Spreadsheets are indispensable tools to us data geeks so I always keep an eye out for new ideas and tips in managing data using spreadsheets. I use many of the features and functions listed in the article and even inspired by a few I never thought of before! In the Related links below the first link is one of the most popular posts on infophile.
Spreadsheets get a raw deal. We are so dependent on tools like Excel and Google Sheets for managing budgets and P&Ls that it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing spreadsheets only as applications for managing money, or at the very least, for working with numbers.
But the structure and features of spreadsheets make them so useful for a wider range of purposes, from project planning to writing. Breaking information or text into cells helps you break your work into bite-size chunks so you can find different ways of structuring it. The ability to sort and filter cells makes it easy to find, categorize, or reorganize lists or content. And yes, it’s nice to be able to do quick calculations when you are working with numbers. READ MORE: An Ode to the Underappreciated Spreadsheet | HBR
Ever, Jane is an online role-playing game set in the dramatic, romantic worlds of Jane Austen. It invites players to attend sophisticated dinner parties and fancy balls, share gossip, keep secrets, fall in love, get married and climb the ribbon-lined social ladder of Regency-era England. It is definitely not a sex game, though sometimes players get wrapped up in this universe of exquisite gowns and forbidden desire, and they simply can’t help themselves.
Post Disclosure: I supported the Ever, Jane Kickstarter campaign by giving a small donation. Downloaded the beta version but unable to run software properly yet on my 2010 MacBook Pro Intel OS X Yosemite. Note to self: Buy new computer so I can play Ever, Jane.
You may not have heard of Toonz animation software, but you’ve no doubt seen work it was used in: Studio Ghibli films like Spirited Away and Tale of the Princess Kaguya (above), or the animated series Futurama. Now, the Toonz Ghibli Edition used by legendary Japanese filmmakers like Hayao Miyazaki is going open-source, making it free to use by studios and novice animators alike.
CREATING EVEN A few seconds of a hand-drawn animation—think old-school Looney Tunes, or earlier Disney films like Snow White—is a painstaking process that requires artists to draw hundreds, if not thousands, of frames. Over the years, advances in digital animation tools have streamlined that process and, in doing so, created a new aesthetic best seen in the faces of Pixar’s canon of characters.
Microsoft Research, along with the University of Hong Kong and the University of Tokyo, just unveiled a proof-of-concept technology that could bring back the charm of older, hand-drawn cartoons, with the speed and fluidity of today’s animation software. “Autocomplete hand-drawn animations” debuted at the Siggraph Asia conference, and it’s an interactive system that watches what the artist draws and then predicts what frame or line might come next. READ MORE: Microsoft’s Dope New Tool Is Like Autocomplete for Drawing | WIRED
For Voss, Wall, and their colleague Nick Haber, a Stanford post-doc, the idea is that their Glass software will help autistic children recognize and understand facial expressions and, through them, emotions. It operates like a game or, as Voss calls it, an “interactive learning experience.” Through the Google Glass eyewear, children are asked to, say, find someone who is happy. When they look at someone who is smiling, the app recognizes this and awards “points.” The system also records what the child does for later review. “You can plot, as they wear the glasses, how they’re improving, where they’re improving,” Wall says. “You can look at video to understand why.” READ MORE: Clinical Trial Will Test if Google Glass Can Help Kids with Autism | WIRED
There have never been more technologies available to collect, examine, and render data. Here are 30 different notable pieces of data visualization software good for any designer’s repertoire. They’re not just powerful; they’re easy to use. In fact, most of these tools feature simple, point-and-click interfaces, and don’t require that you possess any particular coding knowledge or invest in any significant training. Let the software do the hard work for you. Your client will never know. MORE: 30 Simple Tools For Data Visualization | Co.Design | business + design.
Additional data visualization services, such as Creately, Doodle.ly and Viewshare listed on infophile’s Tools webpage.
When writing business documents (aside from emails), most people turn to word-processing software. That’s not the only option. You can do everything — outlines, drafts, revisions, and even layouts, if you’d like — in PowerPoint or similar presentation programs. That’s what I’ve used to write my books, internal documents, sales collateral, and web copy, for several reasons. READ MORE: Why I Write in PowerPoint | Harvard Business Review
Raise your hand if you like sitting through slide-show presentations. How about reading dense, jargony business documents? These are the staples of modern business communication, and yet they’re enjoyed by precisely no one. Enter Nancy Duarte, CEO of Duarte Design. Duarte thinks she can redesign business communication with Slidedocs, a new concept she defines as “a visual document, developed in presentation software, that is intended to be read and referenced instead of projected.” Think of it as a kind of a hybrid between slide-show presentations and prose documents—but one that eliminates the most annoying qualities of each. Duarte’s new book on Slidedocs, which she wrote entirely in PowerPoint, has just been released as a free download on her website. READ MORE: Book Written Entirely In PowerPoint Aims To Reinvent How Businesses Communicate | FastCompany
Depending how you look at it, the Lost My Name team has either created one artful book or 53,849. The Little Boy/Girl Who Lost His/Her Name, the top-selling picture book in the U.K. last year, is personalized for each recipient. The child’s name doesn’t simply get mentioned a few times—an easy enough publishing gimmick. Rather, the story itself changes; different characters appear for each name. In fulfilling orders for 53,849 children’s names so far, the company has created that many stories—and books.