LCA 2010 Day 2: Open my sectors

The second “pre-day” at linux.conf.au saw the first keynote (by anthropologist Gabriella Coleman, artistically pictured above) and a bunch more mini-confs, with ‘Open & The Public Sector’ grabbing most of my attention. I’ve got a couple of stories in progress based on ideas from those sessions, but nothing published yet.

My main LCA-connected writing was thus a piece for Lifehacker looking at how Google Wave isn’t quite up to the task of being conference note-taking. The rest of Lifehacker was the usual eclectic mix of torrents, tennis and Wi-Fi:

  • Find Your Australia Day Celebration Location
  • Tweak Your Clock To Match uTorrent To Your Download Window
  • MiFi Makes Sharing 3G Easy
  • IBM Seer Adds Augmented Reality To Australian Open
  • LCA 2010 Day 1: The Wellington experience

    I’m spending this week in Wellington for Linux.conf.au 2010, the annual Australian Linux conference. It’s only the second time I’ve ever been to New Zealand (the first was a quick trip to Auckland last year), and coincidentally it’s also the second time LCA has headed offshore. The weekend was pretty grey (as the photo demonstrates), but we’re now seeing some actual sun, and Wellington itself is a damn attractive place and easy to get around.

    In typical fashion, the whole trip is providing grist for stories. Indeed, the Wellington Airport Flyer service is so well-implemented that it got a post on Lifehacker all to itself. The weekly Road Worrier column also drew on the trip, looking at the onboard DVD player service provided on the flight over.

    The first two days of LCA are devoted to “miniconfs” that delve into specific topics, and yesterday I hit the conference sessions dedicated to Google Wave. That resulted in a story for ZDNet (my first in a while!) looking at how Wave integrates with Novell Pulse, as well as a piece for Lifehacker on the forthcoming Wave extensions gallery. I also kept my hand in at APC, looking at the IE vulnerability at the centre of the Chinese hacking scandal.

    Also on Lifehacker yesterday:

  • Seven Catch-Up TV Site Now Live
  • Foxtel Planning 3D Channel In 2011
  • Last Week’s Best Posts
  • Busy is as busy does

    Typical, isn’t it? I can be flat out writing stories in Vegas but still find time for daily updates, yet send me home with a relatively unpacked schedule and nothing happens. If that holds true, I should be more productive next week in Wellington.

    I finished off my CES coverage for APC with one more porn story and a roundup. My business card proclaims that I write about “technology, travel, pop and porn”, and with CES I certainly managed all four.

    With CES out of the way, Lifehacker is back at centre stage. In the big picture pieces, Lifehacker 101 looked at questions wireless broadband purchasers should ask, while Loaded examined how to save many with reciprocal healthcare agreements while overseas. As well as:

  • Avoiding Weight Gain In 140 Characters Or Less
  • 1 In 50 Twitter Users Is Australian
  • DriveSafe.ly Reads Your BlackBerry Email
  • DIY IKEA Bag Dress
  • Google Hacks Reinforce Security Issues With PDF
  • Beanhunter iPhone App Tracks Down Good Coffee
  • Telstra Increases Next G Data Plan Limits
  • Unearthed iPhone App Offers Free Song Downloads
  • Would You Pay For A Newspaper Online?
  • Vodafone Warranty Slap Good News For All Mobile Phone Owners
  • Cricket Live Offers Cricket To iPhone Users, For A Fee
  • Linux.conf.au 2010 Hits Wellington Next Week
  • 25 New Year Resolutions For Parents
  • Project Cleanup: I Got Me Some Scan
  • Is Your Television Killing You?
  • DIY IKEA Jewellery Stand
  • Beware Parcel Charges When Online Shopping Overseas
  • Conceal Your Book Safe Amongst Similar Titles
  • CES Days 3-4: A quick catch-up

    There’s a bunch of stuff I should write about my weekend in Vegas, but that may take a little while, so I’d best make sure at least the writing log is up to date. For APC, there were a couple more stories from CES and AEE:

    I actually videoed the press conference for the second story, and you can check out the whole thing online if you must:


    CES was also the theme of my Monday Road Worrier column for Lifehacker, looking at the best travel gadgets from the show. Other stories:

  • Qantas Club Perth Not Allowing Guests
  • Why Censorship Is Unlikely To Stop With RC Content
  • Greenpeace Rankings Show Greenest Gadget Companies
  • Last Week’s Best Posts
  • CES Day 2: Spadework

    The fact that I’m posting this the day after the event is pretty typical of what happens over the course of CES. You start off blooming with energy, but by the time several days have rolled around, you end up wearing out. That’s what befell me on Friday, which was also a day when several scheduled events got cancelled, reworked or generally screwed over. It always happens.

    The day started a bit later than has been the case so far, with my first scheduled event the keynote by Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo at 9am at the Hilton Theater (translation: another monorail trip). Press were allowed early admission from 8am, but I figured I could show up at about 0840 and still get a seat. I was right.

    Kallasvuo’s presentation was pretty good, though I’d have liked more technical information and it was disappointing that the announcement of a partnership with Sesame Workshop wasn’t the cue for a guest appearance by Oscar the Grouch. And it resulted in the first story of the day for APC:

    After that, I headed back to the Imperial Palace to quickly collect a couple of parcels from Amazon that had been delivered the day before. Ordering stuff online is a sensible strategy if you’re going to be in a hotel for a week, though the $5 per parcel pickup fee the hotel charges has to be factored into any savings calculations. Then it was off to AquaKnox at the Venetian on foot, where Lenovo was demonstrating all its new stuff (and offering a free lunch into the bargain). That gave me the second story for the day:

    Another Venetian Express took me back to the LVCC, where after some writing I headed to the Marriott to meet with Netgear and check out their stuff. Then I walked back to the Strip — not the most scenic approach, but I suspect turning around and waiting for a monorail wouldn’t have been much quicker.

    The evening was devoted to a hasty dinner with the Sony Australia team and various other Aussie journos at David Burke, before we all went to see David Spade doing stand-up at the adjacent Venetian Showroom. I was looking forward to seeing Spade, who did an impressive job, though he did refer back to his cheat sheet perhaps a little more than might be deemed ideal. Extra points for the funniest ludicrous porn title I’ve heard in a while: Schindler’s Fist. But I was even more impressed by his support act Todd Glass. Anyone who can fashion a whole series of jokes from the ShamWow is fine by me.

    After dinner we wandered over to XS at the Encore, but quickly decided that queuing for that long wasn’t worth it and settled for gelato at the Venetian instead. Even so, I was out until well past midnight, which is way too late for this 38-year old hack. At least I could sleep in the next day.

    It was the weekend back home, so no new Lifehacker stories. On the other hand, I achieved a dominance in the APC news coverage that would never happen outside the confines of CES:

    CES Day 1: Dining and Lady Gaga

    The first official day of the show saw my rate of story writing drop slightly (though slightly is definitely a relative term in this context). It also saw me roaming from the LVCC to the Sands and back again rather more times than is strictly sensible.

    The day started early with an Intel press conference scheduled for 0730, so I was on the monorail first thing — so first thing, in fact, that I got to see the shutters on the station open by a mysterious remote-control process. Intel went for celebrity of a sort at its press event, roaming in women’s soccer legend Mia Hamm (no, me neither) for its demonstration. Anyway, it proved material for the first story of the day:

    Then it was onto the Venetian Express shuttle bus and back to the Sands for another press conference, this time with Greenpeace rating whether tech companies live up to their green promises. I’d been to the same event last year and it was interesting to see how its views had changed:

    Then it was back onto the bus again to return to the LVCC. I briefly raced into the press centre to post the Greenpeace story, then went and joined the scrum waiting to see an actual celebrity, Lady Gaga, appearing at the Monster Cable stand. We were kept waiting a long time and it was virtually impossible to see anything, but indefatigable idiot that I am, I milked a story from it anyway:

    Once again I was due back at the Sands. I have a rule at CES that I try to only be at one venue or the other in the course of the day, but it’s often impossible to implement, especially this year when the keynotes have been moved to the Hilton. On this occasion, I grabbed the monorail, headed back to my hotel room to write the Lady Gaga story, and then walked back to the Sands for a slight change of pace: the Adult Entertainment Expo, which always runs at the same time as CES. I’ve long maintained that there are tech stories to be had in a conference dedicated to the porn industry, and I proved the point again with the first story I’ve written this week to feature the word “vibrator”:

    By this stage (if you’re keeping track) it was about 6pm, and I had to walk to the Wynn for ShowStoppers, the third of the evening press events at CES. It was good stuff, though I raced through it in record time. Then it was back to the hotel to write, sort my email and try and regain a precarious sense of control, before heading out to Japonais at the Mirage for dinner with the Intel Australia crew. It was a great meal and, five days into Vegas, the first proper dining-out experience I’d had. It was midnight by the time I got back, which meant, inevitably, a bigger crowd for the elevator than I’d seen for the entire trip so far.

    Of course, the day’s record wouldn’t be complete without what I also wrote for Lifehacker:

  • Which TV Programs Benefit From Time Shifting?
  • Will You Miss Memory Stick? (referring to my earlier APC story)
  • Disable Word 2007 AutoComplete For Dates
  • Nexus One On eBay At Ripoff Prices
  • Target Offering 15% Off iTunes Cards

  • CES Day -1: Exhaustion and Taylor Swift

    Wednesday is always the longest day of CES, featuring endless press conferences at the Sands and elsewhere, the first keynote (always from Microsoft) and the Digital Experience showcase in the evening. I was out of the hotel door by 7am, pausing for a brief McDonald’s breakfast which was a bit too reminiscent of this Onion story to be entirely satisfying.

    The first three press conferences — for LG, Monster Cable and Toshiba — were all interesting, albeit ludicrously overcrowded. I couldn’t even get a seat at Toshiba, and ended up sitting on the floor. Then I went back to my hotel room (since the press lounge clearly wasn’t going to be up to scratch) and wrote stories about them:

    Then I raced back to the Sands and picked up my Adult Entertainment Expo registration. I had intended to go to the Samsung press conference, but one look at the queue convinced me that I’d be sitting on the floor instead. So I jumped on a shuttle bus and headed to the LVCC to do some work instead. This proved much easier, since the LVCC actually had a proper and decent-sized press room.

    Next cab off the rank was the Sony press conference, which was held at its stand. This meant cramming chairs into every conceivable nook, and it was pure luck that I got a decent seat. And a decent seat was worth having, since Sony bought out the first genuine celebrity moment of the show: Taylor Swift, who performed a live version of ‘Love Story’. The performance was impressive, though my pictures weren’t.

    The conference itself was crammed with newsworthy material, started late and ran over, and this created a mild dilemma. By the time I fought my way over to the Hilton, it was probable that all the press-assigned keynote seats would be gone. Even if they weren’t, I had a bunch of stories to write and no way to post them in the keynote venue. So I decided to head back to the press room and and write the stories and then watch the keynote stream from there. Given that the keynote started 20 minutes late, I’m very glad I did, since I got to write my two Sony stories:

    Watching Ballmer online was almost as good as the real thing, except that two segments of content (a preview clip of Halo Reach and a demo of Xbox classic arcade games) were blocked from transmission to prevent people immediately ripping off the content. No great loss for me. Then I took the monorail back to the Imperial Palace, walked to the Mirage for Digital Experience, quickly ate dinner, checked out a bunch of groovy stuff, and then came back and wrote up two more stories which haven’t appeared as I type. But I’m exhausted. Tomorrow is nearly as long. Time for bed. Oh, except that I also did a full run of Lifehacker stories today:

  • eBay Changing Categories From February 7
  • Optus Festival Buddy Is A Free iPhone Guide For Sydney Festival
  • Survival Tips For Australian Freelancers (this week’s Loaded column)
  • Payment Fraud Still On The Rise In Australia
  • Issues To Consider Before Buying A Phone Overseas
  • CES Day -2: Nice event, lousy facilities

    CES 2010 doesn’t officially kick off until Thursday (US time), but the press activities start two days early. First task for me was to head to the Storage Visions conference. In previous years this has handily been at the Flamingo, which is just next door, but now it’s moved to the Riviera, which is a less handy 30 minute walk down the road. Ah well, at least I’ll get some exercise, and there’s no-one much around at 7am.

    It also proved a good source of stories. Two went up at APC, one looking at how hard drive prices might actually not go down for a change and the other at the rather unusual application Microsoft has discovered for screensavers.

    On returning from Storage Visions (cue another 30-minute walk, though by now there were rather more tourists), I wrote up a not-from-CES-but-tied-to-it account of today’s big tech news story, Google’s Nexus One phone and its non-availability in Oz. (All praise to the Imperial Palace cleaners: the room’s been done every day so far by 11am, which is very handy.)

    This afternoon, I headed into the Venetian/Sands for the CEA stats press conference and CES Unveiled. The CEA numbers are always interesting, and two more stories came out of them for APC: one about challenges Apple will face in the tablet market, and one on consumer indifference to Internet-enabled TVs.

    The big shocker? What passes for a press room this year. The CES press room is always crowded at both sites — last year, 4,500 media showed up — but in previous years the CEA has at least tried to make an effort. This year’s combined blogger/media lounge at the Venetian is tiny. It looks like they expect a maximum of 50 people, ever. There’s perhaps a few more power strips than before, but no wireless network, perhaps half-a-dozen PCs for people who didn’t bring their own and a total lack of space. A pathetic effort. The picture shows the entire working area allocated to journos:

    Of course, Lifehacker also continued as per usual while all this was going on. Today’s Lifehacker 101 column looked at how to change your in-browser search provider. As well:

  • Hard Drive Prices Might Rise In 2010 (yep, it references the APC story)
  • No Nexus One For Oz Any Time Soon
  • Mikibo Helps You Maintain Fitness And Weight Goals
  • comGateway Allows Consolidated US Shopping
  • That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas

    I’ve been in Las Vegas since Sunday afternoon, preparing for the annual madness that is the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE). As I noted in a post for Lifehacker, despite the fears of many, airport security wasn’t really any different this time around. Indeed, given that I’m staying in my regular hotel (the Imperial Palace) and the schedule doesn’t change much year to year, it’s all feeling very familiar.

    From this point on, there’s bound to be a lot of CES-related stories, but yesterday’s posts for Lifehacker were otherwise the usual mixed bag:

  • Satellite Will Fill Digital TV Blackspots
  • Incorrect Deductions Aren’t Just An Online Thing
  • Cameras And MP3 Players Top Targets For Thieves
  • justpaste.it Lets You Share Text Online
  • Set Google Chrome To Australian Spelling