How not to start an Expo presentation

I gave the first of my talks at Macworld Expo Wednesday—my Best of Mac OS X Hints for the Users Conference attendees. The room was full (so much so that I actually gave the talk twice in a row, so thank you to all who attended). I suspect the attendance was strong because, unlike Steve Jobs Tuesday, I actually was going to be talking about OS X!

This year, for the first time, I brought two laptops, as some of the tips I was demonstrating would require logout and login actions. Using a provided A/B switchbox, it’s a simple task to flip from Keynote slides to the demo unit and back. However, given that this was the first time I’ve used such a setup, I was extra paranoid about making sure I packed everything back in Portland—two power adapters, all the monitor adapters to connect the projectors, requisite USB cables for cameras, and so forth. Upon arriving, I unpacked everything and was pleased to find I’d forgotten nothing.

Today, when leaving the hotel for my presentation, I packed everything into my large luggable shoulder bag, and trekked the two and a half blocks down to Moscone. I made it to the room around 10:35 a.m. for an 11:00 a.m. start; more than enough time for setup. I opened my bag, pulled out the two Macs, their power cords, my camera, USB cable, and the monitor adapters. Well, everything except that last bit. Those, it turned out, were resting comfortably back in the hotel room.

Yep, that’s right. I was in the room, 20 minutes before my talk started, and I had no way to connect either Mac to the presentation system. I thought about stopping in the speakers’ lounge and asking to borrow a couple, but my setup included both a 12-inch PowerBook and a MacBook Pro, which use different adapters. The odds of finding both in the speakers’ lounge were low.

So I did the only logical thing: made sure someone was watching my stuff, and took off like the proverbial bat out of a really warm place, headed to the hotel. Although only a couple of blocks, since I had no time to begin with, it seemed to take forever. So did waiting for the elevator. Twice. The whole time, I couldn’t get Jeopardy’s “30 second countdown” theme out of my head! Finally, adapters in hand, I reached the lobby and reversed the sprint.

Meanwhile, back at the conference… the person in charge of the day’s sessions is madly leaving voicemails on my phone: “Rob, um, it’s like, six minutes until your session starts. Your room is packed. Where are you!?” Thankfully, I didn’t have my phone with me, as taking the time to answer it would’ve probably made me late.

Ignoring the traffic laws and most of the rules of common sense, I managed to make it back into the room with about four minutes to spare. Amazingly, everything worked on the first connection, and both sessions went, I believe, very well.

The moral of the story? Always be prepared. But if you’re not prepared, make sure you’re staying close enough to recover from said level of unpreparedness!

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