This is a phrase that is much in use these days. The Man from Madras Musings notes that it is employed in just about any context – from Metro rail to the capability of a deliveryman in reaching a parcel to the destination where it is intended. MMM is of however of simpler stock and thinks of last mile connectivity each time he is called into make a presentation.

MMM readily accepts these invites. He likes being on stage and speaking from there. It is also the one place where his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, allows him to exercise his right to freedom of speech. And he does prepare for these. But all the while, even as he goes about collecting the necessary photographs, audio and video files, he does have several doubts at the back of his head, and all of these have to do with last mile connectivity – namely will his laptop communicate with the overhead projector at the venue? And this is something that MMM has come to realise over the years has no one answer. It may happen; on the other hand it may not. It is all the luck of the draw.

Much depends on the so-called technician at the site. This is generally a negative-minded individual who is of the view that his (and MMM is yet to meet a female at this job) projection equipment is of the best and failure if any, to communicate rests solely with the laptop being brought along. Too often, these technicians know only how to switch on the projector and if things do not work at first click, switch off and switch on the projector again, before throwing in the towel. And then it is all left to MMM, who apart from praying fervently, gets on with all the twiddling, sometimes suffering nasty electric and other shocks in the process. Fortunately it all comes out fine at the end but only after some plugging and, praying.

Coming down to first principles, have you ever seen a connector to the projector that is not held together by scotch tape? MMM has seen none. It his view that the moment a projector is bought the technician jumps on the connecting lead and having cracked it, proceeds to paste it together with tape. It must be a Masonic right of sorts, or it could be a requirement of the Projector Operators Guild. The second requirement is that the projector always has to be propped up with something and this can vary – from a vintage telephone directory to a brick. After all this, the image on screen will still be at an angle to the screen itself, with considerable parts of it spilling on to the wall behind thereby giving viewers a three-dimensional effect.

Lastly, the projector has to exhibit its venerable age by always being coated and covered in dust. This in MMM’s view contributes to much of the problem but not in the opinion of the technician. He loves the dust, perhaps as a Biblical reminder that that is what we will all end up as. But this has an unfortunate side effect – the colours of the presentation get all distorted. What MMM planned out as a pleasing pastel pink becomes a garish magenta and all greens appear as yellow while white does not show up at all. But try explaining that to the technician.

Last week MMM reached a venue to deliver a presentation and found the organiser wringing his hands. Apparently the screen for MMM’s presentation had not yet arrived. MMM was delighted. Here he was, all prepared for a battle with the projector when even the mother of all equipments had not come. MMM was all set for a presentation sans modern aids when the screen made its grand arrival. It was MMM’s turn to wring his hands but fortunately all went well, not however before some baulking on the part of the technician, complete with a taped up lead.