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Review: Datmedia Datpresenter

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The wizard also has a handy checklist, which notes that it is sensitive to file names ("PowerPoint presentation should not contain any spaces, special characters or begin with numbers and should be lower case") and reminds users to download the PowerPoint slide trigger plug-in so they can create a text file with timing information to upload to the site.

Up to this point, I had somewhat ignored the system requirements, which noted, a bit cryptically, that the system’s browser requirements were "Internet Explorer 5 or greater for PC or Firefox version 8 or above for Apple Mac or PC." Firefox on both the Mac and PC is only at version 3, and I had been using Safari on a Mac with no problems up to this point. But when I tried to upload my content, I hit a brick wall. A screen popped up stating that my username and password were incorrect. I shifted over to the on-demand wizard, but I experienced the same error when I again tried to upload the content. I also had difficulty playing back in Safari. My advice is to stick with Firefox version 3 if you are using a Mac and wish to use either the dashboard or play back content created by Datpresenter.

Once I opened the program in Firefox, I was able to proceed, choosing a name for the presentation (and adding additional metadata if I wanted to) and then easily uploading a speaker image, PDF, and PPT. Each of these additions must be uploaded individually, even though they are all available on the same upload screen, so it may take quite a bit of time if you have a large PDF or PPT. We didn’t test whether there was a timeout that would occur if someone remained on this screen too long, but that is a possibility when uploading multiple large files. Hopefully, a future version will allow a Gmail-like approach, where all files can be chosen and uploaded in the background while other files are chosen and then uploaded in bulk.

This page for content upload in the on-demand wizard is also the only location where the PowerPoint timing text file can be uploaded, so it’s best to complete the timing prior to beginning the wizard, especially since one warning notes that "there is no option to go back to previous steps of the wizard; if you make a mistake or need to upload a different document then you will have to start again from the beginning." There is an option in the advanced administration, but it’s a bit easier to have everything in place prior to beginning the wizard.

After these uploads are complete, the third step in the wizard is to name the stream and the company and then choose whether the live stream will be shown using RealMedia, Windows Media, or both. This part is particularly clever when it comes to automating details that the average user would be daunted by, as it provides a prepopulated username/password and mount point, combines it with the user’s entry for the stream name and the company name, and then creates a WME file for Windows Media or a RPJF Real Project file for Real. I recommend you heed the suggestion regarding stream names. They should consist of Event Name, Speaker Name, and Date (DDMMYY), in that order, and contain spaces or extension names (the wizard provides the .rm or .wmv extensions as part of the project file).

The final step in the wizard is to download the project files (WME, RPJF, or both) for use on the encoding system. Note that Datpresenter doesn’t host the live streaming file. It only hosts the overlay, PowerPoint, and PDF documents. This answers a frequently asked question regarding a large number of viewers trying to simultaneously watch a live stream.

"The number of people able to view a live event is controlled by the bandwidth allocation of the video server, set by the internet service provider who provides your streaming service," according to Datmedia. "In some instances it may be necessary to reconfigure the video streaming network for very large audiences."

Once the project files are downloaded, they can be loaded onto the appropriate local live encoder being used to encode the live video stream for the presentation. A note on the projects file page also gives good advice to those doing the encoding, pointing out that the wizard cannot predict the camera type being used or "whether you would like to archive your media on your computer’s local hard drive." The live wizard checklist also has one final reminder for enterprise users of Datpresenter: Remember to open your firewall ports to allow live streaming media, a suggestion that sounds like it comes from tech support experience.

For the on-demand wizard, the only difference is that Datpresenter has the ability to upload video files in four flavors: Windows Media, Real Media, Flash, and QuickTime, as well as 3GPP content, which can be played back via QuickTime, Real, or Flash servers, depending on the wrapper. Files are uploaded one at a time instead of as a bundle, so be prepared to spend a bit of time.

Once content is uploaded and the wizard is through, you’ll be met with a cryptic response that says, "Asset ‘1945’ has now been created." Apparently, this has something to do with the number of the asset in Datpresenter’s content management system. Three options are presented: Launch in Administrator, Create Another Programme, or Launch Slide Push.

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