DMP ASPLOS presentation README

Here are some instructions to help you run the presentation I gave on Deterministic Shared Memory Multiprocessing at ASPLOS 2009.  The presentation itself can be downloaded here.  This presentation uses Shockwave Flash movies embedded in Powerpoint, and interaction between the two, so there are a few steps you have to go through to get everything to work right.

Software you need installed:

  1. Microsoft Powerpoint, 1997 or newer.  I’ve only tested this on Powerpoint 2007 however (on Vista, but hopefully that doesn’t matter).
  2. Install the Adobe Flash 10 ActiveX control, if you want to play the Flash movies inside Powerpoint.

There are macros on the slides with Flash movies that synchronize the advancing of the slide with the animation being played by Flash.  Essentially, any slide with a Flash movie is “driven by” the movie – clicking on the movie will either advance the movie or the animated elements (e.g. bullet points appearing) on the Powerpoint slide, as appropriate.  The Flash movies need enhanced privileges to be able to call code outside their ActiveX container, and you need Powerpoint macros enabled so that the Flash movies have some code to call.

I just wanted to look at your slides…

If you just want to look over the slides and/or play the Flash movies in a standalone Flash player, you can ignore all the nonsense below.  This is also helpful if you don’t want to run Powerpoint macros or trust any Flash content to run with local privileges.

To get things to work with macros disabled and the Flash content remaining untrusted: just click on the movie as usual and, if nothing happens, that click was supposed to animate something on the slide instead.  You can just click on the slide (not the Flash movie! – clicking on the slide title text is safe) to animate the slide manually.  It requires moving the mouse around, so I didn’t want to do that for my actual presentation, but it works just as well for a less formal setting.

If you don’t want to install or run any ActiveX plugins in Powerpoint, you can also just play the Flash movies in a standalone Flash player.  Synchronizing this with the slides is kind of klunky though.

I want things to work seamlessly…

First off, I’m pretty sure this only works on Windows, due to the dependence on the Flash ActiveX Control.  I’ve tested it on Windows Vista, but XP should be okay too.  There are 4 things you need for this to work seamlessly.

  1. Powerpoint 1997 or newer, and the Flash Player 10 ActiveX Control (installation instructions for the latter here).
  2. Enable macros in Powerpoint.
  3. ActiveX controls can be set to run with their default privileges, i.e. you will get a prompt before they do anything scary, and they can also run in Safe Mode.
  4. The Flash movies need to be trusted so that they can interact with the Powerpoint presentation.  This is described below.

The Easy Way (slightly less secure)

Visit the Flash Security Settings Manager web page and specify that you trust the Powerpoint executable via the “Add location” dropdown.  With Office 2007 on Vista, my Powerpoint executable was at C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\POWERPNT.EXE

Why is this way less secure?  By setting Powerpoint as a trusted source for Flash, any Flash content that gets embedded into Powerpoint will run with the highest privileges (which includes access to local files).  You may or may not feel comfortable with this.  The upside is that you can move the presentation to a new directory without breaking anything.

The Secure Way (slightly less easy)

Visit the Flash Security Settings Manager web page and specify that you trust only the directory where the Flash movies for the presentation are (e.g. C:\Users\Admin\Desktop\dmp-asplos2009-presentation\ if you downloaded the presentation and unzipped it onto your Desktop).  You do this via the “Add location” dropdown.

This is more secure because only the Flash content in the specified directory will be trusted, but if you move the movies or the presentation to a new directory, things will stop working (and silently!).

Eep – something doesn’t work…

There’s a test slide at the end of the presentation which has an embedded Flash movie in it.  The movie runs some basic sanity checks on your configuration and displays the results.  If everything appears ok, then the presentation itself should run fine.

Interacting with the movies

Clicking on a Flash movie will advance the animation one step forward.  Pressing the ‘c’ key makes the animation go one step backward.  That’s all there is to it!

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One thought on “DMP ASPLOS presentation README

  1. Pingback: powerpoint+flash interaction « Linux is for Lovers

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