Visiting Newcastle for DiG Festival

DiG Festival logo: click for official websiteThis coming Wednesday I’m catching the Shitkansen north from Sydney to Newcastle for the inaugural DiG Festival and Conference: digital plus interactive plus green technology.

I won’t repeat the event’s own website. You can read that for yourself. The key days are this coming Thursday 3 and Friday 4 October 2013.

But I will say that apart from the conference program itself, I’m interested in catching a few glimpses of the city. It’s been three years since I visited Newcastle to speak at the National Young Writers Festival, and four years since I looked around properly and wrote my Letter from Newcastle. So of nothing else, there’ll be an observational essay about that.

There’s a strong-looking conference thread about the future of online payments — could the fact that Commonwealth Bank is a major sponsor have something to do with that? — and I’ll be writing about that for Technology Spectator. It’ll be a nice follow-up to my recent piece about Westpac’s $2 billion invisible bank. And I’m sure I’ll be writing about other things for other outlets.

If you’re in Newcastle at the time, don’t forget to say hi. I plan to stick around until Saturday afternoon.

Nokia Lumia 925 and Windows Phone 8 trial: Day 5

Penrith railway station at dusk: click to embiggenIt’s time to catch up on my Nokia Lumia 925 / Windows Phone 8 trial, skipping over Day 4 to Day 5, Saturday 3 August 2013 — when I finally discovered the proper way to synchronise the phone with my MacBook Pro.

I’d been frustrated by the slow process of using Bluetooth to transfer photos. Nowhere in the “Welcome” booklet that comes with the phone is there even a suggestion that you can plug the phone into a computer, let alone that there exists an official Microsoft Windows Phone for OS X application!

And it works!

Furthermore, if you use Apple’s default workflows for managing your images in iPhoto and your music in iTunes, then that all works too.

OK, so I’m an idiot. Maybe I should have looked, or perhaps browsed Nokia’s support site. But I still think this is something worth mentioning from the beginning — particularly as certain phone configuration options are only available from the management software.

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Nokia Lumia 925 and Windows Phone 8 trial: Day 3

Approaching Sydney Central, a frame from "Strathfield to Central": click to embiggenOn Thursday I decided to check out the Nokia Lumia 925’s video capabilities. That’s a frame grab above I continue to be impressed with this phone’s image quality.

Indeed the video, which I’ve entitled Strathfield to Central for obvious reasons, is the highlight not only of Day 3 of my Nokia Lumia 925 / Windows Phone 8 trial but of the entire trial so far.

I had hoped to embed the full video here. But I’m on mobile bandwidth today, and unless I upload a gigabyte or two of data, it simply won’t do it justice. So it’ll have to wait a while. Stand by.

Meanwhile, here’s the rest of my bullet-point observations from Day 3.

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At Town Hall station? You breathe this!

Photograph of filthy air vent at Town Hall station

This is the air vent in the elevator between platforms 1/2 and 4 at Sydney’s Town Hall station. Do you like that layer of black crap?

Town Hall station is already hot, humid, smelly and dangerously over-crowded. Add to these risks the fact that you’re breathing whatever it is that’s accumulating up there.

While taking this photo with my trusty but battered Nokia N80 the other day, I expected someone to question me — concerned that I was a terrorist or something. I reckon terrorists are the least of your worries here.

Unreliable Bangkok 9: Train

Photograph of girls playing on the railway in Bangkok, with the slum in the background

’Pong’s movie Bangkok Express slices through the city at the height of the motorway. Yes, you can see urban decay, but it’s abstract, in the distance. The train slices the city differently: just above human eye level.

The photos I took from the train in Bangkok reminded me that a sign at Ashfield Station in Sydney has got it all wrong. That sign tells us that railway stations are for catching trains — and if I’m not catching a train right at that moment then I’m not welcome. I might be a terrorist. Move on, nothing to see here.


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