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Saturday, 11 October 2008


The computers in Auckland City Council's libraries that give people free access to the Internet have a fraction of the facilities available on the ones in Thames-Coromandel District Council's.

Thames-Coromandel has fitted its computers with webcams and headphones, and the list of software available is long. First, it has a choice of browser, both MS-Explorer and Firefox. It also has Skype (so you can make free videophone/phone calls all over the planet to other Skype users). It has MS-Word, MS-Excel, MS-Powerpoint, MS-Office Publisher, MS-Office, OpenOffice Writer, OpenOffice Calc, OpenOffice Impress, OpenOffice Draw, CD Burner, VLC Media Player, Audio Editor, CD & DVD Writer, Media Player, Picture Photo Editor, Video Editor, Web & FTP Tools, Zip, iTunes, Kompozer, Notepad, QuickTime Player, Windows Media Maker, Games, etc., etc.

Its Start-menu has an extensive list to make life easier for users, including entries for Picasa and Google Earth. Easy access to Google Earth is there in part because Thames-Coromandel has a tie-up with it, and has made available to it its aerial-photo database, thus creatiing a powerful facility.

Auckland City has headphones available on request, but has no webcams and no Skype. Nor does it have a long list of accessible stuff on the Start Menu--there's no list at all. There are only eleven programsavailable, mainly the standard stuff: MS-Explorer, MS-Word, MS-Excel, MS-Access, MS-Office Picture Manager, MS-Powerpoint, MS-Publisher, MS-Paint, MS-Calc, Roxio Easy Media Creator (Basic Edition), and Windows Media Player. Auckland has no arrangement with Google Earth.

So Thames-Coromandel's library computers are another example of the far more comprehensive public-service ethic that is one of its hallmarks. Small wonder that it has had 84% and 80% overall satisfaction-ratings in the last two years (measured by the National Research Bureau). The dissatisfied 16-20% should try Auckland--and they would get bonus: they would be changing from bags to wheelie-bins.