It’s been said that necessity is the mother of all invention. She is also the mother of solving ridiculously frustrating technical problems.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
I have a simple problem – I’m giving a client presentation to a small group in two weeks that I’m building in Prezi, and I’m anticipating not having access to a projector, which means my audience will have to view the presentation on my laptop. This is why I have a Macbook Pro with an Apple Remote. I grab my handy Apple Remote to run a demo test, and low and behold I discover this remote wasn’t designed to run presentations outside of Keynote or PowerPoint, and it won’t run the Prezi from inside my web browser either. Bollocks! I picture myself at a table with five other people all leaning in trying to focus on a presentation while I’m continually reaching over to click forward and back arrows. Mmm, no, I don’t think so. I go looking for a solution, there must be an app for that, right? Numerous websites and app downloads later (and a few dollars lighter in my wallet) I begin to lose hope, but I persevere and ultimately succeed in my quest. The following are some recommendations I found that worked and a few that were a complete waste of my time. If you’re trying to accomplish the same goal, maybe this will save you some time.
What didn’t work
Rowmote — Their website specifically lists Prezi as an app it will run, but doesn’t specify whether it runs it in a browser, or in Prezi Desktop, or runs a portable Prezi. I bought the $.99 version and found it didn’t work for any of the three and I wasn’t going to spend another $4.99 on the Pro version (which supposedly only adds wireless mouse and keyboard functions that I don’t need) only to find out it didn’t run Prezi either. No real documentation to speak of and support is an e-mail address.
Mobile Mouse – Sounded like just the solution and the lite version is Free. But like many free apps, the title is misleading (Remote/Mouse/Trackpad…) The lite version doesn’t actually have the remote and also doesn’t run Prezi. Moving on…
What did work
I go back to the start on the Prezi Presenting with Remote Clickers page, and find I didn’t read far enough down the page on the first go-around. On the recommended forum there are links to two promising remedies: Hack the Apple Remote with some code, or a Google App called Presentation Remote. Since I wanted to use the Apple Remote in the first place, I attempt the hack (not a hack really, but another app install). So I download an App called iRed Lite, install and launch it – it makes a boing noise and pops up an interface. After a few hours of fiddling with it I got it to work with a portable Prezi and in the Safari web browser. No luck in Chrome, and in order to get it to work at all, I had to delete all the layers (which make it work with other applications like iTunes and QuickTime) except Prezi in Safari and Prezi.app. Before I deleted the other layers it kept opening Front Row and/or iTunes every time I hit a button. Annoying and frustrating. Cons: This does work, but is a total pain in the a– to get up and running. Pros: Once you fiddle your way through setup, it should work fine every time after.
Presentation Remote was a lot easier. This route doesn’t use the Apple Remote, but instead turns my iPhone into a remote with one simple app called deMobo. I already use Google Chrome, so I went to the Apps section, downloaded the free PR Chrome App and watched a fun, short video about setup. I then downloaded the deMobo app to my phone, launched it, scanned a QR code to connect my phone with my laptop, and copy/pasted a sample Prezi URL into Remote Presentation. Three simple buttons (and a swipe option) to move the presentation forward or backward, full screen. Beautiful, in under 5 minutes.
Pros: Easy installation and works without any hassle from the word go. Cons: None so far.
Figuring this out took an entire day – I got nothing else accomplished seeking a solution to my problem. In terms of productivity, some people would consider this a useless waste of a day, or say I spent way too much time finding an answer to a seemingly inconsequential problem.
I, however, feel like I accomplished a huge feat. I took the time to focus on solving one problem, and in a day found two workable solutions that I will have at my disposal any time I need them in the future. Moral of this story with a happy ending — spending the time now so I don’t have to later actually makes me more efficient not less, because now I can focus all of my attention on developing an awesome presentation instead of problem solving frustrating technical issues. ✽
Update 10/26: Possible YouTube issue resolution
In response to commenter Jo who posted a great question about getting YouTube to work properly within a Prezi on Presentation Remote, I did a little digging and ran a few tests in Prezi and I think I have solution for you. Follow these steps and let me know if it solves your issue!
- Within your Prezi presentation, make sure you have assigned your YouTube video a path point, and that the point goes directly to the YouTube video, not a frame.
- There are two places where you have to enter “Full Screen” and you have to complete both steps.
- When you first enter Presentation Remote, go to the upper right corner and click “Full Screen”.
- Select the Prezi you want to view
- Enter “Full Screen” again on the DeMobo remote by clicking the Full Screen icon.
You should now be able to view your Prezi in its entirety, without it leaving Full Screen mode when a YouTube link comes up on a path.