Pictures and Transparency

In my last post, I mentioned I was working on a Jeopardy game in PowerPoint. In this game I want to present a series of visual clues before the answer is revealed. The audience is presented with the foreign cover for a popular book and has to guess the name of the book.

Book cover transition from greek to english cover version
Can you guess the book, by seeing its foreign (Greek) version cover?

I want to slowly reveal the English book cover, by gradually making the foreign cover more transparent. With this particular cover, I also wanted to crop the foreign cover image to reveal additional clues. Each clue will be revealed by a click of the mouse.

Hmm is this a problem? I can not control image transparency in PowerPoint, there is no option for this in the Picture Tools menu.

Nope, no problem at all. You can control image transparency by:

  1. Create a shape the same dimensions as your picture.
  2. Remove the outline for the shape.
  3. Change the fill option to Picture or Texture Fill and insert the picture file.
  4. Transparency will now be available

Its’ interesting that placing a picture inside a shape allows you to manipulate that picture as if it was a shape. This concept allows me to play with things like irregularly shaped (non-rectangular) images as well.

 

Thursday – PowerPoint Links

I’ve just been working on a PowerPoint template for a Jeopardy style game. I inherited this template, and as frequently happens a little cleanup is necessary to ensure the PowerPoint template works as desired.

To help you visualize the problem – a picture of the game board

Jeopardy Game Board 1st slide
The Game Board

Each square hyperlinks to a separate slide with the question (and answer).

I felt there were a number of improvements I could do to make the presentation easier to use and maintain. I won’t go into every change today, but a couple of changes involved hyperlinks
(shortcut key Ctrl + K, if you are editing 25 hyperlinks, then the reason for using a shortcut key becomes obvious).

The first maintenance problem I ran into was that the previous designer had applied the hyperlink to both the shape AND the text on the shape (now there are 50 hyperlinks – if you are counting).

Button shape with text selected
Shape with text on top

They did this for a very good reason; that the text on a hyperlinked shape does not change state like normal hyperlink does (the state change shows if the link has been visited or not).

So if the slides the shapes are linked to are reordered or edited, the links have to be painstakingly tracked down and edited and since essentially the links are layered one on top of each other it is a real pain.

I had a better plan. Move the button shapes to the Slide Master (after creating a layout designed for the Game Board slide). Then insert text placeholders (yes, 25 of them) for the dollar values. Position the placeholders over each button. No hyperlinks here.

Now moving back to the Game Board slide in Normal View, I can hyperlink the text box. Text boxes behave differently from shapes, and do change state to show the link has been visited.

Another advantage of the text placeholder is that if the user inadvertently moves the text boxes, the Reset command will snap them back into position. (A definitely plus when editing 25 text boxes).

The other visual difficulty I had, was with the colours of the hyperlinks themselves. They didn’t have a strong contrast with my (new) button colour, and the visited colour was still (kinda) visible. I wanted a strong link colour and once visited I wanted the link to disappear. I could add animations, but why bother when I could solve both problems easily by changing the link colours in the Color Theme.

Theme Colour Panel PowerPoint 2016
Theme Colour Panel PowerPoint 2016

Here is the theme colour panel after I adjusted the Hyperlink and Followed Hyperlink Colours.

The colours in the theme were picked after playing with the free https://coolors.co/ app I also got some good advice from this article. The image at the top of the article is the colour palette created by the Coolors.co app – translated into RGB. I usually add this information as a layout in the slide master.

 

Social Media tips – free photo resources (2018)

Its’ time for an update on free photo resources for your social media work. I like to have them all together in one place since this is a list I use myself ūüėČ

These sites are often offering more than photos, including clip art or vector images. Many fund themselves via premium or paid options, so search carefully to ensure that the picture you love is free.

  • Library and Archives Canada –Image Search
  • New York Public Library – Search Page
  • The Rijkmuseum in Amerstdam has digitized its collection. All of its works are free to use. Its’ policy “If you use our images for publication, then we request that you acknowledge the source (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam). We would also like to receive a copy of the publication for our library.”
  • Try the Creative Commons search tool.
  • One of my favourites, Pexels.
  • University of Alberta Peel Image search.
  • Good Free Photos offers Public Domain Photos, Clipart, images, and Vectors
  • I’ve mentioned Unsplash before.
  • Not a photo resource site, but very useful is The Noun Project a great site when looking for a graphic to illustrate a concept or idea. You can pay OR give credit to the artist.
  • Rawpixel has a search specifically for public domain images.
  • Gratisography is the work of¬†photographer Ryan McGuire. You’ll note his singular style at work.
  • IM Free¬† offers photos, icons and more.
  • Any internet search will probably turn up photos from Pixabay, so its probably quicker to go there directly.
  • Shopify runs a free graphics site called Burst.
  • Picjumbo offers free and a paid subscription model.
  • All photos found in the Morguefile archive are free for you to download and re-use in your work, be it commercial or not.
  • Stock Vault offers free stock photos and the opportunity to purchase via their Premium option.
  • Negative space
  • Kaboom pics claim to fame, is that the colour palette of each photo is extracted for you, useful if you are planning coordinating backgrounds or print materials.
  • Fancy Crave¬† All photos published on Fancycrave are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CCO) license which grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Fancycrave for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Fancycrave.
  • Stock Snap
  • Startup Stock Photos
  • Splitshire
  • Life of Pix
  • The New Old Stock focused on older pictures curated from¬† institutions participating in the Flickr Commons.

2018-05-17 Update:
The design tool Canva also has photos available, both paid and free Рthe link for searching for free photos on Canva is  https://www.canva.com/photos/tag/free+photos/

Don’t get fooled by Fake News! A useful tip

I really didn’t want to put Fake News in the headline of this post, but really that is what this post is all about. How to use a reverse image search when you are on a mobile device, so that you can spot a Fake News story.

Recently a friend shared a Facebook story that just didn’t add up. The photo was of a man in hazmat style suit purportedly cleaning up an oil spill in North Dakota. You can see a version of the photo at the top of the article. The story implied some type of conspiracy that was preventing news of the oil spill from being covered.

A Reverse Image Search told a different story

This didn’t make sense to me, especially as I had been following news of an oil spill that was not on the scale shown by the photo. However a few minutes with a reverse image search showed the picture had been taken in China, and had nothing to do with North Dakota. This made the rest of the story even more unlikely.

Performing your search

A reverse image search is easy to do on a mobile device although iOS users need to download the Chrome browser app first.¬† Sorry, but Safari doesn’t support Googles image search file upload.

With that in mind here are the steps to performing your reverse image search:

  1. Save a copy of the photo locally, this might mean taking a screenshot depending on the posts’ privacy settings. Here you can see the photo I used. Note that the poster changed the photo to Black and White in order to make it harder to search. Didn’t work though!

    Altered version of original oil spill clean up photo
    Black and White photo of oil cleanup effort – altered from original
  2. Open Chrome and go to www.google.ca

    Either google.ca or google.com will work
    Either google.ca or google.com will work
  3. Click the Images link on the page to go to Image search. Currently that link is in the top right corner of the screen.

    Google Image Search, showing Camera
    You are in Image Search, when the camera icon is in the search bar.
  4. Click the Camera icon to see your options for searching using an image file.
    Google image search options
    Google Image search options. Search by pasting the URL of the image or by uploading the file.

    Choose the Upload an Image tab.

  5. Uploading an Image
    Uploading an Image

    Click the Choose File button.

  6. You will be offered a choice of taking a new photo or going to your Photo Library. Select your photo library, and locate the image you saved previously.
  7. The file is uploaded automatically and the search is performed.
    Reverse Image Search Results
     Reverse Image Search Results initial screen

    Make sure you scroll down the page looking for the Pages that include matching images.

    finding pages that include matching images
    Reverse Image Search – Pages that include matching images.

    Reverse Image searches are amazing

Frankly, I was astounded that the image was located even after it had been changed. Reverse image searches are a powerful tool! Whether from malicious intent or the desire to give a story emotional impact, there are all too many posts on the net where images are misused. Don’t be fooled.

WebGenii Supports Redcliff Youth Soccer

Looks like Christmas has come early this year! Here’s a shot of the bags that WebGenii Consulting will be donating to the Redcliff Youth Soccer Association this year.

Pretty fancy, the zippered front pouch is sized to hold a soccer ball.

drawstring soccer bag
Backpack for youth playing soccer in Redcliff

Let me challenge other Redcliff business to step up and support their community organizations!

A little bit of history – lost … and found

Excel has been around for decades, so it isn’t surprising that there are many features tucked away under the hood. What is surprising is when a useful feature is lost and only careful archeology can bring it back to life.

Excel 4.0 had a rudimentary macro language, mostly using excel formula approaches to building functionality. This was replaced by the VBA programming language. But there are still useful little items tucked away in this early language that haven’t been replaced.

One of these is Get.Cell.

Get.Cell had a boatload of switches that allowed the user to pull information about the cell formatting and contents and most of these have been replaced by the Cell and Type functions in Excel.

But one piece of information that Cell and Type can’t tell you is whether your cell or cells contain formulas vs values and sometimes this is a very handy thing to know at a glance. For example, if you build a spreadsheet using formulas to estimate amounts; but then start to drop in values as more concrete information becomes available.

In this situation I like to format cells containing formulas differently from the cells containing values, so that I can see at a glance where my estimates are. Its’ handy to have the formatting change automatically, so I don’t have to remember what my rules are weeks or months later.

This is where Get.Cell shines. The syntax I’m going to use is

=GET.CELL(48,A1) – where A1 is the cell I’m going to reference.

The trick here is that Get.Cell is NOT entered in a cell, but instead as a named formula. After creating the named formula, I can reference it while applying conditional formatting. In this way, when the type of content in the cell changes the conditional formatting automatically updates.

Using a named formula in Conditional Formatting - dialog box
Using a named formula in Conditional Formatting

Where does one find information about the Get.Cell function? Not from Microsoft or at least not easily from Microsoft.

Try this post https://www.mrexcel.com/forum/excel-questions/20611-info-only-get-cell-arguments.html   to see the possible switches for Get.Cell

 

 

PowerPoint 2016 – a change in Guides

I noticed this improvement to guides in PowerPoint 2016 the other day.

If you apply your guides while in Master View, you can’t inadvertently move them while in Normal View. This is great! And consistent with the way objects behave between normal and master views.

By the way – guides applied in Normal View, can still be moved around in normal view. Like I said – consistent!

A handy coupon app

Those foot long cash register receipts drive me crazy (I’m looking at you PetSmart), and it’s even worse when you have to save them for a month or more to take advantage of the coupon printed on them.

I’ve recently come across an app¬† – SnipSnap, that addresses this problem. You take a picture of the coupon and it reads the barcode and saves the coupon details. My bulging wallet is going to get some relief.

A couple of caveats, the app is prone to sudden crashes when deleting coupons. Also, it is finicky about the light conditions and quality of the receipt, so try to photograph as unwrinkled a receipt as possible. Even so, it is worth a try.

Updates to the Prairie Rose School Division Calendar

I keep a google version of the Prairie Rose School Division school calendar. This is for my own use, and is not maintained by Prairie Rose. However, you are welcome to subscribe to it. Having a subscription calendar certainly makes life easier!

Prairie Rose has published their school calendar until June 2019.

If you are interested in my previous posts about calendar sharing you can check them out here:

 

 

Highlighting the Current Year

Here is a version of a spreadsheet that I’ve been using for a couple of years to track and plan capital purchases. A number of people review this spreadsheet and I want to make it as easy as possible for them to read the spreadsheet. You’ll notice that the Budget year is highlighted in green and items being purchased in that year are highlighted as well. This is accomplished with our friend conditional formatting and the following spreadsheet functions:

  • ADDRESS
  • ROW
  • COLUMN
  • MATCH
  • INDIRECT
  • ISBLANK
Spreadsheet with automatic highlighting
Capital Budget Spreadsheet – note the row and column (year) highlights

This spreadsheet makes use of a helper column of formulas. Rows where the value equals TRUE are highlighted.

The Helper column holds formulas
The Helper column holds formulas

Cells give a value of TRUE when there is a value for that row in the Budget Year selected in cell A1. You can see that 2017 has been selected as the Budget Year and that rows 9 and 20 have a value for that year and are highlighted as a result.

This is the formula that returns the value

=ISBLANK(INDIRECT(ADDRESS(ROW(),MATCH($A$1,$F$2:$AU$2,0)+5,3,TRUE)))=FALSE

Working from the interior of the formula outward.

MATCH($A$1,$F$2:$AU$2,0)

This looks for a match between the value in A1 and the Budget year headings which start in cell F2 and go to AU2 (the year 2033, which is incredibly optimistic – but that is another story). MATCH returns the number of the first item in that array of cells that matches the value in A1. This is why even though there are two columns for every year (a Budget column and an Actual column) MATCH will only return the Budget column, as it is the first value to match.

So the result of MATCH($A$1,$F$2:$AU$2,0) is 9

However, if I actually want to capture the column I need to to add 5 to compensate for the fact I have 5 columns (A-E) before column F and the year headings begin.¬† This is why I’m adding 5 in the formula.

MATCH($A$1,$F$2:$AU$2,0)+5 =14

In the next step I use ADDRESS and ROW to capture the address of the cell I’m testing.

ADDRESS(ROW(),14,3,TRUE))

ROW() captures the value of the row of the cell where the formula is written. If the formula is in A3, then row() returns 3.

ADDRESS turns the cell address of the referenced cell (not its’ contents). In our example; ADDRESS(3,14,3,TRUE)=”$N3″

The ISBLANK function in the next step has a bit of a hiccup with that “$N3” string, so we use INDIRECT to convert that string to something ISBLANK can understand.

Finally, ISBLANK is used to test if there is a value in the referenced cell or not. If there is nothing in the cell ISBLANK = TRUE.

If ISBLANK = TRUE, then the last portion of the formula looks like this: TRUE does not equal FALSE, so the result of the formula in cell A3 is FALSE.

I could have put that formula into the conditional formatting dialogue – but for clarity and ease of working I choose to make the helper column instead.

In the conditional formatting dialogue I’ve used the following formula =$A3=TRUE

I’m using a simpler version of the formula in the conditional formatting dialogue to highlight the year.

=MATCH($A1,$F$2:$AU$2,0)+5=COLUMN()

In this case I find the column number of the year and test to see if it matches the column number of the current cell. If it does then the cell receives a green highlight fill.

Cell A1 uses Data Validation to offer the user a nice drop-down list of years.