MadMod Computing The MadMod Computing Newsletter

June - Vol. 2013a

Welcome to this edition of The MadMod Computing Newsletter.   We hope that you enjoy the features of each issue and learn some computing skills along the way. For more topics on other newsletters, check out MadMod Computing Newsletters.

First for Windows and Apple computer users, a reminder to make backups of your important files, and to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.   Second use a software firewall and/or a router if using broadband.   Last, obtain all the critical Windows or Apple updates.

Featured in This Issue
1.     How do Cell Phone Calls Differ From Texting?
2.     The Age Communication Gap
3.     Social Media--Some Advantages & Disadvantages

1.    How do Cell Phone Calls Differ From Texting?
When on, your cell phone is in a constant dialog to the cell tower via a pathway called the control channel. This is to keep your phone associated with the nearest cell tower and then to make the transfer to another tower as you move around. It also verifies that things are okay by sending and receiving a packet between them. This control channel also is used for SMS (Small Message Service) with the "Small" referring to the limit of 160 characters (numbers, letters or symbols of the Latin alphabet) in a message. In theory this allows for SMS transfers when the voice channel of a regular cell call isn't busy even though there's less bandwidth that can be used on the control channel. One minute of a voice call uses approximately the same bandwidth of 600 text messages!

Text messages using SMS can't be dismissed or rejected like voice calls can be, and there's no guarantee they're delivered in a timely way despite multiple tries to get them to complete. With a completion failure rate of 5% or less, text messages are still much more likely to be successful with weak signals than regular voice calls are--which also helps to explain why they're so popular. Voice calls are more complicated needing a control channel packet to ring the receiving phone and two active traffic channel frequencies for the duration of the call.

2.    The Age Communication Gap
We're at a point in our civilization where the young and the old of our populations are using communication technologies differently. The younger set strongly use text messaging with their cell phones and/or post to social network sites such as Facebook, but are much less inclined to use a telephone voice call or to send an e-mail. The older set still are ready to use their landline telephone or cell phone for regular voice calls or to use e-mail, but are unlikely to send or receive text messages or use social media sites.

This presents a technological communication gap between the generations. The younger set need to remember to use the telephone for voice calls to the older set and the older set needs to learn how to use text messaging. Each age group needs to make more or better use of the technologies that they are not comfortable with. The young need to teach the old how to send and receive messages on their cell phone.

Text messaging can't be done from a regular landline phone, but a text message can be sent to a landline phone--converted into a computer voice message--from a cell phone if the cell phone service has been set up that way. Make sure to use regular English rather than abbreviated text symbols when texting this way since it must be converted into an audible voice message.

The older set can send a text message via e-mail. (I'll imagine that the cell phone 123-456-7890 is a Verizon phone.) First open a blank e-mail message. Next in the "To" field type (with the actual phone number you intend to use) and then type the message of 160 characters or less in the body of the message. Finally send the message. For other cell phone carriers, you'll have to check with them to discover what replaces the "" that the Verizon cell phones use--for the recipient's phone. ( Visit List_of_SMS_gateways that applies to your situation.)

3.    Social Media--Some Advantages & Disadvantages
When a new technology comes along such as Facebook, people jump to become part of the new social circles it provides. In doing so it shrinks the so-called maximum of Six_degrees_of_separation to a bit less than four degrees of separation. All of a sudden, a person now has access to numerous virtual friends that they probably would have never met in person. From the point of sharing necessary information, it's hard to argue with the success that this sharing has brought. Sharing a wedding photo with those you know using a social media forum saves the need to e-mail a possibly large group of people. In that sense the social network saves time as well.

Despite the rapid growth of social networks, there are also lots of people leaving them as well. The reasons for leaving are many, but here are a few: 1. time saved using e-mail or making phone calls has led to loss of time needed to visit their social network pages to post responses to too many dialogues, 2. problems deciding which people are their real friends which leads to problems with "friending" and "unfriending," and 3. adult-child interactions that might not be appropriate. At work, the businesses don't want employees taking too much time off responding to their social networks. People move away, change jobs or family situations and their groupings of social networking friends don't work as well as before.

People can get into a variety of troubles with their postings and their choices of friends on social networks. Freedom of speech can go too far with abusive posts and friends that dominate discussions. Postings are public and persistent on the Internet and what's been posted can't be made private again. (Read this again!) Negative postings about people, their jobs, fellow employees, etc. can lead to difficulties getting a new job and perhaps legal troubles. Employers looking for prospective employees will look to see the kind of postings a candidate makes as a way to help assess character. Sexual predators and crooks trying to steal your money or identity will use social network pages to help them find what should have been strictly private and kept away from social media networks.

If there is a bottom line on using social networks, my take is: if you can use them responsibly, guarding your speech and not posting what should remain private, you're on the right track. As a final note, I offer a serious issue that I haven't really solved at Real Relationships vs Facebook Virtual Friends.

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