I spent the morning writing the material from yesterday, and then I posted it on the Web. I had to hurry by cab to the Convention Center for a meeting at noon. On the way we passed this sign at a bus stop, one of the few overt indications of the old "sin city" image. I've never been to AdultDex, so I can't tell you what they have (I'd imagine adult video games and high-tech adult information appliances for "personal use"):
Out of the cab as soon as the line gets long, and a quick walk a block or so to a side entrance near our cubicle:
I entered through the exhibitor registration. The two-block line was gone, and it was quite empty inside, just our old friend the alien. I got a "Scratch and Win" handout from him/her/it to see what company it was: ZKey.com, "The ZKey provides simple, secure, and selective information exchange across communications platforms -- Redeem your prize @ Booth L3539 in the N. Hall".
Like Monday, I spent a good portion of my time at the Convention Center in meetings with Trellix partners and potential partners. Here's a picture of one such meeting, with the visitor conveniently cut off so I won't give out any Trellix "secrets". You can see Jim, Brad, Tom, and George from Trellix:
I was scheduled for Silicon Spin on ZDTV at 1:55 PM, and was supposed to show up early. They had left me a voicemail listing some of the topics that were going to be covered, including "Innovation" and Show and Tell of "toys". About 15 minutes before I was due at ZDTV, I remembered that I had heard someone mention neat stuff at the Sony booth, so I walked as quickly as I could in the crowds to get there to have something actually on the floor I could talk about:
Just inside I saw one of the devices I had just heard of in the news, the MD Discam Camcorder. I knew it used a mini-disc, like the portable audio recorder that I use now to record for my Web Photo Journals, and I knew it had built-in editing software, but that's about it. Sony used large-screen plasma panels or something not to show off the large-screen technology but rather as multimedia signs in the booth that cycled through messages. Quite useful and space saving:
I picked up one of the sample units to show you:
The booth person explained that this did not use the same mini-disc as my recorder (140 MB) but rather a new, upward compatible one that holds 600 MB. The fold-out screen with video editing software was pen-enabled, so you didn't have lots of buttons for doing all the operations. Quite cool. An "information appliance" that has a complete PC-like application. Sony really tries innovation, though they keep changing their technology and use their own storage formats. They experiment in hardware and storage like us software developers experiment with UIs and file formats.
I suddenly got a thought: I'd love to take this as my second "toy" for the TV show. It could tie into the PDA discussion we'd have with Craig Mundie of Microsoft (who would be defending Windows CE), too. I had never had the nerve before to just ask a demo person if I could take the unit with me right then and there, but I had a good reason: Not because I coveted the thing being demoed but because I could get it on TV, a valid PR reason. I sheepishly asked the booth person if she knew how I could get permission for me to take one immediately. For the next 10 minutes or so I got shunted from person to person while they tried to find someone with authority to let me do what I wanted. So much for the little time I had allotted to go to the bathroom before the one-hour TV show (you don't want to have bodily distractions when answering a question from the audience). Finally (a few minutes after I was due at the ZDTV booth) I was given a unit and a PR person, Rachel, to come with me and make sure it got back before 3 PM when they next needed it. We ran (well, pushed and walked fast) over to the booth while I asked her questions about the camera so I could be knowledgeable.
Inside the backstage part of the ZDTV booth, it was time to have my body prepared for being on-camera. ZDTV really is into makeup, more than most other shows I've been on. All over the face, hairspray, etc. They have two makeup people. The same woman who prepared me last year did it this year. I asked Rachel the Sony Person to take the picture of me -- I took the other one trying not to get the makeup on my nose on the LCD at the back of my camera:
Here's two of my co-guests on the show, John Seely Brown, Director of Xerox PARC, and Craig Mundie, Senior VP of Consumer Strategy at Microsoft:
They put these headsets on us and snaked cables down our backs to transmitters clipped to our belts. They use the headsets to position mikes close to our mouths. Comdex is too noisy for regular clip-on mikes they tell us. I had them position it carefully so it would work but not rub on my beard and make noise. I walked out onto the stage:
Sitting in my seat, here's what I saw. I have a close-up of the teleprompter (a semi-reflective piece of glass that reflects what's on the TV monitor below it -- you can stare right into the camera reading and it looks like you know what you're saying):
Here are my co-guests. The other one is Ransom Love, CEO of Caldera Systems, who would represent the Linux and open source world:
After the host John Dvorak came up, they made some last minute adjustments:
They had bottles of water for us. It was hard to sip the water without bumping the mike or dribbling it down my chin...
For an hour with a few 1-minute or so breaks John would read (with some ad-libbing) his opening lines, then ask one of us a question and then moderate until the next break. It's hard to be on the spot, not letting your mind wander from what others are saying with all the distractions and the cameras in your face:
You could watch the teleprompter and know what was about to come. At one point it said "Email question: For Dan Bricklin -- What was it like when...VisiCalc..." Unfortunately they put this up as the audience Q&A was going on, a few minutes before John was to read it. I noticed it, and lost my train of thought as an audience member asked a question. I didn't chime in on that one I think. When John read the question for me, I was prepared, though: Something about "...I'm asked that question a lot so I have the answer on my web site, danbricklin.com..." John caught me immediately and commented on me getting my URL plug in (it worked, though, from some email I got...).
I got to show the Stowaway keyboard ("ooo", "ahh" as usual -- what a great prop to break the ice!) and then picked up the Sony camera and gave a little talk about it. John tried to move on with a joke about nobody would watch the videos we'd edit but I wanted to say a bit more to place it in context of applications inside appliances instead of PCs. Rachel smiled, since all my troubles of getting the unit and her having to sit through almost an hour of the show and half an hour of prep weren't in vain.
You might be able to find a streaming video recording of the show on the Silicon Spin site. It was the November 16, 1999, show.
I went backstage to have my mike removed and the makeup wiped off (last year I had to remember to ask). Here's some of the equipment as they choose cameras during the next show:
I rushed off to another meeting at the Trellix cubicle, then walked the floor for a little while with my Trellix coworkers. We stopped by the Sony booth so I could try to find someone to thank for letting me have the prop for the show (I couldn't -- so let this be the "Thank you!").
Then it was 5 PM, show over. We headed for the exit, passing the empty theaters:
Here's where I went out, the last I saw of the show floor:
Back to my room where I loaded the day's pictures into my laptop. (It only takes a few seconds -- you pull the memory card out of the camera, put it in a PCMCIA adapter, put that in the laptop, the laptop recognizes it as a new disk drive, drag the folder with the pictures from that "drive" to my hard drive and name it. All done.)
Here's my set up at the hotel. You can see the laptop, hotel phone, hotel notepad, mouse, my cellphone, and a powerstrip I brought with rechargers plugged in:
Only one more event to go for me on this trip, the Chili Cookoff.
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