Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Well, my first day at Comdex was rather anticlimactic. The exhibit was dominated by components manufacturers and items that sell on the floor of a trade show. Since I don't build systems I was not interested in any of the components exhibits and I wasn't seriously interested in leopard patterned tower cases, glowing neon tubes to adorn our systems, glowing cell phones, mice, or see-through keyboards. I also didn't need a back, neck, or foot massage or any other body part attended to either.

I hoped to see some new Palm or Pocket PC applications but relatively few were displayed. I stopped by the booth of a vendor of Pocket PC application development software called App Forge. I was surprised, however, that you have to pay licensing fees to each type of device your software is compatible with after you develop your product. Filemaker Pro developer includes the ability to sell your runtime solutions without further cost.

The wireless displays were also disappointing - mostly hubs which I am not in charge of selecting and ethernet cards (yawn).

The Biometric area was sparse as well - mostly fingerprint detection devices. Nothing particularly earth-shattering. A company called Biometric Security Card, Inc. has developed a new compression algorithm that produces a biometric data footprint of only 64 bytes instead of the usual 350 bytes. This should dramatically reduce the storage requirements of biometric data and improve the efficiency of its transmission.

I also stopped by a display by e-Synergy - a knowledge management application that runs on BackOffice and appears to be similar in function to Lotus Notes, centralizing the management of financials, logistics, project, CRM, HRM, forms routing, and document sharing. However, not only would the University not want to replace its extensive Oracle systems but at $1,000 per seat, the cost of the product is prohibitive for a public-funded institution.

I didn't even see many LCD screen vendors this year. I did notice a LCD television system but didn't think the resolution was a sharp as my traditional 60-inch Mitsubishi that I have at home. Of course my traditional big screen isn't 4 inches thick either!

Microsoft displayed its tablet PC but I doubt that our group would have much use for it. Our field researchers are used to a keyboard and I'm still rather skeptical about the accuracy of hand writing recognition systems despite Microsoft's claims.

The shuttles were also messed up this year. I spent an hour hunting around looking for the shuttle to take me over to the other venue at the MGM and asking officials that appeared to be clueless. Finally I got fed up with it and hailed a cab.

After I got back to my hotel, I decided to take a walk and enjoy the beautiful 72 degree weather here. I wandered over to the Bellagio to visit the "Faberge: Treasures From The Kremlin" exhibit at the Fine Arts Museum. It was not nearly as extensive as the "Treasures From Russia" exhibit I visited at the Rio three years ago but included some very interesting pieces. I especially liked a filigreed silver Kovsh, a ladle for beverages and communal drinking. It was adorned with a delicate portrait of Peter the Great leading his troops astride a magnificent white stallion. I also admired a covered punch bowl adorned with the silver bust of an early warrior with flowing hair and beard. He wore a simple rounded helmet topped with a spike. He looked almost Viking-like. There was also a small silver lighter in the shape of an intricately detailed monkey. The audio narrator mentioned that many Faberge silver pieces were melted down for currency after the revolution. What a loss!

As an admirer of historical costume, I carefully studied the coronation jacket of Nicholas II and a beautiful lace wedding gown of silk, velvet, and muslin. The display also included a lovely silk ball cape adorned with swan feathers and a stunning black lace gown made from silk braid.

Of course the highlight of any Faberge exhibit are the imperial Easter eggs. This exhibit boasted three of them. The Trans-Siberian Railway egg was decorated with a finely detailed map etched in silver and contained a gold and platinum replica of the train. The Kremlin egg depicted Moscow's Uspensky Cathedral surrounded with the towers of the Kremlin. The interior of the cathedral was reproduced down to the carpets and miniature paintings that were visible through one of the windows. The clocks in the towers chimed and the egg contained a music box that played one of the tsar's favorite Easter hymns. Of course the most touching egg was the Alexandrovsky Palace egg. This egg was a beautiful emerald color decorated with gold laurels and delicate portraits of the tsar's children. It contained a tiny miniature of the tsar and tsarina's favorite palace home just outside of St. Petersburg.

Well, I'm off to breakfast then a hike over to part two of the convention over at the MGM Grand. Hopefully there will be more software applications there.