What happened to me on stage at Next09

You might have heard how my machine had a meltdown on stage at Next09 but it wasn't that simple. First up I was covering for David Brain of Edelman who was booked to talk about Crowd Surfing, I didn't want to just talk about the same thing as my other talk so I put together a presentation during the first day on my laptop and finally finished it late in the night after the party. Actually some people might remember me working during the after party working on the presentation instead of blogging because the hotel I booked didn't have decent wifi.

The next day I turned up 15mins early and had some problems getting my head mic on because of the size of my head. Anyway the moment came to plug in my laptop and the German Technician looked at my laptop puzzled because it wasn't what he was expecting. He was expecting Windows. So unfortunately in a rush while trying to communicate in sudo english/german he tried to plug my laptop in. I was trying to help because he was getting very confused with my multiple workspaces and the general layout of ubuntu. What made things even worst was there was no local loop display of the 2nd screen, so when it was working I couldn't see what was actually on it till they switched the main display. And thats the thing, it was working. We got extended desktop display working but I couldn't see where to drag the presentation to show it. So we decided to go for mirror or cloned display. We changed the settings and resolution and suddenly the screen refreshed and there was nothing on screen. Of course I couldn't see the other screen to see what was really going on. At this point the the Moderator Patrick de Laive, stopped talking and I was there just in silence.

The silence was only broken with people getting up and leaving. I rebooted my machine and tried plan B which was to get the presentation off on to another machine. Usually I have a copy on a thumb drive/my phone and email/internet but because I had finished the presentation so late I had not done either. When rebooted, the screen was still blank, so I switch to the commend line and tried to copy it that way but the usb devices didn't seem to mount in there usual way. By now its already 10mins into the time and so I give up and they provide another PC laptop. This laptop takes time to setup and has no internet access so I call to the crowd for someone to lend me there laptop which is online. After a while someone did come forward but by then over 15mins had gone and you know what conference wifi is like, so it was difficult to show any of the videos or even sites.

They always say this happens at the worst of times, and it certainly did. Luckily the talk on Open Media later went smooth and without any technical hitches.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.