Marketing executives at Compaq seemed to have taken a leaf out of Ben Hur for the company's latest product showcase. Or maybe this Tabloid reporter should have read the invitation more carefully before turning up bleary eyed (and a little hungover from the previous night's ARNnet launch) to a morning session of what was promised as "a unique and rewarding experience into how Compaq touches all our lives".
I should have been warned when I tried to accept the invitation - a time-consuming process that involved lots of Web-based applets and cool looking red cube animation that was designed to impress, but made me vaguely uneasy as the memory of some really bad mathematics techno-thriller came back to haunt me. In that movie, the characters woke up in a red room of a giant cube and were forced to find their way out while getting killed in various grotesque ways in the process. Ugh, creepy.
So, after negotiating my way between the two semi-trailers worth of audio-visual equipment, being ushered into a darkened room surrounded by projection screens in a marquee the size of a football field was a little disturbing.
Turns out I was right. Now Compaq has every right to blow its own trumpet, and the production of this particular piece of bugle-work was very slick. But being beaten over the head over how wonderful Compaq is, how its e-procurement business can help anyone get on the Internet, how its servers were used to store data for Celera Genomics (the privately funded company and rival to the Human Genome Project) or how its Presario range makes computing easy for the first-time user, is just too much to handle early in the morning. Not to mention the amount of money that must have been involved in the promotion.
But it was without a doubt Compaq's holier-than-thou Gospel spiel that was too much to stomach.
Meanwhile . . .
Sure, Compaq Australia's MD and founder Ian Penman is set to retire on October 13, but there's an interesting twist to the story that's yet to be told.
Tabloid can reveal in an industry scoop that 55-year-old Penman is going to be a dad for the first time towards the end of the year. A Compaq spokesperson confirmed industry rumours, stating the news had been kept private because Penman was "focussing on the business".
No doubt Penman's retirement will be a huge win for the "mini Penman". According to the spokesperson: "He's going to be a dad that's there for the child."
Penman's wife is believed to be a former Canberra distributor, estimated to be in her 30s (Tabloid hopes that's a compliment).