Talking family data disaster planning on ABC 702 Sydney

ABC logoOn Tuesday last week, we feared that Wednesday would be a day of disastrous bushfires in NSW — certainly the risk was there — so what should people do to make sure their valuable personal and family data was safe?

I spoke about this with morning presenter Linda Mottram on ABC 702 Sydney, but not before we had a chat about what my impressions of how people were reacting to and preparing for the approaching fires — including my own emotions.

We ended up talking for 15 minutes. Here’s the full audio, minus the break for the news headlines at 1030.

The audio is of course ©2013 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, archived here because it’s not archived anywhere else.

The Cicadas! The Cicadas!

If you’ve been watching my Twitter stream recently, you’ll know that I’ve been complaining about the cicadas. Here’s why.

I recorded the ambient sound here at Bunjaree Cottages about half an hour ago. Please put on your headphones, turn it up full, and press the play button.

Now imagine that going continuously for about ten hours. All day. Every day. You’re welcome.

Weekly Wrap 176: Largely largesse, then looming bushfires

Bushfires near me, 1350 AEDT: click to embiggenI’m finding it difficult to switch into that mode where I can concentrate on my writing today. The map above explains why.

I’m at the red marker near Wentworth Falls, and the only two escape routes are the road or railway east towards Sydney or west then north-west towards Lithgow.

The smaller Mt Victoria fire on the left has, remarkably, been contained to much the same boundaries as yesterday, thanks to the hard work and backburning activities of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS). So far.

The enormous State Mine Fire to the north, however, is growing. The winds, while currently forecast to be relatively mild, are nevertheless pushing the fire in this direction. And while it might look a long way away, given adverse weather conditions a bushfire can travel that distance in mere hours.

Both fires have the potential to reach Wentworth Falls, and earlier this afternoon the RFS chief said that the entire Blue Mountains could end up at risk in the coming days.

While I’m not particularly worried, I do need to stay alert in case the RFS escalates their warnings. I’m already as step ahead: I’ve packed my bug-out bag and have an evacuation plan. But that still makes it difficult to switch off that little stay-alert part of my brain and get down to writing.

So for now, here’s the quick summary of my week Monday 14 to Sunday 20 October 2013, plus the week ahead.

Continue reading “Weekly Wrap 176: Largely largesse, then looming bushfires”

Target achieved, indulgent food, bushfire pensiveness

Bushfire sunset, as seen from Camperdown, Sydney: click to embiggenI’d scheduled time tonight to write about my crowdfunded journalism project — the initial target was achieved in under 17 hours! — but after a complex day I’m mentally exhausted.

I woke up happy that I’d raised the funds to cover the Breakpoint and Ruxcon hacker conferences in Melbourne next week. I booked my flights.

Then I enjoyed breakfast with a magnificent view of Sydney Harbour while being briefed by executives from data centre provider Equinix. Then a magnificent lunch at Rockpool while being briefed by NEC and analyst firm Telsyte.

And then the smoke rolled over Sydney.

Some of the more serious fires are in the lower Blue Mountains, between where I am in Sydney tonight and where I’m based at Bunjaree Cottages in the upper Blue Mountains.

The magnificent sunset, pictured at the head of this post, is the result of destruction. Towns have been evacuated, dozens of homes have been destroyed. I’m scheduled to return to Wentworth Falls tomorrow evening, but that assumes that transport lines are still open.

My journalism project is ahead of schedule. That’s enough for now. What I’ll need most tomorrow is energy. My thoughts are with the people with real problems to deal with. Goodnight.

[Photo: Bushfire sunset, as seen from Camperdown, Sydney, earlier this evening.]

Weekly Wrap 115: Four trains and too much food

Today I’m catching up on a fortnight of blog posts, so for now my summary of the week Monday 13 to Sunday 19 August 2012 will consist of nothing but the facts, ma’am.

Personal observations about the last fortnight or so will follow within the next 48 hours or so.



I wrote two articles, one for ABC’s The Drum about media coverage of the Natonal Broadband Network, the other for CSO Online about the hoax “hack” on the Sony PlayStation Network, but neither has been published yet. Stand by.

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • On Monday I had lunch at Rengaya in North Sydney on Websense’s tab.
  • On Tuesday I attended IBM’s Security Symposium 2012 in Sydney. They provided accommodation at Sydney’s Sheraton on the Park hotel the night before so I could make the 0800 start, and plenty of refreshments during the morning.

The Week Ahead

The schedule for the next few days is being shaped by my impending travels, to the Sunshine Coast on Thursday 23 August to present at Consilium, on Sunday 26 August to San Francisco to cover VMworld, and back to Sydney by Wednesday 5 September to present at ACCAN’s national conference.

So between now and Thursday lunchtime I have to write two presentations and finalise two episodes of the Patch Monday podcast, as well as wrap up some other bits and pieces of writing. And get a haircut. And buy some new clothes.

At this stage I plan to be in Wentworth Falls until Wednesday morning, then hit Sydney that afternoon for the opening of the Samsung Experience Store (indeed) and an overnight stay before the real travels begin.

[Photo: The Blue Mountains Hotel, in Lawson, photographed on 13 August 2012 from a passing train.]

On Monday evening you can listen to me in Katoomba

This coming Monday 4 June, I’m leading a discussion entitled Surviving and thriving as a freelancer in a globalised market for Publish! Blue Mountains, “a non-profit association of the region’s top creative and publishing professionals”.

The event is subtitled “How to avoid being outsourced to the lowest bidder (or worse still, a robot!)”

Radical changes will hit a freelancer’s world over the next two years or so as we move to a globalised marketplace. Firstly there is the rapid rise of internet-enabled outsourcing through sites like, allowing projects to be advertised globally and often awarded to the lowest bidder who may be in a country where $10 is a decent day’s wage.

Secondly, increasingly sophisticated and intelligent automated systems are now taking over many tasks that historically required human creative input. Just in the writing field alone, we already have US college sports coverage written completely by computer.

Where will this technology (and the marketplace driving it) take us? And what can we creatives do to ensure we’re not replaced by cut-price doppelgangers and robo-scribes?

The discussion will be held at Clarendon Guesthouse, 68 Lurline St, Katoomba from 5.30 to 7.00pm. My guest speaker slot and the open discussion runs from from 5.45 to 6.30pm, with drinks and networking to follow. It’s free, but you should RSVP to The bar will be open.