Home > Uncategorized > Recovery plans are not just for the Data Center

Recovery plans are not just for the Data Center

I get to wear many different hats at work, not just that of a DBA – even though that particular hat is my favorite.

This week I am working off site supporting the 25th annual Santa Fe Symposium along with several co-workers.  SFS is an event we support every year, and generally it runs like a well oiled machine.   This year we decided to step it up a bit from a technology standpoint and made the jump to a high res, high lumen, rear projection setup and after some shenanigans Saturday night getting presentation mode to work with both a Windows laptop and the MacBook Pro, and spending an exorbitant amount of money on CL2 HDMI cables we were very pleased with our choice…  color was fantastic and  the screen image was brighter than we had ever been able to pull off with our older equipment.

After a very long day we powered down all of our equipment, carefully stashed it all in a secured room at the venue and found our ways home for a few hours of sleep before the Symposium kicked off bright and early Sunday morning confident that we were in good shape for our speakers to hit the ground running.

Unfortunately that good luck didn’t last long for us.  I got a call Sunday morning at 5:55am letting me know that both our brand new HP Envy and the super-duper, high res, high lumen projector had been turned in to vessels for some of the hardest water west of the Mississippi.   Yep – our perfect setup had been ruined less than 3 hours before the first presentation was scheduled to start by a faulty air conditioning unit in our store room…

Houston, We have a problem

Now, both of us that are here to support the presenters are from an Operations team, so we don’t make a plan to do anything without a backup; but in this case our backup plan was less than ideal.  Our backup projector was going to take us from 4000 lumen to 2500 lumen, and from 1080p to 1024×768 (and our screen is 16:9, so really we were stuck with 1024x 576, or stretching our image to fit the screen), and our backup plan for  the laptop was to load Office 2011 on the MacBook, as well as to have a dual boot partition with Windows 7 waiting in the wings.

So, we finished getting ready in record time and raced our way to the venue to assess the damage to the laptop and projector (they both appear to be total losses) and to put our recovery plan in place.

Turns out that taking a presentation that was written in Office 2010 on a Windows box, and then trying to run it in Office 2011 on a Mac works sometimes – as long as its a pretty simple presentation.  Once you add video, animations, or audio it’s no longer quite as simple. Also, neither one of us remembered to make a backup copy of the final presentations we had gathered forSunday’s speakers before we left Saturday night (d’oh!  I’m a DBA – always, always, always take a backup!) so we had to find our speakers for the day and get copies again before we could test much of anything.   Then to top it off, we couldn’t get a good image out of the Windows install on the MacBook.

We were able to get our backup projector up and configured, with a reasonable picture (although dim) before our scheduled start time,  and fortunately our first presentation of the day was straightforward and lacking animations or video, but we spent all day hopping fixing up presentations to run in Power Poing 2011, swapping out laptops for the few that just wouldn’t work on the Mac, and  swapping out our dim backup projector for a new high res, high lumen projector during a break, double and triple checking animations and video in presentations.

This is definitely not my preferred work mode.

So, my lesson for you is one that you’ve heard over and over again from other bloggers and speakers.  It’s not good enough to have a backup or a recovery plan… you have to test each and every aspect of that plan – including the equipment and facilities you might be forced to use.

We certainly won’t do another one of these without testing each and every presentation on all possible laptops we might bring, and we will be sure that we have an equivalent projector to use in case of emergency, and I see a few more long nights in our immediate future testing the remaining 18 presentations on the MacBook.

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