My Keynote Fail

Executive Summary

Within minutes of going on stage for the keynote session of X World in Sydney, Australia, my entire presentation went kaput. 100%. Watch the video to evaluate what happened next and read the Gory Details section for ... um, all the gory details.


Gory Details

How did I let this happen!? 

Let's start at the beginning. I had intended to complete my presentation well before boarding the flight from Chicago to Sydney. However, knowing I had nearly 20 hours on a plane (4 hours, 40 minutes to San Francisco, and 14 hours 40 minutes to Sydney), it was easy to convince myself that there was plenty of time to make improvements. And that's what I did. Using my iPad Pro and Keynote for iOS, I made edits on the flight. 

A lot of edits.

My wife and I landed in Sydney on Monday. When we arrived at the hotel, I connected my MacBook Pro and iPad Pro to the Wi-Fi, let iCloud do its sync, and continued to make edits throughout the week — sometimes on my iPad and sometimes on my Mac. 

Early in the week, I showed the talk to my wife. She gave me feedback, and I made more edits. On Thursday, I hosted a cybersecurity workshop that went well, but I learned some things, so I made more edits. If you're keeping count, then you know I made at least umpteen gazillion edits from the time I left The States until presentation time.

Friday was my day to present, but not until afternoon tea was served. All morning I listened to other presentations and occasionally made even more edits to my Keynote. Not because I had to, but why not? This Keynote was going to be perfect — with perfect transitions (both visually and verbally) and references to earlier conference talks. I was going to tie it all together into the most fantastic presentation X World — maybe even the world — had ever seen! 

Wait. What? 

What if my topic — the one I was about to spend the next 40 minutes talking about is not even relevant for this audience? I mean, I'm somewhat sort of confident this talk would go well at home in Chicago, but these are Australians! Every discussion this week I've listened to, participated in, or simply overheard sounded so much more interesting than anything back home. It might be the accent, but it could also be that Australians are more evolved than us Midwestern folk ... and they're going to laugh me off their stage and out of their county. This talk was about to go horribly wrong. Alas. Too late. I could not back out now. It was during this period of mental self-doubt I noticed my MacBook battery was depleting dangerously fast (months later, my battery would outright fail. Good thing I have AppleCare)!

No worries. I was sitting near a wall outlet and had the necessary power cords and world adaptors. I made my way to the wall and ... bummer (or blimey)! The power outlet was so close to the floor (oddly close — nearly touching the floor), and my power adapter was too big. I could not plug-in. I considered asking a local to loan me their power adapter, then reconsidered. I was done making edits. Or was I? I still had plenty of time, so I opened the Keynote file on my iPad and ran through the talk in my head one final time. I fixed a few typos, odd transitions, and made some edits that more closely related to the morning talks, then sat back and mentally prepared for showtime.

While afternoon tea was served, I made my way to the stage and connected my MacBook to the video system. It was at this moment a dialog box warning appeared that I had never seen before. It said there was a conflict, and I had a choice to make. Would I like to use the Keynote file from my Mac or from my iPad? I considered choosing my Mac because that was my presentation device, and it felt like a safe choice. Yet, I knew my iPad had the latest version, and Keynote was giving me an option, so it must be OK to choose either one, right? I chose the iPad version. The spinning pinwheel of death began, and Keynote crashed. Highly unusual.

A small but significant jolt of panic coursed through me. I brushed it aside, knowing it was too soon to meltdown. I took a deep breath and reopened the Keynote file. Spinning wheel again, then, "This file is unreadable." My panic returned with a vengeance. The last time I felt my body change so suddenly and surprisingly was when I was trapped alone in a stuck elevator. My monkey brain tapped me on the shoulder and gently reminded me that the X World planning committee had flown me halfway around the world, put me up in a hotel, and all they asked in return was for me to make this presentation. The presentation I had lived with most intimately for the past several months was gone, and I could not even recall the title.

It was at this time the audio guy asked me if I was ready for the lavalier mic. "Uh, no," I replied. "I need to use the toilet." Good idea, he smiled, "We don't need to hear you doing that." I restarted my Mac and headed for the loo ... maybe to vomit. I assured myself that when I returned, with an empty bladder, some calming breaths, and a clear mind, I would find a way to recover what was needed. But I couldn't take any chances. I needed help. I found Marcus Ransom and said, "I'm having trouble, I can't think straight, and I need your help." (At least I think that's what I said. You'll have to ask Marcus for verification.) What happened next is a blur to me. Marcus and I tried a few things, but nothing changed. He also enlisted help from Tania Dastres, who was sitting nearby. Nothing was working. Tony, the conference organizer, made the executive decision for me to "sort yourself out in the hallway." They proceeded with the lightning talks. I had about 30 minutes to get it together.

Outside in the hallway, I decided to restore a CrashPlan backup. Good news, I had one! Bad news, it was going to take 56 minutes to restore. WHAT!? I returned to Keynote and tried to restore a previous version. This was something Marcus and I had tried a few minutes earlier but got nothing. This time I went through the restore process day by day ... for several days ... until I found one that would restore. Yes! It was several days old — going back to when I was last at home in The States — but at this point, anything was better than nothing. 

As I worked furiously to make some badly needed edits to my out-of-date Keynote file, Marcus and Tania emerged with a salvaged Keynote file. This file had all of my slides, albeit each one was low resolution and in random order. (I still need to learn from Tania how she managed this — update coming soon!) So between my days' old version and the salvaged pieces, I worked to reconstruct my "final" presentation. I worked (and continued to breathe) until Marcus emerged again to say, "it's time!"

What happened next was recorded (see below), so no need to describe it in detail.

What really happened?

Obviously, I missed multiple opportunities to avoid this situation. A few mistakes I made...

  • No Backup Copies. I thought a copy on my MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, and iCloud was enough. It was not.

  • No Paper Copies. Yes, my aggressive avoidance of paper was a poor choice.

  • I did not memorize my talk. In a perfect world, I would not need a presentation to present, but I struggle to work this way. My style is more conversational, and I rely on the Keynote slides to prompt me. (Maybe, I consider changing my style?)

  • I did not complete my talk days earlier. Uh. Yes, please. Next time. I promise and cross my heart.

Looking past all the ways I could have better prepared for — or even avoided —  this situation, what really happened?

For starters, I did not fully comprehend the relative slowness of the Internet speeds in The Land Down Under. The 100/100 connection I was accustomed to at home simply did not compare to the hotel, cellular, or conference space connections. I had built a habit of switching between devices and enjoying the convenience of iCloud sync. It worked beautifully. Until it didn't. I put too much trust in this system. Most likely, during my last switch from my MacBook to my iPad, then back again, the sync did not complete. It would be nice if iCloud gave some feedback or warnings (estimated time to complete the sync, please). It would be nice if iCloud did not present me with an option between two files it could not deliver. It would be nice if technology always worked flawlessly. But the reality is it sometimes doesn't, and I could have been better prepared. Lesson learned. 

Thank Yous 

Thank you to all of Australia (I think everyone from the country was at X World) and to Tony for your invitation, your assistance, and your understanding. A special big thanks to Tania and Marcus. I am relieved it all worked out ... sort of, kind of ... although I clearly and nearly screwed it all up on my own, I could not have recovered without your help.

Lesson Learned

  1. Have a few — quickly accessible — backups.

  2. Finish early (for real) then stop editing.

  3. Memorize ... if you can.

Cyber is dead. Long live Resilience.

Cyber is dead.

Long live Resilience.

Cyber Resilience Strategy

 is not a nice-to-have. The illusion of Cyber Security is gone. Cyber Security incidents will disrupt your business. As leaders, we're responsible to do business confidently knowing that when unplanned events (like cyber attacks) disrupt our business, our employees, partners, and clients can count on us to lead the way through.

Firewalls and antivirus are not a plan anymore, they're doors and windows that are quickly circumvented. Expecting criminals to keep off of our networks is foolish. No one ever knows the moment they've been hacked. We find out much later, after our networks have been compromised over long periods of time. It's no longer about the illusion of keeping threats out of our network. It's about how quickly we can respond to attacks when they occur. It's about Cyber Resilience Strategy .

Here are some important things we should do, using what we already have in place in our offices and homes, technology-wise:

Responding to an incident without adequate understanding of our network is an exercise in frustration and can make us appear incompetent to our own employees, partners, and clients. How can we possibly determine when activities are suspicious or not if we don't know where to look? When something happens, how will we isolate and mitigate an attack without the knowledge of how to effectively do so without just "shutting everything down"?

Incident response typically consists of identifying the source and shutting it down but that’s not enough. Without a complete understanding of our network and associated resources, we cannot determine if other systems were infected before the most obvious threat was shut down. When an attack occurs, the ability to discover lateral movement to stop the spread of an infection is critical, otherwise it leads to deeper data breaches and more costly risks.

Obtaining thorough knowledge and documentation of our network, both internal and external, is challenging. Cloud architectures and mobile technologies add complexities to the task. There are tools and methodologies to help us do this quickly but it must be done with intention and care.

Data collected from these need to be collected, analyzed, and stored over the long term to provide value for audit trails and our actionable intelligence. Done according to best practices, though, using the right tools, makes our finding needles in haystacks more efficient, less frustrating, and helps us sleep better at night. Building documentation about the network using this information is well worth the investment of time and resources. It helps us to swiftly detect and respond to attacks. Don’t rely on others to inform us that our network has been compromised.

Most security experts are not necessarily experts at incident response. Organizations need staff or consultants skilled at responding to incidents. An incident response team that includes someone intimately familiar with our network environment will produce more relevant, accurate information faster and enable us to properly respond to an incident when needed.

For an incident response plan to be effective, it also needs to include everyone. Other departments will be potentially impacted and should play a role in helping to plan for incidents before they happen. Bringing these departments up to speed on how to best respond in the event of an incident is important. No one wants to wait until a breach occurs. No one enjoys scrambling to figure out what to do when time is of the essence.

Budgets are always tight. The budget for something like this is there, just typically not allocated ahead of time. Establishing a formal budget for Resilience Strategy requires we prove its value to the organization. Need help translating the technical stuff into formal business relevance when the time comes? Get in touch. We are experts at this.

Management teams need to be kept in the loop when it comes staying educated about the current threat landscape, eliminating preventable risks, and planning. We're all smarter when we share our areas of expertise and, in doing so, make the Web safer to do business. Not to mention, if our management team has no idea what is going on, and we don’t take the time to inform them, then there’s little hope they will support us in these mission-critical efforts. That puts everyone's livelihood at risk.

we also need a concrete, actionable plan. Not having one results in everyone running around making hasty, uninformed decisions in the midst of a crisis and that is never good. A documented Cyber Resilience Strategy that very clearly delineates roles and approved procedures for handling an incident is the goal. Resilience Strategy planning will ask and answer questions like: Is the team authorized and enabled to take services offline during an attack? Are such actions permitted when necessary? What legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements need to be observed when a breach is discovered? It is critical to have these answers in writing and approved by the collective before an incident happens.

Resilience Strategy is not one-size-fits-all. Context is key to building it well. Make sure to take into account specific types of critical assets, processes, and roles, where they're located, our overall risk tolerance and how much leeway and latitude our response team will have to make major decisions that will involve changes to our technology infrastructure. Resilience Strategy needs to strike a balance between having policies in place to ensure that the right decisions can be made in a crisis, without too many layers of complexity of approval that hinders their efficacy. Protect the cultures we've built by building a Resilience Strategy that uses allies as assets, rather than choking the culture into submission to unrealistic expectations.

Focus on protecting what is most valuable. No one can protect everything all the time, so it is critical to understand where our organization’s owned risk really lies. Knowing which assets have the biggest impact if taken down by a broad spectrum of cyber attacks is key. Give thought to the types of scenarios that would put those assets at the most risk.

Improperly configured devices on our networks account for more than 75% of breaches that involve those types of cyber attacks. The maximum value of network devices is almost never achieved. Busy IT teams often hurriedly deploy devices with default configurations, fresh out-of-the-box. Too many organizations do this and it is an avoidable risk.

Today’s complex network infrastructures require that devices are tuned with intention according to the size and need of the infrastructure they are attached to, their purpose, and more. These devices need to be consistently tuned, updated, and reconfigured as our needs change and as the threat landscape continues to evolve and better practices emerge.

Don't neglect to properly configure a device.  That leads to a myriad of problems, which actually makes responding to incidents harder instead of easier. Some products, when not properly tuned, end up not being used at all. Companies that have been breached often find out later that one of their tools had not been implemented correctly and could have detected the attack before it was too late. When we purchase a new tool, take time to learn how it works best for our environment.

When a cyber attack happens, our investigations reveal a lot. Somehow, more than 50 percent of companies who experience a breach do not implement other suggestions made by investigative teams. 54 percent do not collect threat indicators from their own incidents for use in fighting future attacks. Organizations need to learn that information uncovered during an incident investigation is valuable in determining the types of attacks we may anticipate and how to be more aware and better prepared for them.

It's important to keep in mind that even experienced and talented attackers often reuse attack methods, exploits, and infrastructure. Like the organizations they target, if their tool set seems to be working, why change it? Learning as much as possible when an incident occurs enables us to gather insight for the future. While breaches are not awesome for business, they are unique and valuable learning opportunities. Make the most of them.

Do business more confidently knowing that when Cyber Security events disrupt our productivity we have a complete blueprint and intentional understanding of our technology environment and a customized Resilience Strategy for incident response to quickly, accurately, and confidently respond and protect our clients, our reputations, and our bottom line. Our teammates, partners, and clients are counting on us to lead the way.

Why the GDPR is a good idea

It's easy to forget the Internet was built to share information across a global network, not keep it private. Sharing has become an essential part of life and that's not going to change any time soon. Whenever we have something to share, in any format, there are a multitude of ways, tools, and modes to do that. Even stuff there was no intention of ever sharing somehow ends up out there. So, there's pros and cons to all of this sharing.

Read More



Getaway offers simply escapes to tiny cabins nestled in nature. Awesome! What an excellent way to get away and #forgetcomputers.

We're bummed that Getaway is currently only available in the areas of Boston, New York, and DC. However, what's stopping us from creating a getaway in our own neck of the woods!

Five Reasons to Take a Break from Screens


Every year in late spring, people from around the world choose to take a fresh look at their relationship with electronic media. They do so by participating in Screen-Free Week, which this year starts on April 30. This annual “media detox” began in 1994, when it was called TV-Turnoff Week, and has found renewed relevance in the age of smartphones. Read the full article here.

  1. Present-moment awareness
  2. Improved sleep
  3. Deepened connections
  4. Productivity and learning
  5. Breaking the habit

Smartphones Are Killing The Planet Faster Than Anyone Expected

We want to keep this space positive, but feel obligated to spread the word on this story.

Smartphones Are Killing The Planet Faster Than Anyone Expected
Researchers are sounding the alarm after an analysis showed that buying a new smartphone consumes as much energy as using an existing phone for an entire decade.

SUMMARY: If this all sounds like bad news, it’s because it absolutely is bad news. To make matters worse, the researchers calculated some of their conclusions conservatively. The future will only get more dire if the internet of things takes off and many more devices are hitting up the cloud for data.

ACTION STEPS: The bottom line is we need to buy less, and engage less [digitally], for the health of this entire planet.

Center for Humane Technology

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If you believe (like we do) that technology is hijacking our minds, then you gotta check-out

The Center for Humane Technology is a world-class team of deeply concerned former tech insiders who are working to reverse the digital attention crisis and realign technology with humanity's best interest.

We love this!

Take control of your phone. Try these simple changes to live more intentionally with your devices right now.

Be Aware ... of Technology


The future-world behavior of humans as envisioned by the creatives at Pixar in their 2008 movie, WALL-E is becoming increasingly too familiar. People of all ages are spending hours staring (often mindlessly) at a digital screen. In the streets of Chicago, I've sees mothers (or nannies) staring at their smartphones while pushing their babies who are laying in a stroller absorbed in a tablet screen! Way too often I encounter people who can't navigate stairs without pausing to stop (traffic) and stare at their handheld screens. We like to think this only happens to others, but there's a good change we've all fallen prey to losing track of time and attention while staring at the virtual worlds of Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and like. It's not healthy, it's not good, and we need to start consciously deciding when, where and how we use technology.

When you're in a safe and proper place for reading, check out this article from Vox by Ezra Klein

How technology is designed to bring out the worst in us

“Technology feels disempowering because we haven’t built it around an honest view of human nature,” says tech critic Tristan Harris.



Do you feel it? The burning desire to disconnect from technology and reconnect with family, friends, family, and nature? To nourish your inner thoughts, dreams, and desires? To live free of distracting technologies? To unplug from the world's chatter and protect — uninterrupted — the limited time we all share together?

#forgetcomputers was created to encourage the use of technology as a way to live a more satisfied life. Find balance in your use of technology. Live your life in the moment. Enjoy the pleasure of real-world human interaction. Spread the word — #forgetcomputers!

Our Mission
To encourage the use of technology in ways that complements, rather than dominates, life. To help people experience being in the moment, interacting with others, and participating in the world without getting lost in technology.