As I mentioned a week ago, I was going to CES, which used to be called the Consumer Electronics Show, but in the trendy manner of ARRL, AARP, AOPA, and no doubt countless others, it is now just CES. CES is big. So big that if I were determined to just see each of the exhibitors for the amount of time it takes to walk past their exhibit, it would consume close to a full day. I was there for over two days, and eschewed some of the hopelessly repetitive areas, such as the hall of iPhone cases, the cellphone chargers, the endless exercise trackers and, surprisingly, the surfeit of laptop computers. This allowed me to at least attempt to survey some highlights and even spend a few minutes discussing products of personal and corporate interest. And to take pictures. A lot of pictures. Hardly anyone has real product literature any more, so I've developed a habit of photographing booths while holding up products, business cards, or other identifying features that will allow me to recall the welter of useful, useless, and just plain goofy products on display. Not to mention the inevitable slaughter of the English language on displays by companies foreign and domestic, the latter of which should know better.
Going to CES was mercifully uneventful. There was heavy rain and snow at the higher altitudes the night before, the first precipitation in the area in over a month. Fortunately the roads had been cleared and traffic was light all the way, and I was able to catch up on my Gear Club episodes during the long drive.
Returning from CES was mercifully uneventful, too. There was only one brief event during which my life was at risk, and it was my own fault. I was driving, alone in the car, on a major highway, when I thought I spotted the most astonishingly geeky license plate I had ever seen. Just as obscure as QVMF, just as visually unremarkable as my own 64K RAM of lamented memory, and residing on a totally unprepossessing pickup truck of uncertain vintage. I had to get closer to confirm it, and then unlimber the camera with a manipulative appendage that then neglected its responsibility to the steering wheel, all before the truck got too far away.
Sorry for the poor photo. The plate says:
Success. The remainder of the drive was uneventful and accident free. Whew!
LIDAR is the light analog of RADAR. It's an acronym for LIght Detection And Ranging. It is one of the critical technologies for autonomous vehicles. Most likely, if you've seen one, it was on a bridge on top of a car. It measures direction and distance to important roadside features such as pedestrians. A big problem with these units is that they are large and expensive. They will have to improve those characteristics by orders of magnitude to be part of our autonomous car future. Having watched GPS receivers decrease in size from racks of gear to a small portion of a wristwatch, I wouldn't bet against that kind of progress. But I would bet against the success of most of the CES exhibitors who had LIDARs on display. They will not be aftermarket accessories! I would imagine that each major auto manufacturer will have a few approved suppliers. There aren't very many major auto manufacturers, certainly not enough to keep the (guesstimate) 30 prospective LIDAR manufacturers at CES in business. What are most of them thinking?
I saw an entertaining video of a self-propelled, self-balancing suitcase in the Wall Street Journal. Their columnist had fun showing how it couldn't keep up, ran into drapes, and flopped on its front. She probably neglected the biggest impediment to their success: crowds. Can you imagine a suitcase following you on a midtown Manhattan street? I saw the company's (fortunately, static) display and had a guffaw.
The first Samsung Gear watch had a camera in the band. I bought one used and loved the camera feature, even though the photos were of poor quality. So was the watch, which became inoperative in a few months. I went watchless for almost two years waiting for a new, improved replacement. Alas, Samsung hasn't announced one. Nor could I find one among the (guesstimate) hundred or so watch and fitness band manufacturers at CES. I must be a lonely it for the wrist camera demographic.
Love's Bananae and Whole Food Market's Carrot Cake
I learned my lesson. No $3 banana for me this trip. I fetched my own from home, and consumed it over two days. On the way home, I stopped for gas at a Love's Travel Stop. At the checkout counter there was a bowl of soon-to-expire #2 bananae at four for a dollar. Bananalack requited, tank filled, I continued on my way.
Another lesson learned: Check the price of carrot cake at Whole Foods before purchase. Amazon, new owner of Whole Foods, decided to increase the price of their individual carrot cake items from $5 to $6. Inquiring of the manager, I was told that the vendor had had a price increase. Inquiring of the vendor, I found that there was no wholesale price increase to Whole Foods for at least the last two years.
Where Are All the Pictures From CES?
Still being captioned and sorted. More later.