Secret CIO

When it comes to surviving Power Point Presentations our Secret CIO knows how to blow his own trumpet.

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By  Secret CIO Published  May 1, 2006

I've always made a point of making sure the brat forsakes his computer games at meal times for some solid stimulating conversation around the dinner table with his parents and siblings. Not only is it good for them, it also means they get to do the washing up afterwards.

So family meals are a non-negotiable. Be there or be on your deathbed is the adage at chez nous. But I'm beginning to get the feeling that he's working on a fiendish plot where I end up negotiating anything for a bit of peace around the dinning table without him.

His plan is to bore us into submission. Last night, for example, we had a blow-by-blow description of the movie King Kong. His narrative lasted just five minutes short of the movie and more than once I felt like I was in the middle of PowerPoint Presentation on something akin to Service Oriented Architecture.

It's best described as a near-death experience. You can feel yourself drifting out of your body and looking down at the PPP purveyor rambling on about how "advances in key standards such as business process management notation, business process execution language, and XML Process Definition Language are making it possible for BPMS products to support a model-driven approach to process improvements that can be significantly more agile than earlier methods . . . . ." You know you shouldn't be floating up there, but there comes a point when the brain just gives in and instead of shaking you out of your reverie with a violent jolt, it simply lets you float towards the light.

Now this is OK in my books when the PPP is by an IT salesman pretending to be an expert speaker at a technology conference. However, a gang of us CIOs have decided that perhaps we should try to stay awake during the more important presentations. Though, to be honest, these tend to be few and far between in Dubai. Nine out of 10 of them are pure sales pitches.

Anyway, I digress. The gang has worked out a game whereby we each put a sum of money into a kitty and then during the PPP we track catch phrases or words such as 'methodology', 'return on investment, and 'software as a service'. Every time a player identifies 10 instances of the chosen words, he blows his nose. (And you thought all that nose blowing in conferences was due to icy air conditioning!) At the end of the event we all get together, compare notes and, by consensus, award the kitty to the person who has logged the most instances.

We have variations on this. Sometimes we use those hotel note pads supplied to list words of three syllables or more as they occur in alphabetical order. The first to get to an agreed letter say g as in gigabyte, switches his mobile back on so the others know he's won. (And all the time you thought people actually take notes at conferences and that those who insist on using their mobiles during a PPP are just downright rude!)

OK, so it's all very juvenile, but at least it makes sure we not only stay awake during some very boring presentations, but we actually listen and remember what's being talked about.

There is only one drawback. The winner must spend the money taking his family out to dinner. I can just hear the brat now: "Then King Kong climbed up this building and this girl was screaming and these airplanes started shooting him and he got annoyed and shook his fist and ……… " Near death here we come.

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