Monday, January 31, 2005

Demo Perils

I am copying an excerpt from this blog by a Sun employee.

It was about a Dtrace demo which went a bit out of hand.

Last week, I had the opportunity to give a DTrace demonstration for a
highly technical -- and highly influential -- audience at a Fortune 100
company. When I demonstrate DTrace, I typically do a couple of invocations
on the command line before things become sufficiently complicated to merit
writing a DTrace script. And it was when I went to run the first such
script (a script that explored the activity of xclock) that it happened:

# dtrace -s ./xclock.d
Segmentation Fault (core dumped)

If you've never had it, there's no feeling quite like having a demo blow
up on you: it's as if you peed your pants, failed an exam and were punched
in the gut -- all at the same horrifying instant. It's a feeling that
every software developer should have exactly once in their lives: that
unique rush of shock, and then humiliation and then despair, followed by
the adrenal surge of a fight-or-flight reaction. In the time it takes a
single process to dump core, you go from an (over)confident technologist
to a frightened woodland creature, transfixed by the light of an oncoming
freight train. For the woodland creature, at least it all ends mercifully
quickly; the creature is spared the suffering of trying to explain away
its foolishness. The hapless technologist, on the other hand, is left with
several options:

1. Pretend that you didn't write the software: "Boy, will you get a load
of those fancy-pants software engineers? Overpriced underworked morons,
every last one!"

2. Explain that this is demo software and isn't expected to work: "Well,
that's why we haven't shipped it yet! I mean, what fool would run this
stuff anyway? Other than me, that is."

3. Make light of it: "Hey, knock knock! Who's there? Not my software,
that's for sure! Wocka wocka wocka!"

4. Suck it up: "That's a serious problem. If you can excuse me for a
second, let me get a handle on what we've got here that we can demo."

I always aim for this last option, but on the rare occasion that this has
happened to me (and this is -- honest -- probably the worst that a
customer-facing demo has gone for me) I usually end up with some
combination of the last three, often with plenty of stuttering, some mild
swearing ("Damn! Damn!") and profuse sweating.


You guys ever given demos? Ever goofed up??


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