D: Event Brings an Abundance of Riches

Reporter's Notebook: It's executive forum season, and Jim Louderback is trying to take in two simultaneous conferences. His account of Day One includes what Bill Gates said to the D: crowd.

Walt Mossberg provides very public technology advice to lieutenants and captains of industry through his columns in the Wall Street Journal. Mark Anderson provides more personal advice and insight to high-tech investors and CEOs through his highly regarded Strategic News Service. Both are keen observers of technology, with Mossberg stronger on its practical implementation today, and Anderson better at predicting technologys future five, 10 or 20 years down the road. Mossbergs also more of an American expert—while Anderson takes a much more global view.

And each runs an extremely popular and exclusive executive conference, both drawing the worlds top CEOs, venture capitalists and high-tech investors.

Id never been to either: Mossbergs 3-year-old D: conference is invitation-only, while various conflicts have kept me from Andersons Future in Review (FiRE). I vowed this year to try to attend both—by buttering up Mossberg for the former and blocking out a week in late May for the latter.

I was overjoyed when Mossbergs invite arrived—and then crestfallen. Both D: and FiRE were scheduled for the same week. But a closer look revealed a loophole. The two overlapped by a single day, and both take place in the San Diego area—albeit a half hour apart.

So I vowed to attend and cover both for eWEEK.com. Monday at D: was confirmed, as was Wednesday and Thursday morning at FiRE. But what about Tuesday? Should I listen to Barry Diller and Paul Ottelini at D:? The Future WiMax at FiRE? I still havent decided. But Monday, at D: was a full and interesting day, with some revelations and some retreads too. Heres a look at what was announced, and who said what.

Bill Gates: Bill Gates started the day—well, in fact, one of the semi-legendary Microsoft humor videos started the day. This one featured Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder with Gates, in a video piece called "The World of Work." It was terrible—but the outtakes during the credits were hilarious.

Gates came on and discussed security, Longhorn and Linux without any major revelations. In fact, the only mildly new thing he rolled out was a demonstration of satellite imagery built into MSN that will launch later this year. The angled photo-view was particularly compelling.


Click here

to read more about MSNs "Virtual Earth" mapping service.

Gates was followed by Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin, who likened his experience at the radio startup to the early days of Infinity Radio—"the most exciting time of my career." His talk was mostly revelation-free, except when he discussed Sirius future. Later this year will see the introduction of a number of new Sirius radios. He enticed the audience with a description of the "cool products coming out that youll be able to pause and replay" audio content, as well as a portable similar to XMs MyFi.

As announced at CES, Sirius plans on beaming video, along with audio, to cars sometime next year. Karmazin also discussed an upcoming real-time traffic service, which will interoperate with GPS-based navigation devices to layer traffic bottlenecks on top of maps and routes.

Although he gave XM the technology lead today, Karmazin promised that "I dont think anyone will have an advantage [in technology] in two years."

Next Page: Hawkins shows off Hierarchical Temporal Memory technology.