The Gartner Symposium Tschotke Report

Technology, schmecknology. Half of the fun of attending a tech event is discovering the swag that vendors hand out on the exhibit floor. T-shirts? Pens? That’s so old school.

The idea behind a tschotke report – first invented by Jim Louderback for his Comdex TV show in the early 90s – is not to pay attention to the products and their value… but simply to enjoy the stuff that companies hand out for free to lure conference attendees into their booths. That includes us at Druva, of course; we’ve discovered that flash drives built into a bracelet are… not catnip, exactly, but they do start a conversation. Ours are like the Rolex of USBs!

Given the high caliber of the people who attend the Gartner Symposium – lots of CIOs and IT managers – you might expect the swag to be of the best quality. And you’d be right. Vendors who exhibit at Black Hat know that its sysadmin and security specialist audience is different from the CxO crowd, and share a different set of freebies.

While there are plenty of pens and t-shirts, I mostly ignored them in my roundup – except for a bacon-scented t-shirt (really, I wouldn’t make it up) which appeared to have sold out by the time I did my walkabout. I also ignored items that are prizes, e.g. one person per day will win a $250 gift card. If everybody can’t have one, it doesn’t count. Well, not for this.

Perhaps my favorite tschotcke on the exhibit floor is the Dimension Data dancing robot, which is utterly useless except as a cube toy. But what’s wrong with that? It makes me smile, and I’m quite sure someone will be tempted to steal it off my desk.


At the other extreme is the “useful for frequent travelers” giveaway, which surely appeals to most of these executives (and, well, to me).  Verizon’s travel emergency kit will be stuffed into my own luggage, because I can always use a stash of vitamin C and hand sanitizer.


Similarly, Aerospike offers both foldable sunglasses and a tiny packable raincoat, which might find another suitcase pocket. I suspect the raincoat is of the sort that won’t ever stuff back into it zippered case, like a road map that never folds back up the way it began. Except… wait, you don’t remember what road maps were, do you?


Another set of items for the road warrior: Caringo’s flashlight and cord extender. I’ll use the flashlight to search my luggage for the emergency kit and rain gear.


That’s not to say that everything is wholly practical. Someone’s blinking-light-whirlygig must have “sold out” by the end of the first day. There’s at least one attractive water bottle (which in my experience is “Who needs another one?” but perhaps not in yours)…


…and a full-on Frisbee-like disk, which would be just the thing to throw across the office on a time-to-relax Friday afternoon. As long as you didn’t knock over my dancing robot when it landed, okay?


I’m sure I missed a few items, but overall I’d say Gartner Symposium attendees are leaving with plenty of fun stuff – in addition to brains soaked with pragmatic knowledge, such as Contemplating the Future of Endpoint Management.