Sunday, February 26, 2012

DISC 1 Brisbane (26 February)

First a few words about Auckland, New Zealand.  If it is possible that anything is worth a 13 hour flight from Los Angles, Auckland is. The place is neat as a pin, streets clean, and they drive on the British side of the road.  People are friendly and helpful, no beggars in sight (although we saw a wonderful street performer we were glad to tip). It is a bit expensive, the taxi ride from airport to hotel (maybe 3 mi) was $30, wine about $9/glass (all prices I give are in US$). But it is a small price to pay.  The climate is perfect and locals do not even have A/C since open windows can circulate fresh, cool air nearly every day.  It is a verdant, tropical place and Auckland is perhaps the most livable port city I have seen in the world.  A great buzz of interest and activity is everywhere, along with with good food, fashion and trendy cafes.

In Brisbane we had a wonderful dinner at Gambari with our host Koya Suto his wife Tineka, and joined by Peter Duncan and a few others. On Koya's suggestion, I had the 'trilobite' also known as Moreten Bay Bugs. Strange, tasty things, a bit like rock lobsters. We left early to rest up for the next-day's DISC.

Actually, some DISC trouble started before dinner. While adding an acknowledgement slide on the Macbook Air I noticed some of the slides had problems with the images. Closer investigation revealed many slide issues, despite long, hard work over the last few months to get the slides perfect. The PPT files were created on my regular Macbook and desktop Powermac, all running the same OS and MSOffice version as the Air. Yet the slides when viewed on the Air had big problems. Backup versions had the same issue. In PDF versions the problems were gone, so I decided to present from PDF the next day. Not ideal, but at least the wireless advancer worked with PDF.

The DISC started at 8:30 and we had 25 attending. The morning went well, although I need to work on the pacing of material. I was showing the PDF slides on a hotel Windows laptop and all went pretty well till about chapter 5 (of 7), when I noticed some dropped images again. We took a coffee break and looked ahead at the slides to find many of them mysteriously missing figures, equations, or similar. Imagine what was going through my mind during this 10 min coffee break! The mystery caused me to get out my iPad and look at the PDF slides there, after all that was the reason I made PDF versions in the first place. They all looked good. Strange. So I darted up to the room and got the connector, that I luckily had brought, allowing me to take the iPad video out to a VGA projector.

At this coffee break I bumped into Etienne Robein, the EAGE equivalent of the SEG DISC lecturer. He was giving his 32nd and final lecture, while this was my first. It was like that TV commercial where you meet an older version of yourself, a preview of your future.

So the last 2 hours of the first DISC was run from an iPad using PDF versions of the slides. A couple of times, the software crashed noting it would henceforth be using a 'slower rendering engine'. The rest is a blur. I was so agitated I even forgot to take a class photo.

What a start! It felt to me like a disaster, but Dave Monk said at the ASEG icebreaker that he had 'heard good things'. A kind comment that went very far with me that bleak evening in Brisbane. Thank goodness my lovely wife Dolores was there to share my misery and point out that it was not so bad after all. Hopefully the attendees feel the same way.

Enough doom and gloom, it is a warm and sunny Monday morning in Brisbane. Time to find a nice cafe and a good cup of coffee.

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