Project Manager Joke On-Line — With Audio!

Alex S. Brown, PMP IPMA-C

Even if you already know the one about the project manager and the genie, listen to this retelling and variation on that joke.

This new item is a first for this website in two different ways. It is the first joke on the site, and it is the first attempt to deliver slides and synchronized audio here. More information about the unusual technology used is available below. Please test it out and let me know if you have any problems. I hope to present more speeches this way in the future.

This joke is a test of a new way of presenting material on-line. The goal is to deliver slides with a voice-over in a cross-platform, browser-neutral way. I deliver technical speeches and often record them. My hope is to provide them here to anyone with a sound-equipped web browser.

Select a Version

A few versions of the same joke are available. No matter which one you pick, you will hear the same minute-and-a-half joke with the same slides. Please try them out and e-mail me at webmaster@alexsbrown.com to let me know if you have problems with any of them:

  • MP3 Version works with most browsers (about 450KB)
  • Speex Version uses the Ogg-based open-source Speex compression and requires Ogg Vorbis support (about 275 KB)
  • WAV Version should work on all computers but is MUCH larger in size (about 8.5 MB)

The first two options should download in just a few seconds over a high-speed connection (cable modem, DSL, etc.) and about three or four minutes over dial-up. The WAV version may take 30 seconds or more over a high-speed connection, and may not function over a dial-up line.

Depending on your browser and audio player, the audio might start sooner, while the audio is still downloading. If your browser and player support it, the slides will change as the audio plays. You can also move through the slides with PageUp and PageDown keys and the sound will stay in sync. See “Help” on the slide show for more navigation options.

Technical Details

The core of the slide show is HTML Slidy by Dave Ragget. This wonderful software provides a fully functional slide show using just XHTML and CSS, along with some JavaScript.

I added on some new JavaScript to handle the audio player. The script is designed to work with many audio players and browsers, and like HTML Slidy, it will provide as many functions as possible, even when the browser cannot support everything.

For instance, if JavaScript is not available, you will see a link to launch or download the audio file to play outside the browser. The slides will not synchronize with the audio, but if your system can play the audio file at all, you can listen somehow.

If there is JavaScript support, the system will try to load the Windows Media Player plug-in for Windows, or the appropriate player for the audio file under other browsers. With the right player, the slides and audio will be synchronized. Even if we did not plan for your specific player, the audio should load and play, or your browser should offer to download a player for the audio type.

Specific Players, Browsers and Platforms

I test under Windows using Internet Explorer and Firefox. The system uses web standards, so it should work under any operating system, in any web browser that supports

  • XHTML 1.0
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • JavaScript or EcmaScript

Under Internet Explorer, Media Player 6.4 or greater will support audio and syncrhonizing the slides to the audio. These components are both in almost any version of Windows by default. Note that with IE and Media Player, when the audio reaches the end, it will restart from the beginning, creating an infinite loop. Most other players just stop.

To play the Speex version in Internet Explorer, you need additional software. Most Ogg Vorbis players include Speex support as well, and many excellent ones can be found at http://www.vorbis.com/. I do my Ogg testing using the Illiminable DirectShow Filters which when downloaded turn Windows Media Player into an Ogg Vorbis and Speex player. Highly recommended and a small download.

Under Firefox, there are more player choices. I have tested the MP3 and WAV files using QuickTime and the Speex files using VLC Media Player. VLC is a great cross-platform media player, and should work with Firefox under Linux for all file types. It may work as a player under other operating systems as well. Note that VLC will not synchronize the audio when you change slides. I have seen a problem using the “seek” function. Until the problem is fixed, I disabled that feature for VLC. The slides will still advance automatically as the audio plays with VLC. QuickTime has no known problems.

If you have another web browser and media player combination, try them out. If they support the same interfaces as any of the players and browsers above, they should work fine. Let me know if they do not and I will try to add support for them. E-mail me at webmaster@alexsbrown.com with any such request.

At some point in the future, I hope to add support for jlGUI Applet which would allow audio playback for any browser with JavaSound support. It supports all the audio file formats above without requiring you to download and install separate software.

I also plan to package these enhancements to HTML Slidy so that other speakers can use it to publish their own speeches and slide shows to the web. There are many other solutions to this problem, such as Flash, PowerPoint, and other special formats, but none are free, open-source, and designed for aggressive cross-browser support using established standards like XHTML and CSS.