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I knew the first three months of 2015 had been bad for business — or at least my little patch of business — but I hadn’t realised it was this bad. Turns out it was my second-worst quarter in more than four years! Drastic action and ruthless decisions are required.

Yes, this is another of my occasional thinking-aloud reflections on my personal circumstances. If you don’t like this sort of thing, then stop reading now. Read this instead.

Still with me? Lovely.

Yesterday I updated my “media objects” chart, which counts how many things I’ve created for each media outlet, regardless of relative complexity or what income was generated. It serves as a handy proxy for revenue — because certain revenue figures are confidential.

Media objects produced monthly, 2011-2015: click to embiggen

It’s a depressing image. At best, Q1 of 2015 was no worse than Q1 of the previous year, but overall it’s still a picture of decline. Literally depressing, in fact, because I’ve left in a couple of health-related markers that I was using to analyse something else.

Back at the end of 2012, I’d tried to inject a little more strategy into the way I ran the business side of making media. This and other charts were some of the tools I created, last updated in February 2014. It’s fair to say that I haven’t really developed any kind of strategy out of the information in those charts, and this new chart illustrates the results from doing that nothing. Go me.

This chart doesn’t reflect certain positives, however. There’s now crowdsourced funding for The 9pm Edict podcast. I also do some minor work for the University of Technology Sydney, and I consult on some other media projects too. There’s also fragmentary revenue from the legacy clients of my IT business.

But I do need to raise my income levels back to something more like they were a few years ago. The next step is to do something about it. And that has been the nature of my ponderings across this Easter long weekend.

The Wire logoOn Monday I recorded an interview on Bitcoin’s secret sauce, the blockchain, with The Wire, the current affairs program for Australia’s community radio network produced by 2SER in Sydney. It went to air that night as past their story Blockchains to the rescue?

It was only a couple of years ago that Bitcoin was taking the world by storm — the price rocketing by hundreds of percent. Since then, however, it has fallen into obscurity, with less and less companies accepting it as payment. But even if Bitcoin does not make it as a full fledged currency, the technology behind it may find a place elsewhere.

Journalist Josh Nicholas also spoke with Professor David Glance, Director of University of Western Australia’s Centre for Software Practice. The narrative contrasts my enthusiasm, for want of a better work, with Glance’s scepticism. That’s probably down to the questions asked and the editing, because I suspect our views are actually much the same.

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The audio is ©2015 2SER-FM 107.3. It’s also available at The Wire program website — that’s exactly the same as what you can hear here, it’s just that the audio file here has my branding — and you can also listen to the entire episode.

ABC logoIt’s not every day that I end up talking about my experiences in Thai urinals on live radio, but that’s exactly what I did today. It’s all down to Vicki Kerrigan.

Kerrigan is the drive-time presenter on ABC 105.7 Darwin, and a story about Airpnp caught her eye — or that of her producer. No, not the accommodation-related app Airbnb. And no, inner urban gay men, it’s not what you just thought of either.

Airpnp is a service that supposedly lets you “find a clean, comfortable bathroom no matter where you are” — not so much here in Australia, but certainly in the US and some other places as it’s spread out from New Orleans, where it was founded a year ago.

Here’s the full 10-minute conversation we had — including Kerrigan’s introduction, which may leave you with a slight pressure somewhere.

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This audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

ABC logoOn Friday I was interviewed about Twitter’s latest quarterly results by ABC Radio’s lunchtime national current affairs program, The World Today — and in particular the potential future impact of bullying and trolling. And here’s the result.

“Twitter CEO admits cyber bullying poses threat to revenue growth,” was the story’s headline, and this is how presenter Peter Lloyd introduced it:

“The social media giant Twitter is being been forced to confront a serious threat to its profitability – cyber bullying. In internal emails leaked to a news website, the Twitter’s CEO says he ashamed of his company’s handling of bullies. Dick Costolo says harassed users are abandoning the service and as part of the quarterly financial results announcement overnight, Twitter reported disappointing user growth in the final three months of last year.”

The reporter was Pat McGrath.

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The audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The audio is being served directly from the ABC website, where you can also read a transcript.

ABC logoThe Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas featured in the final “Tech Wreck” segment on ABC 720 Perth, as well as some technology that may well fall out of use in 2015.

CES is a huge thing, with 160,000 attendees and 20,000 product launches, and as we went to air on Tuesday it hadn’t even really kicked off. Monday (US time) was the press preview day, so I was basing my comments on what had been reported so far, mostly from the coverage at CNet. I spoke mostly about 4k television, smart homes, and pointless gadgets.

We also spoke about the decline of six technologies that an article in The Independent had suggested would be on the way out: home landlines, TV remote controls, stand-alone satellite navigation, phone boxes, DVD and Blu-Ray, and the alarm clock.

The presenter is Jamie Burnett.

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The audio is ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

ABC logoLast week’s conversation about the future of jobs apparently went so well that it’s become a regular weekly spot over summer. “Tech Wreck” is now on ABC 720 Perth each Tuesday at 1430 AWST / 1730 AEDT.

This week we spoke about:

The presenter is Jamie Burnett. If there’s any topics you’d like us to talk about in coming weeks, please let us know. Or phone in during the program on +61 8 9220 2700.

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The audio is ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

ABC logo“As many as half a million accountants, supermarket cashiers, secretaries, typists and bank tellers in what are largely white-collar jobs are threatened by automation, Department of Industry modelling shows,” said a report in the Australian Financial Review today.

It’s true. In the first industrial revolution, the physical movement of atoms went from being done by animals, including humans, to being done by machines. In the second industrial revolution, the same thing has been happening for the movement and manipulation of information.

I spoke about some of these things just now with Jamie Burnett on ABC 720 Perth.

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If you want some further reading, try The onrushing wave at The Economist.

The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

FIVEaa logoTelstra is Australia’s biggest telco, and owner of the vast majority of the copper customer access network (CAN), the so called “last mile” — and it wants to raise its wholesale prices, charging other telcos 7.2% more.

“The move would affect almost every Australian with a phone line or an internet connection, because Telstra owns most of the copper phone lines that other telcos depend on to service their customers,” reported ABC News.

“The company leases about 4 million line services to rivals and has not raised wholesale prices since 2011.”

On Wednesday I spoke about the distinction between retail and wholesale telecommunications providers, and whether a 7.2% rise is reasonable, with Will Goodings on 1395 FIVEaa — after independent Senator Nick Xenophon has given his views.

Xenophon thought the rise was unreasonable, because Telstra had “gotten $11 billion” from NBN Co. I disagreed on both counts.

For reference, here’s the current Telstra Wholesale rate card (PDF).

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The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia.

ABC logoThe government’s discussion paper on online copyright infringement came out just over a month ago, the submissions period closed on Monday, and now the debate is really kicking off — including on the complicated legal issue of geoblocking.

Now I’ve already given my opinion on the political spin in the discussion paper itself. But the specific issue of geoblocking came up on ABC Gold Coast, and this morning I spoke with breakfast presenter Bern Young.

Legally it’s a grey area. By signing up for a Netflix account from Australia, for example, you may be breaking the terms and conditions of their service. But you’re still paying for the content, and money is passed on the the actual producers.

The only people missing out are the local Australian distributors who’ve inserted themselves between the content producers and the audience. What value are they adding, exactly? The whole point of the internet is to enable people to connect globally.

CHOICE sees it as a consumer issue. Doesn’t geoblocking, the restriction of content availability by location, restrict competition? They’ve just launched a TV campaign making that point. Even the government’s own inquiry into IT pricing recommended that geoblocking be outlawed.

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The audio is ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

FIVEaa logoInteresting news today that Facebook will start using Google’s browsing history data to better target their advertising. It triggered an equally interesting conversation just now on 1395 FIVEaa Adelaide.

According to the USA Today report run on Fairfax mastheads, Facebook is looking to ramp up revenue as it competes with Google for advertising dollars.

“Let’s say that you’re thinking about buying a new TV, and you start researching TVs on the web and in mobile apps. We may show you ads for deals on a TV to help you get the best price or other brands to consider. And because we think you’re interested in electronics, we may show you ads for other electronics in the future, like speakers or a game console to go with your new TV,” the company said.

Afternoon presenter Will Goodings wanted to chat about the privacy implications. But then I showed him the recent Bloomberg report which described how researchers could use smart meters — the electricity kind — to figure out what TV programs you were watching by analysing the TV’s power consumption patterns.

Here’s the full interview, plus the subsequent conversation with lawyer Paul Gordon from Finlayson’s Lawyers, who called in while we were chatting.

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The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia.

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