Adobe OnAIR Tour – a Bus Load of Jesuses

So i’ve done my hypnosis-induced duty by telling you all about the Adobe OnAIR Bus Tour. Now for a Queer Eye-style post-analysis of the event that you won’t find anywhere else.

Here are a few scraps of evidence that i collected at the day-long promotional event that i use to draw a profound conclusion.

The Bus.

So Adobe crams a bunch of dev geeks on a bus and ships them off on a nationwide tour to shill their new product.

It’s a bus. i know this because they called the promotion the Adobe OnAIR Bus Tour. When i arrived at the event, people were taking pictues of the bus. The bus factored in a majority of the pictures and tech demos i saw at the event. It was mentioned in nearly every breath the presenters took.

So here’s what i don’t get: it’s a bus.

Adobe saves a few bucks on air fare for their overweight A-Team and decides to spin it by promoting the Hell out of the fact that the tour is on a bus. Forgive, but it’s not like you’re the Rolling Thunder Tour on a year-long concert crawl with Bob Dylan and Joan Friggin Baez penning songs for the ages and redefining the cultural zeitgeist. You’re handful of overweight nerds sleeping on a bus. The bus became this big shiny phallus that all of the presenters stroked onstage until it shot an enormous wad of 77 000 pictures onto the presentation screen which were, coincidentally, all taken inside the bus. The Escher-like qualities of this collossal wank boggle the mind.

The 77 000 pictures taken inside the bus.

In the final session of the extremely long day, well after everyone had run out of interesting things to say, Mike Chambers positively gushed over the fact that he mounted a camera inside the bus and, using an Adobe AIR app, uploaded a time-released shot EVERY MINUTE to Flickr. The result was a Flickr account with 77 000 pictures of a mobile sausage party, with such amazing highlights as:

– chubby technophiles lounging on benches
– two dudes playing Guitar Hero
– an empty bench, devoid of overweight dudes
– dudes checking their email on laptops

Then, for his presentation’s money shot, Chambers showcased a video where he – get this – PLAYED THE PHOTOS IN RAPID SUCCSSION to create the ILLUSION OF MOVEMENT. He began running SEVEN MINUTES of timelapse photography where, if you squinted kinda hard and clapped your hands to believe in fairies, you could swear it ALMOST ran at the same frame rate as an invention that we now call 30 FRAMES PER SECOND VIDEO. Mike was all “OMG, this is incredible! Look – when you put all these photos together, it looks like we’re really moving around the bus!”

This is almost better than ... absolutely nothing.
It’s unclear to me why Adobe thinks that developers should take a day off work to endure this.

“LOOK! i duct taped the camera to the wall and it started to droop as it took the pictures but it looks kind of artistic when you play it back!”

His words. Seriously. Then he said, with his hands down his pants, that he’d love to run a contest where the winner had to find the best picture in the lot of 77 000. He went on to explain that the pictures totalled only 77 000 because he turned the camera off at night when the bus was dark “and the pictures were less interesting“.

My conclusion?

Riding the bus makes you Jesus.

i’m pretty sure Jesus never even rode a bus, but you wouldn’t know it the way these guys carried on. Humility is not their strong suit. When i approached Grant Skinner just to introduce myself as a Fellow of the Flash, it was almost as though he was offended because i didn’t kiss his ring. Fair enough – he was checking his email. He’s an important man. Adobe’s not paying him to sit in a corner to answer questions and meet developers, following a presentation where the speaker announced that the AIR team members were going to sit in a corner to answer questions and meet developers. … ?

Then there was Kevin Hoyt, who looked like he had somewhere else to be when i started asking questions about signed code and installation trust with AIR. Sure, sure – i may have mistakenly called him “Mike” a few times, but you gotta take that kind of thing in stride when you’re clearly the Second Coming of the TechnoChrist. He just so happened to be talking to Grant Skinner when i approached him, and there was this barely perceptible moment where they exchanged “don’t bother with this guy” vibes through osmosis, or some kind of new AIR app they built that enables telepathy.

Here’s one more gripe for you:

Adobe Hires Nerds, Not Presenters

All of the awkwardness of the junior high graduation dance was on full display as the Adobe bus buddies took the stage to promote the product, making such amateurish presentation decisions as yelling “HOWZ EVERBUDDY DOIN THIS MURNIN!! YUH FEELIN GOOD???” at 9:15 AM, and when everyone gave the typical collective zombie moan response, “WHAT? Iiiii CAAaan’t HEEEEAR YOooooUUu!” like that pirate from the opening of Spongebob Squarepants.

On the subject of bikini bottoms, kudos to the presenter from Akamai, who despite being a very nebbish fellow, took time during his presentation to show a client video of a bikini contest. That’s what i call understanding your audience.

Grant Skinner, despite acting somewhat papal when i introduced myself to him, was the only presenter who threw out ideas about how to actually earn MONEY using AIR.

A succession of borderline mentally retarded presenters from various sponsor companies followed, each speaker poorer than the last, until the last guy came to the stage, sat on the mic, and yodelled his address to a presentation-weary crowd. Horribly bad.

The clear winner all day was Lee Brimelow, who was the only presenter to effectively use humour in his presentation. While the rest of the presenters stroked their nipples and talked about the bus all day long, Lee showed off a few useless but amusing AIR apps that showcased the platform’s features in exciting and unique ways.

i spoke to Lee afterward, and he was a class act. Humble to the bone, and pleasant in person, i found him eagerly answering attendees’ questions and smiling while he did it. Granted, Lee had just joined the tour and wasn’t spoiled by all of the rotten road fatigue and delusions of grandeur that plagued everyone else. But Lee is the best example of Adobe’s money well spent on an evangelist.

With a few stops left on the tour and the developer conference, Max, as the big finish, it will be interesting to see if an evangelist can convert a bus load of Jesuses.

7 thoughts on “Adobe OnAIR Tour – a Bus Load of Jesuses

  1. Ryan

    Over the top? Your day-long software promo opened with a a ten-foot tall projected image of a quadruple cheeseburger that you ate on a dare. Tit for tat, Lee! :)

  2. Mike Chambers

    I am sorry that you did not have the best experience at the event in Toronto.

    As you noted, the event is not as polished as some other events / conferences you may have gone to, and I apologize for that. We are primarily developers and not professional speakers. However, we are all excited about Adobe AIR, and are trying to share our enthusiasm and knowledge about it.

    As far as the images of the bus running during the break, that was a slideshow of images from the tour (and thus, you can expect that there will be a lot of images of and on the bus). You can view all of the images from the flickr group at:

    Finally, while I understand you did not have a great experience, I dont think the personal attacks were necessary. Everyone on the bus, and at the tour is just a regular person like you, and they don’t deserve such over the top, vicious attacks based on your bad experience at the event.

    mike chambers

  3. Ryan

    Thanks, Mike. Please don’t mistake me – as i said, the product is great, and i thought the staff did an admirable job conveying what it could do. i did not have a bad experience at all.

    If i were to make a few concise suggestions for improvement, they’d be (in this order)

    1) cut the event in half .. useful information started getting scarce at around 1PM. i did not find the sponsor speakers at all useful – most were shockingly poor presenters.

    2) focus a little more on “what’s in it for me” from the perspective of your audience. The occasional in-joke is alright, but for most of the day i felt like you guys were swapping stories about a summer camp you’d all been to, and it left me out in the cold.

    3) i don’t care about the bus. i know it’s an Adobe marketing thing that you were probably asked to tout as much as humanly possible, but it was a very soft sell for me. Tell me about the product – features, cost and capabilities. Tell me about training and tutorials. Tell me how it’s going to earn me money. There are too many other products vying for my time and attention to be distracted by an abundance of fluff.

    4) try to be a little more approachable, especially during the much-ballyhooed “networking session.”

    That’s not a targeted Mike Chambers-only list. Those points apply across the board.

    If i got too personal in my review, i apologize. This is something that i endure conference after conference. Everyone wants to put on their macho developer hat, look cool and be impressive. i felt like Adobe, as a company, was holding on high this elite boys’ club of developers who were far too mighty to talk to me or answer my questions.

    If the post came off as a vicious attack, don’t fret none. i wrote it winkingly. (the pirate from Spongebob Squarepants? Come on. That’s funny.)

    i’ve heard great things about you and have read some of your stuff. i found you to be a capable presenter and you know your stuff cold. Grant seems very nice, but a little distracted. i was very surprised that he would choose to check email instead of trying to hold down a conversation with an attendee. And Kevin … i really don’t know what Kevin’s issue was. It was very odd to come away from a promo event feeling bad for talking to the presenters.

    i just worry you guys might have cabin fever from being on the bus too long. If the next batch of time-release photos has you in tribal paint and loin cloths vying for control over who eats the last granola bar, this blog will seem eerily prophetic.

  4. Bobi Skinner


    I would like to personally apologise to you about how Grant acted towards you. He was distracted because he was doing a quick chat with me – his wife. He even told me that he was a busy but wanted to make sure that his wife was ok in our new house (less than a week old) with our 3 month old puppy who broke his leg and required surgery days before he left for Toronto.

    Sorry, Sometimes the dog just has to come first. :)

  5. Ryan

    What – a room full of sweaty tech nerds had to compete with an adorable puppy with a broken leg? Man. No contest. It was like that Flash Forward event i went to in 2000 where that kitten was stuck in a well.

    Someone a million times wiser than me once said that people don’t do things for no reason. Again, Grant seems very nice – but a puppy with a broken leg! No competition. Especially if the puppy was dressed up like one of those Anne Geddes babies.

    No need to apologize at all. It looks like the stars aligned perfectly so that i caught everyone on an off day. i hope your puppy is on the mend.

    And is dressed up like grapes.


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