# Thursday, January 14, 2021

GCast 99:

PowerPoint Animations

Learn how to effectively animate objects in Microsoft PowerPoint.

Thursday, January 14, 2021 9:50:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, July 6, 2020

Episode 616

Yina Arenas on Microsoft Graph

Microsoft Graph is a tool that allows you to query and analyze data about a user - including messages, calendar items, SharePoint lists, shared documents, devices, and many mores. Program Manager Yina Arenas describes how developers can use Graph to generate insights and enhance their applications. She also lists some of the new and recently-announced features of Graph.




Monday, July 6, 2020 8:20:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Friday, April 24, 2020

I use Excel a lot - sometimes just to format a lot of text by applying the same formula to a bunch of strings.

The CONCAT function is great for this. It concatenates together 2 or more strings to create a new string.

The syntax is:

CONCAT(text1, [text2],…)

where each argument (text1, text2, etc., up to 253 arguments) is a string or a reference to a cell containing a strng.

So, if cell A1 contains the string: "Customer" and cell B1 contains the string "LastName" and you want to store the following string in cell C1:


You can do so with the following formula in cell C1:

=CONCAT(A1, ".", B1)

One challenge with the CONCAT function occurs when you want your new string to include double quotes ("). Because double quotes are used to delimit strings, this can cause confusion.

For example, you may want to take the inputs above and form a string like the following:

"Customer" : "LastName"

The following formula generates and error because Excel cannot tell where a string argument ends

=CONCAT(""",A1,"" : "", B1,""")

I've found 3 ways to approach this.

Use single quotes instead of double quotes. This is a compromise, but it can work sometimes, as double quotes and single quotes are considered the same in many contexts.

The following formula accomplishes this.

=CONCAT("'",A1,"' : '", B1,"'")

Use a double set of double quotes

Excel uses the special escape sequence "" to indicate double quotes within a string.

Here is an example of this:

=CONCAT("""",A1,""" : '", B1,"'")

Use CHAR(34)

Excel contains the CHAR function that returns the character associated with an ASCII value. A double quotation character has an ASCII value of 34, so you can use this instead of the character itself. It is perfectly acceptable to embed one Excel function within another.

Here is an example of this:

=CONCAT(CHAR(34),A1,CHAR(34)," : ", B1,CHAR(34))

The last 2 options are my preference. Which you choose depends on which you find more readable.

Friday, April 24, 2020 7:26:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, March 28, 2019

GCast 41:

Using the PowerPoint Selection Pane

The Selection Pane is a little-used PowerPoint feature that can make it easier to manage a complex slide.

Thursday, March 28, 2019 8:38:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Sometimes, I like to build fancy automations in Microsoft PowerPoint.

PowerPoint provides a simple way to animate objects on a slide. The steps are:
Select an object,
choose an animation
Set properties (e.g. timing) of that object

When a slide has a complex animations, you can end up with a lot of objects to manage. Sometimes those objects are stacked on top of one another, as shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1

This makes it difficult to select the desired object. Further, if some shapes look alike, it's difficult to know which one to select.

PowerPoint provides a feature to help with this: The Selection Pane.

It's a good bet you've never used the Selection Pane, because it is not obvious where to find it.

To show this pane, select the Home ribbon (Fig. 2); then, select Select | Selection Pane, as shown in Fig. 3.

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

The Selection Pane displays, as shown in Fig. 4.

Fig. 4

Each object on the current slide is listed. Notice that it each item is given a generic name, based on the type of shape.

You can rename any shape by double-clicking the shape name in the Selection Pane, typing in a new name, and pressing ENTER, as shown in Fig. 5 and Fig. 6.

Fig. 5

Fig. 6

Fig. 7 shows all the objects with more meaningful names. When I'm working with a complex slide, I like to rename each object to something to easily identify it.

Fig. 7

Clicking the icon to the right of each object name allows you to toggle the visibility of that object. Hiding objects on top of and around an object can make it much easier to select and work on a given object. Fig. 8 shows the slide with every object hidden except the 2 circles.

Fig. 8

When you are finished working on objects, click the icon(s) again to reveal the hidden objects.

The PowerPoint Selection Pane is a little-used feature that can make it much easier to work with animations and complex slides in PowerPoint.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 7:04:08 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, August 6, 2018
Monday, August 6, 2018 8:14:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, June 16, 2018

There exists a competition in which a speaker must deliver a presentation in front of a slide deck that advances automatically every few seconds. The biggest challenge is knowing when the slide will change. Because most of us are not capable of simultaneously counting time and speaking, these talks often feature either awkward pauses waiting for the next slide or a rush to finish talking about a slide that disappeared a few seconds ago.

Prior to such a competition, one of the speakers asked me how to create a bar that would display across the bottom and gradually disappear as time expired. Here is how to do this:

Step 1: Create your slide

In PowerPoint, create your slides as you like each slide and set them to advance automatically. Fig. 1 shows an example of such a slide.

Fig. 1

Step 2: Draw a rectangle

Select one of your slides and insert a short wide rectangle shape at the bottom. From the Insert ribbon, select Shapes and click the rectangle shape, as shown in Fig. 1; then, drag your mouse along the bottom of the slide to draw the rectangle, as shown in Fig. 2. Make the rectangle exactly as wide as the slide.

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Step 3: Animate the rectangle

Select the rectangle shape you just added. From the Animations ribbon, expand the list of animations and select "Wipe" from the "Exit" section, as shown in Fig. 4.

Fig. 4

By default, the "Wipe" animation will wipe the shape from the bottom. You want to wipe it from the right. Select the shape and, from the Animations ribbon, select Effect Options | From Right, as shown in Fig. 5.

Fig. 5

Finally, set the timing of the animation. In the "Timing" section of the Animations ribbon, set the following:
Start: With Previous
Duration: Set to the same duration as the slide timing
Delay: 0

These are shown in Fig. 6.

Fig. 6

Step 4: Test your Transition

Press SHIFT+F5 to run this slide with the transition. You should see the rectangle slowly disappear from the right and completely disappear as the slide transitions to the next slide. Figures 7a, 7b, and 7c illustrate this.

Fig. 7a

Fig. 7b

Fig. 7c

Step 5: Copy Shape to Other Slides

When you are satisfied that the animation is working properly, copy / paste this shape to your other slides. The animations will copy along with the shape.

Saturday, June 16, 2018 4:59:34 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Friday, May 5, 2017

Yesterday, I showed how to automatically generate lorem ipsum text in a Word document. While this is useful for showing what a document layout will look like with text in the appropriate places, you may prefer actual English words to the pseudo-language of lorem ipsum.

To generate paragraphs of English text, enter the following on an empty line of your document


Press ENTER and the text above will be replaced by the following:

Video provides a powerful way to help you prove your point. When you click Online Video, you can paste in the embed code for the video you want to add. You can also type a keyword to search online for the video that best fits your document.

To make your document look professionally produced, Word provides header, footer, cover page, and text box designs that complement each other. For example, you can add a matching cover page, header, and sidebar. Click Insert and then choose the elements you want from the different galleries.

Themes and styles also help keep your document coordinated. When you click Design and choose a new Theme, the pictures, charts, and SmartArt graphics change to match your new theme. When you apply styles, your headings change to match the new theme.

Save time in Word with new buttons that show up where you need them. To change the way a picture fits in your document, click it and a button for layout options appears next to it. When you work on a table, click where you want to add a row or a column, and then click the plus sign.

Reading is easier, too, in the new Reading view. You can collapse parts of the document and focus on the text you want. If you need to stop reading before you reach the end, Word remembers where you left off - even on another device.

I have confirmed that this works in Word 2016.

Friday, May 5, 2017 2:16:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, May 4, 2017

Here is a Microsoft Word feature I recently learned.

For sample documents, it is often useful to insert some meaningless text to fill sections of the document. This is especially useful when you are just starting a document and you don't have any content yet, but want to show how the completed document's layout will look. A popular method is to use "lorem ipsum" text filler - paragraphs of nonsense words that have similar word size and letter selections as English.

In Microsoft Word, you can quickly create a section of lorem ipsum text.

Type the following on an empty line of your document and press ENTER:


The entry above will be replaced with the following text, which you may delete or copy-paste to adjust the length.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Maecenas porttitor congue massa. Fusce posuere, magna sed pulvinar ultricies, purus lectus malesuada libero, sit amet commodo magna eros quis urna.

Nunc viverra imperdiet enim. Fusce est. Vivamus a tellus.

Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Proin pharetra nonummy pede. Mauris et orci.

Aenean nec lorem. In porttitor. Donec laoreet nonummy augue.

Suspendisse dui purus, scelerisque at, vulputate vitae, pretium mattis, nunc. Mauris eget neque at sem venenatis eleifend. Ut nonummy.

I am using Word 2016, but this appears to work on older versions as well.

Thursday, May 4, 2017 1:47:19 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Today, I tried to add a new Outlook contact and was blocked when I attempted to add an e-mail address to the contact. After typing in the address, I received the following cryptic error message: "An Outlook Address Book entry cannot be used as an e-mail address in a contact".

The problem arose because I had the same e-mail address in my "Suggested Contacts" folder.

To view your Suggested Contacts, select "Contacts" from the Navigation pane or press the CTRL+3 shortcut key combination. This view is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Suggested contacts are populated automatically when you type an address into an e-mail's "To" or "CC" text box. They are used to quickly fill in these textboxes if you send to that same addressee again.

For me, this was hard to find because I use Outlook to manage multiple e-mail accounts and each account has its own list of Suggested Contacts and the Suggested Contact list and the Contacts list to which I was adding were not even associated with the same e-mail account.

I deleted the e-mail address from the Suggested Contact list and I was able to update the contact without error.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 9:12:47 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Friday, May 1, 2009

Episode 20

David Edson of visibility.biz spends his time consulting on and teaching custom development using Microsoft Visio.

In this interview, he describes the advantages of using Visio as a platform for data visualization.

7 mins, 17 secs


Friday, May 1, 2009 12:03:05 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)