Fine posts for 2013, such that they are

As in previous years, the list of most popular posts for 2013 was disappointing, so I’ve hand-curated this list of seven stories for you to consider instead.

As usual, this does not include the material I wrote elsewhere, for ZDNet Australia, Technology Spectator, CSO Online, Crikey, ABC The Drum and the rest. That’s all listed on my Media Output page, although I’ll probably highlight a few articles of enduring interest some time in the next few days.

  1. See this, folks? It’s a picture of democracy, being my defence of the Daily Telegraph’s right to conduct whatever party-political campaigning they like. Even if you don’t like it, the newspaper does still have freedom of political speech.
  2. Microsoft has banned me from covering TechEd, which I still consider to have been an ill-thought move on their part.
  3. My guest lecture in March to first-year journalism and media studies students at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on Algorithms and the Filter Bubble, plus the updated versions from August, Take 2A and Take 2B. All three are available as audio files, plus the accompanying slides.
  4. Why people who say “train station” sound stupid, being my first foray into computational linguistics.
  5. My fish are dead: the black dog ate them (an explanation?), being an announcement and discussion about my encounter with severe depression this year — something which still has a significant impact on my life.
  6. Six Pigeons for Jeffrey, being my personal photographic tribute to this fascinating Australian artist.
  7. Hillary’s mangoes, no NSA involved, which is more about the daft reactions to Edward Snowden’s revelations of the NSA’s surveillance operations.

If you’d like to compare this with previous years, try these:

Most popular posts of 2013

As we approach the end of 2013, I’m going to do my usual series of blog posts looking back at what actually happened on this little planet. This is the first, being a list of the most-read posts on this website.

There hasn’t been a lot to choose from in the last couple of years, because most of my writing is done elsewhere these days. That means some rather mundane pieces of writing, such as Weekly Wrap posts, end up on the list. That’s possibly an argument for abandoning this little exercise.

  1. Catchup posts within 36 hours was the most popular post of all, which makes no sense whatsoever because it’s routine administrivia. I suspect the visitor count has been artificially inflated somehow, though supposedly the traffic generated by spambots has already been removed.
  2. My tweets from TechEd Australia 2012’s keynote sessions, a post that was linked to from news stories that reported me having been banned from attending Microsoft’s TechEd conference. My own blog post on this issue is coming up at number 5.
  3. Guardian Australia not the droid you’re looking for, being my reaction against all the excitement generated in January 2013 by the announcement that there would soon be an Australian edition of this news masthead.
  4. My fish are dead: the black dog ate them (an explanation?), being my rather idiosyncratic announcement and discussion of the fact that I’d been dealing with a severe depression episode, published in July.
  5. Microsoft has banned me from covering TechEd, which is self-explanatory.
  6. Choosing my next media directions: you’re doing it, OK?, from May.
  7. Vodafone Australia’s new 4G network ain’t bad, being the write-up of my trial of the network which led to that conclusion.
  8. Weekly Wrap 152: LulzSec, Optus, radio and thinking stuff, which I suspect is only in the Top 10 because it mentions LulzSec.
  9. Weekly Wrap 155: Chemtrails, elitism and much thinking, ditto, chemtrails.
  10. Sydney Harbour “giant gambling den” bullshit reportage, from January.

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Nokia Lumia 925 and Windows Phone 8 trial: Day 39

En route, a frame from Strathfield to Central: click to embiggenI’ve finally wrapped up my Nokia Lumia 925 / Windows Phone 8 trial. I’m impressed with both the phone and the operating system, but is it too little too late for both Nokia and Microsoft? Who knows? I’ve made a video! You can scroll down for that.

That possible problem with Wi-Fi dropouts that I detailed last time? I couldn’t reproduce it with the replacement handset — or at least not in a way that couldn’t also be explained by the swirling electromagnetic soup in the vicinity of my desk and all the wireless devices thereupon — so let’s just write that off as a false alarm.

So where does that leave us?

Well, to reiterate, the Nokia Lumia 925 is a nice piece of kit, in keeping with the best traditions of the brand. Windows Phone 8 is also a solid forward-looking operating system. I’d been told about Windows 8’s design heritage at TechEd on the Gold Coast last year. Now, having used it for a month, I can see where it’s heading. App developers should be able to do good things with it.

But with both Nokia smartphones and Windows Phone 8 having such a tiny market share, will it all have been in vain? Has the flood of iOS and Android mobile devices taught the business world that, no, they’re not actually shackled to Microsoft’s products after all? That there are other ways of doing things? And that “producing documents” isn’t actually the purpose of business?

Sometimes when I look at Microsoft’s strategy with Nokia, or the previous one when they inserted Yahoo! into Bing, that the two potentially troubled companies are clutching to each other in terror as they plunge, each hoping the other brought a parachute. And maybe they have. But all the talk I’ve heard so far is your common or garden variety corporate waffle. Good luck, guys.

The only other loose end is to post the video I shot. And here it is. Over the fold is the full 16-minute video Strathfield to Central, shot on the Nokia Lumia 925 at full 1080p resolution, and all other video settings on their defaults.

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Weekly Wrap 169: Explaining all the things, in various ways

Sydney Harbour from Potts Point: click to embiggenMy week Monday 26 August to Sunday 1 September 2013 was a full one, and I survived.

Part of me wants to write more than that, particularly after last week’s false start, the thoughts generated by my university lectures on Monday, and the idiocy of being banned by Microsoft — and in that account I really should have emphasised more the defamatory nature of that action.

But it’s already well into Sunday evening, I’ve already written my counterpoint to gripes about the Sunday Telegraph, and it’s a busy week ahead (see below). So on with the facts.

Articles

Podcasts

None, though I did more background work on Corrupted Nerds, and things will appear in the coming few days.

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • Also on Monday, I met up with Kim Carter, the PR Manager of the Australian Direct Marketing Association. Oddly enough, they know all about data mining. She paid for the coffee.
  • Also on Monday, I went to the program launch for the Sydney Opera House’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas, which is on 2 to 4 November. There was food and drink.
  • On Thursday night, I went to Text100’s (in)famous Christmas in August event, where they previewed their clients’ goodies for the holiday buying season. There was food and much, much drink.

The Week Ahead

It’ll be another busy one. Monday is dedicated to a spring clean of various projects, something I’m looking forward to.

Tuesday is a trip to Sydney for a 1000 interview recording in the CBD, and to cover a lunch event by the Trans-Tasman Business Circle featuring Westpac’s chief information officer Clive Whincup. I’m reporting on the latter for Technology Spectator.

Wednesday is a day of interview recordings, research and writing back up in the Blue Mountains.

On Thursday it’s back to Sydney for more interview recordings and a lunch briefing by AVG Technologies, and I’ll probably stay in Sydney over night because on Friday I have an 0800 interview recording in the CBD — after which it’s all a bit unplanned.

[Photo: Sydney Harbour from Potts Point, taken from a room at the DeVere Hotel on Friday 30 August 2013.]

Microsoft has banned me from covering TechEd

How they make journalism (at TechEd): click for copy at FlickrTechEd is Microsoft’s annual developer conference, and TechEd Australia 2013 kicks off this coming Tuesday 3 September. ZDNet Australia had commissioned me to cover it, from a room much like the one pictured — just like I did last year — but now it’s all off. Because Microsoft has banned me.

On 1 August, I emailed ZDNet Australia editor Chris Duckett to accept his commission. But on 6 August, he phoned me, pissing himself laughing, to say that the message from Microsoft — I don’t know from who or how it was delivered — was a no-go. I’m banned from TechEd for “being aggressive to speakers”.

Now I, too, was pissing myself laughing. I was nearly in tears!

“Aggressive to speakers”? Let’s be clear. Any problems were about one speaker, singular. And this alleged aggression — which I’d characterise more as ridicule, mockery and outrageously hyperbolic violent imagery, as is my well-worn shtick — happened solely via Twitter.

Now I’ve thought long and hard about whether to tell this story. Personally, I don’t really care. I’m happy to avoid spending most of next week in that hell-hole called the Gold Coast, and I’ve got plenty of other things to get on with. And Microsoft does have the right to decide who they will and won’t allow into their event — especially when they’re paying.

But I’ve decided to go public because I’m a big fan of transparency — as reflected in my blog posts from 2007, Releasing the Black Hawk crash video was A Good Thing, Scaring the shit out of clients and Being Real: more notes on radical transparency.

I think you should know about this ban, because it potentially affects the quality of my coverage and analysis of Microsoft as it faces some interesting challenges — more about that another time. I’d like you to be informed consumers of my work, which is why I list all the corporate largesse I receive in my Weekly Wrap posts.

I was also under the impression that any problems which may have arisen were all sorted out at the time. Certainly no-one at Microsoft has ever mentioned any problem to me since then.

Quite frankly, to bad-mouth me to one of my commissioning editors — in an undocumented phone call, no less! — strikes me as a tad defamatory.

And without any communication with me? From an organisation that wants customers to trust it with our most intimate and confidential data? Does this not represent a glaring absence of due process?

So, in the tradition of another 2007 post, “Let’s just write that down…”, I’m just going to write it all down, and put my name to it. That’s what honest people do, right?

Come with me, boys and girls, as I tell you about TechEd Australia 2012’s keynote speaker, Jason Silva, “futurist, filmmaker, epiphany addict [WTF?], ecstatic truth lover [WTFF?], techno optimist”. Check his Wikipedia entry and personal website.

Continue reading “Microsoft has banned me from covering TechEd”