June 17, 2002

Every Speaker's Worst Nightmare

After seeing Chris Dede's presentation about Multi-user Virtual Environments for Learning this morning, I decided to add one more slide to my presentation. I had just checked my mail on the PowerBook and put it on the bed, and had the Compaq on my lap while doing a final upload of the slides. As I started to untangle the two sets of power cords, the PowerBook started to slide off the bed. Naturally I lunged towards it and in doing so I turned my lap into a ski slope for the Compaq to slalom down.

Time stopped. I can't say that my entire life flashed before me, but for a fleeting millisecond I remembered those values clarification exercises we did in the 70s: "There's room in the lifeboat for only one more person: your son or your wife?". As I watched both computers heading for the floor, I had to choose.

Not a hard choice. And now this is what the Compaq looks like:
A picture of the dead compaq

It seems as though the wires that attach all the little pixels in the LCD after the first inch or so have become unattached or are hooked up to the wrong pixels. It's a very artistic outcome, actually, in a psycho kind of way. This won't be cheap to fix.

Any rational person would have screamed mightily at this point but somehow I kept my serenity. There was nothing more to do, really, than to walk over to the convention center empty handed and try to reconstruct what I had on the computer over there. I was very lucky that the last thing I did was to upload my slides to the WebQuest server, so with half an hour to go, I downloaded that, downloaded and installed Adobe Atmosphere, tested everything and was ready to go ten minutes later.

There I stood, using my non-preferred platform, running beta software that has proven to be not totally stable, and doing it on a foreign machine that I hadn't fully tested. No time to worry about it: the place was full. The room seated 500 and there were an additional 50 or so sitting on the floor. All went well. Very well, actually. I guess all those years of transcendental meditation paid off.
picture of the session


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