Monday, December 8, 2008

Part 16: Presenting with notes

Setting up projectors is hopeless. I think a clip from an article sums it up well:

A functional Presenter View has been included in Microsoft's PowerPoint 2007 ($95 upgrade at Amazon, for PowerPoint alone). Microsoft finally gave professional speakers software that allows us to have private, online notes synchronized with each of our slides.

But before you go running to install that product you should know three very important things: First, if you are a PowerPoint 2003 user seeking to get this feature you will be saddled with the significant cognitive overhead of having to learn PowerPoint 2007, with very marginal benefits for the vast majority of those who already know and are good at using PowerPoint 2003. PowerPoint/Office's 2007 ribbon interface is quite irritating to learn for PowerPoint 2003 users (there are third party plugins to get the classic 2003 interface but they don't help all that much). Second, remember that Microsoft doesn't allow PowerPoint 2003 and 2007 to exist on the same computer. They force you to install only one or the other on your machine. Third, don't think you can use PowerPoint 2007 on your laptop (for display) and your familiar 2003 on your desktop (to create and edit your presentations) without the following limitation. If you create anything in PowerPoint 2007 on your laptop, even using the 2003 compatible file type, it often won't display properly in PowerPoint 2003, and sometimes vice versa. So you if you install PowerPoint 2007 on your laptop to use its Presenter View you really shouldn't use your laptop to make or edit slides (unacceptable for most of us), or as I said, they won't display properly in PowerPoint 2003 (you'll get random font, size and italics changes when you try to import slides from your 2003 into your 2007 slide decks, lots of fun).

Bolds theirs, italics mine.

Where to start? Well, first it takes Microsoft years to figure out something which should be intuitive: that people want to have notes on the computer and slides on the projector. Trying to set it up in Office is hopeless, even when you are projecting on the computer and the screen it refuses to detect the second display.

Second, the updated version of their software was so braindead and not the least bit backwards compatible, so installing it results in a cascading litany of issues; enough that it is not even worth it.

Third, even this workaround doesn't necessarily work.

I only spent an hour trying to set the computer up to try to do this today. After failing miserably, I sauntered off, glad that it wasn't me making the presentation.

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