The Final Redoubt: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 27 July to Sunday 2 August 2015 represented a remarkable turnaround — perhaps the turnaround that I’d been detecting in the winds since June. And then there’s the bushfire. It’s all so complicated!

Why? It was a full week with a properly-working computer — a week spent in a house with a properly-working kitchen, heating, and inspiring view — and that brought back some of the clarity of thought which I’ve been sorely lacking. I got plenty done, the most important in many ways being the launch — finally! — of The 9pm Urgent Hardware Refresh.

I was very pleased when people started contributing to this crowdfunding campaign just as soon as it was launched. I’m even more pleased to report that as I write this, roughly half-way through the campaign period, we’ve reached 54% of the initial target. That means we’re likely to succeed.

The stress of not having a working computer is subsiding, but I’m not counting my chickens before they’re hatched.

People who write or perform for a living will also understand the importance of the kind of reassurance that comes with people supporting the plan which, until then, had existed solely in your own head.

That has helped. Thank you. If you haven’t done so already, please check out The 9pm Urgent Hardware Refresh

Thanks also to the many people who asked whether I was in any danger from this weekend’s bushfire at Wentworth Falls. No, I’m not.

The fire is only 3km from Bunjaree Cottages, but between it and me there’s some significantly challenging terrain, and the wind has been taking the fire in a different direction. More than 100 volunteers from the NSW Rural Fire Service have been keeping us safe.

I’m certainly paying attention to what’s happening, though, and I see that there’s a wind change forecast for Monday. Depending on how the RFS people go with their plans for the rest of today and overnight, well, my risk assessment may change.

Just as I write this, the alert for the fire area has been raised from WATCH AND ACT to EMERGENCY WARNING — the latter being described thusly:

You may be in danger and need to take action immediately. Any delay now puts your life at risk.

I must stress again, though, that I am not in the alert area, and I currently face no risk.

Articles

Podcasts

  • On Friday, I posted “The 9pm I Can’t Believe It’s Not a Planet”, being The 9pm Edict episode 46. I turned out better than its convoluted production process led me to imagine. I may tell you about that during the week.

Media Appearances

5at5

The hiatus has ended. There were two editions, on Thursday and Friday. Why not subscribe so you’ll get all the future ones?

Corporate Largesse

None. But there’s quite a bit scheduled for the coming week.

The Week Ahead

This is going to be a better-structured one, folks.

Monday will be a media production day — but I’ll decide the exact details on the day, depending on the bushfire threat level.

On Tuesday, I’ll be catching the 0706 train to Sydney, because on Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be covering the ADMA Global Forum, presented by the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising. Also, at 2030 AEST on Tuesday night, I’ll be a guest on ABC Local Radio around NSW. And on Wednesday night, I’ll be going to Text100’s (in)famous Christmas in August event, a preview of their clients’ consumer technology for Christmas.

On Thursday, I’ll be going to a lunchtime briefing by NetSuite, and writing something for ZDNet, before taking the train back to the Blue Mountains. Thursday is also the last day of The 9pm Urgent Hardware Refresh, with the campaign ending at 2100 AEST that evening.

On Friday, I’ll be confirming what’ll happen with the funds so raised.

[Photo: The Final Redoubt, photographed on 2 August 2015. Should I ever need a final hiding place from a severe bushfire — and everything has happened so quickly that we skipped straight past three levels of warning, the fire jumped the road and railway, and all escape routes were blocked — then this cutting on Railway Parade near Wentworth Falls is where I’d wrap myself in wet woollen items and hope for the best.]

George Brandis as Pluto by cartoonist Dave PopeThe 9pm Edict cover art version 2, 150 pixelsNASA sends a boy band to Pluto. Prime Minister Crusader Rabbit makes sense of the Middle East, more or less. And we hear some presciently ironic words from Singapore.

In this podcast, there’s talk of Singapore, censorship, wine, and taxes. Amongst other things.

You can listen to the podcast below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe automatically in iTunes, or go to SoundCloud.

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If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

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FIVEaa logoThe (relatively) new Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) released its first-ever unclassified threat report yesterday, but as I wrote at ZDNet, I was disappointed.

The report (PDF) has dropped, and indeed it contains few surprises. It tells the now-familiar story of serious and organised criminals, foreign state-sponsored actors, and other “cyber adversaries”, all of whom are getting better at what they do.

“The cyber threat to Australian organisations is undeniable, unrelenting and continues to grow. If an organisation is connected to the internet, it is vulnerable. The incidents in the public eye are just the tip of the iceberg,” begins the report’s foreword.

“Cyber adversaries are aggressive and persistent in their efforts to compromise Australian networks and information. They are constantly improving their tradecraft in an attempt to defeat our network defences and exploit new technologies,” it says later.

“Australia is an innovative country with a globally important resources sector. We are a regional leader with global interests and important partnerships. This makes Australia a target-rich environment for cyber adversaries.”

All of which is true, of course, but all of which has been said so many times before.

I spoke about the report today with Will Goodings on 1395 FIVEaa Adelaide — with somewhat less disappointment in my voice.

Play

The audio is ©2015 Nova Entertainment.

I’ve finally launched the Pozible crowdfunding campaign to get myself a replacement computer, The 9pm Urgent Hardware Refresh. This chart shows the progress so far.

The 9pm Urgent Hardware Refresh final status image: click for Pozible project page

There’s plenty of information on the Pozible page. But if you want the full back story, check out the original announcement, and the follow-up post. An episode of The 9pm Edict podcast is in pieces on the dining room table, and will be assembled on Wednesday.

[Update 9 August 2015: As the graphic indicates, the campaign was successful, reaching 144% of its initial funding target. For further details, see the Updates on the Pozible page.]

Rosella Cottage and its solar panels: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 20 to Sunday 26 July 2015 was ruined by health problems. I won’t go into the details. If you saw some facts, you saw them. Otherwise you missed them.

There were no articles or podcasts or editions of 5at5 produced, so I’ll make this Weekly Wrap look slightly better by omitting the sub-heads. I’ll skip the Corporate Largesse section too, because there wasn’t any, and stick to what did happen.

Media Appearances

  • On Tuesday, I spoke about the Ashley Madison data breach on ABC 936 Hobart.
  • On Wednesday, I spoke about the Ashley Madison data breach on Sydney radio 2UE, but I won’t be posting a recording because it adds nothing to the Hobart one. I’m thinking about being a lot more selective about what I post here — or at least what I go to the effort of writing a whole blog post about — and maybe even automating most of the Weekly Wrap. I mean, do you even read this?

The Week Ahead

I’m not going to match specific tasks to specific days at this stage, for various reasons. But I will say that my Pozible crowdfunding campaign for The 9pm Urgent Hardware Refresh has been given the green light, so I’ll press the “Go” button on that relatively early in the week, and I’ll produce an episode of The 9pm Edict podcast to coincide with that, more or less.

I’ll also write some stuff for people. Is that vague enough?

I’ll be in the Mountains for most of the week, I think. I can’t see much that’d draw me into Sydney, not when I apply a strict cost benefit analysis to it all. You people are terrible.

[Photo: Rosella Cottage and its solar panels, photographed on 30 January 2012. This week I returned to being based in Rosella Cottage, rather than the Bunjaree Cottages outbuilding called “The Studio”. It’s not only far more pleasant, it gives me morning views like this, and this, and this. I think this will help.]

ABC logoThe information security news story of the week was, of course, the data breach at “affairs” and “cheaters” website Ashley Madison, something first reported by journalist Brian Krebs.

I spoke about this data breach in a couple of radio spots — I’m reluctant to call it a
“hack” until we have some evidence that a hack was involved, as opposed to some internal problem — but I reckon the first was the best.

Here’s that conversation, a 13-minute chat from Tuesday morning with ABC 936 Hobart morning presenter Leon Compton. Enjoy.

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The audio is of course ©2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

To boldly go...: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 13 to Sunday 19 July 2015 continued the lack-of-productivity theme, alas. Mostly because my dying computer decided to die far more rapidly than it had been until now.

My sincere thanks go to Justin Clacherty for lending me a spare MacBook Pro until I can organise my own new machine. I’m pleased that the set-up and transfer of data to this “new” machine only took nine hours — well, plus the six hours it took to take a proper backup of the old machine, because it kept throwing errors.

That said, in the latter part of the week I did get quite a bit done on the Pozible crowdfunding campaign to pay for that replacement machine. That campaign should launch in the next few days.

And because I had to archive some data off the old computer — because it had a 750GB hard drive, whereas the loaner has a 500GB SSD — I was browsing through old photos and videos. This put me into a particularly reflective mood again on the weekend. I hope that some good will come of this, because having a properly-working computer again — and a fast one! — should provide another boost to my optimism.

Articles

Podcasts

None.

5at5

5at5 was still on hiatus this week.

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • On Monday evening, I caught up with Leslie Nassar to discuss a SEKRIT project, and he bought me dinner.

The Week Ahead

I’m back in Wentworth Falls this coming week, and most of it hasn’t been mapped out yet. Still, I have a broad outline.

On Monday Tuesday, I’ll be submitting that Pozible project for approval, doing some shopping in Katoomba, and mapping out my writing commitments for the next few weeks. Now that I have a working computer again, I’ve got heaps of work to catch up with.

On Tuesday Wednesday, I’ll be completing a video to go with that Pozible project, which should launch that day. I’ll also be producing an episode of The 9pm Edict podcast. I’ll delay the posting of both until Wednesday Thursday if the Pozible campaign doesn’t launch.

The rest of the week is a bit vague, but I know there’ll be a ZDNet column in there somewhere. And I’m guessing I’d better organise some other work as well.

Update 20 July 2015: Edited to slide nearly everything in the plan back a day, to reflect a Monday sickie.

[Photo: To boldly go…, being a small boat heading out into the fog of San Francisco Bay on 10 December 2010.]

FIVEaa logoThis week Apple launched its Apple Pay service in the UK, the second market after the US, which meant it and other new payment systems blipped up in the news.

On Thursday I spoke about Apple Pay with Will Goodings on 1395 FIVEaa in Adelaide. He was bouncing off a story in the Australian Financial Review, Why Australia’s banks are still well placed to fend off Apple Pay.

After speaking with me, he spoke with Chris Hamilton, CEO of the Australian Payments Clearing Association — and that’s in the recording too, because it’s interesting stuff.

I was also going to mention the forthcoming Samsung Pay, because ZDNet reviewed the beta rollout in South Korea, but we didn’t get to that.

Play

The audio is ©2015 Nova Entertainment.

Gasps of a dying computer: click to embiggenSome three weeks ago, I told you how my computer was dying, and crowdfunding would ensue. Then just two days ago I said that the crowdfunding was imminent. That too must change.

Yesterday morning I lost three hours to chasing various error messages. The week’s plans were ruined from day one.

Last night I stopped to think how the computer’s steadily degrading performance was affecting my productivity, and I went digging. The image at the top of the post shows just one species of frequent error message.

As I explain on the Flickr post:

For whatever reason, user interface (UI) updates get disabled — and stay disabled for seconds at a time. Signals just aren’t getting through, and I’ve seen them last for up to 20 seconds or more.

So the basic problem is that you click on something, or press a key on the keyboard, and there’s a delay. Then another one.

And that’s just one of several serious symptoms.

Trying to assemble the crowdfunding campaign — as well as all my other work — on the dying computer itself is a fool’s errand. And I have been that fool.

Fortunately, Justin Clacherty has a spare mid-2013 MacBook Pro with maxed-out processor and RAM specs, and he’s going to lend it to me while I organise things. The new current planned start for the crowdfunding campaign is during the week beginning 20 July. Wish me luck.

Wi-Fi: No hardware detectedMy week of Monday 6 to Sunday 12 July 2015 was the first of two weeks I’ll be spending in Sydney — but it wasn’t just the geography that made it unusual.

I had intended to get a Pozible crowdfunding campaign under way for The 9pm Urgent Hardware Refresh, but I ended up doing quite a bit of work on the SEKRIT television project instead.

This is a Good Thing, because it’s fun and interesting work, and the pay is quite reasonable. But as the photo at the top of the post shows, my computer is dying fast. The Wi-Fi hardware fails regularly, and you can also make out the screen cracks. So that crowdfunding effort will have to happen quite soon. Like in the coming week.

Articles

Podcasts

None.

5at5

5at5 is on hiatus this week and next.

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • On Tuesday evening, I went to Tanium’s open-house demo and drinks evening in Sydney, where of course there was free food and drink.

The Week Ahead

On Monday, I’ll be working on that crowdfunding campaign, as well as getting a haircut, and in the evening meeting with Leslie Nassar about yet another, different SEKRIT project.

On Tuesday, I’ll be doing further work on the crowdfunding project and, ideally, launching it. I’ll also be producing an episode of The 9pm Edict podcast, which may extend into Wednesday. Otherwise, Wednesday is likely to be a day of research and writing, before I wander to Oracle’s drinks evening in Surry Hills. Thursday is also a day of writing, ideally culminating in a column for ZDNet.

Friday and the weekend are as yet unplanned. However there are many, many things that need organising, so I daresay they’ll be quite full days. Stand by. Also, and and all of this schedule may be disrupted by urgent work on the SEKRIT television project.

Update 13 July 2015: Edited to add The Saturday Paper reference, and indicate the flexibility of the schedule.

[Photo: “Wi-Fi: No hardware detected”, being an increasingly common sight on my rapidly-disintegrating MacBook Pro.]

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