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.

8:30 A.M.
Last night was the CDW party, and it was great. The event featured free food, drinks, entertainment, and a lot of prizes—everything from laptops to software. The entertainment included several impersonators who performed as Elvis, Buddy Holly, and the Blues Brothers, to name a few. We had a great time, but we didn’t stay too late because we wanted to get an early start at COMDEX today.
Get caught up on this week’s COMDEX journal.Read Monday’s installment.Read Tuesday’s installment.
9:00 A.M.
One of my goals for the final day of my trip is to visit the CTX booth. I need to research monitors that I plan to order next spring to replace our old CRT 20-inch monitors with new LCD flat panel displays.

The new flat panel displays are clear and easy on the eyes, but the prices are still quite expensive. The CTX PV880—a TFT Active Matrix Flat Panel 18-inch viewable anti-glare screen—is running $2,169. That’s a significant expense since I plan on replacing 23 monitors. At these prices I might be forced to select a smaller screen, such as the 15-inch LCD flat panel monitor. The other option is to buy new 18- or 21-inch CRT monitors. It’s a decision that will require further research.

10:30 A.M.
I have not been able to find another Web site promoter software package. As I mentioned in Tuesday’s diary, my current vendor lacks quality customer support.

I did find one alternative called Trellian that looked interesting at first. But just like my current vendor, Trellian won’t provide a telephone number to call. All they offer is an e-mail address and a Web site. Since this company is located in Australia, I’m crossing it off of my list.

I am looking for something that will automatically register my Web page with the top 20 search engines. I also want an application that will supply reports on how many hits my site is encountering and how long they are staying on my web site. I guess the search continues.

12:30 P.M.
Another toy catches my eye. There is an awesome new product being introduced by GreatCity.com. The Qbe Cirrus is called a “computing tablet” and it looks like a small notebook. It is a full-blown computer that is designed to be smaller than a laptop but larger than the typical personal digital assistant (PDA ). It has a built-in digital camera and CD-ROM.

Another advantage with this oversized Palm-like device is that you can write anywhere on the screen, and it puts your text in line with where you have your cursor. This would be a great tool for traveling because it is lightweight and has a large screen that is comparable to a laptop.

3:00 P.M.
As I stroll through the aisles viewing all of the latest and greatest, I really don’t see any hardware or software that I feel compelled to purchase. But the benefit of COMDEX is in the fact that it shows you what technology will be available in the next 12 months. Or, as critics put it, “bleeding edge” technology.

I am sorry to admit that I am very familiar with the price of having bleeding edge technology. I recently purchased two new Kentrox Opera CSU/DSUs that are new to the market. These boxes are designed to provide remote accessibility as well as Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) functionality. The problem is that the organization that I purchased them from does not know how to configure them, despite the fact that I was assured that they could get them up and running within an hour. It has been about three weeks, and I still have no results. I need Kentrox tech support to configure these boxes.

4:00 P.M.
As I prepare to leave COMDEX on the final day, I consider the value of my visit. One criticism that I have heard is true—this event has grown too big. There is entirely too much to see in such a short amount of time.

Even so, I did find some benefit to attending COMDEX—it was educational to see what new technologies were going to be available and, more importantly, I made contacts with new vendors who I may work with in the future.

As for my computer specialist who accompanied me to COMDEX, I am not sure that treating him to this trip will change his mind about sending out resumes in the months ahead. I know that not every employer can give him a trip to COMDEX, and I hope he’ll realize that I’m making an effort to reward his hard work.

Here is my final take on COMDEX: If you haven’t attended, it is worth experiencing at least once. If you’ve been before and are thinking of returning next spring or fall, you should have a specific reason for going. If you don’t have a plan, you may be better off spending your travel and training budget on some real geek training.
How do you make the most of your trip to COMDEX or other trade show? Post a comment to this article or send us a letter.