A Good Run

Posted in In My Opinion...

The tone at ASA is quite uncommon for a January. Rather than the round-the-clock high-level chaos that has been the longstanding rule for late December and all of January, things here are orderly and peaceful. Things are getting done. We're busy, but we're not STUPID BUSY getting ready for another DesignCon in the Bay Area. For the past 15 years, ASA has been a display vendor at DesignCon and I've presented a number of papers there, some years two. We were there from year one when it was called Design SuperCon. That was easily my favorite because it was executed by a team that had worked for years on the HP High-Speed Symposium travelling and working together across the US, Asia and Europe.... family. I believe our participation then actually predated M1.

The ASA process for being a display vendor goes something like this... work your product development cycle so you come out with one of your flagship capabilities toward the end of the year. Naturally, this puts a lot of pressure on the engineering team to balance how much to keep in, how much to leave out, versus how much time they need for debug. Debug can run right up to the day of the show (or the second day:) and that obviously sucks for everyone involved. Ideally, the public announcement of that new technology is done two to three weeks before the show... so timed to push the body count (booth visitors and customer meetings) up. From the time we return from New Year's break, the traditional biggest pushup has been designing and building the booth... the messaging... the mechanicals... the booth plan... and all the customer/partner/channel meetings that have always been my top business reasons for being there. The vast majority of display vendors just occupy an off the shelf booth. I feel that better traffic and a higher level of consideration have come from thinking of the booth design/execution/operation more in terms of say, a play than a bill board. Pulling this all together with a small team has taken a lot of effort... I can tell everyone is enjoying not doing it this year, me included.

Since the start, the show has undergone a number of changes... naturally evolving to reflect trends in our industry. The group running the show has done an excellent job molding it to those trends. I am very proud to have been a part of it, particularly in the early years, and of the Design Vision Awards we have won there. But the industry is different than it used to be, and the show has had to track that shift in direction, both on the show floor and in the technical sessions. I don't really respect the changes that are taking place in the industry and given the heartbeats and resources diverted from other valuable work that it takes preparing for it, it's time to shift gears.

During the show last year, I was walking back to our booth from a meeting and for some reason thought of something that took place in Dallas a few years earlier. After a day of customer meetings, I met my dirt-bike buddy Fred and his daughter at my hotel for a quick get together at an internationally well known coffee provider. At that time, I had roughly a twice to three a day habit, but it was Fred's first time in one. He had an unmistakably uncomfortable look on his face as we walked toward the counter though a room filled with a belief system obviously both foreign and unnecessary to him. When pressed for specifics, he provided an answer so powerful in its utter purity that it could have been spoken personally by Descartes... "John Wayne wouldn't come in here". It turns out that was the last time I stood before a "barista".

By the time I returned to the booth, I'd concluded I had my fill of the never-ending conversations with zero-experience math heroes about further "enhancing" RjDj... or being asked my opinion about some minor announcement by ScopeCo... or cringing as that, to-me, ridiculous mascot absorbs attention from the business we were attempting to conduct in our booth... or the freshman year appearance of "booth hostesses", or... It was easy to decide it's time for a new January tradition for ASA. It's been a great 15-year run and many good things have come from our association with DesignCon over that time. If you're in a high-speed digital designer, I recommend attending. Just time for us to invest our heartbeats differently.

Some ASA folks will be in the Bay Area for meetings that week. If the timing works out, one or two of us might swing by to catch up with old friends and partners at the show or in the lounge afterwards. If so, see you there.