Building next-generation presentations with Expression


Expression Blend is supposed to be used primarily to build next-generation user interfaces for the desktop and the web. When I saw Blend for the first time, I thought that it would be great for interactive presentation-type of work as well (sort of a next-generation Powerpoint). Blend natively supports working with audio, video, 3D and animation and it is definitively possible to build great interactive screen presentations – especially for big events or similar type of environments. The only problem is that there is a bit of a learning curve involved when getting started – if you are coming from the design world, then you should get up to speed quite quickly but if you are new to that (maybe coming from the Powerpoint world) then it can be a daunting task …

Turns out that somebody had the same idea – a company named Electric Rain will be releasing an addon to Blend that helps prepare interactive presentations that make it possible to utilize the full suite of effects in Blend and WPF. It is called StandOut and it comes in two flavors: one for designers and one for business professionals. Here is the description:

StandOut is a software solution enabling business professionals to enter the new era of visually compelling and highly effective presentations. StandOut brings together the simplicity of editing a slideshow with the impact of a custom presentation that uses motion graphics, professional design and artistic creativity. StandOut helps presenters deliver remarkable communication experiences that get results.

Best of all, there is a public beta available for everybody to sign up. I have already received my beta key and will be posting a full review of the product as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can also sign up for the beta yourself!

Stay tuned,

Books I read: Douglas Coupland, jPod

jPod - Book Cover

Some time ago I read Douglas Coupland’s novel Microserfs. It did not quite resonate with me – most likely, I guess, because I could not really connect with the guys portrayed in that book. Last week, I was browsing the airport bookstore at Heathrow and I came across his newest book – jPod. I bought it, and I have to say it is quite hard to put down – very funny stuff. Mostly because if you live in this age and time and are at least a bit a geek and aware of what is happening right now in the technological space then you will recognize quite a lot of the references in the book as being present in your own life as well …

Here is an excerpt from the page:

Young Ethan Jarlewski works long hours as a video-game developer in Vancouver, surfing the Internet for gore sites and having random conversations with co-workers on JPod, the cubicle hive where he works, where everyone’s last name begins with J. Before Ethan can please the bosses and the marketing department (they want a turtle, based on a reality TV host, inserted into the game Ethan’s been working on for months) or win the heart of co-worker Kaitlin, Ethan must help his mom bury a biker she’s electrocuted in the family basement which houses her marijuana farm; give his dad, an actor desperately longing for a speaking part, yet another pep talk; feed the 20 illegal Chinese immigrants his brother has temporarily stored in Ethan’s apartment; and pass downtime by trying to find a wrong digit in the first 100,000 places (printed on pages 383–406) of pi. Coupland’s cultural name-dropping is predictable (Ikea, the Drudge Report, etc.), as is the device of bringing in a fictional Douglas Coupland to save Ethan’s day more than once. But like an ace computer coder loaded up on junk food at 4 a.m., Coupland derives his satirical, spirited humor’s energy from the silly, strung-together plot and thin characters.

Definitively a thumbs-up … take a look!
Here is the link to the Amazon page …