I just wrapped things up at the International Gaming Expo (IGE). My flight on Tuesday was delayed coming in due to weather so by the time I got checked into the hotel and freshened up it was near 4pm. Too late to try to make it over for the conference. Okay, technically not to late but late enough that it wouldn’t have been much value.
I’m staying in Hammersmith which is where one of my previous employers, eToys, had an office when I worked for them. I’ve been to Hammersmith many times but haven’t seen the old place since 2000 or so. It’s grown up quite a bit. So much so that when I stepped off the underground I didn’t recognize it.
Whereas Hammersmith used to be a first class shithole it’s now got somewhat of a hip vibe to it. You won’t mistake it for the better parts of London but it’s come a long way over the last nine years or so. Bravo Hammersmith.
Although I didn’t make it over to IGE one of my employers business partners was throwing a party at The Roof Gardens; a property owned by Sir Richard Branson of Virgin fame. Or maybe Virgin is famous because of Branson. Who knows?
It was your typical industry sort of event. Lots of hand pressing, smiling, and networking. A nice dinner was served and then we played some poker with top spots getting VIP passes to some big football/soccer games. I was out sometime around the first break when I got called down by middle pair as I tried to represent an ace when one hit the board. But either my opponent didn’t believe me or can’t lay down any pair. Oh well.
I forgot to set my watch back an hour from Malta time so when I showed up at the expo at what I thought was 9:30 I was told that I wouldn’t be allowed to enter for another hour and a half. Only while I was sitting in Starbucks did it dawn on me that I was running a full hour ahead of schedule.
When I finally did make it over to the expo I was impressed with how large it was. I was standing in a massive line to check my coat and a girl came over and suggested we use the other cloak room. We started following her and she kept going and going and going and going. I asked if we might need to take on supplies for the rest of the trek.
The expo isn’t a focus on online gaming sites so it’s the networks and software houses that fuel the online gaming rather than the rooms themselves. I was also impressed with the amount of non-online gaming there. Everything from places that make money counting machines to slot machine companies was there. The expo truly is meant to service the entire gaming sector.
If you’re a dealer in a casino your days seem to be numbered. I must have seen twenty different companies offering everything from dealerless blackjack to dealerless hold’em. I’m not sure if anyone is buying them but there are sure a lot of people selling them.
I ran into an old Party cohort who I’m not sure if he would like his name mentioned here so I’ll refer to him as Party Cohort unless he happens to read this and okay the use of his real name.
Anyway, Party Cohort left Party last week but was at the expo with one of his new business partners, Montel Williams. If you’re not an American you probably have no idea who Montel is but if you’ve ever spent any time in the US watching daytime television you know exactly who he is. In addition to being a television personality he’s also a bit of a poker player and was chip leader at the 2008 World Series of Poker main event on day one.
Montel is putting together a poker league which will compete online and in live casinos around the world in a televised competition to see who the best is. It’s an interesting concept and one that Party Cohort seemed very enthusiastic about.
After roaming the massive Earl’s Court complex I succumbed to the siren like call of the massage girls who were giving aching expo attendees a little tender loving care. Jane’s call was the one that pulled me in and I sat down on her little stool as she beat the stress out of me like a rolling pin. The girls work on a “tip” system where they give you a 10 min head, shoulders, and neck massage and you “tip” whatever you think is appropriate.
She’s lucky I didn’t apply the Thai price for a head, neck, and shoulders massage.
300 baht per hour (about $8.60 USD at current exchange rates)
x 0.1667 (1/6th of an hour)
That’s about 1 pound sterling or $1.43 USD.
Somehow I found my way up to the second floor of the expo and it was nothing like the first floor. The second floor had more to do with entertainment based games and vending machines like you might see in arcades or at fairs. Big names like Sega were there with massive floor areas devoted to their arcade games like Hummer and Rambo. Goofy gaming executives in suits mowing down Russians in a blaze of automatic gun fire is certainly a site you won’t soon forget.
Later in the afternoon I ran into the General Counsel for Party. I assume he was in town for a gaming legal conference that was being held nearby. I also ran into my former boss and Party’s soon to be departing Managing Director who was there with the head of HR. I said my hellos and such but my feet were aching from walking around all day and I wanted to get back to the hotel and get in a quick nap so I didn’t stick around very long.
I did go back to my hotel though and I text messaged Party Cohort who had sent me an invitation to a party being hosted by Bluff, Crypto, and a few other big names. I asked what time he planned on getting there and he said about midnight. That was great because I figured I would get in a good nap before then.
As midnight approached I took out the invite and tried to find it on the map. It was on the whole other end of London. There were something like 15 tube stops plus a train transfer. A bit much for a party. Plus there was the fact that most trains quit running shortly after midnight so it would have been a taxi back which would have been a fortune. I called Party Cohort and told him I was going to skip. He just laughed and said I must have read his mind because he was getting ready to call me and tell me the same thing.
I went to the exhibit hall again on Thursday but I had pretty much seen everything so I found a few people who had interesting things going on and chatted them up. There might be a deal or two to be had.
Took off a little early and tried to get some work done from the hotel. No go. The idiots who provide internet access at the hotel (the hotel farms it out to a third party) proxy everything and do all sorts of screwy stuff. I think part of it is that they have two pricing plans (yes, I’m actually paying for this lack of service) where the basic one won’t let you do anything more than surf the web, answer web based emails, and chat on IM.
Of course, my work account is Outlook so I paid extra for the corporate fully gonzo service that promised me that monkeys would fly out of my ass. Instead I can’t connect to anything Microsoft based. No Hotmail. No Outlook. No Outlook Web Access. No Windows Messenger (MSN). Nada. Actually, that’s not entirely true. From time to time I could get my messages on Outlook and I could read my emails on Outlook Web Access. It isn’t reliable but it’s better than being in a complete digital dead-zone.
But the big problem is that I can’t send emails from any of those services. So I get an email from someone saying they need an urgent answer and I fire off a response only to find out a few hours later when they call that the email is still sitting in my outbox. So now I’m reading emails on Outlook (or Outlook Web Access) and replying via my personal Gmail account.
I emailed them via the contact form on their site and explained the problem. A few hours later one of their reps called me and we did the first line support dance. He escalated it and he came back with an answer that they had some packet size settings all screwed up on their side and they would fix it but it would take up to several hours for the changes to take hold. So far, the service has only gotten worse as I have to do ipconfig /renew about every half hour because it forgets what network it’s on.
Needless to say I haven’t been at peak performance. I feel like a caveman.
When Party Cohort called to see if I wanted to join him and Montel at Gutshot to play some poker I was all over it. I had some stuff to take care of first but I got that straightened out and then hopped on the train to the Gutshot.
In a sign that the travel gods still hate me, I arrived at the Gutshot to find the place deserted. It says Gutshot on the outside and it says it’s a poker room but there’s nobody there. I’ve even been to the Gutshot before and this is where I’ve played poker but . . . there’s nothing going on tonight.
I call Party Cohort and he says that I’m at the wrong place and they’re at the Gutshot International or something like that. That, of course, is on the other side of town. I can’t be bothered so I hop the train back home write this little blog post up and go to bed.
More on the Casino Affiliate Program conference to follow . . .
Will Josh bring his model friends Amiee and Bianca again? Will I see Rick Wampler again (highly unlikely since he no longer works in the industry)? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out what happens.
PS. Since leaving Gib I’ve been on a bit of a shopping spree picking up things they didn’t sell in Gib and that I had been wanting to procure for some time. Part of that spree is some high ticket items.
I’m trying to decide whether or not to pull the next trigger on my next toy. I have an old Canon Rebel EOS DSLR. I bought it way, way back when they first came out and I’ve put some miles on it. I started thinking about upgrading to the Canon 450D but then I thought about it and if I’m going to fork out the cash then going a little more to get the 40D doesn’t seem like that bad of an investment considering the technical differences between the two. Plus the 40D looks so bad-ass compared to the 450D. I mean, the 40D seems like the kind of camera you shove into someone’s face as they’re leaving a restaurant with a woman who isn’t their girlfriend of they’ve just been found guilty of some major crime. The consumer models like mine and the 450D seem like the camera you use to take expensive versions of point and shoot pictures.
If you figure that you’re going to go five or more years until the next upgrade then it might make sense. But the 50D is only about £100 more than the 40D so if you’re going to fork out the cash for the 40D and the 50D has 50% more megapixels for a measly £100 more well . . .
I’ve spent a little time in the London camera shops looking around. I figure I want to pick up a good fixed lens (probably a 50mm) for portraits and such, a wide angle lens for, well, wide angle and a nice flash. I’ve got some decent lenses to cover the rest of my needs (for now) so altogether I’m probably looking at around £1200 – £1500.
What makes it an even bigger pisser is that I walk by a major photography shop every day to get to the tube station and they’ve got a 50D in the window. And with CAP being at the Novotel Hammersmith I’ll still be walking by it but won’t be getting on a tube. I’ll be close enough to buy it on a lunch break.
To buy or not to buy; that is the question.
Any advice? Any photographers out there who can give some words of wisdom?