Way back when I was just a little bitty boy living in a box under the stairs in the corner of the basement of the house half a block down the street from Jerry’s Bait shop…

You know the place..

More adventures in publishing today, both in the online and print spheres. Why are they spheres, anyway? I don’t think I’ve ever read a perfectly rotund magazine… but I guess they are technically circulars.

*tumbleweeds blow by*

Thanks, folks. I’ll be here all week. Judge ye not the Salmon.

macworld1207small.jpgIf you’re enjoyed this terrible pun, you may also like other works by this author. Consider, for example, the December issue of Macworld Magazine, a magazine so revolutionary that it actually prints the cover date of the month in which it comes out on the cover! No, I don’t know why they don’t all do this — they just don’t. Anyway, this month’s Macworld is predictably a Leopardstravangaza, except for one rogue columnist, who chose to use his valuable podium to talk about flooring staples. And that rogue columnist would be me. Today, still wanted by the government, I survive as a freelancer of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire…the Alex.*

Alex can also be found online. Consider, for example, these reviews, live over the past couple of days at CNET.com.au:

Navman S90i: “We’d love to heartily endorse the S90i but, like the spurned high school prom queen in every slasher flick ever made, its surface beauty is marred by intermittent spurts of insanity, and so we can’t…”

Altec Lansing Orbit-M 360: “Five years ago, thanks largely to the efforts of a certain fruit-themed computer company, every man and his dog was releasing products with an “i” prefix..”

*Alex clearly needs coffee and sleep and jelly beans and games breaks and sex and all the other things he’s had to do without this week in order to get anything done. The saga of the road trip is comin’ real soon — I promise…

Mmm.. shiny car-stealy thing…


Now, all they have to do is live up to all the hype. Can’t be that hard, can it?

You’re looking at Planet Earth, Bop bop bop, bop bop bop bop…

That Simon Le Bon. A true lyrical genius, on a level with Vanilla Ice.

Still have plenty of tales of the road to write up. If only I wasn’t so darned busy just writing. A conundrum, no?

Still, it pays the bills, or so they tell me. One of the perils of being a freelancer is never quite knowing when payment will come in. Oh well, there’s always the fame I suppose. Come with me, and bear witness to my fame (or lack thereof)  with these these reviews, live right now at Gadgetguy.com.au:

Navman S80: “Navman’s S80 is a stylish GPS unit with a great display. It’s easy to use, will synchronise nicely with your Bluetooth mobile phone and is a snap to install. It’s a pity that it only runs a crippled version of the company’s excellent Navpix navigation, however…”

Hitachi MMP501B: “The MMP-501B is a huge GPS with quite a lot going for it. Its text-to-speech could be better, and we’re still not sold on in-car AV through your GPS…”

TomTom ONE XL:  “On the one hand, the ONE XL is a competent and effective GPS system that does what it says on the box; it routes you efficiently to where you need to go. On the other hand…”

Binatone Carrera X350: “Our only complaint here was that it consistently gave us contrary instructions, some of which could have been quite fatal. Perhaps it just didn’t like us, but we’re still trying to work out why it wanted us to continue straight into a gorge and fifty metre drop…”

Nokia 330 Auto Navigation: “Nokia’s 330 Auto Navigation system (or GPS to you and me) is, in many ways, a terribly conventional unit…”

There is no stopping them. The Ants will soon be here…

Many, many things to write about — from Robotic Grannies to infants with lung infections to the bizarre sight of the rain on the plain falling mainly… in Hay. We didn’t see any residents in Hay, possibly because they were hiding in terror from the strange water falling freely from the sky…

In the meantime (and as I have a grumpy infant pestering me as I type this), CNET.com.au has published another of my reviews:

Samsung U300: “The U300 may only be a GSM phone with some rather severe limitations – but it’s dead sexy. Is that enough?”

* Alex would like to point out that he, for one welcomes our new insect overlords. He’d like to remind them that as a trusted journalist, he can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves…”

Please Mr Crocodile, can I cross the river?

Man, but I’m bushed right now. Mostly because last night was spent recovering a dud hard drive — and when I say “last night”, I mean all of it — and then today, while parenting two young boys, I rather stupidly decided to mow the back lawn. All of it. It’s rather large, our back lawn; I suspect if we ever did sell the place, a developer would probably try to subdivide the block.

So I’m hot, tired, sweaty, a little bit green around the fingernails, and lacking in inspiration. So rather than appeal to your better nature, I’ll give you the short and sweet plug for each of my currently published “things”, and leave the purchasing/perusing decisions to you.

Netguide Magazine. Not covered in leaves, grass clippings and mud. Unlike me.The December issue of Netguide is chock full of my reviews; even moreso than usual. Apart from the usual product reviews, the cover story — “Top 25 Tech Gifts” — is one of mine. There’s something approaching 40 product reviews in this issue, all written and researched by yours truly. Perhaps they’re right when they say I’m burning the candle at both ends…

While you’re picking up Netguide, don’t forget a copy of PC User magazine; my review of the Netcomm N3G001W is within. No snappy cover image, mainly because they’re not as timely about getting their images up online.

Speaking of online, though, CNET.com.au has a couple of my reviews up — and they’ve been up for a while, to boot:

DViCO TVIX 5130: “Ever tried making home brew beer?”
(also referenced here, for those who like contrast and context)

Philips DCP750: “Like far, far too many iPod-compatible accessories out there, Philips has taken the easy road with the DCP750. Or, in other words, it’s white…”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m probably going to pass out. Or have another cup of coffee. Or pass out in a cup of coffee. Mmm… caffeine burns…

Things I understand. Things I don’t.

This is possibly the single greatest thing in the history of the universe. Thinking may be required (although given I’ve found it, you could append “precious little” to the front of “thinking” if needed). But at least this I understand — and if I’m being honest, I’d like to work out how to do that to one of my own mice.

What I don’t get is this; it’s council cleanup/hard rubbish week in our street. We’ve put out quite a bit of junk, including some electrical items, now dead. And, as has happened every time we’ve had a council cleanup for the last seven years, someone has come along and snipped all the power plugs off any electrical item. All up and down the street, there are broken VCRs, Vacuum cleaners and tellies, all united in their bald, stripped down power cables, dangling in the wind.

Why? I mean, why would you bother? Is there gold in them thar plugs? A secret stash of crack cocaine? What is going on?

They never told me not to shove that Duracell right up my nose…

Dang, but it’s been rough going over the past four days. Mainly because, due to being sick for the past three weeks, I had basically four days to finish off a ton of post-deadline work. Apologies once again to my patient and understanding editors. But having come off a 10,000 word + writing binge, I’m feeling a little burnt out. Still, some of the fruits of my labours are coming live, like this review, live at CNET.com.au today:

Telstra Next-G Prepaid Broadband: “Unless your machine is already infected and you already smell funny, in which case your problems can’t be cured by simple prepaid wireless broadband…”

For a taste of your whiskey, I’ll give you some advice…

One of the drawbacks with working in a one-man office is that the Melbourne Cup sweepstakes are a bit of a dud. I mean, on the plus side, I got every single horse in the office sweepstakes! Hurrah! I even got the winner and for a moderate $100, I’ll even let you know who it is*.

On the minus side, the thrill of the race is somewhat subdued. More irritatingly, after administrative expenses, I end up winning less money than I put in.

Bah. Humbug.

Stupid equines, only good for eating. Given the amount of steroids in the average racing nag, they’re probably not even good for that.

*After 4pm today.

I am a prisoner of no confidence..

So it’s Monday night. You’re probably watching TV, or going out, or surfing the net, or doing whatever it is you do with your time. Although I’d suggest you stop doing that — reliable urban myth suggests you’ll go blind.

Anyway, one of the drawbacks of my job is that while you’re relaxing in whatever post-work pursuit pokes your pleasure centres, I’m busy working. Trust me, after a day looking after kids — one of whom has been screaming at me all day long, it’s a less than pleasant prospect to have a five hour reviewing and writing block ahead of me.

Of course, I’ll probably think that was brilliant in six months time, given that my commute involves walking downstairs every morning. Right now, it just seems like a mountain of work, and one that’s gotten significantly larger since I lost two weeks to illness. Stupid health. And on that note, today’s published stuff includes the latest issue of Home Entertainment Magazine (no cover scan, as I have no copy yet), which includes a guide to portable video players and a review of the iPod Touch, which is itself a portable video player. Not that I knew of the Touch (nobody outside Apple did) when the main feature was written. Go forth, find a newsagency and purchase a shiny new copy today. The voice of Hypnotoad commands you…

In the online world, another day, another printer review for CNET.com.au. But this one is a little different:

Samsung ML-1630: “This left us dizzy with anticipation –- would Samsung deliver a printer that in fact looked like a Christmas cake? A Mallard? Some kind of Chainsaw?”

Things that are cool, lesson #53

  1. The November issue of Australian Macworld Magazine, on store shelves now. Sure, it’s a funky little publication all on its own — I make it a rule only to work for publications that have at least as much pure F.U.N.K. as Prince* — but it also marks the second appearance of one of my cats in the Australian tech media. The same cat, in fact, as appeared in a writeup I did for the seriously hardcore techy title Atomic MPC, in an article I wrote a long, long time ago on how to hack Sony’s AIBO. Remember AIBO? No? Well, you’re not alone. Anyway, that article pitched Aibo vs Cat. This article pits Cat Vs Macbook. The winner may surprise you.
  2. This article, live this week at CNET.com.au. Cool because, well, it was published while I was busy throwing up blood. Not many people can make that claim, ergo, it’s cool.
    Kodak Easyshare 5300: “It’s as though there was a committee of Kodak designers who were told to design an AIO printer. They did so, went back, and were told to make it look more, well, printery…”
  3. My wife in a Bikini. Oh, no, wait. That’s HOT. Possibly even HAWT. And yet cool, at the same time.
  4. Trumped by all of them, at least for today, is the 82% completion of my Facebook benchmark — the objective of which was to gather 100 Facebook friends. Not so hard in general terms, but they had to be people who I knew, and would at least consider myself “friendly” to. And the 82% mark was just filled, entirely unexpectedly, by someone who I’ve been hunting for a very long time. Not in a bad way hunting — he was my best friend in the early part of High School in London, and my first friend when I moved there in 1987. And up until he asked to add himself as a friend on Facebook, I’d neither seen him or heard from him (the odd plaintive search on this blog notwithstanding) in nearly 18 years. Or, in other words, Hi Leigh. How are you?
    Now, that’s cool.

*This is a blatant lie. I work for money, and to my shame, have written for publications so deathly dull that I dare not even mention them, for fear of the consequences. But your publication is cool. I’m sure of it. It’s just that other publisher. You know the one.