Can you hear me now?

Pilot fish is asked to give a presentation to more than 20 developers and managers working across two geographically separated facilities for a database migration project.

"I had written a set of scripts, guide and checklist to use to verify that our migrated applications conform to the new database restrictions," fish says. "We use Microsoft Communicator and had also provided a conference line for everyone to call into. I shared my desktop with everyone on the call and was ready to start."

Fish is a little nervous as he begins the presentation, but he soon warms to his subject. It's more than usually confusing because he's using the overhead projector while sitting at right angles to the screen, because that's how the PC, keyboard and monitor are placed, so he really doesn't need any extra distractions.

But he keeps hearing people talking on the conference line. Fish politely asks everyone to mute their phones, or at least pipe down.

But he still hears people yakking away. Finally he realizes the sound is coming from a small speaker placed at his console. Fish's manager gets up to turn the volume down, but the talking is still very annoying. Finally the project manager gets up and turns the speaker off completely.

And fish doesn't notice the flashing Communicator icon.

Fish finishes giving his hour-long presentation and takes questions from people in the room, then heads back to his desk. His manager congratulates him because the presentation went so well, and several other people in the audience do too.

It's only later that day, when one of the managers calls, that fish learns everyone at the remote office had been using headsets plugged into their PCs, rather than dialing in on the conference line.

"Unbeknownst to me, Communicator has an audio channel feature," sighs fish. "When the project manager turned off the speaker, nobody who was using a headset could hear me. And I hadn't noticed their frantic pleas for help on my IM window, because I had it minimized.

"So now I get to give my presentation again tomorrow. Maybe this time people will remember to mute their headsets as well."

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