Archive for February, 2013|Monthly archive page

My First Business Trip with the Microsoft Surface Pro.

In Uncategorized on February 21, 2013 at 5:12 pm

I took a rather daring approach to business travel this past week. I hit the road with a my week-old Microsoft Surface Pro tablet and the newest release of Microsoft Office (2013). I travelled to Microsoft for a series of meetings at the annual Global MVP Summit— and was scheduled to present at one of those meetings. Truth be said, I wasn’t too nervous about putting my trust in these new products. I figured if anything failed during my meetings, I’d either get a good amount of sympathy or great help for correcting a problem.

This is what I learned.

Is it really off?
I thought the button at the top right of the tablet would turn my device on and off. Unfortunately for me, this button only puts my tablet in sleep mode. And since dead batteries never happen at a good time, my advice to others is to always use the Shut Down charm (“charm” a new Microsoft term for the icons found in the Start menu) you’ll find in Settings in the Start Menu. I know I’m not the only user this has happened to and I won’t be the last.

Where’s my stylus?
I love the functionality and flexibility that the stylus brings to the Surface Pro (I find myself comfortably switching back and forth between the stylus, the keyboard or touch, depending on my need at the time), but the magnet that “holds” it in place on the side of the tablet is useless. I know that at some point I will end up losing my stylus (I was convinced at the airport that I had lost it at security, only to find it at the bottom of my bag as I has done numerous time throughout this trip). I plan to purchase more styluses (styli?) to have as back up. Oh — and since the stylus and the power cord share the same port, there is no place to store my stylus when the tablet is charging.

OneNote with InkTools is awesome.
I’m not a OneNote user, but I happened upon it while exploring my Surface Pro. InkTools, combined with the stylus, makes note-taking a breeze. Additionally, the ability to record or film a meeting, instantly adds support for my notes. I would add, however, that it’s only discoverable in PowerPoint if you happen to click on a slide with your stylus.

Also, I just spent a ton of money on a Livescribe pen for recording audio during meetings. I don’t need it anymore with OneNote on the Surface Pro. Additionally, I can stop feeling like I’m being sneaky whenever I’m recording. The tablet recorder is much more overt.

PowerPoint with InkTools is awesome.
I love the way the stylus works with InkTools/Pens in PowerPoint — it offers new options for creating custom graphics within the program vs, creating graphics with a 3rd party tool like Adobe Illustrator. Pens have been around for at least one version of PowerPoint, but touch makes the feature much more practical.

Where’s my data?
I transferred a presentation developed in PowerPoint 2010 to my Surface Pro via Dropbox. After opening it in PowerPoint 2013, I found that most of my embedded data was missing from the presentation. Bad news: I had to re-embed all my data. Good news: I had the right people in the room to report a bug in PowerPoint.*

Presenting with the Surface
Once I got used to the different ways to interact with PowerPoint on the Surface Pro, presenting was as easy. I had no problems projecting from my Surface Pro with the VGA adapter (available for purchase at an extra cost). I was even able to lend my adapter to another Pro presenter. The only bother was that I forgot to turn off Outlook, so I kept getting interrupted with email reminders.

Where’s my charger?
Here we have the same problem as we do with keeping the stylus attached. The new, funky connector looks cool but the magnet is weak. It very easily disconnects from the port.

Overall, I’d say the trip was a success. I was able to keep up with email, write my blog and most importantly, prepare for and deliver my PowerPoint presentation with relative ease. I should add than I’m also an iPad owner and I would have never attempted this feat with the iPad (as a presentation consultant and designer, I often create presentations for my clients to use on the iPad). Let me just say that, by comparison there is — well, there is no comparison. While the iPad brings plenty cool factor with it, the Surface Pro, which is actually quite unattractive, is a real business tool that can be used successfully at — or away from the office.

*update: the bug wasn’t actually a data loss. It occurred when I captioned the embedded objects in PowerPoint. For some reason, PowerPoint 2013 fails to recognize certain embedded files when captioned using with its own OLE Change File option. We’re still evaluating the issue.

Free Downloadable Valentines Card

In PowerPoint example on February 14, 2013 at 7:42 am
Click link to download editable PowerPoint

Click link to download editable PowerPoint

PowerPoint Valentines Card

Happy Valentines Day! Download and customize this Valentines Card created with PowerPoint. Enjoy!

Why not to use the Internet when gathering images for your PowerPoint presentations

In Uncategorized on February 13, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Creating Powerful PowerPoint Graphics Using PowerPoint Drawing Tools

I’ve been working exclusively in the business of creating PowerPoint presentations for others since 2001. Over the course of the past 12 years I’ve learned that PowerPoint users get their graphics from several sources that have their pros and cons.
One of those sources is the Internet. So, why should we eliminate Internet images as a source of graphics for our PowerPoint presentations? Read on.

Oh my! I’ll bet every single client that I’ve worked with over the past 12 years has lifted at least one image from the Internet for use in their presentations. Admittedly, I did quite a bit of that in my early days as a PowerPoint presentation designer, not understanding the limitations and potential consequences of using this “free” resource.

Usage Rights
Many of the images that we find online have been purchased by others for use in their marketing materials. That means, when you copy their image, you are breaking usage right laws because you have not paid for the right to use that image in your – or your clients’ – materials. Doing so at the very least, violates basic ethics codes, and at those most, it could get you into a ton of legal hurt.

If you don’t understand how image sizing works in PowerPoint, the image that you lift from the Internet may be too small – it’s not scalable. That means when you enlarge it to meet your needs on a slide, the images will become very pixilated and appear blurry.

My business colleagues have heard me tell this story more than once, but if usage rights and lack of image quality don’t hold you back from lifting images from the Internet, perhaps the fear of potential surprises may.

As often happens, a client provided me with several slides with content that needed to be cleaned up. One slide featured several logos to help her demonstrate that each of the companies represented carried a certain brand “feel.” One of those logos was the Land O’ Lakes logo – you know, the one with the American Indian woman sitting on her knees holding a box of butter in outstretched arms. As is habit for me, I viewed each slide in Slide Show View (View > Slide Show) to catch any animation that the client included in the slides. I found that our Land O’ Lakes logo was in animated gif format. To my surprise, someone had used Photoshop to edit the logo, copied a section of the woman’s knees and placed them “behind” the box of butter. The would-be prankster then animated the front of the box to flip up, revealing what appeared to be the woman’s breasts. Look at the logo here Land O’ Lakes logo and use your imagination to envision the result. I hate to think what would have happened if this client had not sent the slides to me first for cleanup.

So what’s the option to lifting slides from the Internet? Well, you could purchase images from a stock photo source like iStockphoto or Bigstockphoto to ensure that you’ve paid for the correct usage. Even then, these photos might not be perfect and you’ll find the need for photo editing – and that brings up a whole new can of worms — like expensive photo editing software and skill (or lack thereof).

On the other hand, you could simply use PowerPoint’s built in drawing tools. It is my promise that, over the course of the next numerous blog entries, I will help you to learn how to leverage these tools to design amazing high-quality graphics that are free, editable and scalable.

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