Friday, November 9, 2012

PowerPoint 2013

For the last upgrade, you may have noticed I was absolutely giddy with excitement of the changes to PowerPoint. This time around, I'm not as giddy, but there are a lot of things I like about the new version. Here are a few of the improvements to PowerPoint.

Getting Started and Backstage view have changed. There are more options available for you. It does take some time to get used to the new look, but you will soon find that the same old stuff is still there with a few improvements.

Insert online pictures and video

You don't have to go outside of PowerPoint to search for and save pictures or video for use inside of PowerPoint. 
  1. On the Insert tab, Illustrations group, click Online Pictures OR Insert tab, Media group, click Online Video.
  2. In one of the search boxes, type a word or phrase that describes the clip art or video you want, and press ENTER.
  3. In the list of results, click an item, and then click Insert.

Properties in the Task Pane instead of dialog box

When formatting an object, whether it be a shape, picture or chart, you now have the properties on the right side in the task pane instead of floating on top of your object in a dialog box.  Double-click an element (or right-click and select Format [element]).

Improved Presenter View

I don't have to have two monitors connected to run Presenter view. YAY! When preparing at my desk, having a dual monitor setup is not always possible. Now I can practice the presentation without being the actual room where I'm presenting. During a presentation, you can also zoom in on a slide. I've had to use 3rd party programs to accomplish this before. There is also a slide navigator to make it easier to jump to the slide you need.

Widescreen friendly

With much of the world using TV and video, the aspect ratio has changed for many of us. Instead of showing a presentation with the black boxes on the side, you can set up your presentation for a wide screen (16:9 layout). New themes are included for this as well.

Design variations

The rule of thumb for background colors is to match the light of your room. If in a dark room, use a dark background. When in a brightly lit room, use a light background. When I don't know the room I'll be presenting in, I'd bring two versions of my presentation; one dark and one light. It took some work and time on my part to do this in advance. Now, you have variations of a design to make this much easier.

Line-up and space objects

Another program I use is Adobe InDesign. A couple versions ago they added this cool feature that pops up a "grid" when moving objects that allows you to better align and space objects as you move them around. I've loved this feature and now PowerPoint has it, too. I don't have to go to the ribbons for the tools for alignment or spacing.

Motion paths improved

When creating a motion path in the past, I'd have to run the animation multiple times to get the start or end point to land exactly where I needed. Now, you'll get a ghost of the end point as you edit the path so it's far easier to work with.

Merge common shapes

This feature was in the previous version, but it was buried and few people were able to find it to use. It is far more prominent and gives a few more options that allow you to do a bit of illustration design in PowerPoint.

Improved video and audio support

A major problem in the past with PowerPoint is their very limited selection of compatible multimedia formats. It required work on the user's part to find another program to convert a file to one of the limited acceptable formats. PowerPoint now includes more built-in codecs. Also, check out the Play in Background feature which never worked as promised in previous versions.

Eyedropper for color matching

Once again, I can ditch my 3rd party software and use the eyedropper in PowerPoint to find the color being used in a picture so I can use it for my text, shapes or complimentary colors.
  1. Select the shape or text to apply the color to.
  2. From the Fill or Outline tools of a shape or text, select Eyedropper.
  3. Click the area of the slide or picture to pick up the selected color.
  4. The color is applied to the select shape or text.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Windows 8 Preview at UNL

If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a Microsoft geek. I've been using the Windows 8 preview for a few weeks. I like it now, but didn't feel that way in the beginning. Like most mid-westerners, I'm not a fan of change. The first thing I see after logging in is the Start screen (Metro UI, or user interface). It replaces the Start menu. If you like to click first and ask questions later, you may end up in one of the apps. I did this. My first thought was to press [ESC] to get out, but that doesn't work. You can press the Windows key on your keyboard to return to the Start screen, but I use Windows on my Mac laptop and don't have this button when I'm on the go. Move your mouse to the upper left corner of your screen and you'll get a desktop thumbnail you can click to return to the desktop.

The idea behind the "reimagined" design is to provide a unified experience no matter what hardware you have. Desktop or laptop computers, tablets and Windows phones will all look the same and work the same. For the purpose of this post, I'm looking at Windows 8 from the point of view of the desktop/laptop user experience.

Start menu

The blocks you see are called tiles. The default tiles on the left are Live Tiles and linked to various apps. Apps are an important part of Windows 8 as they link you to all your other programs, such as Mail, SkyDrive, People, Calendar, Photos, and Messaging. If anyone is interested in developing, check out the Windows 8 apps page. My favorite tile is the ability to return to my desktop.

On the right, you'll see your programs. Right-click and you'll see a bar at the bottom. If you right-click the background, you'll get the All apps button on the right side of the bar. If you right-click a live tile, you can choose to change the size or remove it. Right-click a program and you can unpin it from the Start screen or pin it to the taskbar in addition to removing it or viewing all apps.


Once you click on the desktop tile, you'll see a very familiar environment. You can still right-click the desktop for all the same options. Of course, I took no time at all personalizing my theme with different backgrounds and such. I love a beautiful picture.

When you look at the taskbar, it's exactly the same except there is no Start button. So how do I get back to that Start screen to open another program? Lucky for me, I have a Windows keyboard and can just press the Windows button. But I do run Windows on my Mac and when I'm on the go, I don't have a Windows button on the Mac keyboard. Move your mouse cursor to the bottom left corner of your screen and a thumbnail of the Start screen appears. You can now click that thumbnail to open the Start screen. I'm not a fan of this. It's difficult to get as it's very sensitive and a tiny hotspot. To make my life easier, I pin my frequently used programs to the taskbar. This way, I don't have to go to the Start screen as often.


There are five charms available on the right side of the screen. To open the charms, there are keyboard shortcuts, but there is too much in my head already with all the voice, I can't memorize another key combination. To open the charms, move your mouse cursor to the bottom right of your screen, just over the time and date. Now, bump the right side of your screen. The charms will appear. Move your mouse straight up on top and you can select your charm.

Charms available are Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings. For the desktop, I don't use most of the charms. I do like the Settings charm, but I can honestly get most of these things from the Control Panel or Personalize window. A few extras here include the ability to change notifications and to sync across devices. While this is super cool for my personal account, it's really not a good option for us at UNL without web app or SkyDrive integration with our UNL credentials.


Windows 8 is different and has a learning curve for the Start menu and some navigation. Once you get past the initial Start screen with the Metro UI, you can feel a bit more comfortable and continue to work until you learn to use the Start screen. As far as the question, "when will we get Windows 8 at UNL?" I don't have a date for you. What I can say is that Information Services will not recommend Windows 8 until Symantic End Point (our antivirus program) and our other core systems are compatible with it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Word 2013

I am having so much fun learning the new Office 2013. I'll have more updates as I get to know it better. In the meantime, here's a preview of Word...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

E-mail Merge using Microsoft Word

People have been asking for this in Lotus Notes for so long. Now that UNL is converting to Outlook for our e-mail, I can finally show everyone how incredibly easy this is. This video includes both 2010 for Windows and 2011 for Mac. 

For this example, I'll be using Word for my message, Excel for my data source and Outlook to send the email.

In Microsoft Word, you can use an existing letter or type a new one from scratch. I already have a letter I'd like to repurpose for this message.
  1. In Windows, click the Mailings tab.On the Mac, go to the Tools menu and select Mail Merge Manager.
  2. In Windows, click Start Mail Merge and select E-mail Message.On the Mac in the Mail Merge Manager, click Create New and select Form Letters.
  3. Click on Select Recipients and select Use Existing List.On the Mac in the Mail Merge Manager, select Get List and Open Data Source...
  4. Navigate to find your list. When using Excel, you'll be asked to select which worksheet to use.
  5. In Windows, select the fields to replace and click the words Insert Merge Field and select the name of the field to insert.On the Mac, from the Mail Merge Manager, simply drag and drop the field to its proper location.
  6. Click to Preview Results (View Merged Data on the Mac) and double check everything is okay.
  7. Use the record selector to double-check to be sure everything is in the proper location.
  8. When satisfied, go to Finish & Merge and Send E-mail Messages.On the Mac, select Generate e-mail messages in the Mail Merge Manager.
  9. Select the field which contains the e-mail address.Type the Subject line you'd like to appear on the e-mail message, and then click OK (Mail Merge to Outlook on the Mac).

Back in Outlook, in the Sent Items folder, you'll find all the e-mails that have been sent.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Send a Calendar via E-Mail

Being able to view my coworkers’ free/busy time is a great time-saver when I want to schedule a meeting with them. But there are times when I need to schedule a meeting with someone outside of my organization. When that’s the case, I send them a copy of my calendar for the time period requested so they can match their free time with mine.

To send someone your calendar…
  1. In a new e-mail message or a reply, click in the body of the message.
  2. On the Message tab, Include group, click Attach Item and select Calendar.
  3. In the Send a Calendar via E-Mail dialog box:
    1. Specify which calendar to include (if you manage more than one).
    2. Specify the date range. If you don’t see the option you need, select Specify Dates to choose the beginning and end of the date range.
    3. Select the amount of detail to include.
    4. If you only want to include working hours,
      select ☑ Show time within my working hours only.
  4. Click OK.
The calendar will be added to your message as a neat and easy-to-read table, making it easy for the recipient to select a time that works for both of you.

Why I have been M.I.A.

UNL (and the entire University of Nebraska system) is changing from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Outlook and Office 365. It's been a major undertaking and we'll be at this for a while. This has drawn my attention away from my blog and I apologize. I'll begin posting again, but you will now notice I'm including Outlook with my tips.