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March 13, 1997

Report From Internet World
Copyright 1997 - Greg Bulmash - All Rights Reserved

I know, once again I'm a little late, but with good reason. Yesterday as I was trying to decide what to write about for my humor column, I realized that I was going to the Spring Internet World show today and I really wanted to write about that.

Now I expected to come home with a fistful of CD-ROMs with all the coolest new plug-ins and demo software, but I came home with one. Almost every exhibitor had the same line... "you can download it from our web site."

Well gee, if I'd wanted to spend a day downloading all this junk, I'd have it already. In fact, the only thing I cleaned up on was free magazines, but since I keep all the computer magazines in the bathroom, they should have been giving away free Ex-lax so I could find enough time to read through them all.

And and on the subject of downloading (among other things), Microsoft was demonstrating their newest browser, Internet Explorer 4.0. But rather than having a big presentation every 20 minutes with some actor conning a poor attendee into singing the company theme over a PA system to win a t-shirt (like they were doing over at Jamba), it was tucked away in a corner, sharing a booth with their Net-Meeting software. Now since the two products are sort of tied together, I thought the reps were for both. I was sadly mistaken.

The woman in front of the IE 4.0 demo was busy showing off its mail features to a couple of people, so I approached him because it seemed like he'd finished his demo.

"When can I download IE 4.0?"

"Can't you see I'm demonstrating Net-Meeting here?"

"Gee," I said, "thanks for demonstrating Microsoft customer service. Maybe you ought to pee on your side of the booth so your territory is better marked." Well, I didn't say it loud enough so he could hear me, but I did say it.

And apparently the guys promoting NetGuide were in a bad mood too. See, I figured I'd make up a flyer about my site and give it to some of the magazines there, hoping that all the cool quotes I had from newspapers might give them an incentive to check it out.

Well, of course, the big commercial magazines were trying to sell subscriptions, and apparently NetGuide wasn't selling any. I handed the guy the flyer and he handed it back, saying "I'll be like everyone else has been today and say I'll think about it."

"Well," I said, "then you'll need a flyer for when you make up your mind."

Novell had a big, red Hummer on display. I asked if they were having a drawing to win it, but no, it was just there because it had Novell's name all over it. What relation is there between the kind of car Arnold Schwarzenegger drives and Novell's line of products besides the fact that they're both expensive? I have no idea. I guess it was so people would ask "hey, can I win this" and they'd say "no, but look at all our neat networking stuff."

And since I'm considering some new advertising solutions to support this darn thing, I decided to talk to Softbank, who said they could get advertisers for my site... as soon as I increase traffic by a factor of, oh, about 50, and have it independently audited to prove it's not just a bunch of well-intentioned visitors hitting their "reload" buttons.

So, after three hours of wandering around Internet World, the awards are...

Coolest rep: "The Web"

Most patient rep: IBM Applet Author

Snottiest rep: Microsoft

Cutest female rep: Novell

Best use of whipped cream in a sales pitch: Symantec

Only CD I got at this darn show: Backweb

Only promo giveaway thingy I might use: C|Net post-it notes

Most pointless display: Novell (for the Hummer)

Hatfield & McCoy feuding neighbors: Microsoft & Sun who had their huge Active X and Java "look at all the people who do cool stuff with our stuff" demo areas within spitting distance of each other.

And the award for The coolest product of the show goes to... the people giving massages in the hallway.

Catch y'all next week.


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