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Tech conference bloopers: 7 stories of snafus and slipups

JR Raphael | Feb. 16, 2011
Onstage falls, wardrobe malfunctions, and romantic disasters -- cue our real-life blooper reel from tech conferences around the world.

This was before the advent of the USB flash drive — and certainly before the ubiquity of cloud-based storage services — so Raskin didn't have a simple backup on hand. The only accessible copy of her Last Gadget Standing data was on the hard drive, inside that now-bricked PC.

A friend came to the rescue. He suggested finding someone with the same Compaq computer and swapping out the hard drives, thereby putting her data into a functioning machine.

The switch went off without a hitch, and Raskin was able to load her presentation and get on with the show. The event, after all, is called Last Gadget Standing — and she wasn't about to let a broken computer keep her down.

Tech conference blooper No. 5: Wild Web woes

David Schreiber recently helped organize a tech-centric event for his IT company. The event was designed to show off the company's new and improved content management software and encourage clients to make the upgrade. One key piece of the puzzle, therefore, was a fully functioning demo lab where visitors could try out the system for themselves.

"We spent months organizing it and making on-site visits to be sure the hotel's bandwidth would be adequate," Schreiber says. "The hotel folks assured us it'd be fine."

So much for assurances: As soon as Schreiber's colleagues started their first demo, the Internet access evaporated. Apparently, the numerous Wi-Fi-connected laptops and tablets in the audience zapped up more bandwidth than the hotel had anticipated.

"The worst thing was having my boss come up to me, red-faced and ready to explode," Schreiber recalls. "I mean, we're a software company. People may intuitively understand that these things can happen, but it still makes us look silly."

Tech conference blooper No. 6: The job hunt surprise

For many people, tech conferences are as much about networking as they are about the presentations. That was the case for John, an IT pro who was looking for a new and more lucrative job early last year.

John knew industry events were teeming with managers from competing companies, so he scheduled vacation time to coincide with an event a few hours away. He packed his bags and headed out, résumés in hand and career change in mind.

As prepared as he was for the adventure, though, there was one element John didn't anticipate. "I get to the convention hotel, check in, and start mingling — and then I run into my current boss," he says.


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