Hello Cleveland!

Unless you worked for DEC for many years, you don't get to see things from a reverse perspective (that was a byte-swapping joke, folks, the best I can do at 7:00 am local time). Today is the opening event of CEC05, and I got to spend about an hour backstage. As usual, we had to produce a slick, interesting set on a tight budget, so the cool props this year are these multi-color light bars The lighting tricks are driven by LEDs coupled with colored glass,
the same technology in the new super-bright traffic signals and car headlights. It's a great effect with very little heat dissapated, which is wonderful when you're on stage. It's no fun feeling like you're in an EZ-Bake oven powered by 10,000 watts of light bulbs.

T minus 40 minutes: Jim Baty and I arrive, I take some pictures while we rehearse our executive introductions. Nothing worse than making good jokes and then stumbling on your own boss' name.

T minus 20 minutes: Bob MacRitchie and Marissa Peterson, who not only are our direct managers but also pay for the event, arrive and walk the stage.

T minus 15 minutes: I realize as I'm greeting Marissa that my microphone is turned on and fed through the house audio system, so I'm reverberating through an empty Moscone center. Fun turns to terror as I realize it's time for a last-minute potty run and I really don't want to redefine "engineering peer" (funnier with a Boston accent, I promise) over the public address system.

T minus 10 minutes: House doors open, people start streaming in from breakfast. Music is up, video is rolling. Jim and I get to relax in the "green room". I'm reminded of the scene in This is Spinal Tap where the band gets lost under the stage. It's pre-show ritual for me to holler out "Hello Cleveland!" before going on stage, my own way of shaking off stage fright.

T minus 5 minutes: Marissa is nervous. Don't tell her I told. House is filling, only the wings of the right and left sections have empty seats. This is cool.

Showtime: Opening video, produced by the attendees, for the attendees (think nerdly FuBu), rolls. Laughs 90 seconds in, which is good -- the audience is warming up. Jim and I better not suck.

T plus 15 minutes: Show is moving, keynote speakers are on the stage, time for coffee and breakfast. Next job: introducing Jonathan. There's no business like (technical) show business.

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