I very much appreciate all of the comments. Looking at the server logs, I
estimate that about 150 of you looked at the presentation. Some of you
replied to the list but about 50 of you responded privately.

Most of you who responded privately said things worked just fine, saying
something like this:

> I use Firefox within a VMware virtual machine on my notebook and the slide
> show was beautiful. No problems with download or hesitation and the image
> and sound quality was stunning.


Those of you for whom things didn't work, you tended to respond to the list,
and your comments were the most important. Let me try and answer them
here as best I can.

Olav wrote:

> It does not work in Netscape 7.2.
> In IE, after several minutes of downloading the images nothing further
> happens. A black image on the left, on the right 3 arrows. Even after
> clicking one of the arrows, nothing happens.


I checked this out using Netscape 7.2, which by chance I actually have on
one of my older PCs. The precise technical problem is that I used a variable
named "goto," which was apparently a previously reserved word in Javascript
but is no longer. But even if I change the variable name, Netscape 7.2 istoo
old to support all of the features we need and it just won't work. It's time to
upgrade, Olav. Netscape became Firefox long ago, after it was bought by
AOL . Netscape was officially abandoned earlier this year. It exists no longer.

The more serious comment is this one:

> Ditto FF vers 3.0? With win XP.
>
> Black screen plus occasional "pffft."


While most people didn't have any trouble with Firefox, it is the most flakey of
the browsers. The problem arises beause of its association with RealPlayer.

There is no Javascript-controllable MP3 player in the web standards, thusyou
have to use one of the three media players: Windows Media Player, QuickTime,
or RealPlayer.

IE works with all three, but if you're using IE, we know that you're on Windows
and that you have WM, thus we specify that player.

The rest of the browsers, for some reason or another, only work with one
player each. Google Chrome, although it's based on Apple's WebKit, the same
code from which Safari is built, only works with WM. Safari only works with
QuickTime. And Firefox only works with RealPlayer, as does Opera.

If you're on a PC and using IE, the IE/WM combination tends to be very
reliable. If you're on a Mac, the Safari/QT combination is also very reliable. The
FF/RP combination is flakey on all three OS's: Windows, Mac or Linux.

I know where the problem is: telling the player where to jump in the MP3 file
and then asking it to begin playing from there. It simply doesn't always work,
and I've yet to find a reliable way to get it to do so, that's why almostall of
the complaints were about FF.

Gilles writes:

> Works like a charm.
>
> Audio and video both stunningly clear.
>
> I'm using WinXPP/SP3, with IE version 7 (Version 7.0.5730.13
> to be exact).
>
> The only possible issue I had - I could not see the video in
> full-screen mode. I'm not sure if I should have been able to. I tried
> to double-click on the screen and that action simply stopped the
> presentation. Clicking on the forward arrow resumed it from that point.


Although it may not seem like it, the page is just an ordinary web page. It has
no downloaded, plug-in application associated with the page, thus when you
double-click the image it won't expand to full-screen., simply because a
webpage doesn't have that capability. When you do that kind of thing with
Adobe Flash, you're invoking the plug-in's behavior, not the web page's.

While I would very much like to write a downloadable, plug-in player, we're at
that evolutionary point now where people won't download any new software,
thus I believe that we're going to be constrained from now on to use the
behavior that's present in the browsers themselves.

John Skelton writes:

> I tried it using FF 3.0.3, after a 30 sec wait* got a quicktime update which
> I canceled,* then the slide show with a black screen. Tried clicking on the
> start arrow, after a quick burst of network activity another black screen.


What this message was telling you is that you either don't have a copy of
RealPlayer loaded on your PC, or that it's older than our base level (which is
unlikely because I chose a very old version of RP to use). With you electing
not to download the player, the behavior you got is very reasonable.

Everything about the presentation is timed off of the sound track as reported
by the player. With no player, no timings and thus no presentation.

The screen is black only because that was the first slide. If the first slide had
been something else (a picture of a horse), that's all you would have seen.

John Dunlop writes:

> As you said, Safari was by far the best. 5 seconds after I started the
> process, the presentation started by itself and went all the way through
> perfectly.
>
> IE 7 took about a minute to load (as far as I know) but didn't start
> automatically. I had to slick on the "run" arrow. Also, the timing of afew
> of the slides seemed a bit erratic. For example, near the end, four slides
> flashed through very quickly and I hardly had time to see them.
>
> Firefox 3.0 just didn't load anything except the main screen. I clickedon
> the "run" arrow but it never loaded any pictures. Disappointing.
>
> I hope that helps. I wonder what it is that makes Safari so much better
> than the others?


Safari is a bit better than the others in a few respects, particularly inblend
speeds, but the primary difference lies in how the individual images of the
webpage are downloaded. IE serializes its downloads, while Safari, Google
Chrome and Firefox open up multiple threads. Ordinarily this doesn't makemuch
difference, but if one image gets hung up in transmission, IE sits there and
waits for an extended period of time until it decides to give up on the image,
marks the image with an "x" and then proceeds to download the remainder of
the images.

A ratty network connection anywhere between England and New Mexico will
generate this condition, and I think that it's at my end at the moment.

I'm sure that's what happened to you in your case. If you were to try IE
again, the chances are that everything will work just fine, but if there were
some way to actually report problems or suggestions to Microsoft about IE,
recommending de-serializing its image downloads would be one of the two
primary things I would report.

Finally, one of you wrote:

> WOW!!
>
> It runs great on an intel Mac with Safari. I suspect you already knew
> that.
>
> I tried it with Firefox but I get a problem with Firefox that I had
> before, a weird sound bite that sounds like it says "winamp" with
> something about llamas.


Again, this is the problem with Firefox's Javascipt control of RealPlayer.. I've
spent a great deal of time on trying to find a reliable solution to this problem.
Clearly, I have to spend more. We have about 20 PCs and Macs that I use to
test the webpages here on, and I wouldn't have released it if FF/RP didn't
work perfectly on all of them, but there are still machines out there forwhich
the combination doesn't yet work, and thus I really do appreciate your
comments.

Wirt Atmar

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