Microsoft Office 2010

Office 2010! It'll be coming out very soon. I'm excited to see what new innovations Microsoft is throwing at us this time. You can go and download the beta version for yourself here:

Try it out, let me know what you think! Here are five things I'm particularly happy about:
  1. You don't need to upgrade your computer. If it worked with Office 2007, it'll work with Office 2010.
  2. The ribbon can be easily customized now - you don't need to know any fancy programming! You can change around the default tabs to meet your needs, and you can add in new tabs of your own.
  3. You can broadcast your PowerPoint presentations over the Internet to share with someone else, even if they don't have PowerPoint on their computer.
  4. Excel now has the ability to create little charts within a single cell - really, really cool! Take a look here:
  5. For students like myself who make extensive use of OneNote: there is a web application available that allows you to store your notes online and access them while you're away from your home computer. I think this is brilliant!
I really can't wait to upgrade my software - it looks like this latest release is full of all sorts of welcome surprises. Upgrading to 2007 was a bit of a headache, having to get used to the new ribbon... but this looks like it'll be a much more fun experience.
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Microsoft Office and Facebook Collide!

Microsoft Office and Facebook users (like me!) will be happy to hear about this new and exciting application that was announced this week in San Francisco by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg – it’s called “Docs”. It allows you to upload your Microsoft Office files (such as Word, PowerPoint, or Excel) and share them with your friends through Facebook.

I have to say that I’m not an avid application-user on Facebook, generally finding them to be useless time-wasters or spam-generators. Allowing a third party to access my personal information has never really been something I’m comfortable doing. This, however, is a huge exception. It’s a powerful tool and it’s completely free.

You can use Docs to create, edit, and share your documents. If you’re looking for a more complete set of tools, you can go ahead and use Microsoft Office itself to do the work. In the end, uploading and sharing is quick and easy.

When I first heard about this application, my biggest question was “How often am I actually going to have a document that I’d like to share with absolutely everyone?”. Thankfully, the developers were smart and have built in privacy settings that allow you to choose specific people who can view it, or to make it publicly viewable.

Awesome to the max. Check it out!
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PowerPoint: Save Slide as Image

Just the other day, someone asked me about setting up a diagram of sorts and said that they weren't too sure about what program to do it in. Not having any software specifically made for that purpose, he was actually pretty surprised when I suggested PowerPoint.

"PowerPoint?" Yes, PowerPoint. With the huge assortment of autoshapes, different fill colours and textures, alignments, transparency settings, and more, PowerPoint is actually a pretty easy-to-use application for building a diagram or other graphic to suit your needs. Often people will do it in Word, but PowerPoint makes it a lot simpler.

"How does it make it simpler?" Well here's the thing. Once you've arranged your image in Word, you're not going to have much fun trying to save that particular part of the page as an image file. You could take a screenshot, but the quality will be horrible. Take PowerPoint though, build your image on a blank slide (using the exact same tools that you would in Word), and then go to the Office Button and choose "Save As" (either click directly on it, or choose 'Other Formats' in the next menu that pops up). Underneath your filename, take a peek at the drop-down menu for "Save as type:". You'll see a wide variety of filetypes to choose from, including graphics formats like GIF, JPEG, PNG, and TIFF. Choose the one you'd like, and watch as your slide is conventiently saved as a graphic that you can easily use in other applications.

The obvious question that remains is "why are you using PowerPoint for graphics anyway, while there are programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Gimp out there?". Personally, I prefer using the Adobe Creative Suite for graphics, but not all of us have access to that software and I like to show that there are some interesting alternate options within the Microsoft Office suite. Sometimes you're in a pinch and you have to do something with the only tools you have available!

Happy image-creating, awesome readers of mine! Thanks for visiting my site today.
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Access: Create a Custom Splash Screen

So you've built a snazzy Micrsoft Access database, and you've taken care of all the little details that make it really good-looking. Except for one small detail: how do you get a custom splash screen in Access?

[Hold on a second! "What's a splash screen?" Good question, my friend. A splash screen is the picture that you see while a program is opening. So normally, when you open Access, you see the Microsoft Access logo and copyright information. This blog entry will help you change that picture to something of your own choosing.]

Okay, so here's the awesome thing. Making your own splash screen, I am happy to say, is very simple.

Step one: make the image you'd like to use as a splash screen. This is something you'll want to do in some sort of graphics program or whatnot, or maybe you already have got an image file you'd like to use.

Step two: if it's not already in this format, save your image as a Windows Bitmap file. You want the extenstion to be ".bmp".

Step three: save the image in the same directory as your Access database, and save it with the exact same name. So, if your database is "StacyDuBoisRocks.accdb", then your image should be saved as "StacyDuBoisRocks.bmp".

With that last step, you're done! Just double-click to open your database, and you'll see your new splash screen show up instead of the default Access one. How awesome is that?

The answer is "very".
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Word: Reduce File Size by Compressing Pictures

Did you know that you can sometimes make your file size smaller by compressing the pictures in your Word document?

When you insert a picture into your Word document, Word saves it in its original full resolution state, even if you go and crop or resize it. By keeping this information, you can undo your cropping or make the picture larger and Word will have all of the information it needs to do so. If you're sure that one or more pictures in your document are sized and cropped properly, however, you can go ahead and compress them to reduce your file size. This won't affect the quality of your picture(s).

Select the picture you'd like to compress by clicking on it. Go to 'Picture Tools' on your ribbon, then select 'CompressPictures' (it's in the 'Adjust' group on the 'Format' tab). If you want to compress every picture in your document and not just the one you've selected, make sure you uncheck the 'Apply to selected pictures only' check box.

I find this to be a really big help in saving space on my hard drive when I'm working with image-heavy documents. Sometimes you don't notice how big the file is until you go to e-mail it to someone and it takes forever because it's so large. Happy compressing, dear readers!

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