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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the April 30, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Get Your Laptop Ready to Play Outdoors

It really is a dream come true for anyone who feeds

on instant information — and hates being tethered to an electric

outlet. It is becoming easy to scan restaurant menus, find out movie

times, look up addresses, read book reviews, compare television prices,

and shop for beach chairs anywhere, any time, and all without wires.

Sit on a park bench and chat with a friend in Germany. Sip a latte

in a coffee house and play chess with a pal in California. Wireless

technology is making it happen, and the Trenton Computer Festival

offers detailed instruction on taking advantage of all the untethered

electronic life has to offer.

This year, says Al Katz, professor of electrical engineering

at the College of New Jersey and a founder of the venerable event,

the festival is focusing on wireless technology. The two-day event

takes place on Saturday and Sunday, May 3 and 4, at the New Jersey

Convention Center in Edison. It features the top technology players

in the tri-state area, as well as over 500 exhibits. Cost is $15 for

both days.

Discounted preregistration is available at www.tcf-nj.org. Additionally,

techies arriving one hour before Sunday and Saturday’s opening can

participate in the outdoor flea market, where they can shed the old

or snap up the nearly new at bargain prices.

Not only is the Trenton Computer Festival talking about wireless,

it also going wireless.

"We’re encouraging everyone to bring a laptop," says Katz.

Wi-Fi laptops connect to the festival’s conference network so that,

among other things, users can pick up the program, connect to the

Internet, and get information on vendors. A laptop loaded with any

standard Wi-Fi card will be able to connect, says Katz. For those

who do not yet have a card, they will be on sale, and there will be

lots of advice on which card to purchase, how to install it, and exactly

how to go wireless.

"Experts will be there to help configure laptops," says Katz.

"People can get the cards and test them."

Among the sessions devoted to the new, wireless world are "Wireless

PDAs: Features, Applications, Security, and E-Commerce," "Managing

Your Enterprise in a Mobile World," "Setting up a Home Wireless

Network," "Which Wireless Standard is Best for You?,"

and "Wireless, Radio, and Radar: The Foundation for Computer Technology."

Other topics cover every possible aspect of the computer industry,

especially as it intersects with consumers. Among the event’s enormous

menu of topics are Internet jobs, global positioning systems, backing

up hard drives, outstanding children’s websites, video game trends,

Internet security, making your own printed curcuit boards, and getting

started with word processing with microcomputers.

Bring a laptop — or shop for one — and prepare to spend the

first weekend in May indoors. The payoff could be a lifetime of spring

weekends in the park or at the beach or the ball game with your portable

information source by your side, ready to serve up a constant connection

to all the information the world has to offer.


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