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  • Editing audio and embedding it into a MS Powerpoint file
  • The unexpected lightness of learning

Editing audio and embedding it into a MS Powerpoint file

Jade asked me for help in converting a CEO interview from 51 MB (it was an AVI!) to something more manageable, condensing it from 00:02:09 to around 00:01:30, and embedding it into a Microsoft Powerpoint file in time for her dry-run presentation.

Fortunately, I’m a geek.

I used AoA Audio Extractor to extract the audio track and convert it into an MP3, which slimmed the 51 MB file down to 1.5 MB. Then I used Audacity to edit the MP3. First, I removed all the ums, ahs, repeated words, filler words, and long pauses. That got me to about 00:01:50. After that, I removed as many of the questions as I could, and trimmed other unnecessary words from the answers. Result? Clocked in at 00:01:26, four seconds under target. Woohoo!

I’m starting to enjoy editing audio. I used to think editing was a bit tedious, but now I see it as a way to help people sound like much better speakers.

As it turns out, you can’t embed an MP3 into a Microsoft Powerpoint file – at least, not directly. Microsoft Powerpoint can embed WAVs, but WAVs can be quite big. (16 MB vs 1.1 MB for our condensed file.) But you can use CDex to add a RIFF wav header to your MP3, change your Tools > Options > General > Link sounds with file size greater than option to something like 50000 (to embed anything smaller than 50MB), and then insert your new WAV-which-is-really-an-MP3-in-disguise.

I put it together and sent her the file using instant messaging. (Yay Sametime!). We confirmed that it worked at 9:59 AM, just in time for her 10 AM dry run.

Thank you, Internet!

The unexpected lightness of learning

I had been invited to participate in the usability studies for Pass It Along, an IBM peer-to-peer learning system. The project team was planning a revamp of the site, and Amanda had prepared a visual design for our feedback.

The logo she used was simple: passitalong, lowercase, with “it” shaded in a different color. I couldn’t help but comment on how wonderfully symmetric it was, with the two descenders (the bottom parts of p and g) at both ends of the word. No, really, look at it.


It’s prettier than “Pass It Along.” I’d never noticed things like that before I started to learn about type, and now exposure and awareness lets me appreciate new things.

When I commented on the pleasing symmetry of the descenders, Amanda stopped and laughed. She said, “You know about descenders?! You always surprise me!”

So I told her about @fivetwelve‘s braindump of cool font resources (The Elements of Typographic Style (Bringhurst), ilovetypography.org) after he saw (on Twitter) how I enjoyed the Helvetica documentary.

Jargon is the secret handshake of different professions, a shibboleth that distinguishes between people inside and outside. It’s fun crossing boundaries and learning about people’s fields, and it’s fun being able to see things in a new light. =)