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At DigitalLife's press kickoff, everyone just wants to play 'Guitar Hero III'

Parent company Ziff Davis Media holds a press conference featuring the mayor's technology commissioner. Earth to Ziff Davis: Don't hold a 'Guitar Hero III' demo when you're trying to make people listen.

On Tuesday night at an event space across the street from the Jacob Javits Convention Center, DigitalLife convention parent company Ziff Davis Media held its press kickoff event, but it might as well have been a Guitar Hero III party.

Members of the media could obtain their semi-coveted credentials; New York City technology commissioner Paul Cosgrave gave a brief talk officially designating September 24 to 30 as "Digital Technology Week"; and a set of "Hot Five" featured products--Trend Micro's Internet Security Pro, electronic music company M-Audio, the HD DVD Alliance, the Ford Sync voice-activated in-car entertainment system (a project in conjunction with Microsoft), and the latest Guitar Hero video game title from Red Octane--were given the opportunity to show off their wares before the actual convention started.

That was key. At an event with 60,000 expected attendees, many of the 200-plus Digital Life exhibitors would jump at the chance to show off a piece of hardware or software for a few dozen journalists and analysts in advance.

Cosgrave, however, was all about business. Apologizing for the presence of a whole host of other conventions clogging the city's streets, Cosgrave quickly admitted that "the U.N. (General Assembly) kind of preempted us," and instead chose to focus on a few municipal initiatives that he considered highlights of the city's role as a technological innovator: the 311 non-emergency hotline, the NYC TV media initiative, and the current plan to wire the New York subway system with cell phone access.

He then shifted his discussion to online security, an understandable topic for a government mouthpiece. "With that role (as a digital hub) comes a responsibility," he explained, "and that responsibility is in the form of cyber safety."

The first, and longest-winded "Hot Five" company representative to speak was Trend Micro North America President Lane M. Bess; the security company's new Internet Security Pro consumer software was, after all, the one that fit Cosgrave's theme of cyber-defense most closely. Trend Micro, he said, counts the New York municipal government among its clients.

Unfortunately, Bess was somewhat flustered at the lack of attention he was getting from the crowd. "There's more," he said with regard to his brief speech. "I know you want to get to that Hero Guitar thing. My son loves it!"

That just about summed up the evening. Although Red Octane's hot new game, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock was only one of the companies showcased, it was clearly the one that everybody wanted to see. (The Ford Sync came in a distant second, to be fair.) Which led to not only a lack of attention toward the other "Hot" four, but also an overload of Pat Benatar's '80s hit "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" on repeat as members of the press crowded in to show off their shredding skills.

The DigitalLife convention kicks off at 1:00 p.m. ET on Thursday.