From Phones to Laptops: The Ultimate Guide to Tech Reviews
23 March 2023
I use a variety of gadgets, apps, programs, and tools to keep track of my time, tasks, talks, backup them, and share them afterward. Tools that are simple to use, accessible from multiple platforms, and help save time are my preference. It is essential to be able to set reminders and due dates for time and task tracking.
I no longer create my slides for tech talks using Keynote or PowerPoint. I moved on to markdown-based slide editors, which I now use, despite the fact that they have a few quirks and limited features. To get my keynote slides to look good, I hated making the pixel-perfect adjustments. My perfectionism took over during the process. I noticed that rather than spending my time creating high-quality content, I would put off making the slides look good.
To turn the markdown text into slides, you’ll need a separate application. The Mac app Deckset is my go-to choice for editing slides. A license costs $29, but reveal.js, GitPitch, and other alternatives are also available. The live-preview window, which lets you see how your slides will look as you change the source text, is one feature of Deckset that I adore. The complete list of features can be found here.
I don’t like a few things about Deckset, like the fact that you can’t change the presenter view or format the speaker notes. My next slide display is much smaller than I prefer because I can’t change the presenter view, and I can’t change how the timer looks.
Because the formatting doesn’t always look the same across themes, your slides may end up looking funny at times, necessitating manual adjustments. Most of the time, I’ve found solutions to my problems. There are a lot of themes included in Deckset; you can even make your own. I like that instead of constantly adjusting how my presentation looks, I can now concentrate on creating useful content.
I now use a markdown editor for all of my conference talks because my slides are now based on markdown and many conference applications allow for markdown styling. For markdown, I use the free, lightweight Visual Studio Code editor. You can open a live-preview tab alongside the source markdown file with VS Code’s built-in feature.
While I was learning, I was never afraid to use a reference, even though I now know markdown like the back of my hand. Using a code editor can help ensure that any included sample code works correctly and syntactically. In addition, VS Code has quickly emerged as my preferred Python editor.
Consider putting all of your files and images into source control in a remote repository like GitHub if you use a text-based slide editor. Being able to track changes is a huge advantage of text-based slides and source control. In this manner, you will always have a reference point in case you alter or remove content. It’s a great time to learn about git and GitHub if you haven’t already.
Shameless promotion: I am the author of a FrontEnd Masters course on Git in case you are interested in learning but are unsure where to begin.
Make sure you set up a free private repository if you’re not ready to show the world your progress. I keep all of my talk proposals, even those that are rejected, in a private GitHub repository so that I can see what works and what doesn’t in the long run.
Use Git Large File Storage (LFS) when dealing with large file formats. To support binary formats with large diffs, a second tool is required because git was designed with text in mind. This prevents your repository from becoming sluggish and clogged with every update. It only takes two minutes to set up and is very simple to use. Presentation files like PowerPoint and Keynote, images like png, jpg, and gif, PDFs, and other large files are the kinds of larger files you should store with git LFS. To keep track of your changes, commit early and frequently, and remember to push frequently to sync your changes to the server.
Dropbox is an excellent second backup option. If you link a project directory to a Dropbox folder, as long as there is an internet connection, the contents will automatically be backed up to the cloud. Even if you forget to “git push,” you will always have a current backup of the presentation and any additional assets, such as photos or videos, using this method.
I like to say that my advice is not universal and that you should choose your own path. That generally applies to all of this article, with the exception of the following section.
As part of the presentation, all assets, including videos, images, and gifs, should be stored locally and backed up. Never use Google Slides or any other web-based presentation service to give a presentation. Live demonstrations that rely solely on the internet without a backup plan should not be held.
The wifi went down just before my very first conference talk, and it almost cost me my talk. I didn’t have a backup because I was presenting using Google Slides. The organizers had to search far and wide to locate an ethernet adapter and a network cable that were compatible with my computer. Everyone involved experienced stress as a result of the situation. Export your presentation and present from a local PDF if you insist on using Google Slides and do not require notes.
Network issues have caused numerous tech talks to fail. If your slides don’t work or you have other technical issues, you might lose your confidence. Last week, I went to a talk where the speaker had planned to show accompanying videos. However, the internet wasn’t reliable, so neither the gifs nor the videos on YouTube loaded. It detracted from an excellent technical presentation and disrupted the speaker’s cadence and stride.