Of all the things you can buy for Christmas, if you don’t have a computer, make it the number one item on your list. Why? Because if the digital divide (the notion that most blacks don’t have computers) is a reality, then it is up to us to change that divide.

Why is now a more important time to purchase a computer than ever? Well first off, they are cheaper than ever. The technology is easier. Hooking up a computer is color-coded, so most folks should be able to do it without help. Some computers are even preloaded with software.

Don’t let the news media and the rumors of bugs and computer viruses stop you. Many Internet providers are now including software (programs which are run on your computer) to prevent it. Also the computer should come with a virus protection program as well.

I admit I am a computer junkie. I read about 15 newspapers online every day. On Thursday, I include this paper. I depend on e-mail to keep in touch with people all over the country. I enjoy shopping online as well. I have found many items on eBay that over the years I had wanted but never got a chance to purchase.

I can understand why some people are initially scared of computers. When I got my first PC at work, they put it on my desk. Training wasn’t in the budget. So I had to learn via trial and error. Many times in computer technology, they like to try and confuse you by giving things special names. So I use this analogy.

Let’s say you live in a village in Africa. You know that to get to the other village you take a path. That is all you know. The path takes you from one village to the other. All of sudden, you are transported to Chicago. You need to get from one spot to the other. All of a sudden you are given the choice of taking a street, lane, avenue, boulevard, road, highway, byway, skyway, expressway, toll road, interstate, etc. You are totally lost and confused as you look at all your choices. But in the end, all those words are just replacements for the path you always knew.

The same can be said for computer technology. Everyone tries to reinvent something by calling it a new name. I have been in classes where the teachers have done the same thing when I had to learn new technology. They try to make it more complicated than it need be in order to make it seem harder than ever.

I enjoy the information that can be found on the web. Using a search engine like Google, you can put in several key words, hit enter, and all the web pages with the information that has those words will be displayed. I enjoy finding recipes using that method. I had lost my favorite recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie, and I put in a few key ingredients and, voila, up came the recipe. Researching historical information is easy too.

I have decided to amend my conference calls with a blogsite. What is a blog? Well it is the newest form of web technology that allows people to have a web presence without utilizing a web programmer. You can post an opinion and people can comment. You can also add video and audio. The possibilities are endless and the technology is easy to understand with a bit of training.

There are many places in Austin that offer computer training. I recently utilized Chetwyn Rogers at 25 N. Cicero for helping me to get my own website going. They have a variety of classes, with many of them being free. They can be reached at 1-773/261-6098.

This Monday we will take computers at 9 pm. Call 605/772-3200 (this is long distance so use your cell) and enter this Access code: 806598#. For cellphone users, this is just like a local call, using your nighttime minutes.

Blog me: www.arlenejones.blogspot.com

CONTACT: westside2day@yahoo.com