I work with PowerPoint on a daily basis and I am very honored to be a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP. We have a talented team of presentation designers at TLC Creative Services and ThePowerPointBlog is our area to highlight PowerPoint tips, tricks, examples and tutorials. Enjoy! Troy Chollar

What is Your Connection Speed?

We are now all experts on understanding bandwidth math! But the real-world question is “how long will it take for someone to view?” There is no easy answer. Because all streaming media is dependent on the viewer’s connection speed, let’s take a look at your connection speed.

There are several great, and free, online tools to test your connection speed. My favorite is Speakeasy.net. From their home page click the “speed test” button in the lower right.

Then click on a city near you. The test will run and you can see your connection speed. For streaming media it is all about the viewer’s ‘download’ connection speed. Interestingly, the results are both for File Size (KB ) and Bandwidth (Kbps). The speedometer shows file size (KB and MB ) and the results section shows bandwidth size (Kbps).

One of the reasons I like the Speakeasy speed test is that it covers super-high speed connections that many do not. My connection shown here shows a solid 15 MB download connection (most top out 3 MB ). I have the very fast Verizon fiber optic system (FIOS) for my internet provider.

Another reason I like the Speakeasy speed test is that it shows your connection speed to distant cities when going across the country – try it… it has a huge impact on your overall connection speed!

– Troy @ TLC

By |2016-11-17T15:20:35-07:00December 14th, 2006|PowerPoint, Resource/Misc|

Bandwidth Math and Connection Speed Needed

There are 5 Categories of Internet Connections:
1. 5+ Mbps = Very High Broadband
2. 1-5 Mbps = High Broadband
3. 786 Kbps = Fast Broadband
4. 384 Kbps = Standard Broadband
5. 56 Kbps = Dial-up

To figure the bandwidth a viewer will need to view the streaming media file with perfect playback, we need to work through these formulas (one for a Standard Web Server, one for a Streaming Server (note: Streaming Servers are overviewed a few posts from now).

A: Figuring Bandwidth Needs From A Standard Server. Here things are easy because we get to figure things directly in ‘bandwidth’ math using bits not bytes.
1. Figure “Bits Per Second”
Video Height x Video Width x Frame Rate (fps) = Bits/second (Kbps)
eg. (320 x 240 video dimensions) x 15 fps = 1,152,000 Bits/second

2. Convert Bits Per Second (Kbps) to Megabits Per Second (Mbps)
Bps (Total from #1) / 1,024 (1 Mbps = 1,024 Kbps) = Needed Connection Speed
eg. 1,152,000 Kbps / 1,024 = 1,125 Mbps (so the person watching should have a, category 2, high broadband connection)

B: Figuring Bandwidth Needs From A Streaming Media Server. Here there are a few extra steps because streaming servers encode everything in Bytes Per Second (Bps), which needs to then be converted to Kbps to know the bandwidth need.
1. Figure Total Bits Per Second
Video Height x Video Width x Frame Rate (fps) = Total Bits/second
eg. (320 x 240 video dimensions) x 15 fps) = 1,152,000 Bits/second

2. Figure the Bytes Per Second (Bps)
Bps (total from #1) / 8 = Bps (divide by 8 because there are 8 bits in 1 byte)
eg. ((320 x 240 x 15) / 8) = 144,000 Bps

3. Convert Bps to Kbps
Bps (total from #2) / 1,000 = Kilobytes/second (Kbps)
eg. 144,000 Bps / 1000 = 1,152Kbps (which is rounded to 1.2 Mbps)

Conclusion:
These formulas do not take into account your server’s bandwidth limitations, the number of simultaneous viewers, network congestion or a host of other variables. Now we know how to anticipate the needed connection speed for our streaming media.

Up next are some of the ways we can make a larger bandwidth file playback smooth on a low bandwidth connection.

– Troy @ TLC

By |2016-11-17T15:14:25-07:00December 13th, 2006|PowerPoint, Resource/Misc|

Bandwidth Math and Estimating Monthly Bandwidth

Definition: Bandwidth is how much data you can move in a given amount of time.

Real-world: If your streaming media is too big for the connection of a viewer, they see choppy and incomplete playback.

The file-to-bandwidth ratio is important when you get into developing streaming media. So before beginning to develop streaming media, a bandwidth strategy is needed (or at least understood). The goal is to provide the quality needed, work with the viewers connection speed and not overload your hardware (the server).

1. The Bandwidth Math Numbers
The problem with “bandwidth math” is that two different sets of numbers are used. There is one for data transmission (Kbps) and another for data storage (KB ).

Files are measured in “KB” – kilobytes
Bandwidth is measured in “Kbps” – kilobits per second

Note that files use kiloBYTES and bandwidth uses kiloBITS (note one is “byte” and the other “bit”). Here is the trick – there are 8 bits in a byte. So when we have a 2MB streaming media file we are not transferring the 2,048KB (1MB = 1,024KB ), we are transferring 8x’s that much (2,048KB x 8 bits = 16,384Kbps).

2. Estimating Monthly Bandwidth:
This formula makes sure you stay within your hosting plans bandwidth allotment (usually hosting plans give bandwidth in GB per month – go over this amount and you risk additional charges or termination of your account). Here’s the formula:

(Average Daily Visitors x Average # Views x Average Media Size (in KB )) x 31 days x 1.5 (this is the “guesstimate” factor that gives a 50% buffer)

As example:
(40 daily visitors x 60 views x 20,480 KB (= 20 MB ) average media size) x 31 days x 1.5 = 2,285,568,000 KB
2,285,568,000 KB / 1,024 (1 MB ) = 2,232,000 MB, which is approx. 2 GB of bandwidth per month.

– Troy @ TLC

By |2016-11-17T15:13:06-07:00December 11th, 2006|PowerPoint, Resource/Misc|

Media Players for Streaming Media

There are four common media players for streaming media to play with.
1. Windows Media Player
2. Flash
3. Quicktime
4. Real Player

See the September 1, 2006 post for an overview of the pro’s and con’s of each player.

All four have browser plug-ins that give a browser the ability to play the streaming media directly in the browser. Note: having the media player application installed does not necessarily mean its browser plug-in is installed. To further complicate things, not all plug-ins work the same in the various browsers. For example, a Windows Media file may not play the same in FireFox as it does in Internet Explorer, or it may playback in Quicktime on a Mac (using the Flip add-in). I personally find Flash to be the most universal format and usually my format of choice.

There are no fix-all solutions. Once you have developed the streaming media it is critical to test on multiple platforms and browser applications. Most important is to be aware of the potential issues – and at least inform viewers of them.

– Troy @ TLC

By |2016-11-17T15:12:19-07:00December 9th, 2006|PowerPoint, Resource/Misc|

What is Streaming Media?

“Streaming” means part of a file is being played while the rest of it is downloading in the background. When you click “play” on a movie, webcast, or audio file initially a small portion of the file is downloaded. While the initial portion is playing, the next portion downloads in the background. The process continues until the entire file has been downloaded.

So the big question is how do you convert a PowerPoint presentation to a streaming format that downloads the fastest? No matter what software is used, or what format is chosen, the overall goal of creating streaming media is to throw away data that is not needed.

There are lots (and lots) of variables in how to decide what is thrown away, what software to use, what format to create, etc. First, there is no one answer or way to create the “best” streaming media. The reason is developing streaming media is all about compromises. How much data can be thrown away while maintaining needed quality? What is the needed playback size? What is the best format for the intended audience? What is the connection speed of the audience? Based on the answers to all of these questions we figure out what process to develop our streaming media in.

– Troy @ TLC

By |2016-11-17T15:11:44-07:00December 7th, 2006|PowerPoint, Resource/Misc|

PowerPoint, Webcasts and Streaming Media

There is an explosion of activity around webcasts. This year I have had a ton of webcast projects – most involving PowerPoint content. The good news is PowerPoint once again finds itself at the center of the universe. The even better news is that software to make PowerPoint presentations web-ready are continuously being added to the mix. The bad news is most PowerPoint designers know very little about streaming media and are unprepared when the almost inevitable request to create a webcast from a presentation is put forth.

So there is at least one place to go and do a quick study of Streaming media/webcasts I have put together an eight part series on the topic. Check back as we cover all the behind-the-scenes “basics” about streaming media over the next week!

– Troy @ TLC

By |2016-11-17T15:10:52-07:00December 5th, 2006|PowerPoint, Resource/Misc|

PPT Viewer Splash Window

One of the greatest things about the 2003 PowerPoint Viewer is that it does not require administrative rights to install. As a matter a fact, it does not need to be installed at all. It can run from the computer or from a CDROM, USB drive, etc. But it is important to know that on the first use of it on a computer its splash screen, which shows the official EULA, will show up.

– Troy @ TLC

By |2016-11-17T15:09:48-07:00December 3rd, 2006|PowerPoint|

Hey It’s For My Teeth!

Okay, this is way off topic, and off-season for that matter. But earlier this week I went through a fun morning of major dental surgery (you don’t want to know, but if you have kids, tell them to break bones not teeth – it’s a lot easier to deal with later in life!). The upside is that I was given permission to eat ice cream this week, as the cool will help.

Perfect timing, as Cold Stone Creamery put out a 2-for-1 coupon last week!

Yesterday I decided would be a good opportunity to use this coupon – but the link was dead. I called the corporate number, they said the coupon link was gone, but the coupon would be honored for those that have it through its January 31st expiration. Good thing I had saved the PDF to my computer! I highly recomend the Mocha + Chocolate Syrup + Yellow Cake!

Okay, so here is a link to the print-and-use PDF coupon.

– Troy @ TLC

By |2016-11-17T15:08:47-07:00December 1st, 2006|Personal|

Hardware Acceleration and The PowerPoint Viewer

The super-useful PowerPoint Viewer application does have one flaw – it does not have the ability to take advantage of a computers graphics card power with the “Use Hardware Acceleration” feature. So if you have a presentation that is going to be distributed and viewed with the PowerPoint Viewer I would recomend turning off the Hardware Acceleration and viewing the slideshow to get a better idea of what others will see.

– Troy @ TLC

By |2016-11-17T15:07:47-07:00November 29th, 2006|Tutorial|

Should I use Hardware Acceleration?

If your computer has dedicated graphics memory – yes.
If the computer has a shared memory graphics processor – no.

To check what you have, go to:
(1) START >> CONTROL PANEL >> DISPLAY >> SETTINGS tab
(2) Select “Monitor 1”
(3) Click the ADVANCED button

(4) Go to the ADAPTOR tab. Here you can see the manufacturer, model and amount of memory of the graphics card.

TIP: if the computer uses an Intel graphics processor, it is shared memory. ATI and NVidia manufacture both shared memory and dedicated memory cards.

– Troy @ TLC

By |2016-11-17T15:05:58-07:00November 27th, 2006|Tutorial|
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