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May 31, 2014 / A Surviving Father

Rounded Corner Background in Keynote

Anyone who has an Apple product can appreciate their iconic rounded corners.  From the shape of an iPhone or iPad, to the shape of an app icon, rounded corners are everywhere.  So why settle for sharp corners on your Keynote presentation?

There are two ways to have a background with rounded corners in Keynote which I will detail below.

1. The easiest method is to create the background within Keynote itself.  The steps outlined are for the most recent Keynote update (version 6.2).

  • Within Keynote, select “View”, “Edit Master Slides” from the top menu. Select which master slide you want to modify.
  • If the slide background is not currently black, you will want to make it black by selecting “Color Fill” in the “Background” menu on the Format sidebar.
  • Select the rounded rectangle shape and adjust it to fill the entire slide.

RC 1a


RC 1b

RC 1c

  • Note that the rounded corners will be too large once the rectangle is re-sized.  Select the small round green adjustment knob and resize the radius of the rounded corner to your liking.

RC 1d

  • At this point you can change the color of the rectangle or add an advanced gradient.
  • With the rounded rectangle shape selected, select “Arrange”, “Send to Back” from the top menu, otherwise it will cover up your slide text.

RC 1e

  • Click “Done” in the lower right corner, and that’s all there is to it – you now have a presentation with rounded corner background!

2. The second method is more complicated, but allows for greater flexibility and creativity.  For this technique, you will create a background image in a photo-editing software program such as Photoshop.

  • In this scenario you will ideally create your image to the exact aspect-ratio of your presentation. For a widescreen format (16:9) I typically use a canvas size of 1280 x 720 pixels.
  • Fill the canvas with black.

RC 2a

  • Now select a color for your background image.
  • Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool with a fixed size of 1280 x 720 and a corner radius of 20 pixels, create your background rounded rectangle.

RC 2b


Look at that nice rounded corner!

Look at that nice rounded corner!

  • At this point you can dress up the background to suit your needs.  For this example, I was creating a background for a presentation about medical imaging of the heart.  I added a gradient as well as an image with reduced opacity.  This will serve as the background image for my title slide, whereas all my other slides will only have the gradient applied.

Cardiac steel 1280x720

  • Save the file as a PNG.
  • Now within Keynote, select “View”, “Edit Master Slides” from the top menu. Select which master slide you want to modify.

RC 2d

  • In the format sidebar, select “Background”, “Image Fill”, and then choose your new background image that you just created.

RC 2e

  • In this example, I wanted a more basic background for my text slides, so I performed the same process for the bulleted text master and selected the  background image without the heart that I had created.

RC 2f

For simple background gradients, I use the first method.  For more complex background images I resort to the second method.  Rounded corners on a background is a minor detail, but it’s a detail that gets noticed, and I have been asked more than once how I did it… and now you know!

July 31, 2012 / A Surviving Father

Apple Keynote Presentation Software


As a professional in an academic setting, I prepare and give many talks on a regular basis.  For years I relied upon Microsoft’s PowerPoint, but was ready to try Apple’s presentation software- Keynote- when it debuted in 2005 as part of the iWork productivity suite.  I have never looked back.

Maybe it is the geek in me, but I really like making presentations, and Keynote makes the process both fun and easy.  With very little effort, you can prepare a presentation that is highly polished and is superior in appearance and execution to anything that you could do with PowerPoint.  Keynote excels and exceeds PowerPoint in almost every respect.

As the Mac adoption rate has accelerated since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, I have seen more interest from my PC friends and colleagues in giving Keynote a try.  Although it is an easy program to use, I have learned some “beyond the basics” through practice and experimentation with the software.  After routinely being asked “How did you do that?”, I have decided to post some tips about getting the most out of Keynote on this blog.  I know that there are many other Keynote users out there, so I look forward to learning some things from you as well!

November 22, 2010 / A Surviving Father

Magnet Board Featured on

My wife and are always looking for creative projects to spruce up the home.  A fantastic blog and resource is!  Among all the resourceful home improvement projects on the site, our magnet board is being featured today.  Please check out the site!


September 10, 2010 / A Surviving Father

Build a Magnet Board

From time to time my dear wife drops not so subtle hints about some project she would like me to undertake.  After listening (or not listening) for months about how she could use a place to hang a calendar, family job list for the children, and other odds and ends, I finally suggested a magnet board. Unfortunately, after looking at the available options, there was nothing that didn’t exude “corporate office.”  So I decided to design and build one myself, which in the end was much more satisfying and cheaper.

I decided to build this as a permanent fixture on our mudroom wall.  The design could also be modified so that the magnet board could be hung, but we needed something that could withstand seven kids.

You will need the following from your local hardware store:

  • Magnet board = 24″ x 36″ sheet of steel or tin (usually about 1/16″ thick)
  • Header board = 1 x 6 (3/4″ x 5 1/2″) board cut to 41 1/2″ long
  • Bottom board = 1 x 4 (3/4″ x 3 1/2″) board cut to 41 1/2″ long
  • Top & bottom ledges = Two, 1 x 3 (3/4″ x 2 1/2″) board cut to 45 1/2″ long
  • Side boards = Two pieces of 3 1/2″ window/door casing cut to 23″ long
  • Crown molding = Small crown molding, 8′ length (may need more for mistakes)
  • Bead molding = 1/2″ bead molding, 8′ length
  • Construction adhesive
  • finish nails (a pneumatic nail gun is recommended, but not essential)
  • Sandpaper
  • Painter’s tape (the blue or green stuff)
  • Caulk
  • Primer
  • Paint

All told, you will probably spend around $50 if you have to buy everything on the list.  Fortunately I had most of the supplies already from other projects and only had to spend around $20 to get the rest.

Unfortunately I did not take photos during construction, but I did recreate the project in Google SketchUp, which I hope you will find helpful.  Step by step instructions:

1. Mark where you want your board to be on the wall.  Hold up the metal sheet, making sure it is level, and trace around the sheet outline.  Don’t worry about the lines- the molding will cover them up.

2. Apply construction adhesive to the area outlined on the wall as well as to the back of the metal sheet.  Stick the sheet to the wall, being careful to smooth out any lumps from the adhesive. Temporarily secure the metal sheet to the wall with painter’s tape. Allow adhesive to cure before proceeding.  *Note:  your wall, like mine, is likely not completely straight.  What this means is that there may be some waviness to your magnetic board.  You can check for any wall imperfections by taking a board and lying it flat against the wall.  If there is less than a 1/4″ gap, then you should be ok.  If there is more than that, then you will either need to sand the wall so that it is level, or you may need to build the board so that it can be hung.

3. Attach the side pieces (casing) to the wall with nails and adhesive, overlapping the metal sheet by 1/2″.  Note that the side pieces are only 23″ long, which means that the metal sheet will stick out 1/2″ above and below the casing.  Make sure these are perfectly plumb (vertically straight).

4. Attach the header board to the wall with nails and adhesive.  This should line up with your side pieces.

5. Nail the top ledge into the header board.  Nail the bottom ledge into the bottom of the casing and wall.  Note that the ledges are longer than the header and bottom boards to account for the crown molding which will be added later.  The ledges overhang the header and bottom boards by 2″ on each side.

6. Attach the bottom board to the wall.  The bottom ledge can now be nailed into the bottom board to more firmly secure these pieces together, just as the top ledge was fixed to the header board.

7. Cut, fit, and nail crown molding to both the header and bottom boards.  If you have never cut crown molding before, you will want to practice as it can be frustrating at first.

8. Cut, fit, and nail bead molding to the bottom edge of the header and bottom boards.

9. Fill nail holes and caulk any unsightly gaps between the wall and the boards.  If there are any gaps between the sheet metal and the bottom ledge, these can also be caulked.

10. Sand, prime, and paint!

Our magnet board was built in two days- one day for the actual construction and filling nail holes, and one day for sanding, priming, and painting.

Now I can take a break… until the next project.

June 29, 2010 / A Surviving Father

Old Kitchen Remodel

We recently moved into a new home. There is a lot to be said for new construction. Sure it may lack character in some ways, but it is nice not having to worry as much about things breaking down and the ‘look’ is not dated… at least not yet.

As we have been discussing what to do with the place, my wife and I looked back at a kitchen remodel we undertook on our home during residency. The home was small, but was sufficient for our needs at the time; however the kitchen was a dreary place. Given that you tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, it was one of our top priorities to remodel. Being on a tight budget, I opted to do pretty much everything myself. This is what we started with- dirty dishes and all (click on image to enlarge):

And after 3 months of work (nights and weekends), this is what we ended up with:

Not too bad, in fact we loved it considering that the whole remodel only cost around $700, including a couple new appliances! Not only that, but when we moved, we were able to sell our house in 5 days, and the people who bought it said it was in large part due to the kitchen. So here is a run down of the details…

Cabinets: We kept the original builder basic oak cabinets. They were in good shape but dated. We priced out new cabinets, but decided it wasn’t worth it since we would only be in the house a few years, so I painted them a crisp white with a water-based paint/enamel called Cabinet Coat. It runs about $30/gallon. I found it at Ace Hardware and it came recommended in online forums. It was a laborious process as I removed all the doors and hinges, hand scrubbed all the cabinets with a cleanser called TSP (available at Lowe’s or Home Depot), primed the doors and frames with Kilz, and then put three coats of the enamel on them. The finish was very smooth and professional looking. The paint is thinner than latex, which allows it to level smoothly providing a nice finish- so don’t put it on too thick or you’ll get runs.

Hardware: The original cabinets did not have pulls, so we decided to add some to dress them up. My wife wanted these French twists or ‘bird nests’, but they were like $4 each at the local home center. We found them on ebay for only 25 cents each. Even with shipping it was a bargain.

Appliances: When we moved in we had a white stove and refrigerator, but the existing dishwasher was black. It bugged us, but once we decided to remodel the kitchen I hunted around for a white dishwasher. Fortunately we had a Sears Outlet Center nearby and found a late model dishwasher. We also purchased a matching over the stove microwave with built-in vent. This freed up some much needed counter space. The dishwasher and over-the-range microwave cost $250 total and were fairly straight forward to install.

Flooring: The previous owners had already put in laminate flooring. Unfortunately they had also put in a short row of cabinets on another wall that stuck out into the bay window area. Base cabinets are 24″ deep but the wall they put them on wasn’t. So I took out the base cabinets and put in a 12″ deep set of cabinets to make it look right and to free up some space in the nook. Unfortunately this meant that there was now an area of exposed plywood without flooring. I went to practically every flooring store in the region to find a precise match for the existing laminate and finally found something close, but it was not an exact match. So what did I do? I practically removed the entire kitchen floor using boards from other parts of the kitchen to fill-in the space. Then I used the new floor boards in areas that were not as noticeable (such as behind the refrigerator and stove). A lot of work, but it would have driven me crazy seeing the slight color mismatch.

Countertops: We would have loved to put in granite, and it wouldn’t have been that expensive given that we didn’t have much counter space, but it wasn’t really appropriate for our neighborhood. So we replaced laminate with laminate. I picked up the faux-granite countertops from Lowe’s and installed them. Since these were prefabricated, I had to use a miter in the corner where the “L” shape is formed. That was the trickiest part. I could have had them custom made, but it would have been twice as much.

Backsplash: We originally wanted to do a subway tile backsplash, but after we settled on laminate countertops, a tile backsplash didn’t seem appropriate. Instead I purchased some beadboard panels- the waterproof plastic or vinyl kind- and installed it as a backsplash. It fit perfectly with the decor of the kitchen and was easy to install. I ended up painting it the same as the cabinets as the enamel is very durable and was easy to clean.

Sink and Faucet: The sink was purchased from Home Depot. We wanted something deeper that could also hold a frying pan. We could have gone with stainless steel, but this composite sink was on sale. It held up for us without staining, but after awhile the white just bugged me. We purchased the Moen pull-out faucet on ebay. It was $370 at Lowe’s but we only paid $115.

Wall Paint: Oddly enough, we had bought some Ralph Lauren paint called “Plantation” before we even started the kitchen remodel. It is a nice muted green and we had planned on using it somewhere else in the house, but didn’t. We decided to use it in the kitchen and really liked it.

Island: With a large family, a small eat-in-kitchen was not functional. What we really needed was more counter space and storage. We found an unfinished island at a furniture supply store that was going out of business for $50. It was well-built and was just the right size for our space. The top was treated with mineral oil while the base was painted with the same white enamel as the cabinets. Matching hardware was also attached. Storage baskets were from Target.

Curtains: My wife found a remnant piece of fabric at Jo-Ann’s and was able to make faux roman shades for over the sink and the kitchen bay window. I was skeptical at first, but once they were up on the wall they looked great! Moral of the story- trust your wife!

Lighting: We found some basic lights at Home Depot. A single pendant for over the sink and a new overhead light. These were not on sale, but matched some lights we had installed in other areas of the house.

Details: Not that you would notice from the pictures, but I did install a small crown molding along the tops of the cabinets. I also created a simple light rail which was installed along the bottom of the upper cabinets. Yes they are small details, but they make a difference- at least to me.

And there you have it! A lot more goes into a kitchen remodel than you initially anticipate- even a very basic one. But it was well worth it and I learned a ton along the way. Now if we can just figure out what we want to do with our new kitchen…

June 26, 2010 / A Surviving Father

AT&T, Apple, and iPhone 4

I admit it- I am an Appleholic, a Macaddict. I love Apple products. They are fun to use, nice to look at, and exude quality and style. These factors tend to outweigh the product’s faults, almost to the point of blind acceptance. So last year when I read that Apple would be releasing the iPhone 4, I knew, sight unseen, that I would buy one.

Fast forward 9 months to Thursday, June 24th, and I find myself waiting in line with a ton of other die hard enthusiasts. It is really interesting to see how diverse Apple’s consumer base is. Their products imbue a loyalty of rock star proportions which appears to transcend age, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. I have to admit that I can’t think of any other brand for which I would wait hours in line to purchase one of their products; but I’ve done it before and, no doubt, will do it again.

So after nearly 6 hours in line, I was actually the last person guaranteed an iPhone- the last person they even let into the store… that’s when the enthusiasm faded and frustration set in.

You see, I have an AT&T business account through my employer, at least that is the way AT&T classifies my account. So for some reason, Apple was not able to confirm my eligibility to purchase the iPhone 4 at the subsidized price of $299 (32 GB model). The Apple specialist even called AT&T (on an iPhone) but the call was repeatedly dropped (nice AT&T), so after an hour of frustration the store manager recommended that they just set up a new account and then I could take the phone to an AT&T retailer and have them sort it out. So that’s what they did. I left the Apple store at 11:10 p.m. last night with a new but untouched iPhone 4.

After a long day at work today, I raced over to the closest AT&T store. Well, guess what. They were able to confirm my eligibility for an upgrade, but could not delete the account that Apple had created or transfer the iPhone 4 to my old account. This has something to do with the fact that they would have to return the phone in the process, but since AT&T won’t carry the iPhone 4 until June 29th, they couldn’t do it. So what did they have me do? Back to the Apple store.

Apple actually gave me a hard time about returning the phone, even though I wasn’t technically returning it. And again, Apple’s system, which supposedly talks to AT&T’s system, still had my phone as being ineligible for an upgrade. Back to square one. After another call to AT&T, they decided to have Apple activate the phone on a different phone in our family plan- this worked! But in order to get the iPhone associated with my phone number- you guessed it, back to the AT&T store.

This time they were able to get everything straightened out. The only catch was that I had to replace the SIM card in the phone that they had used to originally activate the iPhone 4.

Yes it was all a colossal headache and my frustration yo-yo’d between AT&T and Apple, but I now have a working iPhone 4. Let the assimilation resume!

June 19, 2010 / A Surviving Father

Dad All Over Again

My new son!

So it has been several days since I posted to the blog… and with good reason- I am a new father!  My dear wife delivered a healthy baby boy last week and I delivered him (one of the perks of being a physician, I suppose). So that makes baby number 7- we have a boy, 5 girls, and now another boy, all within the span of 11 years.  Yes, we’ve been busy.

There are many things about fatherhood that amaze me.  For starters, how is it that I can fall in love with this new child who is for all intents and purposes a complete stranger?!  And, let’s face it, newborns are not that cute.  They are wrinkled and bloated all at the same time.  They are covered in vernix (that sticky white paste that takes a deliberate scrubbing to come off).  I mean it really takes a few days before most babies merit gasps of “He is so cute!”

That being said, after the organized rush of delivery, when everyone was certain that the baby was safe and healthy, mom was resting, and we were finally left alone, I took some time to introduce myself to my new son.  I held him in my arms still marveling at how small he seemed.  He happened to be awake and was staring up at me with dark, deep, penetrating eyes.  I may be wrong, but he seemed to actually look at me- I mean really see me- and there was this unexpected special connection… we had a “moment” like we were looking into each others souls and came to an understanding: he is my son, I am his father, and I love him.