Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ignite! San Jose 2009: The Afterburn

It's been over a month since I did the Ignite event in San Jose, but I have simply had so many things to do since then, that I'm only catching up on blogging about it now.

The title of my Ignite talk was "Scalability for Quantheads: How to Do It Between Spreadsheets" (a pitch for applying my Universal Scalability Law to Web 2.0 applications using Excel spreadsheets). Since scalability is about sustainable size, I used the theme of giants as a hook. Why are there no 30 ft (10 m) giants like the one in the "Jack and the Beanstalk" fairytale? Officially, there have been no human giants taller than 10 feet (3 m); and even they need leg supports. The reasons are given in my Chap. 4 of my Guerrilla Capacity Planning book.
  1. Historical tallest (USA): Robert Wadlow 8 ft 11.1 in (2.72 m)
    "... a faulty brace irritated his ankle, causing a blister and subsequent infection. ... his condition worsened and on July 15, 1940, he died in his sleep. He was 22."

    The "shrimp" next to him is dear old Dad.

  2. Current tallest (China): Bao Xishun 7 ft 9 in (2.36 m) also needs the assistance of a walking cane.
Giving the Ignite presentation in 5 minutes (exactly 20 slides automatically advanced every 15 seconds ... Yikes!) was not as harrowing as it sounds and everyone was very forgiving if accidents did happen. Fortunately, I didn't stumble (that I remember). The trick was to talk into the next slide, but not too much or you get out of phase. It also helps to have it as scripted as possible in your mind, as well as using visual cues on the slides, since you're not allowed any embedded speaker notes. Special thanks to all those who helped with the hook:
  • Shawn at Pete's Hardware in downtown Castro Valley for helping me to construct my improvised giant poster-holder out of a squeegee and a 10 ft cobweb remover (real engineering).
  • Mr. Nathan Moroney of HP Labs for printing the 9 ft × 3 ft image of Robert Wadlow on an HP plotter, which took 2 hours!
  • Dr. Giodano Beretta of HP Labs for holding up the improvised 9 ft printed-image rig, like a Roman Centurion standard-bearer, during my presentation. Luckily, neither collapsed at scale.
And, last but not least, Brady Forrest for the invitation and excellent management of the whole show.

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