The PowerPoint Ezine - 60
By: Geetesh Bajaj
Date Created: August 6th 2005
Last Updated: March 2nd 2009
Winners and Giveaways
Indezine Photos is again giving away a new photo for you to use in your presentations - you'll find tons of affordable pictures on the site - do take a look. And here's your free photo..
The best thing about Indezine Photos is that you can buy one picture - you don't have to take a full subscription for just one picture!
And now for more goodies - Ppted is giving away five copies of their Bio Meadows collection of PowerPoint templates - all you need to do is fill in this form. Mention "Bio Meadows" in the Comments field - the sweepstakes ends on August 10th, 2005.
The winners of the last ezine's giveaway of Marbled Magic are César Ledezma, Ruth Linscott, Bob Mathews, Angie McWilliams, Diana Orlemann and Annette Rae - congratulations to all of you.
Here are some new articles and happenings:
Focus on pptXTREME SoftShadow
Keith Tromer heads pptXTREME, which creates several PowerPoint add-ins. Unlike other add-ins which look into programming areas, Keith's add-insexplore the creative side of PowerPoint. That's not surprising since most of Keith's add-ins evolved from a real need to do things that seemed impossible, but were later made possible.
Geetesh: Tell us more about yourself and pptXTREME.
Keith: I use PowerPoint (and many other graphics software) daily, producing shows for large-scale corporate events. I started writing macros as needed for myself. As time went by there were more and more macros and many friends asking how they can get to use them too. So, I put some together into packages for public release. That was almost five years ago now and the pptXTREME product line has continued to grow. The products I make are almost always based on my need during production of large meetings. Most of the pptXTREME products are what I consider productivity enhancers, or time savers. Things that would take many steps and considerable time are now, in many cases, single-click solutions.
Geetesh: Tell us more about SoftShadow.
Keith: SoftShadow for PowerPoint allows the user to choose the shadow color, offset, transparency and blur settings, then it will convert the selected shape(s) to a high-quality bitmapped image with an alpha channel, render the shadow based on the settings and re-insert the shape into PowerPoint. Even thought the newly inserted shape is an image, it can still be edited using the revert to original feature of the software.
The newly inserted shape will keep whatever custom animation it had applied to it before SoftShadow was implemented.
Right-Click on the new shape (also available from the pull-down menu) and choose Revert to Original to automatically go back to the original object before you applied the shadow. This allows the user to apply shadows (and high-quality anti-aliasing) to text and charts without fear of the data changing.
Other features include the multiple quality settings, a quick shadow function, and more.
Geetesh: How did SoftShadow evolve - and what is its greatest strength.
Keith: I have received numerous emails over the years asking for such a product, and have spent countless hours researching and testing ways to do it. The key moment in making this product a reality is actually a little funny. Like the light bulb on top of the head that just turns on. It came to me while lying in bed trying to sleep. An idea that, the next day, proved to be a good one… and SoftShadow was born.
As for SoftShadow's greatest strength... I would have to say there are two. First is the quality of the image it creates, anti-aliasing text and charts that were jagged before. The second would be retaining the ability edit text and charts after SoftShadow is applied.
Geetesh: What do you think about Indezine.com.
Keith: Indezine.com is an amazing resource for anyone who used PowerPoint. As far as I know, it is the biggest resource for news, tips, tutorials, and third-party software related to PowerPoint… all under one roof. Geetesh must be a busy guy!
Note from Geetesh: Download a free trial copy of SoftShadow from the pptXTREME site...
Focus on Relational Presentations
Robert Lane is digital communications consultant, trainer, writer, and professional speaker, based in Tucson, Arizona. He specializes in helping companies and educational institutions implement and maintain Relational Presentation platforms.
Geetesh: Tell us more about yourself and Relational Presentations.
Robert: A number of years ago I worked with a research project at the University of Arizona. We were developing assessment methods based on Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. The very nature of our research dictated the need to communicate ideas in a dynamic, interactive way that tapped into people’s intellectual and emotional abilities at a deep level. After trying PowerPoint, we quickly became frustrated with its static, linear, bullet point-encouraging design. PowerPoint seemed to transform many presenters into robots, leading them to drone on and on from slide to slide. Our frustration drove us to look for a better way. We almost gave up on PowerPoint. Then we stumbled across some significant breakthroughs. Eventually we embraced the software and simply used it in a totally different way. Those initial experiments years later led to the process now called Relational Presentation. Using this approach, a speaker navigates to content on demand, selecting just the rights slide from potentially tens of thousands of options. Any slide is available at any time. PowerPoint in this context becomes an utterly dynamic platform, allowing a presenter to literally share spontaneous thoughts in a visual way.
Geetesh: What about the all-important factor of system resources - do you need a powerful system to use the concept of Relational Presentations ?
Robert: I have been using these ideas clear back in PowerPoint 97, on what today would be considered ancient computers. The Relational Presentation platform is amazingly stable, flexible, easy to use, and technically simple. These days, my personal network has grown to more than 10,000 slides. Aside from the video and audio sections, I can store the entire picture-filled Network on a Flash drive, stick it in any computer running PowerPoint, and present more than 400 hours worth of material on the spot.
Geetesh: How important is the role of slide navigation in Relational Presentations?
Robert: Navigation is everything. Organization of content is even more important. Relational Presentation uses organizational structures called Presentation Networks. Such networks resemble Web sites and databases in many ways, but are based on PowerPoint. While speaking, a Relational Presenter continually navigates within these hierarchical structures, choosing content on demand. For example, a sales person selling machine parts can easily and spontaneously pull up any level of detail on any part, show different contexts of use, select research reports, etc. Anything that might be needed at any time is available through thirty different styles of navigation.
Geetesh: What other tools apart from PowerPoint can cope up with this challenge?
Robert: We rely heavily on a wonderful piece of equipment called a Gyromouse. This hand-held device allows us to accurately control our computer at a distance. Thus we can easily follow a Presentation Network’s hyperlinks from anywhere in the room by simply pointing at projected images and clicking. I personally like to use a tablet PC but any laptop works just fine. In terms of software, we are working on an application that will take over PowerPoint and both simplify and accelerate the design of Presentation Networks. It will incorporate methods familiar to users of Microsoft FrontPage or Macromedia Dreamweaver. We also are investigating software available through Ontra Presentations that seems to compliment our methods at a different level.
To see a demonstration of Relational Presentation in action, visit the Aspire website at www.aspirecommunications.com and view the Flash movie(s) on the home page. You may also request an informative free booklet entitled “A Guide to Relational Presentation” by mailing a request.
Until next time - have a nice day. And keep the feedback coming..