Suddenly Monday

Between returning from Hong Kong and hosting visiting family from Canada, the second half of last week was a bit of a rushed blur and blogging once again became a low priority. Despite that, work continued, and I found myself on the virtual pages of CRN, looking at how Harvey Norman has bought out Clive Peeters.

The Hong Kong event got its main write-up on Wednesday when I cast a critical eye over HP’s printer apps plans. That day’s Lifehacker 101 looked at how to preserve your printed photos. The Loaded column on Thursday examined what constitutes legal tender (short answer: most retailers can set pretty much whatever payment policies they like). Friday’s Planhacker table looked at naked DSL plans, prompting me to contemplate yet again getting rid of my landline for good.

Elsewhere on Lifehacker:

  • People Make Really Dumb Complaints About TV Ads
  • Telstra Drops Prices On A Bunch Of Smart Phones
  • Lunchtime Wrap: iPhone Reuse & Legal Tender
  • Hack Airline Headphones To Work With Any Device (promptly picked up by US Lifehacker)
  • ACCC Ready To Bust Restaurants For Deceptive Pricing
  • Android Phone Deals In Australia Appearing At Breakneck Speed
  • Premium SMS Blocking Available On Your Phone From Today
  • Hotel Safe With Power Is A Genius Idea (another Hong Kong trip-inspired post)
  • Lunchtime Wrap: Browser Speeds & Web Printing
  • e-Tax 2010 Is Now Available For Download
  • Vodafone Begins Selling Nexus One Today
  • Do Mobile Email Signatures Get On Your Goat? (promptly picked up by US Lifehacker)
  • Lunchtime Wrap: Digital TV & Compact Wallets
  • Get The Bill Early When Eating Out While Losing Weight
  • Have Your Say On Fax Spam Rules
  • The printernet is for porn

    Yesterday saw the main HP printer launch event that I flew to Hong Kong for, held at Shaw Brothers Studios, where many a legendary Hong Kong action flick has been filmed. The site wasn’t exploited much for its history: the picture above is literally the most interesting thing I found to photograph when a bunch of overhyped Aussie journos decided to take an unsanctioned walk around the grounds.

    The first story I filed from the event ended up at Gizmodo. Naturally, if there was an angle connecting porn and printers, I needed to write it, but Lifehacker simply isn’t an appropriate place for that kind of yarn. Kudos to Giz editor Nick for the excellent accompanying image.

    With digital TV switch-off taking place in Mildura today, Streaming visited the topic of just how much that mattered, while attempting to mildly offend senior citizens everywhere. Elsewhere on Lifehacker:

  • How To Insert File Text Into Outlook
  • Make Life Easier With A Self-Service Dog Wash
  • Use Google To Find The Time Of Sunrise And Sunset (republished on the US site despite being exactly one sentence long)
  • Lunchtime Wrap: To-Do Lists & In-Flight SMS
  • You Really Can Make Your Wallet Smaller
  • Don’t Go Crazy Pursuing Perfection (a story from last week’s Vegas trip quoting Jeffrey Katzenberg, who oddly enough also appeared via video conference at the Hong Kong event)
  • Live from Hong Kong

    As you’ve likely gathered from the previous post, I’m in Hong Kong for a couple of days for an HP printers press launch. What’s unusual about this particular event is the sheer number of journalists that have been flown in: at least 10 from Australia alone, including my esteemed brother.

    It’s been quite some years since I’ve been on an overseas press trip with even one other Aussie tech hack, while the last time Alex and I travelled overseas together was back in 1985. Perhaps the excitement explains why I ate frog congee for dinner last night. (The frog itself was fine, but hadn’t been boned, and the congee was ridiculously hot.)

    Back on Australian shores, iTnews published a story from me about how the Bureau of Meteorology uses Linux to save on licensing costs for virtual machines, a story I’d picked up at PyCon 2010 over the weekend. For Road Worrier, I looked at how well in-flight SMS worked on last week’s trip to Vegas. Gotta milk those travel options.

    Elsewhere on Lifehacker:

  • DIY Dish Drainer Laptop Wall Stand
  • Freeview Finally Rolls Out Its EPG
  • Lunchtime Wrap: Prepaid Broadband & iPhone Downgrades
  • Virgin Prepaid Broadband Prices To Change In July
  • Last Week’s Top Ten Posts
  • Vodafone To Sell Nexus One In Australia

  • All hail the Bruff

    I’ll freely admit I was chuffed to read this on Gizmodo, where my colleague Nick Broughall was linking to Lifehacker’s post on prepaid 3G broadband plans:

    I love it when Gus over at Lifehacker lets his inner Excel-geek go to make information tables. There’s always so much information in such a concise form factor – it’s almost enough to make the spreadsheet nerd in me weep for joy. Almost.

    My inner Excel-geek is very happy.

    Prepaid joy

    I’ve returned from Vegas (ah, the subtle pleasures and challenges of the A380 in premium economy), but the sausage machine continues. At iTnews, there’s a piece on the data centre used by the Venetian and Palazzo hotels. While there’s nothing particularly unique about the centre itself, merely getting access is pretty astonishing: casinos normally treat all their tech platforms as something akin to state secrets, as I’ve learnt a few times when trying to set up meetings with their tech managers. I just wish my Canon EOS wasn’t currently awaiting repair, as photos from the BlackBerry just don’t turn out quite as well.

    Tax Week at Lifehacker reached a peak of sorts with the Loaded column rounding up most of the useful tax advice the site has offered in recent years. Friday means Planhacker, which this week looked at prepaid 3G broadband options. While it’s sometimes tedious assembling these all-in-one tables, it does make you much more aware of how the pricing structures vary between the different telcos — and to judge by the traffic figures, it’s information which a lot of people want.

    Also on Lifehacker:

  • Make Jewellery Holders From IKEA Ice Cube Trays
  • Use This Chart To Set Your Work Priorities
  • Lunchtime Wrap: Tax Tips & Cooling PCs
  • Key Dates For 2010 Tax Returns
  • Brut Google Maps Offers Android Turn-By-Turn Directions
  • Offers Free PDF Guides To Major Cities (promptly picked up by the US site)
  • Support Gizmodo’s Campaign For Kate Lundy As IT Minister
  • Payclick Account Maintains Your Privacy When Shopping Online
  • Lunchtime Wrap: Season Passes & Gmail Notes
  • Ice TV New Show Lists Fresh Additions To TV Schedule
  • Optus To Sell Samsung Galaxy S Android Phone
  • Storing up a week in Las Vegas

    I’ve been in Las Vegas all of this week, attending the HP Techworld Forum 2010 event. When I was in Vegas earlier this year for CES, I managed daily posts; sadly I’ve been lazier this time around. The event has been at the Mandalay Bay, which at least has the comfort of familiarity: this is the third time I’ve stayed here for a tech conference. The flight over was also good, as I got upgraded into business and got to check out how that works on an A380 for the first time. And in between endless sessions, there’s been plenty of partying with other European journalists on site for the conference.

    In the meanwhile, almost a week’s worth of writing activity has gone undocumented. I’m covering the HP event for iTnews, and so far there’s been an overview of what was announced at the conference and a lengthy analysis of the company’s StoreOnce deduplication plans. More will, I expect, follow.

    At the latter end of last week, the Loaded column examined credit card fees in Australia. Planhacker (aka as half-my-life-is-spent-assembling-spreadsheets) collated every Android phone deal in Australia.

    This week, Lifehacker’s been running Tax Week 2010, offering advice on claims for rental properties, finding the right deductions for your job and what’s new in tax for 2010. Again, there’ll be more before the week is out.

    Monday’s Road Worrier column compared BlackBerry’s two most recent models, neither of which has seriously threatened my affection for the Bold. Tuesday saw Lifehacker 101 move up from its customary Wednesday slot so I could look at the Telstra NBN deal, while Streaming examined how season passes should be priced on iTunes. From this, we learnt that virtually no Lifehacker readers want to pay $76.99 to watch Good News Week.

    Elsewhere on Lifehacker:

  • Drinking Tea And Coffee Can Be Good For Your Heart
  • Qantas Says Mobile Check-In Bug Is Now Fixed
  • Lunchtime Wrap: iOS4 Shortcuts & NBN Explained
  • Internode Offering iPad SIM Plans
  • Vodafone To Be Sold From 3 Stores
  • Google Maps Now Offers Australian Suggestions
  • Some Calls Between Vodafone And 3 Now Free
  • Lunchtime Wrap: BlackBerry Battles & Best Blog Hosts
  • ANZ Repeats Free Wi-Fi Campaign
  • Telstra Adds LG Optimus To Android Range
  • Lunchtime Wrap: Android Plans & OS Battles
  • Dick Smith Has 20% Off iTunes Cards
  • Last Week’s Top Ten Posts
  • Lunchtime Wrap: Hotmail Vs Gmail & Bread Tag Cord Labels
  • How Often Do You Use A Clothes Dryer?
  • Make Sure You Enable AutoRecovery In Visio
  • Officeworks Selling $50 iTunes Cards For $43
  • Make Sure Your Dog Stretches Regularly
  • How To Ditch Facebook’s Like Button From Every Site
  • Telstra Increases Data Allowances For Bundles
  • Lunchtime Wrap: Sleeping On Planes & Silencing Vuvuzelas
  • Set Up A Start Page For Excel
  • Mandatory Retention: Who’s Telling The Truth?
  • I’m huge in America

    Lifehacker US has once again republished one of my Australian yarns, this time a Road Worrier column on how to sleep on long-distance flights. I’m happy as ever for the additional audience, but admit I was slightly surprised to see the piece appear, if only because its essential premise is that Australians need different tactics to Americans because long-haul flights are generally much longer when we head overseas. However, apart from choosing a different image, the article ran pretty much word for word.

    The other lengthy piece for Lifehacker on Wednesday was Lifehacker 101, this time looking at search operators for Twitter. Also on Lifehacker:

  • How The Gruen Transfer Organises Itself (I also went a bit Gruen-mad on Twitter last night)
  • Lunchtime Wrap: Office 2010 & Lifehacker Pack For Mac
  • Use Operators To Improve Your Twitter Searches
  • How To Delay Sending Outlook Messages
  • Queensland Trains Wi-Fi Trial Set For October
  • Words just a breath away from my hand

    Lifehacker is getting something of a revamp right now, with a bunch of new columns rolling out. Next off the rank is Streaming, a weekly look at entertainment technology issues. While I expect this to talk about television and music most of the time (and indeed there is one trial column on TV in the LH archives), the first “official” instalment looks at how using tablet PCs in restaurants was happening before the iPad.

    There’s also a new daily Lunchtime Wrap, highlighting stories that less attentive readers might have missed in the flood of posts. Compared to its sibling sites Gizmodo and Kotaku, Lifehacker actually publishes at a pretty leisurely pace, but I still get occasional comments that it’s hard to keep up with everything. That’s one of the main reasons for the roundup.

    Also on Lifehacker:

  • “Happy To Flip Between iPhone And Desire” (any excuse to mention Stephen Fry, really)
  • Dry Wet Shoes Using Your Laptop
  • Change The Font For Better Proofreading
  • Lifehacker’s Complete Office 2010 Guide
  • Mandatory Data Retention: What We Know So Far
  • 24, 24, 7

    In theory, I don’t do any writing for Lifehacker on the weekend. In practice, I often can’t help myself, even if it’s a long weekend. Hence there were three brief posts over the course of the last three days. (The weekly round-up list has been revamped a little, and is now a straightforward top 10 of the most popular new posts over the previous seven days).

  • Last Week’s Top Ten Posts
  • ABC Releases Official iPad App
  • Google Offering World Cup 2010 Chrome Themes
  • A virtually busy week

    My writing week was topped and tailed by stories with a virtualisation theme for iTnews. On Monday, I looked at some of the challenges associated with chargeback for virtualised environments. On Friday, I examined why VMware had partnered with Novell to actually sell an operating system.

    Every so often, a story I write for Lifehacker Australia gets picked up and run in its entirety on Lifehacker US, the parent site. That happened on Friday as well, when a piece I wrote comparing Office Web Apps to Office 2010 also made an appearance stateside. Always good for the profile.

    Monday’s Road Worrier column saw me write up a trip from Melbourne to Sydney on the XPT, while bemoaning the lack of Next G signal. Lifehacker 101 looked at the limitations on a “common sense” approach to security. Loaded examined the best ways to avoid delivery fees while shopping online.

    On Tuesday, I tried out Qantas’ online check-in, and found it sadly wanting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like that was a one-off; I tried again on Friday and still got no joy from it.

    And that wasn’t even the half of it. Also on Lifehacker:

  • Australian Government Considers Logging All Web Activity
  • Measuring The Carbon Footprint Of Common Activities
  • Bank Fees Shifting From Savings To Loans
  • How To Report Unwanted Spam SMS
  • Use Adjacent Keyboard Letters For Better Keyword Bookmarks
  • Still No Plans For Turn-By-Turn For Android In Australia
  • Microsoft Giving Away 110 Copies Of Office 2010
  • What Drives You Mad About Office Communications?
  • Kmart Selling Two $20 iTunes Cards For $30
  • Ask Lifehacker: Can I Polarise My Office For Privacy?
  • Make A Laptop Table From A Vintage Suitcase
  • Tram Hunter Finds Melbourne Trams For Android Users
  • Hookturn BYO Cup Is A Green Way To Drink Takeaway Coffee
  • Internode NBN Plans Start From $29.95
  • Official: Lifehacker Readers Love Android
  • We’re Still Stupidly Falling For Phishing Scams
  • iPhone 4 Due In Australia Late July
  • YouTube Now Lets You Read Entire Transcripts
  • Mobile Foxtel Now Includes ABC, SBS Streams
  • Use Windows Reliability Monitor To Identify Problems
  • Last Week’s Best Posts