I’ve been seriously busy this October, and as a result haven’t been updating around these parts with anywhere near the regularity that I really need to be. How busy, I hear you ask? This busy.
So, where do I start for October? Oh yeah, that whole podcast thing that I’ve now been doing for the past seven years with the always excellent Adam Turner.
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!
Spotify: You can stream every episode on Spotify right here.
iHeartRadio: Subscribe here!
The month started off with new Pixel phones and Telstra’s fixed wireless 5G, a show I technically wasn’t on… until I was.
Apple was then teasing 5G in its new phones, but that’s a market awash with affordable options and some very mixed messaging when it comes to what the networks are doing, so we did a deep dive into the state of 5G in Australia
Then the big one, as we opened up the Vertical Hold Virtual Green Room to more tech journalist guests than we’ve ever managed before. Oh yeah, and Apple announced a whole slew of 5G phones, right on time for episode 300. It’s a luxury-sized episode, but also one I’m super proud of.
The big news hits kept coming as the DOJ decided to party like it was 1998, only this time its tech target wasn’t Microsoft, but Google. Speaking of Google, we also look over Google’s confusingly named Chromecast with Google TV, and compare it to the ultra-affordable Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite in the latest episode:
I really enjoy what we do with Vertical Hold, but it’s only part of what takes up my working time, with writing still key, along with a few videos and some radio appearances.
Quite a few radio appearances this month, talking laptop pricing on ABC Radio Sydney, Apple vs Epic on ABC Radio Melbourne and two runs at ABC Adelaide, talking 5G iPhones and Nokia putting 4G on the moon amongst others.
You can always catch me each Tuesday around 10:40am talking technology with Jo Printz on ABC Radio Central Victoria (and across the big ol’ wide Internet); topics this month have ranged from 5G to DNA as the ultimate hard drive to self healing smartphone displays and a whole lot of technology for dogs, because fido clearly deserves both AR goggles and a selfie booth.
In terms of words you can read on a screen, for Finder, I kicked the month off by looking over Pixel 5 plans, ranked the best 5G Phones in Australia, set my ears to testing out the Google Nest Audio speaker, and put the new and more affordable Apple iPad 2020 to the test.
I then strapped an Apple Watch Series 6 to my wrist, pondered whether buying an iPhone 11 for cheap just before the iPhone 12 emerges was a smart move… and then got up at stupid-o-clock to cover the actual Apple iPhone 12 launch event (which also became a video, here).
But that’s not all (phew!), because I also pondered the details of Telstra’s impressive sounding NBN 50 plans, ranked the best 2-in-1 laptops, tested out the really great (spoiler!) Google Pixel 4a 5G and compared the highly-green claims of TPG spinoff MVNO brand Felix.
I also tested the first WearOS watch I’ve tested for… a very long time… in the familiar-looking Oppo Watch, played a lot of Hades on the Lenovo Legion 7i (seriously, that game is digital crack) and got asked SO MANY TIMES as to whether Aussies should just buy the technically superior iPhone 12 for 5G reasons that I broke down the reasons why you might want to. The month ain’t over yet, so more to come on that score.
At Geeks2U’s Geekspeak blog, I looked over the consumer VR market — it’s been a “thing” for decades now, so why aren’t we all living in a virtual world? before laying out the details (such as they are) around the NBN’s 75% FTTN-to-FTTP plans and what Apple’s power changes with MagSafe but no included chargers in iPhone 12 will mean for consumers.
We’re done now, right? No, not yet, because I did say I’ve been a touch busy. For my own YouTube channel (like, subscribe, I’m getting ever closer to that mark where it starts making actual money, albeit pennies at first but you have to start somewhere) I produced content for those who prefer things visual.
First up, the Google Nest Audio impressed:
The morning of the iPhone 12 launch (because who needs sleep) I produced some quick reaction thoughts:
The oddities of industry embargoes meant I had in my hands the Google Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 early, so I shot this video:
But couldn’t release it for a few weeks, by which time I could also run a full review of the flagship Google Pixel 5:
I also figured I’d try my hand at a warts-and-all live unboxing of the new iPhones, only to discover that YouTube won’t let you livestream from mobile (but it will from a webcam, because… yeah, I’ve got nothing), so I very quickly whipped this together with a direct record and publish session:
I’ve also been doing some writing work for Pedestrian media, home to such titles as Gizmodo Australia, Kotaku Australia and Lifehacker Australia, including some Amazon Prime Day stuff I won’t link out here because those deals are now done and dusted. Still, there was plenty of other content to get busy scribing.
For Lifehacker, I looked at how to make the most out of selling an old iPhone to help pay for a new one and how to back your existing iPhone up without paying for iCloud. TwelveSouth’s HiRise and Curve Riser stands got the review treatment, as did HyperX’s Quadcast S microphone.
There was a quick look at tips to maximise online auction returns as well as the argument I always seem to have at this time of year around why you should put a case on your iPhone 12 (and why “Ceramic Shield” glass isn’t as tough as you might think).
I wrote up the (at the time) “new” Melbourne pandemic restrictions (looks like they’ll change today, well done Melbourne and ignore the conspiracy nutters), and watched 1004 Looney Tunes cartoons simultaneously, because if you haven’t yet worked out that I’ve been too busy for sequential binge watching, you’re really not paying attention.
For Kotaku, by far the largest individual piece I wrote was a lengthy piece about how and why I fed my retro gaming addiction in the middle of a pandemic despite international shipping issues, an article that also informed my drawing of a single emergency Scribbletaku.
Because I’m me, Bubble Bobble got a contextual mention, and I gave a gaming-centric review of the HyperX Quadcast S (it is a gaming mic after all) and reported on everything from Apple TV coming to PS5, Tom Holland as Indiana Jones Nathan Drake, Fall Guys surveying its user base, Hackers not-ironically (we think) leaking Watch Dogs Legion code and Akira screaming back into Australian cinemas in 4K.
At Gizmodo, some straight news pieces around the Huawei Mate 40 launch date, FaceID rumours, how Kevin Rudd brought a website to its knees and how you solve the democracy sausage problem in a pandemic via drones.
In longer form journalism, I dove into that study about how long COVID-19 can survive on surfaces such as smartphones, discovered that Apple didn’t seem to think Aussie carriers offered 5G at all, and then ran a couple of op-eds before and after the iPhone 12 launch. Given 2020 being… 2020, I wasn’t convinced pre-launch that you needed to upgrade to the iPhone 12, and my opinion didn’t change that much once the full details were known, either.
And then I thought, hey, I’ve been busy and haven’t updated the actual blog in a while, so I should do that, too.
Which has taken me way longer than I anticipated, because I really have been pretty busy, it turns out!