Net Xpress: Internet, technology worlds made great strides in 2004

December 28, 2004|SHEILA J. CLARK

The year 2004 seems to have flown by fast, and in my last column of the year, I just wanted to reflect on a few memorable moments. So many great things have happened this year in the technology and Internet worlds.

It is undeniable that the impact and convenience of the Internet on our lives is more profound than many of us would like to admit. Take, for instance, how the Internet's presence has changed how business is done. A writer can simply announce a forthcoming book and online stores can pre-sell it. In an instance, the book rockets straight to the top position of the bestsellers list and it isn't even off the presses yet. The book that I'm referring to is the latest installment of the Harry Potter series. If you took the Internet out of that equation, I believe the outcome would be slightly different. But as you see, the convenience and accessibility of the Internet pays off for the writer, the consumer and the retailer. It's a win-win situation for all involved.


Portable music devices such as MP3 players took on lives of their own this year. Although many of the most popular players were released prior to 2004, this year seemed to be the year of portable music. There were iPods, Dell's Digital Jukebox, the Gameboy Advance Jukebox, and even Cybiko has its own MP3 player, just to name a few. Music lovers truly enjoy the opportunity to have their favorite tunes wherever they go. MP3s are standard formats for digital music. MP3s can be made from your own CD collection, downloaded or purchased online. MP3s have seen their share of controversy through the years in regard to artists' royalties.

Voice over IP (VoIP) was another killer application this year as folks said good-bye to their expensive land line phones and hello to cheaper broadband alternatives. VoIP saved folks money and gave them all the features and more than a regular land line phone has to offer. It also served as an added value for those who already had a broadband Internet connection. If you don't want to take the total plunge and give up your land line, you could think of it as an inexpensive second line for talkative teens in the household. Another great thing about VoIP is it's portable, so you can take it with you when you travel.

Linux for desktop use made great strides, as companies made extra efforts in making average computer users comfortable using a Linux operating system. Just having an alternative to Microsoft's Windows offerings is in and of itself a good thing. There are many Linux distros to choose from and the price ranges from free to inexpensive. For installable distros, I personally like Linspire, Mandrake and SuSE. For anyone interested in testing out Linux without installing it, check out the distros that run completely from a CD. My favorite bootable CD distros are Knoppix, LinspireLive, MandrakeMove, Slackware and Morphix. For a list of bootable distros, visit

Here's to more fantabulous technology in 2005!

Net buzzz

One thing to look forward to in 2005 is AOL Mail on the Web, a free e-mail service offered by the leading online service. The service will be available both to subscribers and non-subscribers and it will offer 100MB of storage. Other features include an address book, enriched text options, signatures, message bar search options and spam controls. Learn more.

E-mail me at; fax me at (859) 236-9566; or write me snail-mail at The Advocate-Messenger, P.O. Box 149, Danville, KY 40423-0149.

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