iPhone queues, iPod docks, the Golden Rules and a computer called Colleen

A busy week here wraps up with Apple’s launch in Australia of the iPhone 4. I covered the queues overnight in Sydney for MacTheMag, and video blogged it as a result. It’s the first time I’ve bothered with a midnight opening, and the first time I’ve ever been pushed out of a venue by security. Apparently Optus didn’t want media coverage. Who knew?

MacTheBlog: iPhone 4 Arrival Events: “Alex Kidman and MJCP spent the evening flitting between the three telcos (and the hardy souls lined up outside the Apple Store despite the fact it wouldn’t be open until 8am) to check it out the launch of iPhone 4 in Australia.”

Keeping with an Apple theme, I also covered Ravon’s rather nice iPod Mini HiFi for CNET.com.au:

Ravon Fidelio Mini Hi-Fi: “This is an iPod Hi-Fi that eschews frills in favour of superior performance. It’s a striking pity it’s not shielded for iPhone use.”

At PC Authority, the last Vintage Tech for a while deals with a computer called Colleen:

Vintage Tech: Looking back at the Atari 400: “Like we said, this was back in the 1970s. Don’t throw your shoes at us.”

And finally, at Hydrapinion, I didn’t write (but did contribute) to Adam Turner’s guide to writing product roundups. It’s so good, frankly, that I’d link to it even if it didn’t contain some of my writing work:

Hydrapinion: The Golden Rules of writing tech “Round-Ups”: “Reviewing a dozen of anything at the same time is generally a nightmare. Tech journos might get to play with cool toys, but mostly the life of a product reviewer is far less glamorous than it might seem. Testing one product can be tricky enough, but testing a bunch of them can drive you mad – especially when you’re dealing with bleeding edge technology.”

Post #1000: A bit of everything. Technology. Parenting. Hippos.

So this is post #1,000. It’s taken me a little bit under five years to get here, although the pace has picked up in recent years. I’ve also become slightly more tech focused and less parenting focused, but that’s mostly a factor of my kids getting older, and my own desires to maintain their privacy as much as is feasible. Intermittent trips into Hippos notwithstanding, the primary function of this blog still remains my technology journalism work

So, what to put into post #1,000? How about a little bit of everything?

On the parenting front, as noted, I’m not saying much. Except that I still love my kids to bits, and I’m very proud of how Miss 8 and Master 6 have been doing in their scholastic pursuits recently. This being Australia they’re being overshadowed somewhat by the kids who are keen on sports, but I don’t care. The sports kids will be on the front pages of tabloids and broken down at 30, while brains can last for decades…

On the writing front, an embarrassment of riches. Like many other journalists, I covered the announcements of plan pricing for the iPhone 4 yesterday; in my case at PC Authority:

Australian iPhone 4 plans and pricing compared: [UPDATED] Telstra vs Optus vs Vodafone vs 3: “Telstra, Optus and now Vodafone have announced Australian plan pricing for iPhone 4. Which is the better deal for the 16GB and 32GB iPhone 4?”

iPhone 4 plan pricing also led into this week’s Hydrapinion column, talking about the realities of phone plan values:

Hydrapinion:What’s the value of a plan? “Amidst the never-ending hype prior to the Australian launch of the iPhone 4, there’s a critical detail that just about every single article I’ve seen to date has missed out. It’s a detail that’s crucial not only to iPhone users, but to anyone who uses a smartphone.”

And finally at CNET.com.au, a whole host of content. First of all, a genuine rarity for me — a product re-review. In the five plus years since CNET.com.au launched, I’ve only gone back once before, and that was for a product where testing equipment wasn’t available at the time of the original review. This one’s more an issue of a vendor stating that a firmware update fixed pretty much every problem I hit with the original unit, and insisting that the updated model was significantly better. But was it?

Astone Media Gear AP-360T: “Based on Astone’s claims, we were expecting much less fuss. But to put it bluntly, that’s not what we got.”

In the more regular review world, CNET.com.au also had these brand spanking new reviews:

Acer Aspire 5738PZG: “The 5738PZG is a solid enough workhorse of a machine at the asking price. Just don’t buy it for the touchscreen ability or the battery life.”

Acer Aspire 1820PT: “Acer’s 1820PT brings portability and excellent battery life firmly into the convertible tablet space.”

Sanyo DCDB10 DAB+ micro system: “Sanyo’s DAB+ micro system is high on price and low on real value.”

That’s a lot of content for one day, even for me. I’m beginning to think I might work a tad too hard.

Finally, not forgetting the Hippo-loving crowd — how about a picture of the Egyptian Hippo Goddess Taweret? A photo I took in Adelaide recently. I had no idea Adelaide housed statues of obscure Egyptian Hippo Idols, but there you go.

Hippo Goddess

Now, on to the next thousand posts!

Blog Post #999: iPod docks and Microsoft Musings

I just realised I’m about to hit 1,000 blog entries. I should probably have a cake, or something. Although having just returned from an hour in the dentist’s torture chair, sweet things should probably off the menu for a while.

In any case, this is only blog entry #999, so such thoughts will have to wait. While you wait, and while I sit here not-so-gently bleeding, you can check out this week’s Geekspeak column, which covers the rate at which Microsoft sells copies of Windows 7 and what that means for the future:

Geekspeak: Will Microsoft continue to dominate IT? “To put that in perspective, if you were still running a ten year old OS when Windows
XP came out, you’d be running Windows 3.0 on the top of DOS. You’d also see a lot of crashes, spend an awful amount of time mucking around with config.sys files and wondering why none of your USB peripherals ever worked.”

CNET.com.au also has a review of mine for your enjoyment, as I take Sony’s fashion-conscious iPod Dock apart. Literally apart.

Sony TRiK RDH-SK8iP: “A quick twist of the holding bracket around the right speaker, then the same to the left speaker and the front cover comes off — but not either speaker, thankfully.”

How to become a world champion (the easy way)

Conventional wisdom says that World Champions are men and women of grit. Words like “perseverance” and “determination” get bandied about. Newspaper articles talk about the long, lonely hours of training, the sacrifices made and the hideous cost paid to be the best in the world at your chosen field.

Rubbish. Sure, you can do that, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I became a World Champion yesterday, almost by accident.

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Chunky netbooks and hefty broadband plans

The theme for today’s stories is clearly “large”. Such as the dimensionally challenged (to be nice) netbook I’ve reviewed for CNET.com.au:

MSI Wind U160: “There is one fashion faux pas that the U160 commits, however. It’s the U160’s six-cell battery, and there’s only one thing to say. Yes, U160, your bum does look big in that.”

Meanwhile, at PC Authority a new column looking at broadband price announcements, and what they mean in the context of existing offers kicks off:

How do Telstra’s new BigPond prices stack up? “Is it time to reconsider Telstra’s ADSL2+ and Cable broadband?”

Uncovering Apple’s darkest secrets…

It’s not all fun and games being an award-winning technology journalist, you know. Sometimes, you’ve got to get down and dirty with arm bending, secret car park meetings with unnamed “sources” and being chased by helicopters piloted by the mysterious forces of evil intent on stopping the truth being revealed, no matter who gets shot in the process.

You know the types.

They clearly had nothing to do with this weeks’ MacTheBlog, which came to me in a moment of blue-tinged inspiration:

Apple’s secret (blue) strategy: “Sitting down and pondering the facts on Apple, and for that matter mushrooms yesterday, I came to a stunning realisation. A realisation that reveals once, for all time, Apple’s exact marketing strategy. The pieces fit together so neatly, so perfectly that I’m stunned nobody’s ever noticed it before.”

How much Life is there on Mars?

I’ve been slowly re-watching a couple of TV series of late, if only to escape the endless electioneering and Mastercheffage around at the moment. Can’t be having with either of them, really. One particular pleasure has been rediscovering Life On Mars, and of course its theme tune. Which leads me to listening to a lot of David Bowie.

Bowie’s performed Life On Mars quite a bit over the years, so it’s no huge surprise that there’s a few versions of his online. What surprised me in a recent search were the cover versions…

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Radar Rat Race time…

This week’s Vintage tech continues the theme of having guest contributors, after a fashion. Last week, rather aged video of Steve “Woz” Wozniak adorned my Apple II article. This week, the video is even older and the star even more stellar, as James T Kirk makes an appearance…

Vintage Tech: Looking back at the VIC-20: “Before Commodore wowed the world with the C64, it sold a million VIC-20 computers. We look back at Commodore’s first “affordable” computer.”

A media player that won’t, and a pen that might…

A pair of different articles. I was remiss (OK, I was busy  rebuilding my office) in not plugging this week’s Hydrapinion column which went up yesterday:

What’s next? A high tech pocket protector? “Maybe it’s just my non-musical talent speaking, but I’ve never felt the particular desire to draw a piano keyboard and have it come to life. Perhaps later, though, when they perfect the technology, and it can draw a working automatic teller machine. Then I’d be very interested.”

From the potentially cool to the painful to test at CNET.com.au, with Astone’s astonishingly bug-ridden media player:

Astone Media Gear AP-360T: “Astone’s web page for the AP-360T describe it as “An ultimate HD 1080p media player, DTV receiver and HD video recorder for your digital home”. We beg to differ. Buy something else.”