I am astonished and depressed that it has come to this
In the modern world, we can so easily think of technology as ever advancing, ever improving, ever solving. Unless you are a Windows user, of course, then you have seen things go backwards. Like when Microsoft removed the ability to provide individual labels to data points on a graph in Excel. That was really stupid.
One of the Great Leaps Backwards was the invention of laptops hooked to projectors to show slides on a screen. In theory, this is a great leap forward, but in practice, it is clearly not. By using this technology rather than chalk or overheads, it is not possible to guarantee that at a major conference a certain number of talks will happen without the planned presentation because something went wrong technically.
One of my favorite examples of that is when a colleague gave an excellent talk on evolution to a group of science teachers. The talk seemed in some ways extemporaneous, but at the same time very well organized. During the talk, my colleague gave the same list of points twice … once as an overview, then as the body of his talk. He reversed the order of two of them. This was a clue to something, and it turned out that not only did he have significant medical issue which required emergency surgery immediately after the talk, but his Windows computer had eaten his power point, and he was giving the presentation on the fly. About birds, though, not flies. (See: Biology Will Never Be the Same Again: Scott Lanyon.)
Anyway, one of the problems with this sort of technology is this: If you are lucky enough to get the damn machines and software working to begin with (which, by the way, is never a problem with Linux … it just works) then during the presentation, if certain things happen, the machine may shut down, go to sleep, switch to screen saver, or whatever.
There are two solutions to this problem that don’t involve simply designing better technology: A physical device that acts like a jittery mouse moving the mouse cursor a pixel or two every now and then; and a software device that, well, acts like a jittery mouse moving the mouse cursor a pixel or two every now and then.
To get the software in Linux, do this:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:caffeine-developers/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install caffeine
(Hat Tip: Dirk Elmendorf of Linux Journal.
To get the software in other operating systems (it runs on a Mac or on Windows) do whatever it is you do to get software.
Information on the hardware device, if you prefer that, is here.