Would you like a side of giblets to go with that Blackberry?
Java One proves technology can be funny.
The Scott McNealy keynote is always a highlight of Java One. This year, at Java One 2003, it was Salesforce.com that stole the show, and a lot of laughs.
Following the McNealy keynote, Jonathan Schwartz, EVP of Software for Sun Microsystems, took the stage and brought up several partners for demos. I believe we will be talking about the Salesforce.com demo for years to come.
I give the Salesforce.com guy credit, and everyone else who performed demos at Java One, for getting up on stage in the first place. He seemed to try and offset his aparent nervousness by being loud. We're talking Chris Farley loud. Then the fun began.
The point of the demo was that Salesforce.com has some really cool services written in Java that are accessible via a web browser or mobile device. This is worth a gander because the mobile workforce is all the rage. The Salesforce.com offering is to be taken seriously. The person presenting it maybe not so much.
It was obvious that the Saleforce.com person wasn't technical or even that familiar with the demo. He inadvertantly hit the back button which took him completely out of the demo and could not find his way back. He spent about 45 seconds (a long time when your standing in front of thousands of people) hitting the refresh button, the page forward button, etc, to no avail. Of course we were all snickering, because that's what we do. Finally a Sun person came out from behind the stage and with a single click got him back to the demo. The Saleforce.com guy recovered with a joke about free Sun support which I thought was good form, because you have to have fun with these curves that life throws us
Unfortunately, he was far from done. He got back into the demo, but not where he expected. He started hunting for the link he needed with no success. As the pointer drifted over the back button, he stopped and stated "I'm not doing that again...". Asking again for audience assistence, another Salesforce.com person took to the stage. Again, with a single click, the problem was solved.
I think what made it the most funny, at that point, was how simple it was to solve the problems he was running into. It looked like the classic tech support person working with someone who never saw a computer before. At a tech conference, that is way too stereotypical not to find humorous. What happened next, even I wasn't prepared for.
Now the demo was rolling along. He was now showing how the same data was available from a browser and on a wireless device. I believe it was a Blackberry. Jonathan, trying to keep some flow in the demo was asking interesting questions about the underlying technology. At one point Jonathan pointed to the Blackberry and asked if there was a midlet running on the Blackberry. A midlet is kinda like an applet for MIDP. The Saleforce.com guy replied "Yes, we have giblets".
I, along with others, reached the breaking point. I was laughing so hard at that point, I was crying! Yes, I would love a side of giblets with my Blackberry!! Edible web services?! That's brilliant!!
Hat's off to Jonathan Schwartz. He stood up there, completely composed having become the unsuspecting straight man in this act. I don't know how he did it. If I were him I would have been looking around for the hidden camera because this couldn't possible happen in real life.
It got me thinking. Maybe we're onto a new tradition at Java One. Every year we set up a Sun exec by sending a comedian on stage, posing as a partner, to give fake demos. After all, half the fun was watching how Jonathan would react to all of this.
My final thought to the Salesforce.com guy. You gave a demo we will all remember which is the general idea, right? We were all able to follow the value of what you were doing, so don't worry about it. I too had technical issues at my BoF. The projector kept blowing out my X Display. I had a lot of friends and collegues in the audience, which is probably worse than strangers. Friends always laugh louder!