Recently, I was helping a friend manage the registration process of a regional IT conference in Palace of the Golden Horses. This event had about 600-800 attendees. Suffice to say, some of us had to work to wee hours of the morning to get the preparation done together with the event organisers.

You’d think that for an event of this type and size, the use of computers was a no-brainer. In fact, it would have been plain WEIRD if we were to use a paper-based system. Those of you who know what event I’m talking about, would notice that the registration process IS, for the love of God, paper-based.

You see, we were given four Twinhead notebooks with preloaded Microsoft Windows and nothing else. No MS Office, No Open Office whatsoever. When asked what ofc productivity software we are supposed to use to churn reports and tags, the answer was “IE”.

“Because that’s the only free thing that comes with Windows.”

Probed further, the organisers felt that they should NOT use MS products because they were ardent supporters of open source, EVEN if it meant having to do the registration onsite WITHOUT computers.

And to think that MS is one of the sponsors of this event.

In the end, my colleague and I had to use our personal notebooks to get the job done. The pre-event work was also done using MS Excel and Word, because really, who had the time to figure out how Open office can work with our office printers, train the temps on Word and Spreadsheet Processing 101 with Open Office?

Now I’m all for taking down monopolising giants a peg or two, but do we necessarily have to use slings and stones? And what happens when it is at the expense of your paying customers, who are none too happy about having to wait in a long queue and a hot place while you flip through files like some government department on a Friday at 3.45pm?


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