Category Archives: review

Defending My Dissertation Proposal with Prezi

In late December I successfully defended my dissertation proposal, titled Writing as Development and the Implications of Blogging. Despite my cautious review of Prezi, I decided to use it for the defense for a few key reasons.

1. Powerpoint is soporific

Powerpoint is soporific – it makes people in the room tired. This isn’t always the case – some people are great with PowerPoint, I’m just not one of them. Prezi designs are sleek, so compared to PowerPoint, it takes a lot less work to make your presentation look good.

2. Reinstated Privacy Function


Second, Prezi has reinstated the private function. When I wrote the previous review, Prezi had temporarily removed the feature that allowed users to create private presentations. This was problematic. For example, consider my  my proposal presentation. After presenting I hoped to get feedback from my committee (of three professors) and then make revisions before proceeding with the final paper and subsequent data collection. I wanted to be able to decide after the presentation what was public and private and what would be changed.

Luckily Prezi reinstated the locked or private presentation function. As you might notice I made the presentation private and have kept it that way. My committee gave me critical feedback that changed the research method and some of the final directions. I’d like my presentation to reflect these changes before I make it public. In addition, I have yet to do the research. I know it is unlikely, but what if someone were to see my presentation and be able carry out my design before I do!

3. Familiar Turf

Finally,  Prezi needs the latest Flash player to run, so if you are using an unfamiliar computer this could be a problem. However, my defense was at the Graduate Center – where I spend a lot of time so I was able to test out the computer well in advance. Looking ahead this may be an issue.

And how was my proposal defense you might ask?

I’d rather not write too much about that…at least the Prezi worked! Overall, it went well. The basic format was as follows, I talked for about 20 -25 minutes,  then each of the three committee members offered  some excellent feedback.  I later incorporated their comments into a revised copy of my proposal, which I  submitted to The Graduate Center. If you’re interested in the content of the proposal you can check out a brief description on my New Media Lab page.

And the future?

Jean Piaget Society Banner

I’m slated to present the initial results of my research in late May at the Jean Piaget Society Conference in San Francisco. I will not be able to test out the computers beforehand. If I choose Prezi I must accept the possibility that it may not work. But no matter what presentation software I choose – there’s  a risk of technical failure, and based on my experiences Prezi only slightly increases this risk. Prezi as a PDFDownloading the Prezi as a PDF is a good backup, it won’t look as good but at least if Prezi does not work I will still be able to scroll through the PDF as I talk. Even if I know there won’t be any tech issues, I’ve found printing out the PDF’s is useful as it helps keep me on track during a talk and I can always check the printout for what’s next before moving what’s projected on the screen. I’ll be sure to post an update on how Prezi worked after the conference!



Joining the Modern Era: Reflections on a Week in the Smartphone World

I decided to join the modern era and buy a smartphone.  Once I started looking I was overwhelmed with the choices. iphone or Android? and what number 3,4,5?

I mainly use gmail, gcalendar and gdrive and I’ve had enough experience with my wife Sandy’s  iphone and ipad to know that those google apps are generally lacking – either they don’t sync right or they are filled with adds or both.

Okay Android it was – but which one? There seemed to be so many choices – so I asked a couple Android using friends.

MJ replied: “i would wait for the new google phone- nexus 5 i believe. samsung uses android, but adds a lot of stuff on top of it – some cool features, but most of it’s kinda lame. because they customize it, it can take a while for them to get the newest version of android fully “samsung-ized” and you end up not getting the latest stuff for months. the google phones used to be built by samsung (now made by LG), but they’re made specifically for google, so when the newest, hottest android shit comes out, you always get it from the jump”. either way, i think you’re making the right move with android, assuming you live in a more google-y world than an apple-y world.

While SP had a slightly different take:  “These nerds are right. Battlestar Galactica is WAY better than Star Trek the Next Generation. And yes, get a regular Samsung Galaxy S 3 or 4. It does everything, and you don’t need to wait like a shnook for the latest coolest gadget. You’re dirty Phil. Embrace your lack of cutting edgery (that sounds like something Mike would say about me). ”

My Nexus 5

I waited and bought the Nexus 5.

 What’s changed? and Am I finally part of the modern era? 

My Location location map

Using my old Nokia only T-Mobile knew my location, now it seems like everyone can follow me as Google, the weather channel and the NSA keep track of my whereabouts(Even though I turned off ‘use my location’ I have a sneaking suspicion I’m still being followed).

Talking on the phone? Or just listening?

beyond pod Remember how people used to talk on the phone? Unless I locate the phone’s little speaker and place it directly on my eardrum – it’s nearly impossible to hear a phone conversation. To ameliorate this issue I just keep my headphones plugged in – all the time -which facilitates more talk radio and music listening. Unfortunately, every time I load up good ole’ NPR it hits me with three straight commercials and anyone who knows me – knows I hate commercials.

So I’ve mainly been bumping podcasts – anyone have any good recommendations?

Also streaming the radio chews up more battery power than it did no my old phone, though I should note that I’ve been impressed with some long lasting  battery life – almost 48 hours on one charge with moderate to low use.

A Travelling Dictionary
Portcullis at the Fort Tryon Cloisters

The other day riding the train, plugs stuffed into my ears, and reading the New Yorker I came across a word I didn’t know, portcullis. 

So I tapped it into my dictionary app. Even years though I spent my tenderfoot years playing as knights in armor at the Cloisters, I never knew  there was a word for the “strong grating (especially in medieval castles. made to slide along vertical grooves at the sides of a gateway or fortified place”.



Maybe I’ll learn more cool things to do with this phone in the next few weeks- but considering all the hype around these super phones- not much has changed.

Wait – you might say-  what about how I can watch movies, tv and live sports with my new smartphone. Well I don’t because if I wanted to do that I’d use the computer that I am always sitting at.

And Sandy quipped that when I’m lost I won’t have to call her for directions anymore – but that hasn’t happened yet (likely related to the sitting at computer phenomenon).

Just after I ordered the phone I shared my excitement about it with a few friends. My buddy PJ summed up the import of this shift best,   “Sweeeeeeet! Now Phil can gmail in real time!”.

Hands on a Hard Body Rocks!

hands on a hard body reg

repost from Nymag reviews:

I went to the first night of previews (2/23) and the show was spectacular. The characters were authentic, their dilemmas reflecting the current economic circumstances faced by everyday working Americans, without being didactic. Some of the most memorable performances were delivered by Keith Carradine (JD Drew) an over fifty oil rig worker injured on the job with no pension, Keala Settle (Norma Valverde) a mother trying to help their family make ends meet, and Corey Mach (I think) a veteran struggling to adjust back home.

The score (written by Trey Anastasio) with it’s country twang remains original and surprising while the lyrics (by Amanda Green) at times provide comic relief and at other moments set the somber mood.

Before the show I could not help wondering how the story, based on a documentary, could keep my attention for two hours. To find out you have to see for yourself. Bravo to Doug Wright for creating a powerful and thoroughly enjoyable musical.

On it’s first night of previews the audience rewarded this production with a standing ovation. It truly was one of the best Broadway shows I have ever seen.