Yesterday I shared the story of the Steve Ballmer keynote demo that was breaking and the urgent call I got to help figure it out.
I left you hanging as to the solution; a few of you posted interesting ideas of what might have gone wrong. But Richard Cooper was the first to figure it out – congratulations!
The answer can be found in the defaultnew-msh.js file. Here’s the relevant function:
var o=new Date;
window.external.msSiteModeAddJumpListItem("Track Your Breakfast",
window.external.msSiteModeAddJumpListItem("Track Your Lunch",
window.external.msSiteModeAddJumpListItem("Track Your Dinner",
Now you can hopefully see that the notifications are set up based on the time: the site authors had designed around certain time windows when users would be tracking breakfast / lunch / dinner. But (by design) there’s no notification between midnight and 8am.
I was tempted to tell the demo team that the demo would magically start working in about half an hour or so, but I decided that was a bit unfair to their blood pressure. They set the clock forward an hour, and the demo ran flawlessly.
It's a good example of how demos can be unpredictable - despite your best efforts to rehearse and prepare, there are so many variables in the system for a keynote demo that you can expect something unexpected.
I’m sat in the PDC keynote room this morning for the final run-through – we finished rehearsing last night at 1am and we started this morning at 5am. Behind the scenes, there’s a whole conference room full of equipment: video streaming equipment to broadcast the event around the world, a bank of about forty demo machines (primary and backup for each demo), video and lighting control, a slide editing suite and site production services.
There are a whole host of challenges that are only exposed in this scenario: as an example, we need to remote a USB cable from a Windows Phone to a PC backstage (and provide a second one as an emergency backup); we need to provide consistent and reliable networking for myriad devices even when the wifi and cellular networks are saturated; we need to be able to switch between all forty machines from a single demo podium. Last night, we saw a Windows 7 error message that I’d never seen before – we’d exceeded the USB specification by chaining five hubs together in a certain configuration. Given all this, you can probably imagine why demos can fail: ironically, there comes a point where redundancy introduces so much complexity that it actually increases the risk of failure.
Crossing fingers for a demo failure-free morning! Be sure to tune in, won’t you? We’re broadcasting live over the internet.
Hey Tim, well done for finding the cause of the stress! I've always wondered how many are back stage at a PDC. Thanks for the short insight.