Office 2010 Background removal

The new background removal tool in Office 2010 is fantastic!

I hadn’t played around with it before but I just saw a tweet about some of the technology inside it, and my interest was piqued! This new ability is inside Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook and helps bring out the part of the picture that you actually want to use in your document. It’s pretty clever, methinks a demo is needed:

Original Picture:

Insert the picture into Word (in this example) and hit the “Background Removal” button:


Which brings up the “marquee”:


The rectangle can be moved, stretched and extended to cover the exact area you need and then it cuts away all the background to give you:


That is pretty amazing how it’s taken out the sea etc in the background but there are a few issues…there’s that patch under it’s flipper that’s still there and you might notice that he’s now missing his tail!

That isn’t the end of it though, there are a couple of extra tools that enable you to correct the above:


With these you can mark specific areas to be included/removed despite what the algorithm might suggest :-)


You can see the markers on it’s flipper and the tail and now the picture looks like this:


Perfectly formed turtle with none of the background…nice :-)

I did however discover that simply tightening up the rectangle in the original picture caused the missing/extra bits of picture to correct themselves!

This is a great addition and some really clever work from Microsoft Research-well done guys!!! :-)

You can see the original MS post here.

Bing Twitter Search

Bing Twitter search is live!

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen rumours that Twitter would be licensing data to Bing and Google, earlier today it was announced that Bing had definitely signed it up…and now it’s all up and working…for the US at least.

Head over to,com/twitter and change your location to United States (top right hand corner)…this will allow you to search live Twitter data…and it’s pretty cool. I did a search for myself (of course!) and got:


There you can see how I found out to change the location (cheers JNathan!) and some other tweets sent to me…you can also see at the bottom a tweet from me with a “top link” in it.

You’ll also notice that each tweet has a small “RT” icon, allowing you to Re-tweet it on Twitter…that’s a pretty nice feature!

Power Pivot = Project Gemini

Project Gemini has a new name, Power Pivot. A little over 1 year ago (original post here) Project Gemini surfaced as “an Excel-based user analytics mashup tool” to bring previously high-end OLAP cube style functionality to the masses…and now, at the Sharepoint Conference 2009, it has been announced in the form of Power Pivot.


The video (featuring the dude above) says that it can easily bridge different databases, give real time updates and be quickly shared via Sharepoint 2010…as well as working with millions of rows of data! Microsoft say:

“Sort, filter, and scroll through millions of rows with about the same performance as a few thousand.”

so they’ve made some real leaps forward in performance.

It turns Excel into a much richer, more eye-pleasing and user friendly BI tool as you can see below.


I haven’t seen any info about licensing etc but it’s called “PowerPivot for Excel” and the video shows it as a separate box copy, so I’m assuming it will be a product available to buy separately-rather than being bundled with Excel. <—Having said that, the datsheet claims it is available to download free of charge from …it isn’t there yet but is that how it will be?

I’ll try and clear this up and post the answer here ASAP :-)

Download the datasheet here. Also, head over to for more info and updates as they come.