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June 23, 1999
a year ago

Six Drink Minimum

Spent today on the floor. Being as extroverted as I was introverted the day before. Smoozing, talking, greeting, laughing, and exchanging thoughts and wonder at what people have actually written in order to sell. Private showings with two companies in the morning, with attendant meetings, and then wandering the circus of a floor looking at what everyone else could publically show to everyone, the software that was robust enough to take an occasional prod by a customer finger. It was cool to run into more people that I'd known from Data I/O to know that they'd gone somewhere else that was more successful and more fun. It was even funnier running into all the incarnations of Synario that are now out on the floor, changed by various companies into what they wanted and still, essentially the same. I wonder, a bit, if we've gone far enough in our changes, or if we really should have started over again.

But I think I'll see how it works for the next generation before making judgement.

Got some interesting thoughts. Some were very far afield from what I was actually there to look at, including three companies that were coming out with one-pass place and route algorithms, one that guaranteed timing from the very start, before all the time spent on the other stuff. There were also two companies that were turning software directly into hardware, one was using Java to go to Verilog, another used C to go to VHDL, and it was interesting to see how far they'd gotten and how far they still were from something that was really marketable. Yet, one of those companies was going to be targeting our parts, trying to go for the Holy Grail of software that became it's own hardware. That should be interesting to see in the long run.

The quote 'Specialization is for Insects' would not have gone over very well on that floor, I think. 'Niche' seems to be the key word for nearly all the new companies that have appeared. Though there were more new companies this year, at the show, than any other that I've been there for, and they seem to all believe that they're entirely viable. It's been an odd habit of mine to see what really becomes viable.

Lunch was with Steve at a little Cajun place with yummy shrimp etouffe with plenty of croutons that passed for garlic bread and huge chunks of bread pudding with whiskey sauce. We shopped in the Cajun market across the street afterwards and I found gumbo file powder as well as a nice packet of red beans and rice, a packet of etouffe powder and some pralines. I'd remembered Stacy's pralines.

The floor under the carpets and the displays is cement. By the end of the show, my feet were telling me that about as loudly as they could. When I got back to the hotel, I put my feet up and started reading various New Orleans magazines and some of the technical materials and I put my feet well up. 7:30 was the marketing dinner.

It was a Mauchel's on St. Charles, which had Cajun music and dancing, which rather remarkably resembled country line dancing as taught in Denver. They also had the real food. Deep fried alligator, crawfish, popcorn shrimp, scallops, and hush puppies were our appetizer. I then ordered the 'BBQ Shrimp', which weren't grilled, or what I'd called BBQ'ed and the sauce on them had absolutely no resemblance to what I'd call a BBQ sauce. It was the traditional preparation and it was messy, with the shrimp heads still on, and served with hunks of crust French bread, coleslaw, jambalaya, Cajun fries, and a big, plastic bib. I needed the bib. The sauce was garlicy, rich, and marvelous on the French bread. The shrimp were tender, perfect, and soaked deeply in the flavoring of the sauce. I learned later that a lot of the sauce is actually butter and olive oil along with the spices and various things, but the reason it tasted so good was the very French style preparation. I filled a bowl with shells, and ate a bit of everything else. I even managed a piece of rich, dark, and smooth chocolate pecan pie which had the mark of the best preparations in that it wasn't all that sweet.

I was very full by the time folks moved on. Half the party went back to the hotel because they had early flights the next morning, and the other half went onto Boubon Street.

One of the marketing guys from San Jose wanted to celebrate the popularity of Vertex, so started by buying Hurricanes for everyone from O'Brians, and then we kept on going through the streets looking for a place with music and room to move. The second criterion limited things pretty severely. Yes, even on a Wednesday night the bars and the street was just packed with people pushing their ways through, drunk, partying and colorful. A woman in a cat mask slinked through crowds by balconies with folks throwing beads to flashing girls jostled street players by neon signs for more drinks.

We ended up at a bar with a band doing covers, all songs that I knew that had jazz, bluesy, and some rockabilly roots. I wanted something I'd never heard before, like the night before at the Storyville, but everyone was much happier with the familiar music, more booze than they could drink and the crowd that was there. The band was actually pretty good, the musicians that is, the singers were window dressing more than anything. The guitarist was just phenominal, technically, but he didn't go that far beyond the bounds of the cover songs that they did. The bassist and drummer were good, too; so I stayed and listened and enjoyed what I could of what they offered.

The guys went happily nuts with the drinks.

Remember that Dilbert cartoon that says 'Two Drink Minimum' on the door into Marketing? Well these guys were just astonishing. It was kinda fun and funny as well. Not only beers, but funny, bright colored mini-shots in test tubes, and a lot of them. One guy noticed a girl he'd noticed in one of the shops and went over to ask her to dance eventhough her boyfriend was wrapped around her even in the heat and he got the dance. That was cheering reason. The heat made the dancing more a vigorous swaying rather than the dancing I was used to seeing. I halfway wish that I'd had the courage to really go into the crowd and dance rather than hanging on the edges and the railing.

Around 2 am I told Steve that I was going to go back to the hotel, and he was very good and chivalrous and walked me back. I was very impressed with him, as he then turned around and went back to the bar and they stayed for a while longer. His flight was later than mine, so that was okay.

I was so wound up with all the crowds and everything that I stayed up another hour packing, getting rid of the things I didn't want to haul back, and then I took a cool shower before getting into bed. By the time I was done with my shower I was very, very glad I hadn't 'really' danced because my feet were swollen from walking the Floor and all the walking I'd done that evening.

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