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Demand a Demo!

Well it's November 7th and I just watched Bill Gates 'demo' his 'new' tablet PC on the Today show. What a bunch of crap. Not the product, frankly, I can't tell you the first thing about the product because they showed NOTHING. NOTHING.

Set up: He had one tablet PC on his lap, no shot of it other then the from the perspective of an onlooker. No over the shoulder, no meaningful close up at all. There was a second unit on a stand between him and Katie. As he began to talk about the virtues of writing rather then typing (that is a topic in and of itself) he waved his hand over the one in his lap. He wrote NOTHING. he drew NOTHING he did NOTHING but waved his hand over the unit in his lap.

Then, when Katie asked him to show what he was doing on the unit on display, he WAVED his hand over that one. Still he demonstrated NOTHING.

Don't forget this connection - MSNBC. Microsoft is in bed BIG TIME with NBC so of course they weren't going to push him to see much but they did show some b-roll of a woman who was trying to TYPE on a plane, decided that there was not enough room, so she swiveled the screen around and decided that because she bought a laptop that was too big she would now have to write and use this 'revolutionary innovation' of Bill Gates. (how long ago did the Newton come out?).

Enough about the Today show I DO NOT want to write on my computer anyway, besides, if I did I have a wacom tablet and OSX 10.2 even has INK, whatever.

This is why I am taking the time to write this. Remember these words... DEMAND A DEMO.


Three words, DEMAND A DEMO.

A few years back I was doing demo work for a client that did 6 major trade shows a year. Comdex, Spring and Fall, PC EXPO, Sigggraph, NAB and IBC in Europe. I had a friend who worked in the Microsoft Booths, Nice guy, really nice guy but I can't tell you his name cuz, hey, I don't want him to loose his job. He took me back stage into the 'bowels of the booth'. If you've ever worked a trade show you know what I mean.

My friend showed me a little secret that I'm sure Microsoft doesn't want you to know. When you sit in a theater in the Microsoft Booth watching some demo babe do a demo of say Outlook or Powerpoint or some Server software, guess what? They are, more often then not, NOT showing you any software. NO, they are clicking on a mouse that tells a laser disc player in the back to play the next chapter to the big screens out front that you are watching. So you are not watching a SOFTWARE demo you are watching a demonstration of how a mouse click can tell a LASER DISC to play a chapter. And if you are interested that Laser Disc player was being controlled by an old Mac IIci.

No kidding. This was in about 1998.

If you think about some of the software demos you've seen you will recall people making tiny typos and backspacing then and correcting them... GUESS WHAT... all rehearsed and burned into the Laser Disc.

Demand a demo.


When someone is typing in a field, DEMAND A DEMO. Type something else!

When someone is showing you an effect, DEMAND A DEMO. Show me a different effect!

When someone says this is EASILY modifiable, DEMAND A DEMO. Show me how.

We as consumers need to fight the overwhelmingly standard mindset that has fallen into so many companies to FAKE demos of software that can't be shown because it DOESN'T WORK!!!

Some people may recognize me as an occasional demo artist. I've worked for Pinnacle, a small Amiga software company, and PLAY, the people that made the Trinity. Who, by the way owed me $8,000 when they "went chapter 11" but secretly sold their technology to a company that they had spun off 11 months earlier. They then proceeded to walk away from all of their debts and liabilities and STILL sell the Trinity or uh, 'GLOBECASTER' even today.

I can tell you, however, that I personally have NEVER faked a demo. Everything I have ever shown has been real and genuine. I have always been very careful with the language that I used to make sure that everything I said was true and not misleading.

Now a word about Apple.

I would like to genuinely applaud Steve Jobs for his first iMovie demo. It kicked ass!!!

He opened a timeline in progress, he turned on a MiniDV camera, he shot some video of the audience, he CAPTURED that very same shot and then he dropped it into his timeline, rearranged some stuff and played it back to the audience.

VERY BALSY in the demo world, VERY BALSY indeed.

It was awesome.

I defy Microsoft to do that same demo, I defy Sony to do a similar demo for a worldwide audience, live, NO fakes, NO "one in the oven" tricks.

As consumers we must DEMAND A DEMO and it should start RIGHT NOW!

Chris Fenwick