powerpoint+flash interaction

One of the cool things I learned about Powerpoint the other day is that it’s possible to create interactions between an embedded Flash movie and the presentation itself.  This allows you to coordinate animations across the movie and the slide, e.g. to have a mouse click sometimes advance the slide and sometimes trigger some action in the movie.

The reason all this works is because you can do function calls up from the Flash movie, through the ActiveX container and into VBA code attached to the Powerpoint presentation.   You can also call down from Powerpoint into Flash in a similar manner, though I haven’t experimented with this. Continue reading

Sharing Amazon Elastic Block Store among multiple instances

Editor’s Note: This whole rigmarole is unnecessary now that you can boot from EBS-backed AMIs that can have essentially unbounded size.  But this trick was fun while it lasted!

I love Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud, and have been using it to run research experiments without having to worry about multiplexing computing resources among other members of my research group.  No running top after I login to make sure I’m not stepping on someone else’s experiments: I launch an instance and I get it all to myself.

Sharing storage across instances, however, is tricky.  For my purposes, having a read-only copy distributed among my instances is sufficient; of course adding read/write access makes things substantially trickier.  Yet even given that I was fine with read-only access, none of the solutions that immediately came to mind were satisfactory: Continue reading