Magnae clunes mihi placent, nec possum de hac re mentiri.

I studied Latin in my first year at University.

Well, perhaps “studied” is the wrong word. I was there for most of the classes, that I firmly remember, and I still see my 1st year Latin lecturer from time to time — he went on to be the head of classics at Sydney Grammar, and employs a very good friend of mine who was in the same Latin class. I was more or less just along for the ride.

Some (not much) of it rubbed off on me; enough to generate a pass in the subject at least. Which is why this particular translation amuses me quite a bit. I’m glad it’s got the translation within, though.

Futher Kidman sightings…

The October issue of Sound & Image magazine has a guide to wireless networking, written by yours truly. I spotted the issue in question in Borders this morning, although whether it’s a “new” issue or one that’s been out for a while is uncertain, what with magazine cover dates having almost no meaning these days. Anyway, rush out and buy a copy. You know it makes sense.

iTunes gets even more interesting…

As an additional side-note to that iTunes commentary:

I noted you could only buy “Intensive Care” on a song-by-song basis, but that’s not in fact strictly true. It is something of a cock-up, though:

If you go into the album listing, it says Song Only, and lists the booklet as Album only, and you can’t buy it. Go into the reviews (which includes a comment complaining about this very problem) and a little window opens at the top, with a “buy album” button.

And it’s cheaper than buying the individual songs.

That’s just… dumb. If I was feeling charitable, I’d presume it was teething difficulties. The thing is, they’ve had several YEARS of experience setting these things up in the US, UK and elsewhere — and even with the non-Sony thing, which is apparently identical to iTunes Japan — so you’d think they’d be able to get simple stuff like that right.

iTunes in Aus…

I wrote this as a non-specific commentary, but nobody’s bitten on it, so I’m publishing it here

So, Apple’s finally managed to launch the iTunes Music store in Australia. Things went live early this morning with plenty of punters eagerly awaiting the chance to legally put music onto their hundreds of thousands of iPods. It’s not that online music has been a barren wasteland in Australia to date — and I’m sure that the likes of Telstra and Destra will be looking over their product offerings and pricing schedules in reaction to the not-terribly-secret launch of iTunes. With the overwhelming market position of the iPod, though, it’s been something that’s been very keenly awaited by so many for so long, especially in the light of the recent launch of the video-capable fifth generation iPods.

So, what did Apple get right? Well, the most obvious correct step was in actually launching the store of course. Beyond that, they’ve timed it fairly cleverly, as we can now expect a media blitz leading into Christmas, pointing out that you can buy little Johnny an iPod for as little as $149, and then stock it up with his favourite tunes before placing it under the plastic Christmas tree. Getting Coles Myer on board to offer iTunes gift cards is also clever marketing, as between outlets such as Myer stores, K-Mart and Coles, it’ll be pretty hard to go shopping anywhere in Australia without being bombarded with music-buying opportunities.

The iTunes store client is clever stuff, too. You can’t connect to it without the iTunes client, which ensures a healthy bundled market for the store itself. People are essentially lazy and will take the easiest route open to them, and in much the same way that there are millions of Internet Explorer users out there — because it’s the browser bundled with Windows — there will be plenty of people who only ever shop at the iTunes music store, simply because it’s already there when they connect up their iPod.

It’s also good to see that the recently launched video-capable iPods will actually have legal content to play on them. There’s plenty of promise in the future of new programming beyond the music clips and video trailers you can get from the store today. The cynic in me suspects that we’ll never see the same deal as the US has, where popular programs are offered the day after transmission, if only because the local TV rights holders would have a pink fit.

It’s not all, as Bon Jovi would put it, a bed of roses. There are things that make the Australian iTunes store less compelling than it could be. Firstly, let’s examine the price.

$1.69 for a single is actually pretty decent price for legal music, and I’ve got little argument there, especially as it lets you cherry-pick the songs you want from the admittedly huge offering of artists represented at the Australian store. It’s mildly galling, however, when you compare it to the US store, where tracks cost US$0.99 — that’s roughly AU$1.30 by today’s exchange rates. Undoubtedly, there will be special rate promotions, and freebies from time to time, but all those extra 30c fees add up. It’s especially problematic if you’re a user on a limited bandwidth plan, as the temptation with iTunes is to spend big. If you’re dangerously close to your cap on a cheaper Telstra plan, for example, you’ll be paying 15c per megabyte — that could add another 60c or so to the cost of your song. That’s not Apple’s fault, admittedly, but it is a trap that I expect some consumers will fall into. Look for it to be a headline story on “A Current Affair” shortly.

Albums are a different story. Apple’s ebullient press release trumpeted the $16.99 asking price for an album, which sounds pretty reasonable next to the $20-$30 that a CD retails for locally (depending on its chart position and other promotional variables). The problem here is that even a cursory artist search finds plenty of artists whose albums are offfered in full, but only on a track by track basis. Simple maths suggests that if you’re buying a 10-track album, that equates nicely to the $16.99 asking price, give or take nine cents. If you’re looking at a longer album, though, those costs can double or worse, and that’s without taking into consideration whether or not that particular CD is charting — where discounting in physical stores is common — at the moment. As an example, Robbie Williams’ latest CD, Intensive Care, can only be purchased track by track. The total asking price from the iTunes store is just over $20, which is identical to the physical CD price at plenty of retailers right now.

Then there’s the question of song availability. Notably absent from the store launch list of artists is anybody under the Sony BMG label; Apple’s apparently still negotiating with Sony BMG to get its rather large stable of artists onto the store. So it’s too bad if you’re a fan of, say OutKast, Pink, Whitney Houston or Anthony Callea — you’ll just have to wait. It’s probably good for you, but that’s besides the point. That cynical side of me leaps up again and wonders if Sony’s reluctance isn’t just a pure money issue, but could also, just possibly, maybe be related to the fact that Sony manufactures plenty of iPod competitors, including the recently launched Playstation Portable. Businesses couldn’t be that cynical, could they?

The postman only knocks.. thrice?

Sometimes, you have to love efficient organisations.

Take, for example, Australia Post. Normally, I get one mail delivery per day, generally around 4pm in the afternoon, although it can vary by up to three hours — usually earlier rather than later.

Except today.

Today, the postie has been no less than three times. I say “the postie”, but in fact it’s been three different blokes; two in vans and one on a bike, all delivering express post parcels. I could have dealt with two visits, as one of the packages was from Tasmania and the other two were from Sydney, but what baffles me is that the two from Sydney were sent by the same person at exactly the same time.

It’s just occurred to me that the afternoon postie hasn’t been yet. So that’ll be four times, then.

Hey, nobody said that these blog entries had to have DEPTH or anything.

Flash the Fish has fallen in the pond, B1!

That’s OK, B2. He can swim.

It’s probably a damning indictment of my state of mind that I found that incredibly funny when I heard it this afternoon. It’s nice when children’s TV creeps up on you like that.

I’m working hard at the moment. How hard, I hear you ask? (or perhaps it’s just the voices in my head. As long as they don’t tell me to burn anything, or defile anyone, we should all be safe). Well, I’m working as hard as this image (warning: it’s a bit violent, and some people might not like it much). Consider that by the end of the month, I will have written about 10,000 words of guides, as well as a painful 45 different product reviews, over six different publications.

With products as diverse as DVD combo drives and USB powered Santas. At some point, I’m going to need to take a break, before I do break. On the plus side, as Dr Nick once infamously put it:

“The best part was when he gave me my money!”

Ouch

This is not one of mine. I wish it was, though.

This bloke goes to the doctor and says, “Can you take a look at this little thing on my neck?”

So the doctor looks and there’s what looks like a small treeshaped thing.

He says to the man, “nothing to worry about, come back and see me in a month”

So a month later, the bloke comes back, and complains about his neck again. The doctor takes a close look and he can see there’s a small copse now and a babbling brook.

“Nothing to worry about. Come and see me in a month”

Another month later, the guy comes back and he’s really getting upset about his neck. The doctor takes a peek and he can see a waterfall, a little wooded glade and a crystal clear stream flowing through it.

“Absolutely nothing to worry about. Come back in a month and I’ll see how you’re getting on”

So a month later, the bloke comes back and he’s distraught. The doctor looks at his neck, and there’s a huge forest, with a clearing with picnic tables, sunglight pouring through the treetops, a blue river at the foot of the the waterfall, birds singing in the trees and a rainbow shimmering in the mist hovering over the falls.”

“Nothing to worry about.”

The bloke loses his rag at this point & demands a second opinion. So after badgering the doctor, he gets referred to a neck specialist.

When he gets to his appointment, the specialist welcomes him in and takes one look at his neck before telling him, “Sorry but you’ve wasted your time coming here. Your GP is absolutely right, there’s nothing to worry about. It’s just a beauty spot.”