Back At HQ – Time For A Long List Of Thank Yous!

February 12, 2024 by Dave Haynes

Back at a snowy world HQ after two-plus weeks on the road, hacking my way through the seemingly inevitable ISE cold and dry cough (not COVID, tested!).

Thank you notes are in order …

Thanks to the Integrated Systems Europe people for putting on a massive show that was nonetheless well-run. The crowds were huge but other than having to bob and weave through corridors, the crowds were manageable. The combination of asking people to print badges before they left for Barcelona, and the decision to open some halls an hours earlier, seemed to alleviate concerns many people had about Biblical-level lineups to get in opening day. I certainly didn’t see that, but then again, I got my badge printed on site a day ahead and didn’t get to the venue until after 11 on Day 1.

I still think the badges looked terrible when printed on copier paper off a black and white laser printer, and that the name and company fonts were too small, but that’s a quibble. Stacking the first name above the surname, and then the company name on a third line could improve that, and address the whole thing about trying to fit long and hyphenated names on a single line.

I also think handing out free four-day subway passes was a smart move – whether that’s something the show pays for or the Barcelona government chips in. It was done in 2023, as well. There is an insane four or five escalator descent/climb at one Metro station to get on the one that runs to the venue, but other than that, getting back and forth by subway is easy and fast, and my absolute lack of Spanish/Catalan beyond ordering food or drinks was a non-issue in moving around and knowing when to get off.

I have read reports on Linkedin of some muggings and thefts among attendees during ISE week, away from the venue. It’s a big city and it has a reputation for pickpockets. It’s stunning, but like any city there are dodgy areas.

You get 70,000+ people into a city – spilling out of parties late at night – and stuff happens. There were reports last year of thefts from stands on the show floor. I’m not sure what the show organizers can do about any of that, other than encourage people to be smart and aware.

Thanks to the folks at Admira, a solutions company located up in the gorgeous Gracia neighborhood of Barcelona for showing me around on the morning of mixer day, and one day ahead of the show opening. Guillermo Grau, a senior exec with the company, ran me through what the company does (100+ people and 10M EU turnover) and founder Carlos Silva Santin explained his efforts to give back to his community, and showed me his nutty and fun office, which replicates – I mean really replicates – the Millenium Falcon spaceship from Star Wars.

Separate post to come on that later, when I have time. SUPER nice people. And Gracia … chef’s kiss. Away from the tourists. Tight old streets filled with local shops and cafes. And orange trees with oranges on them!

Thanks to Videri for again providing displays all around the ISE Mixer venue, and to Screenfeed for producing a great reel of event specific content – working with Videri to ensure it looked good on single displays and across multi-screen matrixes.

They were sponsors, as well, so thank you for that, as well as the other great sponsors who made the night possible.

The related Portuguese companies Moviik and DISPLAX helped me FINALLY use technology for checking in attendees. Miguel Fonseca, who runs DISPLAX and is a company co-founder, hand-carried a small kiosk in a backpack from Porto to Barcelona, getting it through airport screening and tucking it, I assume, in an overhead.

It worked perfectly and was a great addition. Ed Crowley of URway in the US had a kiosk ready for use at the DSE Mixer, but he made the loopy mistake of thinking a big logistics company could actually deliver something on time to the address provided (it never shiowed).

More on the Portuguese folks later in this post …

I think we made a big leap forward with the global Digital Signage Awards, which were upstairs in the same venue, after the mixer. The room was packed, and the categories and winners were all solid and deserving. Thanks to the UK company, Stratford Projects, that puts the awards on. They run the event and I just advise on the awards category and judging.

Thanks to Stan Richter at SignageOS, who invited me, along with several industry friends, to a Barcelona football match at the old Olympic Stadium (the club’s iconic stadium is under renovation). Football (soccer) is the sport I really follow (bad Canadian … I know almost zippo about the National Hockey League), so seeing Barcelona play was a big moment.

Thanks to Lynn Wang, who runs global business development for I5LED, who keeps giving me presents 😉

There was booze and then some folding electronics stand thingie I may have figured out. That vast, crisp fine pitch “LEDgend” LED that was getting a lot of attention at the Lang AG stand in the center of the show – that’s I5’s stuff.

Thanks to my UK friend Tom Milner for including me in his “Old Men Drinking” What’s App messaging group, so I knew where to go during eveings for conversation and needed refreshments.

Many people insisted on doing selfies. Not my thing so I just started getting silly. There are many like this floating around. This is Katie Valle from Mediavue Systems foolishly insisting on a photo.

Thanks to the Google team for hosting me and my own little team at a great event overlooking the city and water, just down the hill from the mixer venue. LOTSA wine, and great tapas.

Thanks to the Wildwood PR people who run the ISE press room – a place of relative calm, with seats, refreshments and food. I would look at the many, many food concessions on the show floor and in the outside areas between buildings – and not find myself desperate to drop 20EU or more for a lunch snack that would be a third of that in the rest of the city.

We went from Barcelona to Porto for a working holiday at an oceanfront AirBnB, and I arranged with Miguel from DISPLAX to do an ISE review and general industry talk at an events center up the highway in Braga later in the week.

Miguel and some his key people – Isabel Silva and Francisco Carvalho – had us up on the Sunday for a Liga Portugal match at the home grounds of SC Braga – a stadium that sits on and is surrounded by quarried granite. They call it The Rock.

We went walkies first in Braga, which is beautiful and far less busy than Porto (also beautiful, but lotsa traffic and construction, even in the old town). Braga won.

The speaking event a few days later pulled some 90 people, on relatively short notice, from the area and as far away at Lisbon. Thanks to Maura Teixeira, who runs innovation for the Portugal office of the French firm Nhood, and digital signage veteran Rui Jose, who is now a technology professor at a nearby university, for joining me on a discussion panel after I blabbered away for 30 minutes and narrowly missed back-stepping off the stage.

Usually, panels get a couple of questions from an audience. We had a pile, and I think the session last some two hours in total.

Thanks to the other Miguel in that company, co-founder Miguel Peixoto de Oliveira. He drove me back to Porto, stopping off to address my curiosity to see a very traditional Portuguese bar I’d call a man bar. Tiny. Down by the dockyards. Best steak sandwich I’ve ever had. Super Bock is tasty, too.

The people at this company are ridiculously nice.

Thanks to my wife Joy and her sister Sue, who help run the mixers. But neither of them work in the industry or read my posts 🙂

And finally, thanks to a neighbour named Damon, who has a truck and snowplow and cleared our driveway in our absence. First giant snowstorm since we moved to Nova Scotia, and we expertly missed it – looking at sunshine, 17C and waves rolling in Portugal as snow smothered Nova Scotia. It was green grass where we live when we left for ISE.

Another Nor’Easter is heading this way tomorrow night. Will be test running the snowblower later today.

As mentioned earlier, the mixer venue is already reserved for 2025, so we’ll do it all at least one more time. Getting old, and I feel it after this ISE trip … sigh.

One final note – if you want to to sponsor the Mixer at ISE in 2025, send me a note. Existing sponsors get first rights, and I already have some re-commitments and a short list of companies that would swoop in if slots open up.

There will be a mixer at InfoComm in Vegas. That will be a tag-team affair with another guy well-known for industry social events. Details imminent.

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