Bonnaroo Festival: Music to a Techie's Ear

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About 90,000 music fans will be visiting an expanse of Tennessee farmland and pasture this week, but they won't be completely cutting themselves off from the real world left behind.

That's just one hint that the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, billing itself as the "most tech-savvy festival in the land," is a different breed from the marijuana-infused mud patch of 1969's Woodstock. Bonnaroo starts Wednesday and runs four days.

The festival does temporarily turn about 700 rural acres of Manchester, Tenn., into the sixth-largest city in the state, according to D-Link, which is setting up a wireless LAN to cover at least part of the acreage.

D-Link engineers are setting up the vendor's Air Premier 802.11a/g access points, with weatherproof outdoor access points, and xStack managed gigabit switches to run the backbone. The company's NetDefend firewalls are intended to protect from wireless intrusions and attacks. The wireless LAN is mainly for about 50 office trailers, housing festival staff, with some coverage of public open areas.

D-Link's "digital home" products, covering home networking and other gear for playing and displaying digital files, will be showcased in the MediaLounge tent. Among the products will be D-Link's latest wireless media player, the DSM-510, designed to work with Intel Viiv-based PCs.

Bonnaroo also has a deal with Apple iTunes, including a 2007 play list on the iTunes site. Attendees are getting an iTunes card with as many aso 20 free songs from festival artists. You can also download tunes from the festivals of recent years. This year's list of acts includes the Police, the String Cheese Incident, Hot Tuna, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, T-Bone Burnett and the New Orlenas Klezmer Allstars.

A live radio broadcast can be found locally at 101.5 FM. And the regular "Sweet Sounds" CD series from the festival goes digital this year, for the first time.

Microsoft is one of two-dozen corporate sponsors who will be on-site. The company's Windows Live Messenger will host the Connected Pavilion, where festival goers can recharge their cell phones, as well as e-mail and IM family and friends. You can sign up for the "i'm Initiative," and for each IM exchange via Windows Live Messenger, Microsoft will donate money to "some of the world's most effective organizations dedicated to social causes."

The 100-acre "entertainment village" is a hive of activity with an arcade, comedy club, "music technology village, a beer festival (given that beer drinking is a form of entertainment) and the not-to-be-missed Silent Disco, which is billed as a "wireless dance party": Dancers pick up Koss (another corporate sponsor) wireless stereo headsets and gyrate away.

There's even a cinema. This year the screenings blend a Fellini retrospective with Will Ferrell's recent "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," "Little Miss Sunshine" and the NBA championship finals, a combination which is a bit Fellini-esque all by itself.

This story, "Bonnaroo Festival: Music to a Techie's Ear" was originally published by Network World.

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