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PowerPoint and Presenting Blog: August 2006

Thoughts and impressions of whatever is happening in the world of PowerPoint

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The Don Brittain Interview

Thursday, August 31, 2006
posted by Geetesh on 12:02 PM IST

Don Brittain
is CEO and a founder of Instant Effects, a California company that develops OfficeFX, a software to visually enhance presentations, communications, and collaboration. Don has a personal interest in bringing the power of interactive computing and visual communication into mainstream use. In this interview, he discusses OficeFX and PowerPoint.

Read the interview here...

Categories: officefx, powerpoint, add-in, interviews


posted by Geetesh on 11:55 AM IST

Today's free template is Desaturated Puzzle - download here...

Categories: templates, powerpoint


Wednesday, August 30, 2006
posted by Geetesh on 1:42 PM IST

Joachim Fritze was born and grew up in nothern Germany. He is a chemist by profession with twenty years of experience in the sales and marketing of dentistry stuff. An avid PowerPoint user for almost a decade, Joachim churns up PowerPoint presentation all the time and loves to use Perspector, the 3D add-in for PowerPoint.

In this interview, Joacim discusses PowerPoint and Perspector.

Read here...

Categories: interviews, powerpoint, perspector


posted by Geetesh on 11:10 AM IST

Make PowerPoint files smaller, build presentations in Word and beef up security with these easy tips.

Robert Luhn teaches you more at the PC World Canada site...

Categories: education, powerpoint, techniques


posted by Geetesh on 10:57 AM IST

Today's free template is Grey Checkers - download here...

Categories: templates, powerpoint


Tuesday, August 29, 2006
posted by Geetesh on 10:12 PM IST

Check out for free PowerPoint templates -- as of now there are 15 templates to start with.

Categories: templates, powerpoint


posted by Geetesh on 10:20 AM IST

No amount of words can explain what a screenshot or a video capture of an onscreen activity can do since this is essentially showing to an audience how a task can be performed -- and you can add narration to such captures to make them even more informative.

TurboDemo, the program being reviewed on this page allows you to do all sorts of still and video captures -- and then create tutorials and demos which can be output to various formats.

Read the full review...

Categories: add-in, powerpoint, powerpoint_flash


posted by Geetesh on 10:18 AM IST

Today's free template is Ancient Pink - download here...

Categories: templates, powerpoint


Monday, August 28, 2006
posted by Geetesh on 10:58 PM IST

It's always fun to do something more with a product than what's visible on the surface. By itself, OfficeFX Professional is a great product that lets you bring in animated, moving backgrounds into your PowerPoint slides -- much like televison style backdrops. But let's face it -- at some time, you'll want to bring in some other movie background for your PowerPoints -- fortunately, it's easy to do that as long as your movie clips fulfill these requirements:

  • They should be of high quality.
  • They should not be too crowded -- look at movies that contain one or two colors so that any text or other visuals placed over them has sufficient contrast to stand out.
  • They should be loopable -- so that even a small movie clip can work.
  • The movie clips need to be in a compatible file format -- AVIs work great, although MPEGs and WMVs can be used as well. No QuickTime MOVs though!
Many such movie clips can be found in Digital Juice's Jump Backs library -- and there are other sources too.

Once you have chosen a movie clip, follow these steps:
  1. Choose a simple theme (see note in the end of this post) in OfficeFX Professional, and add a Standard default video scene to any slide within the Insert tab (see Figure 1)

    Figure 1: Match your screen with these options.

  2. Once you have selected the video you want to play in the background, set that video to:
    • Repeat Continuously (that's the default).
    • Set the Placement to Maximize so that it takes up the full screen.
    • Uncheck the "Interactive" option so the insert scene will not respond to user mouse clicks.
    • Select the "Place Behind PowerPoint Content" option. That'll display the video behind your PPT content.
  3. Now click the the "Assign to All" button.

That's all you need to do!

Now, in PowerPoint you'll see that OfficeFX has placed a stand-in image that represents your video on all the slides. It's no longer an option to have the stand in image or not. If you've got a video insert added, its stand-in image is always displayed in PowerPoint. This maintains the WYSIWYG relationship between PowerPoint and OfficeFX. What you can do is select the stand-in image in PowerPoint and change its display order to push to the back. You'll then see all your PowerPoint content on top of it.

Thanks to Mike Wilson of Instant Effects for help in creating this quick tutorial!

I did mention that you should use a simple theme for this tutorial, and Mike provides more insight:

"The recommended theme for this approach is "Light Pools" from the standard Instant Effects theme pack. The why is because when you do a video background this way, the 3D elements of whatever theme you choose are still being played behind your video. With Light Pools, those 3D elements are very simple. They cause virtually zero overhead and won't slow down your display".

Related Stuff: OfficeFX review

Categories: officefx, powerpoint, add-in


posted by Geetesh on 10:38 PM IST

Microsoft Corp.'s PowerPoint presentation software can be an effective way to present information in the courtroom -- but few lawyers use it to its full advantage. Here are some tips to add more punch to your next trial arguments.

Learn more with Donna Payne...

Categories: powerpoint, legal


posted by Geetesh on 8:13 PM IST

Today's free template is Feathered Beige - download here...

Categories: templates, powerpoint


Saturday, August 26, 2006
posted by Geetesh on 2:35 PM IST

Interlink Electronics announced the sucessor to its Navigator presentation remote control. The latest edition, known as the Champagne Edition includes numerous new features including dedicated 'forward' and 'previous' slide buttons, an integrated laser pointer and an extended wireless operating range of over 50 feet. The Navigator works with Mac or Windows platforms to allow users to control their PowerPoint or Keynote presentation without the need for additional software. The Champagne Edition Navigator retails for $150 and is available now.

More on the MacNN site...

Categories: remotes, powerpoint


posted by Geetesh on 2:25 PM IST

Today's free template is Circle Spiro - download here...

Categories: templates, powerpoint


Friday, August 25, 2006
posted by Geetesh on 12:00 PM IST

To buy a product that converts PowerPoint presentations to Flash SWFs is no longer an easy decision to make -- what with twenty-plus offerings out there! And since each of these applications has something different (and seemingly better) than the other, this decision can be downright confusing. FlashSpring Pro is one such application -- what does it do different, how does it perform, and what is my opinion?

Read on to learn more...

Categories: add-in, powerpoint, powerpoint_flash


posted by Geetesh on 9:05 AM IST

Today's free template is Textured 09 - download here...

Categories: templates, powerpoint


Thursday, August 24, 2006
posted by Geetesh on 4:11 PM IST

pharus53 software solutions GmbH, a company based out of Hamburg, Germany creates ActiveSlide, a simple Flash authoring solution that uses the slide metaphor rather than the conventional stage metaphor that other Flash authoring systems use -- thus making it a natural fit for PowerPoint users.

In this exclusive conversation, Tobias Windbrake of pharus53 discusses ActiveSlide including the different versions available -- and how they integrate with PowerPoint.

Geetesh: Tell us more about ActiveSlide and its different editions.

Tobias: ActiveSlide is a program to easily create interactive content. The software is not a PowerPoint add-in, but a powerful, stand-alone authoring tool. You can use it for your presentations as well as for e-learning courses and even websites.

The main advantage of this product is its ease of use. You can work with ActiveSlide as you would do with PowerPoint: You have slides (and a master slide) where you can place text, images and shapes on. In a second step, you can visually assign interactivity patterns to your slide elements. If desired, this step is completely supported by helpful wizards. One basic interactivity pattern is that elements can be dragged. Advanced patterns allow you to use an element as a carrier (that can transport other elements), or to synchronize the movement of two elements. As interactivity patterns can be combined, there is an unlimited number of possibilities.

The product is available in two editions, Thunder and Professional. The Thunder Edition is the "little brother" of the Professional one. While Thunder is perfect for PowerPoint users, content developers for e-learning courses normally prefer the Professional Edition. The latter provides additional functionality, e.g. a full-featured scripting language and an export option for Java Applets.

Geetesh: How do you position ActiveSlide Thunder in the world of PowerPoint.

Tobias: Let's put it in one sentence: With ActiveSlide you can touch your PowerPoint slides! The software allows you to easily create dynamic slides where you can drag and drop images, shapes and even text objects. That may sound like a breathtaking effect. Well, that's true! But interactive slides can do much more for a presenter and his audience. I will give you a few examples:

  • When presenting a complex chart you can use a virtual pointer to focus the relevant part of that chart. You can drag and drop this focus element step by step, to point at the subarea you are talking about. Doing so, your audience is able to follow you all the time.
  • You want to have a surprising intro for your product launch? Draw a curtain to uncover the title of your new product.
  • You have to present complex tables? No problem any more! Use a yellow, semi-transparent rectangle to highlight the row you are currently talking about. This visual aid makes it easier for your audience to concentrate on the relevant numbers.
  • When presenting the new layout of your clients' business card, you can construct different options, instead of just showing them. Move the logo, name, title and address block to any position desired. This will not only impress your client, it will involve him.
As you can see from the examples, there are many different possibilities where interactivity can have a great benefit, for you and your audience. So, how is it done technically? You can export your ActiveSlide project as a Flash movie. After that, add-ins like the Flash Toolbar (reviewed at Indezine) make it very easy to place ActiveSlide movies on any PowerPoint slide. In this context, please allow me to announce another product of the ActiveSlide family: Shortly we will offer ActiveSlide Thunder for PowerPoint, a special product that bundles ActiveSlide Thunder and the Flash Toolbar mentioned above.

Download a trial version of ActiveSlide here...

Categories: powerpoint_flash, powerpoint, add-in, interviews


posted by Geetesh on 1:05 PM IST

Today's free template is Lava Lightning - download here...

Categories: templates, powerpoint


Wednesday, August 23, 2006
posted by Geetesh on 5:17 PM IST

Tony Dunckel is Product Manager for SnagIt, the versatile screen capture program from Okemos based TechSmith Corporation that functions more like a Swiss-Army knife of graphic tasks. I interviewed Tony more than a year ago -- and SnagIt already looks like a different, newer product that adds more usability and feature improvements with each release.

In this conversation, Tony discusses new SnagIt improvements and usage patterns.

Geetesh: Tell us more about the improvements in the new version of SnagIt?

Tony: Geetesh, since we last talked we have introduced 2 new versions, v8 and v8.1, which have added some long requested capabilities and some novel innovations as well.

SnagIt 8, launched towards the beginning of the year, produced the most astounding response we have ever received from our customer base. This was likely due to the fact that we solved their number one request: make the SnagIt Editor vector-based. This long awaited feature now lets users apply, change and delete edits made to a screen capture over and over again. We also spiced up the editing environment by adding custom callouts. These callouts allow users to add callout graphic, customize the size and color or it and enter the necessary text in one quick step.
Plus users are able to save there custom callouts for repeat use.

From an innovation perspective, version 8 introduced the new capability of adding interactivity to a screen capture. This comes in a couple forms. First, users can now capture live web pages, where the hyperlinks stay active and can be accessed long after the capture was taken. This allows users to add one-click access to local files or web sites within screen captures they might use in an email, a saved file or even on a webpage itself. Second, users can add another type of interactivity through Flash. By adding a custom hotspot to any image, users can create popup text or images that appear when the viewer hovers over the hotspot. This unprecedented capability allows users to create truly interactive screen captures with point and click simplicity.
Imagine images that can further explain themselves through this interactivity. This gives a whole new dimension in how uses can communicate visually with images.

Last, we added support for PDF in this release. Users can now easily capture any images and save that image to a PDF file. This ubiquitous format works across any platform and can be easily searched for by user entered metadata. Best yet, users can now use SnagIt's printer capture to print web pages, documents and more to SnagIt and then save them as PDF files in one quick step.

Just this past June, we launched version 8.1 to follow up the well received version 8. In this release, we enhanced the already popular interactive images by making these easy to put into PowerPoint.

Educators, presenters and consultants alike were extremely happy to see these incredibly powerful images now capable of being used inside the application they use everyday. We finally added in a few housekeeping items such as developing support for 64-bit operating systems and changing our new callout tool to create vector objects.

Geetesh: Can you share some SnagIt indispensable stories with us -- about people who are so spoiled by SnagIt that they can't live without it?

Tony: You bet. Not a day goes by we don't get fan mail from happy customers (don't worry, we get the other kind too...), but some are certainly more unconventional than others.

For example, we've gotten many requests to make SnagIt available on the thumb drive. People ask for this because they often have to use client PCs and just can't live without SnagIt at their fingertips. Of course, this is a legitimate request and one we're considering.

Then we have those that are more unique, such as the person that has changed jobs six times in the past four years and has managed to convince his boss to buy him SnagIt every time (boy, he must be in sales!).

And you can't forget the woman who bought her boss SnagIt as a holiday gift as a way to convince him to buy it for the whole company -- and no, she wasn't on the TechSmith payroll ;-)

TechSmith is truly fortunate that it has such appreciative customers. We understand the valuable role our customers play in helping us create quality products. Keeping that at the forefront of our model hopefully means many more years of happy SnagIt users.

Thank you so much, Tony.

If you still haven't tried SnagIt, do download a copy of SnagIt here...

Categories: snagit, powerpoint, interviews, add-in, techsmith,


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