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Tech Industry

The News.Com best of Comdex awards

Like other publications, News.Com seeks to award those that excel in various areas of the high technology arena. Unfortunately, we only have souvenir foam footballs, cardboard boxes, and an autographed coolie cup from Larry Ellison to give away.

Like other publications, News.Com seeks to award those that excel in various areas of the high technology arena. Unfortunately, we only have souvenir foam footballs, cardboard boxes, and an autographed coolie cup from Larry Ellison to give away. But here they are:

Best performance by a human prop during a keynote speech:
To Rusty Crank, a BMX bicycle rider who joined Bill Gates during his Sunday night keynote. Rusty rode on stage, popped a few wheelies, and told Bill that kids all over the world were unanimous in their rejection of decisions by alternative uses of XML technology.

Best imitation of Disneyland's "Meet Mr. Lincoln":
To Michael Dell. Dell, perturbed by his afternoon slot in the Comdex keynote lineup, held his own keynote at the Las Vegas Country Club across the street. Despite the controversy, the young billionaire once again displayed ability to betray no emotion whatsoever. When asked if the industry will slow next year, he cocked an eyebrow and stared forward as he answered. Guests even got the opportunity to shake his lifelike hand.

Best place to see the high and mighty:
Katy's Coffee Shop in the Riviera Hotel. CEO-watchers saw Ted Waitt (Gateway), Micron Electronics' Joel Kocher, and Charles Wang, (the head man at Computer Associates) eat ridiculously named entrees as they discussed business, as well as a number of cockroaches on the floor. Coincidence or not? This was the same hotel where they filmed Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

Best cab trunk advertisement:
Come See Syquest. It was one of the most prolific signs at the show. The company declared Chapter II bankruptcy during the week.

Best way to break your own NDA:
Silicon Graphics PR personnel would not tell people what they were showing in a trailer. "Are you showing Xeon systems," asked a correspondent. "Can't tell you," was the reply. The trailer read: "Come see Silicon Graphics New Xeon systems."

Best technology: Sony.
The Japanese giant showed off portable screens, new types of portable memory, and a robotic cat that, like the real kind, rarely did what it was told.

Best use of a second rate celebrity:
To Xerox, who hired the guy that played J Peterman on Seinfeld to act as Zeus.

Oddest participant:
Philip Morris, the cigarette and beer people, had their own booth.

Best misplaced use of gung-ho marketing:
To Fortune Magazine. The sidewalks of Vegas are packed with young Latino men and women handing out pornographic pamphlets to passers-by. And right in the middle of a pack of them on Convention Boulevard, for two solid days, sat a young man shouting: "Fortune Magazine's Technology Buying Guide. It's Free!"

Best example of deja vu jokesterism by second-rate celebrities:
On Monday night, Dennis Miller at the Rockwell party said, "Who would have ever thought that silicon would be used to enhance computing and women's breasts." The next day, Bill Maher, host of Politically Incorrect, emceed a keynote with Intel CEO Craig Barrett. "Imagine, the same silicon that is used in computers is used in breast implants."

Best giveaway that no grown person should wear on his or her head:
Agfa Graphics. The company hollowed out a standard software box and turned it into a hat.

Best expression to emerge out of the show that marketing people will flog for a year:
"We've got to increase bandwidth into the house."

Best hotel sign:
To Circus Circus. "Warning: Heat Kills Pets. Please leave car windows open."

Best way to destroy a hotel freight elevator:
To Compaq Computer. The company eschewed booths to show of their technology in hotel rooms on the 31st floor of the Monte Carlo Hotel. The key feature for the company was a cluster of two-eight way Xeon servers that reached to the ceiling. Sadly, it was too big and heavy for the freight elevator and they broke it. Compaq employees had to disassemble the machine and deliver it up piece by piece.

Best "That was there when we got there" excuse:
The Compaq server group again. Along with breaking the elevator, company representatives canvassed the wallpaper of their hotel rooms with posters that they stuck to the wall with push pins.

Most popular upcoming bread product:
Foccacia. Sandwiches on the meaty Italian bread have displaced both the Crossain'wich and the large, flexible chocolate chip cookie as the food of choice for meeting rooms.

The Vince Lombardi endurance award:
To Via, the Computer-on-a-Belt people. They?ve been here four years and no one, except for company representatives, are logging on through their slacks.

And the best example of purple prose from a PR agent:
"As mentioned in the subject line, we have a new disposable, ice cream cone tray that handles all the popular sizes. This product is long overdue! This product will benefit both you & your customers."

Mike P.