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PowerPoint and Presenting Blog: January 2009

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

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PowerPoint and Presenting Glossary
PowerPoint Programming

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ToolBook Instructor 9.5: The Indezine Review

Saturday, January 31, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 2:57 PM IST



The amount of content available in the form of PowerPoint slides is amazing -- almost every computer literate person has a bank of slides, be it at their company, home, school, university, or elsewhere. Most of this content won't work too well when saved as a document -- but since slides typically have (or should have) small portions of large sized text with contrasting backgrounds and visuals, they end up becoming perfect as content from PDAs and Smartphones.

Products like ToolBook Instructor do a whole lot more than just such conversion, but in this review, we will focus on the PowerPoint capabilities of Toolbook Instructor, which will help you to convert your PowerPoint files into online, interactive learning course content with ToolBook's rapid eLearning content creation capabilities.

Read the review here...

Categories: add-in, elearning, online_presentations, powerpoint

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0 comments




posted by Geetesh on 10:27 AM IST



We have already covered the fill options in PowerPoint. In this series will go through the many ways in which you can format lines. The term "line" in itself is confusing, because all the options explained on this page pertain to "outlines". Microsoft probably realized the confusion prevailing -- and decided to call it an "outline" rather than a "line" since PowerPoint 2007.

Read more here...

Categories: color, lines, powerpoint, shapes, tutorials

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0 comments




Friday, January 30, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 11:00 AM IST



Paul StannardPaul Stannard is CEO of SmartDraw.com, creators of the popular SmartDraw program. In this Indezine exclusive conversation, Paul discusses the new features in the just-released SmartDraw 2009.5

Geetesh: Tell us more about SmartDraw 2009.5's new features, and why there are important to Microsoft Office users.

Paul: SmartDraw 2009.5 adds many new features but the three most significant increase SmartDraw's already considerable integration with Microsoft Office:

  1. In addition to using our presentation storyboard template to plan a PowerPoint presentation, you can now actually build it! SmartDraw 2009.5 will build a complete PowerPoint slideshow from your storyboard, complete with graphical slides and animation. Using a storyboard in SmartDraw is a much more effective way to author a presentation than launching straight into the first slide in PowerPoint, and now you can translate your plan directly into slides.

  2. A lot of people use SmartDraw for project planning. 2009.5 adds the ability to export SmartDraw projects to Microsoft Project and vice versa. Project is a complex program usually used by experts. Now all the people working on a large project can use SmartDraw to manage their piece of it and submit their updated project information to a project guru who integrates it into the large project plan managed with Microsoft Project. Likewise the guru running Project can break a large project down into smaller pieces and distribute it to the people managing each piece using SmartDraw.

  3. SmartDraw 2009.5 adds the ability to directly select and import data from Excel into SmartDraw charts. You could always do this using copy and paste but now you can see your spreadsheet and select the portion you want while inside SmartDraw.
Geetesh: Your implementation of PowerPoint specific features is complete enough so that content created in SmartDraw need not be re-colored or re-animated in PowerPoint. What motivated you to create something so complete?

Paul: It's been said that "a picture is worth a thousand words" and we know that communicating visually with visuals in your slide is six time as effective for retention and comprehension than bullets. So, many SmartDraw owners use it to enhance their PowerPoint presentations.

Because this is such a popular and worthwhile application of SmartDraw we decided to provide a complete solution to PowerPoint users with the following capabilities:
  1. One-click transfer to PowerPoint. One-click on a button in the SmartDraw UI will transfer the visual you are working on to an open PowerPoint presentation by inserting a slide showing it.

  2. Built-in animation. Most visuals, including charts and graphics, are better presented by revealing them in steps using animation rather than all at once. We call this sequencing and its automatic for many SmartDraw visuals. You can also customize the sequencing inside SmartDraw, preview it and then transfer the animation as well as the visual to PowerPoint with one click.

  3. Building a PowerPoint slideshow from a storyboard. Creating an effective PowerPoint presentation is more than just creating effective slides. It's also important to plan the order and content of the slides.
The SmartDraw storyboard template makes this much easier to do than working inside PowerPoint. You get a complete picture of your whole presentation. You can drag and drop slides and bullets to change the content and order effortlessly. You can also link to other SmartDraw files that contain visuals you want to include on a slide and see a thumbnail of it in your storyboard.

Finally when you are satisfied with the storyboard of your presentation, you can pick the PowerPoint template you want to use and one click will build the entire slide deck, inserting the visuals from other SmartDraw files you specified, including their sequencing. This command sews all of our PowerPoint integration together for a complete solution.

Categories: graphics, interviews, microsoft_office, powerpoint, smartdraw

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2 comments




Wednesday, January 28, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 1:49 PM IST



In previous tutorials, we have covered solid, picture, and gradient fills for shapes in PowerPoint 2007. In this tutorial, we finish this series by showing you how you can use texture fills.

We also cover in detail how you can use the extensive tiling options available in PowerPoint 2007.

Categories: color, fills, powerpoint, shapes, tutorials

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0 comments




Saturday, January 24, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 5:17 PM IST



I already showed you how you can add or change solid color and picture fills for shapes in PowerPoint 2007. In the next part of this series, I show you all the stuff you can do with gradient fills in PowerPoint 2007. To keep things simple, you first learn how to add a gradient fill to a shape in PowerPoint 2007. Then unleash some more gradient power by using the More Gradients option. Finally, become a gradient guru by learning to edit and create your own gradients using the cool Gradient Stops feature.

Categories: color, fills, powerpoint, shapes, tutorials

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0 comments




Friday, January 23, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 1:29 PM IST



SmartDraw has been long a mainstay of those who want to create professional looking graphics fast and easy. And although PowerPoint and other Microsoft Office applications include many info-graphic options, they continue to lack several business graphic options such as mindmaps, storyboards, flowcharts, etc. SmartDraw has traditionally filled in these gaps, but now it has started offering more than just the gaps.

We look at the new SmartDraw 2009.5, especially the new Microsoft Office oriented interoperability features in this review.

Read the review here...

Categories: graphics, microsoft_office, powerpoint, smartdraw

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0 comments




posted by Geetesh on 12:52 PM IST



Colby DevittColby Devitt is the president and co-founder of Wildform, a multimedia software company based out of Los Angeles, USA. In this conversation, Colby discusses Flair, their Flash authoring product that includes a dedicated PowerPoint to Flash converting component.

Geetesh: Tell us more about Flair, and its PowerPoint to Flash converting capabilities.

Colby: Flair is a fantastic all-round program for people who want to author in Flash, but don’t want to take the time to learn or pay for Flash. (That said, we also have plenty of customers who are Flash developers who use Flair to supplement their work in Flash.) Flair is primarily designed for people who want to create multimedia and e-learning presentations. It includes a top of the line PowerPoint to Flash converter which consistently creates high quality conversions with small files sizes. Plus, you can edit your converted PowerPoint files within the Flair editing environment, which is a huge advantage.

Geetesh: Flair is much more than a PowerPoint to Flash conversion program. However, can you highlight how Flair differs from other PowerPoint to Flash converting solutions.

Colby: You’re right -- Flair is much more than a PowerPoint to Flash converter. Flair has multiple essential presentation capabilities in one program. It’s a Flash authoring tool, a video, image and audio converter, a text effects animator, a quiz creator, and a full video and screen recorder (like Camtasia), in addition to being a full PowerPoint to Flash converter. Each of these capabilities in Flair could be a full program in itself.

The PowerPoint to Flash converter by itself is considered to be the best on the market. It creates high quality conversions with small file sizes, and is the only converter that I know of that lets you edit your PowerPoint files after you import them into Flair. This is a huge convenience for people working with multiple PowerPoint files because it lets you combine pieces from different PowerPoint files, or edit the content of your inherited PowerPoint files before converting them to Flash. It also lets you use your existing PowerPoint templates and designs in Flair projects.



One of the reasons we created this all-in-one program called Flair, was that our customers not only wanted to convert PowerPoint to Flash, they also wanted to add multimedia elements and interactivity to their presentations. Flair is unique because it lets you create a lot of things you either cannot make at all, or can’t make easily in PowerPoint. For example, Flair has a wizard that lets you combine, and synchronize your video and PowerPoint files in three steps! People love this feature. Again, no other product on the market does this.

Categories: interviews, powerpoint, powerpoint_flash, wildform

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2 comments




Thursday, January 22, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 12:31 PM IST



Todd SharpTodd Sharp (pictured to the right) is the creator of SlideSix.com, an online presentation sharing community site. He has been programming in ColdFusion since mid 2004 and blogs regularly about ColdFusion and Ajax at his site cfsilence. Todd provides ColdFusion/Ajax development and consulting services through his company Sharp Interactive, LLC.

In this discussion, Todd discusses his SlideSix site.

Geetesh: Tell us more about SlideSix, and how it evolved.

Todd: Just over a year ago, in December of 2007 I decided to experiment with ColdFusion's dynamic presentation capabilities by integrating them with a well known Java API called Apache POI which allows you to read and extract text and objects from PowerPoint 97/2000/XP files. Using the Java API was extremely simple by leveraging ColdFusion's ability to easily integrate with Java.

I created a few test cases and was very excited about the potential for creating dynamic, Flash based presentations. So through that experimentation the idea for SlideSix was born. Over the next six months I set out to create a presentation sharing community and finally launched it on May 1, 2008.

The initial launch lead to the realization that Apache POI wasn't quite 'ready for prime time'. It was fun to experiment with, but the presentation conversion simply would not be sufficent to handle anything more then a simple presentation with very little formatting. I quickly realized that I would need to utilize a different conversion engine and switched to utilizing OpenOffice to convert the presentations. Using OpenOffice gave me the added advantage of being able to support a wider array of presentation formats like the OpenOffice format (ODP, SXI) as well as MS PowerPoint (PPT, PPS). There are other techniques I use to support the conversion of additional formats such as Adobe Acrobat (PDF), QuickTime (MOV) and PowerPoint 2007 (PPTX).

In addition to the conversion engine, there have been numerous enhancements to the user interface. For example, our presentation viewer and user management console are both newer additions that are build with Adobe Flex.

Since the launch I have been constantly looking to improve and enhance the site to become one of the world's premier online presentation sharing communities.

Geetesh: How is SlideSix different from other online slide and presentation sharing sites, and what is SlideSix's best feature according to you?

Todd: SlideSix has many features that differentiate it from other presentation sharing communities. First and foremost we try to keep our site extremely simple. Some other sites put too much focus on being a social network. We focus on being a mutlitmedia enabled presentation sharing community. In other words, we realize the focus of the site is our users' presentations, and we try to empower our users to create a unique identity for themselves. The most powerful feature that we offer to help our users create that identity is the ability to record video or audio directly within our management console. Once recorded, the media becomes embedded directly within the presentation. We also offer the ability to embed supporting documentation directly within your presentation (by uploading data in ZIP format), and embedded slide notes. Other familiar features are also available such as RSS feeds, groups, favorites, tagging, ranking and much more.

Our About page contains a comprehensive overview of our features and even has a sample multimedia presentation.

Categories: online_presentations, powerpoint, powerpoint_flash, slidesix

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0 comments




posted by Geetesh on 12:08 PM IST



SlideShare announced the capability to embed YouTube videos within SlideShare uploaded presentations in an open beta. Embeded YouTube videos show up as separate slides inside the SlideShare player. The embedded demo below explains the entire process.


Categories: online_presentations, powerpoint, slideshare, youtube

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0 comments




Wednesday, January 21, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 6:51 PM IST



I came across this interesting blog post by Andrew Dlugan that's actually an open letter to the PowerPoint programming (development) team. It talks about making some changes to the program, and I do agree with several of them. About those I don't agree with, those are mainly wishes to curtail how the program operates by providing users with less options for transitions, words, and color. That's like debating the intelligence of users, and putting a road block to creativity.

I like the requests that pertain to including Nancy Duarte's book with every copy of PowerPoint. But asking everyone to pay for visuals and give Microsoft a cut -- well, that's a no-no. Lots of PowerPoint users are students, teachers, and churches that cannot afford to pay for every graphic that they use on a slide.

PowerPoint Design Wish List

Andrew's opinions form a great starting point -- and the comments on the page prove that!

Categories: design, opinion, powerpoint

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0 comments




posted by Geetesh on 9:49 AM IST



SlideBoom, an online presentation viewing and sharing site announced the availability of Pro accounts that add more options than what are available to existing Free accounts.

SlideBoom Pro Account

These extra options include:

  • A personalized Slidelog web page without ads. Can be branded as required.
  • Customizable compact, medium, and advanced players
  • Private Sharing secured with SSL
  • Offline presentation distribution as Flash files and Windows/Mac projectors
  • Control over image compression and audio bitrates
  • Increased upload limit
More info can be found on the SlideBoom site...

Categories: delivery, online_presentations, powerpoint, powerpoint_flash, slideboom

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0 comments




Tuesday, January 20, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 2:07 PM IST



Apple announced the release of iWork '09 including Keynote '09, the presentation component of the iWork suite. iWork '09 also includes Pages '09 and Numbers '09.

There are plenty of changes in Keynote '09, but the most noticeable of these is the new Magic Move option that allows you to add an across-the-slides animation to a single slide object. To do that, you select Magic Move as the transition between consecutive slides with a repeated slide object that could be a logo, a picture, some text, etc -- and then watch as that object changes location, scale, opacity, and rotation automatically across successive slides. There's a demo of how Magic Move works on the Keynote page of Apple's site.

Other new features include a Theme Chooser, more transitions, chart animation improvements, the ability to use an iPhone or iPod touch as a presentation remote, and better PDF and PowerPoint sharing capabilities.

Pricing for iWork '09 is $79 for the single pack, and $99 for the 5 computer family pack. No upgrade pricing seems to be available to users of existing iWork products.

Categories: iwork, keynote, powerpoint

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1 comments




posted by Geetesh on 2:03 PM IST



Apple announced the release of iWork '09 including Keynote '09, the presentation component of the iWork suite. iWork '09 also includes Pages '09 and Numbers '09.

There are plenty of changes in Keynote '09, but the most noticeable of these is the new Magic Move option

Categories: templates, powerpoint

0 comments




posted by Geetesh on 1:03 PM IST



SmartDraw.com announced the release of version 2009.5 of SmartDraw. This new release includes updated features and enhancements that allow easier interoperability with Microsoft Office applications:

PowerPoint Animation Support:
Users can now add images, animation, and text that is replicated within PowerPoint as native PowerPoint objects when exported from SmartDraw.

Microsoft Project Interoperability: Users can take the tasks, sub-tasks, and dependencies from a smaller SmartDraw-created Gantt chart and export it directly into a larger Microsoft Project chart.

Integrating Excel Spreadsheets: Users can directly import and manipulate Microsoft Excel spreadsheets inside of SmartDraw, which means charts and graphs can be created and changed without exiting the SmartDraw file.

Existing version 2009 users of SmartDraw can get the 2009.5 upgrade free of cost.

More info is available on the SmartDraw site...

Categories: charting, graphics, powerpoint, smartdraw

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0 comments




Saturday, January 10, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 3:08 PM IST



We start this series on fills for shapes in PowerPoint 2007 by showing you how you can add or edit solid and picture fills. Each tutorial has screen-shots and sample online presentations.

Categories: color, fills, powerpoint, shapes, tutorials

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0 comments




Friday, January 09, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 10:28 AM IST



Life changes every day, and the world goes around. And even if we did nothing, said nothing, or put ourselves in the deep depths of contentment, change will still happen. Change is akin to growth -- and that growth might be a sapling sprouting from its seed or a conglomerate increasing its reach in world markets.

Both the sapling and the conglomerate can use PowerPoint slides in different ways -- and that's the ironical twist in the tale that brings me to the subject of this blog post. Before I tell you where PowerPoint slides come in the picture, let me share some info about the inspiration for this post.

Olivia Mitchell of the Speaking about Presenting blog sent me a note about this new group blog initiative that she was spearheading to collect opinions about PowerPoint design changes in 2009. I had just got back from vacation, was writing my next book, and had a full inbox! But Olivia was persistent -- and she even responded to my request to view posts by others.

Ellen Finkelstein, a dear friend says "design" rhymes with "2009". And half a dozen posts later, I knew I had different (but not opposing) opinions than the rest -- so I got started with this post.

So now about PowerPoint slide design, and what I am hoping will change in 2009. I kept my list very simple with ideas you can use straightaway -- if this helps, do come back and read this post again because most of my thoughts seem to indicate that "repeat" is a great word! Of course, feel free to comment on that as well.

Something, Nothing, and Everything: First of all, as I mentioned earlier change happens if you do something -- or if you do nothing. However, that statement is not an incentive to do nothing, but it certainly does indicate that don't do too much. I think at some time or the other, we all fall in the trap of doing too much, getting loads of info on our slides, and drowning the actual message of the presentation with gobbledygook. Not doing too much is probably the easiest thing we can do to make better slides, and it might also be the most effective part. By all means though, keep all that extra info, and try to make this supporting info available as handouts or downloads. Since you end up with less content, you can spend more time on the design of your slides.

Think Ahead of Time: If you don't spend enough time creating the message and flow of your presentation, it shows in the design as well. I know there may be occasions when you are hard-pressed for time -- in that case, make concept slides you have to use often even before you know you have to design or deliver a presentation.

Start with Paper: Always start your presentation on paper -- draw your ideas, link relationships between concepts, and create a storyboard. Take another sheet of paper, redo the entire thing -- this time, remove all unwanted info, and fine-tune further. Repeat as often as required -- show this to a trusted colleague or friend, and use their opinions where relevant. Think of the entire presentation from the audience point of view, and make more changes. This process will create an effective slide design in your mind -- subconsciously. It just works!

Next, the Computer: Now move the concept to the computer -- and don't start with PowerPoint yet. Use a mind mapping application if you are comfortable with it, or just use Notepad or Microsoft Word -- create a sequence and flow between successive concepts. Rethink, reorder, and reorient as required -- repeat as often as you want. This keeps your design clean.

Read more books in 2009: Get to read more books in 2009, but don't think they are the end-all. Consider them as inspiration to learn more, think about presenting concepts, and experiment with your design. I'll recommend these books:

Categories: design, opinion, powerpoint

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1 comments




Wednesday, January 07, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 5:12 PM IST



Steffen SetzerSteffen Setzer is Director of Marketing at Canto. Canto is a leading supplier of digital asset management solutions and has been dedicated to helping customers fully utilize their digital assets since 1990.

In this interview, Steffen discusses Canto Cumulus, a cross-platform solution that enables companies to easily organize, find, share, and track their ever-increasing numbers of photos, illustrations, presentations, video, audio, layouts and more.

Read the interview here...

Categories: digital_asset_management, interviews, powerpoint

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0 comments




posted by Geetesh on 2:49 PM IST



In previous tutorials, we have covered solid, gradient, texture and pattern fills for AutoShapes in PowerPoint 2003 or earlier versions. In this tutorial, we finish this series by showing you how you can use picture fills.

Learn more about picture fills in this tutorial for PowerPoint 2003 and earlier versions.

Categories: color, fills, powerpoint, shapes, tutorials

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0 comments




Tuesday, January 06, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 2:50 PM IST



Patterns in PowerPoint are two-color designs comprising patterns like lines, dots, dashes and checks. PowerPoint includes 48 patterns such with names like plaid, weaves shingle and zig zag. We also show you a sample presentation showing pattern fills in PowerPoint.

Learn more about pattern fills in this tutorial for PowerPoint 2003 and earlier versions...

Categories: color, fills, powerpoint, shapes, tutorials

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0 comments




posted by Geetesh on 12:17 PM IST



In previous tutorials of this series, I showed you how you can change or addsolid color and gradient fills to an AutoShape in PowerPoint 2003 or earlier. In this tutorial I'll show you how to add or change a texture fill for an AutoShape in PowerPoint 2003 or earlier. Also included is a sample presentation that includes a texture gallery.

Learn more about texture fills in this tutorial for PowerPoint 2003 and earlier versions...

Categories: color, fills, powerpoint, shapes, tutorials

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0 comments




Monday, January 05, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 3:41 PM IST



In the previous tutorial of this series I showed you how you can change or add a solid color fill to an AutoShape in PowerPoint 2003 or earlier. In this tutorial I'll show you how to add or change gradient fill for an AutoShape in PowerPoint 2003 or earlier.

Learn more here in this tutorial for PowerPoint 2003 and earlier versions...

Categories: color, fills, powerpoint, shapes, tutorials

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0 comments




Saturday, January 03, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 2:09 PM IST



Whenever you add a new AutoShape to a PowerPoint slide, it is filled with a solid color by default. Most of the time, you may leave that unaltered, but it's easy to change that color or to even add another fill type altogether such as a gradient, pattern, texture, or picture. In this tutorial, I'll show you how you can change the default fill color to a color of your choice.

Learn more here in this tutorial for PowerPoint 2003 and earlier versions...

Categories: color, fills, powerpoint, shapes, tutorials

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0 comments




Friday, January 02, 2009
posted by Geetesh on 3:04 PM IST


Tuval Software announced the new 3.0 release of SpeechOver Plus, a joint offering of Tuval and Acapela Group, producers of premium text-to-speech (TTS) voices.

Here's a list of the updates, provided by Joel Harband of Tuval Software:

Bundled Premium TTS Voices: In addition to SpeechOver, a software for generating narration in PowerPoint presentations with text-to-speech voices -- customers receive a high-quality, natural sounding text-to-speech voice that is automatically installed for immediate use with SpeechOver. This is a marked improvement over the regular version of SpeechOver, which comes only with the basic quality text-to-speech voices provided free by Microsoft.

Low Cost Commercial License: The Acapela TTS voices in Speech-Over Plus come with a commercial license that allows you to produce narrated presentations for internal business requirements such as corporate education and training, e-learning, and marketing presentations, -- and you can put the material on an internal corporate network. For the price, this is an excellent value and can help businesses save costs in these difficult economic times.

Additional Voices and Languages: Acapela Group produces 50 premium TTS voices in 25 languages. Right now, US English and Danish versions of SpeechOver Plus are available and different language versions are being added all the time. A basic language version includes one TTS voice in that language (for example, the US English version includes Heather) and TTS voices in the same language or in different languages can be purchased and added to the basic version. In fact, any vendor voice can be added as long as it is SAPI-compatible.

More info and free trials can be found on the SpeechOver site...

Categories: add-in, narration, powerpoint, sounds

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0 comments




posted by Geetesh on 12:19 PM IST



I just read TechCrunch's coverage on SlideSix.com, a new presentation sharing site that lets you upload and share your PowerPoint presentations and other file formats such as ODP (OpenOffice), PDF, QuickTime MOV, etc.

At first glance, this looks like an interesting site not too different from other presentation sharing sites like SlideShare, authorSTREAM, and SlideBoom. But SlideSix's Todd Sharp says there's a difference. He adds: "Simplicity and identity are keystones of our presentation sharing community. Social networks, more often then not, are utilized by people looking to create a unique web identity. The motivation for the desire to create such an identity varies. Some people use social networks for personal reasons – to keep in touch with friends and relatives or reconnect with others whom they may have lost touch with. Others use them for business reasons - to create an online presence for a company or product. Often folks use them for a combination of business and personal reasons. SlideSix is a social presentation sharing community that caters to everyone."

SlideSix

Categories: online_presentations, powerpoint

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0 comments








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