High Tech Communication For Private Investigators
Beyond Straight Text In Email And Privacy Surfing
By Ralph D. Thomas

Straight text email may very well become an outmoded thing of the past as a method of communication. Although file attachments have been around since the beginning of the Internet, other forms of Internet communication is coming of age. With the personal computers and digital assistants that display sound, graphics and video, what used to be plain text email is turning into a multimedia experience. There are a lot of things that are changing and it's important to keep up to date. This article will review state-of-the-art communication that goes beyond plain text and end with some tools on privacy surfing.

The Zaplets Are Coming To Your Email
Zaplets is a new technology that imbed web pages into email. The advantage of Zaplets is that it voids out the boring plain text. With Zaplets, any message of a web page can appear with all it's color, graphics, animation and text. Zaplets are being developed by a company called FireDrop. The idea is to send the web page to the FireDrop server and then send a Zaplet email from the site. When the user opens the email, he loads the web page right into the email. To find out more about Zaplet technology, go to:

FireDrop Zaplets
http://zaplet.zaplet.com/index.jsp

Instant Messaging
Instant messaging refers to two or more people instantly communicating on the net through text. It has been around for a long time on private services such as AOL. However, the problem used to be, you had to be another AOL subscriber or Compuserve subscriber to instant message with someone. That has become a thing of the past. Instant messaging software lets you instant message or IMM (if you will) with any other people connected to the net regardless of what service they us.

AOL Instant Messenger
http://www.aol.com

Yahoo Messenger
http://messenger.yahoo.com

MSN Messenger
http://messenger.msn.com

Right now, we have to put up with corporate fighting with these software programs. It seems Microsoft and AOL have been fighting over who's going to have the standard. There has been a great deal of news stories done on this issue since AOL is blocking IMM access for Microsoft Instant Messaging software. Right now, the solution to the problem is to simply download all three which are free. With that, you can instant message with anyone connected to the net that has the same software. In the future, IMM will likely be built right into web browsers.

Voice Mail
Forget text, you can now record it and email it to anyone. There has been a huge development of software programs that have hit the market in the last year to do this sort of thing. Many modern computers can actually voice text. The idea is to open your email and then have your computer read the text within the email to you. You can also use services that send receivers to a certain web page to download your voice message. These days, it's quite easy to simply record a voice message on your computer and send it as an attachment. There are a number of specialized services and software that has developed in the last year for voicing your messages instant of emailing them in straight text. Just take a look at the resources at the end of this article for tools to do it.

Video Conferencing
Face-To Face Communications Over The Net

Video conferencing through the net is starting to catch on in the mainstream. With the advantage of real time communication, it offers promising features. With a sound card, WebCam attached to your computer and a microphone, you can have real time face-to-face discussions with others. Almost all newer computers come with sound cards. Low end webcams (which is a low end video camera that attached to your computer) can be obtained for under $200.00. Through video conferencing technology, you can create what is called a whiteboard which is a shared document two or more people can work on.

Perhaps the most popular software that puts all this together is Microsoft net Meeting. If you don't have it installed on your computer, you can download it from

Microsoft Net Meeting
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/netmeeting

It's becoming easier to hold video conferencing with web site video meeting rooms set up much like chat rooms. The two major players for these easy to use video conferencing rooms are:

CuSeeMe
http://www.cuseemeworld.com

VisiTalk
http://www.visitalk.com

In today's mainstream Internet world, there is certainly a bandwidth problem when it comes to video conferencing. The problem is, phone lines were just not designed to carry video and voice in a face-off. However, compression technology has made it possible. You can have face-to-face real time video conferencing over the Internet with a 56K modem through a phone line although there will be some clogs now and then.

Email To Fax And Back
In today's communication world, there really isn't any more need for you to purchase a fax machine if you already have a computer because there are a number of excellent software programs on the market that let you send the receive fax right from your computer. Moreover, there are a number of web based services that let you send and receive email as fax. You'll find some email to fax and back services you can use at the end of this article.

Bluetooth Wireless Technology
It you don't know what the term bluetooth is, you haven't checked out a copy of just about any computer magazine in the last year or have not taken a close look at new cellular phone services. Bluetooth unplugs the Internet and lets your communicate wirelessly. You can do it from your computer and you can do it from your cell phone. Yes, you can send and receive email, faxes, send attached graphics and access the Net right from a cell phone or other wireless connection these days.

Non-Computer Access
If you haven't taken a look at the number of non-computers connected to the Internet these days, you are in for a surprises. In the early days of net use, you had to have a computer to access the net. The problem is, some people don't have a computer, don't want to spend the money on buying one and don't want to spend the time it takes to learn to use one. Well folks, these people are getting on the net by the millions through handheld devises such as Palms (commonly called PDA's which stand for personal digital assistant) and SmartPhones. SmartPhones are new cell phones that do a whole lot more than just make phone calls. These cell phones access the net, send and receive email as well as faxes and much more. There are also a number of desktop non-computer devices that connect to the Internet without the expensive and learning curve of full blown computers. It's worth reviewing some of these new hardware devises since you will likely be using one soon.

SmartPhones have Huge Selection Of Cells
If you have a cell phone and got it several years ago, you had better stop in at your local cell phone store this year. The new cell phones hitting the market these days are called Smart Phones. These digital phones do more than just make calls. They access the Internet. You can get news, send and receive email as well as send and receive faxes. The whole idea is to take your complete communications connection with you wherever you go.

To find out more about SmartPhones, check this article:

SmartPhones And Thw Wireless Internet
http://smartphones.com/learn.htm#twi

 

PDA's
Personal Digital Assistants have bee along for a long time. These are those little pocket-sized gadgets that act as a telephone address book, adding machine and calendar. But today's PDA's can connect to the Internet. That makes them communication devises you slip into your coat pocket. Five years ago, if someone told you they had a devise that they carried around with them in their pocket that connected to the Internet, sent and received email and faxes from all over the world, kept notes, held their telephone book contacts and appointments, could be used as a calculator, pinpoint their location through GPS technology, display photos, take snap shots and play games to pass the time-you'd think you had traveled one hundred years into the future but that can all be obtained today. The most popular PDA is the Palm Pilot.

Palm Pilot
http://www.palm.com/

PDA's and smartphones are one thing, stripped down non-computer devises are something else. PDA's and smartphones were designed for mobility. These on-computer devises are designed to connect to the net and communicate from a desktop. The most popular of these non-computer net access devices is a package called The I-Opener by Netpliance. For less than $200.00, you can buy one and be on the Internet by hitting just one button. To review this popular non-computer desktop go to:

I-Opener
http://www.netpliance.com/index.asp

There's still more! For those who don't have them room and want to access the Internet and email through there TV, there is always products like WebTV which is a settop box that attaches to your TV and plugs into your phone line.

To find out more about WebTV, go to:
http://www.webtv.com/

If you don't want to clog up your TV for fear that someone will want to watch a TV program while another wants to check email, there's pure telephone devises now that act as both a telephone and email/internet device. InfoGear's multipurpose iPhone functions as both a telephone, web browser, email tool and answering machine all built into one unit.

To find our more about the iPhone, go to:
http://www.infogear.com/index2.html

Free Phone And Fax Over The Net
Move over Ma Bell! Your long distance toll call charging days are coming to an end! That's right! CEOs and upper management of telephone companies are loosing sleep over this one! With the right equipment connected to your computer, you can now make totally free long distance phone calls and send faxes. All you have to do it stop in at these web sites that offer this kind of service to see exactly what I mean.

DialPad
http://www.dialpad.com/
Free long distance for anyone! Make totally free long distance phone calls from your computer to any phone in the USA.

Pagoo
http://www.pagoo.com/ipl/asp/home/homepage.asp
Surf the web worry free. With Pagoo Call Catcher™: Get instant notification right on your desktop of incoming phone calls. Get a personal Internet Voice Mailbox. Play back your voice messages on your PC without disconnecting from the Internet. Save unlimited voice messages, organize them just like email. Download it today FREE.

BuzMe
http://www.buzme.com/index.html
Answer the phone you are on while online.
You also get free Internet call waiting, free voicemail and free call screening with caller ID.

Onebox
http://www.onebox.com
Free voicemail, email and fax.

JFax
http://www.jfax.com/
Free fax calling. fax and voice messaging delivered to your email.

HearMe
http://www.hearme.com/products/voicecontact/
Forget IMM and back and forth email. Now
you can use live voice communication over the net!

U Reach
http://www.ureach.com/
Free voice mail, email over the phone and free 800 number.

Anonymous Surfing
When you search the web, cookies likely go out giving details about you, your email address, your computer, your IP address and where you have been on the net. These anonymous filters are online pages you can search the net with that act like a security wall so this information is not given out.

Anonymizer
http://www.Anonymizer.com/

Silent Browser
http://www.silentbrowser.com/

The Cloak!
http://www.the-cloak.com

With all the different methods of communication these days, it's likely to make you wonder, what's next! I'm not sure but whatever it is it will be soon.

Ralph Thomas