(via my java.net blog)

The “opening act” for this morning’s general session was Don McMillan, a self-described “Engineer/Comedian” who started things off with an insightful, funny, and wonderfully geeky act. (I especially liked his necktie with the periodic table of the elements … I need to get one for my friend Greg Vaughn, who sometimes wears a periodic table t-shirtcomplete with radioactive elements that glow in the dark.)

Then came the “serious” segments, complete with demos. That’s when the fun really started. Unintentional comedy is nearly always better than the planned kind.

Three demostwo by Sun, one by SAPwent awry in one way or another. And of course, speakers at events like this never obey the first law of demos (Never say anything more optimistic than “Watch this!”). The unfortunate SAP developer got flustered and never actually pulled his demo off, but the guy with Sun’s “Project Rave” did a fantastic job under pressure, quickly recoding the entire demo application as everyone watched. And it was lots of fun to see Rich Green and another presenter both unable to figure out how to work one of the projectors, only to have the programmer onstage lean across them, touch a button, and bring everything into instant focus.

I know that’s not how things were planned, but it was very entertaining, and it gave us all a chance to root for the underappreciated heroes of such events: the lowly programmers, brought onstage to run the demos while the speaking roles go to someone else.