Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category
Sometimes we have to put the tech, and the presenting and the other stuff geeky aside and just enjoy a glass of wine.
But maybe we can combine a few of these. The latest tech in wine storage. The geeky flavor of an impromptu unboxing and demo. All on a Friday afternoon.
I’m a big fan of books. Not just the stories, but the book construction as well. From bindings, paper choice, typeset, typography, layout, it’s all interesting to me.
Mark Z. Danielewski is most famous for House of Leaves, an inventive experimental work of layered stories and typographic morphing of most everything we think of as the printed page.
In this video I do a short review of House of Leaves for those who are not familiar with the work (and to allow those familiar with it to berate and chastise me for “getting it wrong” I suspect) and then do an unboxing of his latest work The Fifty Year Sword, which comes in a unique box and exhibits some of the same traits found in House of Leaves.
I hope you enjoy, and I hope those trying to make a purchase decision on this book are aided in their decision making.
This is not a political post, although a quick reading without comprehension will surely give some that impression. Trust me, and read on.
I was reading this evening about how you can actually see people “unliking” Mitt Romney’s Facebook page in real time graphics on a web site called Disappearing Romney. It sounded pretty wild, and the graphics on the page were conceptually stunning, but the whole thing was kind of sophomoric. It looked like it might have been a prank. So I decided to check his Facebook page to see if their math checked out.
It did check out, was really easy to confirm with a couple of page refreshes. But that’s not what caught my eye.
You see, around 100 years ago I took both high school and college journalism. A lot of it stuck, writing of course, but also a lot in the area of page layout. There’s one guideline that borders on being magic in making a page and subjects on the page look appealing and interesting.
If you have a photo, or graphic, where a subject is looking in a left or right direction, place that element such that it is looking into the page, away from the edge they’re nearest. If you have to, you can consider “flipping” the element such that it can do this regardless of what side of the page it’s on.
(Pause here to note how well I’m avoiding unnecessary political metaphors. Thanks for noticing.)
Check out the original, and see what happens when you flip both the photos. It really is like a magic trick!
You always try to have faces looking into the page, it makes them look better, the page look better, and the reader feel better. In this case, we have original Mitt back-to-back, looking very disconnected, even defensive. Look at how flipping both photos around makes him look, well, happy to see himself.
Arguably the wider cover page might work in either direction, and if it were left right-facing the light sourcing for each of these photos would match up, but that’s not a big deal. I personally liked them facing each other, but your mileage may vary.
And yes, this is eminently applicable to your presentations! Ah! You knew I’d get there eventually! It’s one of the simplest things you can do to make your slides look more intriguing, trustworthy, or even happy.
Anyway, it’s not like it cost him the election or anything, but I found it really amazing that nobody on his staff, or even Facebook friends suggested fixing this classic journalistic page layout gaff.
Yes, I am available for consultations.
Warning, I’m pretty opinionated when it comes to a garish design that I have to look at for hours at a time. I find it personally offending and I’m not going to mince words here.
Luckily there’s a quick fix for PowerPoint 2013, and I’m happy to share it with you before you suffer permanent vision loss…
Oh dear. Another drab blog entry about presenting. Well, maybe not.
If you hear the title Presentation Summit, you might picture an international cabal, those folks from around the world whose job it is to keep presentations bland, sleep-inducing and dreaded. The Illuminati of bullet points, of text too small to read, creators of impenetrable charts, and irrelevant clip art. Lord, I can picture them too!
But no, that’s not it at all. In fact, its almost exactly the opposite.
For almost a decade Rick Altman has been bringing expert professional presenters together at events around the country to show attendees that there is no inevitability to Death by PowerPoint. Originally titled “PowerPoint Live” this Presentation Summit is something I personally look forward to each year whether I’m presenting or not.
What you will learn
To be a great presenter you need a number of things.
- Respect for your audience – to know them, to know their needs, and to know how to move them
- A message – what you are delivering, where you want to move your audience
- Skills – crafting your message, making it meet your needs and engaging your audience
- …and a certain je ne sais quoi. That certain something in your presence that makes the audience want to follow you to the end
And I’m not exaggerating when I say that you can grow your presenting skill set in all four areas at the Presentation Summit.
How’s it work?
The conference is three tracks of presentations, over three days. There’s a bonus fourth day you can sign up for even more intense training. The three tracks are
Design It, where you learn how to better construct slides to more clearly communicate with compelling graphics and just the right amount of message per slide.
Build It, the track that concentrates on learning the tools, presentation, photographic, and graphic construction, that help you craft the right presentation to support your conversation with the audience.
Present It, the art of standing in front of a room full of strangers and helping them see the benefit of your message. One of the most difficult things to do well, and certainly one of the most valuable skills to build.
Over the course of the summit, there’s more than enough to keep you busy and build your ability to present. But there are also larger group sessions, mixers and networking opportunities, vendor fairs, group excursions… it’s hard to imagine how it all gets crammed into a few days.
Who is there?
OK, I’m one of the people presenting, and I’ll talk more about me later. But I’m only a small part of a big talented crew. Professionals from all over the world, from England to Australia, from India to Silicon Valley, it’s a talented team.
But I want to spotlight a couple of folks who attend who are closer to being the Presentation Illuminati, and certainly a lot nicer. The PowerPoint MVPs.
If you don’t know what a Microsoft MVP is, you should read about it here. In short, they’re experts in a Microsoft application, chosen by Microsoft to have direct contact with the development team to provide feedback and help other users of the program. The PowerPoint MVPs are the best of the best. No brag, just fact. Google any of the names above if you need evidence of this.
So if you’re interested in finding out more, Rick Altman the father of the feast says it best on the Presentation Summit web site. There’s more information on session specifics, the presenters, and how to justify going to your boss. No kidding, it’s like he’s doing all the work for you!
A little fun
OK, a little fun now. You may have noticed that the Sessions page for the summit has little videos from most of the presenters. Mine should be up there, but I was late getting them to Rick and he’s off on some island now resting up for the run-up to the October event. So they’ll be up there eventually, but in the meantime I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at what I’m presenting at this year’s summit.
Pecha Kucha Lessons for Business at Presentation Summit 2012
I’m presenting on how business presenters can learn from Pecha Kucha presentations at this year’s Presentation Summit. This video is a short introduction for that session, which will appear on the Presentation Summit schedule page. I’ve given it a little twist of humor, which I hope you’ll enjoy.
Yes, some of the punchlines blink on a little too fast to see the first time. That’s intentional. I’m weird. Thanks for your concern.
Presenting on the iPad at Presentation Summit 2012
I’m presenting a how-to and how-not-to session on using the iPad as your primary presenting tool at this year’s Presentation Summit. This video is a short introduction for that session, which will appear on the Presentation Summit schedule page. I’ve given it a little twist of humor, which I hope you’ll enjoy.
Hint: Pay attention to the background.
This has to be quick. Sorry for any typos or errors, but I’m packing, medicating, and generally running about today and this could not wait.
I got a very nice letter from Bob Gaskins yesterday. If you don’t recognize the name, here’s a clue: He’s the guy who “invented PowerPoint”. Quotes are there because 1) there were a couple of other guys involved in the birthing process and 2) I think the product gets reinvented with every new release. However it was Bob who built the vision for the product and made it happen.
Bob’s written a new book, called Sweating Bullets: Notes about Inventing PowerPoint. He wrote it specifically to celebrate the 25th anniversary of PowerPoint. And I’m reading it right now (along with preparing for two separate conventions and five panels I’m on this weekend, I did mention running about crazily, right?). So I’ll do more of a review later, but wanted to get this out to you, dear reader, because you’re special to me.
I’m really excited about this. Bob left just before I joined the team, and notes that fact on page 14, saying
Ric Bretschneider (Wizard #77) joined just after I left, stayed with the group for 17
years (twice as long as I stayed)…
What else does it say? What’s all that Wizard 77 stuff? Well, you’ve got a chance to find out for yourself because it’s available on Amazon right now, right here: Sweating Bullets: Notes about Inventing PowerPoint
I can’t wait to see how it ends…
Ok, I’ll apologize for that title first. Sounded better in my head.
Wanted to get this out fast because according to a quick poll of friends a lot of people may have missed the news.
Hope you already had a Skydrive, because if you did you just got upgraded to 25 gigabytes of storage!
All you have to do is log in to Hotmail/MSN/live and click the link to Skydrive. If you’ve ever stored a file up there you should get an option to upgrade your account to 25 Gigabytes of storage for free!
Among cloud services that’s gotta be the best deal available. There are iPad, iPhone, and Win7 phone apps available and you can always access your files via login with browser. Also PC and Mac desktop apps.
It’s noted this is for a limited time, so head right over! And, reader from the dark and mysterious future where this is already past, wipe your tears as the new base storage is an industry leading 7 gigabytes anyway!
Way to make the Google Drive announcement sound limp Microsoft!
Microsoft SkyDrive – Skydrive.live.com
I signed up for Intuit’s new GoPayment card system yesterday. Thought I’d share a few thoughts.
GoPayment is a way for regular folks to take credit card payments from other regular folks using your cell phone or tablet. It’s advertised pretty much like the Square system, the first credit card device and service for regular folks. The major benefit is that it’s cheap, no monthly payment, and it has a cute device that plugs into the phono jack on you device that you use to swipe the card. Both GoPayment and Square charge a very low percentage per transaction (Are you listening PayPal?) lower than commercial rates, and no monthly fee. GoPayment is so much like Square… well I haven’t seen any written description of it that hasn’t included a reference to Square. I’ve liked the Square system, but was curious about Intuit’s entry. Given it was free, I figured what the heck, give it a try.
Haven’t got the reader yet, but already it’s coming across as a whole lot more in my face than Square.
I got a big follow-up annotated bill in e-mail this morning with a lot of line items and $0 due notations. Like that’s supposed to make me feel good? My first reaction was “WTF? A bill?” OK, maybe that’s just the three cups of morning coffee talking.
What really bugged me was GoPayment had this “hidden” credit card they issue you as a way to get your money. That wasn’t at all obvious until I got the confirmation that I’d ge getting the card in the mail. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t need or want another credit card. Not for SkyMiles, not for Dinner Credits, not for an additional 5% off on my purchases. It’s already hard enough to track my intentional spending, and if I was the victim of identity theft I want to make as few calls as possible if it becomes necessary to shut things down. So I try not to have a lot of credit cards, especially specialty cards.
Of course, after a call to their customer service, it turns out I don’t have to use or keep the card. I kept saying things like “So when I get the card in the mail, I can destroy it immediately and not have that affect my GoPayment account?” The guy was a bit unnerved about that, suggesting I activate the card first, then call in to terminate it. Um. Yeah. That makes sense.
You can still get the money transferred to one of your accounts, just like Square does, but they default to using the rechargeable credit card. But how many people are really going to rebel like me? So many just accept that “well this is the package, guess I’ve got a new card to monitor.” And we all know that terms on cards can change when the bank thinks it’s not getting enough profit on your business. Right? It’s just another thing to monitor, reading all the bland, poisonous notes in the monthly statements. And I hate that.
If I was going to devil’s advocate their design decision here I’d guess they found that most people were unable to complete their process if it required the banking codes necessary to do the direct deposit dance. Issuing a credit card was much easier, just requiring an address, social security number, and a couple of additional personal data chunks. Probably, but that’s a big part of what’s wrong with the credit industry in general. I’m not going to dig in on that speculation, it’s not the real devil that I think is in play here.
I’ll probably give it a whirl when it arrives, but I expect I’ll be dumping this. Square stays silent until I use it. So far it hasn’t tried to sign me up or send my info along to other companies. I’m not feeling the same warm fuzzy about Intuit.
Sunbeam Oster. It wasn’t even three years old. I know, I know, they don’t make things like they used to. But it’s just a toaster, it’s supposed to be pretty fundamentally simple. Remember the toaster in Red Dwarf? The joke was they had put all the crazy AI and voice tech in the toaster such that it drove the user crazy suggesting that “now was a great time for a piece of toast.” Well, this one just has a bunch of buttons for various preset bread types, and a dial for darkness. Nothing terribly cutting edge. (Wait a minute… bread type settings?)
Reading up on this brand I see comments about failures and people opening it up to find “scorch marks on the circuit board” and how they really didn’t think they had the components to fix the board themselves. Which lends to three questions:
1. There are people who consider trying to fix the circuit board in a $40 toaster?
2. How did we get along for decades with toasters before we had integrated circuits?
3. And why doesn’t this thing connect to our WiFi so it could have downloaded an update that might have prevented the scorching, or at least a security patch?
Feeling a little weird about disposing of the toaster too. I guess it goes on the pile of outdated or broken tech junk waiting for a tech recycling day at the local middle school. Given it has circuits it’s likely there are components that shouldn’t go into landfill. And it’s still so shiny and pretty, it feels wrong to dispose of it just yet. Maybe we can rip the guts out and make it into a planter. Isn’t that the solution for so many of these problems?
Here’s a trivia question for you. PowerPoint has been around forever. Bob Gaskins, the father of PPT puts the start date for the team as 1984. Lots of great folks have come and gone, and a few have even come back. But who is the one person who has been on the team, without leaving and returning, the longest?
That would be Judea Eden.
Judea Eden was the 17th person to join the ranks of The Wizards of Menlo Park, the core group of folks from the earliest days of PowerPoint – those who pretty much set the pace for the application.
If you’re curious, I joined that team in 1993, and am 77th on the list. To put a point on this, there are only two people still at Microsoft who predated me, and Judea was the winner for having been there the longest, still on the core PowerPoint team.
We think about the brains and wills behind the development of the PowerPoint application. But if you were looking for the heart of the team, I’d say Judea is a great candidate for that recognition. You see, Judea kept the PowerPoint team flush in supplies, equipment, and more that a little late-night food during crunch time. She organized all our off-site and team building activities, coordinated resources for moves between sites and buildings.
And she added more than a little humanity to the group. She’s a sweetheart, through and through. She cares about everyone on the team, even those who might not really deserve that care. Because, dear reader, she’s just sweetly guileless and truly wants to make people happy.
When I joined the team, we worked in an office on Sand Hill Road in Palo Alto, CA. I’d really resisted the idea of going to work for Microsoft, even on the PowerPoint product, an application I really liked. But it was Microsoft, the company that had always beaten the companies I’d worked for before. I really felt like I’d stepped into enemy territory, and I doubted that I’d make any friends or actually be there very long.
At noon on my first day this girl appeared in the doorway to my office, I’ll always recall she had a shiny black plastic lunchbox-styled purse, and said “Hi, I’m Judea, wannna go grab some lunch?” Because that’s what Judea does, she makes you feel welcome.
My first friend at Microsoft, and we’ve been friends ever since.
Judea is an amazing amalgam of interests and talents. A few years back she started a serious study of nutrition and health. In fact that’s part of the next phase of her life, working for a company in the health and wellness.
But there’s a crazy-fun side to Judea too. She’s the lead singer for The Judea Eden Band, and if you’re lucky enough to be able to catch one of their shows in San Francisco or around the Bay Area, I highly encourage you to do so. You can thank me later.
So, after a quarter century (and the years don’t show at all kiddo!) Judea is moving on and up to a position in another company, leaving Microsoft diminished for her leaving. Her last day is Friday the 13th, 2012. I hope that’s not a bad omen for those she leaves behind.
I can only say thanks for being my friend. The PowerPoint world would have been a much lesser place but for you.