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All posts tagged Powerpoint

TFS. When I Mention It Who Do You Think Of?

Developers? QA? Your Scrum Master? Well time to reframe your expectations and preconceptions.

Recently after working on a project using Microsoft Test Manager and TFS with VisualStudio.com I went into PowerPoint to update a presentation / pitch I was about to run and I discovered a new menu tab Story boarding.

Storyboarding - TFS - PowerPoint

Storyboarding?

Storyboarding allows us to turn our message into a visual display. This is a powerful tool for those involved in relaying the stories that explain the why and how of their product.

As you can see from the screen-capture above there are 3 points of interest in PowerPoint: –

Storyboard - 3 points

The first is self-explanatory. The second are importable, embeddable graphics in sets; as usual Microsoft has several additional sets for free for the user to download and use. The third Storyboard Links – Team allows the person creating the storyboard to add it to a work item in TFS.

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For those not in the know TFS is Microsoft’s ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) built around Visual Studio, MS-Projects, Sharepoint and Test Professional (and others). Depending on the role of the team member they are granted the tools and permissions to perform their role in building the product. TFS can be run from a server or online via VIsualStudio.com.

TFS is optimally used to build products using one layer of Microsoft technologies but not exclusively so. It can be used for Waterfall based projects but serves Agile projects extremely well.

The Warptest POV

Whoever is writing the story of your product, whether it be your marketer, community manager, product manager etc. this is a great addition to their toolbox. How do they get it?

This is a TFS add-in so the link here explains which versions of Visual Studio will add this to an installed version of PowerPoint 2007 (or greater).

The ROI on having menu and Visual Studio is obvious. By linking your storyboards to your TFS work items, you are drastically increasing the ability of your team to understand the why’s and wherefores each requirement or use case.

This will also prevent any disconnect from the information silo in TFS by personnel who traditionally don’t have any flavor of Visual Studio installed on their work PC.

You next question is probably Isn’t this a bit expensive for us in Startup Land? I can only suggest you jump over to Microsoft’s BizSpark site to see if you and your Startup are entitled to all the benefits of the program (designed to encourage innovation, growth and success for your idea and your execution).

Storyboard - Bizspark - TFS

So, don’t go overboard and end up exemplifying everything in Weird Al’s latest video instead ask what Storyboarding can do for you.

Are you ready to improve how you relate your product’s story?

 

 

Office Remote Frees You To Pitch…

You have to get up in front of a crowd however big and run your PowerPoint and/or other Office documents and the last thing you want is to fumble with your laptop.

You want to look polished, professional and prepared but the event venue or simply your company doesn’t have a clicker or if they did it’s not been seen since the last time it was used.

Pop quiz Hotshot. What do you do?

Office Remote - Keep Calm

The Microsoft Office Team Gets It

It in this case being real world use cases of their products. When your use case is presenting your Office documents to others then your best solution is Office Remote App for Windows Phone.

The app allows you to pair your Windows Phone with your PC via Bluetooth and whichever Office documents you have open are available for you to select from the phone and click through.

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On running the app from your phone it instructs you to download and install the add-on to your Office on the PC, after pairing you choose the document, spreadsheet or presentation listed and click to access it.

Office Remote offers the users the choice of a virtual laser pointer and click through slides in the case of PowerPoint.

The Warptest POV

In a nutshell, the days of the panicked scramble to find your clicker the evening before your presentation are done. This is one more reason why the Windows Phone is an integral part of Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Office ecosystem.

If you are an event organizer, an academic or one of many other users who have to pitch their presentation in front of others then you have another major reason to consider Windows Phone. At the very least, you need to find out which of your work mates have a Windows Phone so you can borrow it in a pinch.

After using the app myself it felt TED-worthy to remote click from my phone and run my PowerPoint.

Once again Microsoft delivers an excellent solution for free as an add-on that supercharges your existing tools. I’m giving Office Remote for Windows Phone a strong recommendation.

So RIP missing clicker.

Microsoft Launched Office Mix This Week…

First as a by-invite preview and then opened it shortly after as a customer preview in beta.

What does Office Mix do you ask? Well those busy boffins on the Office team clearly have joined the party at Microsoft and went out to the punters (consumers) to ask what they were missing from PowerPoint.

In this case, one of the main demographics approached were educators, who wanted better ways of making their teaching presentations come to life.

The underlying idea behind Mix is to enable the creation of rich, interactive online lessons… all from within PowerPoint.

I Know What You’re Thinking

I can see the face some of you less enlightened folks are making about PowerPoint but as I said back in April 2010, PowerPoint is wrongfully maligned; bad workmen… tools, say no more,

Actually, if you know how to use PowerPoint you can get great results and Office Mix will help.

Instead of going outside PowerPoint you can do all this without other 3rd Party Tools: –

Office Mix - feature list

Office Mix - toolbar

The Warptest POV

If you are anything like me then you appreciate that this incredible feature-set isn’t limited to educators, the uses cases are restricted only by your creative imagination.

Office Mix allows you to create and edit these interactive presentations all within PowerPoint thus making several 3rd Party tools redundant.

In addition, being an early adopter allows you to make and share these Mixes online by logging in with either a Microsoft account, Microsoft organizational account, Google or Facebook account.

Needless to say I’m impressed at the variety of login options. But if your audience doesn’t want to login then just convert to video and share from your OneDrive, DropBox etc.

In a nutshell I’m going to say that Office Mix gets a strong recommendation from Warptest. This add-on is going to add more power to your PowerPoints.

If you are in the business of presentations and want to bring your A-Game then this is for you. This is the best way to create and share interactive presentations on virtually any internet connected device.

As of now I’ve had two requests to demo Office Mix in person this week. So, what are you waiting for? Get Mixing.

A Mailbag Question On Video

I was getting questions through a variety of channels and I made the decision to turn this into a mailbag set of posts.

So this is the first of them, where you my readers ask for solutions for issues that are vexing you and Warptest will serve up an answer.

mailbag 1 - video

Today’s Mailbag

This is from a reader A. in Israel who wants to know,

“Which desktop tool do you recommend for one-stop video post processing?”

  1. If you are looking for a basic video editing suite on Windows then simply use Microsoft Movie Maker this will answer all your basic needs for processing video you shot with your Smartphone / Digital Video Camera / Webcam and then uploading the finished video to

*I’m not going to get into fair usage or creative commons laws and rules (I’m no lawyer so if you are looking for that information, I suggest a visit to Google / Bing).

  1. Another tool (or tool set) you should be looking at is a blast from the past, Real Player; a multimedia player available for download for all current versions of Windows.

Real Player (free version) comes with a set of bundled tools: –

  • Real Downloader: a tool for downloading web videos from the browser. Hover the mouse over the video and the Download button will appear. One click and the movie downloads to your PC.
  • Real Trimmer: a tool for taking an existing video file and selecting the part(s) you want and trimming off the rest.
  • Real Converter: a tool for converting the file to a variety of formats based on device, file type or a custom type.

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In addition Real offers their users Real Player Cloud: the latest free version of Real Player combined with cloud based storage. Users get 2Gb of free cloud storage with 1Gb more for each device they install the app(s) on.

Real Player Cloud allows the user to upload / store media in the cloud, share (publicly and privately) and access their media on a variety of devices including iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows 8x, Roku, Chromecast and PC, without file format restrictions. Best of all users you share a video with get an email with a link and don’t need to install any apps to view the video.

Assuming your video isn’t larger than your Real Player Cloud storage this is a winning solution for a lot of people.

  1. If you have a PowerPoint presentation then in the old days conventional thinking was you could upload the presentation but that was about it. Since Office 2010, PowerPoint allows you to convert your presentation to a movie based on destination device type. You can also choose between MP4 or WMV as output file type. [In PowerPoint 2013: File > Export > Create a Video]

Powerpoint to Video

  1. If you also need screen capture in addition to editing then as I’ve mentioned in a previous post take a look at Microsoft Expression Encoder. This is a bit more of a complex tool but still another great freebie from Microsoft.

Microsoft Expression Encoder - Video

The Warptest POV

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more free video tools out there. These are some of my favorites in terms of solving particular issues, resource use on the PC and learning curve. Real Player may be a bit retro but it gets the job done when other tools have failed me.

Try them out and let me know what you think. If you need more information or some help with using these tools then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Meanwhile, send in your mailbag requests including whether you want your name used and what platform / OS you are asking for.

This Is A Story About More Than Powerpoint

Yesterday I posted this on Facebook about a Powerpoint presentation I had created that had taken on a life all of its own…

 

Facebook - Powerpoint

Anthropomorphizing your Work

The Powerpoint in question was a bit of practice and fun and after showing it to a couple of professional acquaintances on my Windows Phone, I found myself checking to see if I could actually buy the URL for the web app I had imagined.

At the end of the day I got to sharpen my skills with Powerpoint 2013 (BTW accept no substitutes it rates a killer app from me) and my writing skills, and provided a bit of amusement to some of my Facebook followers and friends.

One tip for those not in the know: If you have SkyDrive, soon to be OneDrive then you have the free versions of Office on the Web: Word, Excel and Powerpoint all there for creating, sharing and presenting right from your browser or mobile device.

powerpoint

PowerPoint, love it or hate it?

Perhaps I should simply ask you if you Like it?

Powerpoint 2007

PowerPoint is once again the recipient of blame, angst and dislike. Even the New York Times decided to jump in quoting the US Military’s PowerPoint woes:

 nytlogo152x23

nyt-ppt

I’m one of those people who thinks that Microsoft PowerPoint gets a bad rap.

The Horror, The Horror…

I have some painful personal experience as a Support / Implementation Engineer where one of the people I was working with comes to me one day in a panic that he has to do a presentation to the Regional VP about his project and he needs my help to do the PowerPoint.

Besides this guy having control issues, he subsequently laid out how he had 60-100 slides comprising: –

  • Text: he wanted his word for word verbal presentation to be the text.
  • Scans of newspaper articles.
  • Embedded AutoCAD drawings and maps.
  • An average of 4 digital photographs per slide.

Then his cherry on the icing on the cake was he wanted music and animations for each slide.

I wasn’t even sure that the PCs we had could handle opening a file like that and he explained to me that he had to impress the VP or the project would be cancelled. The poor guy was a total wreck and insisted he had to have it that way. I managed to convince him that perhaps we could resize the photos but he didn’t want to reduce any of the content.

My job was basically to offer technical help not to provide suggestions so I wasn’t in a position here to do more than I was asked.

The one question I should have asked, that would have changed everything was,

How long has the VP allocated for your presentation?”

Your presentation’s length should be a function of the time you are allocated.

This isn’t a license to finagle and connive extra time or set a meeting for longer.

Unless you have discovered Cold Fusion or a cure for one of the major diseases how long do you really think people are going to maintain attention?

The Warptest POV

My theory is two-fold when it comes to PowerPoint:

  1. Pay attention to all the people out there who tell you 10 slides no more, use an elegant template, don’t try to overload me with PowerPoint bling (yes minimal use of animations etc.) and no you don’t want the text to be verbatim what you are saying.
  2. PowerPoint presentations should be your prop. You are the presentation.

The trick is passion, engagement and perhaps a sense of humor. I am as nervous of public speaking as the next guy but get me talking about something I know, love and believe in and I can engage you.

I won’t use PowerPoint to obscure the message, I want you to pay attention to me (what an egomaniac huh!) actually I want you to pay attention to the message of my Presentation because basically I am trying to sell an idea or concept.

View this as an elevator pitch with images and minimal text.

An idea I touted this week with one of my favorite Tweeps (Twitter-people) @testingqa was the following:

ppt-tweet - powerpoint

A la Twitter and it’s 140 character per tweet cap, perhaps what PowerPoint needs is a proportional limit.

The truth is that PowerPoint seems to be exception to the rule we grow up with, that:

A bad workman blames his tools”

Microsoft Office is a productivity suite and PowerPoint is no exception. Remember, keyword = productivity. To this end Microsoft offers us a wealth of resources: –

  • Training – PowerPoint is like any other tool, you need to know how to use it.
  • Templates – there are some fantastic templates that can make the difference between memorably eye-catching or not. These are nicely divided up by category/ purpose.

.. and much, much more.

So let’s stop indulging in blaming our tools and props. Remember the point is:

You are the presentation, PowerPoint is the prop.