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Little things that make MS #Office useful and fun #edtech #uoltech

February 20, 2011

I just watched Nigel Marsh’s funny but also thought-provoking TED gig on work-life balance. His last point resonated a lot with me: it’s the little things that make all the difference. One should not spend one’s life planning the perfect balance and then chasing this rather ephemeral image (we have a saying in Romanian along the lines of ‘what you plan at home will bear little resemblance to what will actually happen in the market’).

Now, being the strange person I am who actually thinks life IS work, the little things that happen on my computer which make me more efficient automatically make me smile and prod me to tell others who may still be looking for them. Last week was a good week for little Microsoft Office (2007 and 2010) moments of revelation.

Microsoft Outlook

First of all, I genuinely hadn’t come across the fact that you could simply drag and drop an e-mail attachment from one e-mail to another opened up simultaneously. You may wonder what the big deal is, but at that particular time I was writing a reply to someone (wanted to include the reply text in my message) and also wanted to attach an MS Word doc which I had sent to someone else. Forwarding the sent e-mail to my new person and copying and replacing text seemed to me like a faff, so it was one of those moments when you wonder ‘Why not?’, you do something and then you have a little chuckle when you see it actually works.

Moreover, in Outlook 2010, Microsoft has introduced the functionality of creating Calendar appointments straight from e-mails. The appointment contains the text of the e-mail exchange and it’s all very useful if you ask me. A while back I wrote about ClearContext and how neat its functionalities are. This functionality gets Outlook one step closer to being ideal.

Creating Calendar appointments is easy with Outlook 2010

Microsoft PowerPoint

I have two screens at work (I know, it’s debauchery! :). I find them very useful and the whole thing became even more useful when I noticed that you can run a PowerPoint slideshow on one screen while the other has the same presentation in normal edit mode so that you can make corrections without coming out of the slideshow and relaunching it. Not a big deal again, but an extremely useful feature for me.

Running the PowerPoint Slideshow on my left screen and editing the source presentation at the same time on the right screen

Have fun and learn MS Office at the same time

Finally, I recommend the Microsoft Office Labs Ribbon Hero add-in. It sits within Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote, works with Office 2007 and 2010 and it gives you points for every functionality you use. It also shows you how to get more points (you guessed it, you have to learn new functionalities of the software). I’m a big fan of game-based learning and informal learning and I really like what Office Labs are up to generally. Curious to see what you folks think.

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2 Comments
  1. Francis Cole permalink

    Very useful for Outlook is also Lookeen! You should have a look at it (http://www.lookeen.net) Ok it is shareware, but I promise you it is brilliant and get Outlook closer to be ideal too!

    • Thanks a lot for the tip, Francis. I don’t have a particular problem with shareware or any other flavour as long as the application meets my requirements. Will give it a go.

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