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Interact PC Show

Over the years Melbourne's annual PC show has changed. First it boomed, growing ever larger until it finally filled the entire original Exhibition Buildings. Ah, those were the days, when the biggies (WordPerfect, Microsoft, Lotus, Intel) took out stands and plied their wares. I remember the year that multimedia hit the streets and sound cards were everywhere. Gabrielle spent the entire show walking the aisles reading off sound levels and telling vendors to cut the volume.

Of course, the down side of those shows was the number of senior female information technology professionals (and female civilians) being patronised by snot-nosed ex-siding salesmen. "We can get someone to install it for you..." "Do you have a son at home who can teach you how to use it?" And at the same time, the stands were rather overstocked with marketing people whose technical knowledge barely extended to working out how to turn the equipment on.

Home Computer Show in the old Exhibition Buildings, Melbourne, Victoria; pcshow03.jpg - 14412 Bytes
Home Computer Show in the old Exhibition Buildings The old location for the PC Show; th_exhib.jpg - 2759 Bytes
An Intel representative takes mobile computing to heart at the old Exhibition Buildings; pcshow01.jpg - 11195 Bytes
An Intel representative takes mobile computing to heart at the old Exhibition Buildings
Then there was the year when I discovered the I.T. wave -- a quick hand to the breast pocket or hip at the sound of a mobile phone. A ringing phone created a pavlovian response that would have gladdened any researcher's heart. Nowadays it's the I.T. lip curl, when the sound of a phone making a tinny approximation of a major classical piece (or happy birthday, or whatever) generates a mass, silent condemnation from superior beings who chose a more business-like tone.

The PC Show gave birth to the PC Home Show, and mercifully we were free to walk the aisles of the show without ankle-bitters pushing about underfoot and acne-faced delinquents fdisking hard drives. The year Harvey Norman came to town, and the home show was close to Christmas was a favourite. Lots of stuff to impulse-buy, lots of people around, lots of bright activity. But they sold the rights to the show and it hasn't been seen since.

Melbourne Convention Centre, Victoria, Australia, also known as Jeff's Shed; concntr.jpg - 7225 Bytes This year, the powers-that-be rolled Interact (a sort of Internet/e-business trade show) and the PC Show in together. It was at the new home for exhibitions, the Melbourne Convention Centre, affectionately known as Jeff's Shed. It's a big, bold building beside the river and opposite the food court of the Crown Casino. Terry Frost and I took advantage of the location to have a Yum Cha lunch. The problem with Jeff's Shed is that it's long and hard. Stay with me here -- the PC Show is inevitably at the end away from the public transport and after hiking down to the entry, the visitor must then walk the aisles on rigid, unforgiving concrete. It's a venue that is very hard on the feet, comfy shoes are a must.

Jeff's Shed, The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Victoria, Australia; jeffshed.jpg - 19468 Bytes
Jeff's Shed, The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

What did I love at the show? Well, I narrowly escaped buying a Canon flat-bed scanner, but that's only because I wanted to wait and talk to the PR person. I was hoping to pick up a Gateway monitor to replace my sickly equipment, but I missed my contact. I LOVED another scanner the size and shape of an electric stapler that scanner transparencies and negatives. And if any of you want to really buy me the Christmas pressie to end all pressies, I'll have the Microtek scanner with the sliding drawer that takes different sizes of trannies and scans directly. Thousands of dollars, of course, but worth it for a professional.

What I ended up with was a webcam (web camera). I was told the best option is attached to a capture card, next best is USB and least quality is through a parallel port. So I picked up a little dohickey was a capture card so Terry and I could test out Internet Commsuite. Then we found it wouldn't work with Terry's chip set. Sigh.

We had a bit of fun trying to get review copies of software from people who couldn't speak English, and watched a couple of suppliers' staff members tormenting one another in a way the general attendees would notice. This is the thing with the shows, the same people turn up every year. The PC Show you go to isn't the one I attend, and the one I attend isn't like the one the PR people or the Exhibition Services people or the Vendors attend. It's a very subjective thing, but we have fun meeting up with familiar and new journos, and visiting people who have been at the same stand for years (or have swapped to a rival).

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Over the next few months we'll be writing up the products that we sourced at the show. Watch out for them.

Ali Kayn
Go to Technology Bytes for news and reviews

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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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