Weekly Wrap 273: Security, dentistry, and technology

Don't be a cog in the machine: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 24 to Sunday 30 August 2015 was disrupted by dentistry. A filling broke, quite a large one, and I lost half a day of covering the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit. There were also budgetary impacts. Why do we have teeth?

There was some good news, however. My new MacBook Pro arrived, courtesy of The 9pm Urgent Hardware Refresh. Migrating everything to the new machine was seamless, and took just over two hours. I’ll report further on its performance in due course.


None, but I’ve done most of the work on a ZDNet column that will be posted on Monday.


None, but a new episode of The 9pm Edict will appear on Tuesday. I’ve already done a lot of the pre-production.

Media Appearances

  • On Wednesday morning, I spoke about telecommunications metadata on ABC 105.7 Darwin.
  • On Wednesday evening, I spoke about this very same subject at length on ABC 774 Melbourne, but I didn’t make a recording.


There were three editions of 5at5, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Why not subscribe so you’ll get all the future ones?

Corporate Largesse

  • On Monday and Tuesday, I covered the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit at the Hilton Hotel Sydney, and there was plenty of food and drink. While I was there, Blue Coat gave me a 16GB thumb drive.

The Week Ahead

It’s the second of two weeks in Sydney, and it starts off hectic. On Monday, I have to finish a ZDNet column, scope out a server upgrade for a client, and complete The 9pm Edict podcast.

On Tuesday, I’ll organise the final technology purchases for The 9pm Urgent Hardware Refresh, and write my bit for the ACCAN National Conference debate on Wednesday. Then at 2030 AEST that night, I’m talking about some recent tech stories on ABC 702 Sydney and Local Radio around NSW.

On Wednesday, I’ll actually be at the ACCAN National Conference, or at least in the afternoon for the panel discussion. The morning is likely to be spent catching up on various background tasks.

On Thursday, I’m writing a column for ZDNet, and turning my UTS lecture from April into a video.

On Friday, I’ll design and test my new podcast recording set-up. I’ll post a description once that’s done.

The weekend will see me not working at all, ideally. No, really.

Further Ahead

On Friday 11 September, I’ll be presenting my regular guest lecture at UTS. And then on Saturday 12 September, it’s the recording session for The 9pm Edict Public House Forum, with post-production to be done on the Sunday.

[Photo: Don’t be a cog in the machine, being graffiti photographed somewhere in Sydney on 29 July 2007.]

Mix 106.5, fuck off your sky spam!

Skywriting has to be one of the lowest forms of advertising, no different from an attention-seeking teenager scrawling his tag over every flat surface within reach. So I guess it’s only appropriate that the low-brow arsehats of commercial radio reckon it’s a good look.

I’ve met commercial radio executives. They’re not the sort of people you’d want to have dinner with, let alone leave with your pets unattended. Like so many who’ve congealed into the uppermost scum layers of the broadcast media cesspool, they’re arrogant beyond belief, filled with their own sense of self-importance.

Writing in The Observer yesterday, John Naughton reckons this attitude is understandable, if no longer acceptable.

What always struck me about [TV’s] senior executives — in both the commercial and public sector — was how smug and self-satisfied they seemed. In a way, this was understandable: they were masters of a particular universe, rulers of a medium that dominated the information ecosystem, dictated the political agenda, and determined the daily habits of a large chunk of the population. At that time, the most powerful apparatchiks in the BBC and ITV were the schedulers — the planners who designed ways of holding the attention of a mass audience. Their craft included tricks like not scheduling some things against stronger competitors; making sure that one had a follow-on that would keep audiences from switching channels over the 9pm watershed; winning the ratings war over the Christmas period and so on. Watching them at work, one realised that effectively they were playing chess –– and that the pawns in their arcane games were the viewers.

Embedded in the corporate DNA of push media like broadcast television is the assumption that viewers are, if not exactly idiots, then passive consumers. The deal is that they receive gratefully what we, the broadcasters, decide to create.

The same for radio. The same tricks to keep listeners from changing that dial before the next 15-minutes ratings measurement slot starts. The same arrogance.

And double same for Australian commercial radio, whose executives grew fat and lazy through the 1990s as they traded metropolitan broadcast licenses for tens of millions of dollars and their testosterone-filled 4WDs cruised the suburbs handing out largesse to the proles. The rumbling and whooshing and laser zaps and deep booming voices of their station promos underlined their self-image as intergalactic heroes.

Broadcast radio is threatened, of course, especially that which does little more than play music now that everyone has a gadget in their pocket that can play whatever music they want, when they want.

It’s becoming even more threatened now that those gadgets are connected to the grid, where they can figure out for themselves what new music we might want to listen to and download it automatically. Or hook into any audio stream on the planet, including those that we and our friends create for ourselves without the help of the music director’s computer-based music scheduling system. You know the one, the one that says it’s 8.50am so we must therefore listen to an up-tempo track from 1996 with a female vocalist, because in the last hour we’ve already had 75% male vocals and instrumentals.

How much are we paying that music director, anyway, when iTunes does the same job for free?

So in the face of this challenge, what is Mix 106.5 FM in Sydney doing to shape its future?

Smoke-pissing its frequency across the sky of one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Ruining that beauty, not just for those vast migrating commuting herds who might conceivably want to listen simultaneous to exactly the same sequence of songs by Diesel, Rihanna and Nickelback as everyone else in the city — yes, that’s what they’re playing right now, inspiring eh? — interspersed with forced cheerfulness, lowest-common-denominator inanities from a B-list comedian and, of course, advertising. Advertising that for the most part hasn’t thought of a more sophisticated strategy to grab our interest than shouting at us.

This sky spam, this moronic vandalism on a glorious summer’s morning just makes you look even more out of touch, Mix 106.5. Just fuck right off. And no, I’m not linking to you.

[Photo: More sky spam by sylmobile, taken just a few minutes ago.]

The 9pm Edict #7

The 9pm EdictThe world’s sole remaining super power gets a healthcare system. Channel 10 pushes the heteronormative agenda. And Barry O’Farrell invents an entirely new criminal justice system based on who knows what.

Hello, possums! It’s late, but here’s an episode of The 9pm Edict.

You can listen to this episode below. But if you want them all, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

For more information on what I discussed tonight, check out The 7pm Project, Barry O’Farrell’s anti-graffiti plan, and pretty much any news outlet about Obama’s healthcare plan.

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.

[Credits: The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]