Things have been changing, though -- and not simply among consumer-related shows like CES. It's not a radical change but it does indicate a healthy trend. Vendors are daring to innovate again, companies are looking to upgrade, and the faces on the cab and registration lines are a lot more cheerful.
Speaking of healthy trends: One of the things that is so fascinating about any trade show, technology or otherwise, is the number of tchotchkes that are given out to participants by vendors who want to curry favor with customers, clients, and the press. These T-shirts, pens, and plastic doodads are usually worth about 50 cents each, are usually somewhat if not complete useless, and will take up an enormous amount of room in one's luggage -- but normally sane adults will queue up for them like kids waiting to see Santa Claus. Oh, there are a few useful or really clever ones that are occasionally given out, but these are few and far between It turns out that at least one company, Secure Computing, has decided to do an adult thing with all these trade show toys and has started a "Tchotchke Challenge" program, where they collect trade show toys to send to kids with heart conditions via the Las Vegas Children's Heart Foundation. They're putting a barrel by their booth during the show, and if attendees can fill the barrel with collected tchotchkes, the company will donate another $10,000.