Ah, yes the joys of presentations with sketchy hardware and software. So I was speaking today at the Portland Area DotNet User Group for the second time this year. Last time I was there I had major issues with my machine trying to get the projector to work. It took about 20 minutes of fiddling with the wires, switchbox and rebooting countless times to get the machine to sync.
So when I went out today I went with some trepidation figuring I’d get there early and start ‘fiddling’ right away to make sure it would all work out. Nat – I plug the video into the back of my machine and immediately I get an image. Proper size everything looks great – except my screen isn’t working. So pressing FN-8 to resync to one of the other video modes and poof it’s gone. Never to return again.
More fiddling and there are a few blinks here and there but I get no good sync. Finally the image pops up but it’s 640x480 and it will not resize. Or it goes from 640x480 straight to native 1900x1200 even though I set it to 1024x768.
I’m running Vista RC1 and of course everybody sitting watching the spectacle is groaning about Vista this and that, but I had these same issues last time I was there running XP. Somehow the hardware just did not want to sync. At some point the screen popped up in the right mode with both my screen and the project displaying the right resolution. Whoo hoo. triumphant and all – on to come crashing down to reality when I touch the computer and it jumps off into some other resolution. Groan…
So it goes on. Install the VGA driver, re-boot in Safe Mode all to no avail. Almost there, tantalizingly close, but no Sir – no cigar. Half an hour of this and I’m about to pull out the USB stick and ask somebody for their machine to use for the presentation…
In walks Scott Hanselman – ‘what’s all the commotion here’. 'Let me see'… as he steps to the machine and fiddles with things faster than I can follow. Fazit: “You’re screwed “… but, that’s only a challenge to the man I guess…
So he proceeds with his new idea: Fire up another machine and remote desktop into my machine then run the presentation over Remote Desktop. Link the two machines together with a network cable (didn’t know that worked without a cross over but it does!) assign two local IP addresses and about 5 minutes later the two machines are connected and talking to each other via Remote Desktop. Brilliant. The idea and even more so to get it done in a few minutes!
My hats off to Scott! Seriously – I felt like a dumb ass while he was whirling through this shit even on Vista with everything in the WRONG place when I was going “hang on” to his request “set up the IP on this machine”. By the time he was done with Vista he was taken controls from me on the other machine to get that set up too… The guy’s a madman!
I feel pretty confident I can solve computer problems eventually, but not at the speed of light. Damn… a very humbling moment. Again thanks, Scott you saved my butt today!
Later that night when I got back home I checked out my machine and tried to ascertain myself that this is not a major software issue in Vista that’s hanging up the machine. Here I run a dual monitor set up with the second monitor plugged in via DVI cable. It works, but I have some shutdown issues with the second monitor – when putting to sleep and then coming back the machine forgets its state. So I tried getting into presentation mode with this set up and I couldn’t. In fact I got the same kind of hang up as I had earlier with the sync getting confused and actually showing only one or the other but never both.
As it turns out though this appears to be an issue with DVI port not with the VGA video. After a reboot I tried plugging in the VGA cable in the back of the machine and I instead got an immediate dialog in Vista that a new monitor was plugged in, and what do I want to do with it:
Mirror, Extend my Desktop onto it or ignore the monitor and it does all three things nicely. Switching back and forth with video sync switch too jumps correctly switches the two monitors so it’s easy to get into synched presentation mode. I didn’t get this dialog ever from the projector – apparently this is some sort of plug and play feature and the projector simply didn’t have this. Using the VGA cable also solves the odd Sleep/Wake up failures that have been bugging me for a while.
It’s a relief to see it working - as I’m doing more presentations next week. I think the issue encountered today is a hardware issue between the particular video card and the projector. I had similar issues with XP earlier this year and at the time it was like black magic that all of a sudden it started working <shrug>.
Oh, and the ATLAS presentation went very well after this late start. There were a lot of questions and comments again which is good to see. I’ll have some more thoughts about some of the questions and comments - the same questions seem to come up repeatedly so it might be a good idea to address them here as well. More on that tomorrow…