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Computer show nets plenty of local interest

November 22, 1998

By BRENDAN KIRBY / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




Look up www.whitehouse.gov, and you get the official White House Internet site.

Type the same address with the suffix ".net", and you get a virtually identical copy with a few mischievous changes. The parody site changes each time it is loaded. In one version, a picture of MTV hooligans Beavis and Butt-head replace the photos of President Clinton and Vice President Gore.

David J. Hark, who gave a seminar at Saturday's Hagerstown Community College Holiday Computer Show, used the example to point out the large difference three letters can make on the World Wide Web.

Speaking mainly to people who have limited experience on the Internet, Hark said learning to surf the Web will become increasingly important as commerce is tied more closely to the international computer network.

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As usage grows, Hark said, it will become even harder for governments to control.

"The only censorship that works is (that of) the user," said Hark, who has a business training people to use the Internet. "The only way you can control it is to train the user. The whole key is good people."

The computer show, the third one the college has sponsored, featured something for everyone. Seminars ranging from how to buy a computer, to how to use the Internet complemented a free Internet access area and space for vendors to hawk new and used equipment.

The show, held at Valley Mall, drew a wide spectrum of people.

Some, like Boonsboro-area resident Ron May, were uninitiated in the computer world.

"I don't even own a computer yet," said May, who works at Mack Trucks. "I'm getting ready to retire and I want something to occupy my time. There's so much out there, it can be mind-boggling."

Greencastle, Pa., resident Paulette Flair said she had a computer but canceled Internet service because she couldn't justify the cost. Still, she said, she uses the Web at work and would like to learn more.

Flair said Hark's seminar was better than others she has attended because he did not lecture over beginners' heads.

"He was great. He got on-line and showed you how to do things," she said.

There was plenty for the computer savvy, as well.

Hagerstown resident Tom Prather was shopping for a keyboard for a computer he is building. It is the second computer he has built.

Prather, who has six computers at home, said he started building his own machines as a hobby.

"You learn by doing it," he said. "You get the components you want. If you don't need a high-speed CD-ROM, you don't get one."

Prather said he can build a computer for about $360, not including the monitor. But he added, "I don't buy the latest and greatest" parts.

Jack Drooger, computer training coordinator for the HCC Center for Continuing Education, said the college decided to put on the annual computer show to promote its technology courses.

"As the world becomes more technologically equipped, you've got to be able to function," he said.

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