Like most journalists everywhere, I am hungover.

I am sat in the basement of a hotel on the outskirts of Munich; the sort of hotel that must have sprung up fully-formed overnight, a massive swelling of glittering commerce emerging from the abandoned building sites and car parks and motorways that ring the city.

I am here for the launch of a new tablet. Panasonic are launching a new tablet computer for the business market. I am not a tech journalist. I have never done this before. I don’t know what’s going on.

Toughpad Photo

These photos are lifted from the official Panasonic website. This one shows some Toughpad users cheekily trying to hide in the rotor section of a helicopter

Last night is, regrettably, an increasingly coherent blur; a restaurant that went on for miles and miles like some wood-panelled meat Narnia, great glasses of beer brought to us to wash down salty pretzels and wooden platters of sliced sausage, a bus ride home drinking out of a bottle I snuck out in my coat. Then morning and shower and the sort of headache that leaves you staring at cups of black coffee trying to will them into your mouth.

And now – music. Impossibly loud music that smashes out of speakers mounted on the stage and reverbs off the inside of my skull. Smoke floods the speaking platform in a move somewhere between inadvisable and ridiculous. Lights flash and spin around the room. I am defeated by the spectacle.

This is TOUGHPAD. TOUGHPAD is my new master. All hail the glorious noise of TOUGHPAD. I am powerless and weak and shuddering before the might of TOUGHPAD. I am a snivelling worm, a directionless and flabby thing before the majesty of TOUGHPAD.

Two women emerge from the back of the hall. They are dressed, inexplicably, in tight jump suits and belts and aviator sunglasses and high heels. They have handcuffs hanging from their belts. They carry boxes shrouded in black cloth.

Why are they dressed like that? I don’t know. I can’t know. Are they pilots? Police officers? Aviation police? It doesn’t make any sense. This product has nothing to do with planes or crime or any combination of the two. It is a tablet computer you can drop underwater from a height and have that not be a problem.

Panasonic Toughpad

Not these two women. These are two different women. But from an illustrative point of view it’s the best I could do

Outside a video of an Asian man played on one of the units which happened to be underwater at the time. Dressed in martial arts robes, he punched through six blocks of concrete but could not penetrate Toughpad underneath. He holds it up proudly and it plays a promotional video while he smiles. Why is he smiling? Panasonic have defeated him where concrete could not.

The women put the boxes down on pedestals and as the music reaches a tooth-buzzing crescendo they whip off the cloth to reveal the Toughpads through clear plastic. They leave the stage. The one in blue grasps the arm of the one in green, smiling nervously.

TOUGHPAD. Toughpad is now. Toughpad is happening. My world, for the next two hours, is Toughpad.

Hiro Sakamoto takes the stage. Hiro is the Director of something important for the European arm, something involving computers. Before the conference when I was smoking outside the hotel he was pacing up and down, chaining Marlborough Lights, reading and re-reading his notes. He does well.

There are two kinds of Toughbook available. One is bigger and runs Windows. One is smaller and runs Android. Everyone writes this down. Some people rush forward and take pictures with expensive-looking cameras. I write it down too, but I don’t get up because the only camera I have with me is on my phone.

Panasonic Toughpad

These men have witnessed the true and devastating power of TOUGHPAD as it destroyed their house in a fit of rage; tearfully they bear their new master towards the wreckage

All of my notes are based on the activity of the journalists around me. I write down what I believe is important. I write down the most interesting words that I hear, too. They are “RUGGEDIZED” and “ROBUSTNESS” and, deliciously, “SACRIFICATION.”

A video plays, accompanied by the music again, the unfathomably loud music, a spinning CGI mess of product concepts. At one point the phrase “Never Before Has Someone Made A Tablet” flashes up, followed by nothing in particular. I don’t know where the end of the sentence went. Someone has made a tablet before this, surely.

A second man takes the stage. His name is Jan something, Head of something at Panasonic. His presentation uses multiple greyscale graphs to illustrate technical points. I write down anything I don’t understand. A lot of the other journalists stop writing so much. I wonder if I should do the same. This is cargo-cult reportage, a Simon Says version of journalism, copying the surface actions of those around me in an attempt to produce the same result.

Jan talks about retina displays and the way that the human eye can only perceive a certain number of pixels at a certain range and something about PPI. I think Panasonic has invented a new kind of pixel. A bendy pixel. I don’t understand. What does PPI stand for? What am I doing with my life? Why am I here in this basement in Munich at the age of 26 staring at a man fire a laser pointer at a graph? How did this happen? I wanted to be a Sky Pirate. I don’t understand any of this.

The devices can be used in heavy rainfall. I think for a second that the image illustrating heavy rain – a faceless man in a trenchcoat and leather gloves – looks like it is illustrating cold-war era spying, instead. The Toughbook would be good for spies, I think. It probably deflects bullets. You could use it to beat up an informant. That sort of thing. That should be their marketing gambit. An embittered agent thrashing the Toughbook against the face of a scared Eastern-European man, teeth and blood on the floor, yelling TELL ME WHERE THE BOMBS ARE HIDDEN DAMNIT TELL ME NOW PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DIE

Jan stops for a second and says there will be a demonstration. He says “With the nice police ladies we are to make some watersports,” and half-laughs, half-smiles awkwardly. He says that onstage in front of the world’s press. He seems to think that is fine. The women come forward and pour water from a jug over a toughbook sat in a perspex case. People take pictures.

Panasonic Toughpad

This man’s name is Bruce. Bruce is pictured here contemplating what went wrong in his previous relationship and whether his boyfriend would ever take him back

A man in charge of something important just made a SEX PISS JOKE at the Panasonic Press Conference and that’s all fine. I don’t understand. I don’t understand. Is that fine? Is this just what happens at tech events? I want to have a lie down.

The women leave the stage, wet computer in hand, and a new man takes the stage. He plays a schmaltzy video where Portuguese children teach adults to use Windows 8 accompanied by a hyperloud xylophone soundtrack that slices through my hangover like cheesewire though lukewarm gouda.

He goes on to say some things about Windows 8 but it’s all white noise at this point, all static, a mountain stream that happens to be talking about the great security features enabled in Windows 8 Pro. I drink the entirety of the bottle of sparkling water on the table in front of me and look around for another.

Last night, whilst smoking, a man from the Czech Republic asked me what I thought about the Scottish bid for secession from the United Kingdom and I had to make up an opinion on the spot. I tried my best to turn it into a conversation about Prince Harry’s arse, somehow. I believe I reenacted the pose he struck in that Vegas hotel room. I remember this, now. Why did I do that. Why do they let me drink. Don’t they know the risks involved?

At the end a video plays of a man from Microsoft speaking to camera with a forthright and determined voice that sounds like it’s been honed by years of talking at the head of boardroom tables.

He doesn’t know what to do with his hands. He holds them three inches under his chin, alternately grasping them together, rocking them up and down, and spinning them around each other, giving him the appearance of a squirrel trying to give up a nut addiction.

I cannot remember a word he said.

Panasonic Toughpad

“These are my chocolate digestives,” says the bald man. “Why are they here in the kitchen. They should be in my office. Have everyone shot.” His assistant writes that down

A fourth man comes onto the stage. Now, a week later, I would be hard-pressed to select him out of a line-up. He was from Intel. Intel were doing something with processors, as is their wont. I start thinking about the weird German lunch we’re going to have in under half an hour. There’s something unsettlingly strange about German food, something slightly off-centre. Maybe it’s too much salt. Maybe it’s not enough. Maybe it’s their insistence on cured pork. I’ve been in the country for 18 hours and I’m already tired of cured pork.

Applause – an end to things – and some questions from the audience to the assembled group onstage. Hiro builds up answers to his questions by putting his hands behind his back and generating a small humming noise, culminating in precisely-selected words of English filtered through his Japanese accent.

Several people ask about sales figures and market shares and barcode scanners and it’s like the bit at the end of games previews where Germans ask inscrutably strange questions like “How are you implementing graphical assets in the multiplayer lobbies” or “How many pixels do you have in game” or some daft shit like that but turned up to 11.

No-one asks about the women dressed as Aviation Police. I think I could ask – I could be all Excuse Me Yes Grant Howitt, Guardian, What’s The Deal With These Effing Women – but maybe that’s not the done thing. I don’t know. This isn’t my world. Also I’m not really from the Guardian and that might come back to haunt me.

Panasonic Toughpad

“I’m afraid I’ll have to remove the arm.” “But, Doctor, I feel fi-” “SILENCE, WHELP. TOUGHPAD HAS SPOKEN.”

I can picture all of the assembled heads of Panasonic et al shuffling their feet as I point out they’ve brought booth babes to a press conference, but then again this is my first press conference and I’d probably end up destroyed by their response and looking a fool. I don’t ask. The conference ends. The guy sat next to me asks what I thought of it as we pack up our bags.

“It was all right,” I say. “Why did they have those women dressed as Aviation Police?”
“I have no idea.”

Huh.


Categorised in: Press Trip

155 thoughts on “The Panasonic Toughpad Press Conference

  • Will says:

    Gonzo tech reviews, eh? Might be on to something there…

  • LC says:

    Most actual tech journos feel the same way about these conferences. I always relied on the Germans to ask something horrifyingly complicated and long winded, so that whatever dumb shit spilled from my lips when it was my turn to talk would be welcomed as a return to some kind of normal, manageable conversation by the PR bods.

  • I absolutely bloody love this. I am an ex/recovering tech jouro and this reminds me of so many product launches I went to back in the 90s, where earnest widget-consuming young (and no so young) men would ask questions carefully crafted to show off their knowledge of obscure number-based…. stuff.

  • Benny says:

    Dear Grant.
    I read this and laughed so hard I wee’ed a bit. I have given birth recently – so its not , you know, what it once was ‘down there’ – but I hope you take it as a compliment nonetheless.
    Lots of love,
    Benny. x

  • Liz says:

    This review makes me ridiculously happy. All tech reviews should be like this.

  • John James says:

    I’m sure I’ll get shot down for this, but while you’re quite funny, this sounds like quite an intensive launch. Why did you go in the first place? If I went to a medical conference (I am an accountant) I would not expect to understand it, particularly if I was hungover, so why are you blaming Panasonic?

    Also, most shows – yes, even accountancy events – are a bit glitzy these days to make them more exciting. Sure there is some stagecraft, but it sounds like there was quite a bit of actual information there as well that you just didn’t understand because (perhaps) you weren’t qualified to be there.

    Last point – this isn’t some smoke and mirrors thing, some rubbish gadget. Looking at the internet and other sites, toughbook / pad has been around for ages and actually serves a purpose – its used by people on construction sites, they are basically indestructible. So this is basically quite a useful thing being launched and you have just taken the p*ss out of it because you were hungover and unqualified.

    And before you ask, no I do not work for the brand.

    • Jason says:

      well then…wie gehts?

    • James says:

      So you work for Wowsers Inc. then?

    • Ian Osmond says:

      I think what you’re missing is that this is not a story about the product. It’s a story about the product LAUNCH.

      And that’s actually relevant. It helps us with the meta-narrative, it helps us get a feel for HOW tech reviewers get their information, and THAT helps us evaluate how much credence to give them. If the product launches are this glitzy, to what extent should we trust reports by reporters who were there?

      The product may be brilliant. Nothing in the article suggests otherwise. But that’s not what the story is about.

      Besides, it’s hella entertaining.

  • Jason says:

    To be fair you’ve raised a few chortles. But I would like to know how much German and Japanese you speak and how good your accent is to evaluate whether you are more than just ignorant Brit abroad. Panasonic EMEA are the most inclusive of all vendors from bringing Europeans together (both socially and professionally) so enjoying their hospitality and then mocking presentation format is a bit harsh.

    Toughpad is watching you.

    • Dave Page says:

      To be fair, I’d never heard of the Panasonic Toughpad before this. I don’t routinely follow tech news and had been vaguely considering an Android tablet. Given my propensity for dropping and spilling things over expensive equipment, this is something I’ll consider.

    • You ARE someone who works for Panasonic (or one of their agencies) and I claim my £5.

      (Hint: Calling them “Panasonic EMEA” is a bit of a giveaway.)

    • David Gerard says:

      Panasonic Toughbooks and presumably Toughpads are in fact all they promise to be (if at three times the price and weight) – but really, booth babes at a press conference? Piss-sex jokes? Dear God.

      • S.P.Zeidler says:

        disclaimer: I don’t work for Panasonic, but I am German.

        Just let me point out that usually, names for kinks are not taught in English classes in school. At least they weren’t when I was in school, which has been a while.
        So the watersports stand a good chance to have been intended in the non-slang meaning (which doesn’t make it less funny, IMO).

        Otherwise, the article is comedy gold, and there need to be more of these, and the marketing people of companies ought to read them. 🙂

      • grant says:

        I figured he didn’t pick it up in a classroom environment. But Jan’s English was very good – give or take the odd “sacrification” slip-up – and it’s simply too obvious a thing to be an innocent mistake. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone refer to watersports as anything but a sex thing, if I’m honest.

      • David Gerard says:

        I do recall the term being innocently used back in my Australian childhood to refer to actual sports played on water 🙂

      • Armand says:

        As a non-native English speaker, I picked up the “watersports” reference very late. I mean, Michelle Obama I think inadvertently made a joke about “fisting” a few years ago, not knowing.

        Bottom line: not everyone has a dirty mind.

      • grant says:

        Heh, “bottom line.”

      • Tim says:

        Wassersport is a regular german word for sport activities in the water. He probably did not know the other meaning.

      • Ian Osmond says:

        Here in the United States, I’ve fairly frequently heard it used to mean “swimming, boating, surfing, waterskiing, and so forth.”

        And, yes, I giggle every time, because I’m twelve years old inside. Because I’ve MORE often heard it used to mean . . . the other thing.

    • Ian Osmond says:

      “. . . so enjoying their hospitality and then mocking presentation format is a bit harsh.”

      This is an incredibly telling thought, and one which encapsulates everything that is wrong with product launch coverage.

      The idea behind this is that the more goodies and nice stuff a corporation gives you, the more you are obligated to them, and the more you are required to give their technology/new drug/movie/Broadway musical/spring line of clothing/gallery opening a good review.

      That’s what the marketers WANT people to feel, and that is, of course, the REASON for wining and dining reporters and critics. But when the reporters and critics and reviewers fall for it, it makes a shambles of the entire process.

      And THAT, right there, is the importance of this piece. It SHOWS what goes on, and gives us a way to evaluate the industry as a whole.

      Yes, he enjoyed their hospitality. But that cannot shield them from ridicule for that very hospitality, when the nature of the hospitality is exactly the purpose and benefit of the article.

      I suspect that you’d agree that enjoying Panasonic’s hospitality shouldn’t prevent a reporter from writing a scathing review of the product itself (even though marketers suspect that providing that hospitality will give them some protection, which is why they do it). But what about reporting on that very transaction?

  • Dr J says:

    Thanks – this was totally hilarious – made my day (and it’s only 10am)

    Reminded me of being in the audience at a number of Symbian and Nokia releases – I was part of the company and I found it bemusing…

    What we need more of- Gonzo tech journos!

  • Lyd says:

    Probably the best thing written about technology anywhere ever.

  • Aitken Drum says:

    Fantastic review. I shall not be buying a Toughbook though. Aviation police babes are more value for money (2 for 1) but probably won’t last through an Apocalypse. More please…

  • Sean says:

    I was a tech journo for about 10 years, then I moved into tech PR, where I’ve been for the last four years. This is the finnest press conference write up I have ever read. Thank you.

  • Very well written. I really love this one. On the Germans and their food though I recommend that you spend some time in Germany outside of press events. You’ll find great food and variety. It is only that many companies still believe they need to put up the fatty version of what they think is typical Bavarian food for the participants. So it is their fault and not the Germans and their food.

  • Marcus says:

    Wonderful.

  • Pierre says:

    This is by far one of the funniest articles I’ve read in a long time. The captions under the pictures were ridiculously funny as well. This reflects quite nicely the absurdity of such events.

    Good work!

  • Jacques Ouef @jacquesoeuf says:

    At least your virginity is gone.

    In my tech journo days of the 80s and 90s, we jaded old hacks used to consort to find some way of cheekily undermining the proceeding, as we’d be attending three, four or five of these events each week. Your ‘what are the aviation police girls for’ question would have gone down rather well.

    For us, a typically idiotic question would have been something like ‘Will it be available in green?’ or ‘Do you envisage applications for your product in the baking industry?’ All interspersed with deliberately gauche technical questions we knew they couldn’t answer.

    Nothing was ever taken remotely seriously (by us, anyway). And nor should it be now.

    • grant says:

      Oh man, no, at Games Previews I’m much more involved in it. I asked every single one of the developers of Assassin’s Creed 3 (every developer that I was allowed to talk to, anyway) precisely “How many graphics were in the game.” My favourite answer was “Seven, right now, but we reckon we might have nine graphics by launch.”

  • Vex says:

    Well, Sir, I hope you’re getting a cut of this, because you certainly managed to sell a Toughpad to me. Well done!

    • grant says:

      Believe it or not I couldn’t sell coverage to anyone, which is why it ended up here. I like to think Panasonic will get their money’s worth for the free beer, at least.

  • Rob says:

    But why the Aviation Police Ladies? why? In the name of all things good, WHY?

    I may never sleep properly again.

  • Jeff says:

    You are a credit to your profession, sir.

  • Stephen says:

    I’m a tech journalist, and I have spent the last ten minutes reading this through tears of laughter. Thank you, Grant Howitt. Thank you.

  • Had my laughing at my desk for five minutes straight. Definitely need more tech write-ups like these. Made it to reddit too 🙂

    http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/16m3e1/i_could_get_used_to_this_sort_of_coverage/

  • Bill says:

    All journalism should be this good. I would read a lot more of it if it was more honest and entertaining.

  • Nick Bicanic says:

    I got here from Kara Swisher’s tweet. Kara hire this dude Grant immediately. He’s a funny bastard. Better than Paul Carr on his best day. Grant you should write about tech startups also… It would be hilarious 😉

  • David Gerard says:

    Speaking as a techie, you have covered absolutely all the substantive points in complete fidelity. And yes, the babble about security features is indeed always white noise.

  • Dave mcclure says:

    effing brilliant. you are a shining example of awesome journalism.

    please get back to drinking right away.

  • ayemiy says:

    Ah, I love the way you write. Wow, this piece of tech has hype waaaay beyond its capabilities. Maybe it can also save orphans from burning buildings, ‘cos I heard that’s what Apple is working on.

    • grant says:

      It’s a pretty cool product for business customers, I think. Also I think you could probably use it to beat out small fires, just not orphanage-scale ones

      • name says:

        How well does the toughpad swat flies? Better than the iPad?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ql71toSXNRY

      • grant says:

        I think a Toughpad would survive that, for sure. If you have a problem with flies and inefficient data solutions then TOUGHPAD is the device for you

      • KJ says:

        I think you should license that last line to Panasonic to use in their marketing campaigns. I know if I saw “If you have a problem with flies and inefficient data solutions then TOUGHPAD is the device for you” in an advert, I would buy it.

      • Bab says:

        I hadn’t heard of the Toughpad, but I imagine quite a few of us would have heard of the Toughbook laptop, which has generally been a quite impressive product line.

        I remember some guy kayaking from Australia to New Zealand used a Toughbook to update his facebook or whatever on the trip over. It rattled around and got ocean soaked and sun baked all that time, but it still worked.

        I think tablets are less suited to serious work than laptops though, so I can’t see me buying one of these.

  • Jake says:

    i read a ton of stuff online and this is definitely the funniest thing i’ve read in months. great job covering the event.

    to echo the first comment, this is a welcome return to gonzo journalism. i strongly suggest you continue on your current vector.

  • Max says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CA3Bt-kV-Qk and here are the “Aviation Police” and their “watersports”.

    Makes you wonder if it’s because Panasonic realise that most of the journalists turning up knoe nothing about the mechanical technology of making a toughened casing and components, although they may know all the electronic jargon for pixels, processors, RAM, SSD, USB, WI-FI and all the other TLA’s they can find. It’s that or they allow the non-tech press officers decide how the launch will be run, after all it has to be sexy, doesn’t it.

    • Chris says:

      I just watched that video… brilliant. I love the somewhat awkward unrehearsed nature of it. Like tipping a jug of water on a toughpad is the most natural thing in the world.

      Also enjoyed the way the *expected* applause never comes… brilliant.

  • Richard says:

    Grant,

    That was hands down one of the funniest and most realistic interpretations for the average tech launch that I have read for some time.

    Awesome.

  • Elian Gonzalez says:

    You sound like an alcoholic. Get professional help.

  • Matt says:

    Having returned from CES just now, this hit home. The Simon Says journalism part is the most damning of all. I couldn’t stop laughing. I do feel like big press events are like being forced to play a role in Saturday Night Live on a minute’s notice at times. Please cover Mobile World Congress in late February in Barcelona where they serve less sausage.

  • Thomas Euler says:

    Pretty great read! Thanks! Regarding Munich food: it happens that I am from Munich. The next time your here, drop me a line and I will introduce you to the really yummy variant. And this coming from a German who actually appreciates British food 🙂

  • ASL says:

    Very interesting/funny review but I hope next time, you’ll have the courage to speak up for women in an industry that really keeps our perspectives out of its consideration. Use your privilege for good! -a woman who enjoyed this piece.

  • M.C. says:

    Nice read, but I didn’t get what’s with the Eastern-European. Why Eastern-European?

  • Morten says:

    As a former tech-journo of the nineties, this had me giggeling for ten minutes. Spot on.

  • Ashtray_Nuke says:

    Panasonic has* defeated him where concrete could not.

    FTFY

    • bill dave says:

      Actually, his English is correct. When Speaking of a company, it is is proper to use them in the plural, as it is a company of many people, and treated in grammar as such. He actually used several instances of this, which you might have missed.

      • Sven Laptop says:

        No, I’m afraid that’s a purely British thing; no other English speakers speak of a single company or team as plural. It’s one company so it should be referred to as singular.
        Cracking article though. There should be more bewilderment in journalism of all kinds, everywhere. Having said that, all hail Toughpad!

      • Tams says:

        If you are British, it is not wrong to refer to a company as plural.

        Anyway, as Britain is the origin of the English (even though it has evolved from other languages), any English that differs from British English are wrong as it’s not their language. XD

      • protospork says:

        Even in America I’ve always been taught that either way is fine. It feels less awkward, to me, to refer to a corporation as “a collection of people” than as “a singular entity” in most contexts.

  • Danny K says:

    My favorite bit is your comment about German food… and the skypirate career as well. Loved it

    • grant says:

      At one point, and I shit you not, we were served potato dumplings with tiny cubes of unseasoned, unflavoured bread in the middle. I can’t work out why you’d do a thing like that.

      • S.P.Zeidler says:

        a) it’s traditional
        b) at the size of the dumplings, not having raw potato in the middle is difficult if you want to avoid the outside to be mush. Stick some bread in and you don’t have to worry if the middle is done.

      • grant says:

        Thank you for explaining it! That all makes sense, now. Although I still think you should flavour the bread some so it’s more than just edible packing foam.

  • Oslo Losen says:

    Where’s the upvote button?

  • Educated Reader says:

    Fascinating. No, wait — it wasn’t. Your article was banal.

    I’d like my four minutes back now, please.

  • DigDug says:

    Yeah. Nerds are stupid. Lets drink beer and play the sport!

  • Kene says:

    Been a tech for 30 years. Thanks for keeping it real!

  • Bob Lee says:

    The article lacks verisimilitude as there’s no mention of drunken German conventioneers conducting sing-alongs, always in hotel rooms with the door wide ajar. Of course you may be used to this but I ask, how can you possibly get used to that?

  • L says:

    Fantastic!

    My worst nightmare is to end up somewhere that everyone around me eats up the corporate bullshit and keywords and buzzwords and talks about maximization of return on Linkedin. Sometimes it seems like that’s happening.

    Then I read this.

    Thank you.

    PS. Please give us more of this. You could totally run a tech-conference blog, and it’d probably get read.

  • jean-paul says:

    Very funny, but what is the thing about booth babes and piss jokes? They could have scrapped the whole Toughpad stuff (OK, and the piss jokes!), and have the booth babes only. Very-unPC?… Who cares about Tartuffes, would have been great!

  • Daudi says:

    You are an excellent writer, as good as Tom Wolfe or P.J. O’Rourke. This article is well-written, funny, inventive. Write more stuff. Write books. Seriously. Go beyond games. Take risks.

    • grant says:

      Thanks for the support! I’m working on a book this year, although it’s nowhere near gonzo. But maybe there’s a book in this.

  • JR says:

    Best hardware review ever. I want half a dozen. And I didn’t even understand what I’m buying!

  • David says:

    I’d like to hear more about your Sky Pirate aspirations. Who are these Sky Pirates, what do they plunder, etc.

    • grant says:

      Stuff from other Airships, probably by using grappling hooks and small gyrocopters as attack boats. I think cannons are probably involved somewhere along the line.

      My Skypirate name is Captain Valiant “Dangerous” Gambit.

  • gfrblxt says:

    Thank you for this – I haven’t laughed so hard in a while. Well done, sir!

  • T says:

    This is the greatest piece of tech journalism to have ever been written.

  • Graham McElearney says:

    One day all tech articles will be written like this. I hope. Gxx

  • Scott says:

    Genius. Pure and utter genius.

    You made my day with this.

    As an ex journo who then did some tech journalism I’m with you all the way. The amount spent on glitzy tech events is mind-boggling.

  • Joe Sweeney says:

    A wonderful write-up. Reminds me of the fiasco from a two years ago.

  • Tommy Shanks says:

    Well done, sir. You may have to come up with alternate identities in order to be invited to future tech press conferences, but I’d strongly encourage you to do what it takes to continue your groundbreaking work.

  • Paul Tregoing says:

    Please go back in time and cover the Qualcomm CES keynote. Cheers.

  • Jeff Dougherty says:

    Masterful recovery from being too hung over to remember anything that was said at the presser- rolling with it in the best Hunter S. Thompson tradition. Fear and Loathing in Munich.

  • Eduo says:

    While I laughed I couldn’t help but have my attention taken every single time one of those photos with the god-awful photoshop forcing a screenshot and a different pen in each of them.

    As for the piss joke, I honestly hope that was a joke gone wrong. “Watersports” is a slang word non-americans may not be familiar with. Not that it justifies the “press conference babes” at all.

  • PeteQ says:

    Applause… STANDING OVATION!

  • Chris says:

    Nice work grant. I reckon the marketing meeting they had to organise the event was probably very similar to your night out beforehand.

  • Mike says:

    Damn near spit my coffee out through my nose reading this.

    Reminds of something I would have read in National Lampoon all them years ago, when I would bring in the latest issue to my stage manager Burkie just to watch him laugh maniacally at the articles and especially the comics…

    But I digress. Brilliantly hilarious!

  • I am a journalist and I am a techie. Loved the review!! SUPERB!!

  • Space Gorilla says:

    Meh, Hunter S. Thompson you are not.

  • Mark Conge says:

    This is hands down the best review I’ve read in a long time. Thank you for being honest!

  • IreneFingIrene says:

    So damn hilarious.. thank you very much for writing this.

  • ChuckO says:

    I think it would be fitting if a “Toughpad” launch included an actual, you know, launch. Maybe with a catapult or strapped-on rockets. A clay pigeon flinger might work nicely, too. Giving it a warm bath or having it caressed by pretty girls doesn’t exactly say “Tough”.

  • Glen Turner says:

    The poor tablet. Fake execution by some martial arts hero. Kept awake by psyops music. Waterboarded by black ops police.

    When women in black jumpsuits and glasses are being the “bad cop” and men from Microsoft and Intel are playing the “good cop” you know things aren’t going to end well.

  • Chuck Long says:

    Lester Bangs smiled.

  • ERose says:

    Haha just about every launch organized by a PR or marketing firm has the same few gimmicks, including the attempt to give a product a “video game” allure. Loved to hear someone snark at it a bit.

    Also – good on you calling bullshit on the booth babes. I would love love love the practice of using gratuitous women as a cheap marketing ploy to end forever. If even you don’t think you can sell the product on its own merits, sans completely irrelevant boobs, why should I think that much of it?

  • Martin says:

    Yes I guess there is some artistic licence in the article, I have worked as tech. crew on a number of similar events (I’ve done gaming consoles, Vodka, forklift trucks and even cleaning industry awards) and they are full of crap like this, in fact you should see what really goes on behind the scenes, if I could be arsed I’d write a book about it but I doubt anyone would believe most of it!

  • Katie says:

    I don’t have anything to add, but I wanted to leave a comment like all the other tech journos and ex-tech journos.

    • Katie says:

      I’m sleep-deprived which is why that comment may have come out sounding rude. What I MEANT to say was “your article is very funny, thank you” and also “I have a question, it is in 3 parts…” (because I’m being a German tech journalist).

      I’m off now to boil my head.

  • JoeBeets says:

    This is bloody brilliant!

    For once an honest, forthright report of the truly bizarro schtick that happens in the technoid alternate reality. You captured the deep and abiding weirdness and carefully orchestrated banality with all the precision and emotional engagement it deserved. Hunter S. would be proud, although materially more profane.

    I do hope they keep you on the Tech Silliness beat. I look forward to more of your righteously jaundiced view of the ongoing madness.

  • Ruairi Carroll says:

    Great read, I’m a hack for a network radio service in Ireland. We supply copy and audio for local stations around the country.

    Given that our economy is in the crapper, more than once have I found myself totally lost in some financial briefing while the die hard business hacks try to out do each other with clever sounding questions.

    Ryanair press conferences are always good for a laugh as well, the general reporters ask about baggage prices, the businesses reporters jump in with something complex about fuel hedging, after a while Michael O’Leary starts swearing just to see if we’re still awake….

    I’m with you on the whole experience of watching others furiously scribble notes, and I must try a sex piss joke sometime….

  • Evan says:

    This was very funny until the gay joke.

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  • Tom Pleasant says:

    I can absolutely guarantee, 100%, there isn’t a press conference I’ve attended that was like this and I have never had similar thoughts.

    By ‘there isn’t’ I do of course mean ‘every’ and by ‘never’ I do of course mean ‘always’.

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