This week is “conference week.” For those of you who don’t know, the company for whom I work, Gospel Communications International (GCI), puts on an annual conference. One week in September, everyone on staff works our butts off, pulling 12-16 hour days for 4 days hosting an Internet Ministry Conference.
This year’s been our biggest one yet with about 300 attendees, including GCI staff, sponsors, speakers, contractors and Gospelcom Alliance members.
My role for this week has been to prepare the graphics and creative direction for the digital conference materials: website, digital DVD schedule on the HD monitors, nametag designs, logos for the giveaway swag, slide templates for the speakers, etc. Additionally, I’ve been playing my part in working with members to help them understand where they’re supposed to be, network with them, take pictures of people interacting at the conference and answer any questions.
As a staff member, my usual duties at conference are to host sessions (introduce the speakers, collect the evaluation sheets at the end, etc) and video tape all of the keynote presentations for later editing and publication. I am also conducting video interviews for the Alliance member ministries to edit and publish to promote their activities, increase awareness and hopefully drive traffic to their sites. Lastly, I’m listed as a contractor which means I’m available for people with questions to sign up for time with me and get a little free consultation.
That’s the busy news.
Here’s the bad news: Wednesday was the first day of conference. Tuesday night, my laptop got a virus and crashed. That makes for a difficult rest of the week at “The Internet Ministry Conference.” It means I can’t upload photography, can’t participate in any online activity going on with the blogging, can’t get any additional work done in my “free” time and am having a hard time fully enjoying the conference. Additionally, I have side-jobs that are stacking up and I can’t answer email, respond to requests or get much done.
My laptop, as much as I hate to admit it, is an extension of myself. When it gets sick, I feel sick. When it is unhappy, I’m mad about it.
I figured maybe I could get by this week using my phone, since it’s a Smart Phone and has a mini-copy of Windows and all of the productivity software that typically comes with a Smart Phone. Friday, my phone started acting up. Slow response time, unable to connect to the network, frequent reboots, software errors. As the week went on, my hair started getting more and more frazzled. I was becoming short with people and irritable.
Thursday night, I had decided that if I was going to have any sanity this week, I would need to conduct a system restore on my laptop, a fairly painless process with Dell. I happened to have my huge external hard drive with me, so I backed everything up while I was attending sessions and that evening, I performed the “intensive surgery” on my machine. Since I don’t have any of my software with me, I had to make do with what I could find online in the Open Source free software communities.
I figured I’d be much happier with Open Source software anyway. At the point of this post, I find myself with a freshly-installed XP operating system and the following software packages:
Firefox: Internet Browser
Thunderbird: POP3 email client
Lightning: Plugin for Thunderbird that extends it to calendar and task manager
Birdiesync: Plugin for Microsoft Activesync that allows me to sync my Smart Phone to Thunderbird and Lightning sans MS Outlook
Audacity: Multitrack audio recording
GIMP: Graphics software (nowhere near as robust as Photoshop, but it’ll do in a pinch)
Pidgin: Instant Messenger software
Open Office: MS Office suite alternative
So I’m not 100% back to full productivity, but I’m about 95% there and will be fully up and running once I re-install my commercial software (Photoshop, Flash, Premiere, Homesite and Encore)
What have I learned from this experience? 1.) Bluetooth Activesync support for PC is terrible; 2.) Open Source is the way to go if I can find the right tools; 3.) I owe Google for preserving my sanity; 4.) I kinda wish I was a farmer with a straw hat, an old goat as my plow a dog and 12 kids.
Things I’m thankful for: 1.) the Summit at church last week. Having been washed in truth and scripture over the past 2 weeks from the Summit helped keep my head above water this week. 2.) The Summit helped give me good grounding and some technique in spending time in prayer and scripture this week 3.) my wife. surprisingly, even though she wasn’t here with me and we didn’t speak on the phone much while I was attending conference, the thought of being back home with her grounded me.
Confessions: 1.) Every day, even though spending time with people this week was great and I enjoyed connecting and networking with more people this year than I ever have at previous conferences, I wanted this conference to be over so badly every day. 2.) I have to admit that as much as I struggle with anger, events this week were no small catalyst in keeping my temper hot and my thoughts impure. There were several times as I was working on my computer this week that I’m pretty sure if you walked by my hotel room, it would be pretty clear there was someone not having a good day inside.
Things I look forward to: 1.) Lunch in about 3 hours with my buddies at my favorite restaurant, BD’s Mongolian BBQ on GCI’s bill. 2.) Going home and unplugging 3.) Having Monday off. 4.) Playing with the band on Sunday Morning and seeing everyone’s faces.
With that, I’ve aired my grievances (vented), made my peace and will be ready to hit the ground running on Monday. The one thing still unsettling in my mind are the open side-work projects that I didn’t get to finish this week since my machine was down. Frustrating. It means my Monday will be filled with client work, but at least I have a day on which to to fall back.
3 more hours of conference… can I go home now?