FROM THE TUSTIN NEWS, THURSDAY, MARCH 20, 2003


THE DOC IS IN...

Wireless networking devices hot-selling items

What's new in computing? To find out, I visited MicroCenter, the computer superstore located in Tustin.

As I suspected, the hottest selling items were wireless networking devices, digital and video cameras and specialized computers used as home entertainment centers.

John Caldwell, the store's manager and Roberto Segura, a digital specialist, showed me the new wireless networking devices. In the past, any of us who had more than one computer at home and wanted to connect them together to share files, printers or the Internet needed to run wires. This is a problem if the machines are located in different parts of the house.

The new way to do this is by means of wireless devices. They use radio waves to connect machines even if the computers are up to 300 feet apart.
Wires no longer are necessary. For computers that have USB connectors, all that is needed is a USB Network Adapter. This connects to the computer via a USB cable and has all the necessary network interface circuits inside a small box that also has the wireless antenna. Connect one of these devices on each computer, install the supplied software and everything is networked. For laptops, a wireless adapter card is available that slips into the side of the machine and connects to the network. There is a wide range of devices available that allows sharing of cable or dsl Internet connections on home networks.

Some sort of wireless networking seems to be in the future of computing. We already are hearing of companies like Starbucks installing wireless "nodes" in their stores so that people with laptops can drink coffee, browse the Internet, get their email or connect to their offices. There still are conflicting wireless standards, so I would suggest speaking to Roberto or other knowledgeable Associates at MicroCenter before setting up your own home wireless network. However, wireless networking is relatively inexpensive and simple to use.

If you get serious about setting up a home network, wireless or otherwise, there is a good book, "Linksys Networks, The Official Guide," that explains all the necessary details and equipment.

Digital and video cameras still are hot items. More and more people are moving away from film and going to digital imaging as cameras get less expensive and have quality almost as good as film. It also is getting easier to manipulate images using computers programs like Adobe Elements or Photoshop and color printers produce images almost a good as those from professional photo finishers. New cameras from Canon and others use interchangeable lenses like the professional film cameras and are almost reasonable in price. The line is starting to blur between professional and amateur equipment in versatility and quality. Again, speak with Roberto and see a full spectrum of equipment at MicroCenter.

Finally, Greg Gilles showed me the new Hewlett-Packard computer home entertainment center. HP has included the ability to connect an antenna, cable or satellite box and view television programs directly on the computer. In addition, the computer's hard drive has enough capacity to record programs for later viewing or editing. This is another step in the direction of making the computer the center of home entertainment.

Computers themselves may not have changed much in the last few years except to get faster, but the use of the computer has evolved significantly. Wireless networking is "in," digital photography is "in" and the computer is becoming the center of the household.

If you would like to hear more about advances in computing, or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. 'C' Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.

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Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: www.arholub.com. This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at: doc@arholub.com.


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