I've heard rumblings of it since LDI 2002, but it never really materialized. I heard it again at this year's ETS-LDI in Las Vegas, and despite the track record, I'm choosing to believe it's out there again. What is it? That elusive elixir of hope: optimism.

One exhibitor said he received more solid leads in the first day of this year's ETS-LDI than he did during the entire three days of last year's event. Another said that in the past two years attendees would come to his booth saying, “What's new?” This year, they were saying, “I've got two jobs coming up; what do you have I can use?” And one designer said he sensed a palpable buzz on the show floor that he hadn't experienced since the turn of the century.

So, is it real? Are things really looking up? Hard to say. Yes, I did receive a lot of positive feedback about the state of the industry at the show this year. But the truth will come out in the coming months, when those leads either evaporate into the ether or turn into solid sales, when those projects currently in the planning stages are announced and unveiled to the world or lose their funding and are never heard from again.

Since at least 2001, ETS-LDI seems to have come to symbolize a time of hope for this industry; it's when we all get together to swap stories, compare notes, and build for the coming year. Positive vibes at the end of one year don't necessarily translate into successes the next, but it can't hurt either. I hope all of you who attended and exhibited at this year's show found great success, if not a renewed sense of optimism about the industry in which we work. If not, I hope you at least made some dough at the craps table. Hey, we take what we can get.

You can find a teaser in this month's issue on the LDI Awards, on page 2, but look for thorough coverage of the both the show and all the great new gear unveiled on the floor in the January issue of ED, which will also serve as the springboard for this book as the official magazine of ETS-LDI. Here's to a spectacular 2005.