PowerPoint Tip – Rename Objects Using Selection Pane

I’m putting together a PowerPoint 2007  slide at the moment and wanted to add some custom animation to ensure objects in a diagram appear one at a time.  Simple enough, but there are 20 odd pictures on the slide and having them all with generic names like “Picture 1”, “Picture 2”, “Picture 3” etc. was annoying me.

I know that if I ever want to change the order for whatever reason it will just be irritating, so I wanted to change the names but couldn’t see an obvious way to do this (in other words, right-clicking didn’t work!  Worse, there was nothing in the context-speicfic “Format” panel of the ribbon).  What to do.

It took some slightly less than intuitive Googling but I found Ellen Finkelstein’s post on her PowerPoint Tips blog: “The wonderful Selection pane lets you easily hide objects, select them and even rename them” – which did exactly what I wanted.  Cheers Ellen.

You just need to go to the Home tab -> Editing panel and choose Selection -> Selection Pane.  Then you can just edit the names of any objects on the slide. Easy.

PowerPoint 2007 screen shot illustrating the location of Selection Pane under Selection in the Edit pane of the Home tab
The Selection Pane under Selection in the Edit pane of the Home tab in PowerPoint 2007 (click to enlarge)

PS – I haven’t got PowerPoint 2010 to verify this yet so let me know if something similar works there.

Excel Export to CSV Missing Last/Trailing Empty Columns

My god how I hate Excel. Often it’s because people use it for some purpose it’s not really suitable for, where a relational database (even Access!) would be much better because (they think) they know how to use Excel and god forbid anyone take the time to learn to do something properly. Sometimes however, Excel is just plain fucking stupid. This is one of those times.

Recently I was trying to save an Excel spreadsheet as a CSV, to import into SQL Server (importing direct from Excel without converting to CSV gives other problems, like the Excel driver ‘helping’ you by detecting the wrong column types).

It was during this apparently innocuous task that I discovered a massive fail in Excel, which resulted in the import failing because some columns were missing. SQL Server’s helpful error message read:

Data conversion failed when converting column x to column y. The conversion returned status value 2 and status text “The value could not be converted because of a potential loss of data.”

Trying the same thing using BULK INSERT gave the error:

Bulk load data conversion error (type mismatch or invalid character for the specified codepage) for row 17

followed by the same message for a number of other rows.

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