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Posts tagged ‘microsoft’

Office 2013 and online images

I have been using Office 2013 preview version for a while now on my main laptop and, more recently, on the Surface tablet and have been pretty impressed with this new iteration of the world’s most-used productivity suite. Much improved interface, effective integration with the cloud and a raft of small but very satisfying improvements in the way things work. Now it’s not for me to provide an in-depth review of all this: plenty of other more important people have done so already and a quick flick through the search engine results will provide hours of reading on the subject. I just wanted to flag up one little change that might prove useful for the hard-pressed teacher or, indeed, student, and that is the new Insert Online Picture command.


This option now appears on the Insert tab in PowerPoint, Word and even Excel next to the more familiar Picture one and gives you the dialogue as shown in the screenshot above.You can choose from your own images on Skydrive or Flickr (which you add as a source) or from Bing search or the Office.com image bank (this is basically an improved version of the old ClipArt option). There is indeed some clipart on the latter site, which is probably best ignored, but there is a surprising wealth of good photographic imagery of decent file size available there too. And this is the clever bit: it’s royalty free and can be used without worrying about rights issues. Unless you want to start selling the images, of course. The best bit of this new command is that the Bing search defaults to Creative Commons licensed images (you can click to check the details of the licensing if you’re need to), which is clever,  or you can expand it to catch any image on the web.

All of which is neatly done and potentially a time saver, especially if you are trying to stay on the right side of copyright issues. And we should all be doing that, especially if you intend to share your work on  the web.


YouTube in PowerPoint

Now how to embed a YouTube video in PowerPoint might not exactly be breaking news, but the reason it came to my attention again was that, in preparing for a training presentation last week, I discovered to my horror that the ‘old embed code’ option had been removed from YouTube. Cue non-functional embedded videos.

So, a few days after that, having abandoned demonstrating embeds, I set out to see if the old-school and rather more complicated way still worked. In discovering it did, I was even more pleased (if rather puzzled) to find out that the ‘old embed code’ option had returned to YouTube as mysteriously as it had disappeared.The result? I was now reassured that there are two ways to embed a YouTube video in PowerPoint and both work.

If you click on the menu button (second from right) on the embedded player above and choose Download a copy you can find out the details of both methods by watching in slideshow mode. You will probably need to enable editing and then enable content to get the real deal. If you haven’t got PowerPoint running or just want the quick fix there is a pdf version here.

PowerPoint – life after death

Recently I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the art of presentation (sad, isn’t it?) and have to confess to an ongoing interest in the use of PowerPoint and, particularly, an interest in showing that this veteran program still has much to offer. Despite the competition from relative newcomers like SlideRocket and Prezi, not to mention a whole raft of other online pretenders to the presentation throne, the old stager still puts up a pretty good fight. In fact, I would go as far as to say that PowerPoint has a depth of capability and ease of use that keeps it some way ahead of the rest. Anything Microsoft may be deeply unfashionable, but that doesn’t make it bad.

For a humorous view of what we all know as death by PowerPoint, there is always the classic Don McMillan sketch.

So, you see, what makes people think PowerPoint is bad (Power corrupts, PowerPoint corrupts absolutely, and all that) is the fact that the vast majority of the PowerPoint presentations they have seen are bad. Too much text, too many bullet points, poor layout, misuse of animation, you know the score. Well used, PowerPoint can be absolutely dazzling – just see what people like Eyeful can do with it, if you don’t believe me. And for some really good practical advice about what works, I like this presentation.

I don’t make any claims to be a skilled author in PowerPoint, but – having gone through the I hate PowerPoint phase myself a couple of years ago – I think there’s a lot of fun to be had in learning to use it well. Largely as a exercise in self-motivation, I set up another blog frenchpowerpoints, spurred on by the dismal realisation that I had actually authored very few presentations that are up to much. My (probably vain) hope is that I will be motivated to spend some time creating presentations that are not entirely run of the mill. The latest entry is this one.

The original PowerPoint version is here.


Translation in Microsoft Word

There are lots of tools available out there to translate things and students usually choose the most desperately inaccurate one when trying to take a shortcut on their homework, so it’s not hard to spot! But, used sensibly, these tools can be useful: I have written before about the really very useful Lingro, and Germanists have the brilliant Dict.cc.

But it’s worth mentioning Microsoft’s entry into the fray with the translation facility in Word 2007. It’s far from brilliant but it’s a start, I suppose, and could be useful as a way of working within a document without going out to external tools. To turn on the facility, you go to the Review tab on the ribbon and select Translation (fourth from the left). This pulls up a vertical window on the right of your document within which you can select your languages to translate from and into. After that, if you click within any word then right click and choose Translate then Translate again (why twice??) your translation will come up on  the right hand side.

It is limited but it is functional. There is also an option to translate an entire text, but that is as dire as they come and only worth doing if you want a laugh! There is also an option called Translation Screen Tips, which is meant to provide a translation when you hover over a word. I’ve never got it to work in either Vista or Windows 7. If anyone has managed to pull off this trick, do let me know!


Powerpoint – now with drag and drop!

I actually wrote this post ages ago but didn’t publish it – because I couldn’t quite get the drag & drop to work properly on the IWB. But now I think I’ve cracked it. On screen you click to pick up the object, move it by moving the mouse & then click again to drop it in the required place. On the IWB you tap once to pick up the object, which is now attached to your finger, move it with your finger, then tap twice to drop it.

So here’s the original post below.

We all know how useful a tool PowerPoint is for teaching purposes – indeed, perhaps we over-use it. Death by PowerPoint and all that. Mind you, in skilled hands it is an incredibly versatile program. Just look at this, for example! Makes you feel a bit inadequate, really. But one thing always seemed to be missing, and that was the ability to drag objects or text around the screen using the mouse.

Like you can with Smart notebook presentations. The snag with those, however, is that they lack all the other functionality that PowerPoint possesses, plus they are currently not fully supported by Moodle, so you can’t put them there for your or students’ use. So I was very interested to find a template that finally offers drag and drop in Powerpoint. I edited it a bit to get rid of some annoying quirks, and think it now works fine. The instructions on how to perform this trick are on the opening slide of the template, so I won’t bore you here with the details, but – as you will see – it’s really quite easy.

Just a couple of tips before you begin. First, to make sure you can open the template, check that your macro security level is set to medium. To do this, open up Powerpoint, go to Tools in the top toolbar menu and click on Options.

On the menu screen select the Security tab, click on Macro Security and make sure the security level is set to Medium.

That allows you to open the template with its embedded drag and drop macro. The key things you need to know are on the opening slide. A further tip to speed things up is, if you are creating a number of similar objects, is to set up the first one with the desired styles, fonts, fills etc plus the macro, then copy & paste as many clones as you need, so it’s only a question of changing bits of text.

Oh, maybe one more thing, as Columbo used to say. When you have created and saved your wonderful drag and drop presentation, it’s probably sensible to make it Read Only, for reasons that will become obvious. To do this, view the file name in its folder, right click on it and select Properties, then in the menu box check Read Only, followed by Apply then OK.

Sorry all that seemed so long-winded, but it will be worth it! I have linked the drag and drop template here. And a rough trial example here, in best Blue Peter style. Best to save them, not open them from here, then open them in Powerpoint. To use the example, make sure you view it as a show. Hope the links work ok. If they don’t, please ask. If they do, have fun.