Credit: Reuters/Steve Marcus
The CES slog continues and my spirit is getting weak. The mission of the last two days has been phase 2 of Cringely's CES formula: the Curious.
This is the tough one, because let's face it, this whole place is curious and most of the stuff here is about as useful as hazmat lingerie. The best way I've found to ferret out the Curious is to diligently avoid sobriety. Walk into the caverns of the Las Vegas Convention Center sober looking for weird, and in a couple of hours God will be hosing what's left of you out of the front grille of his El Dorado.
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I'm far too experienced for that. Maintaining a respectable façade at 10 a.m. while still nursing a healthy buzz is why the good lord invented Irish coffee. There's a java joint just outside of Henderson that sells a concoction called the Eye Opener, and believe me, it's aptly named: 16 ounces of bold Colombian with one or two shots of espresso, depending on how cataclysmic the previous evening might have been. Add a dose or three of my good friend Mr. Walker and your heart may be beating out of your chest, your hands trembling like a junkie on his first day in rehab, but your mind will be fully acclimated to hunt the Curious at the largest collection of VC waste this side of Dubai.
Wandering through the convention maze this way, stopping occasionally to shake uncontrollably for a few minutes, lets you see the Curious in a clearer light. The endless ocean of dazed nerds, wrapped in a cornucopia of badges, logoed tchotchke pins, and ridiculous neon bands, all of them rubbing painfully against your prickling, overcaffeinated flesh -- they start to fade into the background. As this swaying wheat field of meat stalks recedes to the rear of your properly scotch-enhanced brain, the Curious begins to pop out at you like gold nuggets in long slabs of gray rock.
Unfortunately, in this particular gold mine, the nuggets are so many that you should probably be mining for the rock. Given that this is just a blog post and you're probably reading it in between meetings, on the throne, or while holding your wife's hand for support while she's delivering the heir to your six-bitcoin fortune, I need to condense my Curious to a probably unjustly chosen duo: One gave me the most spine-tingling joy, and the other made my blood run cold and curse the diabolical mind that invented it.
Yellow Jacket iPhone Taser Case
This was my absolute favorite, given that massive doses of caffeine and alcohol usually create an unreasonable predilection for violence. I was gently fondling a sample unit, but the demo dude with the heavy southern accent and a suspicious bulge near his ankle quickly took it out of my hand when I eyed a fellow conventioneer loudly spouting imaginary Apple fanboy propaganda in a voice even my marinating brain couldn't tune out. I don't own one of the devil-spawned, fruit-logoed, mind-mushers, but just the thought of having this case in my pocket is enough to weaken my resolve. Supposedly, it will also come fitted for various Samsung models, so maybe that will save me.