Monthly Archives: January 2004

wait, then run!

Sunday, January 11, 2004 – I got up today at 6:45, checked out of the EconoLodge and moved down the strip. Amazingly the MGM already had a room ready for me at 8:00 so as soon as I got there I was able to check in and drop off my suitcase and laptop bag. After quickly dropping off my things I caught the 301 (bus) back up the strip to the Las Vegas Cathedral for church at 9:30. I have to say that built in the late 60s the cathedral is not much to look at from the outside but actually has quite a nice interior. After church was over I took the 301 another few blocks to the Rivera and then caught the CES shuttle to the convention center. The plan was to meet Darci, Kevin, Vinny and Minnie just before Leo went on the air at noon outside his booth, since I got the LVCC early I was able to cruise the floors one last time and found that the number of attendees had dropped drastically and everyone with a booth was trying to give away t-shirts and everything else they didn’t want to take back with them. After picking up a few souvenirs and a little more literature from some of the booths as well as two polo style shirts with the CES logo on them from the CES store I headed back to the broadcast tower to catch the beginning of Leo’s show. I got to speak briefly with Leo before he went on the air and we both commented on how much the show had cleared out overnight. I also got a phone call from my little sister and walked her through copying some TV shows she had recorded for me to hard drive and clearing off the DVDs. For some reason my phone service in Vegas is a little bit flaky and I missed a call from Darci somewhere in there saying she had gotten more sick and wouldn’t be able to meet up with us. Shortly after Leo got on the air I met up with Vinny and Minnie for a final run through the convention center. We had a great time trying to get all the free stuff we could, each ending up with several new t-shirts, decks of cards, headphones and Vinny even got the folks at the SD pavilion to hand over a SmartDigital card! After a little over an hour we headed back to the KFI booth where we got to listen to a little more of Leo’s show and take some pictures of him in the booth. Leaving Leo we hit up a few more booths for some free stuff before the show closed and then headed over to Quark’s restaurant which is part of the “Start Trek Experience” at the Las Vegas Hilton where Minnie went above and beyond the call, buying dinner for both Vinny and myself (Thank you!) After dinner we made a quick stop at Fry’s to pick up some batteries and a charger for Minnie and headed out to her house to shoot the breeze a little more before I left town. Vinny gave me a ride back to the MGM before continuing home himself. I wanted to take a few more pictures of the strip at night before heading home and get some dessert at the Luxor. By the time I had dessert and gotten the pictures I wanted (Tropicana, Flamingo, Mirage and Treasure Island) and taken the bus back down the strip to the MGM it was nearly 2:45am. The one thing I hadn’t done in Vegas was to gamble so on my way back to my room I used all my spare change in my pocket (all 80 cents of it) to play a few slot machines. Of course I didn’t win anything but at least I did my part to help support the gaming industry in Vegas. I got to my room set my alarm for 8:30 because we had heard about four hour waits at the airport (though I don’t expect it to be that bad tomorrow) which should give me plenty of time to catch a noon plane.

Monday, January 12, 2004 – I got up this morning at 8:30 quickly took a shower and repacked all my bags so my CES goodies would fit (just barely!) I checked out of the MGM and caught a 9:30am shuttle to the airport. On the way the driver showed us a newspaper with a picture of the four hour waits on Sunday, I really do need a copy of that article! I got to the airport about 9:45 and was able to get a ticket in only 45 minutes compared to over two hours yesterday, so I thought I was doing pretty well since I still had an hour and a half to catch the plane. Once I saw the line for the security checkpoint at the “D Gates” I knew it would probably end up being pretty close but I should still be ok and much better than the people yesterday. About an hour a ten minutes later I was through security and on the tram to the gates. Getting off the tram I still thought I should have plenty of time to catch the plane so I walked quickly but did not run as many people exiting the tram were doing. Once I got to the escalator though I heard them call all sections now should be boarded on my flight so I sprinted as I haven’t done in a long time to the very last gate in the concourse (go figure.) At one point I dropped my cell phone and didn’t even notice but thankfully a helpful traveler pointed it out and I was able to quickly pick it back up before continuing on. I got to the gate and no one was still boarding and the door was still open (but barely) handed over my boarding pass and got on the plane. After taking my seat I found out that they were intentionally delaying the flight about half an hour because of the long security lines in hopes than more people would make the plane. While this is a nice thought it does have me a little concerned about catching the connection in Denver, they’re making up some of the time but it could still be a dash to the gate! As it turns out I didn’t have to run to catch the flight in Denver but I was walking pretty quickly and it was directly off of my Las Vegas flight and final boarding call for the Minneapolis flight when I got to the gate. I should be arriving home at about 6:15 central time and hopefully I’ll be able to eat shortly after getting home as I’ve had nothing at all today and I’m getting pretty hungary. All in all I would say that my trip to CES 2004 was a great experience I got to meet industry luminaries such as John C. Dvorak, Bill Machrone and of course the TechTV folks, Vinny, Minnie, Darci and Kevin. Although I don’t think I’ll be able to make this a yearly trek I would love to do it again and look forward to having that opportunity. As I continue to make my Eastward journey I realize that I have never been on a “sunset flight” such as the one I’m on now. Although I have certainly seen more beautiful sunsets over the many lakes in Minnesota none have been quite as cool as this “surround sunset” looking back to the West I can see bands of color ranging from fire red to burning orange to soft yellow and finally sky blue. As I turn my head from West to East the colors fade into a progressively darker blue and finally the black of night closing in towards the East. Flying above the cloud cover and much of the airborne particulate that creates beautiful sunsets on the ground makes this one look less grandiose but nonetheless beautiful in its own right.

Darci, Kevin, Yoshi and Becky oh my!

Saturday, January 10, 2004 – I got up this morning and made the trip down the strip and over to the convention center in time to meet Vinny and Minnie at the TechTV booth; of course they were late and missed Leo, but Vinny did have a chance to say hi to Becky and Yoshi, also we all got free TechTV books and signatures. At noon we were going to head over to hear Leo’s KFI broadcast but we couldn’t find the booth. We went so far as to call KFI and ask for directions, they told us they didn’t know where he was but “it shouldn’t be that hard to find someone with a microphone and an intercom doing a broadcast” obviously they have no idea what CES is about. After getting directions from Yoshi and still coming up without finding the booth we eventually got to a kiosk with internet access, hopped in the KFI irc chat room to see if anyone there knew where to go, but no one there did either. After much searching we finally located the phone booth sized broadcast room that Leo was using. Walking by the door Leo waved us in and we got to see a little bit of Leo in action before clearing out to make room for some of the actual show guests. We do plan to drop by again tomorrow with Darci and Kevin to give a shout out to Leo. Of course the best part was watching John C. Dvorak load his rolling backpack up with pop from the broadcast area before leaving after his segment. After we dropped by the KFI broadcast we headed past the CEA stage where TechTV was going their “Best of CES” awards where we said hi to Robert the “TechTV lab rat” before continuing upstairs to the PC Magazine “Last Gadget Standing” competition. This is what the “Best of CES” award should have been. The meeting room was packed with journalists and companies giving brief timed product demos (we got to see some cool up and coming technologies, especially relating to mobile video devices) and then the audience voted on their favorites. Just as the voting was finishing up Darci and Kevin gave us a call and we left to meet up with them. Our first stop was a drive by at the TechTV booth where we took a great picture of Darci and Kevin in the cutout poster. After picking up some beverages we continued on to the second level of the South hall where most of the IT gadgets are. We cruised the floor for a while looking for wireless and VoIP technologies but were unable to find very many (I expected to see more VoIP and wireless technologies here.) Our next stop was going to be Woz’s suite in the Hilton but when Kevin called him we learned that he was on his way to LA to see his daughter so we decided to pack it in for the day and meet tomorrow at Leo’s radio show. After we left Darci and Kevin we headed over to Minnie’s ordered in some dinner and had a great time just sitting around and shooting the breeze. After a few hours Vinny brought me back to the hotel where I’m planning to get some sleep (imagine that!) before I get up early in the morning to move down the strip to the MGM Grand for tomorrow night.

The Freemont Street Experiance

Friday, January 9, 2004 – I took the bus down the strip last night but the place I wanted to go for desert in Excalibur was already closed so I continued down to Mandalay Bay then back up through the Luxor looking for a good desert, not finding anything interesting I continued back up the strip ending up at New York, New York again where I tried a pretty good chocolate torte. I also did some more nighttime photography before heading back and turning in for the night. I slept in this morning until 10:30 and got to CES about 11:45 starting out at the opposite end (South Hall) where most of the pro-audio and home theater stuff is housed. My legs felt much better and I quickly covered the first floor of South hall in about an hour picking up much more literature than yesterday. At one I was going to go to a HDTV roundtable, but when I got there the line was horrendous so I sat down by the TechTV booth to plan my next move when I bumped into Minnie and Vinny who had just arrived. Vinny took some photos of the TechTV employees struggling to get up the “analog chain” for crowd control and then we headed off in search of the Adobe booth. Though we eventually discovered that Adobe didn’t have a booth we did have a nifty experience that demonstrates why not to keep batteries and keys in the same pants pocket as Vinny had a AA battery in his pocket get quite hot by shorting out on his keychain. After cooling the battery we walked the central hall for a while checking out the DLP displays at the TI booth, the set-top DVD recorders in the Panasonic booth and the tablet PCs at the Toshiba booth where Minnie did some sample artwork. About five o’clock we caught the shuttle back to Vinnie’s car and drove out to Fry’s Electronics which was a fantastic experience as I have often heard the store mentioned but never experienced it. After purchasing a souvenir mouse pad we drove up to Macaroni Grill for dinner where more conversation and hilarity ensued. By the time we finished dinner it was ten o’clock so Vinny dropped me off at my hotel and we plan to meet tomorrow at the TechTV booth around eleven. About half an hour later I headed out to catch a bus downtown to the Freemont Street Experience which occurs every hour from 6pm-midnight. Most of downtown Freemont Street is only open to pedestrians and has been covered by a huge light display, every hour they turn off all the other lights downtown and do a light and sound show. The entire area felt like a shopping mall to me which was interesting considering its all outdoors. I took a number of pictures of the downtown area and had quite a bit of fun watching all the people before I returned to my hotel. I was very comfortable with the Freemont Street environment, I think even more so then the Strip, and although I can’t qualify why that is I really enjoyed the experience. I’m planning to get to the convention by 11 tomorrow so I should be off to bed.

long blocks, tired feet

The first in a series of 2004 CES posts. -Ben

Wednesday, January 7, 2004 – It was a really long day today. I got up at 4:45 this morning so I could get to the airport and make a 6:30 flight to Denver. On the plane I watched part of the Indiana Jones DVD set bonus disc and continued to read Kevin Mitnick’s “The Art of Deception.” After arriving in Denver I moved down a few gates to catch my fight to Vegas which was leaving in about an hour. United discovered that they had way overbooked the flight and even as they were giving away free tickets for future flights were having a hard time getting people to give up their seats as they couldn’t confirm you on another flight until 11 Thursday morning. At the last minute they apparently got enough people to give up seats and assigned me a seat. Though I had checked in at Minneapolis I had not been assigned a seat on the Vegas flight yet. After I got on the (very full) plane I discovered there was someone in the seat assigned to me so they re-assigned me to another seat which I took, then the guy showed up for that seat! After waiting a few tense minutes (yeah, I held up the flight) they bumped the guy in the seat they had originally assigned to me. It looked as if he had agreed to be bumped, got the free tickets and then boarded anyway. Eventually we were on our way, though I was worried for a bit that I wouldn’t get here until Thursday which would have caused much complication. After landing in Vegas I collected my luggage and picked up my CES badge holder at the airport, took a free shuttle to the Key Largo Casino & Hotel for my first night. With all the time changes it was only 10 by the time I arrived at the hotel and checked in so after getting situated and downloading my email over a 9Kbps cell phone connection I decided to go out in search of some food. I thought it would probably be a good idea to take in “the strip” and find somewhere to eat all in one fell swoop so I headed down the street towards the strip. One thing you learn quickly here in Vegas is that they have long blocks, really long blocks. I eventually reached the strip near Bally’s and the Belliagio and decided to turn South. I took a stroll through the Bellagio and I must say that it looks like a fantastic hotel; you can tell that they take excellent care of their guests. Unfortunately none of the restaurant options there particularly appealed to me at the time so I continued down the street stopping to walk through New York, New York, where I ended up having lunch, the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, the Luxor and Excalibur. All this walking took some time and was quite hard on my legs so a little after 3 I decided to head back to the hotel for some rest before going to Bill Gates’ pre-show keynote. I thought I’d be doing well to make it back to the hotel in an hour from the south end of the strip (Excalibur) as it turns out it took almost an hour to make it back to Bally’s at which point I still had about a half hour walk back to the hotel. I got back about 4:30 and knew I probably needed to leave by 5:00 to get a seat at the keynote, I snuck in a half-hour nap as I was exhausted (from walking and being up since 4:45 central.) At five I started out for the Hilton where all the keynotes are held. It took an hour to walk there (I kept my eyes open for a bus, alas I saw none come along though there were shelters) I probably could have made better time had my feet not already been shot. When I got to the Hilton I found huge numbers of people in lines, but eventually got seated in an overflow seating area, so I saw it on TV rather than in person but they had free ice water which was great considering all the walking I’d been doing. I’m sure that notes from the keynote will be available all over the net so I’ll spare the details here other than to say we had a little excitement with a fire alarm in the middle of it, though they told us to stay where we were while it was investigated and eventually found out to be false. After the keynote they had shuttle busses back to the strip which I took with the idea of getting some desert at New York, New York that I had eyed when I was there for lunch. I did get a slice (massive) of cheesecake which was quite good. Of course I was back towards the south end of the strip again and almost as tired as I was earlier, yet I pressed on heading North and taking some photos of the strip at night. Of course I got to see the fountains at the Bellagio which was a fantastic display. When I got to Bally’s I was dead tired so I found a city bus (which took quite a long time to show up, but I digress) to take me the rest of the way. I stumbled back into my room, set my alarm for eight and was promptly sleeping. So what do I think of the city so far other than the long blocks? I liked the interior of the Luxor best because I didn’t expect it to have the vast open space inside that it did, I like the number of food options best at New York New York and the hotel best at the Bellagio and MGM Grand. If I were to gamble I would feel the most comfortable at the MGM Grand or New York, New York though I can’t qualify why that is. I also think the Hilton Casino looks terribly dated.

Thursday, January 08, 2004 – Though I had originally intended to make it to the opening keynotes this morning I decided against that last night when I was dead tired and thought the sleep would do me better anyway. After getting up, packing and checking out I took a shuttle to Harrah’s (the Taxi line at Key Largo was taking far too long) where I walked several blocks North to the Frontier and caught a cab to EconoLodge although that in and of itself was slightly adventurous as the cabbie had no idea where he was going, I got him there after pointing out he had driven past the place (he wanted to even drive further) needless to say his tip was not large at all. After I checked into my much more expensive and not nearly as nice hotel room (where I get to spend three nights as everyone else in town is sold out) I caught a southbound city bus to the Rivera where I caught a shuttle to CES. My first stop at CES was the TechTV booth where I had my picture taken with Leo and got the obligatory autographs. I started out browsing the show floor (all 1.5 million square feet) and got to see some of the up and coming set top DVD recorders, the DVD-RAM booth, the worlds largest (80″) plasma screen and was just about to chat with a Kenwood rep about ham radio when I got a call from Vinny that he and Minnie had arrived, I set a meeting time in fifteen minutes with them at the TechTV booth. I spent a few minutes with the Kenwood rep and had a fantastic discussion with him about the future of digital communications radios. I soon met up with Vinny and Minnie of Leoville, having met MissDaisy over the summer I had prior experience with the “known you for a long time but this is our first meeting” thing. Going around the show with Vinnie and Minnie was an absolute blast the sense of humor these two have is fantastic and makes a trade show so much more interesting, of course the fact that Vinnie knows everyone can’t hurt either. When 3:30 rolled around we were getting hungry so we packed it in for the day and headed over to Palace Station for dinner which was great fun. I have discovered that doing anything with Vinnie is an adventure, on the way back to drop me off at my hotel Vinnie took several wrong turns leading me to believe that no one in Vegas has any idea where they’re going or what they’re doing, but taking a turn down a dark, deserted ally gave Minnie and me quite a laugh. Come to think of it I still have a headache from laughing so hard. I’m resting my feet at the moment, but I think my next move will probably be to take a bus down the strip to find some desert, possibly at Excalibur where I spied some good looking food the other day. Tomorrow or Saturday night I’ll probably go the other direction towards downtown for the “Freemont Street Experience.”

two fewer teeth

Today I have two fewer teeth than yesterday. The wisdon teeth extractions went even better than planned, compared to my previous dental adventures (stories for another time) this was very straightforward. I have no pain and am on no painkillers including ibuprofen. Hopefully I’ll continue to feel well the next few days as my gums heal. As for now, I’ve been eating anything I feel like and have just been careful not to irritate the area.

So what did I do today? I came home from the extraction (way early in the morning for me) and took an hour nap, watched some steam train documentaries that I got for Christmas read a few books and tore apart the laser printer at home (twice) to replace a gear that had stripped and was causing paper jams. All in all a fairly normal day.


Just a Quick Note: Wisdom Teeth (2) come out tomorrow morning at 7:10am central, I can hardly wait…