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June 2003, Week 4 -- Extending the Network

   

 DWL - 1700

 

 

   D-Link is reaching out to access just about everyone. Everyone within a 25-mile radius that is.

   They have a new wireless network broadcaster that can be set up outdoors and has a range of 600 meters, about a third of a mile. But when coupled with their high-speed directional antenna, the range can be extended to 25 miles. Businesses, universities, communities, whomever, can be connected to the same network even though separated by many miles.

   None of this is cheap, but it's not all that expensive either. The "DWL-1700" access points are $1200 each. That's suggested retail, so discounters will probably sell it for a little under a thousand. What you get is a weather-proof unit with a 600-meter wireless range and a built-in firewall and encoder. To go to a long distance network -- up to 25 miles -- you need two directional antennas, one at each access point. The antennas are $319 list price. Put it all together and you need two of everything, one set for each building, for a total we guess at about $2,500 from a discounter. Not bad, I would think.

 

   D-Link is the number two maker of wireless network systems, just after LinkSys, which was recently purchased by Cisco Corp. However, in recent testing by Network World Magazine, D-Link's equipment had faster data transfer rates and a greater range. The network transfer speed was 24 megabits per second. That's roughly half a million words a second. Lots more info at www.dlink.com .

 

A real "key"-board

Prodikeys

   This has got to be the computer toy of the past couple of years. It's a combination typing and piano keyboard from Creative Technology.

   For $100 you get a full-size keyboard with 37 piano keys mounted in front. The keys are touch sensitive, meaning the harder you press, the louder the tone. The range can be extended by striking the arrow keys on the regular keyboard until you have the working use of 109 piano keys. The keyboard also has volume and pitch controls and you can click an on-screen button to add "sustain."

   It's kind of amazing to get this kind of fun and functionality in a device that costs $100 and will probably be discounted to less. The retail package also includes a sound blaster sound card for the PC, which Creative recommends installing, but we've been using it with other sound cards and the keyboard works fine.

 

   The software is impressive and compatible with high-end composition and printing packages like "Finale" and "Sonar." It adds chords and additional accompaniment to whatever melody you're pecking out and if you like you can record the piece directly to "wav" or mp3 files and can burn those to a CD or DVD.

 

   The keyboard works with PCs running Win 98 or higher and has one of those round DIN connectors. For those who fancy obscure information, DIN stand for "Deutsches Institut fur Normung" and is a German standard widely used throughout the world. In America it's also called a PS/2 connector. This is more than a curiosity since when we tried using an adapter to convert the connector to the USB sockets found on almost all new computers, it wouldn't work. We called technical support and were told it wouldn't work with USB connections and they didn't support laptop computers, though there is no warning about this on the box.

 

   I see a future where some office workers will pause once in a while to pick out a tune, and maybe even score a hit. You can hear sample music from the keyboard at Creative's web site: www.prodikeys.com, and download new tunes and mixes designed for beginners.

 

Internuts: A good read

-- www.magatopia.com Links to web sites for major magazines. You can read some articles from all of them, but not the full magazine content. There are hundreds of magazines linked here and it's a good way to find out about publications you never heard of.

-- www.metagrid.com You have to work your way through a couple of selection levels but what you end up with are links to hundreds of newspapers, magazines and online guides in many languages.

 

-- www.ecola.com One of the oldest, and one of the largest, services for browsing many publications. You can browse by topic or country. Once again, hundreds of publications, worldwide.

 

Books

 Mac OS X Hints

   "Mac OS X Hints," by Griffiths and Pogue; $25, O'Reilly Press www.missingmanuals.com.

   Every new operating system is something of a puzzle at first, and often longer. This one for Mac users teaches them how to unlock 32,000 secret unicode symbols in each type font, add an "email this page" button to Safari, burn six hours of music onto a single CD, and hundred of other tricks and tips.

 

Games

   "Day of Defeat," $30 for Win 95 and up, from Activision. This is a World War II simulation and is designed to be played online. Famous battles of World War II can be reenacted, and the title might have been selected because of the Battle of Arnhem, which was a crushing Allied defeat. The game includes 15 maps and the excellent movement is based on graphics engine of the award winning "Half-Life" that came out about three years ago. Most gamers have rated Day of Defeat four or five stars. Web: www.activision.com.

 

NOTE: Readers can search past columns on our web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@oncomp.com or bobschwab@aol.com.

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