Alistair Maclean's Web Site

Show? What Show?

Having been to the PCExpo show in the Javits Center in NYC for about 8 years I think I can safely say I know what to expect of the show. In general it doesn't change much year-to-year, some years there is more software, other years there is more hardware. This year things changed. There was less of everything. There was a new name (TechXNY) and a new marketting theme (less PC, more electronic stuff). It may work for the show organizers, it may work for some of the show exhibitors, but in general it struck me as being a bomb.

Less people, less stands, less floor space, less innovation.

What was there to be seen? There were lots of palm products. One of the largest stands was the Palm stand, another was the Blackberry (RIM) stand. The Compaq stand had more of the iPaq than they had of their servers. There was almost no Microsoft stand to speak off, though lots of their 'partners' were present under the company banner. The Intel stand had an Itanium server, but I could not find an single Itanium processor chip on show (it was officially launched last week, so the marketting engine should have been in full force).

I found dozens (or so it seemed) of companies doing KVM (keyboard, Video, Mouse) switches. Now I happen to like looking for these things, but with this many to choose from... what's going on? One KVM item I saw, by a company called Minicom, allowed you to put all the KVM outputs to an ethernet (CAT5) network (though the network has to be independant of any others) to allow a master PC to control upto 42 others. This struck me as a pretty decent solution. and an interesting alternative to the KVM over IP system a couple of companies were promoting.

Compaq were showing off a nice solid state drive. It held up to 128Gb of RAM. If the power goes off the RAM is backed up to disk drives. A large part of the 1U high box was taken up by a pair of rechargable batteries, the ones needed to power the drives to backup the RAM when the mains fail. This is not CMOS batterybacked RAM, rather disk backed RAM. Nice, though quite expensive.

IBM were showing off their new xSeries of servers, not to be mixed up with the ISeries or zSeries (did some marketing weenie find out about the alphabet recently?). The X's seem like they are standard PC servers, the I's are the old AS/400, the Z's are 390's. I had a nice discussion of what it takes to run Linux on an S/390, and the ease of doing it. Just remember, before you reformat your DASD and stick in the RedHat CD, you need your Z-OS (OS/390) on the box in order to load and implement Linux.

The job fair was a sorry affair. From what I could see it was mainly Microsoft, Sony and ADP doing the hiring. I don't know about Sony, but I would have grave reservations of splashing my resume around some of the other prospective employers.

At this rate, next year Tandy will have a stand here and we will be able to see the latest in refrigerators.

For $75 this was not entertainment, it was punishment. Don't bother going. See your nearest CompUSA for a better, cheaper time.

AM © June 2001
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