LDI 2004 Trip Report

Thursday, October 21, 2004 – After a full day of classes I got a ride from Nick out to the interstate where I caught the shuttle to the Minneapolis airport. I arrived at the airport around 7:40pm for a 9:08pm nonstop flight to Las Vegas on AmericaWest. Thanks to small crowds at the airport I was quickly able to get checked in and through security. Arriving at the gate with some time to spare I purchased a Cinnabon and some milk for dinner as I hadn’t eaten anything since before my 10:00am class. I also took a few minutes to call my parents who were on a trip to Washington D.C. with the rest of the family so my brother could look at the Naval Academy. While I was doing some reading they made an announcement that the flight would be delayed an hour as the plane couldn’t land and was circling the airport due to a VIP visit (John Kerry) the plane ended up landing around 9:10, about when we should have been taking off. After a quick turnaround we were able to board the plane and left the gate around 10:10pm about an hour behind schedule. Once we got out on the taxiway they discovered a hydraulic problem and we sat on the taxiway for another hour while the pilots radioed with mechanics in Phoenix. Eventually things got straightened out and we finally took off about 11:10pm, two hours late. We were supposed to land around 10:30pm Pacific Time and ended up landing at 12:38am Pacific. Of course to me this was like 2:40 in the morning, adding in the time to get through the airport it was 3:00am for me before I was breathing the air of Las Vegas. But no, the saga does not end there! I had sent a message to Grant and Ed who were going to pick me up at the airport that I was delayed and would call when I landed, which I did and they headed over to the airport. Well, once I got my bags I got another call from them saying they couldn’t get near the pickup area because the police weren’t letting anyone though and were saying the airport was shutdown. Obviously that was not the case as I had just passed a smoking lounge full of TSA officers who didn’t seem to be very concerned about anything. I haven’t heard anything more but whatever the disturbance was it must have been outside. In any event I was able to sneak around the police by going down a level, crossing there and going back up into the parking ramp. Ed and Josh picked me up and took me back to Extended Stay America so I could catch some sleep before hitting the show floor in the morning. Grant was already sleeping. I think by the time I hit the couch it was nearly 4:00am for me and 2:00am Pacific.

Friday, October 22, 2004 – We woke up this morning about 8:30am in time to get to the Sands Expo before 10:00am when the show opened so I could get my badge holder and Grant and Josh could get the booth up and running. We had a bit of a time finding an oversized parking spot for the Light N Trax van but eventually got it parked and into the show. I spent most of the morning working systematically across the show floor starting in one corner and got about halfway through the show by a 1:00pm lunch break. I walked back over to the Venetian food court for lunch. The short of it is for one of the more expensive strip hotels the Venetian food court is really not very good. Anyway after lunch I headed back to the show floor and checked in with everyone at the booth then started making rounds from where I left off with a brief detour to see some of the five outdoor stages setup for the evening demo shows. By about 5:30 I was satisfied that I had seen most of what I was interested in on the show floor. I was mainly looking at computer integration products such as DMX/Ethernet devices, digital live sound boards and new lighting consoles. I also looked at related products such as entertainment grade CAT5e cable, etc. In any event I called Vincent and Minnie (some friends from Vegas) and had them come pick me up so we could go out to dinner. We had dinner at a nice off-strip Mexican restaurant called Macayo. After dinner we tried to hit Fry’s Electronics, but found it already had closed. I also want to check to see if any of the live demo stages were still playing. Finding that they were not I called Grant to find out where he was and we headed over to the Stratosphere for a bit to see the end of a karaoke contest and say hi to Erik and his wife whose name I’m not even going to attempt to spell. After we left Vincent, Minnie and I decided to play tourist on the strip and took photos of all the bright flashy signs we could get near. After a run down and up the strip we headed over to Minnie’s house to play some pool. We were quite bad at keeping score so I can’t say who won, but I think it was pretty even, none of us were all that great. At 1:30am I called it quits and Vinny gave me a ride back to the hotel where I got to sleep somewhere around 2:00am

Saturday, October 23, 2004 – We got up this morning around 8:15 and got to the Sands Expo about 9:40, about 20 minutes before the show opened. After helping get the booth ready for the show I took off and made my way to the Grand Lux Café in the casino level of the Venetian. Walking through the casino to get there was the only time I spent in a casino this trip. Remembering my poor lunch experience the day before I decided to have breakfast before the show and not stop for lunch. I had a quite good and not all that expensive omelet for breakfast at the Grand Lux and hit the show floor about 11:00am after it had been open for an hour. As I had already seen most of the show the day before I spent most of the day taking a second look at some of the more interesting things such as the antique followspot display and a few of the product vendors. I also broke out the digital camera and took some photos of various booths so I could explain to people what all I saw at the show. One nice thing about going to a show put on by the entertainment industry is that they know how to entertain (who would have thought?). This means almost all the major vendors had open bars and lots of people had free snacks such as ice cream cones. In addition on Saturday Walt Disney Entertainment gave everyone free ice cream bars in a Mickey Mouse shape. I also spent some time on Saturday walking around with Josh and later with Grant to see what interesting and exciting things they had seen which I might have missed. I also took a better look at the outdoor demo stages and listened to some of the speaker arrays out there. By the time 4:30 rolled around I called Vinny and Minnie to pick me up so we could go out to dinner with Darci (another friend from Vegas) and her daughter. Once they picked me up we called Darci to find out where and when we were meeting and decided to go to the Peppermill which is basically across the strip from the Stratosphere. Traffic was bad and by the time we got there it was nearly six, the time we had agreed to meet. I must say, despite what Vinny and Minnie say, it was a pleasure to finally meet Darci’s daughter. While the food wasn’t bad it wasn’t memorable either and not as good as Macayo and probably not on my list of places to re-visit. At dinner Darci gave me a copy of the Freedom Downtime DVD which I’ll probably bring back in January for CES so Kevin can autograph it for me. Of course I had forgotten the DVD I had promised to Darci but I gave it to Vinny later and he promised to deliver. After we ate and chatted for a bit Vinny, Minnie and I zipped down to Fry’s so I could poke around a bit before they closed. I don’t want to bore you with the details as I’m pretty sure the 2004 CES reports cover Fry’s. Anyway, it’s an absolutely fantastic electronics store which everyone must visit if they are headed to the west coast. Fry’s had a deal on Cat6 patch panels so I picked one up while I was there. After we left Fry’s we headed back up the strip to the outdoor demo shows so I could get a few photos of the stages in action. They were just about to finish up and I ended up picking up some of the LightWands we had loaned out to board operators as demos. Because I had to get up early the next morning to catch my flight Vinny and Minnie dropped me off at the hotel and I was sleeping by 11:00pm.

Sunday, October 24, 2004 – I got up at 7:15 this morning and Ed took me to the airport at 8:00 for my 9:50 flight. Even though the airport was moderately busy I was able to get checked in and to the gate with some time to spare. I was able to get some free wireless internet access at the Las Vegas airport so I checked my email for the first time since Thursday afternoon and sorted through the 1500 odd messages that had accumulated. As it turned out the flight to Phoenix was oversold and they offered $300 in travel vouchers to take another flight and even mentioned a direct to Minneapolis flight. I decided if they could get me back Sunday night I would take it, but the flight wasn’t due into Minneapolis until 6:00am Monday morning so I skipped it and took the scheduled flight to Phoenix. I arrived on time and had about 45 minutes until my Minneapolis flight left Phoenix so I took the opportunity to get some lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen in the airport. Again the flight to Minneapolis was oversold and they offered $400 in vouchers plus overnight hotel to take a flight the next day, but I had class in the morning and needed to get back so I stayed on and arrived back home about 5:00pm Central time, that was a long day of traveling.

Overall I was impressed by the show and had a great time. Product-wise some of the most interesting things I saw were the DiGiCo Live digital sound boards, the Jands Vista lighting console and the SandNet family of Ethernet/DMX interfaces. In addition I enjoyed seeing more average sized Vegas conference (as opposed to the huge CES) and some of the entertainment industry organizations such as ESTA.


  1. It was a pleasure for us to hook up with a good friend. Oh, and it was nice seeing you too. Ba-dump-dump keesh! 🙂

    Seriously had loads of fun with you, Minnie says hello.