In my last post I talked of remove the so-called "bloat" in my life. I am happy to report that I have made some further progress in that area. I have dropped Without A Trace from my list of must-watch TV shows. It's not that the show is not good, but compared to the other five or six programmes still on my list, this one is giving me diminishing returns (of utilities, for those economists out there).
Another thing that happened only last night is that I will conditionally open PowerPoint files received in my Gmail. It works like this: I will first check out the contents of the PowerPoint using the "view in HTML" feature available in Gmail. This only shows the text in the presentation, but is usually enough for me to decide whether the download is worthwhile. The reason for this arrangement is twofold. Firstly, I have discovered it is much quicker to let Gmail make a web page out of the PowerPoint and open that web page in my browser, than to download the entire PowerPoint file and wait for MS PowerPoint to load up. As most of you should know, most PowerPoint files in our mailbox are big because the author decided to decorate each slide with a different background image, which doesn't add much impact to the message anyway. It is also much quicker to read the text on a web page than wait for the paragraphs to finish animating. The second reason is some of my friends keep sending me the same thing over and over. They don't seem to mind watching the show for the fifth time and have even less problem forwarding it to their entire mail list. Unfortunately I don't have the time or patience to read repeats, so a filtering mechanism is needed.
Speaking of PowerPoints, isn't 90% of any such files pure bloat, in the form of backgrounds, frivolous animations and even sound effects, and background music? This is unfortunate because sometimes the text is well written and does deserve a read. All the other crap does nothing but distracts the reader from thinking about the words. It's better to send a plain text email in this case, since everyone can start reading with no waiting time. Another type of PowerPoint presentations contains only pictures; it is basically a slide show with music. I don't know why anyone thinks PowerPoint is a good program to show off pictures, because all it ever does is stretch the image to make it look ugly. Isn't it much better to just attach the pictures to the email, perhaps zipping it if there are lots of them, and let me open them with IrfanView together with whatever background music I fancy? That way if I like a certain picture I can add it to my collection, something not doable in PowerPoint. In conclusion, the supposedly fancy features in PowerPoint are the things you shouldn't be using, even in a real presentation. The best lecture slides are the ones with a plain background, mostly text in bullet points and the occasional picture. Animations just make you dizzy.