Nobody can suspect that, that is, nobody but everyone
I’m supposed to hold a workshop in Berlin in a seminar room with eight to ten people. My material consists of various tabs that I have already arranged in the correct order in a new browser window. Slides are not an option in this case because they involve things that take place in the browser and that I can best show there.
There is a very large smartboard in the workshop room. “It’s best to simply share your screen via Zoom,” says the organizer. “Simple,” I say, “it’s kind of funny that such a complex solution has now become the simplest. Well, I understand what you mean, but technically it’s not the easiest solution at all. Isn’t there an HDMI cable?”
But there is none attached to the smartboard, and none can be found near the smartboard. (It’s only when I’m writing this post that I think: Maybe this smartboard was so smart that you could have connected to it via WiFi? And that’s the only reason there wasn’t a cable? But I didn’t know anything about it, and apparently neither did the organizer.)
Then just zoom. The organizer emails me the link, I join in and share my screen. Wait icons appear for a few minutes, then the image freezes, then I’m no longer in Zoom. I suspect that this is due to me having over 100 tabs open in a different browser window (plus 10 for the workshop) and the resulting lack of RAM, but I’m keeping that to myself.
“Can you send me your presentation?” asks the organizer. “No, they’re just browser tabs,” I say. “Can you send me a list so I can open it?” – “No, there are various things where you have to log in, which also gets complicated. I could have prepared so that you didn’t have to, but I didn’t know that was necessary…”
An HDMI cable is searched for and found after a while. The organizer presses the smart board for a long time because he has never done that in this place before, or at least he hasn’t done it for too long. I have great understanding for this, as I often forget these details even between events and they are a little different at each location.
While two people are tinkering with the smart board and the cable, I’ll tell you what would be visible in my browser tabs if you could see them. In between I say: “Next time I’ll print everything out again and bring it with me on paper… oh no, that’s not possible, I don’t have a printer.”
When it works after half an hour, everything is set so that you can only see the upper left corner of my browser, i.e. about two lines from the actual text after deducting all the URLs and toolbars that appear. “I’ll leave it like that now, we’ll live with it, I won’t touch anything anymore,” I say, “not that everything will fall apart again!”
We live with it until half an hour later, when the organizer sees a browser tab that doesn’t fit particularly well into the screen, he says: “Come on, try it one last time, set the resolution differently.” This time, what didn’t work several times before works straight away, and I know from another event the previous week that it’s not the resolution, but the default zoom level of 200% for screen mirroring. I change it to 100% and now everything finally works.
A workshop hour passed on this, not just with crafts, but with far too much. I’m ashamed because I think it’s unprofessional of me and because I could have suspected it. I know that you can’t rely on absolutely anything when it comes to venues. I don’t seem to have documented this in the technology diary, but I do remember an occasion around 2016 where the technicians at the venue were surprised that I wanted to use a projector and not the overhead projector that was naturally available. But I don’t feel very ashamed because, after all, everyone knows that this is how it usually works, and I don’t think other speakers are unprofessional or ill-prepared if this happens to them. At least not most of the time.