Maybe this is more common amongst us students than in “the adult world”, where Microsoft Office is the standard, but I’ve noticed that a lot of my classmates at high school don’t own the programs they need to have in order to do certain projects as effectively as possible. And that’s odd, as my school is part of a pretty high-end suburb. While the majority of us have our own computers, not many have the office suites that teachers expect. Some kids have turned in 12-page papers they typed on Notepad and printed in the school library. A classmate of mine had a 15-page report marked late because even though he did it, he tried to print it in school. The problem was that he put it together and saved in the Microsoft Works format, but our school uses Office. The file was completely unreadable. This same problem has applied itself to all kinds of digital assignments. Videos, art projects, and slideshows have all been plagued by the issue of file compatibility. The tool I’ll be talking about tries to fix that problem for slideshows by putting everything in the cloud.
Still in beta, 280 Slides (280slides.com) is essentially a stripped-down, simple version of PowerPoint. While that may sound negative, it’s actually one of the site’s greatest features. It means that you don’t have to navigate through complex drop-down menus to insert an element. Using the app is incredibly simple. The makers essentially took a look at the features included in PowerPoint and Keynote, analyzed them, and decided to scrap the ones you don’t use in order to make a program your grandmother can use. You can add all sorts of stuff in less than 3 clicks.
I’ve made a sample slideshow I created in a few minutes for this post. It goes over a few of the biggest features and benefits, sometime through examples. Check it out here. Keep in mind that I made this slideshow in a few minutes about a month ago, so I may have missed some features. In fact, a few may have changed since that time. Regardless, I hope it gives you a decent look at what can be done with this easy-to-use program.
BONUS: Though I’ve mentioned some of these before, the services here are all based on the same idea of being able to do complex work online and offline with free tools.
Aviary is more or less an online version of the Adobe Creative Suite line of products, including Photoshop and Illustrator.
Evernote, which I talked about in the previous post (the link is 2 paragraphs up), allows you to create text documents, upload pictures, and so on.
OpenOffice.org is an open-source (think Wikipedia applied to software), downloadable office suite with products similar to the ones you’ll find in Microsoft Office. All of the programs work very well and can be saved in a format that is easily read by Microsoft’s programs
If you’re feeling in a stick-it-to-the-man mood and want to find more free programs that let you do things you’d usually pay hundreds for, check out Kompozer, Jahshaka, Blender, The GIMP, InkScape, Renoise, and Audacity. They’re all for website, video, image, and audio production and editing, and they all work pretty well. There are paid versions of a few of them, and a few are open-source, too.
As always, if you have any feedback or suggestions, let me know in the comments.