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Sunday, June 13, 2004

Technology bites sometimes

So I sat down Saturday to finish my grandparent's presentation. I'd planned to do it with Powerpoint. I've done a million presentations with Powerpoint, so how hard could it be, right?

Well, I intermittently forget how much Powerpoint sucks ass. This was one of those moments. For all those presentations I do, I've learned how to pommel Powerpoint into doing what I want, but that doesn't make it an elegant or graceful tool. Earlier in the week, I had trouble with it because it wouldn't play mp3 sound files. It recognized it as a sound file, let me insert it as a sound file, but when you actually go to play it, no joy. Plan B was to convert it to a .wav file and try again. That part worked out after some techno-wrangling, but then it turns out that a limitation of Powerpoint is that if you insert a sound, it only plays the sound as long as you're on THAT slide. Go to the next slide, and it cuts off. Of course it never occurred to anyone working on development of Powerpoint that a user might want to set all or part of a series of slides to music. I started trying to figure ways around this, and it looked more and more like the best bet would be to bring a boombox and press play on the CD when starting the slide show. This is not the elegant solution I had in mind.

Finally, willing to admit defeat at the hands of Microsoft, I called Kevin, and recounted some of my travails so far, including the part where multiple people have suggested how easy this would be using iPhoto or iMovie or some such. Luckily, all of my taunting of the past week over his RandomPixel tardiness did not deter him from offering to rush in and save the day. He came over with one laptop, returned home to get another, and after a whole series of crazy moments involving a network router, and iTunes, and the household wireless, and ultimately iPhoto and iDVD and Amadeus II, we finally got a DVD of two songs and 120 photographs burned. This is better than plan A because now I can also give a copy of the disk to my grandparents, mom, uncle, and cousins as a party gift.

I've never been a Windows loyalist. Macs are better at some things, and Windows is better at some things, but I gotta say, the Mac blew my shiny new Windows laptop out of the tub on this task. Now I want a Mac of my own to play with. The end result is just gorgeous. On the other hand, I hope I'm not dumb enough to volunteer for a task like this again anytime soon.


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