Andrew Pollack's Blog

Technology, Family, Entertainment, Politics, and Random Noise

Speaking Nightmares -The old Water in the Laptop trick...

By Andrew Pollack on 04/17/2008 at 08:32 PM EDT

The biggest nightmare I can foresee would be to immediately follow Paul & Bill’s flying circus. Fortunately I’ve never had to do that. I have had some….challenges, however.

At the H&T Verlogs conference in Munich a few years back, about 3 minutes into a presentation that included live demos on integrating IBM DB2 with Lotus Domino, I managed to knock a 5 ounce glass of water directly into my Dell laptop’s keyboard. The laptop shut down, and when it tried to boot came up with the fantastic error message “Drive Not Found”.

Although sympathetic (Germans are known for their sympathy the world over) I could tell by looking at the group in the room that if I cancelled and rescheduled I wouldn’t get them back. I decided that since there were only 20 or so people in the room, I would skip over plans “B” and “C” and drop to plan “D” – drop back and punt. I stepped off the stage, leaving the now useless bit of plastic and silicon where it sat soaking. I gathered everyone in the room around in an informal circle, and presented the same content in the manner of a guided discussion as a room full of peers.

Sympathy or not (and quite aside from my earlier joke, this particular room full of Germans was very understanding and even helpful) I managed to complete the presentation and cover the content well enough that I got fairly good evaluations almost on par with my usual ones.

Something that was really neat about this incident though, was that I’d brought Aeriel with me. We tell our kids that when things go wrong you have to keep going. They don’t get to see us do it though. Ari got to see me screw up, but put it back together and move on.

Immediately after the presentation, I went up to the hotel room and tore the laptop apart to dry. I knew the drive was bad, so Aeriel and I walked a couple of miles to a retail shopping mall where I purchased a new 40gb hard disk and a copy (a German copy) of Windows XP. I installed the drive that afternoon, loaded Windows XP using my memory for what was in the prompts, and put my backup data on it so that I was ready to do my presentations the next day.

I still have that boxed copy of Windows XP in German. Maybe I’ll bring it with me to Rudi’s conference this fall and give it away as a prize for the best question.

There are  - loading -  comments....

re: Speaking Nightmares -The old Water in the Laptop trick...By Tomas Ekstr■m on 04/18/2008 at 02:46 AM EDT
I was there!
I can still remember how it happened! It was actually quite fun watching,
especially when you held up a dripping laptop, even though it was a tragic
moment. So many bits and bytes had just died.

Your second presentation was not that bad either. Almost a speaking nightmare
in it self, doing a presentation on a non native OS language pc. That could
only have been topped by a French keyboard layout.

I believe a lot of the audience for your second session, went there to see how
your laptop was doing. I was also quite funny, watching you try to find your
way in a German XP version. Still the audience was there to help you :-)

I liked both sessions a lot. For your way to master the situation and sharing
your knowledge "un-plugged". I gave you top marks for that (on both sessions)!
Very cool!By Andrew Pollack on 04/18/2008 at 07:50 AM EDT
How very cool to hear from someone who was there. It is very gratifying to me
that you were still able to get value out of the otherwise wrecked presentation.

Hopefully this fall will go a little better. I may even have a few words in
German by then.

Other Recent Stories...

  1. 09/04/2018With two big projects on hold, I suddenly find myself very available for new short and long term projects. In twenty five years, I don't think I've ever written an entry like this, but if you need the kind of work I do now would be a great time to get in touch. Both of the big projects I had lined up for late summer and early fall have been placed on hold and will be that way for a while. With the kids now all off at college and careers, I'm open to more travel than such than I have been in decades, but unless something else comes along, I'll be here working on updates to Second Signal and other things that ...... 
  2. 07/13/2018Who is HCL and why is it a good thing that they are now the ones behind Notes and Domino?We need to address some biases here. IBM has made a deal under which the Notes & Domino software and intellectual property is now being developed and maintained by HCL America. HCL America is part of the very large "HCL Technologies" company that has grown from its roots in India to become an 8 Billion Dollar company with a global presence in the IT Industry. You could be excused for initially believing, as many people do when they hear this, that "they've outsourced the code to India where they'll milk it ...... 
  3. 03/21/2018Domino Apps on IOS is a Game Changer. Quit holding back.BOOM. This will be as important for the platform as Traveler. If your company has ditched Notes and Domino, I feel sorry for you. For companies that do use Notes/Domino this is a game changer and Apple should be paying attention. Here's why: There are hundreds of little Notes client applications you'd never spend the time and money to build and deploy for your internal user base on IOS that we use Notes for all the time (those of us still using it). Now, those are suddenly ALL available on the iPad. ...... 
  4. 02/15/2018Andrew’s Proposed Gun Laws 
  5. 05/05/2016Is the growing social-sourced economy the modern back door into socialism? 
  6. 04/20/2016Want to be whitelisted? Here are some sensible rules for web site advertising 
  7. 12/30/2015Fantastic new series on Syfy called “The Expanse” – for people who love traditional science fiction 
  8. 10/20/2015My suggestion is to stay away from PayAnywhere(dot)com  
  9. 08/07/2015Here is one for you VMWARE gurus - particularly if you run ESXi without fancy drive arrays 
  10. 08/06/2015The Killer of Orphans (Orphan Documents) 
Click here for more articles.....

pen icon Comment Entry
Your Name
*Your Email
* Your email address is required, but not displayed.
Your thoughts....
Remember Me  

Please wait while your document is saved.