Mid-Summer Mélange

As we begin the hot, steamy month of August, here’s a hodge-podge of observations that’ve been on my mind thus far this summer:

  • Infocomm (the show) is an entirely different world for exhibitors than it is for attendees! This was the first year I worked a booth, and it was crazy. Late nights setting up the booth, early mornings and long hours manning it, late afternoon tearing down. Not to mention, missing almost the entire rest of the show while focused on one tiny bit of real estate on the show floor. Seriously, I have sooooo much more respect for all of my manufacturer friends after this experience! Of course, I also hope to never have to go through that again! Me, I’ll take integration any day. *nods sagely*Still, it’s something everyone should experience at least once, if for no other reason, to see just how much work goes into pulling off the show each year. As Duffy Wilbert from Infocomm told me at the show, “It’s amazing being in the hall late Tuesday night, looking around at all the chaos and wondering if the show will come off this year… Then coming in Wednesday morning to see INFOCOMM, as if the Trade Show Fairy came in and waved her wand overnight.” Having left the chaos at almost 1am wondering the same thing this year, he’s exactly right. It’s amazing. Major props, not just to the manufacturers’ employees, but also to all the roadies, teamsters and laborers who lift, tote, carry and assemble during those crazy pre-show hours… and repeat the same in reverse a few days later.
  • I’ve been a fairly outspoken critic of the trendy new wave of 3-D tech (see my January blog post, “A Contrarian’s View of the 3-D Craze“) but I found myself reconsidering that stance in the past few weeks. One of my big criticisms of the technology is that it is often used poorly – just in there for the heck of it, rather than moving the story forward in any significant way. Filmmakers would put in gratuitous “It’s coming right for us!” shots to justify their decision to shoot in (or convert to) 3-D. These shots usually had no point other than making the audience say, “Oooh!” and be impressed with how great the effects were. On the other hand, I finally saw a movie that I felt used the 3-D technology well.I went to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II” and the midnight showings in my area were all 3-D. (Yes, I’m that guy. Shut up.) If you are familiar at all with the story or movie, you’d know that this film was the climax – emotionally and action-wise – of an epic tale that took a decade to play out. In the entire movie, there was really only one gratuitous use of 3-D technology, which I honestly wasn’t that impressed with, however the ‘mundane’ use of 3-D in the film gave it a depth and realism that put the viewers in the story more than the usual flat filming would. The experience of the emotional moments of the film, and the denouement of a world a generation grew up with, was made palpable thanks to the subtle but clear influence of the 3-D used to bring these beloved characters more to life in the final film.That said, I still don’t feel that we need to have 3-D televisions or blu-ray discs to watch the film in the future. It’s a technology best used for experiential events, rather than everyday entertainment. I still don’t think it needs to be everywhere, and I still believe it is overused and badly used, for the most part. However, it can be used to draw viewers more fully into a world and cause greater emotional impact, not simply to make viewers duck from “explosions” and cause them to “ooh” and “ahh.”
  • Anyone who has ever read my blog, followed my tweets or met me in person knows that I am completely and utterly devoted to technology. Despite this, I’ve rather enjoyed a Luddite respite over the past few weeks, enjoying a number of old-fashioned handicrafts. I did some hand-beading on a satin-and-velvet bag project; I used a knife and a wood carving blade to whittle a branch from the yard into a costume piece; I did some ‘from scratch’ baking instead of pre-mixed cookie doughs and ready-to-bake items; I even learned how to darn thick knit socks and mended a pair of piping hose that Mr. AVDawn wears with his kilt to bagpipe competitions. It was refreshing for a ‘modern kid’ in 2011 to put traditional hand techniques to use as generations past did. Of course, I was not completely unplugged through the process – I learned the darning technique by watching an instructional video on YouTube, posted by a little old lady in the UK and I regularly get new recipes to try online. Still, it was a moment of pure happiness realizing the power of technology to, not just move us forward, but to preserve and protect our past.
  • I got to see Steve “The Woz” Wozniak speak recently at a technology show in Washington, DC. He’s now one of my heroes. Seriously. I’m writing about the experience for rAVe and will probably reprint my columns here at some point, but in the mean time, if you have an opportunity to meet The Woz or to hear him speak, DO IT. He’s a living legend in tech circles, yet he’s still just a dude. Just another geek who loves playing with tech and following his passions. He’s awesome.

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