Redefining cloud computing as a vegetable

One of the sessions today at the Kickstart Media Forum was about cloud computing, and journalists had the opportunity to question vendors in the space about trends and issues. But I’m mean and weird, so instead I asked them: If cloud computing was a vegetable, what vegetable would it be?

Remarkably, they all answered. Here’s what they said.

Reuben Bennett, Riverbed national sales manager: “I’d go with potato because it can be dull or uninteresting or it can be dressed up and be very satisfying.”

Duncan Bennet, VMware vice president and managing director: “I’d say fruit salad, lots of stuff mixed up in it, but that’s not a vegetable.”

Damien Murphy, Riverbed systems engineer: Riverbed: “Something that’s a little over-hyped or misunderstood; I’d go with Brussels sprouts.”

Peter James, Ninefold managing director: “It’s got to be fast and powerful and simple and scalable, so I’m thinking broccoli.”

Carl Terrantroy, CA Technologies CTO: “If it was a fruit, it would be easier. I have to do something I like, so I’ll go a baked potato.”

Suhas Kelkar, BMC chief technology officer APC: “It’s the same old vegetable, maybe a carrot, but it’s organically produced.”

Oscar Trimboli, Microsoft Office Lead: “Can it be a fruit? Broccoli, because it’s an amazing self-healing system.”

Gary Mitchell, BMC Australia MD: “Does it have to be a vegetable? Can it be a marshmallow? It’s light and fluffy and it can be satisfying, but if you have too much and you’re not ready it can be a problem.”

So what have we learned? Apparently cloud computing is easier to compare to a fruit. Apparently broccoli is scalable and self-healing. And apparently, people will answer pointless questions if you nag them enough.

I am no longer the weakest link

As a Lifehacker reader helpfully pointed out, the obvious word in this set of letters from tonight’s episode of Letters & Numbers is RAPIST. Fortunately, I went one better and picked HARPIST, part of an early burst of activity which lead me to a comfortable victory on the night. I’m very happy now, as I’ve done much better than during my infamous appearance on The Weakest Link back in 2001.

If you didn’t catch the show (shame) and you’re in Australia, you can watch it on the SBS site. And I’ll be back on Friday night at 6pm for another crack at the glory (it’s all about glory, and an eventual dictionary).

So who won at the Lizzies?

Friday night the sixth Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards, universally known as The Lizzies, took place at Star City. As well as an enormous number of jokes about The Phantom Of The Internet and a theatre sports sketch where Computer Choice editor Ashton Mills made the somewhat unlikely claim “Sometimes we make it up”, prizes were handed out. This year, we didn’t know who the finalists were until the night: categories could have anywhere from two to twenty entrants, but only the highest scorers made the final shortlist.

I maintained my perennial bridesmaid status by getting Highly Commended certificates for Best Consumer Journalist and Best Technical Journalist. Hey, I’m nothing if not versatile. (For the curious, my Best Consumer Journalist entries were all for Exec Tech in Australian IT, looking at broadband, GPS systems and media centre PCs, while my Best Technical Journalist entry articles examined the risks of Internet forums, Skype, Windows Vista sucking and vibrators.)

Here’s a pretty full list of finalists, including winners (in bold), highly commended (HC) and commended (C). The results for the HCs and Cs flashed by pretty fast and my notes are a tad scrawled, so I may have missed one or two. (Now corrected from the official list though!)

Best New Journalist: Elyssa Baxter, Luke Coleman (HC), Mahesh Sharma (HC)

Best New Title:, technology (HC), Official PS Magazine (HC) (and frankly, this category appears to be Best Relaunch)

Best Industry Journalist: Ben Woodhead, Lilia Guam (HC), Simon Grose (HC)

Best Industry Title: Australian Financial Review, The Australian (HC)

Best Multimedia Coverage: Good Game, CIO Australia (HC), Risky Business (HC)

Best Consumer Journalist: Derek Fung, Angus Kidman (HC), Elyssa Baxter (HC)

Best Personal Title: CNET, PC User (HC), Choice Computer (HC)

Best Business Technology Title: MIS Australia, The Australian (HC)

Best Business Journalist: Paul Smith, Renai LeMay (HC), Ben Woodhead (C), Agnes King (C)

Best Communications Journalist: Michael Sainsbury (and no other finalists!)

Best Gaming Journalist: Seamus Byrne, Logan Booker, Marcus Browne

Best Gaming Title: PC Powerplay, Atomic (HC), Good Game (C)

Best Production Team: CNET, CRN (HC), PC Authority (HC)

Best Technical Journalist: Darren Yates, Angus Kidman (HC)

Best Article: JV Douglas, Patrick Gray (HC), Renai LeMay (C), Nick Ross (C)

Best Columnist: David Braue, Michael Sainsbury (C), Simon Sharwood (C), Graeme Philipson (C)

Best Reviewer: Dan Chiappini, Darren Yates (HC), Alex Kidman (C), Nick Ross (C)

Best Media Website: ZDNet, (HC)

Best News Journalist: Julian Bajkowski, Ben Woodhead (HC)

Best News Title: The Australian, Australian Financial Review (HC)

Journalist of the Year: Ben Woodhead

Technology Title of the Year: Good Game

Linux is too hard for my mum

Note: I wrote this in response to an idle challenge on a journalist mailing list . . .

Linux is too hard for my mum

Ubuntu is a good product, but don’t try saying that it is a good option on a laptop for my mum. It would work OK for mail and writing and printing. But as soon as it has a crash, command prompt phobia will kick in.

I know that Linux addicts will claim that Ubuntu is crash-proof. No laptop is crash-proof. That is doubly so if my mum is in control. Do not ask if things will go wrong; ask how long you can wait until a call occurs.

Truthfully, I do not know an awful lot about Ubuntu anyway. I could say “Switch it off and try again”. I could wax lyrical about Dolphin. I could launch a distraction by talking about my nupital plans.

But in any pragmatic analysis, I do not know much about command prompts, apart from command prompts in DOS. Knowing DOS is not of much aid on most occasions, and Linux command prompts will show up. My mum thinks command prompts suck ass. So staying away from Ubuntu is a straightforward solution for both of us.

I will say nothing about using a Mac. I want my limbs too much.

Can you spot anything odd about this story?

A brief ethical moment

At the end of this morning’s keynote, a bunch of prizes from various sponsors were handed out to names randomly drawn from a hat. One of the names was mine. While the organisers were keen to get some prizes handed out — as is always the case, some of the winners weren’t actually present — this wasn’t something I felt I could do.

So I yelled out “I’m here, but I couldn’t possibly accept a prize.” Someone up the front — probably another journalist — yelled “Ethics!” Well, yes, but it’s a bit more complex than that. I wouldn’t turn down a prize offered in a lucky draw at a press conference (I know some journalists and employers who would argue that you should). But at a professional conference where I’m just an observer (and didn’t pay to get in, even though I funded my own trip to the conference), I don’t think it’s fair on the other participants for me to win anything.

Slithering to success at the Lizzies

At last year’s Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards, I was so drunk I don’t remember anything after 7:30pm. This year, I took a vow of sobriety, which means not only did I not cause major headaches for the organisers and my brother, I also remember who won.

The most pleasing result of the night for me was BRAN winning a Highly Commended in the Best Multimedia Coverage category, against some extremely stiff competition. Yay BRAN! In the Best New Title category, we were beaten by the Gadget Guy, but I’m more than happy to lose to a nice bloke like Peter and his team.

As I predicted some time ago, I didn’t win the Helen Dancer Best Consumer Technology Journalist Award. Seamus Byrne, the well-deserved victor, made a great speech in which he noted that all his competitors were people whose work he used to read. I feel both flattered and old.

Lots of other titles I contribute to did well, including ZDNet (Winner of Best Technology Media Website), the Australian (Technology News Title of the Year and Best Technology Industry Title), and iTWire (Highly Commended in Best New Technology Title).

Since the Media Connect team obviously still all have hangovers, here’s the full list of winners:

Technology Title of the Year

Technology Journalist of the Year
Julian Bajkowski

Best Technology Article
David Braue, Asher Moses (tie)

Technology News Title of the Year
The Australian

The Cass Warneminde Best Technology News Journalist
Michael Sainsbury

Best Technology Media Website

Best Multimedia Coverage

Best New Technology Title HIGHLY COMMENDED iTwire, Australian SmartHome Ideas

The Alicia Camphuisen Best New Technology Journalist
Craig Simms HIGHLY COMMENDED Chris Duckett

Best Business Technology Title

The John Costello Best Business Technology Journalist
Julian Bajkowski HIGHLY COMMENDED Simon Sharwood

Best Technology Industry Title
IT Today (The Australian) HIGHLY COMMENDED CRN

Best Technology Industry Journalist
Brad Howarth

Best Personal Technology Title
PC Authority

Best Technical Journalist
Darren Yates HIGHLY COMMENDED Tim Dean, Dan Chiappini

The Helen Dancer Best Consumer Technology Journalist
Seamus Byrne HIGHLY COMMENDED Dan Warne, Tim Dean

Best Gaming Title

Best Gaming Journalist

Best Production Team
MIS, Atomic (tie)

Best Technology Columnist
Munir Kotadia HIGHLY COMMENDED Graeme Philipson

Best Communications Journalist
Michael Sainsbury HIGHLY COMMENDED David Braue

Best Technology Reviewer
Dan Warne HIGHLY COMMENDED Alex Kidman, Nick Ross

Looking to the Lizzies

The most prominent media awards for technology writers in Australia are the Media Connect Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards, generally referred to with the more friendly nickname The Lizzies. I’ve involved with a nice swag of nominations this year, having scored a finalist berth for The Helen Dancer Best Consumer Technology Journalist category, while BRAN is a finalist in two categories: Best New Technology Title and Best Multimedia Coverage. Given the calibre of my rivals in the consumer category (my BRAN cohost Roulla Yiacoumi, sometime BRAN participant and APC news editor Dan Warne, freelancers Seamus Byrne and Nicole Manktelow and former freelancer Tim Dean), I don’t personally have any expectations of winning at all, but it’s possible BRAN might be in with a shot. The awards are announced on April 27, and the entire BRAN team will be attending the presentation at Sydney’s Star City Casino.