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My brush with technology

Mike Byrne, Assistant Editor, SME Advisor ME

When approached by the editors of CNME to attend an IT conference in Prague, I didn’t hesitate. It has been a city on my checklist to visit for quite some time, and this opportunity was not going to be passed over.

I confess to not having the most razor sharp and acute of minds where advanced technology issues are involved but with some background reading I can get by (or so I convince myself).

So the trip began with a 2:00am departure flight from Dubai, with a short stopover in Istanbul before finally landing in Prague at 10:00am. Deprived of sleep and proper nourishment my patience levels are guaranteed to rapidly drop, so I have to admit that upon arrival I was anything but enthused and motivated. So I did what I always do when I find myself adopting a cranky disposition – more coffee!

After a quick check-in at the hotel I headed over to the adjacent hotel for the conference. Agilent Technologies had gathered 33 journalists from over 15 countries for two days of presentations and discussions. The company had also kindly included some down time thrown into the mix – but I’ll get to that a little later.

The afternoon sessions were kicked off with introductions from the senior management, followed by a round-up of new product realises and some informative presentations. It was a case of me sitting and suddenly realising that Agilent were the people who make a lot of the technology we use possible – without their measurement products, new technologies cannot be tested and tweaked before being released on the market.

So with that realisation light bulb finally switched on I began to fervently tweet on the CNME twitter page for the next three hours. Trying to comprehend the technical lingo while still getting the update onto the twitter feed was far from easy; again it was a matter of topping up the coffee intake!

With day one of the conference concluding at 5:30pm I had just enough time to get back to the hotel, write up my story on the day’s discussions and then meet up with the Agilent team and the gang of journalists for a surprise outing at 6:30pm.

That determination not to be cranky was wavering but when it was announced that we were to go on a private tram ride through the city, with a final stop at Prague’s oldest brewery for a tour and some dinner, a permanent smile emerged that pretty much stuck for the remainder of the evening. It proved the perfect way not only to unwind but also to talk in a more relaxed environment with the Agilent management.

Day two and it was an early start (yes 8:30am is considered too early for most journalists!). Again the schedule was rather intense and this time around there was more specific workshops focussing on topics such as microwave technology and GP applications. More importantly, after lunch I had the opportunity to interview key management figures and discuss the technologies as well as Agilent’s market strategy for the Middle East (check out the CNME website for excerpts from these interviews).

I have to add that I managed to organise an extra night’s stay in Prague and with it some undisturbed time to explore the fabulous buildings in the city (I am a self confessed architect geek) as well as to sample some more Czech food and beverages on offer.

Not to sound like a travel agent but anyone seeking a short get-away should consider Prague. And I recommend that anyone working within the IT measurement arenas acquaint themselves with Agilent Technologies – to dismiss both would be a mistake!

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