Ric Bretschneider

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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The Facebook Face Flip

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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!

Flipping the elements of Mitt Romney's Facebook page we come away with a completely different impression.

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.

Written by ricbret

November 13, 2012 at 7:12 am

PowerPoint History, 25 years ago…

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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)…

And of course there’s more, but you’ve got to read it for yourself or wait for my later review.  OK, one more thing, how’s this for a blast from the past…
It's kinda like looking at cave drawings....

It’s kinda like looking at cave drawings….

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…

This is so easy to do…

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There are some things that are such a pleasure to do, to pass along, to endorse… it kind of feels like cheating, like “duh” this doesn’t even have to be said.

Yeah, this is one of those.

I love the Duarte group.  Their talent, their staff, their ethic, their genuine passion, all so refreshing and inspiring. And when they produce something you, Joe and Jane Everyone, can hold in your hand for a couple of bucks, well that’s really cool.

Today Nancy Duarte announced on the Duarte blog the publication of the iPad version of their book Resonate.

And I’m going to stop right there. No further loving hyperbole.  No more glowing endorsement.  Just one instruction that will cost you absolutely nothing.

If you have an iPad, click here to get to the iTunes page. There it’s easy to download the free sample of a section of Resonate.  Watch that.  Read it.  You’ll be captivated from the first match strike, from the inspired visualization of how an idea travels between people, the power of a speaker and audience connecting, and then you’ll start to learn to do it yourself.

Yeah, that was really easy.

Written by ricbret

April 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm

The Ultimate PowerPoint Survivor…

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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 Back Then - Photo by Bob Gaskins

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.

Onward to a bright future...

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.

Written by ricbret

January 8, 2012 at 8:23 pm