Active Directory Demo Fail Club Lessons Learned ~ My blog about Active Directory and everything else

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Active Directory Demo Fail Club Lessons Learned

Earlier this year I was speaking at a Microsoft event in the Washington DC area (Reston, VA to be exact).   During this talk I was talking about Windows Server 2012 and Active Directory.   I always like to have demos during the talks so people can actually see what the features look like.

In previous talks I only had a single DC and the demos always work great in that environment.   This time I decided to go with multiple DCs and two domains to make it more realistic.  As anyone that does live demos knows the picture below says it all.  We want our demos to be smooth and to have no issues.

What Every Presenter Thinks

I'll go over what happened and point out lessons learned (good and bad) and hopefully this will help others. I do highly recommend going out and speaking and being involved in the community.  I'm not saying try for the national conferences first but there are usually local events that people can get involved with.  I'm still at the regional level (DC area).

My talk started and I was rolling along and had my slides working fine and showed the audience about the changes in the domain controller promotion process and that went well with no hiccups.   Then I get to the Recycle Bin feature in 2012 using Active Directory Administrative Center (ADAC).  My environment consisted of two 2012 domain controllers in the root domain and one DC in the child.

I show the slide and then I switch to the demo to show everyone how it works since most have not seen it. The first thing I do is go into ADAC and try to enable the recycle bin.  This is where the demo fail club starts

I received several errors when I tried to enable the AD recycle bin




The Good
The first thing I did was take a second to look at what the errors were telling me. I calmly typed services.msc to verity the Active Directory Web Services were running.  

The next thing I did was a quick netdom query fsmo.  All my FSMOs were on my current DCs.

I also verified replication with repadmin.

The So-So
While this was going on I had a single DC/VM that I turned on.  It is much harder for things to go wrong in a single DC demo environment.  I've lately been staying away from this as this doesn't simulate any real production environment.   I should have turned this machine on the second something went wrong or even better just had this machine on the entire time "just in case"

The Bad
After checking the services/replication using repadmin I next went into the event logs.   As I was typing e..v..e..n..t..v..w..r..m..s..c I knew this was a wrong move but kept doing it anyway.  The audience is not there for me to go through an entire troubleshooting course.  The Internet connection was spotty so what if I would have found something useful in event viewer then what?  Would I have also sat there and looked it up and found a KB and taken the time to read that.   You get the point, I only had limited time and this was going to take way too long.

After Action Report/Lessons Learned

I ended up going into my single machine and showing them the features and then continued the rest of my presentation.  The entire incident took less than 5 minutes but it feels a lot longer when 100 people are staring at you.   Some things I learned and have used in subsequent talks

  1. Always have a backup presentation on an external drive and even a backup laptop if possible.  At a minimum a backup on a USB flash drive because if the laptop dies someone will most likely let you borrow their laptop.
  2. If you encounter an error remember that these are mostly IT Pros listening to your IT pro talk so they deal with errors and issues all the time.  That is the reason they hire us
  3. Don't expect to fix every issue in a few minutes; time is usually not on your side.
  4. Always have a backup plan.  In my case it was a backup VM.  I've seen some folks just skip the planned demo.
  5. Remember that you are not the first one to encounter "demo fail"   Some very high visible examples below.  The first is Bill gates at CES 2005 and the second is Steve Jobs showing off iPhone 4 features.   The point I'm making is it doesn't matter who you are; if you speak at enough events and give enough demos you will eventually join the "Demo Fail Club".   It's sort of like a comedian...there is no comedian no matter how funny that has not bombed at some point.
  6. The fail is usually not as bad as you think and the audience is usually forgiving and wants to see you succeed and they want to learn.
  7. Microsoft has since asked me to speak at several events and I've taken these lessons learned and have yet to encounter another demo fail club...knock on wood.

I'm in very good company.  Gates & Jobs are also members of this club.








PostScript

When I got back to my desk I left my VM's on but didn't work on them.  That is extremely rude in my opinion.  Give the next speaker respect and listen if you are going to sit in the room.  During the next break an hour later I logged on and enabled the recycle bin and of course it worked then after I gave it a few minutes.











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