From the March, 2006 Cyberspace News

Outsmarting Those Voice Menus

What’s your Number One complaint about technology? Many people will tell you that they hate telephone systems the most. By “telephone systems” I refer to those systems that large companies use that lead you through labyrinthine menus allegedly designed to “streamline” communications.

Ultimately, all they do is frustrate and antagonize the caller. Ah, if only there were cheats one could use to bypass those systems and allow you to speak to something intelligent. Like, perhaps, a human. Well, there are cheats and many are listed on the following website:

The site goes by the name Find-A-Human. It lists codes for bypassing menus and finding a person at a number of large companies. Although the list is not complete, it is growing. And it can save you a lot of time and frustration.

What’s An iPod

You may have heard about iPods being a hot-seller this past holiday season. Maybe you’ve seen these devices in stores or your grandchildren have gotten them, but what, exactly, is an iPod? And why are people so happy to have them?

The iPod refers to a group of portable digital audio players designed and marketed by Apple Computers. It stores and plays music without cassettes or discs, thus you don’t have to physically change anything to listen to a lot of music. Whereas cassettes hold 10 to 12 songs, and compact discs hold 16 to 20 songs, iPods can hold at least 500 depending on their memory capacities.

You can attach a set of headphones to your iPod and listen to music (and/or information) just as you would listen to your Walkman or Discman. IPods, however, are smaller than cassette and CD players with some as small as a package of chewing gum.

Some iPod features are:

• Podcasts—Podcasting is a way of publishing audio broadcasts via the Internet. It allows users to receive new files, oftentimes free. Podcast directories contain songs and radio-like shows that have been uploaded onto the Internet, can be downloaded to the iPod and heard.

• Photos—iPods can store photos from your digital camera or computer.

• Calendars and Contacts—You can keep tab on your dates and appointments as well as maintain a directory of your phone numbers.

• World Clock—You can be kept aware of time around the world, and set alarms for appointments.

• Games– Yes, you can play games on your iPod.

When you buy an iPod, it comes with software called iTunes that stores the songs on your computer to enable you to transfer them to your iPod. So basically, you download music from the Web to your computer and then from your computer to your iPod via a cable.

iPod manufacturers make money by not only selling you the iPod itself (which is basically a portable hard-drive) and additional memory cards, but by selling you all the bells and whistles to enable you to create podcasts, download photos, etc. Plus there are lots of accessories for iPods, making them status-symbols for younger people.