Yes, it’s been a long time since I did a junket vlog. Blame the fact I generally stay in the same hotels these days and I’ve filmed them all! But here’s a new one, from Seattle where I attended MozCon earlier this year.
In the real world, any score above 300 is a good result in Yahtzee. But what’s the absolute maximum you can score? By my calculation, it’s 1,575.
Here’s the sequence of gameplay that generates that score. Remember that you score an additional 100 points for every Yahtzee (five numbers the same), and you can use that Yahtzee as a wild card for any other category (including ones where a Yahtzee wouldn’t technically be a result that fits, such as a straight).
|1||5 x 6||Yahtzee||50||Any Yahtzee would do|
|2||5 x 1||1||105||100 bonus points for each additional Yahtzee|
|3||5 x 2||2||110|
|4||5 x 3||3||115|
|5||5 x 4||4||120|
|6||5 x 5||5||160||Includes 35 bonus points for >63 at top|
|7||5 x 6||6||130|
|8||5 x 6||3 of a kind||130||Maximum points with all sixes|
|9||5 x 6||4 of a kind||130||Maximum points with all sixes|
|10||5 x 6||Full house||125||Any Yahtzee would do|
|11||5 x 6||Small straight||130||Any Yahtzee would do|
|12||5 x 6||Large straight||140||Any Yahtzee would do|
|13||5 x 6||Chance||130||Maximum points with all sixes|
What’s the probability of this happening? The chance of getting any one specific result in Yahtzee on a single throw is 1 in 7776. The chance of that happening 13 times in a row is 1 in 3.80042E+50, as Excel would put it. In other words, don’t hang round waiting.
No, I’m not making that up. On Monday (5 September), the new IKEA SVÄRTAN range goes on sale in Australian stores. It’s a “limited edition” (an odd concept for IKEA, I know), produced as a collaboration between designer Martin Bergström and students from India’s National Institute of Fashion and Technology. While many Indian-themed collections focus on bright patterns and colours, this one has a darker and more windswept feel. Not necessarily going to match with all my more traditional IKEA stuff (I’m all about black, white and red in big blocks), but it looks quite impressive.
Anyway, many of the metal bowl-shaped items have a hole in them, because (per the press kit) in traditional Indian production methods, that hole would be used so the bowl could hang up to dry after painting. And so (also per the press kit) “Martin decided to put a replica of his nose ring into the hole and made it part of the design itself”. I can’t decide whether this is a genuine selling point or not.
It’s Lizzies time again! I’ll be updating this from around 7pm this evening to note the winners and highly commended for the 14th Annual MasterCard IT Journalism Awards as they’re announced. Many people have multiple nominations, so it will be a tight contest.
BEST DRESSED: Hannah Francis, Simon Sharwood/Angus Kidman (tie)
BEST NEW JOURNALIST
Winner: Ariel Bogle
Highly commended: Hayley Williams
BEST AUDIO PROGRAM
Winner: Download This Show
Highly commended: Risky Business
Download This Show, Gadget Grill, Geeks Interrupted, Girt by CNET, Life & Technology, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and Kotaku Australia – Static, Daily Tech News Show, Risky Business, Tech Daily, Tech Guide, Two Blokes Talking Tech
BEST VIDEO PROGRAM
Winner: Good Game
Highly commended: Djuro Sen – 7 News
ABC TV, CNET, CyberShack TV, Daniel Elias, Djuro Sen – Technology Editor 7 News, Dominic Sharoo / NitroWare.net, Gizmodo Australia, Good Game – ABC TV, Kotaku Australia, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and Kotaku Australia – Static, PoliTech (by Startup Daily)
BEST GAMING JOURNALIST
Winner: Mark Serrels
Highly commended: Lucy O’Brien
BEST GAMING COVERAGE
Highly commended: IGN/Game Informer
Digitally Downloaded, Fairfax Media, Game Informer, Good Game – ABC TV, IGN, Kotaku Australia, Lifehacker Australia, Official Xbox Magazine Australia, PC Gamer AU, Progress Bar
BEST PERSONAL TECHNOLOGY COVERAGE
Highly commended: Gizmodo
CNET, CyberShack, Fairfax Media, Gizmodo Australia, iTWire.com, Lifehacker Australia, Tech Guide, Techradar, The Australian
Winner: Nick Broughall
Highly commended: Bennett Ring/Adam Turner
Highly commended: Choice
APC, CHOICE, CRN, Game Informer, Hyper, Official Xbox Magazine Australia, PC PowerPlay, PC & Tech Authority, T3 Australia, TechLife
BEST NEWS JOURNALIST
Winner: Paul Smith
Highly commended: Mark Serrels
BEST CONSUMER TECH JOURNALIST
Winner: Chris Griffith
Highly commended: Krishan Sharma
Beau Donelly and Nick Toscano
BEST INDEPENDENT MEDIA
Highly commended: Stevivor
Ausdroid, EFTM, Live Tech AU, NitroWare, Rocket Chainsaw, Stevivor, Tech Guide, Vooks, Women Love Tech
BEST TELECOMMUNICATIONS JOURNALIST
Winner: David Ramli
Highly commended: Geoff Long/Petroc Wilton
BEST TECHNICAL JOURNALIST
Winner: Adam Turner
Highly commended: Jeremy Kirk
Leigh D. Stark
Winner: David Milner
Highly commended: Angus Kidman
BEST TECH INDUSTRY JOURNALIST
Winner: Caitlin Fitzsimmons
Highly commended: Luke Hopewell/Paul Smith
BEST BUSINESS TECH JOURNALIST
Winner: Allie Coyne
Highly commended: Aimee Chanthadavong
BEST BUSINESS TECH COVERAGE
Highly commended: ITnews/Communications Day
Business Insider, CIO NZ, Communications Day, iTnews, Lifehacker Australia, Startup Daily, The Australian, The Australian Financial Review, ZDNet
BEST MEDIA RELATIONS
Winner: Matthew Wu
Highly commended: Angela Coombes/Dan Chiappini
Alya Fitzgibbon, Red Agency
Angela Coombes, NEC
Dan Chiappini, Blizzard
David Bass, Bass PR
Matthew Wu, Media & Capital Partners Chiapinni
Rudolf Wagenaar, Ogilvy
Highly commended: ABC Tech and Games/Itnews
ABC Tech and Games, CIO NZ, CNET, CRN, CyberShack, Delimiter, Gizmodo Australia, IGN, iTnews, iTWire, Kotaku Australia, Lifehacker Australia, Mashable, PC Gamer, PC World, Startup Daily, Tech Guide, TechRadar, The Australian, ZDNet
BEST NEWS COVERAGE
Winner: Fairfax Media
Highly commended: Kotaku
Communications Day, Download This Show, Fairfax Media, Gizmodo Australia, iTnews, Kotaku Australia, Stevivor, Techly, The Australian, The Australian Financial Review, ZDNet
BEST JOURNALIST (GOLD LIZZIE)
Winner: Paul Smith
BEST TITLE (GOLD LIZZIE)
There are 66 individual journalists with nominations in the 2016 Lizzies (including me). You can read the full list on the Lizzies site. As I did last year, I thought it might be interesting to crunch the data and see who scored multiple finalist berths. Here’s the full list of everyone who achieved more than one finalist placing:
- 6 finalist berths: Krishan Sharma
- 4 finalist berths: Paul Smith
- 3 finalist berths: Allie Coyne, Alex Kidman, Angus Kidman, Adam Turner
- 2 finalist berths: Asha Barbaschow, Alex Choros, Paris Cowan, Ry Crozier, Chris Duckett, Hannah Francis, Renai LeMay, Geoff Long, David Millner, Chris Pash, Claire Reilly, Mark Serrels, Simon Sharwood, Chris Southcott, David Swan, Josh Taylor, Alex Walker, Petroc Wilton
Krishan is this year’s undisputed champion — well done mate! It’s a tribute to your versatility and skill as a freelancer.
In total 24 nominees (a bit over a third) have more than one individual nomination. I didn’t do a similar analysis for title awards because the list there is everyone who nominated themselves, not just those who made the shortlist after judging.
I will be live-blogging the results from the Lizzies ceremony, which kicks off at 1830 on Friday 13 May (five days from now, eek!). I’ll tweet out a link with the hashtag #lizzies on the day. See you then, whether in Lizzies-infested meatspace or online.
I entered the Lizzies — more properly, the 14th Annual MasterCard IT Journalism Awards– this year, but I had no expectation of making any of the shortlists. Between evolving sites and changing jobs, I just didn’t do as much writing on tech topics.
So I’m surprised and delighted that I’m a finalist in three categories: Best Columnist, Best Technical Journalist and Best Consumer Tech Journalist. I’m defending the Best Columnist title from last year, and I’ve won Best Consumer Tech Journalist in previous years.
I don’t imagine I’ll win any of them this time around. The competition is formidable, including my brother Alex Kidman in the first two categories. But I’m looking forward to the night, and I’ll do a live blog of the results, just as I did last year.
Truthfully, it’s hard to come up with something sensible to say about Fin. The first reason is that he was a man of few words. It seems wrong to offer hundreds of words in tribute to someone who thought just a few dozen words were more than enough for the remarkable occasion of his 100th birthday.
The second reason relates to that. Fin lived for over 100 years. He had a perspective that none of us are ever likely to match. How on earth are you supposed to sum up all that living, all that change, all those things that happened? It seems hard enough to live through it, let all alone try to capture it.
But somewhere in there is the clue. Fin made a success of his life because he always knew exactly who he was. In ten decades of living, he never let what other people thought get in the way of what he knew was the right thing to do at that moment. He had a certainty about his life that I can only envy.
And his life threw up a lot of challenges. Fin wasn’t even three months old when his father, George Kidman, passed away. George never saw his son; he was on the road for a droving job in Queensland when Fin was born in 1915.
I often think about that. However tough we might find Fin’s passing, we all had a good chunk of 100 years of him. He never even had 100 seconds with his own father.
Yet he had a loving family, always. From his mother, Isabella; to his aunts Kate and Sheila, absolute rocks of his young life; to his wives, his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, his in-laws, everyone along every branch. And he inspired that same devotion in others.
We knew he was there, always, in this house in Darlington, watering his garden, a man of routine. What had to be done was done.
Fin embraced certainty. He was always certain himself. And sometimes certainty meant doing things that other people might judge too difficult, too uncertain.
He was the first member of his family to go to university, but also the first to decide that wasn’t the right path for him. He married and had a child, but when that marriage faltered, he didn’t let 1950s morality trap him.
Nor did he let that stop him expanding his family when he married again. When new branches were added, he accepted that, accepted them, and kept going. There was no question, he was certain: that was the right thing to do.
So what’s the right thing to do today? To acknowledge a man who has been a huge part of all our lives; to celebrate all that he brought to us; and to recognise that even if he is no longer with us, his memories will live on with us forever. Of that much, even I am absolutely certain.
My editor-in-chief job at finder means I write less than I have in previous roles, but it doesn’t mean I write nothing. Today was a particularly busy day on the news front:
- An analysis of Foxtel’s forthcoming price rises
- A look at rumours Amazon Video will use those Top Gear boys as a launch strategy for Australia
- A look at other rumours that YouTube Red will launch down under this year
- And a squizz at even more rumours than the NBN is behind schedule. (Who would have thunk it?)
My colleague Jonathan just posed this challenge to me: Write an in-depth analysis of whether you would be a Jedi or a Sith lord (minimum 500 words).
Quite frankly, I’m insulted that he even had to ask.
No-one in their right mind wants to be a Jedi. Jedi life eats it raw. You’re supposed to worship Yoda, a grammar-mangling piece of green snot who alternates between being a Muppet, a messy piece of CGI and a crappy cartoon. Strong in him the shittiness is.
You know you’re probably going to have to spend your teenage years stuck on some featureless desert planet hoping someone interesting eventually shows up. Or you have to pretend that Jar-Jar Binks would make a good senator, when the truth is that his hide wouldn’t even make a good suitcase. Or you have to incestuously kiss your sister and then never mention it again.
Plus you end up with some ludicrous name like Qui-Gon, and your side completely loses whatever tenuous grip it has on galactic power every three movies or so, if not sooner. Also, you’re likely to be a brain-dead idiot: before trying to hide yourself away so no-one can find you, you figure it would be a good idea to leave behind a map of your exact location. Bitch, please.
Being a Sith Lord beats that hands down. You frequently get to wear black, which is a better fashion choice and also more slimming. Your family name is Darth, which seems cool. Rather than focusing on bringing balance to the force, you can think about your bank balance instead. It’s all good, even when it’s about being as bad as possible.
As well, embracing the Dark Side gives you absolute licence to murder Harrison Ford, thereby reducing the possibility of any more abysmal Indiana Jones sequels. (I refuse to consider this a spoiler, by the way: the damn movie has been out for months and taken billions. And also, adopting tyranny means spoilers are the least of my villainous plans.)
Sure, as a Sith Lord you’ll eventually end up slaughtered by some Jedi jerk to satisfy the apparent sub-conscious demand for a conclusive “happy ending” every three instalments. But we’re all going to die anyway. Years of absolute power in a black robe beats handing out in a swamp or on an island for decades before having to pass on your skills to some little prick upstart and then meeting your doom at the end of a disco-themed lightsaber, let me tell you.
Finally, there’s an important issue to consider which is often overlooked. There has been one constant amongst the ridiculous flip-flopping over what does or doesn’t constitute Star Wars canon: everyone seems happy to agree that the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978 never happened. I reject this stance as a crime against nature, against history, and — most importantly of all — against Bea Arthur.
As Darth McIvor, I pledge that once I am in full control of the universe, which is merely a formality, the Holiday Special will immediately be restored to its rightful place as the most important Star Wars creation of all. Yes, I’m really that evil.
I’ve tried to complete NaNoWriMo, which challenges you to write at least 50,000 words of a novel in just 30 days, on five separate occasions. For the last three years, I’ve tried and failed (for reasons I’ll discuss another time). But this year, I dug my heels in and crossed the finish line, with 50,133 words, right on the final day of November.
If you’re curious, you can read the blurb and part of the first chapter below. I’ll publish the whole thing on Kindle eventually, hopefully early 2016, but it needs a lot of editing first!
Hey, Hey Helen: A Novel Inspired By ABBA
ABBA’s vast catalogue of catchy pop songs mentions 17 people by name. In Hey, Hey Helen, Angus Kidman reimagines and connects the lives of those characters.
Whatever happened to Fernando? How has rejection shaped Suzy’s life? Will Alice Whiting ever find true love? Who is Nina, pretty ballerina? Did Carrie ever marry? Does Rikky have any groupies left? Where has Joe been? And what of Harry — and Helen? Over three generations and multiple mistaken identities, from Kent State to the Rio Grande to Skegness, from Top of the Pops to Fake Name Night to MTV Unplugged, there’s a sense of expectation hanging in the air . . .
Prologue: Fernando (1970)
The bullet went directly into his brain. I hope that’s what happened. Death would be instantaneous then. A projectile hitting a crucial nerve, a leaky blackness, then nothing.
TV news won’t show us any of that yet. There is footage of protestors and rioting, but not of the actual killings. Four students have died and many more have been wounded. I feel sad for them and horrified for their parents. A tiny part of me even feels bad for the National Guardsmen. It’s the swampy part of myself I despise and cherish at the same time.
I suppose the soldiers were only doing their job. Yet if it’s obvious that what you’re asked to do is wrong, you must stop. I say that so casually. Actually saying no is often the hardest thing, I know.
One soldier on the TV screen frightened me. His hair was cropped short, his face was a blank. Not angry, not purposeful, not distressed about being asked to shoot a contemporary. You’d think nothing in the world was wrong.
I could imagine him as the one who shot Jeffrey Miller and the others. It’s not at all clear how many guardsmen actually fired their guns. But when I see that face, I feel sure that he was one of those who aimed their weapons, almost without thought.
Before today I had never heard of Kent State University. I fear we have become accustomed to disturbances at college campuses, and America seems such a long way away now. It’s often easy to just skip past the headlines in the paper. Not this time.
There have been incidents at the local university here in Manchester, but nothing like this. I can’t imagine British soldiers willingly lining up for the same task. Student protest seems very civilised in Britain, certainly compared to the US or France. I suppose it helps that we aren’t sending soldiers to Vietnam.
Low-key though they were, Fernando used to grumble about the protests here if they appeared on the TV news. Students were there to study, he would say, and what were they messing around with all these demonstrations for?
Because of what they believe, I would say to him quietly. And then he would go silent and I knew that he was remembering, as I was. Standing up for your beliefs matters, even if the consequences are dire. I don’t have to remind Fernando of the details.
We encountered death together, its chill breath licked our faces, but we were spared. We were spared then. But death isn’t always dramatic. It can sneak up on you. I’m not sure if that’s not worse than it lurching dramatically into view. Then again, I can’t imagine being at Kent State and trying to deal with what is happening there right now.
I understand why the students were protesting. My heart beats in the same way. They want a better world, an end to cruelty. Don’t we all? Some values really are worth fighting for. Liberty, love, equality. Those are worth standing up for — even if you find yourself on the losing side and end up moving to Manchester, as we did.
In the hospital waiting room, I look at more photographs of the Kent State students in the newspaper. Several show young people playing guitars around the Commons, the area where the shootings happened. That makes me smile despite knowing the dreadful fate that was waiting for so many of them.
Music gives you hope, it bonds you. This generation of youngsters sometimes acts as if they are the first to discover that. It is not so, of course. Music was all we had on that night long ago by the river.
When you feel powerless, music becomes the best and only weapon. It brings you together, it unites you. It fills your heart with hope. You want to sing your words to everyone. And then you hear the drumbeats in the distance, and then the gunfire, and you have to keep singing so that you can stop the fear from rising up and paralysing you.
At least, that’s how it was for me. I think it was simpler for Fernando. He enjoyed playing the guitar, but it wasn’t to keep away the fear. It was simply something he liked to do. He isn’t troubled by imagination as I sometimes am. He isn’t troubled by anything much anymore.
Sadly, Fernando’s guitar never made it to Manchester. At some point, when every item you carry is precious, you have to focus on the essentials. We left the guitar behind, but Fernando kept the pick. It always hung on a chain around his neck.
It’s not there now. When Fernando went into the hospital, the nurse gently took me aside. “We suggest that you take any of his jewellery home for safe keeping,” she said. “Unfortunately, with so many people coming through, we can’t promise that it won’t go missing.” He was in a ward with five other beds.
What an awful thing! I thought at first. Why would someone steal from a sick man? But I try to see the positive side in everything when I can. And so I firmly told myself: It was kind of her to warn me. Hospital work is exhausting, and I can see the lines of tiredness under her eyes. I grasp her hands warmly and thank her. She smiles absently.
Following her advice, I lifted the chain gently from around his neck. He grunted but I don’t think he really knew what was happening. The chain and his watch went into my handbag. I had to leave soon after that because visiting hours were over.
At first, I thought I would wear the pick myself, as a sort of tribute. Yet as soon as I put it on, it felt awkward and wrong. Yes, I was there, I sang along, but the guitar was played by Fernando. That part is his story. I was only a witness, a vocalist, a frightened girl. So I put it in the bedside drawer at home, wrapped in a piece of shiny blue cloth I found.
I suppose I hope that one day soon Fernando will come home to wear it. But then I think of how sick he looks. I find it impossible to let that hope flourish. It’s hard to see the positive side of your husband dying.
If you’re curious, you can also check out the beginnings for my two previous successful attempts below. I really should e-publish these suckers, shouldn’t I?