Archive for January, 2016

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PowerPoint: How to show another app

January 5, 2016

This post is for me so I don’t forget what to do!

In days gone by, if you did a presentation using Microsoft PowerPoint (for Windows) and you linked to another app for demo purposes (e.g. Microsoft Word), then clicking the link would open the app on the screen, covering the presentation until you pressed Alt+Tab to return to the slide show.

However, in more recent versions of PowerPoint (2010 at least and later), this function seems to be gone when you connect your laptop to an external monitor, such as a projection unit. Instead, you get ‘presentation mode’ on your laptop and the presentation on the big screen, but when you click a link to display another app, nothing happens on the big screen, even though you get the linked app showing on your laptop.

This is disconcerting as you think the audience can see what you see, and frustrating as you try to figure out how to get back from the presentation to show the app on the big screen, then back to the presentation again. I’ve been caught with it in the past three presentations I’ve done, and it totally throws you off your spiel, and takes up precious time as you (or a techie) try to get you where you need to go.

Because I’m doing at least a couple more presentations this year, I decided to figure out the best combination of settings to use to display everything I need on the big screen. I connected my laptop to an external monitor and played with the settings to get a combination that works for me.

Here are my settings for future reference (do these in order):

  1. Windows 8.1: Control Panel > Display > Project to a Second Screen > Duplicate
  2. PowerPoint 2013: Slide Show > Monitor — set to Primary
  3. PowerPoint 2013: Slide Show — turn OFF Use presentation mode

What this does is duplicate exactly what’s on your laptop on the big screen. The upside is that you can now click a link in your PowerPoint and open another app and the audience will see it. The downside is that everything on your desktop, task bar etc. can be seen by the audience, so the usual caveats for presenting from many years ago still apply (i.e. don’t have anything on the screen that’s private!).

[If you have an easier way to do this, please share in the Comments]

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What a rip-off!

January 2, 2016

It’s like the airlines WANT local air services to fail…

What am I talking about? The exorbitant costs of flying between Perth, Western Australia and other locations within Western Australia — exorbitant compared to the costs to fly to the main cities on the east coast of Australia and to Los Angeles. Such charges mean people will choose not to fly to closer destinations and will either drive or not visit at all. And then the airlines will complain that they don’t get enough patronage and will close routes; these tourist destinations will complain that not enough people come to visit to make their industry sustainable; and investors won’t build hotels etc. at these destinations as not enough people go there. It’s a vicious circle.

In yesterday’s West Australian newspaper, Virgin Australia took out a full-page to advertise a fare sale to six destinations — Geraldton and Broome (both within my state); Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane; and Los Angeles. At first glance these fares seem like a good deal, but when you do the math, there’s something decidely dodgy going on.

Based on the fares and the distance to each destination, a one-way flight to Geraldton costs more than ten times the cost of a flight to Los Angeles! The table below shows the approximate distance to each destination; the one-way airfare advertised by Virgin today; my calculation of the cost per kilometre (red is bad, green is similar to the LA cost); what the airfare would cost if it was based on the same per kilometre rate as the LA fare; and what the difference is between the advertised cost and the cost per kilometre for that distance.

flight_costs

If the flights from Perth to Geraldton and Broome reflected the 4c/km of the flights (yes, you have to change planes at Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane) from Perth to Los Angeles, then, at approx $15 and $70 respectively, many more people would be likely to visit those destinations for a holiday, thus injecting huge amounts of money into those economies. If you fly, there’s a good chance you’ll rent a car/use a taxi, spend several nights in accommodation, spend money at restaurants and in shops, visit tourist destinations, etc. If you live in Perth, why would you fly to Broome for $199 (one-way), when you can fly across the continent to Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne for $10 less each way? Every time someone in our local tourist industry sees ads like this, they must have moments of quiet desperation and frustration, and must wonder why they stay in the industry when the monetary attraction to travel further afield is so great. (And no, I won’t even mention the fares to Bali from Perth…)

Yes, I know that the real cost of a flight is more than just the cost per kilometre, and that it costs a lot more just to get off the ground and back onto it than it does to be in the air, and that different aircraft have different fixed costs. I don’t know these costs so I haven’t factored them in. But based on the costs that I do know and can calculate, we’re being penalised if we want to fly within our own state.

It just doesn’t make sense.

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2015 blog statistics

January 1, 2016

Sometime during 2015, this blog broke through the 6 and 7 million views since I started blogging in 2008 — I didn’t even notice until now! By 31 December 2015, it had had more than 7.4 million views. Some 2 million views (more than one-third) occurred just in 2015. These figures don’t include any visits I made to my own blog (yes, I use my own blog for stuff I can’t remember!).

I wrote far fewer blog posts in 2015 (less than 50), so many of these visits were to posts I’ve written in previous years. I’ve written just under 1700 blog posts since 2008.

Surprisingly, I only have 454 subscribers (you can subscribe by clicking the button on the right sidebar and entering your email address) who have signed up to receive email alerts each time I post a new article (and 699 Twitter followers for @cybertext), so I have to assume most readers are ‘hit and run’ readers — those who have a problem with Word or whatever, find one of my posts via Google etc., read the post, get what they came for (or not), and leave without checking out anything else.

Here are some graphs and tables for the 2015 statistics for this blog, as well as some comparative ones for ‘all time’ (‘all time’ is actually 2008 to 2015 — I started this blog very late in 2007, but didn’t really start posting until January 2008, so the 2007 statistics are so low as to be insignificant).

Total views by month/year

2015_stats_total_views

2015_stats_02_total_views_by_year

Average daily views

2015_stats_03_avg_daily_views_by_mth

The average views per day have increased a lot — from between 3500 and 5500 per month in 2014 (average per day throughout the year = 4350), to mostly between 5000 and 6000 in 2015 (average per day throughout the year = 5533). The graphs above and below are for the full seven days per week, though most views occur during the five business days of the working week, probably reflecting the need to find answers to Word questions and the like when people are stuck with a problem at work. The weekends and major public holidays (particularly in the US and especially in November and December) see a notable drop in views.

2015_stats_04_avg_daily_views_by_yr

Top 20 posts

2015_stats_05_top_20_posts

Some posts are just more popular than others! Those 12 highlighted in blue appear in both lists — the top 20 posts of all time (2008-2015) on the left, and 2015 only on the right. Those without highlighting only appear in one of the top 20 lists. The numbers to the right of each title are the number of total views for that post in the time period.

Long tail

As expected, there’s a significant ‘long tail’ for this blog’s views. The top 20 posts (all have 20,000 views or more) garnered the most views. Everything else was a poor cousin to these top posts.

When I extracted out the views just for the top posts for 2008-2015 (i.e. >20,000 views each) and the top 20 for 2015 only (both below), the long tail was very evident. Again, the top 15 posts for all time garnered the most views, with posts 15 through to 87 tailing off and flattening out. And for the 2015 view, the top four posts garnered the most views, then tapered off significantly after that.

2015_stats_06_top_87_posts_long_tail

2015_stats_07_top_20_posts_long_tail

So, there you have it. Eight years of blogging, 1691 blog posts published, and 7.4 million views (with more than 2 million of those in the past 12 months).

I guess I must be doing something right, even though the monetary return is close to zero. I pay an annual fee to WordPress to NOT show advertisements on this blog (I wouldn’t get any return from these even if I allowed them), and I refuse to try to ‘monetize’ my blog posts by hosting them elsewhere and running ads — I don’t like ads cluttering up and getting in the way of good content and potentially trapping readers into clicking on them, and I suspect my readers don’t like them either. Instead of ads, I have an option for readers to donate to this blog’s expenses if anything I’ve written has got them out of a bind, saved them time (and therefore money), or helped them be more efficient. In 2015 I received perhaps the equivalent of one hour’s paid work in donations… I use that money to pay my annual bill to WordPress to keep this blog free of ads and to have the convenience of adjusting the style (CSS) of this blog.

As in 2015, I’ll be writing posts sporadically in 2016 — I still have a day job that I’m committed to, and paid work always comes before unpaid work.

See also:

[Links last checked January 2016]