So, I run into him a week later in the mall and he’s buying another cat…

(with apologies to Kevin Smith, but for once, the subject line actually is contextual. Miracles can happen..)

Those who’ve been reading this blog for a while probably have better things to do, like dealing with that unpleasant rash. Yeah, I know all about it. The cameras are watching you..

Ahem. Ignore that last bit. That whirring noise definitely isn’t a zoom lens over your shoulder, by the way.

Anyway, if you have been reading for a while, you’ll be aware that we’ve had issues with skinks and similar lizards getting into the house — and generally eaten by the cats. Unless we catch them first.

Well, we hadn’t seen many skinks around recently. In fact, none.

Cut to yesterday, right around the time we were dealing with two very itchy little boys — the chickenpox epidemic continues unabated — and right around the time the freezer was dying, taking all the food with it — AKA my middle name is “Kvetch” — I heard a commotion by the back door, led by our stupidest cat, Harriet. It turns out that Harriet’s found something a little bit bigger than a skink — but the back door is prohibiting her ability to actually catch it.

Apologies for the awful video quality — stupidly, I did have a couple of actual video cameras in the house that could have captured something far more visually pleasing, but of course all I grabbed was the still camera, which can only do low-quality video.

On reflection, it’s probably a good thing that Harriet didn’t catch it. Of course, now that we have a snake to eat the skinks, we’re going to need something to eat the snake. Like, say, a mongoose. I’m sure a mongoose could eat one snake. Then we’ll need a tiger, to eat the mongoose. And then a crocodile, to eat the tiger — tigers aren’t native species, after all…

Anything less than the best is a felony…

As I predicted, I didn’t win the IT Journalism Best Technology Reviewer category last night — that award went to Dan Warne — congratulations Dan!

What I genuinely didn’t expect was that I’d garner the Highly Commended Award (otherwise known as second place) gong, in a tie with PC Authority’s Nick Ross. I’m told (by possibly unreliable and mildly drunk witnesses) that my jaw hit the table with an audible clang when it was announced.

In the awards-I-can-vicariously-live-through-because-I’ve-been-a-contributor section, GadgetGuy.Com.au won the Best New Publication gong, and ZDNET/CNET.com.au took a rare #1/#2 placing — which I strangely predicted earlier in the evening, being declared the best Technology Media Web Site and Highly Commended respectively. If there was an award for most vociferous cheer squad, I reckon they would have taken that one too.

And as if to prove that you don’t need to have a big budget — as long as you’ve got a tech guy called John — BRAN got highly commended in the Best Multimedia Coverage category.

Hang on.

It’s just occurred to me that both Dan and Nick are staff writers for their respective publications, whereas I’m a full-time freelancer. Does that make me Australia’s best freelance technology reviewer?

Of all the people in the world, why should I love you?

A little Kate Bush, just for the clone’s sake. It’s his fault I like that album. At least there’s a Prince link.

Two new CNET reviews went up today. Sometimes, I think I should run a counter of how many reviews I have published in a given year. Sometimes, I think that would be a very bad idea indeed.

Topfield TF7000HDPVRt: “It’s taken a while for Topfield to actually release an HD model of its popular PVR line. The TF7000HDPVRt is finally here – but the lack of networking support seriously detracts from what is otherwise an excellent PVR…”

Plantronics .Audio 370 Multimedia Headset: “Apparently, the open-ear design “fuels the excitement of team gaming” — and all these years we’d thought that being in a team fuelled the excitement. Who knew it was what style of headphone you wore?”

Mmm… Pizza

Another day — a public holiday here in Australia to celebrate Anzac day — but that doesn’t stop the virtual presses. TTGamer.com (formerly 3DAvenue.com) has a review of mine live today:

Virtua Fighter 5: “Characters could be fighting for revenge, respect, or just the last slice of pepperoni pizza, and it wouldn’t change the game one jot.

I’ll be cooking in your kitchen, food for everyone…

Hey, a Howard Jones lyric. What were the odds?

Anyway… owing to massive public demand…

Well, large-scale public demand…

OK, you got me. Three people have hassled me for the past five days about why I haven’t updated with pictures of the new kitchen on the site. Normally, I’d just go on my merry way, ignoring their threats, but one of them does own the world’s most dangerous canine. Gulp. I’ll get right onto it, Ma’am.

kitchen1.jpg

Here’s the kitchen as it was. The oven hasn’t worked since the start of the year, none of the cupboards close properly, and the slightly “muddy” blue colour is due to the fact that one of the first things we did when we moved in seven years ago was paint over all the brown paint, because it was just too depressing. Given enough time, however, evil paint will find a way out…

kitchen3.jpg

It looks vaguely clean here – we’ve more or less cleared out everything but the kettle. It’s deceptive, though, as the laminate was badly scratched and pitted after at least twenty years worth of constant use and abuse. What you also can’t see was how badly the design actually worked — there was so much wasted space in this kitchen, like the diagonal shelf you can just make out at the bottom of the picture. It added nothing aesthetically, but meant that all the drawers on the other side were very short indeed.

kitchen4.jpg

Boom. Kitchen gone. What was surprising was how fast it all came down. This was about forty minutes after the builders turned up. They don’t hang around waiting for much…

kitchen6.jpg

The form work for the cabinets goes in. I think I was going deaf at this point. The builders all happily claimed that they didn’t hear the drilling sound any more. Or, as I discovered, much else besides…

kitchen5.jpg

Cupboards on the other side. Owing to the wacky slanted cupboards, there’s a gap in the lino that the new, sensible and normal cupboards doesn’t cover, and it now looks like we’re going to put in either a sanded or floating wood floor. Anyone got a whole bunch of freelance writing work going? 

kitchen7.jpg

Nearly finished. Nearly deaf by now. The amazing thing is that the kitchen takes up the same floorspace as the old one, but has at least 40% more actual storage space in it, thanks to not being designed by a gibbering maniac this time. I’m just guessing, you understand — it’s always possible that the old kitchen was an art nouveau experiment, using only the crappiest materials available. In which case, I’ve arranged for the desecration of a true classic. And you know what?  It feels GOOD.

  kitchen8.jpg

The finished product. It feels weird to have a dishwasher. And a working oven. And cupboards that don’t leave chipboard flakes all over my cornflakes.

kitchen9.jpg

The other side. You can clearly make out the lino “gap” here, as well as the bench, which has been nearly doubled in available length, thanks to shifting the pantry over to the other wall. In proper nerd fashion, there’s a printer just behind the kitchen bench, too. What, you mean you don’t have one there? Why not?

The listening heart opens up but won’t surrender

CNET.com.au has another two of my reviews up:

Linksys WAG325N: “The end result is eye catching, but at the same time, we can’t help but wonder if the Smurfs are now spying on us…”

Gogo CM 310: “GoGoMobile”
“Wake me up before you GoGo”
“GoGo Gadget Arms!”

You’ll have to click on both links to find out if those drop quotes are actually in the review, now won’t you?

Gonna carve your name in my leg… in my legggg…

Who said things were getting too easy?

Take, for example, the case for the new PC I’m building this evening. Or hoping to. If you hear fire engines in the background, that’s probably my fault.

Anyway, the user’s manual for this particular case is a case study (hah! a free pun! Case.. case… yeah, OK, at least I didn’t say “good” pun) in complexity. It weighs in at a lithe 56 pages. Plus four fold-out double pages of errata. That’s sixty-four pages. For what is, in essence, a box.

Maybe Wonko The Sane was onto something.

Just don’t look down…

So, what do you do when your house is full of builders, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, noise, hot glue smells and more noise?

skywalk.jpg

Well, yesterday, I escaped and did the Sydney Skywalk — courtesy, it should be noted of Lexmark, who tied a printer launch into it. I’m beginning to get worried about Lexmark — every time I go to one of their events, I have to sign a waiver absolving them of any culpability in the event of my death. Sign enough of those things, and I have this terrible feeling they’ll become neccessary. Still, so far, so good.

That expression on my face is meant to show aloof confidence, as distinct from what my brain was actually thinking — “Why am I, in fact, standing on a glass platform a couple of hundred metres above Pitt Street Mall? And why is it so incredibly baking hot in this ludicrous blue suit?”

More on the joys of kitchen renovation later. Once I can hear again, probably.

Your personal penguin…

This is quite possibly the most addictive song ever written.
(direct link to mp3 file, may contain members of the Monkees)

Or performed. Or whatever.

It will stick itself into your brain and refuse to let go. You’ll be humming it all day long, without fail, until you resort to drilling into your skull to release its tuneful melodies. I recommend a Dulux #37 Trepanning Drill bit for that kind of work.

In other news, the fine folk at CNET.com.au have a duo of articles of mine live today; one review and one feature:

LG TU500: “The TU500 isn’t going to win any fashion awards, but underneath its pedestrian skin lurks a highly capable Next G phone…”

Tech on tour: “Can technology make the hassles of a family car trip simpler? Alex Kidman decided to put technology to the test on the road…”

Meanwhile, in the print world, issue #108 of Netguide magazine is out on store shelves now. Ardent Alex-seekers… no, wait, that doesn’t work, as the deputy editor is also anNetguide Magazine Alex… erm.. ardent Kidman-seekers… no, the clone writes for Netguide too. Oh, this is just getting too difficult. If you’re looking for my work in print, you probably have some kind of obsession (or you’re a PR type keeping diligent track of your clients), and within this issue you’ll find reviews of (in no particular order) : Acer e700, HP Pavilion m8070 Media Centre PC, Toshiba Qosmio G30, Altech M2000, Netgear Powerline 200MBps Adaptors, NetComm Wireless HomePlug NP290W, Motorola MOTOFONE, Capax Digital Writing Pad A4 + Graphic Tablet, Sanyo VPC-CA6, Mio Digiwalker P350, Compro VideoMate T750, Viewsonic PJ503D Projector, Parallels Desktop For Mac, Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2007, The Sims: Life Stories, The Sims: Seasons, Crackdown and Okami.

Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice*

CNET.com.au has a new review of mine live today. Well, actually, it was live a couple of days ago, but having one (and as of today, maybe two) kids with chickenpox tends to distract one:
LG Chocolate U830: “LG takes another Chocolate out of its box of tricks, but this particular phone isn’t entirely sweet…”

In other running-around-like-a-headless-chicken-news, I did an interview with ABC Canberra last week on the joys of eBay. Owing to said parenting issues, I dropped into a familiar Kidman-family trait — I talked at approximately 375 words per second. I’m not sure if the interviewer knew what to make of me. Oh well — you can’t win them all, I guess.

*No, really. See this story for more details.