January 2021: I’ve been busy(ish)

The start of the year in Australia is traditionally a less busy one for most offices… including mine. Here’s what I’ve been up to in writing, podcasts, video, radio and more in January 2021.

Vertical Hold

Vertical Hold took an all-too-brief break over the holiday period — Adam and I are allowed a little time off — but we came bouncing back in early 2021, first of all looking over all the shiny new gadgets at CES 2021. Digitally, that is — nobody went to Las Vegas this year.

The media code is going to be a BIG story this year… and we’re probably going to do more than a few episodes as it unfolds. Facebook made it first big moves in opposing it, and we covered that, as well as Telstra’s objections to its competitors being gifted cheaper (or possibly) free spectrum for 4G and 5G networks.

No, really — the media code is going to take up a lot of column inches all over the place this year. No sooner had Facebook had its say than Google was threatening to take its ball and go home, taking search with it. We also looked deep into Paramount+ and Disney’s new mature Star content:

You can of course keep up with everything Vertical Hold over at the Vertical Hold web page, and you totally should subscribe at well. Here, have some subscription links to make it even easier!

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/vertical-hold-audio/id971993513?mt=2

Pocketcasts Click here to launch Pocketcasts and subscribe today!

Spotify: You can stream every episode on Spotify right here.

iHeartRadio: Subscribe here!

Radio Gaga

Likewise, a slightly quieter time in the world of radio, although I have recommenced doing a regular Tuesday chat with Jo Printz on ABC Radio across regional Victoria at around 10:40am. So far that’s been a single show — Australia Day fell on a Tuesday, you see — talking the biggest and weirdest technology to come out of CES 2021.

I’m also doing a semi-regular tech spot on ABC Radio Adelaide, talking smartphone tips and tricks, which in January included the many ways you can use assistive touch on an iPhone, as well as methods for getting water out of your phone, and why I’d rather drop one in a toilet than a glass of red wine. You probably had to be there for that one.

I always feel like… somebody’s watching me…

No, wait, that was Rockwell.

Nonetheless, while January was a tad slower on the video production side, I’m still ploughing on with my own video work. For the first trip I’d made into the Sydney CBD in nearly a year (true!), I took a look at the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra:

Meanwhile, the Apple iPad celebrated 11 years — so I dug out my original model iPad to see what it was still capable of 11 years later:

As always, you can subscribe (and you should) to my video work directly over on YouTube.

Paperback writer

Writing words remains my core trade, and I’ve even written a couple of books that could be paperbacks… if they weren’t eBooks, I guess. If you do want the world’s finest* exploding shark novel, Sharksplosion can jump onto your Kindle at this link, while Fifty-Two, a collection of short stories can also still be purchased.
(*In my opinion, although how many exploding shark books are there, really?)

Still, fiction isn’t what pays the bills. That’d be my more technical writing.

Over at Finder, I kicked off my CES 2021 coverage with stories on Samsung’s NeoQLED TVs, Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR TVs and Lenovo’s 5G-ready laptops. TCL launched a range of new phones at the big tech show and Google’s 2nd-gen Pixel Buds jumped into my ears for some testing.

The other big story at the tail end of CES 2021 was Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event. I may have written a little about this. No, strike that. A lot.

First of all, a straight up news story covering everything Samsung announced. Then a quick hands-on assessment of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. Then a comparison of the cheapest Samsung Galaxy S21 plans in Australia. Then a guide page to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. But Samsung didn’t just announce one phone, so also a guide page to the Samsung Galaxy S21+. Two phones? No, there were three, so best throw in a guide to the Samsung Galaxy S21 as well.

In straight up reviews, I clicked around with both MSI’s Clutch GM50 mouse and its Vigor GK50 Elite Keyboard. Less clicky — as you’d expect — was MSI’s Immerse GH61 Gaming Headset. I got my game on with Dell’s G7 7700 Gaming Laptop before diving back into phone reviews.

From the more affordable end of the pool, Aspera’s low-cost Aspera AS6 was fine but unexciting while its flip feature phone, the Aspera F42 was weirdly less capable than the Aspera F40 it replaces!

Finally, because too much Samsung writing is barely enough, I gave the Samsung Galaxy S21 the full review treatment.

For Geeks2U’s Geekspeak blog, I reviewed Tado’s V3 Smart AC Control V3+, explained the resolution differences between HD, Full HD, 4K and 8K — and why they matter —, got seriously keen on Razer’s Project Hazel Mask— if anyone from Razer is listening, SEND ME ONE! — and wrote around your search alternatives if Google does abandon Australia as it’s threatening to do.

revolution of the daleks
Then there’s this old blog, where I write things that interest me. Things like Doctor Who, which took the prize as being the first bit of published work of mine for 2021, by way of my review of Revolution Of The Daleks.

I got properly cranky about the attitudes that some Australians are taking around COVID-19 vaccines, so I put my thoughts to (digital) paper here.

Apparently you can still upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10 for nothing. Wild.

Plex went all in for retro games, which I should love… but I still can’t see who’s going to pay the entry price.

Apple released a slew of mobile device upgrades, so I wrote around those, as well as getting my AI-assisted funk on, via the AI Jukebox.

I’m intrigued by electric vehicles — I’d buy an electric car if there were any actually affordable models in Australia — so I was happy to see that Google’s adding recharge info to Google Maps. Only… with a big catch.

Likewise, regular Vertical Hold listeners will know I’m keen on foldable phones, so news that Samsung is maybe/perhaps selling foldable displays to other makers brings me joy. Finally, I dug out Apple’s 11-year old iPad launch announcement and poked gentle fun at it. Apple invented the Apple II, you know — but they never seem to talk about it any more.

So, that was January… a little quieter than usual, which means I have time on my hands.

Anyone need an award-winning consumer technology writer with decades of experience? Drop me a line!

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