Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

May, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Search Commands For Office


    The Internet and blogging are wonderful things. Yesterday I blogged about a set of tools for helping people find the Office 2007 location for commands based on where they were in Office 2003. And then later in the day several people who read that post sent me links to the Search Commands add-on from Microsoft Office Labs. And someone else left a comment as well. Amazing how helpful people are. I learn a lot from the people who read my blog and comment.

    These tools are a little different. The first tool is basically a sort of translator. in other words someone clicks on an item on the “old” menu setup and the tool explains where to find it on the new “ribbon” interface. This, I think, is ideal for someone who wants to learn the new locations in an organized way. For a teacher or other trainer who is about to teach people from scratch (or close to it) this works great.

    The Search Command tool is sort of an additional built-in help. Selecting the tab for Search Commands opens a new ribbon strip with a search box. Enter a search string (in the example below I was looking for font related options) and the tool provides a set of relevant icons.


    These icons are “live” and can be used right there. Of course now that you know what you are looking for finding them again will probably be a lot easier. I expect to use this feature a lot for a while.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Where On the Ribbon Is That Office Feature?


    I’ve talked to a number of teachers recently who teach the Office Suite as part of a computer applications courses lately. A good number of them are preparing to update their courses to Office 2007 for next school year. That means some preparation time over the summer.

    The biggest change that Office 2007 brought was the ribbon interface. Now the design goal, which honestly I think was successful, was to make many features more easy to find. The problem is that for many of us who are creatures of habit change does not come so easy. We’re used to some things always being in the same place. So while the new ribbon may make things easier for beginners it makes some things feel harder for us experienced (better work than older right?) users.

    For some of us, and trust me I include myself, finding features we know and love can be a bit, well, less comfortable than we’d like. Ah but there is hope. My friend Edwin found a really great resource for people like me – and perhaps you. (See Edwin’s more detailed explanation here. He’s got pictures and everything.)

    The Office team has created a set of interactive guides for the various products in Office. The way they work is to bring up an Office 2003 menu that lets you select an option. A display window then explains where to find the same or equivalent feature in Office 2007. It’s as simple as that. use it to find all your favorites or just that one feature that just can’t seem to be found the way your idea of intuitive works.

    These can be run online or downloaded for use locally. For classroom use the download may be a good idea. In fact if I were doing tech support at a school that was upgrading I’d make sure all my teacher systems and general use systems (library for example)  had it and that all the teachers knew about it.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    XNA For Zune Game Development Now In Beta


    The XNA team has announced that the Community Technical Preview of XNA GSE 3.0 is now available. The big news in this is that now it is possible to develop games for the Zune. So yes, now a handheld device that will play XNA based games. Check out the official announcement here for the details on what, where, when and how. Hey, just in time for something new for after the AP CS exam. :-)

    In related news, there is a demo of developing for the Zune on Channel 9 as well. Take a look here.

    Edit: More Zune XNA links at

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