PowerPoint and Presenting Blog: September 2008
Thoughts and impressions of whatever is happening in the world of PowerPoint.
Day 1 of PowerPoint Live started in the afternoon of Sunday, the 21st of September with the registration. This picture shows the registration desk just before it opened.
And if you noticed the blue T-shirts, you'll want to see them close to see the Indezine logo -- see this picture:
The first day had two sessions -- one each by Rick Altman and Rikk Flohr.
It's great to be in San Diego a day before PowerPoint Live begins. It's 4:30 pm, and I still have an hour and half before I need to get down to the hotel bar and join the informal opening. So when I fall into the bed due to jet lag, I assume I can take a 15 minute rest. Turns up it is past 6 when I wake up, and my eyes are so red that I am scared to look at myself in the mirror.
It's a miracle that the eyes are back to being white in 10 minutes -- and I go to the bar. Lots of voices and familiar faces -- and I smile back at everyone. A few hugs and some conversations later, I still don't know what is happening -- but I am smiling. And then there's a call from home -- I pick up the phone, and get away from the bar. And the next thing I know is that I am asleep in the room. Again.
I took the Amtrak again to San Diego -- Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner goes all the way through most of Southern California to San Diego. Along the way, you get to see spectacular scenery including a seaside ride for some part of the way between San Juan Capistrano and Oceanside.
I started from Simi Valley -- after a few stops, the train chugged into Los Angeles station for a half an hour halt. I found these birds on an empty rail track (see below).
Got to San Diego at 10 minutes past 3 in the afternoon, and was in the hotel by 4 pm. Met Sheila and Denise in the lobby, checked in, and then the jet lag hit me!
More about my missing bag! Looks like Thai Airways sent this bag to Taipei rather than Los Angeles -- fortunately, they sent the other bag to Los Angeles so I had half my stuff when I landed at LAX airport.
Thai Airways does not do the missing baggage handling on their own -- they outsource it to another company -- and this other company outsources the actual delivery of the delayed bag to another transport company -- so that's a whole lot of baggage numbers, file reference numbers, and tracking codes to keep track of.
Finally, Thai Airways confirmed that the delayed bag had made its way from Taipei to Bangkok, and to Los Angeles. Sixteen phone calls later, I received my bag a little more than 24 hours after I landed in LAX -- delivered to my sister-in-law's place just after midnight! If I had not made those sixteen calls, I may have received the bag a day later -- and that would have been after I took the Amtrak train from Simi Valley to San Diego.
Here's a picture of the Rush tag on the bag:
This year, I took my annual flight to PowerPoint Live in San Diego on a different route -- choosing Bangkok rather than Singapore as the transit point. That decision provided me with a bunch of expereinces -- let me start with Bangkok, the city and the airport.
Bangkok is always different -- the first thing that assails a vegetarian is the smell of meat -- that's everywhere in the city and pervades the air. The first time I was in Bangkok, it took me 2 days to just get used the smell in the air! The city itself moves at break-neck speed -- something is happening all the time. Whether you are on the street or in a mall, there are nuances that will leave an impression in your mind all the time.
Since I was in Bangkok only for a few hours, I did not do any sightseeing. My hotel was in in Sukhumivit area -- close to all the malls, street shopping, restaurants, and the train stations.
The Suvaranabhumi international airport reflects the nature of the city itself -- it's nowhere as efficient as Kuala Lumpur or Singapore -- surprisingly, the new airport at Hyderabad from where I flew from seemed much more efficient than Suvarnabhumi. However, Suvarnabhumi has surprises every few steps. The architecture is different, and you can see Thailand's Indian influences everywhere -- in art, religion, and culture.
Get into the departures area, and the first thing that catches your attention is the giant statue of Vishnu standing over a tortoise -- a serpent (Vasuki) is on either side of the tortoise -- and the gods and the demons pull it from those sides. That explains why this sculpture is called "Churning of the Ocean".
Here are some pictures -- click on them to see a larger view:
For an airport that showcases Indian art, it is surprising to find that there's almost no vegetarian food available at the airport -- Indian food or any other vegetarian food. The flight on Thai Airways from Bangkok to Los Angeles was good -- but when I landed in Los Angeles, I discovered they lost my bag! More about that soon.
It can often take hours to create the perfect collage using tools in programs like Adobe Photoshop -- and even those may not work all the time. And when you want a quick collage, and don't really have the time to create it -- then you'll really want to look at this new tool called AutoCollage 2008.
AutoCollage 2008 is a standalone application which allows users to compile a set of photographs into one seamless collage. The output can be printed, used in e-postcards, web pages or desktop backgrounds, or e-mailed to family and friends.
Read the review here...
Categories: design, graphics
This has to be among the most interesting interviews I have done with anyone -- mainly because I was not interviewing just one person! This team of six comprises some of the most amazing folks I have interacted with -- together they take care of all the content that you will find on the PowerPoint section of the Office Online site at Microsoft.com.
Kudos to Mary Sobczyk for patiently coordinating with me on this -- and Shellie Tucker, Eric Schmidt, Joy Miller, Jen Zamora, and Eric Jensen -- you'll find them all pictured below.
In this exclusive Indezine interview, they discuss how they work as a team, and what factors influence the creation of new content for the PowerPoint part of the Office Online site.
Read the interview here...
Categories: interviews, microsoft_office, office_online, powerpoint
SlideShare announced the winners of its The World's Best Presentation Contest -- and the results include some really amazing presentations.
The overall winner is Thirst, a presentation that brings alive the impending worldwide water shortage that's staring at mankind. Interestingly, this presentation was created by Jeff Brenman (pictured on the right) -- he also won the first prize in the last contest that SlideShare held. Indezine interviewed Jeff last year for his Shift Happens presentation.
Footnotes, a photo slide show that documents Melanie's journey through photos of her feet, won the second prize for its novel theme while the third prize was won by a presentation about the crisis in Zimbabwe.
The judges for this contest included Guy Kawasaki, who conceptualized this entire presentation contest concept -- other judges were Nancy Duarte, Garr Reynolds, and Bert Decker.
And at Indezine, we have something exclusive for you -- an interview with Rashmi Sinha (pictured to the left) of SlideShare. Rashmi talks about this contest, her favorite entries, and more.
And here are some statistics: the contest this year attracted 2415 entries and 22,000 votes from voters in 130 countries. There are 3 overall winners, 6 category winners and 9 honorable mentions. The first, second and third prize winners will receive a MacBook Air, Amazon Kindle and iPod Nano respectively. Winners in each category will receive an iPod Touch.
Here are embeds of the three winning entries:
Categories: online_presentations, powerpoint, slideshare
Rashmi Sinha is cofounder and CEO of SlideShare, the world's largest community for sharing presentations. She manages design and business development at SlideShare. Previously, she founded Uzanto, a user experience software company, that worked with companies like eBay, iFilm, AAA and Blue Shield. She also lead the team that created MindCanvas, a rich online survey platform for customer research. Rashmi has a PhD in Cognitive Neuropsychology from Brown University. She did a PostDoc at UC Berkeley in Human Computer Interaction. She blogs at www.rashmisinha.com about social software and running a startup.
Geetesh: Tell us how the idea of The World's Best Presentation Contest evolved.
Rashmi: The idea of the contest came from Guy Kawasaki. We had toyed about with the idea of a contest earlier. I met Guy at a conference and he mentioned that he had always wanted to organize a PowerPoint contest. We continue talking and discussed several ideas before finalizing on the World's Best Presentation idea. It was Guy's idea to keep it general (not focused on any one topic) and not limit to slidecasts (slides + audio) which we considered at one point.
Geetesh: How is this contest being held in 2008 different from the previous one.
Rashmi: The 2008 contest is bigger - 1670 entries so far compared to 400 last week. Partly its simply because SlideShare has grown. But also, the results of the contest last year captured the imagination of many people and this year they have decided to participate as well.
Also, we were inspired by global contests and events like Oscars and Olympics. We really wanted a sense of scale (all the world participating), but we also wanted an openness that you can only have on the internet (anyone with a computer and internet connection can participate). PowerPoint is a people's medium. We wanted a people's contest.
Its really great to see that come alive as the contest captures the imagination of people the world over. We see slideshows from all across the world. We see blog posts and Twitters from all across the world. Its really quite cool.
Also, we have six category prizes this year that we did not have last year. Finally, we have participants form many more countries (it is truly an international contest).
Geetesh: Tell us about some entries that you find unconventional, strange, funny, or just different.
Rashmi: Here are some interesting ones this time in the contest; one interesting trend is that last time, the contest was the first time -- and so many of the entries were from the early adopters; this time the audience seems to be far more broad-based.
There's a bunch of presentations on green, environment etc. and they are all very popular (getting lots of votes)
About a social issue
A love story
Categories: interviews, online_presentations, powerpoint, slideshare
Shawn Toh (pictured to the left) is based out of Singapore and loves to do advanced animation tricks using PowerPoint. He is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional) and runs the PPT Heaven site.
In this discussion, Shawn discusses the PowerPoint Heaven eConvention 2008.
Geetesh: Tell us more about how you evolved PPTH eCon, and what it is?
Shawn: PowerPoint Heaven eConvention 2008 is an annual online convention, which will be held this year on 27 September, a month after the PowerPoint Heaven anniversary date.
The eConvention starts off with the voting of the eCon Awards 2008: Animation / Artwork / Game / Broadcast of the Year, which involves works submitted on the PowerPoint Heaven site in the year 2008. The voting process is a pre-eCon event starting from September 1st to 26th. Winners will then be reflected on 27 September, along with Contributor of the Year, who will be interviewed with a list of questions given by the board members.
Any new PowerPoint works, demos, or trailers can also be submitted during the eCon period by anyone. Also, expect to see screenshots, demo and trailer of a upcoming RPG game in PowerPoint and a sophisticated 3D animations by Han Byul Jang (Zzangdol).
The eConvention was inspired by several of our existing board members, who suggested we have an event where all members on PPTH board can participate.
Geetesh: What is the motivation and objective of PPTH eCon, and who can participate?
Shawn: PowerPoint Heaven eConvention 2008 is a day where PowerPointers get together to discuss, review and submit their latest PowerPoint works on PowerPoint Heaven. The purpose of this eConvention is to recognize our contributors for their hard work and efforts for the year and enable them to get together to discuss and keep each other updated on what they have been doing.
For the viewers, this is also a day where you can get to see wide variety of PowerPoint works created by the contributors.
Throughout the eConvention, participation and involvements from the Guests and PPTH board members are welcomed, where the discussion board will be the communication channel for discussions, feedback, suggestions, submissions and more.
Categories: animation, design, interviews, powerpoint
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