Top 10 Tech Embarrassments You'll Want to Avoid

Christopher Buttner, founder of PRThatRocks in Northern California, had just finished a 2-hour speaking engagement in front of a large university crowd when he dashed off to the loo for a long-awaited respite. With his wireless microphone still on.

"I had to go so badly that when I made it to the urinal, I let out an incredibly loud moan of pleasure, augmented by the sound of streaming water-on-water," he writes. "The wireless lavalier mic I was wearing was still broadcasting live through the PA system in the lecture hall. My lecture, and subsequent moment of relief, was also being recorded."

When he returned to the hall, Buttner received a standing ovation. And, apparently, immortality. "I think my moaning sound sample, and various water-on-water audio clips, are used in a sound library somewhere at a major digital recording institute in Northern California," he says.

How to avoid having this happen to you: If you can't remember to unclip the mic, be sure to strap on a Motorman's Friend.

Tech Embarrassment 4: Your Cell Phone Is Not a Flotation Device

We don't know what it is about smart phones, but they seem magnetically attracted to bodies of water--particularly in the bathroom.

Patti Wood, a motivational speaker in Georgia brave enough to use her full name, writes:

"I was in a hotel room, talking to my sister on the cell phone while I put on makeup to give a speech. I got mascara in my eye, so I reached over the toilet to get some tissue. Sure enough, I blinked, and the cell phone dropped into the toilet. I reached in and grabbed it soaking wet, and managed to dry it off. It is still my cell phone. My sister still teases me about talking on the phone near the toilet."

Not to be outdone, Jill, a chef (and CrackBerry addict) in Chicago, says she was on a flight home and really had to use the facilities. So, she...

"...went to the lav and sat down, and heard a disheartening 'thunk.' It was my BlackBerry hitting the airplane toilet--never to return to my hands. In my confusion and rushing to make the flight, I had slipped it into my back pocket before getting on the plane, and I forgot to take it out."

Fortunately, she had both insurance and current backups of all her data. Less than a day later, she was up and cracking again.

How to avoid having this happen to you: When you really gotta go, leave the phone behind. And be sure to back up your mobile data daily, just in case.

Generally it's a bad idea to send e-mail with cute little animations embedded. But if you must send e-mail with cute little animations, don't do it the day after a national tragedy.

Neal, an executive with an Internet consulting firm in Georgia, shares a story about working for a small midwestern Web agency in 2001 that had just opened an office in New York:

"We were planning to have an open house in early October. The e-mail invitation was scheduled to go out on September 12 (yes, one day after 9/11). That morning I told the owner's secretary not to send the invitation because nobody was in the mood for a party in New York. I was overruled, and the secretary pressed the Send button. The invitation embedded a small animation: An airplane leaving Milwaukee and flying to New York City--directly toward the Twin Towers."

Within a minute the phones started ringing. Angry e-mail poured in. Neal says the company disabled the animation, but it was too late. The party never happened, and the New York office closed shortly thereafter.

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