The wind whipped round my head as the ferry approached the facility. My partner and I were greeted by MacPherson, the assistant warden. I was led past cells filled with some of the most dangerously insane and violent individuals in the printing industry. Rachel Solando, a marketing VP for a major equipment vendor, was reported missing, after having killed three product launches, and my partner and I were sent to investigate... Meanwhile, a deadly hurricane—or at the very least a press conference—was brewing....

Oops, sorry, I’m conflating the trip to Ipex with the plot of Shutter Island, which I watched on the flight over from the U.S. All things considered, it was an uneventful journey, compared to stories I have heard from others who are gradually wending their way into town, as the Icelandic ash hole continues to disrupt the best laid plans of mice and printing managers.

At any rate, greetings from Birmingham and Ipex. Look for reasonably regular reports here, at WhatTheyThink proper, and various video feeds. Also, I was promised a pint if I can pronounce Eyjafjallajokull properly on camera. You shan’t want to miss that, although I will.

Although the show proper opened yesterday (which, if my jet-lag-addled mind recalls properly, was Tuesday), there is a general feeling of optimism, the likes of which have been absent from printing shows of the recent past. The Show Daily tells us that pre-registration topped 70,000, a record, and was up 13% from 2006.

Rumours that this would be an inkjet Ipex are proving to be true, and today’s Show Daily has myriad product announcements vis-a-vis inkjet. As my confrere Andy Tribute mentioned in his own live (on tape—wha?) report, Xerox has finally unveiled its inkjet strategy, which the company said will be built around the solid ink technology it acquired from Tektronix back a decade ago. I shall have to venture down and have a gander at the continuous-feed press. (Speaking of ganders, the walk from the hotel to the convention center involves negotiating a dangerous path past a gaggle of hostile geese, so pardon my fowl language. And if I end up missing bits of the show, consider it my poultry excuse.)

Speaking of Xerox, Someone Who Claims to Be Related to Me and I shall be giving each other the real business in “The Great Debate: Print vs. ‘That Other Stuff’” in the Xerox Real Business Live booth. Two men enter—one survives.

It’s interesting and perhaps ironic that few people attending the show have the blues today—last night, just next door, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood blew the doors off the LG Arena with an evening of blues standards, a few classic hits (the acoustic “Layla” was a high point), and a haunting version of “Can’t Find My Way Home,” which could very well have been the theme by those who were having difficulty getting out the car park after the show, I’m led to understand). It was a phenomenal show, and kicked off Ipex week in grand style.

At any rate, it’s good to see that everyone is happy and enjoying the show, and I look forward to bringing you regular reports and updates as they happen.