As regular reader of these pages may be aware of, I have a liking for expos, so you can imagine my delight when I learned of the Computerworld Expo. Actually, that’s a lie. The news of the 2001 Computerworld Expo did not excite me much.
I went to the 1999 one and listened to some guy with a beard rave on about where the Internet was “@”. That was enough to make me run away screaming in horror and disgust.
I wasn’t planning on going this year, but a friend required me to go so he could bum a ride off me, so I didn’t really have a choice.
We arrived just in time for the Geek Bowl, a quiz to test the geek knowledge of the participants. After swiping my card with the “hostess” (who looked suspiciously like a man), I went in and joined the Geeks team. The Geeks at that stage were having their arses kicked by the Nerds team on the other side of the room.
At this stage I was miserable. Sitting in a room full of self-confessed geeks and nerds who were answering questions about computer stuff that was going straight over my head, I felt sure that anyone moment someone really cool was going to walk past and see me and laugh and ruin my urban hipster status. However I realised that really cool people would not be at such an expo, so I cheered up a little.
Then an unexpected thing happened. As well as questions about computers, there were also questions about general geek culture, including more than a few about geek movies. There were questions I knew the answers to, and answer them I did. Soon the Geeks were in the lead, totally kicking the Nerds’ arse! Then the scoring program crashed, but it was up and running in time for the grand final question.
The question asked what Patricia Neal’s character said to Gort the robot, and it was also said by Bruce Campbell’s character in Army of Darkness. I knew it! I hurriedly scribbled it down on a piece of paper. But the Nerds got it right too, so it was a draw. The quizmaster threw inflatable penguins at the teams and I grabbed one. I was so happy. Oh, quelle sad-arse!
My next missions was to score as much free stuff as possible without being disgusted by the large amount of e-w@nkery.
- 3M Notebook Palm Pads
- Three bags of jelly beans for Job Universe
- Two IBM drink bottles with a compartment containing three penguins (like those Eskimo lollies, but penguin-shaped)
- One sock (I apparently get the other one when they ring me up later)
- Three Compaq juggling balls
- Two cans of Red Bull
- One can of V
(I’m thinking if I had all that stuff before the 12-hour movie marathon, I would have been set.)
It wasn’t pretty interesting to compare this year’s expo to 1999’s. There was much less pretentious arse than two years ago. There was a distinct lack of dodgy web designers (“I will design you one A4 size www page for $50!!!!”). There was money behind a lot of the stands, and it showed.
The best bit is how, unlike at other expos, sex is not used to sell anything. Stick a chick in hot pants and potential customers will not look at her – they’ll be too busy looking at the hardware to notice.
I left the Expo with my bag full of free stuff that I don’t actually have much use for. I donated the penguin to a friend’s geek flat. It pains me to say it, but I had a reasonably good time.