GUI Bytes

Murphy's Law strikes a Webconference! part 1

an interesting program, outstanding speakers, and an untested but apparently simple technology. What could go wrong?

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4


It was a cold November day when the forces of good and evil met on the electronic battlefield. The champions of the webconference, that new and unproven technology, were to suffer humiliating defeat at the hands of the Dark Lord Murphy. But our tale begins some months before that fateful day…

When the Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter Program set its schedule for the 2001-2002 season, it indicated only that the November meeting was going to be about specifications software. During the summer the plan grew larger and bolder, until it became what would be one of the premier events in CSI history. Where most chapter meetings are limited to a few hours at lunch or dinnertime, this one would begin at 2 p.m. and go until 8:30. The extra time was needed because of the outstanding lineup of speakers, any one of whom could have carried a normal meeting.

The chapter had, the previous year, decided to increase the quality of meetings by getting nationally known speakers. For this meeting, the big guns were loaded, with not one or two major speakers, nor even three. The final slate included Ted Smith, president of ARCOM, Robert Dean, president of BSD Softlink, Colin Gilboy, president of, and Robert Johnson, vice president at RTKL and long-time contributor to CSI.

One of the FY 2002 president's goals is to share the chapter's activities with smaller chapters in the area, chapters that might not be able to get the same programs due to their limited resources. One obvious method for achieving that goal is by using the Internet for webconferencing. Even though the chapter had no hands-on experience with this technology, some members had seen it in use for CSI's Audio Exchange seminars, where it appeared to be adequate for the needs of the November meeting. And what better opportunity? Four speakers that would probably not be seen together outside of the annual convention! A program definitely worth sharing with others. Of course, once the program was made available by webconference, there was no need to limit it to local chapters - on the Internet, there is no difference between down the street and across the country.

And so the stage was set. An interesting program, outstanding speakers, and an untested but apparently simple technology. What could go wrong?

Little did the adventurers know that the Dark Lord Murphy had marshaled a dreadful array of demons, cleverly concealing many, leaving others in plain view in the guise of apparently innocent beings. The days preceding the battle passed in growing anticipation…

© 2001 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA, 
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