Category Archives: presentations

Does the military use blackboard too?

Because if you missed the briefing, you can always figure it out from the powerpoint, eh?

from: WFMU’s beware of the blog: Abuse of Powerpoint

Here is a nice quote:

Two news items this week detailing our Government’s abuse of Powerpoint. (click on slides to enlarge them)

Our first slide comes to us via an armsandinfluence post (link) on Thomas Ricks’ book Fiasco (link). It turns out that Rumsfeld and Franks are big Powerpoint fans and they used it to plan Operation Iraqi Freedom. But as the following quote from Fiasco makes clear, It is not that easy to carry out a Powerpoint slide.

[Army Lt. General David] McKiernan had another, smaller but nagging
issue: He couldn’t get Franks to issue clear orders that stated
explicitly what he wanted done, how he wanted to do it, and why.
Rather, Franks passed along PowerPoint briefing slides that he had
shown to Rumsfeld: “It’s quite frustrating the way this works, but the
way we do things nowadays is combatant commanders brief their products
in PowerPoint up in Washington to OSD and Secretary of Defense…In lieu
of an order, or a frag [fragmentary order], or plan, you get a bunch of
PowerPoint slides…[T]hat is frustrating, because nobody wants to plan
against PowerPoint slides.”

Our second slide is from a classified Homeland Security Powerpoint scenario in which our nation’s Internet is set upon… by hippies! Now, thanks to Scott’s wonderful post from last week (link) we do know that hippies can certainly pull off a kick ass circle, but it seems truly irresponsible for the Feds to be playing wargames with an imaginary “World Wide Anti Globalization Movement.” You can find more about this scenario on the Wired Blog (link). And you can download the whole Powerpoint slideshow via the Cryptome website (link).

I can always dream

Apple Tablet appears?:

Reader David Chong just sent me this pic from

Apple Tablet

Pretty good Photoshop job, if you ask me.  I can’t believe it’s real.  Here’s hoping, though.


from jkontherun

I am still alive,

but have taken a computer break. It was refreshing.

I have been thinking a bit about presentations recently. Now I pay much more attention to other speakers, and their slides. There is less variation than I thought in academics slide styles, though there is a lot of variation in the quality of the presentations, themselves. I think that focussing on body language, speaking ability, etc. are much more important that the slides, once you deal with the basics.

Boring post, but I’ve been to a lot of conferences lately, so this is on my mind.

And I am a bit depressed. Still no apple tablet pc. But maybe the tablet part matters less than I think. See above.

Somedays LaTeX is mysterious.

Why did my file stop working? Why is the error message so cryptic? It is like reading the tea leaves to figure out what the hell I did wrong.

I should stick to ‘keynote’ for making academic presentations—cutting and pasting equations/pictures from pdf is so seamless. But I always want to try the new latex package. Today it is ‘powerdot’ with beautiful output when it works. And latex bites me in the ass. Every time.


Update: and it is not my code. The same file runs fine in some directories, and not in others. Every time I run latex with a new package, I feel like an idiot, Every time.

Got it working, but rebuilding the file, a line at a time (copy and paste). There must have been a strange hidden character somewhere in the the file.


The longer I teach, the less I cover in each class. It is not just making the powerpoints simpler. Nor is it going slower. But instead it is looking the students in the eyes after I explain something and trying to see the spark of understanding. That takes time, and in the old days, I found the silence uncomfortable. Not now.

Why? I think that now being in front of the class is much more like being on stage than it was before. I tell jokes, try physical humor, and so on. Even though I am really shy off-stage, and generally don't like being the center of attention in social situations

When I first started teaching, I would often think to myself: I have 60 people paying attention. What the heck do I have to tell them that is so important.  It seemed frightening, and sometimes I would listen to myself and it did not sound real.  In those days, I would stay up all night before class replaying the lecture in my head. No more.


I found this though Presentation Zen and it is worth keeping the link, so I am going to put it here.


Resources for scientific presentations recommended by DIALOG and DISCCRS participants

Compiled by C. S. Weiler
Last updated: October 15, 2005

The presentation zen post is also quite useful for teaching and giving talks.

Useful teaching advice (for me)

I usually try jokes to lighten up the class. And try to keep my cool, but sometimes I cannot. I found this advice useful: How to deal with difficult audiences (at from the valuable post at presentation zen

I should always remember not to personalize anything when I teach. I usually don’t take it personally, but the times I have gotten into trouble are the times that I do take it personally. Happy and cheerful people (or those who are in class) seem to be the better teachers. It does not mean pandering, either.

Why my slides usually suck

even though I spend a lot of time on them.

okdork is getting attention (from rob poitras). I found him through a comment on signal v. noise.


I am in my biz, gov, & society class, the teacher is reading directly off the power point slides so I am catching up on my rss reader and browsing the net on my ibook.


Based on the site profile, he wants to learn, too. He is giving more useful feedback than going to

It’s dull when there is too much on the slides for me at the talks I go to. I cannot read and listen at the same time—-so I read the slides. But that’s faster than the speaker can talk, so I have time to doodle, or edit hardcopies of my own paper. Why should students be any different?

I am probably the last one to figure this out. Oh well.

Might be tough if I have too many lectures in one day.

From yahoo news

Found through sploid (so you know that the article is going to be tabloid).


Powerpoint on laptop?
Tablet pc?

The whiteboard pens make me high. I cannot erase the chalkboard well enough so that they can see. Transparencies are OK, but I am a leftie—I will never forget the smile on the students’ faces the first time I taught and they noticed my red, blue, and black hand.

Powerpoint is dull for the students. I am reading Presentation Zen and the ideas there seem promising; it might work to combine a stark powerpoint presentation with the blackboard and handouts that are not simply printouts of the powerpoint.

A tablet pc might be good, too. But that’s another computer that I don’t want to buy. And then I would have to post the written up slides on a web site, giving the students yet another temptation not to pay attention in class.


I am confused.