of you who are technically challenged … get over it.

There’s big money to be saved by going online to obtain certain types of merchandise and parts. For instance, our Verizon home connection for FiOS and telephone service includes a battery backup power supply. A few weeks ago the power supply started to emit a beeping sound every 20 minutes or so. Verizon repair stated the sound was due to a battery in need of replacement and they’d be glad to send me one for $34. “No thanks,” I said and promptly went online to purchase one for half that amount from Ecom Electronics.

That incident occurred when my wife was babysitting our granddaughter in Indio and I took advantage of her absence to do some painting and carpet cleaning in her “woman cave.” The Kirby carpet cleaner did a poor job of attacking her turf so I pulled the Hoover Steamvac All Terrain out of its hiding place, even though it had a leaky supply tank. Mr. Hoover beat the pants off Mr. Kirby. Instead of buying another Hoover at $299 I went online to Vac Parts Warehouse and bought a new supply tank for $39. That decades-old carpet will survive another year.

I’ve been eyeing some new office chairs at Staples because several of mine have arm pads that are worn or broken due to wear and tear … read that “hitting the desks.” Instead of tossing out the tattered chairs and buying new, I dove into the Quickbooks memory banks to determine what chair product was purchased from whom and when. With that knowledge in hand I opened a few storage bins to retrieve the sales order and – most importantly – the product name, manufacturer and model number. Instead of spending $200 or $300 each for four chairs the parts came by parcel delivery for much less than $75.

I could cite a dozen similar recent examples of big savings that can be had by simply going online and typing a Google search for whatever item you seek. It’s that simple. Amazon has an amazing supply of items via partners; Sears is just now figuring out that they missed the parts supply boat and trying to catch up. The internet is great for finding “needle in a haystack” items that won’t be available locally. Sometimes even the shipping is free.

Some people would rather get it today or make sure their purchases support local businesses and generate local sales tax. That’s fine too. Shopping on the internet allows you to identify who has what you want and even compare prices before getting behind the wheel and fetching the item the old-fashioned way.

The point is that there’s an entire generation of seniors who have said “no thanks” to computers. That’s sad. They are missing out on (1) constant communication with friends and relatives near and far using text, photos and movies, (2) instant access to information on any topic by typing a few key words into the search lines and getting instant responses, (3) the ability to organize your daily appointments, things to do and finances (4) getting an education and college degrees, (5) hundreds of programs to quickly perform many different tasks or play games like Solitaire (even my wife likes this one) … and much, much more.

I look back at “the good old days” of using IBM Selectics, typeset galleys, art boards, photographic film and prints, couriers and even faxes to realize what a wonderful world we now live in – thanks to the computer. Beyond any doubt it is the most important 20th century (non-medical) invention along with the automobile and television.

Now we learn that Uncle Sam is snooping into our phone calls, emails and internet activities. There are many people who are highly offended by this activity – rightfully so.

From my perspective it is not unlike the days when we had telephone party lines with multiple families using the same line and different rings – like one long and two short – letting you know who should answer. Your neighbors were prone to listen in on your calls and it was a fantastic way to spread rumors.

So given this information and the fact that our newspaper is online, I am asking you to keep a little secret that I have regarding President Obama’s real birthplace. Remember, this is top secret information that only I have.

Now I wonder how long it will be until the FBI calls or the IRS would like to set up an appointment?