CES and Me, Part One



From this: Laura Foti, then of Billboard Magazine, and me in the early days of CES


To this: The years of walking the show floors of CES is embedded in every line

Forty seven years ago, I attended my first CES. I believe I am the only living soul who has attended every show. The founder, Jack Wayman, who is now in his 90s, missed one year due to an illness. There will be older people than me at the show next week, but no one with my attendance record.

Does anyone give a hoot? Not really. Ever since I started HWH PR 37 years ago, I really have been a Lone Ranger, promoting everyone but me. Before that, I was a trade journalist covering the CE industry. I was also a columnist for Home Furnishings Daily (HFD) for eight years, then editor of Consumer Electronics Monthly for three. During that time I was the top editor of CE Show Daily, the magazine that was issued every day at the show. I controlled the most important editorial coverage that was distributed on the show floor.

Those were the days. I would walk the show floor and exhibitors would call my name. Everyone knew each other. Even though 20,000 people attended the CES, it was like one big fraternity. Today, at 150,000, it has turned into a transient major city. People come and go faster than some folks change sheets on their bed. It’s no longer called the Consumer Electronics Show but rather the International CES because of the significant number of tech innovators who show up from around the world to exhibit year after year. The majority of the products shown now are not even in the consumer electronics category.

You have to be “strong like bull” to cover the entire show floor. Everywhere you turn there are gadgets and gizmos that are product category game changers. All of these innovators come together once a year in Sin City to strut their stuff. Who ever knew the world could be so creative?

I have been fortunate and privileged to be a part of this evolving world. When I think of all of the people I started with in this industry who are either dead or retired, I get very weepy. I am the last of the charter members who helped build this industry. I don’t need others to praise me. I have my memories to keep me going.

I plan to devote the next few posts to stories untold. Some of them are X-Rated, so stay awake.

From My Camera Roll

The closer we get to New Year’s Eve, the more I reflect about my life and the people in it. Here are some digital mementos I wanted to share with you.

Happy 91st birthday to Stan Lee, co-creator of Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and Thor.





Naked Habits


Ever since we decided to work remotely, my wardrobe of choice has been interesting. If I don’t have an outside appointment, I wear sweats, long t-shirts and jeans and tops. I thought I was being pretty casual until I learned that there are people who sit in front of a computer nude. Yes, naked.

A recent PayPal survey revealed that there are people who actually like to shop online in the nude. Must people would agree that there is no reason to be totally covered up but what is the purpose of being naked?

PayPal also said people prefer to sit in front of a computer in total freedom. That means nothing touching their skin. PayPal said there are several stages of risque online shopping behavior.

Thirty three percent explained they shop in their pajamas. The survey didn’t tell us what time of day or night they were shopping. Here’s another strange statistic: 15 percent said that they like to have an alcoholic beverage to help in their decision-making. Researchers didn’t dig deeper into whether people are naked in bed when they are doing this online shopping.

A spokesperson at PayPal said the only explanation they can give for the nudity is that naked shoppers believe that they could be more readily available to try on clothes through their computer or phone if they are already disrobed. That sounds insane to me.

PayPal thinks “there may be a certain lifestyle segment in the U.S. that drinks and takes clothes off, then lies on the sofa or in the bath (or elsewhere), in order to have the perfect online retail experience.”

I think this is more information than any of us care to know,

You Don’t Want to Mess with the Internet Mob



Photo by: Protectportelos.org

My guess is that no one who reads DigiDame has ever had to deal with hate mail on the Internet. It’s not that you are so perfect. It’s just that you play it safe. None of you would ever post a comment on Twitter or Facebook that would have provoked a mob of bullies to track you down.

Justine Sacco, now the former communications director at InterActiveCorp (Barry Diller’s company), wishes she were one of you. I’m sure you heard about her In the last seven days. She was all over the news because of her foolish post on Twitter.

Just a few hours before boarding a jet for a Christmas trip to Africa, Sacco made one of the biggest mistakes of her business life. She tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

Within minutes, Sacco started receiving the most damaging comments and death threats on Twitter and Facebook. She didn’t know about the reaction for the first eight hours because she was on a flight to London, her connection to Africa. When she arrived, she immediately saw the ruckus she had created. Sacco freaked and instantly wiped out all of her social media accounts. By the time Sacco reached Africa she had received word from IAC that she was fired.

This all happened within a 24-hour period. It was like a Twilight Zone episode. She enters the aircraft one person and gets off another. I am told that Sacco is filled with regret and can’t sleep or eat. She is totally humiliated. She tries to keep strong for her family but she can’t hide the ache inside.

We all make dumb mistakes. Sacco’s problem is that she chose the Internet to act like a clown. She forgot that she works for a high profile company where she is expected to display a certain amount of decorum at all times.

Many of the folks on Facebook and Twitter make comments that they later regret. However, they can get away with it because they are not in the limelight. I got whacked four years ago after I sent an email to a blogger trying to make amends for pitching him too aggressively on a client’s product. He shared my letter with a much-followed industry personality who scolded me for my actions.

Out of nowhere, I started receiving hundreds of emails telling me how pitiful I was. It was one of the darkest moments of my career. I was absolutely devastated by all of the anonymous people who came out of the woodwork to beat me up with their words. Apparently, there are thousands of people who are always on the Internet looking for a good fight.

My recommendation to Justine Sacco is to keep apologizing, seek therapy, and then move on. It takes a long time for the hurt to go away, but it does.

Smartphones Hurt Toy Sales This Holiday Season


I remember being horrified years ago when I learned how many of my daughter’s pre-school classmates were being given Benadryl by their mothers just to get them to bed earlier. I felt this was abusive parental behavior. I really wanted to call the cops.

When I questioned a few of the mothers about their actions they tried to weasel out of it by saying they wanted the evenings to themselves after a whole day of caring for their children. These are the same women who couldn’t wait to get married, quit their jobs, and have kids.

Turn the clock forward about 28 years. Benadryl is no longer being used to calm the kids down as much. This drug has been replaced by iPhones and iPads. In the last year or two, parents are discovering that small and large digital devices are great soothing companions for young children. The same first time parents who swore to me that they would never allow their children to watch TV because they wanted them to develop their imaginations, just got their kids iPad minis for Chanukah and Christmas.

While I laughed myself silly behind their backs, I was quite pleased that they are encouraging their children to be a part of the digital revolution. An early child educator recently told me that gadgets and smart phones provide excellent creative stimulation while also helping to develop reading and motor skills.

I must say more and more parents are discovering that the positive side of the digital revolution far outweighs their so called isolation concerns. In fact the toy industry admitted that they had heavy competition this holiday season from digital products.

Here is a quote from the New York Times article linked above:

A recent survey of 1,000 parents with children between 2 and 10 found that more than half planned to buy a tech item for their children this holiday season. About two-thirds of those planned to give a tablet or smartphone, according to the survey, which was taken for PBS Kids, the brand of the public broadcasting network aimed at young children.

I am very happy to see that smart phones and tablets have replaced drugs for children. I wonder if these same adult children of today will be as kind to us when they become our caregivers.

One of the Hottest Products at CES



After 47 years of attending the International CES, I am proud to say that the product a client of mine is showing has perhaps the biggest wow factor of the show.

Picture a tablet on steroids. The Westinghouse Interactive Whiteboard will be used by anyone who is in the presentation business. It will be available in screen sizes from 55-inch to 84-inch. To view the full capabilities of the digital whiteboard, check out this video.

This unit is not a consumer product. Schools, training, and medical are the target audiences. Back in the day, presenters used a chalk board to demonstrate. Today, everything is digital and interactive. Enjoy considering the possibilities.

The Secret to Happiness

My friend Carlos Alayon recently shared this video with me. I am not sure why he sent it. Maybe he thinks I need to be reminded of what true happiness is. Regardless, I watched it. The video has a special message that is very appropriate on Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

iPhone Panic Attacks


I misplace my iPhone several times a day. This has been going on for years, but lately it has gotten much worse. Each time I lose it, I go into a complete panic attack. I start to imagine my immediate life without it. First, I have to admit to Eliot that I lost my cell. That turns into one of those “You need to get your eyes fixed” moments. The eye doctor told me that in the next few years I should plan on having a cataract operation. They are slowly getting worse. I plan on doing it in the Spring of next year.

My cataracts have nothing to do with my ability to find my iPhone. It’s not a sight thing. It’s a mental thing. I am so preoccupied with work that I am capable of leaving my cell in the console of my car, in a ladies restroom by the sink, or on the table at a restaurant. My girlfriend Mindi suggested I get some sort of a holster so my iPhone would have to be returned to the same place after each use. That might be a good solution for the infrequent user, but not for me. I look at my IPhone at least 40 times an hour (a job necessity), so the chances of me putting my iPhone back in the same place after each use is highly unlikely.

Most of the time, I place my iPhone in the side pocket of my handbag. One would think it would be secure there. Not true. The contents of my handbag shift around and my iPhone gets lost in the crease of the lining or it falls into the center area. In either case, it takes a minute or two to locate my cell. A full panic attack occurs when I think of all my personal information in the hands of someone else, even though my iPhone is password protected. I tell myself that most of the younger folks know how to decode digital locks.

I have been especially miserable thinking about the trouble I would cause myself if I lost my iPhone during the CES convention next month in Vegas. My friend Steve Greenberg suggested the Wallet TrackR as a possible solution. I just got my hands on one a few hours ago, so I don’t know if my troubles are totally gone, but I am cautiously optimistic.

The $29 Wallet TrackR is being billed as a leash between my handbag and my mobile phone. This may be just what I need. The Bluetooth-enabled wafer of plastic has already been stored in my handbag. Whenever the TrackR and my iPhone get separated, both the cell and the TrackR start beeping.

The companion TrackR app on my cell also takes a GPS snapshot of its location the moment of separation. That’s cool. I also have the option to tap a button within the app to make my handbag “ring” in case I’m looking for it around the house or in the dark. The technology works both ways. The TrackR works on iPhone 4s and later, iPad retina and Later, iTouch, Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S4, and Android 4.3 Devices.

Marc de Hond’s Journey

Marc de Hond, my 35-year old Dutch friend, just sent me a 20-minute documentary that he wrote, produced and directed about a friend he met when they both were in a rehabilitation center in Amsterdam 11 years earlier. Marc is paralyzed from the chest down. Thanks to his very capable arms and hands, he now lives an independent life. His friend Hans is severely injured and cannot feel anything from his neck down. They hadn’t seen each other in over a decade. Marc had often thought of Hans. The short film is about their reunion.

English subtitles are available by just clicking the CC (closed caption) on the bottom righthand side of the screen. Marc recorded this on an iPhone 5, a Canon EOS 600D (DSLR) camera with sound, a Zoom H1, a Sennheiser MKE 400, and a Rode VC1.

Marc had been a deejay for an Amsterdam radio station, the goalkeeper of his soccer team, and one of the youngest Internet millionaires in Amsterdam as of the sale of his company, Hatchoo, when he was 22. A few months after the sale, a tumor was discovered on Marc’s spinal cord. Despite a risky operation, the mass was successfully removed. During the first few hours after the surgery, the night nurse failed to check the incision and a serious bleed was not picked up in time. The results were disastrous. When Marc woke up the following morning, he was paralyzed from the chest down. Doctors told him he would never walk again. In the rehabilitation center, the staff tried to prepare him for a new life in a wheelchair. He refused to accept that diagnosis and was determined to walk again at all costs. After months of meditation, training, and perseverance, there were some signs of improvement but not enough to make him walk again. Marc will fill you in on the rest in the video.

In his book Perseverance (“Kracht in Dutch), Marc writes candidly about the impact of his paralysis, including on love, sex, and his sense of self-worth. Marc is a frequent TED speaker. I’ve known Marc for almost 30 years. His father Maurice was a client for many years and today remains a close friend.

Boogie Your Way to Paper Free




I love making “to do” lists. Day after day, I write down all the things I have to do. I usually write them in a spiral notebook because I can quickly jot them down. If I tried to create a list on my iPhone or iPad Mini, it would take me forever. Simply put, writing a list by hand is just faster for me than trying to create it digitally.

One would think that there would be an app that would allow you to write notes by hand and then somehow have them digitally filed in iTunes, Evernote, and even email. As far as we are concerned, having good files is the first step to great success.

A company called ImprovElectronics understands the need to hand write notes but is a strong advocate of a no-paper society. That’s why they developed the Boogie Board Sync, a tablet that accepts handwritten notes and then automatically converts them to digital files.

The Boogie Board is a 9.7-inch LCD eWriter that comes in a variety of models. None of the Boogie Boards use paper or pens. You can even use your finger to write and draw. The Boogie Board Sync 9.7 eWriter saves or transfers written files to a computer, tablet, smartphone, or other mobile device wirelessly via Bluetooth.

The company claims that one Boogie Board eWriter will save over 50,000 sheets of paper. Not bad!