1. Better looking graphics
One of the common complaints about graphics used in presentations or on web sites is the poor quality. Even if you scan in an image at high resolution, it seems that most graphics end up looking awful. It is usually because the size or resolution has not been properly adjusted. I recently helped someone with a photo they put on a web site that took up most of the page and took forever to load because it was 2MB. The size of the graphic is the easier of the two areas to understand because we can just look at the image and see what size it is. If you take a large picture and simply use the sizing handles to make it smaller, the image appears the correct size, but the problem is that the graphic file is still the same size, making the presentation file huge. The second issue is with resolution. This refers to the number of dots per inch in the picture. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of the image. Where that rule falls apart though, is where the device you are viewing the image on cannot display more than a certain resolution. And your monitor is a device that has a limitation. In general, computer screens display no more than 72 dpi (dots per inch). For print publications, it is not uncommon to see resolutions of 1200 dpi - even laser printers print at 300-600 dpi. When you scan an image for print use, you must scan it at the high resolution. But when you go to use it in an electronic format, you should resample it down to a lower resolution. Resampling is a process where the software intelligently removes dots from the image but does not reduce the overall quality of appearance. To resize and resample an image requires software. You can use expensive, complex image software, or you can do what I do, which is go cheap and easy. I use a great utility called IrFanView (interesting name, great software). This utility allows you to load an image in any of dozens of formats, resize, resample and do a whole lot of other things if you need to, and then save in any of lots of formats. I have used it extensively to help my images appear crisp and clear on my web site and in presentations. I highly recommend it and encourage you to start using it to improve the quality of the images you use in presentations and online. Here is a link to download IrFanView from download.com, a site I trust: http://download.com.com/3000-2192-10223761.html?tag=lst-0-1
2. New PowerPoint Viewer With the release of Microsoft Office 2003 last week, we also finally got a new version of the PowerPoint Viewer. The Viewer is a small program that allows someone who does not have the full PowerPoint program the ability to view and print a presentation. The last version was released with Office 97 and has not supported any of the new bullets or animations that were added since then. This new version supports almost all of the features in Office 2000 through 2003, and the ones that it does not support are not used by many people. One feature that changed since the last version is the ability to run multiple PowerPoint shows one after the other. Instead of the previous list file, now you can use a command line switch. You can create a list of PowerPoint files you want to be run one after the other as a simple text file and use the /L command line switch. This is great for multiple presenters who follow one another with no break. For a list of all of the new command line switches for the PowerPoint Viewer, see this article: http://www.rdpslides.com/pptfaq/FAQ00153.htm. The one feature that the new Viewer does not support which I wish it did, is the ability to run a Custom Show. I use Custom Shows a lot and the only way that the Viewer shows a file is starting at slide 1. Other than that, I think the Viewer is great and I highly recommend it as a backup strategy. I always carry it with me in case my computer dies and I have to run from another PC that may not have PowerPoint or at least not the version I use (XP). You can download the new PowerPoint viewer by going to: http://office.microsoft.com and click on the Downloads link on the left. Then click on the Downloads for Office 2003 and you will see viewers under PowerPoint 2003.
3. Useful Resource - Inside Outlook Express
I know that many of you are using Outlook Express as your e- mail program. It is simple and it came with your PC, so why change. And for many people it does everything you need it to do. My wife uses it for her e-mail and it works great. If you want to investigate the differences between Outlook Express and Outlook, there is an article on the web site about it, but that not what I wanted to share here. I wanted to tell you Outlook Express users about a neat web site dedicated to OE (as it's known). It provides great advice and updates. Check out: http://insideoe.tomsterdam.com