Rebecca and I arrived in Cardiff on Sunday, July 21st, 2002, to start a whirlwind series of meetings, presentations, and an actual installation of a wireless network in northern Wales that would 'prove' what could be done in the most rural of Wales. David Jr and wife Diana arrived via ferry and car through Dublin, Ireland and Hollyhead, Anglesey at the same time.
We would end at St David's in early August where the 2002 Traditional and large Eisteddfod Festival was held, and where even the sprawling grounds would be blanketted by visitor-accessible wireless (if they just were carrying a portable personal computer equipped with 802.11b wireless - which was beginning to spread from America across the world)
So daughter Rebecca and I would be able to attend one of the oldest and most Welsh traditional activities - while yet bringing it the most modern communications frontier 'personal' technologies.
Below in this item I will both comment and illustrate multi-media, on what we were up to.
A Royal Start
On Monday July 22d, we were to attend the 'Royal Show' at LLanelwedd in Mid Wales - which agricultural and livestock fair - resembling Colorado's annual National Stock Show and Rodeo with the Colorado Fair combined - attracts over 200,000 visitors. It is sponsored by the 'Royal Welsh Agricultural Society' - and had been since 1904. It is the largest Agricultural show in Europe.
Even the Prince of Wales attends - and after the 2001 'foot and mouth' disease crises - his support of the farmers and cattle raisers he is regarded as a keen supporter of Welsh agriculture.
I was brought there by Elen Rhys in part because, supported by the Farmers Union the Digitol College had put up a wireless 'intranet' and a video display in the Farmer's Union pavillion to demonstrate what could be done with wireless on farms and livestock rasing areas. The other part was for me to meet some of the high Welsh National Assembly figures who would be there the first day, including, again, perhaps, Development Minister Davies
And that is just what happened. I visited the Farmers Union pavillion where the wireless intranet was set up with an inside-room projector and a number of wirelessly linked cameras out in the display and public areas. I began to pick up on what wireless might do for, not only farmers, but those who raise cattle. I learned in causual conversation that one problem in Wales is the drifting off and loss of wandering cattle that get around or over low fences. Mixing of cattle during those scary disease periods was a problem. It immediately struck me that wireless connected to small devices attached to cattle could track their location. It would require power sources, and GPS devices, and 80211b wireless links. So I mentioned the possibility, and I could see that some lights went on in some heads crowded around.
|David, Diana, Rebecca at the Royal Show grounds where one of the wirelessly connected cameras was placed.|
While I had met Economic Development Minister Andrew Davis in his office on my prior - February - trip, now I was ushered into a room to meet him again but also with officials involved with Agriculture.
|Wyn Lewis of the Farmers Union and Davies during my remarks to them and after they tried out the network through Sony laptops at the Royal Show||Dave and Minister Davies on my first meeting with him in February|
While we milling around the Royal Show, several wags felt my wearing my routine Stetson Cowboy Hat was really not 'Welsh' enough. So they oufitted both David and I with the type caps ubiquitous in rural Wales.
The day was interesting, as Elen had sucessfully pushed my reputation as a 'foreign expert' but with Welsh ancestory into one of the most important venues for business, government, and rural Welshmen.
Next we were off to Northern Wales - "Diffryn Ogwen" - Ogwen Valley country where I was supposed to set up a demonstration network and train locals how to staff and manage an 'E-fro' - Electronic Community locally operated, but linked to the world wide Internet via a wireless link to nearbye Bangor Universitys broadband link to that Internet.