danbricklin.com/log

Starting November 12, 1999
All they care about is Bill Gates, Chili and dancing, lots and lots of Comdex 1999 stuff, Getting Stowaway keyboard, AT&T / MediaOne merger, The Information Super-pike
12-19Nov99
1999_11_12.htm
Friday, November 19, 1999
All they care about is Bill Gates
My Washington Post quote about Bill Gates' dancing got picked up by Ditherati today:
"[Bill Gates] is not a bad dancer, considering he doesn't get a lot of chances to practice in public. And he knows everyone's watching. How would you like it if everyone was watching you having fun?"
My colleagues who subscribe tell me that having a quote that didn't say something mean or show "stupid dithering" is unusual on this site, so I'm lucky.

So, a simple conversation on a trivial topic (compared to Open Access, patents, our product, or the Bible and ethics) got picked up by a national newspaper and then echoed around cyberspace. (See the Monday night entry in my Comdex Journal for the story of talking to the press at the Spencer party.) That's the danger of talking to the media. You never know if, trying to be polite and responsive to a reporter, something you yell over the din of a DJ at a nightclub when you are fading from lack of sleep on a topic you know little about but is the "topic of the day" will get blasted out to the world. I'd hate to be a politician in the news today being followed around.

A lot of press came to Comdex for one main reason: Cover Gates. Since the only mention of the DOJ case was in jokes, they appeared on media almost everywhere. His only other place to "slip up" was dancing, so that got lots of coverage, too. Not much about the issues. I wonder how purposeful that was :) -- smile!.

Tish Williams (who is supposed to write about more than the issues so it's OK) wrote in her Daily Tish column:
"I admit, when I saw a video that featured Bill Gates in a shaggy do, neck ruffle and Austin Powers' blue velvet jacket, I got what I came for. He twisted along with a few fembots and mustered a little Powers accent when he purred, "I put the 'sin' in 'syntax.'"
Actually, he said "I put the sin in syntax baby". Listen how Bill can do comedy on this 41KB WAV file.

Gates dressed as Austin Gates
Austin Gates, "Sultan of Software"
Thursday, November 18, 1999
Chili and dancing
I've added comments to the Chili Cookoff part of my Comdex Journal. I also saw that Washington Post ran a story entitled Bill Gates, Boogie Man? The Jury is Still Out about Bill's dancing at Comdex that quotes me a bit. It's funny to write about how you remember an interview in your journal and then read the results in the paper.

Back at the office
I'm finally back in my office at Trellix. I've added a page to the Comdex Journal about Tuesday and Silicon Spin on ZDTV. I've also put up pictures from the Chili Cookoff, but the text will take a little longer.

Dave Winer and Jason Kottke linked to the Comdex Journal. Glad you liked it!

Tuesday, November 16, 1999
Finished attending, journal to come
I'm done with Comdex for this year. All that awaits is a plane ride tomorrow a little before 7 am. I did my time on ZDTV's Silicon Spin today, and I have pictures from backstage and on the set. Also, Chili Cookoff pictures, including the armadillo races. I'll try to put some of it together on the plane, but tonight I want to get to bed before midnight for once, so no updates to the Comdex Journal. Check back Friday.

Guys on the floor blowing on armadillo tails
Armadillo racing: Computer Associates beats Microsoft

Words added
Somewhat rested, I added more pictures and words to the Comdex Journal. People seem to like it even with just the pictures, but I have a story to tell and something I'd like to read for myself later so you'll have to put up with the words, too.

Dan Gillmor wrote up the Stowaway keyboard in his Tuesday column. He liked it a lot, so I don't feel alone in showing it off.

Comdex continues, but I'm running out of steam
I've got lots more pictures, but I got back quite late to the hotel and must get some sleep. I put some more pictures in the Comdex Journal, but no time for explaining what's going on. Maybe I'll have time a little later. At least I think I was the first to post PCWeek Spencer Party pictures (even if they aren't too good). This afternoon I'll be on ZDTV's Silicon Spin.

Monday, November 15, 1999
McChesney's report from Comdex
John McChesney of NPR filed the report I photographed him editing and it ran this morning on Morning Edition. Click here to hear the RealAudio.

Here he is at a late dinner last night moving the recording of Bill Gates' speech from his recorder to his laptop and doing the sound edits:

John at late dinner typing seen from the rear
John with recorder and laptop
Julianne of Trellix tells me that the old Sands Hotel building, now the Venetian hotel where Gates gave his keynote, served a special purpose before being demolished: It was used (in simulated slow motion that took forever to film) in a crash in the movie Con Air.

More Comdex stuff from Bill Gates' keynote
Lots more pictures in the Fall Comdex 1999 Journal. I got swept up in a crowd of press and snapped pictures merrily.

Sunday, November 14, 1999
Starting my Comdex journal
I've arrived in Las Vegas for the Fall Comdex 1999 convention. To read my journal of my trip, see the Fall Comdex 1999 Journal on my main web site.

Comdex Fall 1999 logo

Saturday, November 13, 1999
More Comdex preparation
I lucked out and got a new toy to take with me to try at Comdex: a Stowaway portable keyboard for my Palm III PDA. It's from a new company called Think Outside, made up of people who worked on lots of mechanically neat devices at companies like Apple. It is about the size of the Palm III, but unfolds into a full keyboard you plug the PDA into. To use it the first time, you run a simple file off of a floppy (in the preproduction model I have), sync the Palm III, and it's ready. Here's what it looks like folded and then unfolding:

Next to the Palm Pilot, slightly larger  Half unfolded
Left side with fingers pushing parts together  Keyboard unfolded with Pilot stuck in it
Unfolding the Stowaway keyboard and plugging in my Palm III
It feels very much like the keyboard on my ThinkPad laptop. I'm planning to use it to take notes during the day at Comdex so I don't have to schlep around my laptop. I'll let you know how it works.

The unit I have is a preproduction one which still has some bugs. Despite them, it works quite well and I wouldn't want to give it up. I got it because the PR folks working with the company know I'll walk around Comdex showing it off. Lucky me! I'm showing you since everybody to whom I've shown it so far (and tried typing on it) thought it was really neat. The manufacturer plans to ship versions for various palmtop computers starting late this year or early 2000 for about $99.

Friday, November 12, 1999
Comdex preparation and the social scene
I'm preparing to go to Comdex in Las Vegas next week. I'll be taking pictures and posting here some of what I see. I don't get out on the floor much, so don't expect me to tell you about the undiscovered stuff in a booth in the corner, or even the products from major companies. But, I will be at some special events and bring my camera, so expect some interesting viewpoints of part of the insider social scene.

Nancy Engel has been taking insider pictures for years. Read about her and see some of her pictures, including one of Wozniak, Frankston and me from last year's Comdex, in an article on SiliconValley.com.

AT&T / MediaOne merger
There's another article in the Open Access/Broadband debate from Lawrence Lessig: In the matter of the AT&T/MediaOne merger. I've added it to my Open Access Issues page.

Road/Internet symbiosis
Somebody pointed out to me that the renting of the space for the fiber-optic cables mentioned in the next piece is supposed to bring in enough money to let them remove the tolls charged for driving on the road. That's the rationalization.

The Information Super-pike
Recently, I was riding along part of the Massachusetts Turnpike (which we call the "Mass Pike" and many of you call I-90) and noticed all these colored cables sticking out of the ground:

Yellow, red, blue, green, etc., cables
Cables on Mass Pike
Seeing how extensive it was (several places miles and miles long, with a few different construction crews with lots of heavy equipment) I started taking some pictures (I wasn't the one driving). You can see the trenches being dug, cable buried, and more:

Digging a trench along the median Reels of colored cables
Orange tubing on a carrier Multiple cables on a feeding machine
Cable burying along the Mass Pike
I found a press release on the www.masspike.com web site about a fiber-optic cable deal approved early this year, with more to come. It mentions six fiber-optic interducts. So, I guess our auto highway is about to also become an Internet highway.

I'm not used to seeing such an extensive, earth-moving, concrete example of the growing Internet. I'm used to people showing you something like this rack of equipment at Interliant (a web hosting company) and saying it could carry some large percentage of all the Internet's current traffic:

Handfull of green cables and blue equipment in a rack
Equipment rack
It's kind of refreshing to see the Internet come out of the wiring closet into the open.

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