First peek at Google's PowerPoint killer?

Some Gmail users (including me, but not Josh, nyah nyah) have a new option in their in-box: PowerPoint files that are sent to them can now be viewed "as slide show." When you click on this link, you're given a full-window, Flash-based slide show of the file, with forward and back buttons at the top of the screen and a slide selector drop-down menu.

Right-clicking gives you options to play the slide show automatically, adjust the speed of the autoplay, and download the original file.

This is probably the presentation player that will be part of Google'… Read more

Review Basics: Free Web-based collaboration

Review Basics is a collaborative workspace for small teams and businesses. It runs right in your browser, and offers a fairly simple and straightforward way for others to share and leave feedback on photos, video files, and office documents. The interface runs entirely in Flash, so there are no special extensions to download, or programs that need to be installed on your computer. Just start up a workspace and go.

Review Basics works with a variety of common office document standards like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF. It also can handle uploading an entire zipped folder, so if you get a zipped attachment in an e-mail, you can upload it straight to the service without having to unpack it and send files one at a time. Review Basics also handles videos, although they have to be in the .FLV Flash format, which despite its popularity on the Internet, isn't a consumer-friendly standard compared to .MOV and .AVI. Files are capped off at 25MB apiece, so if you're working with any video clip over a minute or two, it's likely to be too large.

Annotating media is fairly simple. Users get five different tools to mark what's on the screen: boxes, arrows, a highlighter, call-outs, and emoticons. There is no drawing tool, which is one thing I enjoy and make use of on other collaborative workspace services like ConceptShare [hands-on] and Octopz [hands-on]. I think at a basic level it makes things feel familiar, like using a pen. There are still boxes which can be resized and color coded, but for irregularly shaped elements, you're out of luck.

To separate which feedback is being displayed, you can toggle each person's edits on and off. It's a lot like PhotoShop when you show or hide layers, and useful when you have more than two or three people working on a piece of media at a time, as things tend to get crowded.

Review Basics is very versatile for a free app, but it's missing a few things I think would make it far more competitive in this space. I'd like a way to leave audio or video notes. Some people (like me) find it easier to hit a record button, say something and move on, instead of writing it out. I'd also like to see live chat or live video conferencing, something that can take telephones out of the equation for both businesses and customers. The service is planning on moving to a paid model in the future, adding these things would certainly put it in the realm of some of the other services charging monthly fees.

The team has put together a series of hands-on demos you can play with to get a feel for the service. [More screens after the break.]

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SlideAware makes PowerPoint a Web 2.0 app

We're big fans of Web-based productivity apps here at Webware, but we also like tools that bring Web 2.0 features, such as easy collaboration and access from anywhere, to the apps we know and use already. Xcellery (see Xcellery review) does that for Excel, and a new app, SlideAware, does a similar thing for PowerPoint.

SlideAware has two components. First, there's a plug-in you add to your PowerPoint toolbar (it doesn't work for Office 2007 yet, so I couldn't test this component). The plug-in lets you zap your PowerPoint presentations directly to the SlideAware service. … Read more

News Roundup: Viacom sues YouTube, MySpace News screens leaked, Microsoft to buy Tellme

Viacom drops $1 billion lawsuit on YouTube. The news came this morning that Viacom is suing Google-owned YouTube for "massive intentional copyright infringement." The suit is due to the repeated viewing of almost 160,000 clips of Viacom-owned content that were hosted on the service. It was only a matter of time before the big lawsuits came from content providers after Google's acquisition of YouTube late last year. It's worth noting that the lawsuit amount is more than half of what Google paid for YouTube in stock in November. ( CNET News.com)

Shots of MySpace News surface.Read more

Green laser points the way

We're old enough (unfortunately) to remember when laser pointers were new and expensive, not the kind of bargain-bin item you can find at OfficeMax. But even though they've become surprisingly affordable, we've been disappointed at the preponderance of laser-pointing objects that make little or no sense.

That's why we appreciate the "Jasper Keynote." It's a laser pointer with a built-in radio transmitter that can let you point and run your PowerPoint presentation simultaneously if used with a USB receiver. And the best part of all: It's green (our favorite color).

Thanks to … Read more

Google prepping presentation product

Google is apparently working on a Powerpoint killer called Presently to go along with its word processor (formerly known as Writely) and its spreadsheet app. This is according to a post on the Googlesystem blog (via TechCrunch).

This is a surprise to no one. Google has been adding basic productivity applications to its suite of online services relentlessly, and there's no reason to expect the company to stop.

Web-based presentation applicationss are great in concept, for two big reasons: First, presentations are often created (or at least approved) by several people and having a presentation that is inherently collaboration-enabled … Read more

Present for free with Spresent and a Web browser

Do you need PowerPoint (or Keynote) to create presentations? Perhaps not. There are several good Web-based solutions, including the newest (to us), Spresent. This online presentation service lets you quickly create decent presentations that you can deliver from any computer with a Web browser.

Spresent competes with other online apps such as Thumbstacks and Zoho Show [see comparison]. What sets Spresent apart is its slick Flash-based user interface and tight integration with other Web services. Need a picture of a mountain or an octopus to go along with your bullet points? Spresent has built-in Flickr browsing, which pulls up previews … Read more

Unspecified vulnerability in Microsoft PowerPoint 2000

There is an unspecified vulnerability within Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2000. To become infected, however, a user must open a specially crafted PowerPoint file (PPT). To guard against infection, open suspect files in the free Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer 2003 instead. Malware such as Exploit:Win32/Controlppt.W, Exploit:Win32/Controlppt.X, and Exploit-PPT.d/Trojan.PPDropper.F take advantage of this PowerPoint flaw.

Additional resources:

Vendor Patch Information: MS06-058 US-CERT Vulnerability Note: VU#231204 FrSIRT: 3794

PowerPoint Memory Corruption Vulnerability

Malicious attackers may use specially created PowerPoint files to crash a victim's computer. There are actually three separate vulnerabilities that occur when the application uses data taken directly from a PowerPoint presentation file as a pointer when saving or closing a malformed presentation. A malicious attacker can exploit this to corrupt memory and manipulate the program flow, and could allow a remote attacker access to a compromised system.

Additional Resources:

French Security Incident Response Team: ADV-2006-2815 National Institute of Standards and Technology: CVE-2006-3660 National Institute of Standards and Technology: CVE-2006-3656 National Institute of Standards and Technology: CVE-2006-3655 Secunia advisory #: … Read more