A big night at the #Lizzies 2015

Great night all around at the Lizzies (you can see the full results right here, direct from my smartphone), especially for myself and my Allure Media colleagues. The big winner was Mark Serrels from Kotaku, who won Best Gaming Journalist and the “Gold Lizzie” for Best Journalist, while Kotaku scored Best Gaming Coverage. I could not think of a more deserving recipient, and I was flattered that Mark singled me out by name in his first acceptance speech for my occasional sub-editing contributions to his work.

That said, I did pretty well myself. Lifehacker scored the Best Personal Technology Coverage gong for the third year running, and I picked up a highly commended for Best Consumer Technology Journalist. But the award I was ridiculously chuffed to win was Best Columnist — simply because I was really proud of the three pieces I submitted for that award. Here they are:

#Lizzies: All The 2015 IT Journalism Awards Winners (Updating Live)

    The Lizzies are here! I’ll be updating this post from 7pm this evening to note the winners and highly commended recipients at the 2015 Optus IT Journalism Awards. (Apologies in advance if I miss any of the highly commended winners, they fly past pretty quickly). You can check out a quick summary of writers with multiple nominations here.

    BEST DRESSED : Alex Heber, Nic Healey

    BEST AUDIO PROGRAM
    Winner: Download This Show
    Highly commended: A Short History Of Video Games

    Nominees
    2GB Tech Guide with Stephen Fenech, A Short History of Video Games – ABC Radio National, Download This Show – ABC Radio National, Gadget Grill, Geeks Interrupted, Girt by CNET – the Australian CNET podcast, Reckoner Podcast, Risky Business, TechGuide Podcast, Tech Tuesday@RN Drive, Two Blokes Talking Tech

    BEST VIDEO PROGRAM
    Winner: Good Game
    Highly commended: Player Attack

    Nominees
    CNET Australia, CX Network, Fat Duck Tech, Gizmodo Australia, Good Game – ABC TV, Good Game Spawn Point – ABC TV, Government Technology Review, Josh Taylor and Oscar Partridge, Lifehacker Video, Player Attack, Rae Johnston, The Feed – SBS TV, Vertical Hold

    BEST GAMING JOURNALIST
    Winner: Mark Serrels
    Highly commended: Daniel Hindes, Lucy O’Brien

    Finalists
    Brenna Hillier
    Chris Jager
    Daniel Hindes
    David Hollingworth
    David Milner
    James O’Connor
    Lucy O’Brien
    Luke Reilly
    Mark Serrels
    Nic Healey
    Seamus Byrne
    Tim Colwill
    Toby McCasker

    BEST GAMING COVERAGE
    Winner: Kotaku Australia
    Highly commended: Good Game

    Nominees
    ABC Technology & Games, Digitally Downloaded, Game Informer, games.on.net, GameSpot (CBS Interactive), Good Game – ABC TV, IGN Australia, Kotaku Australia, Player Attack, TechGee

    BEST COLUMNIST
    Winner: Angus Kidman
    Highly commended: Chris Duckett

    Finalists
    Adam Turner
    Alex Kidman
    Angus Kidman
    Ben Grubb
    Chris Duckett
    David Braue
    David Milner
    Josh Taylor
    Juha Saarinen
    Mark Serrels
    Simon Sharwood

    BEST TECH INDUSTRY JOURNALIST
    Winner: Caitlin Fitzsimmons
    Highly commended: Steven Kiernan

    Finalists
    Alex Heber
    Angus Kidman
    Caitlin Fitzsimmons
    Campbell Simpson
    Carl Smith
    Krishan Sharma
    Liz Tay
    Patrick Avenell
    Paul Smith
    Simon Sharwood
    Steven Kiernan
    William Maher

    BEST BUSINESS TECH JOURNALIST
    Winner: Allie Coyne
    Highly commended: Hannah Francis, Paul Smith

    Finalists
    Allie Coyne
    Byron Connolly
    Chris Pash
    Claire Porter
    David Swan
    Hannah Francis
    Josh Taylor
    Kate McDonald
    Krishan Sharma
    Paris Cowan
    Paul Smith
    Simon Sharwood

    BEST TECHNICAL JOURNALIST
    Winner: Darren Yates
    Highly commended: Petroc Wilton

    Finalists
    Adam Turner
    Alex Walker
    Angus Kidman
    Campbell Simpson
    Darren Yates
    Krishan Sharma
    Lexy Savvides
    Mark Gregory
    Peter Zaluzny
    Petroc Wilton
    Richard Chirgwin

    BEST PERSONAL TECHNOLOGY COVERAGE
    Winner: Lifehacker
    Highly commended: CNET

    Nominees
    CNET Australia, Fairfax Media/SMH.com.au, GadgetGuy.com.au, Lifehacker, Switched On, TechGeek, TechGuide, Women Love Tech

    BEST REVIEWER
    Winner: Darren Yates
    Highly commended: Alex Kidman,David Braue

    Finalists
    Adam Turner
    Alex Kidman
    Angus Kidman
    Campbell Simpson
    Chris Jager
    Darren Yates
    David Braue
    Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
    Matthew Sainsbury
    Nic Healey
    Nick Ross
    Peter Zaluzny

    BEST MAGAZINE
    Winner: CRN
    Highly commended: CHOICE

    Nominees
    CHOICE Computer Magazine, CRN, Game Informer, HYPER, PC & Tech Authority, PC Powerplay

    BEST CONSUMER TECH JOURNALIST
    Winner: Michelle Starr
    Highly commended: Angus Kidman

    Finalists
    Adam Turner
    Alex Kidman
    Angus Kidman
    Campbell Simpson
    Chris Jager
    Hannah Francis
    Luke Hopewell
    Michelle Starr
    Nick Ross
    Rae Johnston
    Rosalyn Page

    BEST NEWS JOURNALIST
    Winner: Claire Reilly
    Highly commended: –

    Finalists
    Angus Kidman
    Claire Porter
    Claire Reilly
    David Braue
    David Ramli
    Josh Taylor
    Mitchell Bingemann
    Paris Cowan
    Paul Smith
    Petroc Wilton
    Simon Sharwood

    BEST NEWS COVERAGE
    Winner: iTNews
    Highly commended: –

    Nominees
    Australian Financial Review, Communications Day, CRN, Gizmodo Australia, iTnews, Kotaku Australia, Lifehacker, SMH.com.au – Technology/Digital Life, TechGeek, The Register, ZDNet

    BEST BUSINESS TECH COVERAGE
    Winner: AFR
    Highly commended: Startup Daily, SMH

    Nominees
    Australian Financial Review, Business Insider, CIO NZ, Communications Day, CRN, iTnews, Lifehacker, SMH.com.au – IT Pro, Startup Daily, The Register, ZDNet

    BEST WEBSITE
    Winner: CNet
    Highly commended: Gizmodo, Startup Daily

    Nominees
    Business Insider Australia, CNET Australia, CRN, GadgetGuy, GE and Guardian Australia Powering People series, Gizmodo Australia, IGN Australia, iTnews, Kotaku Australia, Lifehacker, Player Attack, SMH.com.au – Technology/Digital Life, Startup Daily, TechGeek, TechGuide, Women Love Tech, ZDNet

    BEST NEW JOURNALIST
    Winner: Tony Yoo
    Highly commended: Rose Powell

    Finalists
    Dave Cheng
    Hannah Francis
    Harry Tucker
    Jessica Sier
    Richard van der Draay
    Rose Powell
    Tess Bennett
    Tony Yoo
    Vanessa Desloires
    Yolanda Redrup

    BEST MEDIA RELATIONS
    Winner: Matthew Wu
    Highly commended: Shuna Boyd, Bec Waddy

    Finalists
    Bec Waddy, Bethesda
    Ciaran Pillay, H&K
    Dan Chiappini, Blizzard
    David Bass, Bass PR
    Jen Crowcroft, Edelman
    Matthew Wu, Edelman
    Renato Catalan, GAP
    Rudolf Wagenaar, Howorth
    Shuna Boyd, Boyd PR
    Tom Hunter, Howorth

    BEST TELECOMMUNICATIONS JOURNALIST
    Winner: Petroc Wilton
    Highly commended: –

    Finalists
    Andrew Colley
    Angus Kidman
    Ben Grubb
    Campbell Simpson
    David Braue
    David Ramli
    Geoff Long
    Josh Taylor
    Mitchell Bingemann
    Petroc Wilton

    BEST INDEPENDENT MEDIA
    Winner: Ausdroid
    Highly commended: Reckoner

    Nominees
    Ausdroid Media, Live Tech Australia, Player Attack, Reckoner Australia, TechGeek, Women Love Tech

    BEST JOURNALIST (GOLD LIZZIE)
    Winner: Mark Serrels

    BEST TITLE (GOLD LIZZIE)
    Winner: Download This Show

A detailed guide to Ruth Rendell’s short stories

Ruth Rendell, my all-time favourite author, died last week after suffering a stroke in January. Judging from the account given by her friend Jeanette Winterson, there wouldn’t have been any meaningful chance of recovery.

Anyway, that inspired me to finally get around to updating the Rendell-related pages on this site. I’ve started with a detailed guide to Rendell’s short stories, which I assembled ages ago and never got around to uploading. Better late than never, hey?

Getting nominated for a lot of Lizzies

Next Friday (May 15) is the date for the 2015 Optus IT Journalism Awards, usually referred to as the Lizzies and the biggest thing you can win as a tech writer in Australia. I’m maintaining my tradition of being a finalist in a lot of categories: Best News Journalist, Best Tech Industry Journalist, Best Consumer Tech Journalist, Best Telecommunications Journalist, Best Columnist, Best Reviewer and Best Technical Journalist. You can see the full list of finalists here.

Lifehacker is also nominated for several Lizzies: Best Website, Best Video Program, Best News Coverage, Best Personal Technology Coverage and Best Business Tech Coverage. The Tech Tuesday segment I do regularly on RN Drive is also on the list for Best Audio Program. For site and title awards, only a long list is published — there’s no whittling.

Lifehacker did really well last year, picking up Best Personal Technology Coverage and Best Website, plus the ‘Gold Lizzie’ for Best Title. Annoyingly, I wasn’t there (I was in the US for work). I am going to be there this year, and I’m assuming that means neither myself nor Lifehacker will win anything.

It’s definitely a competitive space, especially for journalists. Here’s a summary of all the people who are finalists for more than one Lizzie in a writing category:

  • 7: Angus Kidman
  • 5: Campbell Simpson
  • 4: David Braue, Josh Taylor, Simon Sharwood, Adam Turner
  • 3: Chris Jager, Alex Kidman, Paul Smith, Petroc Wilton, Hannah Francis, Krishan Sharma
  • 2: Mark Serrels, Claire Porter, David Ramli, Mitchell Bingemann, Paris Cowan, Nick Ross, Ben Grubb, Nic Healey, David Milner, Darren Yates, Peter Zaluzny

Good luck everyone!

The Opening Sentence: Linda Who Died Of A Broken Heart

After a long break, a new post in my fiction project The Opening Sentence — read all about it here, check out previous posts here and share any thoughts/ideas/criticisms below. This one takes its title and opening line from a 1935 newspaper article about a police horse. But I can’t write convincingly about horses, so we’ll go in a different direction . . .

With the tumult and shouting of the showground behind her, death, sudden and without pain, came to Linda.

This was not the way I had planned it. Let’s make no bones about it; I wanted her dead. But I wanted her to suffer too. So far, she hadn’t suffered enough.

I wasn’t quite angry enough to risk a murder conviction. At least, I don’t think I was. If you asked me the same question again next Friday, my answer probably would be different. But dying the way she did — anyone would assume a heart attack from the way she crumpled to the ground — didn’t seem like a sufficient punishment for all the pain and chaos she had caused.

Inevitably, that kind of death caused its own version of chaos as well. It was a busy Friday afternoon, so the showground was packed, schoolkids and over-attentive mothers and people who had finished work early. Everywhere you looked there was movement. That was a promising sign for the day’s takings. Then Linda carked it in the middle of the main thoroughfare.

The woman standing right next to her screamed. That attracted even more of a crowd. Someone pulled out their mobile phone and called an ambulance, but it must have been at least 10 minutes before any medical personnel showed up. By then it was much too late. Judging by the speed of Linda’s collapse, it would have been too late if she’d collapsed next to the Red Cross tent.

Fortunately, no-one suggested shutting down the whole show. I’m only guessing, but I assume that it was so evident she had died from natural causes that there didn’t seem any need to treat the whole thing like a murder investigation. It’s still possible, I suppose, that the police will insist we stay around for a few days. I hope not. If it comes to that, I might have to show the local constabulary my copy of Linda’s medical history. It would be awkward to explain why I had a copy of it though.

On reflection, it surely won’t come to that. Her cow of a mother is bound to show up — she only lives a couple of hours’ drive away. And she’ll be eager to tell all. That family never missed an opportunity to talk about their health problems. Sometimes I wonder why I thought I needed those medical records. Most of their content was on Facebook anyway, if you knew where to look.

Steve doesn’t know yet. I’d agreed to take the Friday afternoon shift and he’ll be opening on Saturday. I should have called him as soon as it happened, I suppose. But what was I supposed to say? I know he was planning to catch up on sleep — I’ll tell him I didn’t see any point in disturbing him. Hopefully that way we’ll avoid a row. But perhaps not. Death so often leads to arguments.

Rik Mayall: Mayhem and missed opportunities


So if it was a Thursday night in the early 1980s, I know what I was doing. I was huddled with the family around the TV screen, waiting for the next episode of The Young Ones to come on the ABC around 9pm.

We eventually taped all the episodes and watched them incessantly — and I do mean incessantly. When I was 14, I suspect I could have recited all 12 of them, word-perfect. And now Rik Mayall is dead, at 56, far too young.

Twice in the last decade, I tried to see Mayall on stage — once in Bromley in the stage version of The New Statesman, once in Cambridge for a production of Michel Frayn’s Balmoral. On both occasions, his understudy had to step in. It just wasn’t to be.

Mayall crammed a lot into his career, but three in particular matter to me. Two will be on a lot of lists being made by stunned Mayall fans today: The Young Ones (natch) and Flashheart in Blackadder. The third is his role as Richie Rich in Filthy Rich & Catflap, generally considered a “flop” but one of my favourite TV sitcoms. Time to dig out the (unedited) DVDs.

And then one particularly sensitive and articulate teenager will say, “Other kids, do you understand nothing? How can Rik be dead when we still have his poems?”

The Opening Sentence: Brilliant Disguise

This is the fourth post in my new project The Opening Sentence — read all about it here, check out previous posts here and share any thoughts/ideas/criticisms below. Today I’m practising descriptions, in a way.

Edith looked like a chicken. When we say that, we usually mean that someone has a neck that is so wrinkled and red you could present it as a restaurant garnish and no-one would bat an eyelid. That wasn’t the case with Edith Jones. Her neck was smooth enough, if marred with a few freckles and a strange hairy mole at the back left. But that wasn’t something you saw on poultry terribly often.

Perhaps it was Edith’s nose, which had a sharp angle that called a beak to mind if you caught her in silhouette. And perhaps it was the beady expression in her pinched black pupils, staring out at the world with a bird-like mix of caution and blank incomprehension. She seemed vaguely aware that a threat loomed in the world, but not alert enough to sense the axe swinging through the air and preparing to slice her head off and watch the blood spurt while her legs danced brainlessly.

You couldn’t blame it on the hair. Brown and curly, it looked much less like a hen than an old English sheepdog, greasy and unwashed and unthreatening. Yet the impression didn’t stick; Edith’s face lacked the air of supplication or simple happiness such a hound would provide. That expression called out the chicken again, unsure enough of the world to be unsure if the outstretched hand would actually offer grain.

At six feet tall, Edith’s height might have called to mind an ostrich. But she lacked the elegance and alterness, and there was nothing in her pinched frame to suggest the buttocks of a plains-dwelling bird. She rarely wore pink.

And so it was the chicken that prevailed. Ultimately, we will have to blame the voice. When Edith spoke, it was the cluck of the fowl-yard; easy enough to hear, but nothing that anyone would pay attention to. If someone had bothered to pay attention, perhaps she would have stayed at home on January 13, and Frank Temor would not now be counting corpses in a school playground.

The Opening Sentence: Airport Dialogue

This is the third post in my new project The Opening Sentence — read all about it here, check out previous posts here and share any thoughts/ideas/criticisms below. As with yesterday’s example, the opening line is a real fragment of conversation I overheard.

“Don’t drop it. There’s a PlayStation in there, for fuck’s sake.”

“I didn’t drop it. It just fell over.”

“Well, why can’t you hold onto it? The queue isn’t that long.”

“Fuck that. I don’t know why we have to bring it anyway.”

“Because I’m not paying the hotel thirty bucks a day just so I can play games.”

“Because you never get to do that, do you? It’s a bloody holiday. Why do we have to drag the fucking console along?”

“Because there is no way that I am watching Indonesian TV. No fucking way.”

“You’ll be lucky if it arrives in one piece. Those baggage handlers always treat luggage like shit.”

“It’s well-padded.”

“Well, if it’s well-padded, it shouldn’t matter if I drop it, should it?”

“Whatever. Do you want me to carry it instead?”

“No way. You can carry the other suitcase. That weighs a ton.”

“Well, that’s hardly my fault is it? I’m not the one packing a PlayStation for a beach trip.”

“Well, hold on to it ya mong.”

“Fuck you.”

“Fuck you, ya cunt.”

It was going to be a good holiday.