Most booths at CES (like the Woot booth) are essentially utilitarian. They're supposed to be a pleasant place to have your meetings or display your wares, with the emphasis on the meetings and the wares. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Then there are the booths that show the unmistakable imprint of a designer's inner maniac, working up some over-the-top extravaganza bearing scant relation to the company's products or services. So it was with one of my favorite booth displays this year.
When Griffin Technology asked themselves "How can we best promote our line of iPhone and iPad cases?", they answered themselves "With a window full of junk we painted white." The result looks like the set of Sanford & Son as designed by Yoko Ono...
The rabid hordes of Woot Screaming Monkey seekers at CESes past have taught us a hard lesson: monkey giveaways must be tightly controlled or we'll never get anything else done at our booth. So like every day, today at 2 PM only, you can turn up to the Woot booth (21902, South Hall) for your Screaming Monkey with a design that's exclusive to CES (until we decide to sell it on the site someday).
But yesterday, we did a little something special. And I mean very little. With the aid of a tiny, crackling amplifier, myself as host, and Randall Cleveland as a hirsute Vanna White, two brave volunteer players played Failure, the only quiz show dedicated exclusively to questions about famous failures, disaster, blunders, and flops. In Failure, players don't get any points for getting questions right: they only lose points for getting questions wrong. Watch the action in the video - and then play Failure: The Home Game with the questions listed below!
Failure: The Home Game
Two players take turns answering these questions. Each player's score starts at zero - but remember, no points are awarded for correct answers. Points are only subtracted for incorrect answers.
Whose prime-time talk show was cancelled by NBC in February 2010, after just four months on the air? (81 points)
What well-known tech company released a very unsuccessful game console called Pippin in 1996? (36 points)
Complete this famous line from the Paul Newman film Cool Hand Luke: "What we've got here is…" (80 points)
Which Google project failed sooner: Buzz or Wave? (63 points)
What Atari 2600 game was such a flop that millions of cartridges were buried in the New Mexico desert? (59 points)
What Stephen King Novel was adapted into a Broadway musical in 1988 that was cancelled after just 21 performances? (29)
What is the only NFL team to lose four straight Super Bowls? (47 points)
Who did Turkish fascist Mehmet Ali Agca fail to assassinate in Rome in 1981? (17 points)
Final Failure - both players write their answers down simultaneously: Whose 2005 CES keynote address was interrupted by a Blue Screen of Death? (94 points)
Not everyone at CES is a mover and shaker. Some people, like our own Randall Cleveland, are just socially inept. If you haven't yet, catch Part 1 here.
I was still reeling from the sour ending I'd experienced with the American Express rep when another booth lassoed me in with its gravitational pull. And by gravitational pull, I mean "attractive woman." It's no secret, and it's not unique to CES, but maybe the nature of the location (Vegas) and the main demographic (18-35 males) increases the sex appeal companies try to use to lure you in. We watched four women dressed as cowgirls in shorts so short I could see everything in front AND back dance around for 30 minutes under a display for Bluetooth accessories.
Because everyone knows you are more prone to buy a jawbone headset in a state of arousal...
"Awwww, yeah. Get your wholesale distribution logistics solutions on, girl!"
3D printing isn't new, Matthew Griffin of MakerBot Industries was careful to point out when we talked to him at CES. It's just always been really expensive. What's unique about MakerBot's new 3D printer, The Replicator, is that it's the first 3D printer that retails for under $2,000 and does two-color printing.
At least we think that's what he said. We were too busy thinking HOLY CRAP THAT THING IS TOTALLY MAKING THAT OTHER THING! Matt needn't have been so modest. Bringing a tiny little factory within financial reach of every inventor, toy designer, artist, certainly qualifies as "new" in our book. Doing it under a Star Trek-inspired name is gravy. Here he is talking about The Replicator on the show floor. Warning: holy-crap-ness ahead.
Our CES 2012 coverage takes shape all week, but we'll level with you: you probably won't see anything else this cool.
Despite what some peoplemight think, I know I lead kind of a charmed life getting paid to go cover a trade show with little to no journalistic integrity to uphold. After all, not everyone gets to go to CES, and a lot of the people that do actually have to work hard, like the folks from the business arm of Woot who spend all day wheeling and dealing with various contacts to secure all kinds of exciting new crap products for you to buy from us. Despite all the glitz, glamour, and groaning CES is, at its core, a chance to network. Sales are made, deals are closed, and contracts are signed because people are out pitching to anyone who'll listen.
Even a guy who makes no business decisions whatsoever and has a hard time explaining what his business even does...
I hadn't been on the convention floor at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show for an hour before I encountered these three examples of the most tired naming strategy of our time: the infamous lowercase i.
By the end of the day, I could have collected at least half a dozen more, but I didn't want to belabor the point. You get the idea.
Please, people. You're better than this. The iPrefix was worn out years ago. Even if it wasn't Apple's common-law wife at this point, it just rings corny nowadays. Nothing sounds more dated than something that's trying too hard to sound cutting-edge.
It's time to kick away that crutch and walk on your own name. OK, OK, my metaphor's stumbling but the truth keeps marching on: small-i names are for small thinkers.
Of course, it's possible that the iThing is so old now, it's retro. Maybe the people behind these companies are sneering at me for not getting it. If so, carry on baffling and irritating old guys like me. Such is the way of the world.
But if not, if you think a lowercase-i name is still the very model of a modern cyber-moniker, take a word of well-intentioned advice: that "i" is making you look kind of goofy. Consider another angle for the name of your product or company.
And no, it shouldn't involve "cyber", either.
Cast your i's over our CES 2012 coverage all week on the Woot blog. Or hey… maybe we could call it the Woot iBlog. Just an idea.
The Woot writers are back at the hotel after a long day dancing with the painted Jezebel that is the Consumer Electronics Show. Many wonders we have seen - well, maybe like one-and-a-half wonders - along with some funny stoopid stuff, and we'll be sharing it all with you in blog posts, videos, and tweets over on our @WootLive feed. While we pound the raw material we gathered today into something presentable, walk with us now down the concrete floor of yesteryear with this selection of posts from past Woot CES coverage…
It's CES Week on the Woot Blog! We're kicking off the festivities (and killing time while we actually fly down there) with a dissertation on Las Vegas, the human condition, and how to cope.
Being assigned to cover CES is a bittersweet moment: sure, there's the glitz and glamor of an electronics industry trade show, all kinds of cool blogger parties I can pretend I was invited to, and blowing my per diem on Ring Dings. Unfortunately, there's the slight inconvenience of the location:
If you've never been to Las Vegas, you might have visions of Rat Pack-era casinos full of tuxedo-clad fellas with slicked-back hair playing Baccarat or asking the sexy dame on their arm to blow on the dice before they throw Craps or downing a martini and polishing off another cigarette before ducking back into the lounge to negotiate some mobster business while taking in a show. Well, take that image out of your head and behind a seedy diner and put a bullet in its head, because there's no such thing and if there ever was it's long gone. No, the Vegas that remains standing today is a heaving, smoke-stained testament to gluttony, sex, and gambling addiction. So upon finding out you're headed there, one experiences The Five Stages of Vegas...
"IT'S FIVE IN THE MORNING! WHAT ARE YOU STILL DOING HERE?!"
Love it or hate it, Las Vegas is a quintessential American experience. And as with other quintessential American experiences like "Rock Around The Clock" and McDonald's, it takes me about two-and-a-half minutes to get my fill of it. As we get ready to march into the Neon Babylon next week to cover the International Consumer Electronics Show for the 6th straight year, I can't help thinking that maybe it's time for this orgy of hype and desperation to go bother some other city for a while. Here are four leading candidates.
Pyongyang, North Korea: CES likes to think of itself as a spectacle, and nobody does spectacle like the North Koreans. They also happen to be in dire need of hard currency. Imagine 20,000 gymnasts twirling in praise of Toshiba, or a stadium full of true believers holding up placards to form a gigantic XBOX Kinect logo - all for just pennies per drone! CES Pyongyang would also present a great opportunity for industry insiders to get a firsthand look at the prison camps where the gadgets of tomorrow will probably be built...
The sun sets on our CES 2011 coverage with this here Old West shoot-'em-up. A big 21-foam-rubber-pellet salute to everybody who rode along with us - we're gonna water our horses before the long ride to CES 2012.