Corrections or additions?
This article by Peter J. Mladineo was published
in U.S. 1 Newspaper on April 15, 1998. All rights reserved.
From Bill Gates to Chat Rooms
Never underestimate Trenton Computer Festival’s power
to pull off surprises. In 1976 organizers Al Katz and Sol
Libes were shocked to see that the maiden festival, which also
happened to be the first computer festival ever, made the front page
of the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune.
Eight years ago Bill Gates was the keynote speaker. Katz, who
had spent the first part of the day escorting the Microsoft chairman
around Mercer County College prior to his talk, recalls honoring
to hide him for a few hours and stowed the multibillionaire in his
office for more than two hours with only one disturbance — a
Katz had tipped off, who popped in ostensibly looking for Katz.
"Gates was real nice," Katz recalls. "He treated people
well. He reminded me of a John Denver-type-of-guy. He was not this
This year’s keynote speaker is Stacy Horn, less of a celebrity
but far brasher and more irreverent than Gates. Horn is a jaded New
Yorker, likes to curse, and plays drums in a Manhattan-based samba
band on the weekends. She founded the online community ECHO ("East
Coast Hang Out") in 1990 and now has written a book about it,
"Cyberville: Clicks, Culture, and the Creation of an Online
(Warner Books, $23). Based in New York, ECHO is free of the mall-like
atmosphere of AOL’s chat rooms. It’s 40 percent female, heady, and
fraught with artsy types, some celebrities, and the extremely
The service has discussion forums for the Whitney Museum of Art, High
Times, Ms., and the Village Voice. There are no restrictions on
Horn notes the human need to establish direct connections with the
souls of other human beings. And for that, there seems to be no better
medium than cyberspace. But for this to work in a chat room format,
she suggests, the experience has to be combined with in-the-flesh
encounters as well. While ECHO frequently is dotted with diatribes
and arguments, it also has socials where members actually get to meet
"The most important thing that I have learned about communities
in cyberspace, is that it is frequently impossible to have tolerance,
something absolutely essential to keep a community going, without
some face-to-face connection," writes Horn. "For a community
to work you have to accept imperfection. You can tolerate a wider
range of behavior once you look someone in the face. I don’t think
it’s that you know them better once you’ve met them, necessarily,
it’s that when you get back online, you project less. And once you
meet a person, it’s harder to dismiss them thoughtlessly. You cut
them just enough slack to get over the rough spots."
Horn speaks at the Trenton Computer Festival on Saturday, April 18,
at 11:30 a.m. The festival opens at 10 a.m. at Mercer County Community
College. Another important speaker is Donald P. Delaney, a
investigator with the New York State Police who has lectured at the
FBI Academy, speaks Saturday at 2 p.m. about "Hackers and Internet
The festival’s homage to Horn and ECHO’s "communication for
sake" credo are evidence of a change in direction the festival
is taking, away from techie-oriented stuff and toward the endless
variety of niches that computer connectivity has created.
"The primary emphasis has shifted from a focus on the computer
to a focus on the communication between computers and between
Katz reports. "There are more talks on Internet and
activities than that just deal with the computer itself. That’s a
big change. Also there are talks that you wouldn’t have seen
about the sociological aspects of the computer. The computer has gone
from being the domain of a bunch of technical geeks to the arts."
Katz, a microwave engineer, has degrees from Trenton State, Rutgers
University, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has taught
electrical engineering at the College of New Jersey for 26 years,
and organizes this festival for free. "This is part of being an
engineering professor," he says. "If you do your job right
you’ve go to know what’s going on in the industry so you can bring
that to your students."
This year’s event will feature yet another first: continuing education
units (CEUs) are now available for attending any of the festival’s
100 talks. One CEU can be received for each one-hour talk you attend.
The CEUs will be certified by Mercer County College’s continuing
department at no cost.
To get there, park at the adjacent Mercer County Park and take the
shuttle buses to the campus. $10 for two days, $5 for students and
senior citizens, preschoolers free. For more information, call
or check the website at http://www.tcf.net. Register at
To receive a CEU, attend the talk, fill in the title of the talk on
a form they’ll give you, and at the end of the talk ask the presenter
to sign the form. Before the end of the festival turn in your form
along with a $2 fee for mailing at the main information booth, or
the speaker registration desk in the lobby of the Student Center.
— Peter J. Mladineo
Popular Paint Programs," Leonard Sragow; 12:45 p.m., a computer
graphics film show with Douglas Dixon and Jeff Posdamer,
both of the David Sarnoff Research Center; 3:15 p.m. "Dedicated
Game Machines, featuring Zelda ’98," by Roger W. Amidon
of the DX Computer Company; and 4:30 p.m., "Computer Graphics
for Multimedia," with Philip Sanders of the College of New
and Computers," James Miller of Devonshire Software; 12:45
p.m., "Modems in the Information Age," Cass Lewart,
electrical engineer and author, "The Ultimate Modem Handbook"
(Prentice Hall, 1997); 2 p.m., "Intranets," William H.
Leatham, webmaster, Federal Deposit Insurance Company, FDIC; 3:15
p.m., "Introduction to Network Hardware," Scott Vincent,
executive board member of the Amateur Computer Group of New Jersey
and co-director of the computer festival.
For Your Dream Job, New York or London?" Donald Hsu, IT
professor, Dominican College; 12:45 p.m., "Loyal Internet
— On-line Communities for Business," Christopher J.
Keynote Software Inc.; 2 p.m., "Should You Put Your Business on
the Internet?" Urban LeJeune, America’s Town Square and
author, "Netscape & HTML EXplorer," computer best seller.
Control Systems," Carla Gentili; 12:45 p.m., "Doing
Business on the Internet in 1998," James Coe, cybercommando;
3:15 p.m., "Literature On the Internet," Matthew Paris,
Poets For City Schools and co-director of the Internet publishing
website, "New York Writers Cafe"; 4:30 p.m., "Using the
Internet as a Marketing Vehicle," Rick Elbanna, Online
Finding God In Cyberspace: Using The Web to Study, Practice, and
Religion," Leona Seufert, Star Quest; 2:00 p.m.,
Guide To The Internet," Michael Siegel, post-production
editor, ABC-TV; 4:30 p.m., "Tips on Creating Web Pages,"
Libes, founder, Amateur Computer Group Of New Jersey, and
Princeton PC Users Group.
Software Tools for The RF Engineer," Gerald Harrison, Micro
Methods; 12:45 p.m., "Internet for the Common Man," Martin
Rosenblum, Amateur Computer Group of New Jersey; 2 p.m.,
and Internet Security," Don Delaney, senior investigator,
New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
a.m., "Image Scanning for Newsletters," Victor Belanger,
vice president and COO, Linearizer Technology; 12:45 p.m. and 2 p.m.,
"Desktop Publishing for Beginners," Walter Salm, editor,
U.S. Tech; 3:15 p.m, AutoCAD Users Group, J. William Klotz,
Johnson & Johnson Consulting Engineers; 4:30 p.m., "Authoring
for DVD Video and DVD-ROM," Jay Yogeshwar, Front Porch
Laptops/Cellular Phones with Gel Cell Batteries," Hank
Bell Atlantic; 12:45 p.m., "Troubleshooting Windows Problems,"
David Soll, Omicron Consulting; 2 p.m., "An Introduction
to Microsoft Foundation Classes," James Gimpel, Gimpel
3:15 p.m., "Windows NT Clusters," Bob Branchek, Bob
Branchek Associates; 4:30 p.m., "Linux for NEWbies," Peter
Fillingham, Amateur Computer Group of New Jersey.
Building and Maintenance," John Hill, Philadelphia Area
Computer Society; 12:45 p.m., "Controlling The World From Your
PC," Paul Bergsman, Philadephia Area Computer Society;
3:15 p.m., "Porting UZI to the Zilog Z180," Harold Bower,
ZSDOS Development Team; 4:30 p.m., "Super CPU-128 For the
64/128," Marvin Auerbach, Bronx Users Group.
to Java — Step by Step," David Moskowitz, Productivity
Solutions; 12:45 p.m., "Year 2000/Cobol Programmers/SAP,"
Nalit Patel, Roseland Computers; 2 p.m., "Java Technology:
Past, Present and Future," Frank Greco, Crossroads
3:15 p.m., "Introduction to C++," Mike Redlich and
Carr; 4:30 p.m., "Introduction To Local Area Networks,"
Michael Vartanian, PACS.
"Lotus Notes A Messaging and Groupware Platform," Mike
Barlow, Bright Ideas Software; 12:45 p.m., "Automating Your
Accounting System," John Corbett, Brookdale Computer Users
Group; 3:15 p.m., "Software Engineering and Business Object
Brian Berenbach, DMR TRECOM.
Ari Kaplan, consultant; 12:45 p.m., "Electronic Commerce
over the Internet," Olivia Whiteman, president, Cakewalk
Consulting, and founder, Business Initiatives in Java’s Online
3:15 p.m., "Java and Electronic Commerce," Olivia
of the High School Technology Coordinator," Liz Dunbar,
academic coordinator, Baltimore City College High School; 12:45 p.m.,
"Indecent Exposure: Protecting Kids From Net Threats,"
Minster, Elizabeth Arden North America: 2 p.m., "How to be
a Technology Mentor," David Moskowitz, Productivity
3:15 p.m., "Conducting Computer-Mediated Brainstorming
Donald Egolf, University of Pittsburgh.
a.m., "More on Popular Paint Programs (& their place in
Leonard Sragow; 11:45 a.m., "Introduction to Oracle
Ari Kaplan; 1 p.m., "3D Animation in Astronomy,"
Buinis, Raritan Valley Community College planetarium.
to Network Hardware," Scott Vincent, Entex Information
and festival co-director; 1 p.m., "Search for Extra Terrestrial
Intelligence," Allen Katz, electrical engineering professor,
College of New Jersey.
a.m., "Online Privacy and Security," J.D. Abolins, Meyda
Online (BBS); 11:45 a.m., "How to Become a Certified Internet
Marketing Consultant," James Coe, consultant; 1 p.m,
Notes A Messaging and Groupware Platform, Mike Barlow, Bright
to Windows NT," Brenda Bell, Web Warren; 11:45 a.m.,
the Internet as a Marketing Vehicle," Rick Elbanna, Online
Marketing Network; 1 p.m., "Year 2000/Cobol Programmers/SAP,"
The World From Your PC," Paul Bergsman, Philadelphia Area
Computer Society; 1 p.m., "Word Processing to Typesetting,"
interest group, Frank Warren, Amateur Computer Group of New
Jersey; 11:45 a.m., Apple 2 User Group forum; 11:45 a.m., Apple 2
keyboard repair; 1 p.m, Apple 2 user Group forum.
Head, Amateur Computer Group of New Jersey; 1 p.m., Atari 8-bit
Users, Robert Ely, Jersey Atari Computer Society.
Migdal, Princeton Macintosh Users Group; 11:45 a.m., Power PC
Forum, Moe Comeau, Main Line Mac Users Group; 1 p.m., DEC
users and enthusiasts, Herman Hinitz.
for Beginners," Phyllis Roney, Princeton Plasma Physics
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