Tuesday, March 19, 2002

My first update from Utah.

I'm out here for Novell's annual BrainShare conference. This is my first major tech show, so everything I've encountered has been exciting and unique.

Salt Lake City seems like a good place to visit. I haven't seen many locals so far. The downtown area is deserted most of the time, except for the thousands of people attending the conference. Instead of being surrounded by 50-story skyscrapers, Salt Lake has a handful of 20-story buildings and magnificent mountains on three sides. I've been walking to the Salt Palace Convention Center from the hotel, getting a little exercise in the process. I like the snow on the ground. At least I'm getting to see some this winter, even if I had to fly 2000 miles to find it.

The conference itself has been one wild scene, at least in my opinion. One way to describe it would be wholesome. The entertainment so far has been cheesy comedy, three BMX stunt bikers, and a half-decent cover band in bad wigs. That was Sunday night at the welcome reception. Nothing the least bit edgy or dangerous. Today (Monday) we had our first keynote session, featuring tribal drums and a half-naked man in a fur loincloth running into the convention hall carrying a huge Novell banner. While everyone, male and female, were impressed with the gimmick, I doubt we'll see him in any ads anytime soon. We heard from a few VPs, who talked about Novell's new product line and their new marketing tactics. They showed a hilarious commercial parody of Microsoft's Windows XP commercials. I'm sure that will never be aired either. I spent the rest of the day in breakout sessions learning about products and solutions. That's basically how I'm spending the rest of my week: in class, learning new technologies and getting headaches. There are different events every night to break up the program. Tonight was "tech night" at the Salt Palace, where they kept all the labs and play areas open late so we could see more demos, win more prizes, and pick up more free stuff. So far I've collected a baseball cap, a t-shirt, a Matchbox car, a foam football, a superball that lights up, a laser pointer, and countless flyers and CD demos. I'm going to need another bag just to bring home all this junk.

I'm really enjoying the wireless network at the Salt Palace. I got a wireless network card for my laptop before I left New York, so I'm able to browse the web and check my e-mail anywhere in the convention center. We're just starting to deploy wireless networks back at the office, but I can really see the power in them. They're all kinds of fun. Easy to hack, too, if you don't know what you're doing.

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