TECHXNY - Reporters notebook: What's new at the expo

NEW YORK (09/19/2003) - The buzz among attendees this week at the TechXNY show here in the Jacob Javits Convention Center wasn't about new products. Instead, the most often overheard conversation was about the show's downsized appearance.

Like other IT trade shows in recent years, TechXNY, which included the PC Expo and Outsourceworld shows under one roof, had smaller crowds and fewer splashy vendor displays than in the past. Some of the biggest vendors, including Microsoft Corp., didn't even have their own booths. Instead, they shared space with vendor partners or held customer meetings behind the scenes.

Christina Condos, show director for CMP Media LLC in New York, which runs the Expo, said the number of vendors at the event was 20% lower than last year. Some 225 exhibitors and 25,000 to 30,000 people were expected this week at the show, which ended Thursday.

"We've really been impacted by what's going on in the industry," Condos said. "I think that it's starting to turn around, but it didn't turn early enough to affect us."

Some vendors, she said, went without flashy booths and instead used the event to meet with specific clients to make the best use of their marketing budgets. IBM Corp. ad a booth with an assortment of PCs and laptops, but the company also held a "town hall" session with invited customers.

"This is the direction" some vendors are heading in, Condos said. "Ideally, we'd love everybody to be on the show floor," but if that doesn't work, the show's promoters are working with companies to help them at least have a presence.

In past years, more than 50,000 people would attend PC Expo, the show's predecessor, she said. "I don't know if we'll see shows that big anymore," she said. "We still have value. People still have to get together.

"The economy's going to come back. And when (it does), people are going to have money again for this stuff."

Despite the smaller numbers, interesting products were still on display on the show floor. Among them were these:

- PC PhoneHome software, which sells software for laptop computers. If the laptop is lost or stolen, it can be recovered through secret e-mails the laptop sends out every time it is subsequently used online.

Martin Moran, vice president of Brigadoon Software Inc. in Nanuet, New York, which sells the software for US$29.95 per laptop, said it's being used today on some 300,000 machines. The stealth e-mails sent out by the laptop can tell the general location of the machine by using the IP address. The owner can then work with the Internet service provider to determine the owner of the e-mail account being used on the stolen machine, he said. "(A thief) can use a false header, but the original IP address can't be spoofed," Moran said. In the three years the product has been on the market, 83 laptops were reported stolen to the company and all were recovered, he said. It took an average of three days before a recovery and arrest were made.

- Wireless vendor Trapeze Networks in Pleasanton, California, whose Wireless LAN Mobility System allows companies to gain secure control over the use of wireless devices by employees inside their buildings. According to spokeswoman Jenni Adair, employees have quietly been bringing wireless routers and wireless PCMCIA cards into work so they could use their laptops all over the workplace, from their offices to the lunchroom. While managers might be impressed by added productivity, IT managers have to cope with the system security concerns.

Trapeze builds secure systems that give that control back to companies, she said, allowing workers to access the network anywhere in their buildings but not opening the company's systems to intruders. Wireless access is even provided for interdepartmental cell phone users inside the building, by turning them into virtual walkie-talkies instead of sending the calls outside the building to cell phone towers.

- Peerfinder LLC, which touted new Web-based software that allows attendees of any industry conference to register on-site so they can more easily meet people selling products they're seeking. The Bridgewater, New Jersey-based company uses the software to match conference attendees based on their interests or a host of other factors, providing the matches with contact information given by each registrant.

Chief Technology Officer Mahendra Pratap said the application is being used at trade shows and is being expanded to many other events, including conferences in medicine, insurance, retailing and more. It runs with a MySQL open-source database and uses Java.

- East Northport, New York-based Network Diagram Solutions, which offers color icons for IT workers to use when they plan networking projects. The set of 136 color Network Diagramming System icons can be downloaded for a one-time charge of $350. The icons are for use in charts, network diagrams and related needs for IT projects, according to graphic artist and Network Diagram Solutions owner David O. Miller.

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