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2CompuFest '88Wednesday, September 28, 1988
By GLENN O'NEAL
Staff Writer . ..
Computer literacy is rapidly
becoming essential for surviving in
today's learning institutions. To help
students and faculty keep up with the
latest technology, the University is
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AM Syalama Induda monoctwomm monrtora,
brimsg tecSiinioIogy a little cioseir to caropos
holding its annual CompuFest com
puter fair Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 at the
CompuFest will feature seminars,
vendor presentations, quick-start
classes and special interest groups.
Kenneth Hardy, CompuFest plan-
speed of many
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apraad ahaat. word
ning committee chairman and direc
tor t)f the social science statistics
laboratory of the Institute for
Research in Social Science, said this
year's fair has two major goals. One
is to generate interest while sharing
computing information. "And two,
(is) to give the campus community
a glimpse of the latest in computer
technology," he added.
Not only is CompuFest a place .
where, ideas are" shared, it is an
indicator of major future trends, he
said. Desk-top computing and net
working are two major trends that
Hardy said he foresees. Networking
is featured in this year's keynote
address "Computer Networks and
the Scholarly Community:"
IBM, Apple, SAS, Microsoft and
Hewlett-Packard are some of the
By JOHN BAKHT
The bizarre image on the cover of
this section is just a flashy display of
what two UNC computer science
professors powerful graphics system
The image, called a fractal, is
nothing more than a mathematical
function that produces an infinitely
jagged geometric object. The machine
that generates the image, which
inventors and professors Henry
Fuchs and John Poulton have named
Pixel-Planes, is one of the world's
fastest image-generating computers.
Pixel-Planes creates high
resolution 3-D graphics that the user
can manipulate and magnify.
The machine views complex build
ing designs and lets the user "walk
through." For example, a Pixel-
Computer ill iterates: Go shopping
By ELLEN THORNTON
I am illiterate computer illiter
ate, that is.
Those of you who have
walked bravely into a computer lab
with a knowledgeable smile, only to
discover an hour later that your disk
isn't working because the disk drive
doors are still open, know what I'm
Now that I know how to shut the
disk drive doors, I realize that being
able to use a computer can be a very
handy skill, and I would even like to
have my own computer. :
But, given my limited computer -l
knowledge, how could I ever go
about choosing a computer?
It's really not that hard if you use
the resources on campus. The best .
place to start is the Microcomputer
User Service in the Undergraduate
Library. There you will find pur
chasing consultants who will discuss
buying options with you free of
It brings out
companies that will be demonstrating
and selling their products.
Carole Page, a member of the
CompuFest planning committee and
outreach coordinator of the Micro
computing Support Center, said
students should be encouraged that
personal computers are coming down
in price and are more powerful. She
said the original Apple Macintosh
was considerably more expensive
than the latest models.
Hardy said organizers expect the
fair to be a bigger success than
CompuFest 87 because both campus
and vendor interest are up. Last year,
the fair attracted about 3,000 people
to the Carolina Union.
In 1986, when Hardy became
director of CompuFest, formally
Planes user looking at a design of a
house can see doors opening ahead
and go through them. "
The machine also provides 3-D
medical imaging and generates
Pixel-Planes is most useful for
researchers to visualize their informa
tion, showing medical researchers
detailed representations of a diseased
In layman's terms, there is a tiny
computer inside every dot, or pixel,
on the screen, and there are 250,000
dots in the system, Fuchs said. Pixels
work independently, but an efficient,
tree-like pixel hierarchy speeds up the
process so they work together.
How Pixel-Planes and machines of
its type will affect science is still
unclear. "The jury is not yet in on
how successful it will be," Fuchs said.
charge. ' "
Before making an appointment,
you should decide why you need the
computer and what you want the :
computer to do, says purchasing
consultant Steve Gaddy.
"There is no such thing as the
right choice in buying a computer,"
Gaddy said. "It's a matter of per
sonal style and taste. It's valid to
buy a computer because you like the
feel of the keyboard you have to
get something you will enjoy."
After you have determined your
reasons for wanting the computer,
whether they be word processing,
accounting or even playing music on
the keyboard, you should consider
what features your computer should
have to meet those needs, said Jeff
Simpson, a sales consultant at the
Computer Gallery. For instance,
. you may require your computer to :
have speed, memory or color.
Then, Simpson said, you can
begin to consider different systems
and their reliability. For word pro
cessing, you can look at IBM clones,
but for more delicate operations you
must consider systems with higher
capabilities. : -. '
Finally, you need to consider your
budget. For the college market,
Simpson said, systems run from less
than $1,000 to $13,000, depending
on the features desired.
However, you should check into
the computers offered in the Ram
Shop, the computer section of Stu
dent Stores, before buying anywhere
Gaddy said the Ram Shop offers
students good deals on IBM, Macin
called CompuFair, he. said it faced
a slow start. Now; people on campus
are showing a genuine interest in
CompuFest, he said. Publicity about
the fair is also going out to the Chapel
Hill and Carrboro school systems.
Judith Hall man, manager of infor
mational services, and Don Mitchell,
associate director of academic com
puting, co-founded the first Compu
Fair in 1984 in celebration of the 25th
anniversary of computing on UNC's
campus. The University received its
first computer in August 1959,
Hallman said. !
The goal of . the first CompuFair
was to show the campus community
the state of the art in computing,
laying the groundwork for the ones
to follow, she said.
3 - D images
- "We are exploring new ideas that
probably wont be used in someone's
medical lab for five or 10 years," said
Greg Turk, a graduate student in
computer science working on Pixel-.
But the Pixel-Planes team is not
waiting. Fuchs, his associates and a
crew of graduate students are devel
oping Pixel-Planes V, which will
generate 1 million polygons per
second, as compared to the present
" ' - -. .
"We're very enthusiastic about the
future of the project," Turk said.
When it is completed in fall 1989, it
will be the fastest" computer of its
kind. It will show the building with
more defined furnishings, the lung
with creater realism and the molecule
with a little more twist.
tosh and Zenith computers and soft
ware Dackaees because coroorations
sell to universities at discounts to
encourage the college student
market. For example, MS Word
retails at $300, while the Ram Shop
sells it for $49.95. .
"There is really no reason to go
beyond the choices offered in the r
Ram Shop," Gaddy said. "You have
to pay more for a brand name com
puter, but with the discount, you
can afford to do that.
Dont worry about choosing
between a Macintosh and an IBM.
Gaddy said both systems have sim
ilar capabilities. The systems are
also becoming compatible the
new Macintosh model, the Mac 2X,
has a drive that allows it to read
some IBM disks. Also, IBM is
developing features that look very,
similar to those of the Macintosh. .
Again, Gaddy said, the choice
between the Macintosh and the IBM
is a matter of personal preference.
The IBM is good for statistics, while
the Macintosh is stronger in gra
phics. But many people find the
Macintosh easier to use.
There is also no reason to worry if
you decide to buy an IBM clone.
Paul Vasiloff, account representative
for PC Mart, said the clones are 99
percent compatible with IBM. There
are only a few programs that will
not run on the clones, but these are
not standard programs, he said. The
clones are good for word processing
and cost much less.
So stop floundering around in the
computer lab and look into learning
on your own computer.