Google Alerts

ONE of the tools Google provide which I believe is of incredible value, is Google Alerts.

If you are a company, a researcher, someone who likes to stay up to date on specific issues or maybe just someone who would like to know if anybody is writing something online about you or your company, then this tool is for you.

Let us take the following scenario: You are a scrapbooking enthusiast. You love to create scrapbooks and you also love reading about scrapbooking. You have spent many hours visiting websites about scrapbooking. This you have been doing for months. You have visited hundreds of sites. But what if these sites are updated or new sites are added? How will you know? Will you have to visit all these sites again?

No, simply go to http://www.google.com/alerts. Enter the information required, like the topic you want information on and how often the information should be delivered to you. Enter your delivery address and create the alert. You will then receive an email to confirm you did request the service, whereafter you will receive regular updates of new websites or posts on the topic you have entered.

I highly recommend it for companies to monitor whether people are talking about your company or products. Keep a tab on what is said about your brand.

Obviously this is a perfect tool for researchers and teachers to keep up to date in their field.

Remember, this service is free and you are able to set many alerts. However, also remember, when you set many alerts, you will get many update emails about the topics of your enquiry.

Internet prices to drop

THIS week MWeb dropped the price of their uncapped 1Mbps ADSL internet subscription. Is this the start of more price decreases?

I have noticed that MWeb has left most of their other packages unchanged but only time will tell if this is a step to test the waters and to see if there is an increased uptake of the service.

With more and more undersea internet cables connecting South Africa with the rest of the world we will see major price decreases in the next two to three years.

A few years ago we saw major price decreases when the Seacom cable became active. The great news is that most of the cables that are in the process of being installed are quite a bit bigger than Seacom. This would mean that more data can be transferred through these cables.

All of this boils down to major price decreases and huge savings for users. Each time one of these cables go live we can be sure that some type of price decrease will follow.

The great news is that the prices of ADSL connections will continue to go down and I am sure that in a year or two we will see high speed uncapped ADSL connectivity for under R100. This will make possible the growth of many online services in South Africa.

If an 80-year-old can, so can you!

THIS past week we spent in KwaZulu-Natal, really just relaxing a bit and at times I was even “off-line”. Fortunately for me my wife now shares my obsession with the internet and the idea of always being online and being connected.

But this week I would love to share something with you that happened on the way.

We stopped over at my wife’s grandmother who is now 80 years old.

As we walked in the house I saw two computers.

Now if you do the math, you would realise that she probably retired before computers and the internet became main-stream appliances.

She taught herself to use these computers and now she even renders a service to two local businesses by taking care of some of their accounting needs.

She just decided one day that she would like to be able to use a computer and she started to teach herself.

If there is something she is not able to do, she would either struggle until she figures it out or she would phone someone for advice.

That is after all the only way you can learn a new skill.

The sad thing is that every week I hear from people that are between 40 and 60 that need help because they are BC Before Computers.

I realise now that if you hide behind this, it is definitely not your age that is hampering you and keeping you from making use of a computer, it is all in your mind and your willingness to try something new and maybe even being a bit lazy.

If she is able to learn these skills after her retirement, what excuse do you have?

Social Gaming

SOCIAL gaming is really taking off, and I love it. Yes, for a long time we have had the Farmville and Cityville players on Facebook, but for the past few months social gaming on the iOS, BlackBerry and Android platforms have grown considerably.

I have fallen into this trap and unlike most online social games the games that are available on these mobile platforms are more stimulating on an intellectual level. Games that are available as social games are chess, scrabble and many more.

The game that is really very popular at this moment is Draw Something. This game is loosely based on Pictionary and it is very addictive. You can see your friends draw the pictures from anywhere in the world and you can answer when you know what they are drawing.

Most of these games make it possible for you to link to friends on Facebook or even by email. Most of these games are structured in a way where you do not need to be available to play synchronously. You play and then, whenever your friends are available, they can then make a move. You are then notified as soon as it is your move again. I highly recommend that you download and try some of these games.

They are usually available as a free download to give you a bit of a taste of the experience. You can then upgrade to a paid version if you like the game. Don’t worry, they are usually very cheap and for only a few rands you will be able to upgrade.

Go to the app store of your mobile phone today and take a look around at which of the games have a social component where you can play against your friends.