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Microsoft's Technical Glitches at CES Explained 428

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the best-laid-plans dept.
Thomas Hawk writes "Sean Alexander is one of the guys on the Media Center Team at Microsoft who was involved in the CES presentation with Bill Gates. Sean also runs a very interesting blog called Addicted to Digital Media. Gates and Microsoft have taken a lot of heat over the course of the last two days for the technical glitches in Microsoft's presentation at CES. Sean offers us the rare glimpse on why the glitches happened and what it's like to be backstage at the big Microsoft presentation at CES. Very good follow up on Sean's part." Update: 01/08 19:03 GMT by T : Hawk writes with a static link to Alexander's story.
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Microsoft's Technical Glitches at CES Explained

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  • by Bloater (12932) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @09:37AM (#11296503) Homepage Journal
    Seems to be running his blog on the same machine as they used at the CES presentation.
    • You are mistaken.

      "SERVICE UNAVAILABLE" is his report. Very good work. I wish we had people half as good as this guy at the company I work for.
  • by Xpilot (117961) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @09:37AM (#11296506) Homepage
    The explanation we were all waiting for! Bill Gates' demo failed because...

    "Service Unavailable"

    That makes it all clear in just 2 short words! Great summary :)

    • Uh-oh (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:09AM (#11296637)
      From Microsoft Legal, Slashdotters need to remember to properly attribute Microsoft intellectual property when such attribution is due:
      "Service Unavailable TM" is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. Copyright 2004-2005. Other registered marks that Slashdotters may not use without appropriate attribution include:
      • Brute Force: as in "it is easy to obtain access to any Windows server via Brute Force(TM)"
      • Devastator: as in "Microsoft products are often called the Devastator(TM) of network integrity and reliability."
      • Fist of the Lotus: as in "after we had our customer database stolen via the latest MS SQL Server exploit, I felt as if the CFO crammed the Fist of the Lotus(TM) up my ass."

      Please see the Microsoft Trademarks website [microsoft.com] for additional details.
  • Deja vu (Score:5, Funny)

    by Legion303 (97901) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @09:37AM (#11296507) Homepage
    Remember that video that was floating around of Win98 blue-screening during a presentation? Good times.
    • Re:Deja vu (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:13AM (#11296654) Homepage
      And notice that despite that, M$ still manages to be the software that is everyware.
      • Re:Deja vu (Score:5, Funny)

        by Xabraxas (654195) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:07AM (#11296959)
        Yeah it is sickening, isn't it.
    • Don't forget:

      "UntstramanaBillGates! Mah mit pullon!" *smack in the face with a pie* (crowd gasps)

      (Hold off on moderation until seeing the video yourself - and if at all possible, could someone translate what that guy's saying in it?)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 08, 2005 @09:39AM (#11296513)
    [Disclaimer: the following comments are my own based on my own perception of events. Provided as-is and confers no rights]
    Wow, things have been so busy here at CES that I'm just getting around to blogging, starting with my promised behind the scenes of the Bill Gates CES 2005 Keynote. I've done a short version and a long version for those who have been emailing, asking me to follow up on my earlier post.

    Summary
    Wednesday night, Bill Gates hosted the 2005 CES Opening Keynote along with his surprise guest, Late Night's Conan O'Brien. Overall I think things went well, but as can happen with live events with so many variables, there were a couple of technical issues noted by sites like Engadget. The key thing for me that I could have done a better job on-stage pointing out is that despitea small glitch with a remotecontrol (IR) receiver, a single Media Center ran all theMedia Center demos andwe kept rolling despitethe hiccup. According to the postmortem, it appears a 2nd IR receiverrun over to Bill's seat failed, so the Media Center never got the signal. It could have been all the IR interference in the venue- cameras and plasma displays and lights, or the powered USB booster - a piece of equipment that gets a USB signal over a long-stretch. The production team also handled a small power outage exceptionally well in the minutes leading up which might have contributed. These things happen and the team pulled it out despite some obstacles out of their control.

    Below is my account of what was happening back stage.

    Rehearsals
    Setup and runthroughs went great the day before and day of.We did about a half-dozen individual runthroughs and 3-4 end to end runthroughs. Everything was running great except for an intermittent Internet bandwidth issue. We replaced a router and that appeared to solve part of the problem but bandwidth continued to be intermittent as I noted in my previous entry.

    15 Minutes Till Showtime: Makeup
    Yes, we had to wear makeup. I sat in a chair next to Conan and we discussed our Irish roots and he was cracking jokes. The night before, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to have dinner with Conan and a few folks from his Late Night team at Nobu in the Hard Rock Hotel. What a great guy, a great storyteller and super-funny. I can see why he's been announced as the next host of The Tonight Show when Jay steps down.

    Showtime!
    For the account below, here are my own thoughts and the timing is approximate thanks to Engadget :)

    6:30pm - Everyone is charged up and ready to go. Gary Shapiro, President of the CEA (host of CES)is getting ready to go on-stage. But firsta little background - in order to drive the slides and overall production coordination, a sort of "Mission Control" is set up backstage to drive the technical systems - slides, prompters, timers etc. We're settling in for Conan's monologue when two electrical engineerswalk behind themain operations tables to check a piece of equipment. From my vantage point, one the UPSes (Uninterruptable Power Supplies) has been triggered and they're troubleshooting.

    6:31pm - Everything is still running- troubleshootingis going onin the dark with flashlights, more engineers and members of the production crew are working methodically, as the UPS is running down, tracing connections, circuits. I'm standing clear w/ my team going over what I want to say. I find out later the presentation systems are all on the same UPS- slides moved to backup and systems are being powered down.

    6:40pm - The UPS is going. The Xboxes for the Forza Racing game sneak preview demos (which we had back stage due to space restrictions on stage) lost power. It appears the main demo systems on-stage weren't affected except for Xbox from what I can tell. Their bringing their demosback up.

    6:41pm - Keynote starts. We're looking good- the power circuit is back but the production team decidesto continue on backup PPT cuing systems as best I can tell. The show must go on. :)
    • by Jacco de Leeuw (4646) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:00AM (#11296597) Homepage
      It could have been all the IR interference in the venue

      Next time, Microsoft had better attendees frisked for rogue remote controls! Damn GNU hippies! :-)

    • by ansak (80421) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:11AM (#11296649) Homepage Journal
      As in here [engadget.com].

      fwiw: I got into the page after 15 tries, myself.

      cheers...ank

    • by Momoru (837801) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:27AM (#11296725) Homepage Journal
      The UPS is going. The Xboxes for the Forza Racing game sneak preview demos (which we had back stage due to space restrictions on stage) lost power.

      Random note...this same thing happened when Microsoft was going to demo the Xbox on The Apprentice...the xbox must suck some serious juice, or these road show teams just don't understand how much power one circuit can handle!
    • Wait... does this mean that the slashot [slashdot.org] story coverage claiming that the "Media Center PC Presentation Crashed" was an exageration? Say it isn't so...
    • by ArtDent (83554) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @12:47PM (#11297660)
      It's an interesting explanation, but I'm having a lot of trouble buying it.

      My Myth box has a PS/2 keyboard connector, as well as several USB ports. I can easily connect a keyboard to it. If my remote control were to stop working for any reason, I'd still be able to control the system. I notice that the Alienware Media Center systems all have USB ports, too.

      Given that they had set up a USB-based IR receiver with a powered USB booster, surely they were aware of the fact that relying on IR could be tricky. It's very difficult to believe that no one thought it might be a good idea to have some kind of backup input device that someone off stage could have used to kick off the damn slide show.

      From the FA: "Sure, we could have had two Media Centers, but we wanted to show it all running off the same Media Center as a hub." This strikes me as classic misdirection. Like it would be utterly impossible to have one Media Center with two different input devices.

      As I see it, either something more went wrong and this story was concocted to cover it up, or the whole team behind the presentation deserves to be fired for missing something so pitifully obvious.

      I rather suspect the former.

      I did enjoy watching Bill sit there all hunched over in his big cushy chair pecking away at the remote control. His plastic smile unwavering, even through Conan's "who's in charge of Mircosoft" comment. And then that weird comment about only having one remote control? No, Bill, it wouldn't be worse to have serveral remote controls, if they were for devices that actually *worked*.
  • Blooper Video (Score:5, Informative)

    by antdude (79039) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @09:41AM (#11296519) Homepage Journal
    Click here [zdnet.com] to view a streaming video. It shows Conan O'Brien [nbc.com] easing the tension with his classic humor as Bill Gates [microsoft.com] encountered problems with his remote control while demoing the Windows Media Center.
    • Just in case you were curious, this video is hosted on The Internet [internet.com]
  • Mirror here: (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
  • by Hamstij (831222) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @09:47AM (#11296551)
    Wow - not even half a dozen posts and his website is already down.

    But Netcraft (and "What's that site running?") goes a long way to explaining why!

    blog.seanalexander.com Windows 2000

  • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @09:48AM (#11296554) Homepage
    This is interesting. If I hit it in Mozilla, I immediately get service unavailable. If, however, I just telnet in, I get the page after a few minutes of waiting.

    Well, try again and I don't:

    mdchaney@fractal:~/taxi$ telnet blog.seanalexander.com 80
    Trying 66.226.14.131...
    Connected to blog.seanalexander.com.
    Escape character is '^]'.
    GET / HTTP/1.1
    Host: blog.seanalexander.com

    HTTP/1.1 503 Service Unavailable
    Content-Type: text/html
    Date: Sat, 08 Jan 2005 14:49:42 GMT
    Connection: close
    Content-Length: 28

    Service UnavailableConnection closed by foreign host.
  • by JPyObjC Dude (772176) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @09:48AM (#11296556)
    Has anybody ever seen an OSX box crap out on Steve? I have not heard of this or seen it.

    Hmmmm.

    Good excuses are still just good excuses.

    JsD
    • by justforaday (560408) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @09:52AM (#11296566)
      Yeah, I used to work with a Steve. There was this one time where his machine had a kernel panic. So it can happen. Just cos you're named Steve doesn't mean you're immune...
    • and i don't think i've ever heard of a Solaris box dumping on McNeally either. but when practical matters are taken into consideration, most folks can't even afford the hardware to run these OS'es, much less find the tools and apps they want to. i know Sun is working to make Solaris usable on x86, but that's a long way from being widely usable.

      i don't have any difficulty finding several cars that meet my needs. getting the combination of good hardware and software seems darn near impossible.

      i don't thin

    • by kristofme (791986) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:05AM (#11296617)
      Here [macobserver.com] is just one of many examples (from a while back).
      Of course, keep in mind that he gives demos all the time, and more so than Gates, so it's bound to happen now and then..
    • Literally happens to everyone. I've never seen a presentation NOT have some technical glitches of some kind. There was an old Times editor who said "I'd wager there's not been a single copy of The New York Times that hasn't had some kind of error".
      • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:12AM (#11296651)
        There is a difference between a typo and having the paper catch fire while you are reading it.

        • I'd wager there's a difference in Gates' demo not working 100% and his PC catching fire too...
        • by SilentChris (452960) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:31AM (#11296749) Homepage
          There's also a big difference between a paper catching fire and an IR remote signal getting confused by flashbulbs going around it. If you read the blog, you'd see they just went ahead with the slideshow manually. The Xbox game was kind of unexcusable, though (although, Bungie did pull off an impressive demo during E3 last year, so it kind of makes up for it).

          As far as I know, Steve Jobs has resorted to trickery for most of us presentations. The original iBook that had Airport used a custom external wireless video interface to display on the main screen (it cost more than the iBook itself). Steve claims he's used "Keynote" for most of his presentations (even before it was released), but the fact that it caused kernel panics on ATI hardware makes me question that. That's why he referred to as a "master showman" and not a "master presenter".
          • Can you explain about the custom wireless video on the iBook? I was just watching that presentation the other day and it looked completely legit. As far as I recall, he never showed any of the iBook's video on the main screen except by having somebody point a camera at it. Which bit was "faked"?
          • Steve Jobs has resorted to trickery for most of us presentations

            Ah, that's good, make up some bitter anti-Apple FUD when your own platform gets some bad publicity. So defensive! When Microsoft already dominates computing into the high nineties percentage, in ways both good (broad market for those who create software, peripherals), and bad (poor security, rampant virii/trojans, many exploits), why is it so hard to accept criticism?

            When a figurehead from MS has a very public failure, everybody focuses on
    • Nor an OS/2 box on David Barnes...remember the shootout in texas? He mopped the floor with windows NT.

      M$ has always been inferior, yet they are still on top. Hopefully it will change soon with the uprising of linux and osx.

    • I've seen Steve Jobs have computer glitches onstage during keynotes. The only difference being that he was smart enough not to have wisecracking Conan O'Brian there to draw even more attention to it... :-D
  • by hey (83763) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @09:55AM (#11296579) Journal
    Things would have gone better otherwise.
  • by RealBeanDip (26604) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:00AM (#11296596)
    to see BG's machine craps out when he needs it the most just like mine does when I do.

    Unfortunately for me, I don't have anyone to fire.
  • come together (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:02AM (#11296603) Homepage Journal
    The most interesting part of this story is that Alexander still has all his fingers left to type a report on the debacle.

    The other most interesting part of this whole story is that the rest of us don't have Alexander, the MS Media Center Team, or the Windows source code. So when we get the BSoD, we're left scratching our heads. That's why we use Linux: with Open Source, we're as privileged as Bill Gates, to whom Windows is Open Source, because he's got the keys to the vault. His CES debacle should open everyone's eyes to the difference. Especially the "communists" in the global IT community who'd rather not spend more on Gates' closed source, and get less - and get hung out to dry with a crashed Windows app thousands of times a day, around the world.
  • Bill Gates (Score:5, Funny)

    by szyzyg (7313) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:08AM (#11296631)
    If Bill Gates had a nickel for every time Windows crashed, he'd be... oh wait never mind
  • ... doesn't this "digital hub for your digital (i)Life" stuff sound familiar? Sigh, copycats... and bad at it too! Shame though that people will buy this crap en masse and still sneer at the poor Apple-ite... I'm worried though; today people have Office because it's the "stadrard" for business, bla, bla... tomorrow, will we all have to own "Home" to watch the DRMd pics & vids of the latest addition to the family?

    The only good thing is the fun granted by future worms spilling true amateur porn over the
  • The third time I post this comment, but here goes (worth the download):

    Torrent of the entire show on my blog [nordstrom.fi].
  • by lildogie (54998) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:17AM (#11296680)
    Explaining what went wrong in the demo, and how environmental factors contributed to the glitch/crash, misses the point that the audience so obviously got:

    Microsoft products have problems with crashing. Everyone who uses them knows that. Conan knows that. Bill knows that.

    The amusement factor is that even the leader of the company knows that and experiences it in the most sensitive moments.

    If you need software to run critical proceses in a nuke plant or an airplane, would you use Microsoft products?
    • If you need software to run critical proceses in a nuke plant or an airplane, would you use Microsoft products?

      I believe the the EULA specifically rules out the use of MS software in those sorts of situations. But it's for exactly the reason you specified: everyone including MS knows that their software is unreliable.

    • This poor excuse for a troll is insightful? You didn't even RTFA. The software did not experience any problems, making the entire argument of your point irrelevant.
    • No, wouldn't use an MS product to run an nuke plant or airport. Of course I wouldn't use Linux or any OSS either. I would use something specifically designed for that purpose and extremely well tested for that purpose. Of course that doesn't prove anything one way or another. Windows crashes. Linux crashes. Software crashes. OF course when is happens to MS people take pride in the fact when it crashes, and when it happens to OSS people say "but it doesn't crash as much as MS".
    • No, and I wouldn't run Linux, Mac OS, FreeBSD, or any other general purpose operating system in a nuclear plant or an airplane either.
  • by webdev (605160) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:24AM (#11296709)
    Fake questions, with broken demos? Gates must of had a stong drink back at the hotel that night. I was laughing just like I do at those bad 2am infomercials where the blender doesn't work.

    All year I read about how Bill Gates is the wealthiest, most successful businessman in the world. I don't want to hear about internet access challenges when you are showing off technology that uses the internet. At that point in the keynote I began to wonder why is Microsoft even at the show (nevermind the keynote address)? Shouldn't the keynote be given by a person from Sony/Apple or some other vender that can deliver reliable hardware and software?

    The Forza Motorsport demo should have been a slam dunk. Who wants their console gaming experience to be more like a pc experience? With the Xbox Microsoft is introducing unreliability in the gaming console market. Bravo.

    They should only have a small booth in the back of CES in my opinion.

  • ...any Slashdotters will be convinced. Afterall, we are talking about Microsoft, one of the richest companies anywhere!
  • by Dammital (220641) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:29AM (#11296740)
    While I get a chuckle every time Microsoft is hoist by their own BSOD petard, in this case the production staff is due some kudos for staying cool under fire.

    In my other life I do tech for a local community theatre group. Folks, anything can happen during a live performance. No matter how much you might prepare, stuff happens, and it happens in front of everybody. Power can fail, body mikes can break, lamps burn out, RFI can wreak havoc. You can't prepare for every eventuality, but you can handle the situation with grace.

    It sounds to me like the Microsofties did fine.

    • by oGMo (379)

      You can't prepare for every eventuality, but you can handle the situation with grace.

      You can also write software that doesn't suck. You can write programs that don't crash. You can make things that are secure. These are things you can control.

      Things like mics breaking, lamps burning out, and other physical things happen, yes. Physical things break down, and you can swap them out during a presentation. But software is not one of these things.

      Everyone who is making excuses needs to face it: t

    • In my other life I do tech for a local community theatre group. Folks, anything can happen during a live performance.

      Well, in my other life I write software and I tell you, nothing must happen when we go life. There are two reasons, why you don't select Microsoft products for anything mission critical. They will go down and there is nothing you can do about it.

  • Sean's Post (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thomas Hawk (796343) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:34AM (#11296762)
    Say what you will about Microsoft but I think it's really great the amount of communication that they are sharing with the public through blogs and posts like this. I think that to work somewhere where you can post a blog entry about technical glitches at CES and not get fired is pretty cool. Microsoft's most famous blogger, Robert Scoble, is often offering up posts that many might find to have "anti Microsoft" tones and he can do so without fear of losing his job. Sometimes criticism, even self criticism, can be a good thing and allows us all to improve. What impressed me the most about Sean's post is that it was allowed to happen at all. It adds a very human element to Microsoft and opens up a way for Microsoft and the public to directly communicate. I think the tollerance that Microsoft has and the willingness to be open about problems and issues with their software is refreshing and will make the company and the software that much better in the long run. Kudos to Sean and his team. They did a great job and pulled off a great recovery in one of those awkward technical moments that we've all been through ourselves in the past.
  • Rigged demos? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tony Hammitt (73675) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:42AM (#11296796)
    Whatever happened to running rigged demos for trade shows? Heck, Bill ran a rigged demo _during_ the antitrust case _in_court_. Are we to believe that they have forgotten how to do a rigged demo in recent years? Why would they put themselves through all this ridicule?

    I know a salesman that tells a story of running a rigged demo every 45 minutes for 2 days straight during a trade show in order to sell pharmacists on the idea of getting a computer system. It's not all that uncommon a thing to do.

    Sure, media center is a little complicated to rig a demo for, but it's a lot easier than putting up with the aftermath of 3 BSoDs. I'd rather have something approaching a slide show than have Conan O'Brien make fun of me. (too bad they don't have any rich-media slideshow software to write this in, like Hypercard or something)

    But that's their problem. I really don't care. Any "media" PC that has DRM is something I don't care to buy. If it comes to not being able to buy some movie or whatever that won't run without DRM telling on me when I do so, I'll just pop in a VHS tape or a commercial-stripped DVD and enjoy myself anyway.
  • No surprise (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Windows is crap, no surprise there.

    But what I want to know is why you can walk around the show floor at LinuxWorld in the morning, before it's open to the public, and see so many Windows logos on the big projection screens they use for presentations. This always boggles my mind.
  • by ndnet (3243) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:52AM (#11296860)
    This is directed toward Sean. Great explanation of the events leading up to the hiccups. All-in-all, it sounds like you guys did a bang up job. I'm a bit curious, however: Roughly how long was that USB extension, and how much did the USB repeater cost? I've been a bit interested in that. And, as said above, cell phone fan is being, at a minimum, unduly harsh. I could almost understand a post like that if the reason for a failure was "we forgot to test" or "the media center PC had spyware". It was a live show. I've done live shows and demos, I've taught multiple classes, and I know how things love to go wrong. (Ugh... that senior citizen's MS Office class.... bad memories...) None the less, it sounds like you and your team handled it gracefully, with a witty ad-lib recovery (which, I might add, was appropriate because of Conan's presence). And right now, you're doing what Microsoft as a whole should be doing: being open and transparent, and explaining everything that could get wrong.
  • Imagine that. I wonder if they have contacted their hardware vendor.
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @10:57AM (#11296905)
    Whatever the reasons why the presentation failed in this particular case, in general it is a bad idea to use non-wired technologies for important presentations where reliability needs to be assured.

    Infrared and bluetooth and wifi are great for use at home where the environment is stable and controlled, but in a major international event like CES, the conditions are exactly the opposite. If one could see in the IR band, I bet the CES stage would have appeared swamped in a blizzard of unwanted IR confetti from numerous sources.
  • by v1 (525388) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:02AM (#11296930) Homepage Journal
    $ telnet blog.seanalexander.com 25
    Trying 66.226.14.131...
    Connected to blog.seanalexander.com.
    Escape character is '^]'.
    220 dedi312 Microsoft ESMTP MAIL Service, Version: 6.0.3790.211 ready at Sat, 8 Jan 2005 08:00:47 -0800

    (I didn't feel like checking to see if it was also an open relay, that would just have completely topped it)
  • Hee hee, this will be a great discussion! Our favorite operating system would have never done this! Even if it did, it would be a hardware glitch, and not the actual fault of the OS. Microsoft doesn't have that luxury, however, because they made lots of money and weren't always nice! I'm so bitter about them I write "M$" as an abbreviation, isn't it clever?!
  • by putaro (235078) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @11:31AM (#11297123) Journal
    When I was at Apple, if you were doing a demo in front of a large group and something crashed, the cry would come up from the audience "push-ups, push-ups!" with the presenter supposed to do push-ups on stage until the demo got fixed by the rest of the crew.

    The best demo ever, though, was when the QuickTime crew was demoing some new stuff on Mac OS 7. They're going along, and suddenly the screen jumps into MacsBug (the old low-level debugger - this was what you got instead of the bomb screen if you had MacsBug installed). We all start yelling "push-ups, push-ups" and the presenter goes "Well, let's see if we can look a little deeper into this" and clicks the mouse. The MacsBug screen peels off and we get this video of guys banging around with hammers inside the machine. What a great setup.
  • we build crap.

    Need a longer explanation? we build overpriced crap.

    auf deutsche? wir machen sheize.

    Translated by Microsoft's marketing spin doctors? Our asses innovate.

  • BSOD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by codepunk (167897) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @12:23PM (#11297486)
    It was my understanding that the machine suffered a BSOD. If it did not in fact BSOD and only had ir pointer problem then what is the big deal. I hate MS as much as anyone but I am not going to bust anyones chops over a ir pointer gone haywire. On the other hand if it did BSOD or suffer a shell reset then they deserve every bit of criticism they get.
  • A Wedding Story (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dan East (318230) on Saturday January 08, 2005 @03:09PM (#11298736) Homepage Journal
    Speaking of technical glitches when it matters most, here's a quick story of a wedding I was running sound for (not something I normally do, but I was drafted).

    I had the various wedding songs in mp3 format on my Dell notebook. I'd been given the cue that the bride was ready to make her entrance, so as soon as I started the Bridal March she would enter. I was just about to click Play on my notebook when it gives a siren-like sound (not out of the soundcard / line out, but out of some internal speaker) and turns itself off.

    Now fortunately (extremely) for me I had copied the songs onto a CF card, so I popped it into my Pocket PC, plugged it into the soundboard, and the wedding began. There was maybe a 20-30 second delay which no-one even noticed.

    After the wedding I found the problem. The HDD was somehow not well seated, and the alarm was the BIOS saying the HDD had failed. I popped it out and re-seated it and everything was fine.

    I had used that notebook at least 8 hours a day, every day, for 3 years and it had never done that before.

    Dan East

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