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Postcards from the edge of CES

My first day at the Consumer Electronics Show made me think CES stood for the Comedy (of) Errors Show.

First, my flight from D.C. was delayed and I had to get my ticket transferred to a different airline at a later time.

So I got to Vegas late. I took a cab to get to Steve Ballmer's 6:30 keynote in plenty of time, or so I thought. I got to the ballroom about 6:25, and there was some confusion over whether I needed to register on the first floor and get a badge holder or whether the card CES had mailed me last week was sufficient to get me in. Turns out it wasn't. By the time I had straightened all this out, five robust gentlemen in suits were blocking the escalator that went to Ballmer's keynote. "Nobody else is allowed in," they said. "It's full. No more room."

I said to one of them, "Look, I came all the way from D.C. to cover Steve Ballmer's speech and you're not going to let me in? Don't you at least have it simulcast over the Web someplace so I can watch it from my laptop?"

No, not this year. This year it will be available on the Web within 24 hours, they said.

My real skill as a journalist, whining, obviously wasn't going to work on this crew, so I decided to head back to my hotel and salvage the remains of the day. I followed some signs that said CES shuttle. A group of people in CES logo hats and jackets were standing around. "Is this the CES shuttle?" I asked.

"It is, but we’re not officially starting it until tomorrow.”

"You mean I have to pay to take a taxi back from a speech I never got to see?" I was a little jet-lagged, and I do have a history of whining when I'm tired.

"Why don't you just go back to the casino and have a margarita?" the shuttle man said.

I wound my way to the taxi stand and on the way lost an earring.

"You look like you could use a margarita," the taxi driver said.

Back at my hotel, I couldn't get a strong enough Wi-Fi signal to check my e-mail, let alone watch Ballmer's speech over the Internet. I turned on CNBC, thinking maybe they would have excerpts from it, but it was just Jim Kramer screaming "sell, sell, sell!"

So Day One of my CES adventure was anything but a rousing success. Tomorrow, at least, I will get to look at some nifty technology. I saw on CNBC that they were demoing personal tasers for citizen use.

Now there's a thought.

Posted by Trudy Walsh on Jan 08, 2009 at 9:39 AM


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