Post details: BlogTalkers: Two Techy Embarrasments... plus a video everyone's seen...


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Categories: BlogTalkers, Yes, I work in Information Technologies...

BlogTalkers: Two Techy Embarrasments... plus a video everyone's seen...


This week's question/request...

What’s the most embarrassing moment you’ve ever witnessed, live?

I like this one... and it's trickier than one might think...


Oh, easy... me, I've had MANY embarrassing incidents personally that I've always "spun" with humour and turned into a comedic moment as opposed to an absolute red-faced moment...

...then there are the plethora of one's I witnessed that became comedic moments...

...and as a rule, comedic moments aren't AS woefully embarrassing as truly embarrassing moments which are remembered by most with a "cringe"...

So, I'll have to dip into my ol' bag o' memories... let's see here... um... OH! Here's TWO that are computer related! One I witnessed FIRST HAND and one that I heard about/read about that wins awards in my eyes... both from my career field of Information Technologies.

The year was 1994... Aaliyah was eluding to her rather questionable relationship with R. Kelly with her song "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number", Pearl Jam hated Ticketmaster, and Kurt Cobain decided to find out what it's like have a shotgun go off near your head very closely... oh, and Madonna proved that Cher wasn't David Letterman's WORST nightmare...

Microsoft was polishing up Windows 3.11 and prepping us for what would surely be a computer-crashing extravaganza with Windows '95 (in Beta testing...) and IBM, not wishing to be the last kid on the block to have a 32 bit operating system re-vamped it's "GUI" (Graphical User Interface) thingy and name it OS/2 Warp.

Credit where credit's due, OS/2 Warp was an ACTUAL 32 bit operating system where Windows '95 was not "really" (it was a 32 bit interface on a 16 bit engine)... and IBM also promised a much more stable environment than the not-so-good-in-reviews Windows '95... code-named "Chicago".

With MUCH fanfare and a lot of really odd commercials showing people all over the world getting just a little TOO excited about an untested, still under-wraps operating system (I remember a scene in one with group of nuns being excited as their computers were now running "OS D'viat Warp",) and so it began.

The first problem was software...

At the time, most software manufacturers were really only releasing packages for Windows and Macintosh... so to have developers once again go to the board for Warp was not a happy thought. Also, the "coding" for warp was messy... and it was neither speedy nor terribly stable.

Still, there was an "ace" in the hole... IBM controlled software folks Lotus and at the time, Lotus 123 was the industry standard spreadsheet... the concept of Microsoft Office and therefore, Excel, hadn't been considered... so it was GOOD news...

If you wanted YOUR company to run the LATEST and GREATEST Lotus 123, you needed to upgrade to OS D'Viat Warp!

Now, where I factor in...

At PC Expo in New York City, a large trade show at which I was with a company hocking CPU upgrades, the booth next to ours was the flashy, showy, couldn't miss it unless you were blind AND had headphones blasting music into your ears AND a bag over your head booth for IBM and OS/2 Warp... Yup, they were going to BLOW the computer world away with attractive "spokespeople" trained to demonstrate the new IBM wonder and were loaded for bear with HUGE banners, a stage, and all kinds of yummy-marketing goodness... and, even better, a big-time presentation that was SCHEDULED four times EVERY day where the stage would come alive with people showing the marvels of Lotus and Warp!

...and for the three days I was involved, four times a day, our booth was FLOODED with loud music and a "game-show" like environment from the booth next door... crowds would gather... lights flashed... mayhem ensued.

Yup, every time they launched Lotus 123... it crashed. Lotus, operating system, and marketing rep's spirit... EVERY TIME.


A few years later, OS/2 Warp was still around but hadn't equalled the hype and most likely, the marketing budget and was pretty much the domain of a VERY small and select few users... thank God.

Also, a few years later, something happened that reminded me of this wonderful demonstration at PC Expo...

Story Two I was not present for, but a trustworthy source delivered it to me and it was confirmed by a second and third source... and this was, for me, priceless.

We all know that software piracy is a crime, right? Well, it was never NOT a crime and one of the first software companies to REALLY try to stem piracy and make registration, activation, and general "copying" of the software almost an impossibility without a "legit" purchase was Autodesk... the makers of the fantastic program (still a "gold standard" in engineering circles,) Autocad... "CAD" being "Computer Assisted Design"...

Well, it was (again) the early 1990's and Autodesk was about to release a marvellous new version... one they had acid tested and ensured was a good leap over their previous offerings... and they wanted a cool way to launch this...

Luck would have it that they found a group of monks in California that were using Autocad to design their stained-glass windows.

The marketing guys went ape-doody. What a COUP! What a GREAT way to introduce the LATEST and GREATEST version of their software!!!

So, off they ran... and made the appropriate arrangements with the monks.

They set up a stage in a large room, had a few monks on PCs working away designing the wonderful windows, and the press started filing in... all the major mags and newsletters were there... not the "CNNs" and whatnot, (computers were sorta-mainstream then, but not terribly,) but the trade rags... and they all sat in semi-circus like delight watching the brothers go about their work.

At the apex of getting ready for the display, one of the brothers walked up to the Autodesk marketing wiz on stage and asked how to perform a certain task they didn't know how to do.

Well, for those NOT in the know, most marketing folks know bupkiss about the working engines of 90% of what they try to sell others... and this fellow was no different... so he used the R&R rule... "Redirect and Retreat"... he pointed out, on stage in front of the press, that Autodesk manuals were VERY complete and that the monks would undoubtedly find the answer within the tome that came with the software.

The monk then answered also in front of the media and Autodesk folks...

"We don't have any manuals."

...and then rather mater-of-factly related in front of all that their software was a "gift"... indeed, it was... PIRATED!

Spectaculorum exanimis quam tunica nehru fio.

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