Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Today Comdex was a bust as well. I walked down to the MGM Grand to the second venue hoping to see some software application vendors and the only vendors were Biosecurity-related developers. Not just fingerprint recognition types but developers of heavy duty, terrorist prevention systems. The technical bookstore was filled with mostly terrorism histories and there was a definite prevalence of military types walking around - a real GW crowd. Needless to say, I quietly extricated myself from what looked to be a convention of the far right. I am disturbed that a conference that should focus on the creative and innovative aspects of our industry should place so much emphasis on the dark side of humanity. I was not encouraged when I read Bill Gates' keynote address either. He seemed to be content hyping gadgets that he dramatically claims are the realm of the future. I think we need to focus more on application solutions that help us manage multi-point information more intelligently. I felt like screaming at these gadget hawkers - "You don't get it do you? It's the content, STUPID! I feel our industry is suffering from the same disorder that currently plagues Hollywood. Too many people are interested in the special effects and not spending enough time on providing truly innovative developments that the vast majority of individuals would find actually useful.

Based on my experience this year and the knowledge that Comdex organizers face a bankruptcy petition in a few weeks, I doubt that I will ask to return next year even if Comdex somehow survives. So, I decided to make my last visit to the Luxor and walk through the Tut Museum one last time. As I was walking over to the Luxor I passed through the Excalibur and enjoyed a free musical presentation by a young man on a bass and a woman on what I was told was an electronic violin. The violin had such an exotic shape I thought at first it was some kind of electrified medieval instrument. But I asked about it and was told it was an electronic violin. It had the capability to sound like more than one violin being played simultaneously. The music was very beautiful and I lingered a while just to listen. I finally turned toward the Luxor and headed off again. When I got over there I discovered that Star Wars II: The Attack Of The Clones was playing on the IMAX screen. So, even though I had heard the acting was poor, I thought it worthwhile to see the visuals on an 8-story screen. It was quite an interesting visual experience. I know my grandson, a new generation Star Wars fan, would have been totally enthralled. I have seen IMAX presentations before but never a feature film in this format. I wonder how they transferred the film to the large format. It was decidely less clear than a typical conventional presentation although I had heard the digital process used in the film did not produce a particularly vivid result for the traditional theater screen either. However, the aerial panoramas were quite impressive and it felt like you were truly looking hundreds of feet down into the cities and landscapes below. Ian McGregor did a much better job as Obi-Wan this time and Jar-Jar Binks screen time was mercifully short. Of course the thin dialogue between Anakin and "Senator" Amidala was as pitiful as I had heard but Yoda's light saber duel was also as good as I had heard. And best of all, there was no interminably long (and boring) pod race sequences either.

I enjoyed my visit to the Tut Museum again. Even though I had been there twice before I did notice some small details I had missed on previous visits. I had not recognized the god of childbirth, Bes, carved on the headboard of the queen's bed or the carved antelope on the sides of the chair Tut used as a child. I also smiled to myself when I read the history timeline starting with Narmer uniting upper and lower Egypt. The Luxor needs to correct this timeline to take into account the recent findings of an earlier "Scorpion" king and his apparent conquests of neighboring tribes. I walked out through the front entrance so I could gaze up at the Sphinx's formidable edifice one more time then caught the tram back to the Excalibur and hiked across the walkway to the MGM again. Before catching the monorail back to the Bally (as close as I could get to the Aladdin where I am staying), I decided to have a sandwich and cup of chowder at the Rainforest Restaurant. The chowder was delicious and I enjoy watching the animatronic animals hanging in the trees around the restaurant's interior. I ate near a cheetah who twitched his tail and roared periodically. When the storm sequence was initiated all of the animals became suitably agitated. The elephants would flap their ears, the cheetah would roar, and monkeys screech. The Rainforest makes a fantastic key lime pie but I haven't been very hungry on this trip so I did not order it this time.

The monorail deposited me at the Bally Resort, just two blocks from the Aladdin. I walked through the Bally and the Paris Hotel and emerged onto Las Vegas Boulevard just in time to see the fountain display in front of the Bellagio right across the street. With Frank Sinatra's smooth voice amplified to the point of almost obscuring the din of traffic, it is a moment that I would say typifies the Las Vegas experience.