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SnapSession: Prezi – Part II

As I mentioned in my last SnapSession on Prezi, there was just too much for me to cover in one session but this is a really interesting tool so I decided to break from tradition and dedicate two SnapSessions to it.

There is not much more I can say about how to make Prezi work. It reminds me of the old joke:
A young man with a violin case is wandering down a street in New York City when he stops an older couple to ask for directions. “Excuse me”, the young man says, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall”. The older gentleman turns to him and says “Practice, Practice Practice”.

Before showing you my lame-o attempt at this, there are many other really good prezi presentations you can find from their main web page, http://www.prezi.com. One I can direct you to is a draft of something my pal Sarah Robbins put together titled “What is Web 2.0” – http://prezi.com/3692/

I wanted to take this next SnapSession to see how much more I could do after my first attempt. Turns out I got most of the basics down – adding text, creating shapes to put the text into, adding arrows, making text bigger and smaller, and then setting up the “time line” for the presentation to follow. Here is my first attempt: http://prezi.com/92110/

I do plan to spend some time with this and learn some of the tricks. Contrary to what the tutorial and web page may say, the user interface was not intuitive for me. Perhaps it’s just me.

If you’ve done a prezi, why not link it in the comments section below, I’d like to see it. I’d also like to your thoughts on the product if you’ve used it. Actually, even if you’ve only just seen one (like mine or Sarah’s above), I’d love to hear what you think about it.

iPhone OS 3.0

Today is a pretty big day for iPhone users (and those iTouch users who are willing to fork over $10). Today, we get an OS upgrade. Unlike our iTouch brothers and sisters, iPhone users will not have to pay for this upgrade.

There are a lot of nice features in this upgrade and I’m looking forward to downloading it once I get home (I neglected to bring my cable with me to work). For additional information on this, there are a wide variety of places you can look on the web. Here is one: http://mashable.com/2009/06/17/iphone-30-guide/

First important note: many of the new features you see as part of the new iPhone 3Gs are actually part of the OS and not just the new phone, so even original iPhone users like me can get these new features.
Second important note: those who upgraded from their original iPhone to a 3G had their phone exchange “subsidized”, meaning, you got the phone for a discounted price. Those same people are going to have to pay a LOT of money to upgrade to the 3Gs, if they want to. Apple explained to me that AT&T is not willing to subsidize a second upgrade. That said, those of us who have never had our iPhone upgrade subsidized can get the 3G for $99 or the 3Gs for their $199 and $299 discounted prices. If you want to know what you can get the new phone for, go to http://www.apple.com/iphone and act as if you are applying for the upgrade. At one point it will tell you what the upgraded equipment will cost, and you will have a chance to quit out without committing.

The big feature in the new OS (not the new phone) for me is the cut, copy, and paste. This has been missing for far too long and I’m glad it’s finally here. It’ll make working on and with the device so much easier.

The other big thing, for people like me who fat-finger things all the time, is that in a few apps the keyboard will go landscape now. This is a big help when trying to type quickly and accurately. It’s hard enough fighting that auto correct. I wish they would reverse the auto correct set up. Now, if you want to accept the change you ignore the pop up and hit the X if you want to skip the suggestion. It should be the other way around, click to accept and ignore to leave unchanged.

They have FINALLY added a universal search. So, instead of having to search through each app separately, you can look for something in universal search, which they call Spotlight, just like on the regular Mac OS. You can also customize what comes up in search and what order they come up in.

It looks as if I’ll finally be able to synch my Google calendar with my iCal. There were sketchy details so I’ll have to give it a try. It’ll be nice not to have to hit the web to see my schedule, especially when I am in one of wonderful AT&T’s “dark” areas or when I don’t want to wait for the slowed down 2G network. (Yes, I will be upgrading to the 3Gs soon).

Don’t like what you’re listening to – no worry, give your phone a good shake it will shuffle things up.

Lastly, for those who have MobileMe service, you will be able to locate your phone via MobileMe (using the GPS feature), you can also send your phone messages, or in a worst case scenario, you will be able to send a remote wipe command and clean the unit completely.

Check up the update. If you feel so inclined, feel free to share you iPhone, iTouch, 2G, 3G, or 3Gs stories below.

SnapSession: Otherinbox.com

Not long ago a colleague at Montclair State University suggested I check out this interesting online app called OtherInBox. The basics of how it works is that you sign up for an account and create a username. The username becomes your “domain” of sorts, meaning it’s what comes after the @ in the email address.

You can then put anything you want before the @ and the email will come to you via the web site.
Why use this, you ask? How many times have you been asked to put an email address into a web site, or been in a store and asked for one? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to make an email address up on the fly? Well, now you can.

Of course, when I created my account, I used my trademark sorryafk, so my account with Otherinbox is @sorryafk.otherinbox.com. Now, let’s say I am online shopping at Bob’s Tech Stop. I don’t want to get email from Bob for the rest of my life due to this one item I bought. I also don’t want to give Bob my work email account. So I give Bob bobstechstop@sorryafk.otherinbox.com.

When the email comes in to Otherinbox it generates a folder called bobstechstop. Each morning I get an email from Otherinbox letting me know what new mail came in that day (header info only). Once I delete the email from the bobstechstop folder, the email and the folder disappear (if it was the only email in that folder). Next time Bob sends me his junk email, it goes right in that folder.

Now, let’s say Bob is a bad boy, and sells his email list. Now, I’m getting email from Cheap Mortgage Company, but it is coming into the bobstechstop folder. Not only do I know the Bob sold my email address, but Cheap Mortgage Company doesn’t have my mail email address, and Otherinbox has an option to block incoming mail – so I can block Bob and any other future junk mail companies he sells his email list to (and now I know not to do business in the future with Bob).

There are two things I had a very serious problem with when testing out Otherinbox: support and merging my Gmail.

Let me start off by saying that the folks at Otherinbox saw a mention I made in my Twitter stream and they wrote back to me almost immediately with a welcome. We exchanged Tweets a few times and I was happy that they monitored the tweet stream and responded. At one point they suggested I try their help function, which I was more than happy to do. I did not see the issue I was having listed so I tried to enter a “report” when I found out that their help function was handled by another company. Well, I don’t want to have to sign up for two accounts to get help from only one. I can understand why they might want to outsource the operation, but that should be transparent to me, the end user. As a side note, the problem I was having is not resolved and, given that I won’t subscribe to the second service, it might not be. It’s a problem I only experience on the Mac, and not on the PC, so I’ll do my work on OIB at work.

The other problem I experienced was when I allowed OIB to synch up with my Gmail. I’m on several listserves and when all that information was imported into OIB, it sorted all the email by SENDER and not by the list address. So I now have, literally, hundreds of folders that I have to go through one by one in order to get them out of OIB. When I first signed up to have the Gmail synched with OIB, I thought I was designating which emails to synch. Apparently I misread or misunderstood and have now found myself with far more work on my hands than I first wanted. I have to go through each of these folders, one at a time, and delete the email. There is a functionality it looks like they are going to employ at some point, which will take into account listserves, but that is apparently not working yet. If you are on Gmail, and have a lot of emails, I recommend you do not synch it with OIB.

Even though it seems as if I’m not happy with OIB, it is really the help and Gmail thing that is discouraging. I really like the idea of being able to make up and email address on the fly and have used it several times already. I plan to keep my account with Otherinbox and use it solely for this on-the-fly email generation service. Hopefully the good folks at OIB will get the other stuff sorted out over time.

SLER Wordle

I wanted to see if any common words (or people) showed up more often than others in our SL Education Roundtable meetings. So I took the transcripts from the meetings in March, April and May when we did NOT use voice chat (since the voice chat would not have as complete coverage of the meeting) and popped it into Wordle. Here is the result
Wordle: SLER Meetings 3/10 - 5/26 public
I now wished I’d take at least my own avatar name out before running the wordle. Clearly, given the opening segment is an introduction by me, and I moderate, my avatar name shows up a lot. Its a bit embarrassing in the wordle, but it is what it is. What I found MUCH more interesting were the other dynamic.

SnapSession: Prezi

SnapSession: Prezi.com

For this SnapSession I decided to review an online presentation tool I’ve heard many people talk about. The product is called Prezi and can be found at http://www.prezi.com. When I first got to the main page I started by clicking on the big “What is Prezi?” link in the middle of the page. The result was impressive, a zooming slide show instead of standard slides and then completed with an animated video. If this product can help me to do THAT, this is a game changer.

Some of you reading this may be saying “Boy, Kelton, you are way behind the curve on this one.” I know a few folks who have been using Prezi for a while, and even one or two who were using it during the beta. Although I am all about emerging technology, when it comes to theseSnapSessions , I don’t like to review something that is right out of the gate as it takes some time for products to settle down and get bugs worked out. In theory, the applications I write up in theSnapSession might be used by a faculty member in a classroom and I wouldn’t want someone to use something that still had major problems.

After the Prezi presentation on Prezi I looked around the main web page and immediately notices a link called “See our pricing and plans”. Uh-oh. I thought Prezi was free. I figured they must have started charging once they came out of beta. As it turns out, there are two paid plans and one free basic plan. I wanted to poke around a bit more before signing up for an account.

They have a link called “Try the Editor Yourself”, so I did. It started another demo, which I could fiddle around with, but I wanted to see what this tool does on my own so I decided to jump right in and sign up for an account. One important note, whichPrezi is good enough to put in several places to be sure users know – even though you can download your prezi and use it offline, all prezi’s in the free viewer are public.

After signing up I got the email verifying I’m a real person and not a sp*mbot. I clicked the link and got started. I was able to do a few things on my own, but nothing nearly as polished (or even attractive) as the demo. I got frustrated because there were things that were not intuitive and there was nomouse over notes on what the buttons do. Each button is labeled clearly, and the way they designed the edit menu is really cool.

Clearly the tool has more to it than I could figure out on my own, so I decided to go through the tutorial. The tutorial does an excellent job of not only giving an overview of the product but they USE the product to give an overview of how it works, which is really quite effective. The tutorial is short enough to be effective and complete enough to fill in the gaps for me. Frustrated no more, I went back to myPrezi with only a few minutes left before my self-imposed trial time ran out.

This product does not completely pass the 15-minute test for SnapSessions. In other words, I was able to get the basics in the 15 minutes I allocate for each SnapSession trial, but not to the point where I was comfortable enough to create something I’d use in a presentation. That said, I think this product is a good one, and important enough to spend more time with. So I will dedicated the nextSnapSession to taking my “prezi” to the next level.