Back to work. Lots of work…

With NaNoWriMo successfully behind me, I’d better get on with some work.

Actually, the writing process for NaNoWriMo didn’t stop me working much per se at all, although it did play havoc with my evening recreation time. A Country Practice is still on the air, right?

While I work out what’s happened to Fatso The Wombat, you could keep yourself busy with this week’s Geekspeak:

Today might be boring, but it’s not the most boring day ever: “Need to know, for reasons that need not be specified, the name of the world’s largest

And at, there’s a whole smorgasbord of content for your perusal:

Canon PIXMA MG8150: “The Pixma MG8150 is the costly bigger brother of the excellent MG6150, but unless you’ve got a burning need for slide scanning, it’s difficult to justify the additional cost.”

Western Digital My Passport Essential USB 3.0 1TB: “Western Digital’s My Passport Essential USB 3.0 1TB is an adequate USB 3.0 drive, but it’s not the quickest drive on the market.”

Western Digital MyPassport AV 320GB: “Should you buy an AV-specific USB 2.0 external hard drive? In a word, no.”

Telstra Prepaid Mobile Broadband Hotspot: “It’s not as flashy as comparable portable devices, but Telstra’s prepaid mobile broadband hotspot delivers speed — at a price.”

PADACS Rubata Keyboard: “PADACS’ Rubata Keyboard is the best iPad keyboard we’ve seen yet. It’s not perfect, but if you’re after a productivity boost for the normally consumption-centric iPad, it’s a good option.”

I think “Wooooooo!” will suffice…

50,028 words later… and just within time.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I don’t want to think about novels for a little while…

Mobile data and mobile speakers

This week’s Hydrapinion looks at the complexity of mobile data pricing. Not a new theme to explore per se, but one that was brought up at a launch this week, and one that’s never irrelevant anyway:

Why does mobile data have to be so confusing? “Short answer, for those who are time-poor today: So that the mobile phone companies can make lots of money. Now that I’ve saved you some time, send me five dollars.”

Meanwhile at, another tiny set of speakers gets a good hard listening to:

X-Mini Max II: “The X-Mini Max II offers better audio quality than the mono-only X-Mini II capsules, but they’re still hampered by odd cabling choices.”

Great Printers And Not So Great Online Bargains

A week off (mostly) to attend to some personal matters, and as a result not too much work online that I’ve missed pointing out. ran a review of a printer that I particularly liked:

Canon Pixma MG6150: “Canon’s Pixma MG6150 is a slow multifunction printer, but the print quality and ease of use make it a multifunction worth waiting for.”

And at Geekspeak, I pondered how you can make sure that the items you buy online are actually worth buying:

Getting the bargain you expect when shopping online: “Personally, I’ll never be able to listen to Cold Chisel’s “Cheap Wine” quite the same way again.”

I often get asked “who do I work for”?

It’s a question with an ever-evolving answer, but the broad answer is usually that as a freelancer, I’ll work for anyone who’ll pay the bills*. Which is why I’m concurrently across so many titles, both online and in print.

As an example, this month’s PC User magazine has a lot of my content. I’ve tested twenty-five smartphones for the cover feature, ranging from the high end hero models right down to the entry level cheap and cheerful types. To compliment that, I’ve also done a run of testing the 3G networks that those same smartphones rely on, although via USB modems just to mix things up a bit.  In standalone review spaces, I’ve also tested the Clickfree Transformer, Plantronics Gamecom 777 headphones, Aximcom MR102N portable 3G router and LG’s Optimus 7Q Windows 7 smartphone. Which means I’ve actually tested twenty six smartphones across the span of this issue. And there’s more to come next month…

Meanwhile, at PC Authority, I’ve contributed brief thoughts to the cover article there, dubbed “50 Expert Tips”. Which presumably means I should add “Expert” to my business cards the next time they’re reprinted. My particular expertise on call here is to do with Apple, and if you’ve ever wondered what I look like, there’s even an accompanying headshot to go with the tech tip. Although I’m not usually quite that blue-tinged in real life.

*There are exceptions to this ‘will write for anyone’ rule. They know who they are, or at least should do.

It costs how much, exactly?

The sticker shock of the price of the Samsung Galaxy Tab took a lot of people by surprise, myself included.

Then I discovered that it’s actually slightly worse than it seems. I should tip my hat in the direction of fellow journalist Darren Yates, as the article spun out from a Twitter discussion I was having with him this morning. That led to this story at PC Authority:

Galaxy Tab More Expensive Than Any iPad: “That $999 “outright” price isn’t entirely accurate…”

How loud is “unbelievably loud” anyway?

That’s the question posed by my review today at Along the way, I discuss the old round mice that DEC used to ship (remember those?), tiny accordions and the infamous head explosion scene from Scanners. I’m nothing if not varied.

X-mini II Capsule Speakers: “The exterior packaging for the X-mini II Capsule Speakers warns that they’re “unbelievably loud”, which gave us some pause for thought. We’ve got a pretty wide and often interesting imagination, and this made us worried…”

Take Two Tablets And See Me In The Morning

This week’s opinion columns are both rather Tablet-centric. First up, at Geekspeak, an overview of the iPad, Galaxy Tab and T-Touch Tab:

Which Tablet Is Right For Me? “There is finally a modicum of choice in the Tablet space…”

Then at Hydrapinion, I’m picking a fight with Steve Jobs. Sure, he’s a master of the reality distortion field, and a 5th level Dan in Black Turtleneck wearing, but my money’s still on me:

Steve Jobs: You’re Wrong “I should probably be a little more specific there…”

NaNoWriMo: One Week Later

So far, so good. I’ve got a main character, a plot arc, the final chapter is at least sketched out, and I’ve variously researched models of Jaguar motor vehicle, UK Prime ministers of the 1950’s and exactly what makes up a mullioned window. I can also state with some certainty that the 18th of June 1963 was a Tuesday.

Not sure how I can turn that thrilling information into actual paying work, mind you.

High Tech Gadgets? Check. Secret Lair? Check. The proof is irrefutable. I AM Batman.

It all makes sense, when you think about it.*

There’s the gadgets. Like this Bluetooth headset that I’ve reviewed at

Jabra Go 660: “Those who need both softphone and smartphone connectivity out of their Bluetooth headsets will be well served by Jabra’s combination Go 660 set.”

Now, who wants to volunteer to be Robin? (nb. The role of Robin may involve being beaten to death by the Joker. Always make sure you have sufficient insurance cover before donning the silly tights.)

OK, maybe I’m not actually Batman.  Perhaps I’ve just been playing too many Batman games. Again, at

Batman: The Brave and the Bold: “The Batman of the Brave and The Bold cartoon is a square-jawed, justice-obsessed crime fighter of the Adam West type, rather than the dark and brooding Frank Miller inspired vigilante…”

Or perhaps I’ve just been playing too many Batman games.

*As long as you don’t think very hard about it.