Telstra, Dell, Vintage Storage and sheer exhaustion

As I write this, I’ve been awake since 2am with the mother (and father, and possibly great-aunt) of all head colds. Yuck. I’m going to go crawl under a duvet and pretend to be dead, but don’t my zombie state let that stop the virtual presses. Not one, not two but three more articles to finish out the week, all at PC Authority:

Believe it or not, but Telstra BigPond is our new winner for best wireless broadband: “Telstra’s reputation as expensive crumbles in our wireless broadband test. Read why we believe Telstra is changing their ways, and why Telstra wireless is now finally attractive…”

Dell Laptop Buyer’s Guide: Inspiron R vs XPS vs Alienware: “If you’re looking for a mid-range Dell laptop, the range now includes the brand new Inspiron R, as well as XPS and Alienware laptops. So how does the value stack up?”

Vintage Tech: Ye olde 3.5″ floppy disks now surprisingly expensive: “We might laugh about 1.44MB floppy disks, but they were the storage medium champ of their time. And nowadays they’re not exactly cheap.”

3G, WiFi, PVRs and… Samantha Fox?

Don’t worry, the subject line will make sense shortly. Trust me. I’m a journalist.

Another round of articles hits the virtual presses. First up, at PC Authority, a bit of an early peek at the wireless broadband guide in the issue that’s still on sale now, looking at Vodafone’s offering:

Vodafone isn’t the fastest, but it’s the value wireless broadband to buy: “Vodafone wireless broadband is an excellent value prospect as long as ‘fast’ isn’t on your horizon. See why it fares so well against Telstra, Optus, Three and Virgin.”

Then at CNET.com.au, a pair of reviews across familiar territory: 802.11n WiFi routers and PVRs:

Topfield TRF7160: “A PVR that performs the essential PVR functions, but without much in the way of grace.”

Belkin Double N+ Wireless Router F6D6230au4: “Belkin’s latest router performs adequately, but not quite well enough to justify its asking price.”

Before finishing up at MacTheMag with an article whose title was inspired by perhaps the cheesiest of cheesy 80s pop hits. Embedded below for your aural… erm… pleasure. While Apple never says anything about anything it’s planning to do, I’m confident this won’t be the advertising theme song for the iPad.

MacTheBlog: Touch Me: “So the rumours go, all sorts of features of iPhone OS are going to leak over into Mac OS X 10.7…”

And now a little something to get stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Insert evil laughter here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiuimDNlyuQ

A new client: Speaking to the Geeks

Today’s columns come from an all-new client of mine, although with something of a link to a job I held prior to becoming a tech journalist. Back in those dim dark days of the mid to late 1990s, I worked as a phone tech support monkey for a well-known cow-themed computer company for a while. An interesting job, to put it mildly. Get me drunk and I’ll tell you all about it.

Anyway, the articles today are part of the GeekSpeak blog at Geeks2U.com.au, a company that provides consumer-level tech support, albeit on-site rather than over the phone. The first four of my columns have gone live today:

What will your next digital camera be? “Digital cameras have rendered the humble old box brownie all but obsolete.”

Can you get ISP satisfaction? “Internet connectivity is everywhere you look, from PCs to smart phones to games consoles, whether it’s delivered over cables, phone lines or even wirelessly”

Remember when tech did one thing well? “Well, forget about it.”

The future of TV is nearly here, but it won’t be “free” “The bad old days of 1-5 channels (depending on where you live) are truly behind us.”

Camcorders and consoles for your consumption

A couple of wildly different articles for your entertainment and education today, which is why the above headline is a touch on the alliteratively tortured side.

Firstly, at CNET.com.au, a standard definition flash based camcorder from Canon:

Canon Legria FS37: “Canon’s budget line SD camcorder won’t wow anyone with high quality footage, but it won’t break the bank either.”

and then at PC Authority, a Vintage Tech column looking back at Nintendo’s second-best selling home console:

Vintage Tech: Looking back at the Nintendo Entertainment System: “Astonishingly, back in the 1980s when the games market was a fraction of its current size, Nintendo shifted 61 million of its ugly little grey box.”

Have I got a bargain for you….

Astonishingly, the cheapest and most expensive games I’ve ever owned — and I’ve owned a lot of games — both arrived at my home within the last week. For the record (only a few people will get this), I’ve paid my own money for both of them; they weren’t industry “freebies”. Such expense — and lack thereof — deserves a review, but this isn’t the kind of stuff I can particularly sell to my regular outlets. So, instead, I’ll pass the savings on to you, and review them right here!

First up, let’s start with the scraping the bottom of the barrel end of the equation, shall we?

Continue reading

Harmony, High Power and Hadoukens

OK, that’s enough basking. Back onto the reviews horse with me.

First up, a review of Logitech’s ultra-cheap Harmony remote for CNET.com.au:

Logitech Harmony 300: “Cheap and cheerful, the Harmony 300 does what it says on the box, but not much more.”

And then at MacTheMag, a trio of iPhone-specific reviews:

Street Fighter IV: “Street Fighter IV is simultaneously an excellent display of what it’s possible to do with iPhone games and a little disappointing.”

Uniden wireless power charger: “Uniden’s wireless charger tickles our geeky-whim bone nicely, but it’s a costly option.”

Powermat: “The Powermat supplies power elegantly, but you’ll come away from it shockingly poorer.”

How to get Alex to stop talking in one easy step

This I did NOT expect. Then again, if you were in the room at Star City last night, my absolutely gobsmacked expression and lack of coherent speech probably tipped you off about that.

Which is a pity, because I’ve got a lot of people to thank, and I feel like I only did a tenth of the job last night. I did thank my lovely wife Di, who remains my inspiration and treasure. The award above is a proud moment, but it’s got nothing next to the day I stood next to her and said “I do”.

From a professional standpoint, I’ve clearly got to thank the editors who commissioned me for columns and blogs in the past year, which I think I managed to stammer out somehow. I’ve also got to thank the wider journalist community, who’ve kept me in bread and wine as a freelancer over the last five years, aided me immensely in my professional development in ways too countless to mention, and provided more than a few laughs along the way. I’ve worked (and continue to work) with some immensely talented people, and getting a peer-judged award like this is astonishingly humbling and genuinely surprising. I was so surprised, I was still typing my own name into twitter (I was tweeting the awards as they happened) before I realised it was… my own name!

For those staring at the pic above and scratching their heads, the IT Journalism Awards (informally “The Lizzies“) are, effectively, the local tech media Oscars. Except, y’know, with a whole lot less Botox and a whole lot more talent. Those who’ve read my “About Me” page might realise that I’ve made the finalist list across a number of categories pretty much every year over the last decade, but never actually won one.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go off and do a whole lot of smiling.

Headsets, backup and getting to Home Base…

No, not in that way. Stop thinking what you’re thinking!*

I’ve got the hopeful-ometer cranked up to eleven for tonight’s IT Journo awards, where I’ll inevitably not win an award.

Hang on a minute. That doesn’t sound like the hopeful-ometer is working at all!

Excuse me while I hit it repeatedly with this wrench. Keep yourselves amused with these reviews, live today at CNET.com.au:

Plantronics Voyager Pro: “Plantronics’ headset design harks back to days when Bluetooth headsets were big and bulky, but it works well.”

Belkin Home Base: “Want to pump up your router’s capabilities? Belkin’s Home Base makes it simple — for a price.”

Meanwhile, in the print world, there’s also the May issue of Australian PC User Magazine. This month I’ve contributed a roundup of backup software as well as reviews of Internode’s MiFi, Edimax’s 3G-6210N, Google’s Nexus One and Nokia’s N97 Mini.

*Well, OK. You can think it for a while. If you really must.