Nearly everyone these days has more than one wireless device connected to a home network — a laptop computer, iPad, and possibly a Chromecast for the television. Most products are sold with the promise of “set-it-and-forget-it.” But when reality intervenes, in the form of a thunderstorm or power outage, what do you do then?
Computer Learning Center instructor David Shinkfield will address this question Tuesday, January 6, at 2 p.m. when he presents a free program on “Understanding Your Wireless Network and How to Keep It Secure.” Sponsored by the CLC as part of its Computer Tips and Tricks series, the program will be presented in the Ewing Senior and Community Center, 999 Lower Ferry Road, and will be preceded at 1:30 p.m. by a question and answer session during which the audience can seek answers to computer-related questions. No prior registration is required.
The presentation will emphasize routers and setting up and securing a home network. “The router is the center of your home network and understanding how to keep it running at best performance will make using your wireless gadgets more satisfying,” Shinkfield says.
“The router is one device that keeps your E-mails secure and prevents your neighbors from ‘stealing’ your Internet connection or invading your privacy. However, routers vary significantly in price, and in order to select one, you need to understand the vocabulary. The good news is that keeping your home network running smoothly is now less complicated. In fact, there are simple fixes for many challenges that can make using your wireless devices less frustrating and far more fun.”
The simple fixes are good news for those who understandably feel overwhelmed by the electronics populating their lives. “The universe of products has changed dramatically and it makes the number of things you have to know a bit more complicated,” Shinkfield says. Many of the people who attend his classes come with a wide array of the latest electronic devices, from smartphones to tablet computers to laptops. “There has been a major increase in the number and range of electronic toys that we all have,” Shinkfield says. When he gave a similar talk in 2010, most people in the audience had one computer: a Windows PC desktop running XP. Four years later people still have an old desktop, but also a laptop, iPad or Android tablet, and a smartphone.
Shinkfield grew up in Dover in the United Kingdom, the son of two very low-tech parents. “My father ran a company in London and Dover that manufactured specialized cardboard boxes for products such as fountain pens, candy, and vinyl disks,” he says. “That dates us.” He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Salford, in the north of England, in 1962, and went to work with AEI Ltd. “I managed the building of electrical substations for the 400kv system in the U.K.,” he says.
In 1966 Shinkfield joined PA Consulting Group in London and worked for a wide variety of industries in the UK, Europe, and the United States. He and his family moved to the U.S. in 1979. Before he retired, he spent the last 15 years of his career with PA working with the major pharmaceutical companies in the U.S., U.K., Europe, and Japan, “to reduce the time taken to develop new drugs and to get them to market.”
Shinkfield, who now teaches several courses including Windows 7 and Windows 8, has shared his familiarity with computers as a volunteer instructor with the Computer Learning Center for more than 10 years. He is also an active volunteer in the Mercer County community where he has coached foreign students and their families in English.
The non-profit Computer Learning Center at Ewing, which sponsors the Computer Tips and Tricks programs as a public service, also offers a variety of PC and iPad computer skills courses for adults in central New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. For further information about this program, courses, or directions, call 609-883-1776, ext. 6205, or visit the CLC website at www.clcewing.org.