Getting enough people to volunteer can be a difficult task, even in major cities. So Randy Tyler, volunteer co-ordinator and Web master at Macdonald Youth Services in Winnipeg, decided to expand his pool of available talent. For more than two years, Tyler has gone online to recruit volunteers from around the globe, facilitating his organizations efforts to help abused youths. “What virtual volunteering does,” says Tyler, “is allow you to tap into a whole un tapped resource of highly skilled people.”
To track down volunteers, Tyler posts a job description on his groups site at www.mys.mb.ca, on the Volunteer Opportunities Exchange site at www. voe-reb. org and at www.cbarityvillage.com. At the latter two sites, Canadians can list what skills they have to offer while community organizations post their needs. One man Tyler recruited from San Diego developed a database to store client profiles and medical records for the centre. Once it was completed, he e-mailed the file to Tyler. Another volunteer in Victoria created software that allows new volunteers to apply online, through the groups site. A man in Ukraine designed a logo. Others have signed on as men-
tors, hosting online chats with troubled youths. With Net use rising, and 2001 designated the International Year of Volunteers, Tyler looks forward to his pool of wired talent growing further still.
Electronic drawing tablets usually require users to sketch on a blank, flat surface. The pen strokes create electrical signals that are relayed to a computer, where the image appears. Now, Sony has gone one better, introducing the VAIO Slimtop PCV-LX900 Pen Tablet. The sleek design turns the PCs monitor into a touch-sensitive drawing tablet, making the work of graphic artists and photo editors much easier. The LX900, powered by a one-gigahertz Pentium III processor, comes with a 15-inch liquid crystal display. Lie it flat, and you can draw. Stand it upright, and it functions like a conventional monitor. Ideal for editing digital images and video or creating Web graphics and animation, the LX900 also comes with easy-to-use software that, according to Sony, makes it fim for novices, too. But at $4,700, the VAIO tablet is anything but a toy.
Despite search engines, finding what you need on the tangled Web can be time consuming. Bots can help. Short for robots, bots are computer programs that automatically search for you. They help find the best price for something, collect news tailored to your interests, or gather investor data. At www.botspot.com, visitors can download bots best suited to their needs and keep track of the latest developments. Still confused? E-mail the sites help desk.
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