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The Kerri-Anne connection

Phone fiend Kerri-AnneI’ve just achieved a minor career milestone: writing a story about Kerri-Anne Kennerley which is actually true. The infamous daytime TV host was roped in by Vodafone to launch a new phone range today, and I wrote it up for IT Wire. Surely it’s now only a matter of time before Bert Newton gets utilised by a tech vendor, especially with The Producers about to close.

Tech confessions of a junket whore

My reputation as an excessively well-travelled journalist/junket whore (delete as you see fit) continues to flourish. In a recent posting on his blog, Dan Warne (news and features editor at APC and one of the people who keeps me in gainful freelance employment) opens a discussion of how he’s been making use of the latest technology (on-plane Internet, GRPS access to email while roaming through France) on his travels with the words: “Angus Kidman would be proud.”

This is flattering, but kind of inaccurate. Although I don’t travel anywhere without a notebook, as often as not I make use of old-fashioned dial-up access if the hotel in question doesn’t have in-room broadband. My machine doesn’t have built-in wireless and at the moment the PC card slots aren’t working — an annoying saga of multiple repairs which means I won’t be buying a Toshiba next time around — so I’m not using wireless on planes, in cafes or even in conferences. And my phone is an ageing Nokia model which certainly isn’t up to handling email. Indeed, the other day when I used it at a conference, gadget queen Roulla Yiacoumi couldn’t help exclaiming: “My god, I can’t believe your phone has a mono screen!”

All this might change in the next few months when I can financially justify replacing the notebook and my equally clunky PDA with something a tad newer. But I don’t think I’m ever likely to be as ambitious as Dan in the communicating-on-the-road stakes. Nor, for that matter, am I ever likely to use a Mac, but that’s another story.

Big bucks for Bec’s baby

What's a million between friends?When I spotted this week’s cover for Woman’s Day, I immediately thought “something’s going on here”. Personally I’m not that fussed about the rushed engagement, Opera House marriage and sudden pregnancy of Bec Cartwright and Lleyton Hewitt, but clearly it helps shift the trash mags. To date, the Hewitts have sold a series of “exclusives” to New Idea, which reportedly has done very well out of the arrangement. So their appearance on the cover of Woman’s Day, in what was clearly an approved interview rather than a report relying on unnamed “friends”, suggested some serious back-room dealings.

Even I didn’t guess quite how serious. The Daily Telegraph reports today that ver Day has paid one million bucks for the rights to cover the Hewitts for the next 12 months, which will include the all-important first baby pics. The arrangement was brokered by Jennifer Gilbert, herself a former New Idea editor before a brief stint at Channel 9 as communications director. Apparently she’s now working as a consultant for Woman’s Day. The Diary column in the Australian‘s Media section also notes the deal, though without the reputed price tag, and adds that a key player in the earlier arrangements with New Idea was Monique Butterworth, who has recently jumped ship to work for the Day but is being made to work out her notice.

Doubtless ACP (the Day‘s publisher) will make some of its money back by on-selling the articles to the UK trash mags which helped originate the practice of paying for celebrity coverage (and giving celebrities full approval in the process). Whether it will significantly increase the circulation results won’t be clear for a year, though by then new rules will be in place which mean weekly magazines get audited quarterly instead of twice a year.

Sex beats blogging every time

I commented earlier this month that bloggers tend to wildly overestimate their influence. Proof of sorts comes from a recent Media Guardian story about a survey of UK taxi drivers, hairdressers and bar staff. Only 30 per cent had heard of blogging, and just 10 per cent were aware of podcasting. Conversely, 40 per cent knew about ‘dogging’, which is basically shagging in a public car park and not caring if people watch or join in. No numbers sadly on how many people actually participated in dogging (or blogging).

Tegan returns!

It’s been a few weeks since I went on one of my customary Doctor Who news searches, so I was in for a very pleasant surprise when I hit Outpost Gallifrey. In amongst the expected casting news for the first David Tennant-starring series was the revelation that Janet Fielding had finally been persuaded to return to the role of Tegan Jovanka for Big Finish‘s excellent series of audio Doctor adventures.

Signed by Janet Fielding, 2003

I’ve seen Fielding — a feisty and intelligent woman who left acting some years ago to pursue a career in writing and administration — at two Doctor Who conventions in recent years: Whovention 2003 in Sydney, which marked her return to the convention scene after a decade-long absence, and Dimensions in Stockton last year. At both events, Fielding made it clear that she had no intention of returning to the role. Big Finish producer Gary Russell made it equally clear that he intended to keep asking her.

Persistence has paid off, and Fielding will now come back for a one-off story, Summer In The City, due for release in 2006. This will see her reunited with Peter Davison’s doctor, but will take place after her final appearance in Resurrection Of The Daleks. Doubtless part of the appeal of this model to Fielding — who has stressed this will not lead to her continuing to make appearances in the CD series — is that it will allow some character development that wouldn’t be possible in the confines of Tegan’s original series chronology. However it plays out, I’m looking forward to it.

A plethora of updates

I’ve spent some time today cleaning up the main Gusworld site. Most of the changes are pretty minimal (removing references to projects I won’t be finishing, tidying up archives, and fixing links), but I have added a bunch of new material to Kirsty MacColl Galore, bringing it more or less up to date.

The sky falls on his head

Even the cover's a secret!I’ve been a longstanding Asterix fan ever since I could read (which is what comes of having Francophile parents). There’s no doubt that the series has not been quite as compelling since the death of Goscinny — Uderzo draws just as well as ever but the last few books have tended to have ludicrous plots and an excessive reliance on continuity references.

Nonetheless, a new Asterix book remains a major event, especially since at the rate they’re getting produced and Uderzo’s advanced age, we really can’t expect too many more. The latest title (#33 by most counts), due for release on October 14, has been shrouded in secrecy, but the BBC reports from its Brussels launch that it will be called The Sky Falls On His Head.

That title makes me suspect that, once again, excessive back story references may well be a feature. That suspicion is not allayed by the game on the official site which lets you find more details of the plot — I’m too lazy to bother at the moment, frankly — or by the fact that the cover is a reworking of the very first title, Asterix The Gaul. However, I’ll still be racing out to grab a copy when it ships. Dymocks has a listing for local release, though this doesn’t confirm whether we’ll get it on October 14 or, typically, have to wait a few weeks.

Channelling GPS

Another online news piece, this time for CRN Australia on Mio’s plans to expand GPS into the corporate market. Between this and and the entry below, it’s certainly been a good week for me on the gadget news front (albeit from wildly different perspectives in each case).

Handheld chaos and early rising

I’ve just had a news piece on how handheld divergence is crippling the enterprise published by ZDNet Australia. This came out of a nifty Gartner breakfast seminar I attended, though having to be in the city by 7:30am reminded me of why daily commuting can be such a drag.

Share and share alike

An article I wrote recently for Human Resources on shared services in HR has now found its way online.