How to set up a rolling / looping PowerPoint for a display eg kiosk

At the final film event at the Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival (I’m one of the volunteers) last night we wanted to show a rolling display of photographs taken from our previous events. This is something that is reasonably straightforward using PowerPoint.

1. First create your presentation.

2. Click on the Transitions tab and make sure there’s a tick in the box on the left of ‘After:’. The box in the right lets you adjust the time (in seconds) to determine for how long the slide appears on the screen. In the example given it changes every 15 seconds. If you want all slides to be on screen for the same time click the Apply to All button and check a few slides to make sure it’s worked. Or adjust each slide individually.

Screenshot 2019-09-15 15.59.26

If you want the slide to appear gradually you can fiddle with the ‘Duration:’ options (3 sec shown) but you also need to click on one of the effect options (eg ‘morph’, ‘cut’ or ‘fade’) to activated it. If it’s on the default ‘None’ then nothing will happen.

3. Click on the Slide Show tab then the Set Up Slide Show option and choose ‘Browse at a kiosk‘. This will cause the presentation to show at full-screen size and loop continuously until you press Esc.

Screenshot of 'Set up Show' on Powerpoint, allowing you to make it loop continuously by setting it as a kiosk presentation

OR: If you want a bit more control you can choose the top option (‘Presented by a speaker [full screen]’) and also click ‘Loop continuously until Esc’ and making sure the ‘Using timings if present’ is ticked. This will let your presentation loop as before but also gives you the option to move a slide on (usually by clicking the space bar) if you want to.

Screenshot showing the manual version of how to make a presentation loop - it allows you to advance the slides as well

4. Run the presentation and check that it behaves as expected.

Here’s an example one to play with (looped) so you can see how changes to the the slide duration and effect duration options work in practice. It uses sound so silence your speakers or lower the volume if you are somewhere you’d rather not have that.

To run it as a loop just open the file and start the slideshow (see how below) – it will run until you press Esc. It has 3 slides in its deck.

Demo powerpoint presentation that loops

How to start a slide show

Use any of the four options shown (they appear randomly, not in a particular order)

  • Blue / grey = View, Slide show
  • Grey / orange = Mac menu for PowerPoint, Slide Show, play from start
  • Grey = Slide show icon at bottom right of window
  • Orange / grey = PowerPoint’s own menu, Slide Show, Play from start

Or use the shortcut key shown for Macs, or this info for PCs

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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How to record screen (or part) on a Mac via Mojave OS

This is just an opportunity to point people to Apple’s excellent help page on this topic, with instructions and screenshots. Go here for more https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT208721

Shift+Command+5 brings up a resizable window (adjust to select an area you want to record, or click the ‘whole screen’ option). You can tweak the settings to include the inbuilt mic if you want your video to have spoken instructions. To end the recording you need to press Shift+Command+5 again at which point you can edit out the ending (the bit of you moving the mouse to press ‘stop’) from the recording, and you can shorten it at either end.

Give it about 3 seconds after you press record before speaking as there seems to be a slight delay and I’ve found it generally misses off the first few words. Recommend doing a test 10 sec recording first.

Once you’ve completed the recording a small pop up version appears at the bottom right of the screen (on my system) and clicking it brings up the video with a panel at the top for editing. Click the button on the left of Done to shorten it (first pic below), and use the yellow drag bars (2nd pic below) to shorten it. You can click anywhere in the ‘tape strip’ and press play to see how your new ending / beginning changes things.

Screenshot 2019-08-23 13.09.58

Screenshot 2019-08-23 13.10.06

Here’s one I made earlier, which relates to Make Twitter Useable Again

Basic photo watermarking on an iPhone

If you happen to take images of ‘stuff happening’ that might be newsworthy and that you want to share but not have mis-used there are apps that let you add a watermarks. I presume these watermarks can also be removed later, presumably by you (but perhaps by newspapers) so I might suggest screenshotting the image first and sharing that instead. Screenshotting also means minimal EXIF data. But you can do it without apps too and just draw your initials on the picture and only remove them when you send (by DM) a copy of the image to media sites you want to [though this won’t stop someone from passing it on I suppose…].

For iPhone users you can draw on any picture in the Camera roll –

  1. Make a duplicate copy of the photo first (to keep the original safe)
  2. Draw your watermark on the copy
  3. Screenshot the watermarked copy and share that (watermark possibly harder to remove because it’s no longer layered on top of the image, and EXIF data is hidden)
  4. Resizing the image if necessary

1. Duplicate the original

Have the photo open, click the upload icon (the one on the left in the all-blue icons picture below), then choose Duplicate which is the middle grey icon in the second image below. Note that you may have to scroll right to find this option.

1A

Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.32.58
Pic 1. It’s the one with the arrow bursting out of an empty box, on the left

1B

Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.34.21
Pic 2. Duplicate icon is a grey rectangle with a white + & a single grey rectangle behind.

Once you’ve created your duplicate open that one (you can slide back and forth between the two copies).

2. Draw your watermark

Click on the Edit option (on the right in the pic below), then choose the three overflow dots in a circle (•••), then click Markup.

2A
Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.38.56

2B
Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.40.34

2C
Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.41.44

You’ll have the option of various pen thicknesses, and colours to choose from. To select the colours click on the (()) symbol…

2D                         and                  2E
Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.56.45   Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.58.11

…or you can add text by clicking on the (+) at the end (in pic above).

2F
Screenshot 2019-08-17 20.55.56

Once you’ve added whatever watermark format you’ve chosen and clicked DONE twice (once in blue at the top right of the photo, and once in yellow at the bottom right) you’ve completed the ‘add watermark’ to your duplicate image bit of the process.

2G

IMG_1595.jpg
“Watermarked” image.

3. Screenshot it

Click on the image to remove the white borders (the bits saying the current date / time, battery info or whatever’s currently on your phone) and to see the image just on its own – usually with a black border at top and bottom. The two images in 3A below are identical, the only difference is the white or black border – this is a toggle-click, where clicking once hides the phone info and clicking again brings it back, and so on.

3A

Press the ON/OFF button and HOME button simultaneously (iPhone) to make a screenshot which is saved to your cameraroll. (You can do the white-border one too of course but may need to do an extra step of pruning out the additional info)

This is the image that you should share.

4. Resizing / removing the white or black borders

If you want to prune out the borders outside the relevant image, or only want to share a particular portion of the image then use the cropping tool to do this.

Click the image again to bring up the white borders which shows the options. Click Edit (see 2A), then the white square tool from 2B which will go white as shown at the bottom of the three images in the panel below.

Screenshot 2019-08-17 23.07.41.png

Left: the square button brings up the resizing boundary – you can use the corners or sides to shrink the picture. Middle – I’ve taken most of the top black border off and the resulting image now takes up more space on the screen. Right – I’ve pruned out all of the unnecessary bits. The next thing I click on is Done (in yellow, bottom right of each pic).

 

Using Dropbox on a phone to listen to media files offline

A version of this was originally posted here, this is updated with screenshots and adapted for playing files offline.

It’s fairly straightforward to save media files to your Dropbox and set them up on your phone so that you can listen or watch them when you’re without internet.

To begin with you will need

  • a laptop and a smartphone
  • a free Dropbox account
  • and the Dropbox app installed on your smartphone
  • wifi connectivity (you won’t need it later though)

Instructions

  • Save the media file into your Dropbox folder on your computer
  • open up the Dropbox app on your phone, and wait for the file to appear / sync, or if it’s already there just search for it or navigate to its folder

The example shown is a short beep (listen) from the machine checking tickets at the Royal Albert Hall (at a performance of a Star Trek film with a live orchestra!).

tricorderbeep03
Step 1. Click on the three ••• dots on the right hand side.
IMG_1260
Step 2. Click on the Make Available Offline option and wait
tricorderbeep01
Step 3. The rotating sync icon will take however long is needed to make the file available offline. I assume you will need some space on your phone to do this, especially for larger files.
tricorderbeep02
Step 4. Once you have the white arrow on the green circle icon you should be able to use that file without internet access. Check! If it doesn’t play check that your phone is able to play that file type.

Dropbox’s own help pages have a list of files that will play including music and video: https://help.dropbox.com/installs-integrations/photos/play-movie-audio-mobile – note that you may need to convert some files to a type of file that your phone can play so check before disconnecting from wifi / signal. They suggest Handbrake for conversion though I’ve only used Zamzar and Real Player).

Media filetypes that I’ve successfully played on my iPhone via Dropbox

  • .avi
  • .flv
  • .m4a (these are meant for iTunes, but work fine)
  • .mp3
  • .wmv

Music files listed on Dropbox help files that should work: .mp3, .aiff, .m4a, .wav

Video files previously listed on their help files that should work: .mov, .mp4, .m4v

Filetypes that I’ve not had much luck with

  • .m4r – ring tones, but these can be converted to .mp3 files via http://www.zamzar.com (I’ve just tried it, works fine)

Add “?random” to a WordPress dot com blog homepage to view random posts

Random post generator

Granted this might not have wide application on this particular blog (where people are generally looking for answers to specific questions) but if you fancy having a wander around this site you can use the Random post generator button in the menu panel on the right. Clicking it takes you to a link formed from the blog’s homepate address with ?random appended to the end – https://howtodotechystuff.wordpress.com/?random

Just add ?random at the end of any WordPress.com blog homepage.

This mildly useful trick came from the WordPress dot com blog https://en.blog.wordpress.com/2007/04/26/get-random/

How to tweak (digitise) drawings in Inkscape

I’ve been playing with Inkscape, a free open-source image processing tool. For a project I need to draw some cartoonish images and clean them up and I’m learning how to do that thanks to YouTube and Inkscape’s own tutorials.

Note: If you’re using Inkscape on a Mac you may also need to download XQuartz; note that you use the Ctrl key not the Command key in Inkscape. Similar software is Gimp (free) and Adobe Photoshop (not free). I’m also teaching myself to use Scribus, a layout tool, but I mostly use PowerPoint for that at the moment.

Here’s a drawing of a house (biro on white paper) photographed by my iPhone and emailed to myself. Scanning it in would give a much better starting image to work with and drawing it more neatly etc etc but I’m just playing for now.

Screenshot 2019-04-16 17.32.56

Imported into Inkscape by File > Import and OK-ing whatever suggestion it gives

Screenshot 2019-04-16 17.33.21

Once imported ensure it’s selected (click on it if not) and that the arrows are double-headed, then choose Path > Trace Bitmap

Screenshot 2019-04-16 17.35.34

Fiddling about with the settings … (use Update to see how it’s going before using OK to apply)…

Screenshot 2019-04-16 18.17.22

…produces a layer which can be moved away from the main image, resulting in a separate clean black and white image.

 

The resulting image…

Screenshot 2019-04-16 17.38.13

Further tweaking can be done by using the node tool (looks a bit like an archer’s bow between the pointer icon and wave (?) icon in the panel on the left below) and moving the lines about but I’ve not bothered with that for now.

Screenshot 2019-04-16 17.39.42

OK I had a bit of a play around with it. Stretched the E.  (Eeeeee !)

Screenshot 2019-04-16 18.22.58         Screenshot 2019-04-16 18.23.11       Screenshot 2019-04-16 18.23.18

Things I’ve learned after a few hours’ play

I have not been saving images as .svg files (which is, I think, what I am supposed to do) and am. just cheating, copying a screenshot and pasting into my .pptx presentation. I’ve noticed that enlarging the image once in the PowerPoint neans that it looks a bit grainy so I recommend enlarging it in Inkscape by zooming in, taking a screenshot of that and then it will look better.

I’ve also had some fun with the ‘bucket’ tool which fills an area with colour. Also the resizing tool (hold the Ctrl key [Mac users you too, not Command] to enlarge or shrink while keeping the same aspect ratio.

Screenshot 2019-04-19 13.18.52.png

 

List of resources for finding Public Domain, Creative Commons or otherwise free images

I’ve been using Pixabay for a while ever since a colleague told me about it, it’s amazing. I also came across Pexels and periodically gather other things together. I’ve known about NASA images and CDC PHIL for years and Flickr of course as resources of images but I keep finding more. This excellent blog post (10 Sites for Free Stock Photos (Updated for 2018) by Sean Filidis) lists a whole load of ones I’d not heard of.

I’ve added some extra ones to Sean’s list (mine are asterisked) but you should definitely go and look at Sean’s post because he says a bit more about what each site offers.

Further reading at the end 🙂

  1. * CDC PHIL (Public Health Image Library) – public health image library (example of CDC’s request for acknowledgement “This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy we request that the content provider be credited and notified in any public or private usage of this image.NB these include medical images and search results may not be suitable for children.
  2. * Creative Commons search
  3. * Flickr Advanced Search – change the ‘Any licence’ option to suit. The obvious white search bar in the middle is, curiously, not the actual search bar despite the cursor arriving there first. The minute you start typing in it the secondary grey search bar at the top will immediately take over, so you might as well write there anyway. I cannot account for it!

    Flickr advanced search showing where to access licence options Screenshot 2018-10-16 14.23.53.png

  4. * Freebies Gallery (formerly Public Photo)
  5. * Google Images (handy tip: use -pinterest in your search, then adjust the licence you want, Tools » Usage rights)

    Google Image search for flowers showing Tools and Usage rights aka License options Screenshot 2018-10-16 14.20.35.png

  6. Gratisography
  7. Morguefile
  8. * NASA – I think almost all US Government department images, when taken as part of publicly-funded work, are free to use though they might like credit too. Here are NASA’s media-use guidelines.
  9. Picjumbo
  10. Pexels
  11. Pikwizard
  12. Pixabay <– I’ve used this one a lot
  13. * Public Domain Review – a collection of collections, eg this lovely one on comets aka Flowers of the Sky.
  14. Rawpixel
  15. Reshot
  16. * Science Museum Group collection – use freely, but only for non-commercial projects. Images are from the Science Museum in London, Railway Museum etc
  17. Stockvault
  18. Unsplash
  19. * Wellcome Collection images – free to use with attribution (credit) but check for individual photos

An * just means I’ve added this resource to Sean’s list (also reordered alphabetically).

1. What terms mean and how you can use images

Images that are labelled as Public Domain (or CC0) can be used for any purpose including commercial and you don’t need to credit the person who took it (but it’s still nice if you do) or pay for it. Creative Commons-labelled images have different ‘levels’ of how they can be used – they don’t cost money but you may have to credit the author, and you may not be able to use them on commercial projects. Some image repositories (like Pixabay) share images that can be used under a very relaxed license but also include a tip jar so that you can ping the author the equivalent of a cup of coffee.

See also Best practices for (Creative Commons) attribution

2. Embedding images into blog posts (for example)

Obviously if you’re printing a brochure you’d need to be able to download a high-res image and attribute as appropriate (or not needed if CC0, or no attribution requested).

Flickr, for example, generally takes care of attribution itself.

  1. Autoembedding from link: For a WordPress.com blog like this one simply pasting the link into the post will result in the image appearing, already linking back to its page on Flickr for people to find out who took it.
  2. Embed code: For Blogger.com sites this auto-embedding doesn’t work so for things like that you’d use the embed code. The code carries attribution info and a link back so is just another way of doing (1)
  3. Downloading: You can save a copy of the image then upload to your site – doing this means it will no longer carry any info about author attribution (beyond the filename, unless you change it). You would need to add a caption or find some other way of referencing it appropriately.

3. Further reading