We all live in a yellow submarine

I recently gave a briefing on some software I have been developing to a fairly large audience of technical people. These were all people within my department, and the purpose of these briefings is to keep everyone up to speed on interesting projects going on in the department.

I usually do these off-the-cuff, but I have some little jokes that I think up ahead of time in order to make what are otherwise boring presentations a little more humorous. In this case, however, the funniest thing about the presentation was unintentional.

The software is a database that tracks that status of research projects throughout their life-cycle. It can be used to find out the type of research being done by an organization, who is doing the research, news and publications related to the research, etc. One of the features I illustrated in my presentation is the ability to search for keywords. In the resulting list, the matching keywords are highlighted in yellow to make it obvious where and why that particular record matched.

There were a number of projects in the database involving submarines, and I decided to demonstrate a search using the keyword “submarine”. This brought back a list of matching projects, with the appropriate keyword highlighted in yellow. I hadn’t yet explained why the keywords was highlighted.

At this point, there was a question from one attendee, in a mock-facetious tone: “Jamie, can you tell us why the word ‘submarine’ is yellow?”

To which my off-the-cuff response was, “Well, you see, we all live in a yellow submarine.”

It really wasn’t all that funny, but for some reason, the room fell apart.