davidd (davidd) wrote,

Powerpoint Blues

I received a telephone call from The Apple Store on Monday informing me that my PowerBook is ready for pick-up. I don't know that I really want to deal with weekday afternoon traffic after work to drive downtown to pick it up. It would probably take an hour or so drive to Ala Moana from work, and at least two hours to drive back. I shall probably wait until the weekend, or at least until Friday night.

I'm a bit flummoxed by a cross-platform compatibility issue on a PowerPoint project I've been working on. A while back we had a presentation at work on making podcasts using PowerPoint. Of course, outputting as a ".mov" file is a Mac feature not available on the PC version of Office 2003, which is what I currently have to work with.

I started on the .ppt project on the eMac at work, saved it to a thumb drive, and finished it off on the PC at home. So far, so good. After considerable trial-and-error, I was able to add background music (a .wav file added as a sound to the first slide) that plays through the entire automated presentation simultaneously with a recorded narration. The presentation plays just dandy in either .ppt or .pps form on a PC.

However, on a Mac (I tried eMac and a brand new iMac flat screen) it will only play back with the recorded narration. There's a "blip" of the background music for a fraction of a second at the beginning, before the narration kicks in. Once the narration starts the background music disappears.

I went through numerous variations on saving the project, on both the mac and the PC, but I've been unable to come up with a version that plays properly on a Mac (although I was able to cobble a version which plays the background music, but no narration). This is the first time the Mac platform has failed me! I suspect this has more to do with Microsoft intentionally sabotaging compatibility with Apple products rather than a shortcoming in the Mac. After all, Microsoft seems to think nothing of having PowerPoint create HTML versions which are only readable by the most current version of IE.

As an aside, to a point I understand Microsoft focusing on compatibility within its own product line. However, it appears to me that they purposely create barriers between their products and platforms and others. This seems in some ways like a short-sighted business practice. I tend to steer clear of MS products for specifically that reason. Obviously Apple plays the same game, too, what with their iPod and stuff; and I know there are licensing and copyright and patent technicalities. Still... creating M-HTML code files? I thought the whole purpose of HTML was its universality. I thought the purpose behind PowerPoint was to communicate. It's tough enough working in an educational setting with mixed platforms, and having to coach kids through the differences in Operating Systems, without having software that is intentionally mutually exclusive.

Maybe there are technical constraints I don't understand.

Anyway, I'm annoyed at the moment. Even old versions of PPT on the Mac will output as ".mov" files.

I'm currently downloading the trial version of Office 2007. I'll see how "full-featured" the demo version is, and if I can coax a cross-platform (and web-friendly) version of my multi-media PowerPoint out of it.

The Office 2007 demo took about an hour to download at home. At school, the little "time remaining" counter was jumping between nine hours and twenty-some hours. It's kinda challenging using the "multi-media internet tools" available for educators that we keep being "presentationed" about when our bandwidth is so restricted it takes Dance Mat Typing fifteen minutes to load. But I'll save that rant for another time.

Sneezing and congested today; I fear I may be getting sick again.

[EDIT] Well, I can't get anything different out of PowerPoint 2007. Weird interface, to be sure. Is there an antonym for "intuitive"? "Counterintuitive," I suppose. "Confusing" is more on point.

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