Hilly Daze

Well, I’m about to wrap up at work this arvo to start my holidays. My new employer was kind enough to give us all paid leave for the Christmas break – great for me ‘coz I don’t have any accrued leave yet!

So I’m flying up to Caloundra, where I grew up, to meet family and friends. I’m really looking forward to taking it easy, so I probably won’t be seen around these parts all that much while I’m away. I get back to Sydney on new year’s day and I expect that regular blogging will resume shortly thereafter.

But before I do that I’ve got a gig with Glance tonight at Spectrum in Oxford St Sydney after doing team drinks at work. We’re playing with Richo from The Devoted Few filling in for Tobes while he’s away. It should be a lot of fun.

So… I’ll see y’all on the other side of the holidays. Take care and have fun 🙂

Best of…

Seems everyone’s doing a “best of” list. Thought I’d throw in my $0.02.

Best Albums

  1. The Devoted Few – Billboard Noises
  2. Sarah Blasko – The Overture and the Underscore
  3. Youthgroup – Skeleton Jar
  4. Wilco – A Ghost is Born
  5. Big Heavy Stuff – Dear Friends and Enemies

Notable mention: Beck – Seachange (not released this year, but I just got it and it’s amazing)

Best Movies

  1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  2. Lost in Translation
  3. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
  4. Hero

Hasn’t been a great movie year – I may have missed some but no more are coming to mind…

Best Weblogs

…lost on the sidewalk (I and II)
Amy manages to capture the essence of where I live wonderfully. Her shots are always inspiring to me and there is a sense of fun, (sometimes) mystique and reverence in her work that I just love. The band shots are cool, but it’s her “urban landscape” photos that really blow me away. She’s just started a new weblog just about Newtown that is shaping up to be just as good.

PressThink
Every time I read a post by Jay or one of his guest writers I feel like I have a front row seat at a really interesting lecture or seminar. A media and journalism course for free! And so often the comments attached to posts are as interesting to read as the articles themselves.

RLP
Takes me on a journey that makes me think and feel and rediscover what spirituality is about. Stories that touch me, make me smile, make me cry.

Scott Rosenberg
Although he’s been posting less frequently since he started in earnest on his book, whenever Scott chooses to post something it is always thought provoking and well considered.

Scripting News
Dave Winer is a blogging pioneer and his weblog continues to be worthy reading everyday. Sometimes with the smallest of comments he changes my perspective on things and the links he throws out there have introduced me to countless new people and new ideas.

Inessential
Written by the author of the blogging software I use (that being NetNewsWire and MarsEdit), Brent’s thoughts and pointers have been incredibly interesting and fun to boot (for a techy like me anyway). But mostly I am just so grateful to Brent for making the software that has had such an impact on me personally.

Best Books

  1. We The Media – Dan Gillmor
  2. Take Control of Your Worry – Lisa Lampe
  3. Rise of the Creative Class – Richard Florida
  4. Good News for a Change – David Suzuki and Holly Dressel

Best Moments

  • Being offered my new job
  • Launching ‘A Lifetime to Forget You’ at the Hopetoun
  • Radiohead live in concert
  • Seeing The Devoted Few at the Metro
  • John and Kylie’s wedding

Wiki

I set up and started using a wiki at work today. The specific one that I’ve set up is WikkaWiki. We’re using it as a way to track and research story ideas for the website and print, as well as tracking some ideas for the website. It’s the first one I’ve set up (the only one I’ve used previously is the Internet Explorer feedback wiki) so I’m interested to see how it works for us internally – so far it seems to be beneficial (we already have a number of pages up).

And yes Dave – I put that post there just for you – I know what you’re thinking 😉

Web review

As I mentioned before I’m doing a review of the WWF-Australia website as part of my new job. I’m wanting to identify and evaluate “best practices” for online advocacy, information sharing and activism on the web today and how they might apply to WWF-Australia moving forward.

I’ve got a list of sites to review (typically NGOs – i.e. Amnesty International, Greenpeace etc.) but I am really struggling to identify commercial (as in company or product related) sites that would have similar objectives to ours. As one of my colleagues said today – sites that are engaging in “emotive selling” – in other words they are using stories and narrative to sell.

Does anyone has any sites, NGO or commercial, that you think would be worthwhile reviewing? Sites that you’ve used and they’ve done a really good job of engaging you (or sucked at it)?

A better iPod

Robert Scoble:

It would be bold. And it would make the race for the portable music market interesting again.

Today it is not. Even I want an iPod.

For those that don’t know – Robert Scoble is a Microsoft employee and product “evangelist”. He has some interesting ideas about how MS could do better. but that quote pretty much nails the current situation imo…

Wifi + Telcos

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while. I was speaking to a friend of mine who is working on creating a community-based wifi network. He mentioned something to me that I found a bit alarming. Apparently when a provider of wireless services (of any type, which seems to include wifi) extends their network beyond a certain size, they need to register as a telco. This means a significant expense for registration as well as covering regulation requirements etc.

This is obviously a huge disincentive for community-based and smaller service providers to enter the market. If we are to see widespread adoption of wifi this needs to change. I say this for two reasons.

Firstly, the current oligopoly of providers means that prices for wifi are currently grossly over-priced for the service provided. At around $12 per hour, this cost is significantly higher than the real cost of providing the service. Until we see significant competition in the space we are unlikely to see a reduction in these rates. (Prices for GPRS data on Australian networks is a case in point – at around $0.02 per kilobyte, these services are largely out of reach for most people except for cashed up corporations or larger organisations). If smaller operators (or perhaps local government) cannot enter the market with a significant offering (that is, a reasonable number of hotspots) then that competition is unlikely to appear.

Secondly, smaller communities that are not commercially viable for larger telcos either because of geographic dispersion (i.e. they’re in a country region) or demographic (the area is economically challenged) will not be able to establish their own network. Wifi is not an “essential” service by any stretch, but for communities wanting to support economic growth, or who can make use of wireless services for community benefit in non-traditional ways, this has the potential to be a huge barrier.

All in all I think it’s important that we find out a bit more about whether community-based networks can exist outside of this legislation or not. I think it would also be interesting to see if there’s some way that smaller operators can get active in the space to provide the price competition needed.

Technology…

… wonderful when it works. Shit when it doesn’t.

Today – my new phone (bought just yesterday) is being returned with faulty bluetooth (wrestling with automated phone systems is fun – NOT – I wish those things would go burn in hell. Why is it that the option your after is never listed, and even when you think it’s listed, you get put through to the wrong place anyway); the Glance website has taken a tumble for no apparent reason; I discover that the Musology weblog is completely over-run with comment spam.

So I’m going to go and read something on paper…

Update: I got a replacement phone straight away from the dealer and bluetooth is now working perfectly. Yay!