I’m a fan of Edward Tufte, the guru of charts, but I’m still not sure about his view of PowerPoint. The New York Times Magazine has another article on his recent polemic against Microsoft’s presentation software. Tufte claimed, as the NYT piece says, that Microsoft’s ubiquitous software forces people to mutilate data beyond comprehension, infusing PowerPoint with ”an attitude of commercialism that turns everything into a sales pitch.”
Not that Microsoft gets it either: NYT quotes Simon Marks, the product manager for PowerPoint, as saying that the opposite is ‘data density’, shoving tons of data at an audience. You could do that with PowerPoint, he says, but it’s a matter of choice. ”If people were told they were going to have to sit through an incredibly dense presentation,” he adds, ”they wouldn’t want it.”
NYT’s conclusion: If you have nothing to say, maybe you need just the right tool to help you not say it.
This from the guys at Information Security Magazine, a warning about some new, and serious vulnerabilities in Microsoft software. The most critical vulnerability is titled ?Flaw in Visual Basic for Applications Could Allow Arbitrary Code Execution? (MS 03037). Microsoft provided few details about the actual vulnerability, but says the flaw is dangerous and users of affected software should apply patches immediately. This is not just for techheads and sysops: Affected software includes Access (97/2000/2002), Excel (97/2000/2002), PowerPoint (97/2000/2002), Project (2000/2002), Publisher 2002, Visio
(2000/2002), Word (97/98(J)/2000/2002), Works Suite (2001/2002/2003) and several versions of Microsoft Business solutions.
There are other vulnerabilities too:
?Flaw in Word Could Enable Macros to Run Automatically? (MS 03035)
?Buffer Overrun in WordPerfect Converter Could Allow Code Execution? (MS 03036)
?Unchecked Buffer Overflow in Microsoft Access Snapshot Viewer Could Allow Code Execution? (MS 03038)
?Flaw in NetBIOS Could Lead to Information Disclosure? (MS 03034)
If we’ve learned nothing in the past month, we should have at least learned to patch, patch and keep patching.
Further to my review of the excellent Dana keyboard, its makers AlphaSmart, Inc. have announced they plan to offer a wide-screen version of DataViz’s Documents To Go Professional as a bundled software option for new versions of Dana. Documents To Go enables Palm users to work with Microsoft Office documents, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
I found the Dana an excellent alternative for writing in certain conditions when you just want to get away from your desk, your office, your family, your town. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but with tools like Documents To Go, the lines between laptop and Dana tend to blur.
If you’re cheap, skint, or just like buying stuff that doesn’t cost very much, check out the $169 Lindows WebStation. The Lindows WebStation is “the first ultra-affordable, ‘unbreakable’ computer designed specifically for Web work.” Just plug it into a broadband connection and you’re off. Apparently it’s idiot proof too: “It’s literally impossible to destroy the system configuration or settings, making the WebStation the ideal computer for many situations.”
It includes a “complete, Microsoft-compatible Office Suite making it possible to open, edit, save, and email Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint files without additional software!” Needless to say, the gadget works on Lindows, a Linux version of Windows (and nothing to do with Microsoft despite the name). So don’t expect too much. it doesn’t have a hard drive, so boots from a CD. Oh, and bring your own monitor.