@internet -- Come September

Home Articles STARK REALITIES About This Site My PGP Public Key

After Hours Reality Check Magazine A Season in Methven Our Host Send Me Mail

Home Articles STARK REALITIES About This Site My PGP Public Key

After Hours Reality Check Magazine A Season in Methven Our Host Send Me Mail

Home Articles STARK REALITIES About This Site My PGP Public Key

After Hours Reality Check Magazine A Season in Methven Our Host Send Me Mail

Home Articles STARK REALITIES About This Site My PGP Public Key

After Hours Reality Check Magazine A Season in Methven Our Host Send Me Mail

Home Articles STARK REALITIES About This Site My PGP Public Key

After Hours Reality Check Magazine A Season in Methven Our Host Send Me Mail

Home Articles STARK REALITIES About This Site My PGP Public Key

After Hours Reality Check Magazine

John Lennon said it best. "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

They're finally getting around to wiring our block for both cable modem and DSL -- so, naturally, we're being evicted.

Not that I have much room to complain. We've lived in this same house for 20 years now. Our rent started at $450 per month back in 1980 and it's stayed there ever since.

Now our landlord wants to make repairs that will render the house uninhabitable for a period of a couple of months. He'll have to pull up the floor, fix the plumbing, put in a new foundation and replace the floors, at a minimum. Afterwards, quite naturally, he intends to raise the rent on this place by a considerable margin.

The house down the block in which Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield of Metallica used to live is even smaller than this one -- although, unlike 3029 Carlson, it has a nice, big back yard. I understand the new owners are asking $2500 a month for it, plus the usual first and last month's payment and a month's rent as a security deposit. Up front.

I did the math. We can't afford to be renters any more. We also can't afford to buy a house in the Bay Area -- at least, not one in which we'd want to live. We couldn't afford it a year ago and prices for homes here have jumped 35% since then.

Which reminds me -- if you're planning to attend ISPCON in San Jose this November and you have yet to make your hotel reservations, I strongly suggest you make them now. The incredible Bay Area housing crunch that has forced prices up has also made the already-inadequate supply of available rooms in the capitol city of Silicon Valley even smaller. You snooze, I guarantee you'll lose.

You are coming to ISPCON, aren't you?

You should, you know. Of all the trade shows I've ever attended, it's by far the most focused on a particular market -- and it's your market.

There are certainly larger conventions in the industry. I suppose you could go to them, instead. The problem is, the larger the show, the smaller the value it tends to deliver to both its attendees and its exhibitors.

I know that's counter-intuitive, but think about it for a minute.

Ever been to Comdex, for instance? It's a zoo. Vendors of all descriptions are hurled together all higglety-pigglety. There's no rhyme or reason to their placement, other than that repeat customers and early registrants get first pick of spaces in the various exhibit areas. And everybody and his little sister shows up with an exhibit floor badge.

You can't find anything -- and you can't get anyone's attention even if you do, because the booth monkeys have their hands full answering Computing 101 questions from Ma and Pa Kettle. The civilians use up the techies' bandwidth, while the real customers grind their teeth.

It's an enormous waste of time on the part of everyone but the promoter.

Same goes for Internet World, PC Expo and Networld+Interop -- although, to be fair, N+I does offer some excellent tutorial sessions. There are just too damned many people and not nearly enough organization.

That's not true of ISPCON, though. It's a small show -- there were only 5000 or so paid attendees at the Orlando event -- but the folks who do attend are..well..you guys. And that turns out to be a Good Thing for a number of reasons.

First of all, you'll seldom have trouble finding vendor reps to talk to you at ISPCON. Even at the really popular booths, you won't have to waste a lot of time waiting to speak to someone -- who inevitably turns out not to be the person with whom you actually needed to converse -- because there simply aren't that many other folks competing with you for exhibitors' attention.

Secondly, almost all the attendees are in the same business as you, so there's a concentrated wealth of experience and expertise available at ISPCON that you just won't find elsewhere. And, whether you're looking for advice, employees, equipment, financing, partners or software, you'll find what the military calls "a target-rich environment" among both exhibitors and fellow conventioneers.

It's an equally good deal for the vendors, because, even though the total number of individuals passing through their boots is still relatively small, you guys are, almost without exception, exceptional leads. To stay competitive in a constantly-evolving technical and business landscape, you folks are forced constantly to upgrade many dollars worth of new equipment, software and services.

The exhibitors know that -- and they know that means they get excellent value for their investment in booth space at the show. ISPCON generates fabulous sales figures for them -- equivalent or superior to what they make from a lot of the much larger and better-known venues. And, by contrast with what happens at the big shows, their employees end up having to deal with a much smaller number of civilians and other tire-kickers in order to produce those figures.

That's why they've started spending so much money on parties and extravagant giveaways at ISPCON.

So You're Going to a Convention

Now, it's true that, since the Penton folks took over, the traditional end-of-show blowout party has gone the way of the Editor Rotundus. Which is to say that the Penton people have substituted a poorly-stocked open bar on the convention floor during the last hour of the exhibition for the all-out drunken orgies that Jack Rickard used to host.

That's okay, because the exhibitors have picked up Jack's fallen standard and seem to be doing their best to make Daddy proud.

In Orlando, this past Spring, for instance, second man on the Moon Buzz Aldrin spent an hour and a half signing autographs and handing out copies of his latest novel at the Spacedisk booth in the ASPCON pavilion. Unfortunately, I had a prior appointment -- I was busy driving the porcelin bus, courtesy of JAWS' overaged shrimp the night before.

Later that night, 3Com rented out the Men in Black and Back to the Future rides at Universal Studios for the exclusive benefit of ISPCON attendees -- with buffet tables and three open bars. Meanwhile, across the park, Williams Communications is rumored to have paid an obscene amount to have veteran arena-rock band Foreigner play at the Hard Rock Live for 300 of us privileged conventioneers.

You could definitely feel the love. By the last song of their 90-minute set, there wasn't a single soul in the entire crowd of 40-something nerds who wasn't pumping his or her fist in the air and bellowing along with Foreigner's familiar lyrics.

Me included.

It was pretty wonderful. And the party continued later that night at a carnival-themed affair sponsored by the folks at Tucows -- damned good people who understand how to have actual fun.

Mind you, those weren't the only events that day. Just the best ones. And ISPCON lasts three full days -- four, if you show up early for the golf tournament.

Naturally, the opportunity to party hearty isn't sufficient reason to attend ISPCON. It's more in the nature of an added attraction. The real reason to come is that you'll get more out of this one convention than you will at any four other trade shows.

I'm telling you, wild dingoes couldn't keep me away from San Jose this November 8-10. I'll learn too many new things, see too many old friends and have way, WAY too much fun to stay away.

This time, it'll be much too far to commute, so I'll have to have a hotel room. My wife and I are moving to the country -- most probably to the Sierra foothills. That's a much more affordable neighborhood than the Bay Area and we'll be able to keep horses there.

Horses are going to play a central role in the next decade or so of my life, so that's a major consideration.

The move is definitely going to be an adventure. Of that I have no doubt. We've never been homeowners before, never lived in the country before, never had a significant amount of land to maintain and never owned horses before. That will all be completely new.

I have to admit, the prospect is just a little scary.

And it could be -- and almost was -- a whole lot scarier. The original eviction notice gave us 30 days to vacate this place. And our landlord wasn't very flexible about the deadline, at first. In fact, I'm sure he was expecting us to drag him through court before he got rid of us.

But, once I convinced him we'd taken ownership of the decision, he was gracious enough to extend our deadline to 90 days. Now we have a little breathing room to find the right house, close escrow and move.

We'll spend the Winter fixing the place up. By next year, it should have it in shape to begin looking for horses. At least, that's the plan..

(Copyright© 2000 by Thom Stark--all rights reserved)