Last week I completed my entry into the Microsoft Demo’s Happen Here competition. Wow what a big job it was to actually get that entry completed and submitted! I almost gave up, but I had such wonderful help to get the demo done, that in the end I had no excuse but to complete it and get it submitted.
So Demo’s Happen Here is a Microsoft Competition to promote the new 2008 products of Windows Server, SQL Server and Visual Studio. The idea was to do a demo of a new feature in one of these products and present it to a user group and submit a video of the presentation on-line.
I didn’t have a great urge to enter but then my user group, Sydney Business and Technology User Group (SBTUG) were having a Demo Fest where a number of people were all going to do a presentation, so I sort of half heartedly said I would do one… and then I won an eval copy the software that evening so I had no excuse… The other reason for entering is that Catherine had done an excellent job of her first entry into the comp and I thought that there needs to be more geek girls entering the competition.
The first thing I did wrong is I left it all too late! The Saturday before the demo fest on the Wednesday I attempted to install the software. For some reason SQL Server would just not install on my Vista PC (it would not install the services, which from google searching seemed to be an issue with Administration rights but I tried 4 different ways and could not get it working). So for most of Saturday and Sunday I was just reasearching and preparing my script and slides.
My next step was to get a copy of a pre-configured Virtual Hard Disk to run in a Virtual PC. I’ve never used a VPC before so I did not want to attempt to create and install one myself, and as I was only needing SQL server for the hour or so to test and record my demo it did not seem worth it to build one myself.
My first attempt to get a copy of the VHD failed as it was an old VHD from the original Hero’s Happen here presentations and it would not install as it was Time-Bombed. That was Sunday night.
Monday night I picked up a copy of a VHD on DVD. When I got home the DVD failed and would not install.
So, despite all our best efforts and wonderful help from a wonderful friend, I could not get anything working and was just about to call it quits when another wonderful twitter friend offered to build a VHD for me and lend me a portable hard disk. I picked that up on Tuesday evening and hey presto, it installed first time!
Now I had no excuses and had to finalise my SQL script and presentation and record it. I used the fantastic tool Community Clips from Microsoft Labs to record it. Wow, doing the demo for recording was sooo difficult. I had about 6 false starts – would get tounge tied about 2 mins in and then have to stop and start over… eventually I realised there is no way I would be able to do it in 1 take and it was getting late. So I would just pause and re-start the sentence again if I got stuck.
Then I had a lot of editing to do and boy, it is really horrible having to listen to your own voice over and over and over again. The recording is terrible, I really sound like I have a speach impediment. So much stuttering and so many ummm’s it’s unbeleivable. But but this stage I was so over it and just wanted to get it done… AND I still had to present it the next evening at the User Group
The next hurdle was getting the demo uploaded to the competition site… what a painful and slow process that was. I had to google search to find out that I had to disable Silverlight to upload the video to the Silverlight website – WOW! So that took about another hour or so – another late night.
On Wednesday evening when I finally did my presentation I was much more relaxed and it went much much better with a lot less hesitation in my voice. (@Rog42 secretly videoed it which I have not had the courage to look at yet).
So for posterity’s sake here is a link to the demo… but I really don’t recommend you watch it – it’s not really that interesting, and does not sound very good at all.
However, the SBTUG’s Demo Fest was fantastic and there were 5 other excellent presentations and overall the night was a great success, so I hope we do something like that again – maybe a yearly event?
And I learned a lot from the whole experience. Be prepared early; relax; it does’t have to be perfect; Just Do It!; I’m much much much better in front of a live audience; and most importantly, friends are wonderful and will help!
I would like to do some more presentation stuff because I realised I’m so out of practice with it and it is something I love doing when I’m finally in front of the audidence, but it’s just the prepartion that sucks big time!