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September 1, 2011
Star Features


Back-to-school Technology - The gear and wares to be ready to learn

If you're a parent, aunt, uncle or cousin, I bet your pocket is already hurting from back-to-school shopping. Books, backpacks, writing instruments and a slew of other necessities probably took priority on your list of things to get for school. But let's face it, we live in a technology-driven world, so you've gotta get some tech for your little child, niece or nephew heading back to school next week.

Hardware always has a cost and, sometimes, that cost can be high. But students with the right hardware are much more likely to perform better in school. Some options to consider include:

Computer: PC or Mac, Desktop or Notebook, Tablet or Netbook, the choice of form is a personal decision, but it all starts here.

Printer/Copier/Scanner: Email and other forms of electronic submission are increasing in popularity, but paper is still the dominant form of communication.

Portable storage device: A simple flash drive will do for some, an external hard drive is needed by others; but the very nature of school means that students have to do work from multiple locations so portable storage is essential.

Digital Dictaphone: This one may not be a necessity, but it sure makes life easier to record lectures, study sessions, oral language practices. Many smartphones are great Dictaphones as well.

Not so necessary but really cool: All work and no play made Carlette a dull girl, if I were back in school my must have list would be augmented with a digital camera, a Sling Box, a TV, a DVD/Blu-ray disc player, external speakers, an MP3 player and a handheld game console.

Hardware is great, but it is software - appplications, applets, apps, programmes - that really make hardware most useful. The days of expensive software have since past in favour of shareware, freeware, cloud services and ad supported software that give you greats value for little cost. Your new computer needs to have some basic programmes to be really effective. These include:

Productivity application suite such as Microsoft Office, OpenOffice or Google Docs to create and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

Antivirus to protect your PC such as AVG, Kapersky, Panda, Avast!, McAfee and Norton; go further to install anti-spyware too.

Web browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Chrome or Safari

PDF Reader such as Adobe Acrobat Reader or Preview.

Again, all work and no play - But we can fix that with iTunes, instant messenger software such as Messenger Live, video conference software such as Skype, photo, video and audio edit software and compression software.

I know it's not easy to spend even more of the money you don't have on technology, so here is some more feel-good information - unlike uniforms, you won't need to buy new hardware each year, like books you can hand down (or sell) used tech to others and with tech, your child will be ready for a modern world. Happy shopping!

Tech Glitch:Rich writes, "I am concerned that when I am online, my browsing history is accessible by advertisers and worse, my wife. What can I do to protect myself?"

Tech Fix: Wife problems aside, we all need to take more care when browsing online to ensure our own privacy and protection. On your own PC, set your browser to clear your history, cache and cookies on exit. On every PC (Mac too), use 'private browsing' as feature, sign out of web services (not just close the window) and use securing browsing when possible (that is, make sure the URL says https and not just http).

Got a tech glitch?

Get your tech fix at: facebook.com/carlettedeleon. Listen to Tech Time on FAME 95 FM each Tuesday morning at 8 a.m.

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