NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, June 2004
The Deals Column
by Bob Click, The Dealsguy
Greater Orlando Computer Users Group
(click to email author)

Because of all the great feedback, I'll start this month off with more about interesting trade shows we have worked, but I'd like to change the topic next month to technology for homes. March began with one of my favorite shows called MegaCon, otherwise known as the "Comic Book" show. I first worked it last year and was warned I would be seeing all those crazies and weirdoes. Well, I WAS certainly surprised, but I didn't interpret the attendees that way at all. I saw many people who loved their hobby and had even hand crafted their costumes to represent certain characters, such as comic book, game, space and other characters. Many costumes were absolutely gorgeous. I saw bodies and faces that required much time for makeup to get the necessary effect, and yes, some looked weird (like they are supposed to). I enjoyed the folks with the space suits and those looked pretty awkward to wear. One young woman was a bit too daring with her costume, but she was quickly noticed, escorted from the show and informed that paint does not substitute for wearing an upper garment in public, especially when there are children present. Never mind that the men loved it. We stopped another woman with extremely skimpy lower attire and referred her to show management.

Looking for a badge or wristband on people entering with costumes was not easy, but some held them out or pointed to them for us. The show occupied 108,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space with about a quarter of it devoted to special artistry tables, celebrity autograph tables, game tables and the food area. The rest was vendor booths. There were lots of things other than comic books, including robots and digital badges. This show also used several large meeting rooms off the lobby area that worked with such things as games and animation movies in 3D. They well exceeded the 20,000 expected attendees and the show floor was very packed. There were eight famous celebrities, such as June Lockhart and Angela Cartwright (of Lost In Space fame) signing autographs. We met most of them since they went through our entrance, and they were great people. My grandson took home my show guide so I can't list them all.

I talked to many attendees asking how they acquired their beautiful costumes and most said they had hand crafted it themselves with help from family members. I talked to many people with professional jobs and good incomes that loved this hobby. Even though I had a very intensive job, I was entertained all day long just by watching the people. I saw more daring cleavage during this show than any other I have worked. Remember, a badge or wristband (some won't wear a wristband on the wrist) might actually be looped anywhere so they are difficult to spot. Of all the shows I have worked, this show's attendees were by far the nicest to work with. We were never angrily challenged for trying to enforce the rules and everybody simply asked what they had to do. Mostly, acquiring a proper badge or wristband was the answer. Even though this show was mostly young people, there were some older generation and a few seniors. Since there were three other trade shows in the building at the same time, some tried to use other badges.

We also worked the Home Electronics Expo [ http://www.ehx2004.com ] and [ http://www.virtualEHXspring.com ] in March and I was impressed with all the amazing technology that can improve your lifestyle (at a price). Most of it was about automated/remote lighting (low voltage), video and sound. All this can be controlled from anywhere in the house that you desire, and even remotely if you prefer. You can dial home (phone or computer) and check your refrigerator (if you're stopping at the store), start the food preparation, have your favorite music going and set the house temperature as well as take a look at the children or pets through a camera. There were lots of wall mounted thin screen TVs in the show, but the largest I saw on display was only a 60" plasma screen (they come as large as 80"). Many vendors specialized in cabling, or switching, only. Others specialized in audio or video specialty installations and a few distributors such as Worthington had booths. There were a multitude of audio speaker designs, including some wall mounted ones that blended in with the decor, but had great sound.

There were also electrically operated driveway gates, garage doors, and even windows that would close automatically, such as by a rain sensor, or by remote control. A couple of booths offered timed or remote controlled drapery rods and vertical blinds. My favorite booth was the one with weather stations. [ http://www.peetbros.com ] I was devastated when my own weather station went out a year ago, but it was a 20-year-old Heathkit and that company was gone years ago. I need a new one. I liked the design of these because of the illuminated readings rather than LCD, and it so happens their offices are within driving distance for me to check on a deal. P>Unfortunately I missed working the Microsoft Show being held at the Gaylord Palms Resort, but we prefer not to work for the company that was given the security job, although they had asked us. Now here is what I have:

Reminder On Great Software Deals
Colleen Toumayan from Executive Software called to remind us all that their special offer for Diskeeper Professional Edition 8.0 bundled with Undelete Home Edition for just $49.95 is still good. Check at [http://consumer.execsoft.com/home.asp ] to order this bargain. We all know what great products Executive Software produces.

We All Like Freebies
Sally Springette, Editor for The Rochester Computer Society Monitor [ http://www.rcsi.org ], sent me this URL that I found interesting and felt you might like it also. If you don't like rebates, then skip this and keep going. This URL [http://www.freeafterrebate.info/index.php?topic=Hardware ] offers leads to purchasing products that will be free after the rebates. Be aware that third-party vendors offer these products and you should do your own homework diligently before you decide to order. It might even be an older or discontinued product and you will probably pay a shipping charge. With that caveat in mind, check it out and I imagine that it will change quite often.

Help For Your E-mail
I have a couple of friends who use MailWasher and say it works pretty well to eliminate spam, although it stopped a few legitimate e-mails at times. I questioned Hewie Poplock, a good friend whose opinion I value, who has used MailWasher for a two years and he is completely sold. He says if you set it up right, it won't filter out good messages, but if you get too fussy, it could happen. Sounds logical, but I have not had enough experience as yet. It incorporates learning by Bayesian statistics and uses FirstAlert!, a real-time global spam database. Something else I like is that you can check your e-mail right on the server instead of on your own computer, if you prefer.

Mathew Miller, Product Development Manager for MailWasher, made a special offer available for user group people and I asked him to extend the deadline so I could include it in my June column. He agreed so you get the price advantage. Mathew is offering us MailWasher Pro and a one-year subscription to FirstAlert for just $29.95, a saving of $7.00. You will need the promotional code of QTUGAD to order. This offer is good until July 31, 2004. Get more info on this tool for all that disgusting spam and download at [http://www.firetrust.com/products/pro/ ].

That's it for this month. Meet me here again next month if your editor permits. This column is written to make user group members aware of special offers or freebies I have found or arranged, and my comments should not be interpreted to encourage, or discourage, the purchase of any products, no matter how enthused I might sound. Bob (The Cheapskate) Click [ bobclick@mindspring.com ]. Visit my Web site at [http://www.dealsguy.com ] for interesting articles from user group newsletters. I also posted some interesting NEW Web site pages for your viewing. Explanation on the Web page.

Click here to return to top