Issue #25 February 4, 2003

1. Buying a Slide Remote

One of the things that sets polished presenters apart is the use of a remote control to advance slides. With the right remote control, it can seem like the slides are changing magically because the audience doesn’t see the remote. I have used one for years and highly recommend it. I am about to buy a new one and thought I would share some thoughts on what you need to consider when buying a remote control. First is to consider what you want it to do. Do you need to advance slides only, or will you need it to have full mouse control as well? The answer to this question will drive how large the device will be – the more functions you require, the larger it will be (and the more expensive it will be). Second, how will the remote communicate with the computer? The receiver for older devices connects to the serial port and communicates using infra-red light (like a TV remote). The newer devices have a receiver that plugs into the USB port and communicates using radio frequency (RF) technology. This is a better approach because many new computers will not have serial ports and RF technology does not require you to point the remote at the receiver. Third, how hard are the buttons to push? This sounds trivial but it is not. One of our subscribers returned a remote after finding that the buttons were too hard and awkward to push. Make sure you try it out before you buy it. In most cases, a computer store will not have remotes since they are a low volume item, so you will likely have to check with a projector dealer or search the web. BTW, the one I am going to buy is the Remote Point Navigator from Interlink Electronics ( because it is small and does only the basic functions that I need.
2. What not to carry on a flight

As everyone knows, airport security has increased dramatically since 9/11. As one who travels with technology, I wanted to share my latest list of what to pack in your suitcase and not try to take on board an airplane. If you try to take these on board, you run the risk of having them confiscated (this has happened to me) or having to mail them back to yourself (had this happen as well). The list includes: tape of any type, computer security cables (especially if they have a lock on them), extension cords, power bars, computer cables (printer cables, extension cables) and web cameras. What I am doing to make it easier to pack and use this equipment is to use one of the small briefcase type bags you get from a conference and put all the cables in this zippered bag. Then put the bag on the top of your suitcase so that you can pack your cables in at the end of your session and head to the airport quickly. Be aware that the list of what is allowed on a flight is different at every airport and it changes literally every day, so it is better to check anything that might get confiscated. Also, it is more important than ever to know where a computer or office supply store is located close to your destination in case you need to make a last minute purchase of something that has “gone missing”. Check your favorite store’s web site for locations in your destination city. Another alternative is to courier your equipment to your destination hotel in advance of your travel, the downside being that you don’t have access to the equipment for a few days before your trip.

3. Useful Resource –

The next presentation web site that I want to share with you is by Tom Mucciolo. Tom is based in New York and is a very polished presenter and author of books on PowerPoint and presentation skills. His site contains numerous articles and tips on room setup, slide design and delivery. I saw Tom present about two years ago and he raised the bar for me in what was possible in helping audiences understand our message using slides. After his presentation, I went back and redesigned a section of a workshop I was giving and reduced the number of questions on that section by over 75%.