You don't have the nearly $3,000 to spend on the two-day Demo conference, so you just want me to get down to business: what's good here, and what isn't. I hear you.
Without further ado, my favorites from the first 25 percent of the demonstrations. (Check out Justin Jaffe's blog for his highlights so far.)
LightZone, from Light Crafts
OK, I admit, I've seen only a six-minute demo of this Java-based software. But as a (quite) amateur photographer who's struggled with Adobe Photoshop for years, this software-as-service looks damn attractive. The concept: LightZone automatically identifies and snaps to areas of light and dark within photographs, then lets you quickly edit those areas. It does other photo-treating stuff, too, but the demo focused mainly on all the "pixel painting" this software helps you avoid. I want some. Unfortunately, looks like I can't have it yet, since Light Crafts has built this software for only Mac OS X Tiger. No word yet on availability dates, but I hope to find out.
This one is tough to describe. Callpod is a conferencing technology that lets a number of people synchronize their Bluetooth headsets and simultaneously listen to and participate in phone calls, share streaming tunes, and otherwise hear the same sounds. The demo convinced me that the service really does avoid any noise-canceling blackouts. Imagine the possibilities: You could talk to five friends at once at the same time, then stop to play all of them your favorite new song.
And now, for the weirdest tech I've seen so far:
Now you can build your own circuit board. Seriously. Schmartboard is, well, a circuit board that lets you solder and create your own integrated circuits with absolutely no experience. Prerequisites? A soldering iron "with a pitch smaller than the pitch of the component that you are soldering." Oh, and you should probably know what those words mean.