Much has been written in recent days of the stepping down of Steve Jobs from his position as Apple CEO.
Some have discussed his place in history, some his leadership and vision, and others his design genius.
A few have already lamented the likely passing of his “Stevenotes”, the colloquial expression for his superlative keynote presentations where new Apple products, services and roadmaps are announced.
Those of us who have embraced Apple’s Keynote app as our presentation software of choice – with all the encumbering disadvantages such as conference organiser expectations we will tow the line and present with Powerpoint – have Steve to thank for offering an Apple alternative with he as its most famous beta tester.
(One wonders with Steve unlikely to give more official Apple keynotes whether the software will now advance or stay as is…)
If you’ve watched a SteveNote (I was lucky to be in the audience for his final Macworld keynote in 2008) you’ll know he works without a script. That’s not to say that every word he speaks is not scripted; it’s that he doesn’t require cue cards to read from, or an auto cue such as President Obama uses as if he’s watching a tennis match.
Instead, apart from his legendary rehearsal work ethic, Jobs and his fellow Apple executives employ Keynote’s Presenter display option, such that presenters can see both current slide and the next one, invisible to the audience.
Powerpoint has incorporated this feature in recent updates, although in almost every workshop I offer on presentation skills the vast majority of trainees are unaware of its presenter display, and indeed the way most conferences are setup, it’s very difficult to use it, given you’re so often expected to hand over your slides to “central control” (which I never do) and forced to use a mirrored display.
For almost all my Macworld presentations I have taken with me a 17″ monitor and splitter box so I could have a screen in front of me rather than turn around to see if the projected audience display is doing what it’s meant to be doing.
Keynote helps by showing a green or red progress bar as well as coloured blue blobs to show how many builds remain on the current slide. Useful to begin with when introduced a few versions ago, it’s a rather unsophisticated method in 2011.
Unfortunately, unlike Powerpoint’s presenter display, movies and builds do not show in real time, hence the need if you use many movies to know what’s going on. But even more so, when I occasionally read a slide’s text, I do so for very specific reasons.
I only ever read quotes, usually highlighting words with various build styles or call outs, otherwise one is guilty of the worst presentation sin: reading slides to your audience which infantalises them.
But there are times when I’m far away from the Macbook and with my ageing eyes struggle to see the words on the slide. A better solution must be found, especially when a certain Australian airline broke my 17″ monitor on a recent flight and it and the splitter box and power supply really added unnecessary weight in my travels.
But recently I think I’ve found a solution, a holy grail of presenting. It’s both hardware and software based, and comes in at around $100, the price of a cheap monitor and splitter box.
The Software: Doceri
I first located this software at Macworld 2011, occupying a small booth. Its history is as a home automation software maker, who saw in the release of the iPad an opportunity to enter the Apple marketplace. Indeed, given the iPad is non-denominational meaning it can play alone or on Macs or PCs, there exists both a Mac and PC desktop app which is used with the iPad app. It’s the iPad app you pay for, with an “introductory” price of $50. The desktop app is a free download.
[UPDATE: The Doceri team have commented I have reversed the pricing. The iPad app is free, but the desktop app is currently $50. This is good news because you can download a functional demo to try it all to see if my enthusiasm is justified.]
From the time I purchased Doceri in early February soon after Macworld, both apps have been updated several times, and the latest version released in early August to take it to V1.2, offers significant improvements.
So what is Doceri?
Doceri connects your desktop or laptop Mac (or PC) with your iPad wirelessly. You can either connect both to the same network, or place your Mac in ad hoc wireless mode without any internet connection and still have iPad and Mac connect.
Doceri Desktop places an icon which looks like a finger in your Mac’s menu bar, as shown below, very far left:
And in the latest version, it offers a splashscreen when it opens which shows you your connectivity and IP addresses, which is very helpful, below:
Clicking on the Doceri icon in the menu bar brings up a variety of choices, but the most important one is Preferences:
Notice Doceri offers you a number of choices for selecting a laser pointer. The idea here is to do away with those awful laser pointers embedded in remote controls, and use the iPad to mouse around Keynote using one of these pointers. You can have arrows and hands in multiple colours which can be switched to right or left pointing.
There are also small arrows for selecting moving forward or back actions in the slide deck.
But the action in fact takes place on the iPad, so here’s where we go next to see how the Doceri app (which is the one you pay for) operates.
Some screen shots, starting with Doceri on the iPad desktop:
Clicking on the app, reveals a splash screen, below:
Notice how Doceri keeps a record of its connection saving you time from hunting it down should you lose connection, or merely take a break during your presentation. It can also search for other Macs with Doceri loaded up, such as students’ Macs, requiring a password. Clicking on the Mac of choice takes you to the main Doceri screen:
Here, Doceri is mirroring over wifi my main screen on the Mac, including dock. What you’re seeing is my WordPress blog which created this entry.
In the green bar at the top starting from left you see a folder where saved annotated files can be stored for later replay; then there are three icons grouped together.
We see a mouse, a pen, and a pointer. each of these modalities is associated with a new screen and a new colour bar to remind you of the modality your currently using.
Clicking on the mouse icon will bring up a magnifying square which allows you to control the mouse on the Mac, allowing Doceri to operate much like VNCs like Logmein.
There is also a keyboard which can pop up so that you can also type into a document such as Pages or a web browser.
Clicking on the middle pen icon brings up a new series of icons to the right, as seen below:
Further to the right is a rectangle with an arrow on each side which brings up a timeline, so that annotations can be replayed in real time or sped up. very helpful if you conduct the same class over and over again.
To its right are the undo/redo spiral icons, further on to the right are up and down arrows to advance or retard slides in Keynote and Powerpoint, and to the far right is a windscreen wiper icon which will wipe the entire slide clean of any annotations, which could be lines or words.
Clicking on the nozzle icon to the right of the blue pen icon brings up the following screen:
Here you can choose from a variety of line parameters including colour, thickness opacity, and style using slider controls. You can see in the hatched area at the top an example of what your line will look like, before you commit to drawing on the slide itself.
Clicking on the folder icon, far left, brings up various preferences for saving and transferring your drawings.
Clicking on the rectangle to the right of the highlighted eraser icon brings up a timeline so you can replay your annotations and take control of it, stopping and starting it at will. I know of no other iPad app that can do this.
For users of Keynote (or Powerpoint) who want to annotate their slides, the following slides will be very interesting for you. First, below is the Doceri keyboard on the iPad screen, fully functional:
By clicking on the finger pointer button, the third of the main three I’ve highlighted, a new coloured menu bar opens, and your choice for pointer is seen (although not on this screenshot). You can change its colour, look and orientation (left, right, up, down) on the fly.
Back to the pen icon, and I can now draw on the screen, which is reproduced on the Mac desktop, no matter what app I have open! What is not seen here is a pen icon which displays as you draw. Doceri has just released its own stylus so you don’t have to use your finger. It plugs into the iPad’s earphone plug and a new screen opens up in Doceri to allow more pen features to operate (from the Doceri website):
Here below is my drawing onto a Keynote slide which is in mirror mode, that is, what the audience will see. They of course don’t see any of Doceri’s icons.
Note below I have moved into control mode in Keynote where we see two small display icons, numbered 1 and 2. In 1, this is what’s on the Mac; if we were to click on 2, we would see a plain desktop since my Mac is operating in Presenter Mode, not Mirror mode.
By clicking on the 2 scene icon, I can swap to mirror on the iPad the Mac’s Presenter mode. Be mindful, the audience is still seeing the Keynote slide with my annotation. Only I get to see either mirror or presenter mode on the iPad.
This can be very handy if your presenting scenario takes you away from your Mac, especially in unfamiliar situations where you can’t sight your Mac. If you are a teacher moving around the classroom with iPad in your hand, you’re now able to control Keynote on the fly.
Frankly this is a brilliant app for Mac, PC and iPad and Doceri will keep on improving as it gains in popularity, which I am happy to contribute to!
But there’s one more thing…
You’ll remember at the beginning of this blog entry I wrote of wanting a vanity display, which you can see Doceri fits the bill for, and more. But the iPad has to sit somewhere so as to be in easy reach or sight, yet not be too conspicuous.
Enter the iKlip, and Italian made and designed clipboard for your iPad 1 or 2, which allows you to attach your iPad to a microphone stand. Initially designed for musicians to use the iPad to keep track of their notations on the iPad, there’s nothing to stop presenters using it similarly. The iKlip is around $39 and extremely well made and easy to fit.
Here are some pictures from the iKlip site:
And here’s what it looks like, naked:
So there you have it: a vast improvement on vanity displays which goes way beyond merely having an extra display, but a setup which can really bring out some extra training opportunities in a variety of settings: scholastic, business, adult learning, etc.
I am hoping to see more improvements in Doceri as they are very responsive to suggestions and eager to mark their mark in the Apple world.
They’ve made a great start!