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Ramblings from the Restaurant at the Ragged Edge of Reason

Office 2010 Road Warrior Event at Papakura Normal School (Part 2 of 2)

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by , 26th June 2010 at 06:51 PM (9755 Views)
<-Link to Part 1

Excel is the flagship product for the 64 bit line of Office applications, as Excel itself now has no row limit on documents it is only limited by the memory available on your computer. Excel is in fact the only program that Microsoft recommends from their 64 bit offering for users working with large worksheets of millions of rows (note: this was not from the presentation but a recommendation taken from several different Microsoft presentations).

Distilling large datasets into useful patterns is one of the main purposes of Excel and this has been improved upon with the inclusion of several new and enhanced features. More advanced and easier to use conditional formatting allows for trends to be displayed easily, visualization tools like sparklines – simple one cell graphs – also provide a quick way to better understand the data.

The slicer feature offers a quick way to filter down large datasets live on things like pivot tables and charts to allow you to quickly dig down into the data and see just the trends that are important to you at that time.

Functions have also received a bit of a makeover and now provides not only a tooltip hint of the expected variables for a formula but also provides quick lists of available options for when a function asks for a numeric value indicating how to handle errors or similar options that would previously have required you to dig into the help file or the internet.

Paste is also improved by adding the paste special options directly into the right-click menu, this allows pasting without formatting, pasting as a number etc without clicking through several menus and dialogues.

Office Extensions
Possibly some of the most exciting features of Office 2010 are not even included in Office itself but are extensions provided by or supported by Microsoft and are available free.

Ribbon Hero (Word, Excel, OneNote)
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ID:	7535Ribbon Hero is a little extension that builds in a training game to Word, Excel and OneNote. It trains you how to use all sorts of features included in the applications with a series of challenges. These challenges consist of five steps or less to complete a set task and provide hints with animation that will guide you through completing them. Your progress is tracked in points, half of which are earned by completing the challenges and the other half by using features while using software. This progress can be synchronized between multiple computers by integrating with Facebook. From a deployment point of view this is not quite ready for primetime as although it is an MSI it requires Administrator rights to use it for the first time which is problematic in a locked down school environment.

Attachment Detector (Outlook)
This one is relatively self explanatory and will scan your emails for references to attachments and warn you if you have not actually attached any.

Excel PowerPivot and Data Mining Tools
Excel gains enhanced data processing abilities with the PowerPivot and Data Mining extensions that use an SQL server as a backend allowing for quick and easy distillation of large amounts of data from databases to find trends and extract useful information.

Mouse Mischief (PowerPoint)
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ID:	7536Mouse Mischief allows your computer to distinguish between multiple mice on the same computers and gives each mouse a unique pointer. This can then be used to allow for class participation by giving each group or each student a mouse that is connected to the computer. This lets each participate by answering poll questions presented in specially created PowerPoint presentations. This tool allows for setting time limits on answering questions and will give you stats like who first answered and who answered correctly.

SharePoint 2010 and WebApps
Although not specifically a part of the Office suite itself it is a core server product that provides many extra services and online integration with Office products. Office 2010 offers web applications that let users view and edit Office documents from within any modern web browser. This feature is available for every licensed user of the Office 2010 suite and can even be installed on SharePoint Foundation server which is free with a Windows Server. With SharePoint installed users are also able to co-author documents showing each users changes in real time. The latest version of SharePoint also integrates the same search technology built into WolframAlpha for much better and more relevant results when searching within your documents store.

The presentation also briefly covered Microsoft’s Live@Edu program which offers schools a free 25GB Skydrive, Exchange 2010 hosted email and SharePoint Foundation server access including Office Webapps for every student.

Microsoft Encoder
The last thing that we covered and potentially one of the most useful for ICT staff and teacher making training material was the free Microsoft Expression Encoder. The standard version records the computer screen, webcam, microphone and tracks mouse clicks with a glow animation. This tool is perfect for making training videos to show how to use software and is quite easy to use even allowing you to choose which region of the screen to capture and what frame rate to capture at. This version records in WMV format and is limited to ten minutes of recording at a time. The software can even overlay the webcam footage on the screen capture and scale it as you wish. This software does require the .NET 4 Framework but this is distributable through WSUS and the software itself is extractable to two MSIs which appear to be easily deployable to.

Overall I thought that the presentation was a great success and everyone who was there learnt plenty of useful things. The presentation even though originally intended for a more business audience was well received and made relevant to the education audience. Incidentally when the Road Warrior program is over the presenter Paul Conroy is moving to hosting presentations on the Live@Edu program and so we hope to have him back in a couple of months to do another presentation for the local schools on this offering.

I would just like to say thank you to both Paul Conroy and Papakura Normal School for presenting and hosting this event along with all who took the time to attend to learn more about how to make the most of the technology that they have available to them.



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