Taipei (Taiwan) – For those of you back home reading about Computex from afar it can be a mix of bland product announcements and mission statements, cool products surfacing and concepts that may or may not ever reach the market. For those of us on the ground however it’s a different story.
For one, nobody in Taiwan (particularly the taxi drivers) seem to have copped on to the existence of rules of the road, while we visitors seem not to have quite got the hang of the pedestrian rules; with one unnamed Tom’s Hardware Guide editor already having landed himself a fine for jaywalking.
Thus, we shall briefly chronicle some of the adventures of our good people in bringing you live show coverage of Computex 2006. First up, the story of myself and the local… err, “food”.
To me there are three food groups worth considering: Meat, potatoes and plain (that’s important) rice. Encountering the wide and varied local cuisine, far from the Chinese takeaways back home, has served as entertainment to no end for my fellow explorers out here, as I’ve been searching desperately for every piece of bland food I can find; usually to no avail.
My culinary ignorance aside (and not to mention my distinct lack of finesse with chopsticks), there are at least plenty of familiar, western-style restaurants around. Namely a McDonalds every 100 metres or so, a Starbucks every 50 metres or so and a 7 Eleven every 25 metres or so along nearly every road you walk down. The frequency of these bastions of McFreedom is quite astonishing, but even in them we encounter problems:
Patrick and his diet coke that was not really diet coke (we still haven’t quite ascertained what it was, but hours later he still hasn’t keeled over, so it’s not all bad); and the overly pre-salted fries in McDonalds do remind us that no matter how familiar Ronald may be, we’re not on old McDonalds farm anymore.
The next item on our list of “Yes, yes we’re in Taipei and they’re doing their damndest to remind us of said fact” would be the driving. In Taiwan one does not exactly drive from point A to point B, more in that one goes into a fierce battle between taxis, SUV’s and dishwashers on wheels (otherwise known as Mopeds), as everyone jockies for position, attempts to run one another over at turns and generally breaks every conceivable rule of the road; not to mention those self-preservation.
Our senior vice president of sales and marketing Christine Meier has had the best luck in travelling around Taipei. She attempted to be ejected through the top of one taxi, rather unsuccessfully we’re told, when it ran over a bump at high speed; and in another notable happening yours truly held what could loosely be described as a strategy meeting with her whilst we hurtled down the wrong lane of traffic as our driver played chicken with his oncoming peers in an attempt to reach our destination in record speed.
Humphrey Cheung and Patrick Schmid both want to see what would happen if they paid a driver extra and told him they needed to be in a place extra-quick. I think I’ll take a rain check on that particular ride into work.
The last (but you bet not least) notable happening in our pre-show duties has been putting the finishing touches on our rather good looking (if I do say so myself) booth on the show floor. 10 years young and it’s our first time setting up a stall. Well, they say you learn by doing, and I think there will be a memo or ten coming out of this one.
Quite apart from the fact that the air conditioning in our hall was off, whilst large lights attempted to recreate some sort of tanning salon, we had to contend with odd extra (and missing) letters in the various signs around our booth. I’ve not yet tried to navigate to www.tomshardware.comg, though I presume if we remove the C we might get something interesting. Maybe I can ask at our Infomation desk… thankfully these errors have been since rectified, alongside such traditional woes as a network setup that refuses to network with anything.
All being well, our booth should be ready to exhibit and in it we shall be conducting more video interviews with the notable notables at the show. The videos will be available for your viewing pleasure as the week wears on.
And now my dear readers I shall bring to a close this rather brief recounting of a days adventure in Taipei. I hope it has shed some light on the extent of life, limb, sanity and calm disposition which we are risking to bring you what we hope will be some of our best Computex coverage to date. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride… somebody has to…