Sometimes I DO wonder why I can’t just do things the way everyone else does?
I just want to create a little booklet from my slide show notes. Powerpoint to Word. Is that so unusual? Well, maybe, I don’t know? When’s the last time you tried it? I could have typed the notes in a document in the first place, but since I was starting out with slide show, it seemed natural to keep the notes there. Doesn’t everyone do that?
I need to back up a minute, to see how I got here. I’m not even going to use the slideshow. It starts with “Outdoor Church” on Wednesday nights. We could keep using conventional mid-week curriculum in the classrooms all summer. Or not. It’s summer afterall, and teachers need some time off, kids need to play. So we move the classroom outdoors, where there is wind and grass and sun. Nice, isn’t it? Doesn’t everyone go outside for church in the summer?
And then there is Sunday School Charlie. Doesn’t everyone remember Charlie from their childhood? A flannel graph character who wears a tie and a Sunday School pin, who wants to serve God, and is always getting into scrapes. Yes, I said flannel graph. I grew up with flannel graph stories, didn’t you? I learned to teach Bible lessons using flannel graph. It sounds so quaint now. Still, nothing quite like it. Bringing these great stories to our windy outdoor field just resulted in chaos, as pieces were blown around everywhere. A great discovery was finding the original stories converted to Power Point presentations, and I promptly purchased the entire series for the church. Power Point outdoors? This is where new technology and old fashions merge! Slides can be printed, so I set about creating flip books from them. Yes, another quaint method of teaching! Perfect for outdoors though – no electricity, no screens or computers, and the wind cannot blow it away.
A printed narrative will complete the set. So here we go, slide show notes. I could just print them directly from PowerPoint, but … well, I guess I am particular. I want the notes from each slide to identify which slide they belong to, and printing the notes does not have that option. Not to mention that the formatting options are seriously limited. Some online searching suggests creating “handouts”, which exports the notes to Word. Now, MS Word is not my document program of choice, but it does print nice little folded booklets with a minimum of fuss. So that seems do-able. Except that the resulting file is so HUGE that it entirely bogs down my computer to try to edit it. Blame the nice little thumbnail images of the slides. Little? Cough, sputter, choke. Literally choking, the computer that is. The images look little, but are humongous in file size.
More internet searching turns up a nice feature called “compress images” that sounds promising, but actually doesn’t work, apparently because the images are in a table. Yes, I want to keep them in a table, because it formats them nicely (more about that in a minute). More internet searching reveals that if you cut the images and paste them back in a different format, the file size will be reduced by something like 100X. Perfect – just what I need – except for the multiple clicks involved for each of the 100 plus images. And another set of clicks needed to arrange each image to the upper right side of the text, so it all looks nice. The table layout is nice, but the 3 columns produced need to be merged into a single column so the text flows nicely, while keeping each slide notes in its own row. Another set of clicks. This sounds very much like macro territory to me.
Macros, those nice little scripts that automate repetitive tasks. I love macros (seriously, doesn’t EVERYONE???) MS Word does not really love macros. Yes, the “record macro” feature is there, but … not quite. Not for the specific things I want to do. I DO love the internet though and some more searching suggests VBA scripts are the way to go. VBA … that would be Visual Basic for Applications. Do I know VBA? Nope. Do I want to learn it? Today? Not really. Do I want to keep repeating the same click, click, click over and over (and over and over and over)? Not a chance! So, VBA it is. At the end of the day, I have a nice little script that merges the columns into neat rows, converts the images into the proper format and aligns them nicely on the right side of the page. I can run it on the entire 100 page file with just a few clicks. Isn’t that what everyone does?