Warbling Wayne Newtons “Danke Schoen,” Spencer wandered the Las Vegas Convention Center as union workers and marketing types frantically constructed booths for Comdex. Inconspicuously squished into a skintight tuxedo and sporting a bouffant-style toupee, the Rat Packin Katt heard a lead Microsoftie warn his preshow troops to “bear in mind that anyone you talk to at the booth may be with the press.” “And loose lips and gaping security holes sink ships,” cackled the Kitty, as he skatted off to attend the ritual opening-night keynote from Bill Gates.
As Bill ballyhooed “seamless computing,” security guards at the Aladdin wouldnt let attendees bring laptops into the hall. “Thank God I take down my notes on old cocktail napkins,” groused the Grimalkin. Sitting near the stage, Spence focused on Bills Microsoft watch. It was in stock-report mode, displaying, for whatever reason, Real Networks current stock price.
The cab-o-meter Spence uses to gauge Comdex attendance revealed that not only were cabs easy to come by, but one cabbie was under the impression that Comdex had been called off. Another cabbie asserted Comdex will merge with CES by next year.
At the hall, a Katt crony claimed Dells push to climb higher up the printer food chain has become a crusade, ever since Carly Fiorina dissed the company as a mere distributor during a speech in Atlanta last summer. Meanwhile, HP execs were sidling up to the Katt, contending AMDs 64-bit Opteron was really only 48-bit. AMD execs, aware of the FUD campaign, had charts and graphs offering 64-bit proof. A confused Katt became enlightened when it was explained the bitness battle is all about Little Endian and Big Endian design. At a panel, the moderator asked speakers what they would do if not allowed to hold their current job. “Ive decided that porn is whats going to drive 64 bits to the desktop,” said Computer Associates division Vice President Emma McGrattan, adding, “CA will build the infrastructure.”
Investigating the Computer Digital Expo, which promoters hailed as Comdexs successor, Spence counted only 60 attendees at an afternoon keynote. Thinking the Comdex rival could have held court at a Taco Bell instead of the vast Mandalay Bay, Spence was soon impressed by the highly qualified professionals that organizers promised the event would attract when one attendee asked AMD enterprise evangelist Kevin Knox, “So, what do you guys do?”
The “big” Comdex After Dark bash at the Rain club in The Palms hotel seemed like a party torn from the Kittys junior high memories. Feeling like he was crammed into a bad stereo speaker with maybe 500 people, El Gato handed off his drink tickets and ventured into the night, singing, “Danke Schoen, thank you for all the joy and pain.”