Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Confessions of a Demo Dollie

WARNING: This blog entry was imported from my old blog on blogs.sun.com (which used different blogging software), so formatting and links may not be correct.

As promised, here's my "trip report" from my keynote demo yesterday - click on the images to
view larger versions.

Preparations started
on Sunday with an afternoon rehearsal. Here's most of the Creator crew involved - Val Lipman,
me, and from marketing David Folk, Shar Chander, and
Dan Roberts. Keynote demos are serious
marketing vehicles!
The keynote demo was limited to three minutes, and I needed to show both the new Creator 2
highlights as well as the new AJAX work - and fitting that into the time slot required quite
a bit of planning; boiling down everything you need to say into a couple of essential
messages to get across, and ensuring that the demo has broad appeal to the audience.

The rehearsal took several hours. On the left you can see a crane in operation; on the right
Chris Webster
Charles Beckham
from the Enterprise tool team setting up their machine. My machine is
the one to their left. The machine is one of the new Ultra 20's Sun announced during the
opening keynote. I had played with the system on Friday, installing the demo bits
and testing them out - and wow, I've never seen Creator deploy a project so quickly. So
I was shocked to hear the price - $900! Granted, the system I was demoing on was a higher
configuration, but the technical specs aren't all that different.

Here's Adam Leventhal
from the Solaris kernel group preparing for his DTrace + Java demo.
I got some great tips from him afterwards on how to be able to connect into the Sun
intranet using Solaris 10 on x86, so I'll be checking that out after the show.

This picture also gives you a sense of the size of the stage, and the giant projection screen!

Here's the action backstage. The giant center screen is just amazing - it's huge yet
is also extremely sharp. Notice how the image is reverse - this is where there are giant
projectors sitting on towers projecting onto the screen that the audience is seeing from the other
side. There's also an unbelievable amount of hardware here - computers driving all
kinds of effects, slides, video clips and audio shown on the projector, and all kinds
of other stuff that I don't know anything about. Backstage is generally dark except
from the glow of the monitors (all facing away from the projection screen). Thus it would
be easy to trip on a wire and cause what can only be described as a career limiting move.
However, that's solved by having various "paths" through the jungle carved out by white
tape indicating the routes - including little arrows guiding you out to the stage.

And now it's suddenly Monday morning, and time for the keynote. I needed to check in at
7am. Luckily I have one of the "All Access" passes which can get you anywhere in the
conference. Gets you right past that long lineup outside of Moscone in the morning! However,
they're very hard to get - unless you're crew or part of the keynote you can't get one
because obviously if you're part of the rehearsals you'll hear announcements before they're
ready to be made public.

It's time to get anxious... the picture shows the countdown counter on the stage monitors
that are visible from the stage. 20 minutes to go... time to get some coffee!

The buildup to the keynote is really fun. They play great music and combined with the adrenaline
and excitement it's just a very good feeling. I didn't even realize that this time, it was
a live band -- Magnetic Poetry! I walked up and snapped the picture on the right.

I then ran out and got a coffee -- there's a Peet's Coffee stand outside that had a double shot
latte. Eight packs of sugar and I'm all set! You can see Tim Cramer's back,
Bob Brewin next to me,
and Jeff Jackson's leather jacket!

When the show started, John Gage listed some statistics. They did not exactly make me calmer...
8,000 people in the audience, plus several overflow rooms. A quarter of a million viewers tuned
in to the simultaneous web cast. You can see a recording of the web cast yourself

And finally, the moment is here -- the Creator demo!! I got up on stage, talked a little bit
about Creator 2, showed some of the new rich components I had just mentioned, and then showed
the new AJAX autocompletion component. I'll blog about that separately since people have asked
for more details, so stay tuned.

After the software demos, there was a Happy Birthday to Java segment, since Java is 10 years old
this year. After the band had played they dropped confetti. Seated near the front I was actually
under the confetti being dropped, so it was unreal - confetti raining all around me. I
shot another picture - note how there are large blocks of confetti falling right in front of
the lens!

I'm going to end this photo blog with a picture from New Energy's theater presentation that I
mentioned yesterday. In this picture Neal is describing his Shrek architecture model: layers
and layers and layers!

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