A couple of months ago, I was asked to write a piece for our sister publication, The Engineer, on a new technology that had been developed by some rather clever folks in Europe.
The public-relations person in charge of organising the meeting informed me that the company representatives wanted to conduct it on the web using a new-fangled type of web-conferencing technology, and that if I were to participate in the meeting I would need to download some software onto my computer.
Sadly, after I had downloaded the software and attempted to run it, I was informed in no uncertain terms that I would need the latest version of Java before it could run effectively.
Now that might have all been well and good, but I realised that if I did download the latest Java software, then I would be unable to meet my deadline to produce the Electronicstalk newsletter. The Electronicstalk newsletter software, you see, runs on an older version of Java and will not work with the newer version.
Not wanting to take the risk of installing the new Java software and then trying to figure out how to revert to the older version after the conference, I borrowed a friend’s personal notebook computer for the task.
Unfortunately, since that computer had not been used for a while, it took hours to update the Windows system, not to mention the latest version of its anti-virus software and the most recent version of Java. Finally though, with the web conference software loaded, I was ready to take part in the meeting with the engineers from Europe.
But, when the day of the conference call came, I was unable to log into the conference website and was presented with a rather enigmatic message informing me why. Not wanting to hold the meeting up by playing around on my computer, I asked to run through a Power Point presentation instead – a presentation that the public-relations executive had been thoughtful enough to provide me with in the event that the web-conferencing software did not work.
All seemed to be going well, until halfway through the presentation when I realised, to my horror, that half of the slides appeared to be missing. Frustrated by the whole affair, but not wanting to slow the meeting further, I bluffed my way through the rest of the conference, admitting that I was looking at details on slides that I could not see.
Despite that fact, from the hour-long conversation with the European engineering team, I was able to glean enough information to create − at least what I believe − is a rather interesting article on their new technology that you’ll be seeing in an upcoming issue of The Engineer.
Nevertheless, the whole idea of taking part in another such web-based computer-technology presentation is an anathema. So don’t be surprised by what my answer will be if anyone ever asks me to do it again.
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