I spent most of today stuck in tech hell trying to launch myself into the LaTeX world while using Windows 7 64-bit (instead of Linux). I couldn’t get TeXnicCenter to compile/build PDFs (or was it Sumatra, the PDF application?). I got the dreaded “cannot execute command” error from… somewhere.
I tried a LOT of stuff.
So here’s what finally worked:
1. Install MiKTeX 32-bit (I don’t know if this was important, but I wanted to keep all the apps 32-bit). Note: I had to go to the package manager and get the beamer class installed, because that’s what I want to use.
2. During the above install, choose “YES” for downloading packages on the fly. I think this was one of my fundamental problems: the compiler got stuck because a font wasn’t installed or (as it turns out) installable at runtime.
3. Install Sumatra PDF reader.
4. Install TeXnicCenter 32-bit. Note: after I pointed the installer to the MiKTeX binary directory, the installer intelligently set all the options in the output profiles that there are so many detailed web posts about. I guess the newer version (2.0 beta 1?) has that stuff all figured out. Nice.
5. Change the executables of the previous two programs to run with administrator rights and run in compatibility mode for Windows XP SP3.
And that’s all… I hope. I think it’s up and running now, but I really can’t make myself believe (as a few people online seem to) that it’s actually *easier* to use LaTeX with the beamer class than a WYSIWYG editor like PowerPoint. I think the elitism has gone to their brains. LaTeX has lots of advantages, but ease of use ain’t one of them, when you’re trying to make lecture slides.
EDIT: I think the problems above were as I finally conceptualized them, and limited to those areas. I installed the software on my laptop and it went very smoothly. But Beamer is still a slow, ponderous behemoth monster to use for creating slides, compared to PowerPoint or whatever the OpenOffice/LibreOffice option is.