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Labor Week



The Sad State Of The "State Of The Art"
Posted by Judith A Rogow on Nov 1, 2002 - 10:27:00 PM

LOS ANGELES—Comdex, for those who might never have heard of it, is the world's largest computer trade show. Held each November in Las Vegas it has been, for almost 30 years, the bellwether of the industry. The Windows OS was introduced there, virtually every "next big thing" has debuted at Comdex, and it has been claimed that more deals are struck during the five days of the show than all during the rest of the year.

In past years, during the "dot com boom," up to 500,000 people either exhibited at or attended the event. At times, virtually every hotel along the Las Vegas "strip" had special suites where the press was shown the newest products and where products in development were mentioned quietly to trusted scribes. In order to entice the media, tickets to Vegas shows were offered, gifts ranging from golf umbrellas to leather attach-cases were handed out, and elaborate parties were thrown to showcase new items.

Photo courtesy of
About two years ago the media goodies became less costly, and the parties less fancy. Last year, in the aftermath of the terrorist acts, attendance dropped some 50 percent, and many - if not most - of the foreign companies did not show up.

This year's show is shaping up as another "down" event. Several venues and smaller trade shows have become part of Comdex, yet fewer exhibitors are expected, fewer press events are scheduled, and attendance projections are down. All in all, some industry insiders are wondering if the days of the mega-expo are numbered.

While the economy is depressed, and the dot coms appear to have had their day, there are some companies that are not only holding their own, but thriving. Ebay, for instance, has had an almost three-fold increase in profits, and on-line firms selling off-lease and used computers and components are doing well.

Some smaller companies have found a niche and are selling products that fill a sometimes less than high-tech need. One such business is Digital Innovations, a firm that invents products to provide practical solutions for everyday problems. We've been impressed with the

SkipDoctor.MD, which repairs scratching and damage from daily wear and tear to CDs, DVDs and video game discs. At under $50.00, this handy electrical unit cures many of the ills that befall much used discs and returns them to like new performance. Given the price of replacing discs, this device more than pays for itself after four or five uses. We've given it the acid test - allowing several teen-aged boys to try the product - and it's come through unscathed. Add this one to the gift list for your family - you'll be glad you did!

Another Digital Innovations product - in the "why didn't I think of that" category - are their WriteAway- Removable CD/DVD Labels. The starter kit, with design software and 16 labels, CD case inserts and spine inserts is less than $18.00. A set of 44 refills is under $15.00. I've found them invaluable - and they are so much nicer than scribbled-over labels on the discs I send to friends and family with photos, as well as the music discs I make for my own enjoyment.

All Digital Innovations products are available in retail and discount stores or at their website at

A third product, KidzMouse is a kid-friendly computer mouse for young children, created by a grandmother to help her grandchildren navigate on the computer. After seeing my own grandsons struggling to use a too-big mouse, I can appreciate the value of the KidzMouse. Fitting little hands makes this a natural. KidzMouse works the way a child's hand works. A squeeze anywhere on the head lets the child click on an object. This helps to make the computer a fun place to learn, rather than a frustrating experience. You can even hook two up to the same computer to solve the "it's mine" problem.

Another use for the product is as an easily grasped mouse for those with limited hand movement or anyone in a wrist cast. Since they come with both USB and PS/2 connections, you can use them with a laptop - something I do to the merriment of my colleagues in the pressroom!

The units come as MollyMouse, BenjieBee, a ladybug called CoolBug, MarinaBug and the Design Your Own KidzMouse, complete with reusable stickers. They are available at around $20.00 in many stores and on the web site at
- again, think holiday gifts, these are wonderful stocking stuffers and will certainly be appreciated by the youngsters in your family, and by their parents!

Next month - a report from Comdex


Cliffside Malibu




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