In an age when everyone does everything online, or so it seems, one event in central New Jersey has thrived for nearly 40 years: improbably it’s the Trenton Computer Festival, which attracts a group of people who could surely figure out how to do the entire program virtually if they wanted to.

This year’s 39th annual Trenton Computer Festival will be held on Saturday, March 15, at the College of New Jersey in Ewing. Admission for the day is $12. For more information, visit www.tcf-nj.org or call 800-631-0062.

In conjunction with the festival the IEEE will hold its annual IT professional conference in Armstrong Hall of the College of New Jersey on Friday and Saturday, March 14 and 15. Conference registration required. Go to www.princetonacm.acm.org/tcfpro.

One long-time attendee at the Trenton Computer Festival is Joe Jesson, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the College of New Jersey. A graduate of DePaul University, Jesson has worked in the design and implementation of wireless mobile sensor networks for GE and other companies. His consulting firm is Joseph Jesson Wireless Consulting. For information call 203-613-3344, jjesson@voyager.net, or visit www.rfsigint.com

To help explain the special attraction of the TCF Jesson wrote the following:

If you, or your family, have an interest in new technology, the 39th Annual Trenton Computer Festival (TCF) is one event you do not want to miss.

In fact for me, this is a event, which is more like a family reunion yearly get together — technical enthusiastic, hobbyists, experimenters, hardware and software hackers who many also happen to be professionals and leaders in the field of interest of but who also share a passion for life-long learning of “what’s new” in computers, ham radio, robotics, education, video, games, machine learning, smartphone, android programming, and many other areas.

The 2014 TCF keynote speaker and GE colleague, Joseph Salvo, created and currently manages a General Electric R&D Lab (Complex Systems Engineering Laboratory, GE Global Research) within the Global research lab in Niskayuna, New York, and GE R&D facilities in China. His keynote is on the Internet of Things (IoT) and the new Industrial Internet.

I worked with Joe to create a R&D Telematics and IoT park, which shows the potential of massive sensor networks, on the banks of the NY Mohawk River. This R&D effort resulted in each and every WalMart trailer sending wirelessly logistics sensor data back to server portals for analysis. Currently Joe Salvo is consulting on a GE project with the White House and I am excited to hear if he can expand on this project at TCF.

More than 50 seminars and workshops will be presented at TCF this year in a friendly and fun learning environment for people as they can mix-it-up with the old timers. This has been the TCF tradition for 39 years and the hands-on workshops on software, making professional videos, PC security, software development, and the ham radio license preparation (cram course) and license exam onsite.

My biggest dilemma is that I would like to attend other same-time talks but cannot during the time I am talking on the Internet-of-Things talk. Well, Barry Burd is demo-ing Google Glass and teaching how to create apps for Google Glass using the Mirror API and the GDK (Glass Development Kit). Fortunately, I attended Barry’s IEEE Android workshop and own his book on Android development and can contact him personally after the festival. You can, of course, attend and I highly recommend his talk (unless you are more interested in my Internet-of-Things IoT about the rapid growth of embedded wireless systems).

I also highly recommend the Robotics Track where you will hear presentations from the TCNJ engineering students and their senior projects. (TCNJ and the engineering department supports this event and at the ticket desk we can answer any questions related to the excellent TCNJ engineering programs.)

If you decide to attend Harrison Billmers’ talk on the Robotics Track, you can ask him why and how he is using the new low-cost Raspberry Pi controller on his Tour Guiding Robot.

If I were to mention all the excellent speakers and talks, it would fill an entire issue of U.S. 1 so I will mention Donn Fishbein’s talk on “Stock Market Timing Using Neural Networks.” This is not your typical speech on making money. Donn’s “day job” is a medical doctor with offices in Ohio and has a great deal of knowledge of how the brain recognizes images. His experiments of designing and building supervised-learning artificial neural networks to recognize and classify index fund patterns goes back over 10 years and his yearly talk at TCF is really a status report on how well this is working based upon statistical performance “black box” testing.

Donn loves the synergy environment of TCF as it provides a technical discussion with experts in machine learning and statistics who attend his TCF talk and comes in from Ohio just to meet with fellow experimenters and code hackers.

For experimenters who need to design and integrate hardware with an Arduino, I recommend Paul Bergsman’s talk and demo, “Controlling the World with Arduino.” Paul has written the first book on this subject many years ago and he has developed techniques to quickly design and even etch your own printed circuit boards.

My point is to illustrate the technical knowledge and expertise available at TCF and this in-depth domain knowledge extends from the TCF co-founder and leader Al Katz. Al is a humble guy, and will not be too happy with me for writing about the truth, but this knowledge is understood by fellow microwave engineers — that Al Katz is recognized as a microwave pioneer and global leader in microwave technology and has significantly contributed to this field. In fact, many of the TCF speakers are known leaders in their respective field.

Plan on attending TCF2014 as this will be a rewarding and learning experience for all ages and levels of knowledge. If you appreciate life-long learning experiences, this is must-attend yearly event. My kids and I always learned useful information from the TCF talks and workshops and this positive motivation keeps me coming back every year.

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