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Category Archives: IT Training

Microsoft PowerPoint – Templates and Themes

What is the Difference?

In Microsoft PowerPoint, it can be difficult to understand the relationship between a Template and a Theme.

Template files contain one or more Themes, but you can also save a Theme file separately.  Which is more important and how do they interact?

This is the first of a series of blogs in which we explore the use of these two features to create a personalised style or impose a corporate look to your presentations.

Two definitions may help:

A PowerPoint Template is a blueprint of a slide or group of slides that you save as a file.

A Document Theme is a set of formatting choices that are designed to coordinate well together, and give your presentations a designer-quality look.

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Scheduled or Dedicated Training?

When you are deciding which type of training course to go for, should you pick Scheduled or Dedicated?  What is the difference?

Scheduled or Dedicated – Scheduled Courses

These are “Open” courses which run on a regular basis (usually monthly).  Attendees from any organisation are welcome.  There is no minimum number of attendees required, so if you only have one person in need of training at the moment, this could be the perfect solution.

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Microsoft Project – Scheduling Tasks

Linking is the key

Microsoft Project is a great entry-level application for Project Management.  You can create a list of Tasks, estimate their Duration’s and link them together with Dependencies.  This is done by analysing which Tasks can’t start until a previous Task has finished.

The program can then calculate the Start and End dates for every Task and therefore give a predicted date for the project’s completion.

What’s more, because the Tasks are linked, when you enter the fact that one of them has over-run, the delay is automatically reflected in the dates of the Tasks that follow (its Successors).

Also, there are a host of other features that enable Microsoft Project to model situations which may occur in the real world.

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Microsoft Windows 10 – Forced Upgrade

The free offer

When Microsoft released Windows 10, they said that “qualifying systems” would be eligible for a free upgrade to the new operating system during the first year.  That period of grace comes to an end on July 29th 2016.

Microsoft have stated that their goal is to get Windows 10 onto 1 billion devices (PCs, Tablets, Phones, XBox consoles) by the summer of 2018.

As the deadline for the free upgrade approaches,  Microsoft has been making changes to the way it offers the update to users.  Some commentators have branded the latest change as a “nasty trick” and “verging on malware”.

It has resulted in thousands of users being upgraded automatically, without realising that they had given consent.

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Microsoft Excel – Data Validation

You are at their mercy!

When you create a spreadsheet for your colleagues to use, they could type in absolutely anything.  Incorrect entries will make the calculations, which you slaved long and hard over, generate the wrong answers.  As the old saying goes – “Garbage In, Garbage Out”.

Whilst you can’t be looking over their shoulders all the time, Microsoft Excel has a nifty feature to help ensure that the data typed into a spreadsheet is at least in the correct “ball-park”.

You can force them to enter a Whole Number or a Decimal, insist that the entry is a Date or a Time along with a variety of other settings. It is even possible to provide a fixed List of choices for them to pick from.

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Microsoft Word – Using Sections

Creating a longer document

I’ve always been a fan of Microsoft Word.  That could be because I’ve spent a lot of my working life creating the printed materials that accompany our training courses. These booklets tend to be about forty pages long (for a one-day course at least) and the attendees get to keep them afterwards.  They serve as both a guide during the course and a reference to use later.

They are a vital part of our offering and are universally well received.

Just as our training day is split into sessions of roughly ninety minutes, the course notes need to be split into chapters.  There are certain design features that I wanted incorporate to make each chapter look slightly different.  To achieve this efficiently needs an understanding of Sections.

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Microsoft Office 2016 – What’s New?

Are you an early adopter?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t rush into things.  I would never buy a brand new house.  Someone else can work through the “snagging list” and iron out the problems.  The same is true with software.  When an update to the operating system of my Smartphone arrives, I wait at least a fortnight before installing it.  That way, the inevitable glitches and problems that come with a new version will cause grief to other people, not me.

So that is why it is only now, several months after the release of Microsoft Office 2016, that I’m looking at its features.

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Microsoft Excel – Evaluate Formula

What does this Spreadsheet Do?

Chris asked me to help him with a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet the other day. It was a “Profit and Loss” calculator which had been created by someone else.  It didn’t quite to do what Chris wanted and he needed to know how it worked.

Now, the thing about complex spreadsheets is that the author tends to build it up piece by piece.  Working out what the whole thing does needs a good deal of detective work.  Chris was going to have to act like Sherlock Holmes (which I guess made me Joan Watson).

To start with, the Workbook appeared to have four Worksheets in it.  However, we soon found references to sheets that we couldn’t see.  That one wasn’t too tricky.  The author had hidden some of the sheets.  Right-clicking on any of the Sheet Tabs leads to a menu with an Unhide… choice.  There were actually eleven Worksheets in the file and we were able make them all visible in no time.

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Microsoft Office – Things that make me mad!

It makes me mad!

I don’t know about you, but I get really irritated by those little things that change between the different versions of the programs that I use.  The things that ought to be the same.  The things where there is no logical reason for them to be different.

You get into the habit of performing tasks in a particular way.  So, because you are in that habit, you are working efficiently and quickly. Then you are presented with a new version – and you get tripped up by the inconsistencies.

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Microsoft Excel – Absolute References

Different types of References

Ever inherited a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet from someone, looked at the formulas and thought “what are all these dollar signs about?”.

Well, they are Excel’s way of defining what will happen to Cell References if you ever copy that formula to a different location.

In fact, there are three types of references available – Relative ReferencesAbsolute References and Mixed References.

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