Taking Photos of PowerPoint Slides

I recently gave a talk about people who take photos of PowerPoint presentations. I observed this behavior at a conference last year. Several people would take a photo of the PowerPoint slide. I imagine that they wanted to save the content to review later or to share with a colleague. This is me taking a photo of someone taking a photo of a PowerPoint slide.

I also noticed that during a keynote talk that I gave last year that no one took photos of my slides. Was I doing something wrong? Did I need something provocative on the slides?

Some slides have a lot of information on them. This slide from the Pentagon is the densest slide that I have ever seen.

I started thinking about how much data is contained on a normal PowerPoint slide. The average slide is about 150 KB. My Pixel 2 phone has a 12.2 MP camera. When I take a photo of a PowerPoint slide, I blow up the slide to 3,400 KB. That is a 22x multiplier of data.

No one is doing the studies, so I had to make up some stats. I assume that 2% of conference attendees take photos of slides.

“2% of all [conference] attendees take photos of PowerPoint slides.”
– Hans Scharler

Let’s play that out. For every 1,000 attendees of a conference, 68,000 KB of data gets generated by one 150 KB PowerPoint slide. 24 million people went to a conference in the United States last year. Yikes. Almost all of us back up our photos to Google or iCloud. So, now we have photos of slides stored beside photos of kids, significant others, and vacations forever. We will need to build data centers just to store photos of PowerPoint slides.

If you are interested in seeing my slides from my talk, check out SlideShare.

 

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A Kickstarter Christmas: Going Cardboard — a documentary about boardgames

I am going to share my latest experience with Kickstarter and review Going Cardboard – a documentary about board games. In order to get started, I want to introduce what Kickstarter is all about first. I find myself telling people about Kickstarter as my experience has been phenomenal as a backer. I am becoming an evangelist.

What is Kickstarter?

(the short version)

Kickstarter is a website that allows people with projects to find financial backing by offering the backers rewards.

(the much longer version)

For example, let’s say you a friend that wants to make a music CD and music video for their band. (And, we all have that friend.) Traditionally, they would have to scrape some money together and try to self-finance their project. Kickstarter allows that person to post a project description and video to a central website where people can back their project. They offer backers rewards such as early access to download the CD, wall art, a signed CD, and even creative things like, a chance to hang out back stage or be in the music video. In some cases, you can reach your target audience. In some other cases you find a whole new audience. What I love about Kickstarter is that it forces the people submitting their projects to think through budgets and come up with a strategy. If they say it will take $5,000 to make an album, they need to raise at least $5,000 to get rewarded the money. If not, the funds do not get transferred from the backers, and more importantly, the friend trying to get their music out there found out that the audience may not be as big as they thought. Trust me, I know a lot of musicians with a 1,000 CD’s in the garage. Knowing the size of an audience is important  and Kickstarter provides a clean mechanism to find that information out. If your project fails, you can reevaluate, try again, email more people, find creative rewards to offer potential backers, and try like hell to get outside of your circle of friends.

Going Cardboard

I received my Kickstarter rewards for Going Cardboard today, almost 10 months after backing this project by Lorien Green. The wait was long but so worth it. The thrill of opening the box of items felt like Christmas. Lorien provided great rewards to her backers and raised 3 times the amount of money that she requested. Her film turned out great and so glad that I stumbled into it while browsing Kickstarter for new projects.

Goaing Cardboard Kickstarter Rewards

I backed this project because of my interest in board games. I have a circle of friends that gets larger and larger that loves to play board games. The games we play get increasingly complex, but often I find games that stick. I was introduced to Dominion by Rio Grande Games at one of our annual gatherings called StruebCon. This is a great game and I teach the game to as many people as I can. It’s a great game to introduce to people, they will get hooked and may try other games. Before you know it, you have another gamer friend.

Going Cardboard features interviews from game designers, game publishers, and game players. There is amazing footage of several of the gaming conventions such as Essen in Germany that draws over 150k people each year. In the US, we typically do not celebrate the game designer. This is the person or group of people who created the game. It’s weird to think, but someone “invented” Monopoly. A new class of games called “Designer Games” have the game designer’s name right on the front of the box (these are the games I love). Maybe in a few year’s time, we will celebrate the designers like they do in Germany and Korea. Think of the memories that they have created for us. Game publishers are the folks that take the chance on the game designer and provide the resources to get the game printed, manufactured, and distributed to game stores and via the Internet. Game players are the wonderful people fo the world that keep the eco system of games going. “We” buy games from the publishers that we love, like Rio Grande, Mayfair, and Z-Man, and in turn more games get published from the game designers. It’s a wonderfully small world in most cases you can meet and interact with the entire supply chain at one gaming convention. Thanks to mechanisms like Kickstarter, I am seeing the industry blur the lines a bit as game designers, publishers, and players are all a little more integrated into the whole experience.

This documentary celebrates all angles of the board game industry. Watching the film is like sitting around talking to your friends about board games, telling stories of what you heard about new games, games that didn’t make it the shelves, and new games that you found on BoardGameGeek. Going Cardboard gives you a window of this budding universe of board games. It comes at a perfect time. I believe that board games are hitting a tipping point. All of the evidence is adding up. Even my local electronic game store features a board game night every week where you can unplug and play games like Dominion, Settlers of Catan, Battlestar Galactica, Arkham Horror, Lost Cities, and on and on.

I recommend “Going Cardboard” to anyone that’s interested in games. You should offer the DVD as a gift or hold a screening at your house, invite friends over to watch and let them in on what you have been doing all of these years. You might find a few closet gamers that just needs a little push.

Game on.

Greencastle, Independent Film on Kickstarter

“Greencastle” is an upcoming independent film that I am fortunate to be a part of. I make a small cameo as District Dean Roy Baker giving a commencement speech for a correspondence school graduation.

Created by my long time comedy writing partner, Koran Dunbar, “Greencastle” is a film about a single father who works at a small-town pet store in Greencastle, PA. Poitier struggles against self-doubt and an unclear life direction while trying to raise his young son. In the midst of his “quarter-life crisis” enters Leslie, an attractive woman running from an ugly past. Fate brings them together, but Poitier discovers that opportunities only come to those who take chances, and he must come to terms with his own past before he can embrace his future with confidence.

The crew behind “Greencastle” filmed the movie over the summer of 2011 and the footage turned out great as you can see in the trailer above. They want to take “Greencastle” to a wider audience and looking to use a website called Kickstarter to do so. Have you heard of Kickstarter? Kickstarter is a website where people can post their project and raise funding by offering incentives such as autographed scripts or items related to the output of the project.

“Greencastle” is already submitted to film festivals like SXSW and I would love to see where this project could go with everyone’s help. Check out the Kickstarter for “Greencastle” and see if this is something that you are interested in supporting… Thanks!

“My other shirt is a v-neck”

Have you ever done something that you completely forgotten about only to see it on the web years later? I guess the whole current generation of noobs will know what I mean when they are sitting in their job interview, and the interviewer asks them about that YouTube video…

If you ever go to a gaming convention you will notice all of the ironic t-shirts everyone wears. For example, the overweight guy wearing a small Supperman t-shirt. Each year more and more t-shirt vendors invade the exhibit hall at Gen Con.

If you know me, you know that I just had to create a bunch of sarcastic, novelty shirts. I just can’t not do it. So in 2006 I made up a bunch of shirts. I sold a few, mostly it was a waste of time. A few survived and I gave them out to my friends for Gen Con 2006. One in particular was a shirt for The Dungeoneering Dad that read, “My other shirt is a v-neck”. Looks like TDD gave it away…

Today, I find that exact shirt on a website called “toomanytshirts.com” – a site where “a random dude from Pittsburgh” wears and photographs a different t-shirt every day.

It's In Here Somewhere...

That was a pleasant surprise to see the old shirt still making its rounds with my trademark bar code on the sleeve. I completely forgot about the two weeks I was “T-shirt Hans”.

Here are some of my other more popular (less popular) t-shirt slogans:

    • Rage Against the Washing Machine
    • Got Rhetorical Questions?
    • I believe in God and Aliens
    • 3 out of 5 dentists agree 60% of the time
    • Community Chest
    • I hate Slogans
    • Political Statement
    • I am case-Sensitive
    • I’m the man from Nantucket
    • Ask me about today’s specials
    • I hate scallions
    • My favorite font is Ironic Sans

New Google Search: Instant Narcissism

If you use Google Search as a lot of people do, then you have noticed the new feature from Google. As you type you get instant search results. It is an interesting feature and I am not sure how much this will change my search patterns. I still want to hit the return button after I type in a search phrase.

For the vain, the new Google Search will allow you to “google” yourself instantly.

Hans Scharler Google Search Vain

A Magic Trick Four Years in the Making

When I get ready to go out, I check to make sure I have the essentials:

    • Wallet – check
    • Watch – check
    • Pants check
    • Extra Pants check
    • Binaca – check
    • Three of Diamonds – check

For almost 4 years, I have been carrying around a “Three of Diamonds” in my front pocket. I wanted to pull off a surprising magic trick using this precise card. The trick involves asking somebody to pick a card from an invisible deck of cards. I would say, “Pick any card,” as I fanned out a pretend deck of cards. My hope was that the trickee would pick the “Three of Diamonds”. If I could produce the card they were thinking of, they would be amazed – they would have to be.

Three of Diamonds

I chose the “Three of Diamonds” for one main reason – if someone picked it out of the blue, it would be unlikely that I was prepared for that exact card. “Ace of Spades” of “Queen of Diamonds” would be obvious, but a three – none one would pick that one.

My thoughts were right, no one picked the three of diamonds for a long time, 4 years or so. I had to play it off as a joke when they said some card other than the 3 of D. Almost half the time someone picked an Ace of something.

But patience paid off. I was at a party recently and I got to try my trick again. I saw a group of ladies that were friends of friends that I had met a long time ago. I started up a conversation. I wanted to say the words “Three” and “Diamonds” in the chit-chat. After so many wrong picks, I thought that I would start stacking the deck so to speak. I had to be subtle though.

“Alright, I want you to think of any card…” I waved my hands to mock a magician and got a smile. “Pick any card… Do you have the card?… Can you see it?” She said, “Yes!?”

I dug out the hidden “Three of Diamonds” and said, “Is this your card?” She opened her eyes and reacted with total amazement. She immediately wanted to know how I just did that. “It’s magic. I am magical.”

I have since retired the trick. I didn’t want to be that guy that does magic tricks at parties. How annoying is that guy?

I am LOST

All of this snow caused me to get trapped between two airports recently. And when I say, “trapped,” I mean I had a cell phone, food supply, laptop, and stable wireless Internet connection. I had some time on my hands. Between runs to Panda Express and the restroom, I was able to watch the first season of LOST.

Over a period of 3 months, hints were dropped which lead me to want to start watching LOST – I finally “listened to the island.” I saw a speech by J. J.“ Abrams, 3o Rock made a LOST reference, my friends were talking about the show, the answer is 42, and I heard a faint radio transmission on my XM. I finally broke down and watched the pilot episodes of LOST on Hulu. I was hooked.

Over the next 24 hours, I watched the entire first season – all 24 mind-bending, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, uber-frustrating episodes. I see why this show is popular, it has all of the elements that I love – great mystery, tied with philosophical nuances and solid characters who I love to learn about. I want to figure it all out, but I am being messed with. Numbers and non-linear flashbacks spliced in the real-time storyline all make for a fantastic mind trip.

The final season starts tomorrow. I am so glad to hear there is a final season. It will make my LOST time seem worth it, since I know it will have to have an ending and soon. I look forward to the rest of the seasons and catching up to the new episodes. I will be DVR’ing the new ones and maybe I will be able to finish this series with everyone else.

4-8-15-16-23-42

Clearblue Screen of Death

Everything is going digital. I know, a profound statement, but the consequences of “digital” are a future riddled with software bugs, failures, and EMP induced outages (the EPT EMP to be exact). We rely on technology to get us through our days and we will be faced with crashes when we need technology the most.

“Clearblue” has released a digital version of their pregnancy tester. My girlfriend, completely fictional to make a point, and I were discussing the ramifications of a digital pregnancy test. One day the test will be dependent on an Operating System to drive the user interface. It might even have Windows on it.

In your critical moment, of whether you will be with child or have more time to yourself – unshackled by a disappointing version of yourself, the pregnancy tester will crash giving you an ambiguous result.

Take a glimpse of the future. You have been warned.

People Watching at the Airport

I travel a lot and find myself watching people at the airport to pass the time waiting for flights to depart. I watch them as they walk by Cinnabon and pretend not to want one. I am fascinated by how people behave – whether it’s good behavior or bad, I still find it interesting. After a canceled flight and Chicago weather, I finally made it back to Pittsburgh International Airport. If you have never been, it’s like a mall that opened up an airport. I was waiting for my luggage to come from the airplane. We are all standing around a belt that turns in one direction and carries our luggage from a down ramp. The first thing I noticed is that half of the crowd was on one side of the ramp and the other half was on the other side. So, half of these people are going to be waiting the entire trip around for their luggage and the other half are going to get their luggage first. A lady in her late forties and a scarf had an entirely different agenda. She was going to stand clear and wait for it to start turning and sidle up and grab her bag. I could see the anticipation well up as the horn and spinning light announced our bags were coming. She got up and cut right to the side the belt was turning ignoring the people who were there first. My page came out soon, but I wanted to see how it played out. The lady grew impatient and sighed with the exaggeration of a stage actor. I waited 10 minutes and nearly all of the bags were taken minus a few stragglers – a taped up duffel and flower print roller were the only ones left spinning. She stormed into the bag claim office. I took my flower print roller and headed to the parking shuttle. On the ride to my car, I thought about the events of the lady and her missing bag. She probably asked for it and had it coming.