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An IT Manager explores COMDEX: Day 1

COMDEX is billed as the world's largest IT convention. Find out why an IT manager decided to spend part of his budget on a trip to the mega-IT show in this daily diary.


Editor’s Note: This week, the IT Manager Republic will feature journal entries by Mark D. Gonzales, an IT manager for the county department of emergency management in Pueblo, CO. Gonzales attended COMDEX in Las Vegas.

8:00 A.M.
In the hotel room, my laptop freezes up every time I try to use my dial-up account to check in with the office. I think the problem may be that my Palm might be sharing a Com port with another device. I have Win98 SE2 installed, so I run the basic troubleshooting tests before I dig too deep.

9:30 A.M.
I find the problem with my laptop. It seems that COM port 2 is set up to be recognized as COM port 1. I found the problem by looking in the system configuration for the COM ports. Here is the path I followed:
  1. Go to the Control Panel, then click on the System icon.
  2. On the Device Manager, click on Serial Cable which is located on the COM2 icon.
  3. Click on the Modem tab. This is where you can view or change your COM port settings.

The reason my laptop kept freezing is that the Serial cable on COM port 2 was set up for COM port 1. My modem was set to the same port. Once I changed my settings, the problem was solved.

10:15 A.M.
We are on our way to the Las Vegas Convention Center. The traffic is horrendous, and there is absolutely no parking anywhere.

In the past, I have found COMDEX useful because I met a wide variety of vendors for hardware and software. Though I plan to research new products during this COMDEX visit, it’s not the main reason I booked the trip.

This year, COMDEX is a perk for my computer specialist, who has said he will be looking for a new job after the first of the year. I’ve invited him to accompany me to COMDEX as a reward for the hard work he has done all year. I hope that he realizes that although my budget doesn’t allow me to increase his pay this year, I can offer other incentives, such as this trip to COMDEX.

The opening-day crowd filed into COMDEX, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.


2:10 P.M.
Wireless data is a theme of COMDEX. Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) are the technologies that I’m hearing about the most.

The wireless handhelds are what catch my eye. The ability to receive e-mail while strolling down the halls of COMDEX is amazing. As an IT manager, I can see the usefulness in this technology. Handhelds do have drawbacks, however. I need to find out more about the security issues and other weaknesses of these devices.

I am not an expert in CDMA, but I do know that it is based on "spread spectrum," a wireless technology in which the signal is varied over a larger area of the ”electromagnetic radiation spectrum.” A hacker trying to gain access to a spread spectrum wireless communication would have to know the exact frequencies-versus-time function, a very complicated mathematical function.

5:00 P.M.
COMDEX ends for today. Now it’s time to have dinner and then head to the hotel to compile my notes. Maybe if I finish in time I can hit the Vegas strip and do some shopping.
Did you attend COMDEX this year? Did your company pay for the trip? If sending an employee to COMDEX is intended to be a treat, why not send the employee on a vacation instead? Post a comment below or send an e-mail.

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