Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Webcast

Egads, what a day!

We are webcasting the World Endurance Championships from Dubai Endurance City tomorrow. I went to the site at midday today. I hadn't wanted to go until about 3 pm because I knew that was the time when people I needed to help me would have finished their essential tasks for the day and would then be able to give me the things I wanted. But my client was panicking and needed placating.

So, first job on arrival is get a Press Pass. This involves a horrible drive up a very bumpy road to a nearby hotel. I'm not thrilled by this because I have a carfull of fairly delicate computer-type gear. So it takes a while. When I get there I find that I am supposed to have been given a form to complete. They don't have any at the accreditation office, I should have been given one by my client. I get my client to eventually fax me one. Then I have to get photographs. There's a man with a 4-lens Polaroid camera, and after a while I manage to get him to point it at me. Then I go back to the accreditation office, which is jammed to the gunwhales. I give my form and photos to someone who appears to be in charge, who then gets a series of calls on his mobile that take about half an hour, during which time he is not doing any actual 'work'. I pass my boredom threshold, grab my form and photos off him and give them to a guy who is actually working. He types an approximation of my name, a total fabrication of my profession ('journalist'!) and country (England) onto a card. He gives this to another guy who puts little colour-coded stickers on it that indicate which areas I'm allowed into, and then he gives it to another bloke who laminates it and nails on a neck-strap. As I leave, I catch the eye of the head honcho, who is finally off the phone and apologising because he seems to have lost my documents.

Back at the ranch - actually a Portakabin that we are sharing with a load of techies from the TV company and about a million quid's worth of equipment - and I discover that our allotted space does not include a table or chairs. I call my client, who says that she has requested these items from somewhere. Goddam it, I knew I shouldn't have shown up until later. I mooch around for about an hour, and start setting up the PCs on the floor. I've just finished this when a table arrives. So I disconnect everything, put it on the table and plug everything in again.

I have a go at setting up an Interweb connection, but can't do it because I do not have the requisite information. I ask some of the TV guys if I could get a video and audio feed from the OB vehicle, and they say 'after 3 o'clock'. Dang. The site IT guy will show up at 3.30. It's all a bit frustrating. I wander around the site for an hour or two, discover that there is no food to be had (there's a gazillion people working there and nobody thought they might get hungry - banquets are promised for tomorrow).

I leave the site at 5pm, pick up BetterArf, and go to the office for a wee while. The boys are still finishing off some coding for the site, but one of the PCs keeps mysteriously crashing. Just what you need when you have a deadline to meet. Aaargh!

Up at 3.30 tomorrow morning. Better get some sleep!