Updated January 29, 2009

This is the "Read me first" file!

Read this first:

The general concept:

I designed this page for two reasons: There are two things you might notice about "The Starting Line":

Where do we go from here?

This project was developed because I noticed that many of my teaching associates and students were in need of such a "one-stop" reference tool that was simple enough so as not to be overwhelming, yet complete enough that it can point the user in the right direction. Over the last ten years, I have been refining the content of the pages and adding new material and new features. As useful websites continue to appear, I will continue to add them to the appropriate areas under the "Roadmap to the Internet" section of this site. Especially useful or entertaining sites will appear on my "Favorite Picks" page for a few months, and then moved to "Roadmap to the Internet."

I want to offer a website that focuses on secondary and postsecondary education, but also reminds you that there is more to life than just computers, books and paperwork. For this reason, I have included some recreational links on my "Roadmap to the Internet" page. I enjoy physical fitness, bicycling, music, movies, multimedia software, western living, antiques and classic cars, so you will notice I included a few of my favorite "links" in these areas. Get out from behind the computer once in a while!

I am also open to posting announcements that would be of interest to all. The general focus of this forum is education, more specifically, the teaching of computer courses, use of computers in non-CSIS classes, and upgrading computer skills to achieve better career opportunities. Since I am also a musician as well as an educator, you might find that I also try to include some useful links for entertainers in the Music section of the "Roadmap to the Internet." If you are aware of a unique opportunity that fits within this focus, email it to me, at one of the address listed at the bottom of this page and I will attempt to create an area for such announcements. The bulletins currently posted are getting a little old, so PLEASE, send me some new information for the announcements page!

What kind of information is available here?

On my "Roadmap to the Internet," page, I have posted links to sights I have found to be useful in one way or another. You will find information on subjects such as education, lesson plans, textbook publishers, grants, employment opportunities, computer hardware and software, and technology. There are magazines and books you can read on-line or cut-and-paste information from. There are some good links for local information such as news, weather, traffic and events. You can branch out and explore other cities, states and countries.

As a computer user, you will find connections to leading hardware and software manufacturers where you can get your questions answered, solve a compatibility problem, or obtain a driver or software update. I will be adding more "online support" connections as this project evolves.

One of the featured areas of this web site is the list of search engines (see "Search for information" under "Roadmap to the Internet"). I have tried out many search solutions on the Internet, and have collected what I feel to be the best, easiest and most useful sites to conduct a web search. There are a variety of search engines for all the different types of searches (information, people, software, music, etc.) as well as some "deep web" or "invisible" search links which will lead you to information that most people didn't even know was available.

If you are a desktop publisher or multimedia developer, you will find collections of clip art, audio and video clips, templates, borders, backgrounds and icons.

When you get tired of all the work, try some of the hobby or recreational sites that are listed. You'll find everything from Las Vegas shows to the latest Dilbert comics. The "shopping" area has some online catalogs you can browse or order from.

Most important - check out the "mega-sites" such as Yahoo, Excite or MSN. These sites have cataloged the entire World Wide Web by category and work hard to make new listings available. These sites are truly the "index to the Internet!"

Who is hosting this page?

My name is Tom Smerk. I am a full-time Business Information Technology Associate Professor for the San Diego Community College District Continuing Education Centers. I also teach Learning & Resource Technology classes for the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District in the Technology Center at the Grossmont College campus, and have recently taught Office Automation at United Education Institute (UEI). In addition to my teaching assignments, I have recently worked on a part-time contract as a multimedia courseware (CBT/CAI) developer for the San Diego Community College District Workplace Learning Resource Center. For more information on this and other CBT projects, check out the Computer Based Training section of the Employee Training Institute website. Academically speaking, I am proud to announce that I have been granted the degree of "Doctor of Philosophy" on April 29, 2004. Although this is not an WASC academic degree as it was issued by a church through their seminary, it is an official accredited earned degree (not an honorary title) and is a step toward two future projects I am working on.

My areas of interest are teaching beginners and older adults, operating systems, word processing, desktop publishing, Internet, Windows, graphics, music and MIDI, and multimedia (presentation graphics and CBT authoring). I am also interested in distance learning and the general use of computer technology in the classroom - both as a tool for the teacher and an aid for the student. I also enjoy writing (non-fiction), and am currently working on three non-fiction books. I enjoy writing and recording music, and am currently studying the "Audacity" and "Sonar 2" software, which is a computer-based multitrack recording system. If my financing comes available, I plan to build a new recording studio to replace the one that was destroyed by fire in the October 2007 "Harris" fire. You can listen to some of my earlier recordings on my other web site, tomsmerk.com.

If all of this leaves me any time for hobbies or other interests, I enjoy outdoor recreation, listening to "smooth-jazz," folk and bluegrass music, and visiting local areas of interest such as the Zoo, Wild Animal Park, Sea World, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and local parks and recreation areas. I am very interested in the scenic "back country" areas of San Diego County, so I moved to a small 3-acre ranch in the back country area of Dulzura in March, 1999.

I love to travel. Some of my favorite destinations are New York City, Nashville, Kentucky (where I have 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren living), Lake Tahoe and Pennsylvania. I have never been to the Northwestern states, but I would like to travel there soon.

I was a professional entertainer in the 1970's, and have been working in bands since 1965. I currently work occasionally with several local groups plus entertain as a single. I play guitar, and enjoy playing a variety of styles including swing, jazz, blues, country, folk, bluegrass, smooth jazz, old standards and classic rock.

I am also an Ordained Minister, and would like to serve as pastor for a local church after I retire from teaching.

As this web site project evolves, I will be posting more information about other projects I am involved with so that we all might learn from each other and share ideas and information. Be sure to check out the Announcements & Events page occasionally, as well as the What's new at "The Starting Line?" bulletin.

Enjoy what is here, and watch for more to be added as the project develops. Check back at least once a week - I plan on continuously upgrading the information stored on these pages.

Your comments are very important!

I would enjoy hearing from you. Would you please take a moment to write a short note to let me know you stopped by for a visit?

If you are a student or a teacher, or a writer or musician, I'd like to hear about any interesting projects you might be working on.


You can click on any of these email addresses to contact me:

tsmerk@sdccd.edu - OR - tom.smerk@gcccd.edu

You can also contact me at any of the following campus locations:

San Diego Community College District
Mid City Center
3792 Fairmount Avenue
San Diego, CA 92105
Phone: (619) 388-4588

Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District
8800 Grossmont College Drive
El Cajon, CA 92020-1799
Phone: (619) 644-7000

Keep in touch. Thanks for visiting.

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Copyright 2006 by Thomas M. Smerk