1. PPT - Save Prep Time

If there is one thing that I see more than anything else when reviewing PowerPoint presentations it is the failure to use the proper tools in setting up a master slide to make creating and editing the presentation easier. So many times I see each slide having the background, colors, fonts and layout individually set. Not only is this time better spent on something else, it almost always causes the slides to look inconsistent when displayed because the alignment of graphics or text boxes is slightly different each slide. When people are paying me to improve their presentation, this is one area I end up spending a chunk of time on. How can you solve this issue? Simple, spend time setting up the master slide first. Click on View->Master to display the slide master. Here is where you can set the color scheme (click on Format->Slide Design and click on Color Schemes), the fonts (select the text in the placeholder and click Format->Font) and the layout (you can size or move the text placeholders by selecting an edge and dragging it or resizing it). Spend some time getting the basic slide design elements right first, before you start creating any slides. If you are going to have a logo on each slide (like I do for my slides), put it on the master instead of inserting it on every slide individually. Then, for each slide you create, all you need to do is select the layout (by clicking Format->Slide Layout if it does not prompt you automatically) and start entering your ideas. This can save you a lot of time and make your slides look more professional.

2. Sending large files

In the past I have talked about how to send large files to someone else when the file is too large for an e-mail system to handle. Most files over about 4 MB will be stripped in e-mail systems today because the risk of them being a virus or other nasty file is too great. In addition to the previous service I recommended, http://www.dropload.com, I have a new one for you to check out. It is http://www.yousendit.com. It allows you to send a file of up to 1 GB (dropload allows 100 MB) without requiring you to register as a member (dropload does require you to open an account). Both systems work in the same basic way. You upload the file to their server and they send an e-mail to the other party indicating that a file is on the server to download. Both keep the file only for a limited time (4-7 days) and allow only one or a few downloads. YouSendIt also gives you a URL to download the file so you can send it to the other person in an e-mail as a backup if required (dropload does not offer this feature). If you need to send large presentations or media files, these services are the best way to go.

3. Useful Resource - Google Maps

Google is constantly introducing new services and one of their latest ones I think is better than other similar services. It is the new Google mapping service at http://maps.google.com. I find the scrolling and zooming features easier to use (which are two critical features of a mapping site). It also includes a satellite view that allows you to see a satellite photo of the area you are mapping (if it is in their database). This can be helpful if you are driving to a new place and want to find landmarks along the way. Check it out at http://maps.google.com.