Category Archives: FAIL

Why Dave Munger’s passport fail made Science Online London better

There's Dave! Next time though, you should dance or juggle while you present.

There's Dave! Presenting from Second Life at SOLO09

Twas the facepalm heard ’round the science blogging community when news traveled that Dave Munger, who was slated to present at Science Online London, neglected to renew his passport and would not be attending the conference. But while this may be a high-ranking fail for Dave, it should be documented as a notable win in Science Online history.

I’ve been to more than a few scientific conferences in my day, and at almost every one there’s some kind of technological mishaps that stalls the flow of events. I always notice because, though scientists are typically highly intelligent, they can still make some pretty novice errors with whatever new technology is supposed to enhance their presentation — the kind of errors that leave me wiggling in my seat debating whether I should get up and help or mind social norms. Technology provides remarkable opportunities for enhanced communication in conference settings, but often times these opportunities are not explored for fear of something malfunctioning at crunch time.

But from what I’ve witnessed, technological experimentation is rampant at Science Online conferences (which is one of the many reasons I enjoy them so much). At Science Online London, while the conference was underway, a virtual conference was being held simultaneously in Second Life so that anyone around the world with an internet connection and the Second Life software installed could virtually attend by visiting the Elucian Islands, Nature Publishing Group’s archipelago of scientific wonder in Second Life.

I’ve never really gotten into Second Life, though I have attempted to explore it on two occasions. The first, my old laptop didn’t have enough space on the hard drive to run it; the second, I successfully installed the software and built an avatar, but within the first five minutes of gameplay she got stuck in some kind of vortex. Based on my failures, I will admit I was a bit skeptical that the plan to broadcast in real-time could be executed.

Multiply that by roughly 20 and that’s how skeptical I was when I heard that the new plan for the session on Blogging for Impact was for Dave Munger to beam himself into the conference via his Second Life avatar and actually conduct his presentation through Second Life. It’s not that I have ever doubted Dave or his abilities, or those of the very competent individuals who were in charge of the SL control panel. I guess I’ve just been jaded by my experiences of witnessing technological mishaps.

BUT IT WORKED!! After a few minutes of suspense while the SL techies tinkered around with settings and relayed instructions, Dave’s audio came in loud and clear and everyone in the conference hall — as well as in Second Life — was able to listen to Dave give his part of the presentation. It was like the conference audience was NASA when the Apollo 13 spacecraft came back online after all that dead air time (right around 8:35 in the video). Yep, pretty much exactly the same situation.

SOLOMunger

I think this was actually the coolest part of the conference for me, because I got to watch technological evolution in action. If it wasn’t for Dave’s passport fail, it wouldn’t yet be demonstrated at a Science Online conference that it is not only possible, put potentially just as entertaining and effective, for someone across the Atlantic to present in an auditorium full of people. It would still be just a theory waiting to be tested by a brave individual willing to risk technological malfunction.

Now that we know if can be done, the sky is the limit, really. Why keep conference presenters limited to individuals who can physically attend the conference when you could have anyone in the world beam themselves in for 15 minutes? Money and time have ceased to be limiting factors, so at Science Online 2010 this January, why not beam in the big names? (/crosses fingers for Nick Denton)

All in a day’s work

Call me accident prone, adventurous, spacey, unlucky. I don’t know what it is about me exactly, but I end up in more /facepalm situations than the average individual. Yeah, shit happens to everyone, but I would be willing to bet that if you compared my epic fails with those of the average population, you would find a p-value of way less than .05.

Lately, I’ve been on a streak that all started yesterday when I went to move my company vehicle in preparation today’s day of promotions in the city. It didn’t start. Seeing as how I am pretty much the only person I know personally who is crazy enough to accept the responsibility of having a car in this city, I didn’t know anyone who could jump it for me. So I called a mechanic, and sixty-five dollars later the car was running. The problem was, he told me to keep it running for an hour so the batter could charge up. So I did, and on the way out of the lot, anxious to run an errand before closing time, I totally ROCKED my toe on a piece of rusty metal that was jutting straight up out of the cement. It’s one of those things where my big toenail is broken in half but I can’t *fix* it without making it worse, if you know what I mean. Everything about the situation was saying TETANUS WARNING to me, but my lack of health insurance combined with a deep sense of embitterment towards NYC health care facilities after being hit with surprise bills for services I didn’t request made me inclined to take my chances with the tetanus despite the good advice of my Internet friends in the medical fields.

After putting the Xterra in for the night and limping my way to close the gate, I realized that I had locked the key to the gate in the car, which was parked on the other side of the gate I had just locked.

facepalm

That was yesterday, and what stood between the vehicle that I needed to complete my day of work-related activities today and me was a 15-foot chain-link fence, also rusted to the core. At first I thought I was screwed, but I found one four-foot wide stretch that didn’t have razor wire along the top, and I knew what I had to do. With flip flops and a busted toe issue though –not to mention the window full of hipsters who were staring at me, intrigued by my facepalm gesture — I decided to wait for morning.

And there is nothing quite like scaling a 15-foot rusted fence in Brooklyn at 6 AM. Last night, I was able to rationalize not going in for a tetanus shot. Today, not so much.

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Dear roommie,

The utmost temptation.

The utmost temptation

I ate all your ice cream. I’m sorry! It was sitting in there for a WEEK – a whole week. Every time I opened the freezer it was just staring at me. At first I only took a few bites because I knew you wouldn’t mind. But then you didn’t eat any more the next day so I put quite a dent in it. But I was so nice, I SAVED you some, and you still didn’t eat it! Now, I just ate the last bite, and some night you will go to look for it in the freezer and be disappointed. But you know what? You should know better by now. THIS HAPPENS EVERY TIME!!!!!!! I have a terrible addiction, and it is not very supportive of you to tease me that way. So don’t be upset, because you know that if you buy a pint of Ben and Jerrys and don’t eat it right away, it will be gone — ESPECIALLY if it is a NEW LIMITED EDITION flavor that tastes like magic and sunshine.

Kisses,

Arikia

Weighing the options

toothbrushesToday I spent a full 10 minutes deciding what toothbrush to get from Duane Read. In this time I probably handled 20 different brushes. The medium-bristled ones were all behind the soft ones, and if there’s anything i dislike, it’s a soft toothbrush. Had to move all those out of the way. I couldn’t remember what color my roommate’s toothbrush was, but I wanted to avoid that color. I felt a wild urge to branch out from my usual bristle pattern, but needed to be economical. Seven minutes in, I thought I had found the perfect one, but the back-side perforation had been separated. Eventually, I became self-conscious of how long this process was taking, and of the pile of soft-bristled toothbrushes shoved perpendicularly to the rest in an empty slot. So I made a snap decision, settled and checked out.

Just now, I realized that the toothbrush I chose after all that deliberation is exactly the same as the toothbrush I have been using for the past few months. Except it is a different color — the color of my roommate’s toothbrush.