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.


  • Will Attorney-General Brandis be the spooks’ breakwater?, ZDNet Australia, 15 October 2013. It seems like the answer will be “No”. On Thursday, Brandis announced that his chief of staff will be a former director-general of ASIO, and that this is part of his intention to emphasise “national security” during his tenure.



Media Appearances

  • On Friday I was interviewed by students at the University of Sydney for their project Breadcrumbs, “an investigative web feature about the rise of Big Data and the booming data economy.” I’ll post a link when it’s online.

Corporate Largesse

  • On Wednesday I went to a lunchtime media briefing by Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks at the Ocean Room Restaurant at Circular Quay, Sydney, where we were provided with (as always) lovely food and wine.
  • On Thursday morning I went to a media briefing by Equinix at Level Fourteen, formerly The American Club, in Sydney. They provided a good, solid breakfast.
  • Also on Thursday, I went to a lunchtime media briefing by NEC and analyst firm Telsyte at Rockpool Bar & Grill. As always there was delightful food (including this time a vast pavlova) and wine. NEC also gave me a Bluetooth Solo Speaker, a cute little external audio speaker for a smartphone or whatever.
  • On Friday I went to a briefing by E-Bit and a tour of Pacnet’s Sydney CBD data centre. Lunch was provided.

The Week Ahead

The coming week is insanely busy, and already mapped out in quite some detail, thanks to the generosity of my Pozible supporters. I’ll be running a daily blog post each morning, although that’ll probably be over at Corrupted Nerds rather than here.

On Monday I’ll be finishing the two articles that I’m meant to be writing today for ZDNet Australia and Technology Spectator, and then setting up my production workflows, so that I can post words and images quickly and efficiently once I’m in Melbourne. I’ve also got a phone interview in the afternoon, and probably some errands to run too.

On Tuesday I’m catching an early train into Sydney, then heading to the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre for a media roundtable by VMWare, then to the ABC at Ultimo to be interviews, with the rest of the afternoon relatively clear.

On Wednesday I’ve got an 0900 meeting at Darling Harbour, and then a lunchtime media roundtable with Amazon Web Services in the Sydney CBD. Straight after that, I’m checking out of my hotel, heading to Sydney airport, flying to Melbourne, checking into my hotel there, and having a bit of a social evening.

On Thursday it’s the Breakpoint information security conference all day, followed by the conference party. Friday is the second day of that conference, and then Friday evening is currently free.

On Saturday and Sunday it’s the Ruxcon hacker conference all day, followed by a conference-related party both nights.

How and when I produce “media objects” during all that has yet to be determined.

[Map: Bushfires near me, 1350 AEDT, a screenshot from Google’s Crisis Map for NSW Bushfires.]