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This article by was prepared for the October 17, 2001 edition of
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Linking Computers? It’s Getting Simpler
Connectivity in your office rings like "habeas
in the courtroom — fancy words that cost you money. Typically
budgets get bruised pretty badly when it comes to linking up computers
so they can swap messages without an annoying electronic snub.
even the simplest interface has required an expensive, incoherent
wizard, who would swoop in, perform his tricks, and then vanish,
leaving you all alone.
But now, more and more of this magic is translating into a very simple
science. On Thursday, October 18, at 12:30 p.m. the tricks of this
trade are revealed in a free "Networking Technology for Smaller
Businesses" seminar at Mercer County Community College’s James
Kearney Campus at North Broad and Academy streets in Trenton. Long
time tech veteran Ray Ingram
for Workforce Excellence in Information Technology
will join MCCC technology instructor Rafael Cortes
you how to link up your system with minimal cost. This is a Trenton
Small Business Week seminar. Call 609-396-8801.
"The real truth," says Cortes, "is that few people have
even the vaguest awareness of the software and networking aids already
available in their own hardware." But Cortes does. He is one of
those fast-fading, old style wizards who has made himself much sought
after by major firms. Born, raised, and seldom moved far from Trenton,
Cortes swiftly shifted from high school through a string of technical
training centers, all the while freelancing his talents to such firms
as Betz Dearborn, a Pennsylvania hydrotreatment plant in need of
In l992 Mobile Oil hired Cortes to interconnect all the computers
within its Hopewell Research and Development plant. He knows the
of that humming strange box on your desk as few folks do.
Cortes’ prime directive to business owners is to rid themselves of
computer fear and create a wish list. Without imagining limitations,
design the exact networking flow pattern your business needs —
in all its offices and stations. "Odds are," he says, "you
can get that very link from your current system cheaper than you
learning in the office is achieved over the Internet. The how-to
lies within reach of your keyboard and phone in most cases. Cortes
suggests that you first examine your own systems, call your
support people, and find out exactly what capabilities already exist
within the box. Frequently, the phone support folks can lead you to
sites with special linking instructions. From there you can move into
outside compatible software on the Internet and, if the need arises,
through a local computer store.
Both Ingram and Cortes warn against purchasing blind from a catalog
and dumping the entire task in the lap of some outsourced wizard.
Previewing purchases in cyberspace allows you to read more copiously
and compare products. Catalogs only have room for a brief blurb.
net-sold products are more often linked directly to the manufacturer’s
free support group.
Outside tech wizards frequently will build you a network that is
to operate, but monstrous to debug or even upgrade. Their support
capabilities are necessarily limited. This does not mean that you
shouldn’t hire them. It means simply that they serve best as advisors
while several people from your own business get their hands dirty
with the actual network set-up.
were spending up to $2 million on a client page that web hosts now
offer for $200 a year," says Cortes. There is so much in-computer
linkage, downloadable shareware (nominal fee software) and freeware
available, he insists, that most small and mid-size businesses can
have all their computers interfaced for petty cash.
Online firms like Flash or Tech Republic lead customers directly to
specific websites where software can be instantly downloaded and
with online support standing by. Clients can register, define their
needs, and receive news of current updates, or actually have the
system automatically installed. Web hosting companies will install
and tend your set-up, with prices beginning at $24.95 to about $200
connective obstacle, according to Cortes. Using the Unix-based
of Linux and Novell, the two types of machines should be able to
chat with one another. (Though Heaven knows how they bicker when the
operator is away.)
small businesses appear justifiably hesitant to merrily go
unknown software. Yet Cortes advises that Internet or store-bought
virus protection products, particularly those offering free instant
updates, offer ample protection.
and printers linked, and all your sales data shared and instantly
updated, the question becomes: Where do you center all this stuff?
If cataloged by Microsoft Office suites or some infinitely cheaper,
yet capable, shareware, probably much of the day-to-day stuff can
be based in the boss’s own system. The rest can be farmed reliably
to an outsource server, which can daily update, tend, and reshuffle
the data on demand. Costs are minimal, particularly compared with
the necessary hardware purchases required for in-house storage.
In choosing such a such an outside web host, Cortes advises,
is the main issue. Be it a web host, or shareware vs. Microsoft, you
get the support system you pay for." Generally a local web host
physically nearby proves best. In any case, make sure dedicated backup
is part of the contract.
technical toys. But the real question you have to keep asking yourself
is what works best for you? Some transfers will always be best made
on paper. The whole concept of `multimedia’ is to provide you choices,
not to make you conform to a system."
Right here, right now in central New Jersey, scientists
are working on genetically manipulating mice and pigs to achieve new
breakthrough in medical technology and drug development.
Mice and pigs — no problem there for most of us. But, as Princeton
University biologist Lee M. Silver
the object of scientific inquiry will be the genetic alteration of
people. Sooner or later, Silver predicts, geneticists will be able
to genetically modify human embryos so that children can be born with
new genes that were not present in either parent.
Silver will address some of the ethical implications on Thursday,
October 18, at the 10 a.m. meeting of 55 Plus at the Jewish Center
of Princeton, 435 Nassau Street. The non-sectarian 55 PLus is an
group of retired men or those with flexible work hours. It meets on
the first and third Thursdays of each month from September through
May. For information call 609-737-2001 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Silver’s topic has the same title as his recent book: "Remaking
Eden: How Genetic Engineering and Cloning will Transform the American
"It all boils down to two strong desires," Silver said in
a 1999 interview with U.S. 1, "the desire to have one’s own
children, and the desire to `advantage’ one’s children as much as
Comparing biotech to transportation, Silver says that this decade
marks the birth of biotechnology. Two hundred years ago, horses were
the major means of transportation, and now mankind is almost ready
to land on Mars. Given that amazing improvement, it is hard to imagine
where biotechnology will be in 200 years.
For those who object to repro-genetics on ethical or religious
Silver points out the similarities between the polio vaccine and a
genetic vaccine. Almost everyone gets the polio vaccine, so why can’t
the genetic vaccine be made available? Would it be wrong for parents
to give their child a gene (say, an anti cystic fibrosis gene) that
some other child gets naturally?
Everyone is going to draw the line in a different place, and curing
fatal diseases will obviously get more support than upgrading IQs.
Possible uses of repro-genetics:
fibrosis, Tay Sachs, and muscular dystrophy. "Even the Vatican
approves of this," says Silver.
diseases such as cancer, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, or
Some people would allow the pre-birth elimination of cystic fibrosis
but would insist on treating asthma with drugs after birth.
for AIDS resistance, longevity, and resistance to senility.
physical beauty, or perfect pitch.
justice, whether rich families should be allowed to
their children genetically when poorer families cannot. "Is it
wrong to start life with a huge advantage that other families can’t
afford?" asks Silver. His answer: It’s the American way, and it
is going to happen, whether or not ethicists approve. Rich families
send their children to the best schools and give them every advantage.
Meanwhile poor families can’t afford to buy their children a computer.
"If it is right for after birth — why not before?" he
However, principles of social equality might lead society to reject
the use of a technology that could greatly widen the gap between
and non-affluent people and societies.
Silver is a Professor at Princeton University in the Department of
Molecular Biology and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and
Affairs. He graduated from Harvard University with a Ph.D. in
His book has been published in 15 languages. Dr. Silver was a member
of the New Jersey Bioethics Commission Task Force formed to recommend
reproductive policy for the New Jersey State Legislature, and has
testified on reproductive and genetic technologies before
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