Blogger or journalist?
By David HAGUE
While criss-crossing the country (again) last week, I read in interesting article in the paper. It was written by Phillip Adams, he of black clothing fame, regarding blogging.
I have always felt the term blogging was invented to try and legitimise something that has been variously called a website, then a portal (and now a blog). Whatever you call it, people have been venting opinions on websites since the ‘net was opened to commercial usage in the late 80s, just the name has been changed. In another three years it might be something else. Splugging? Blanding?
What Adams was trying to explore is the difference between a journalist and a blogger, if any.
Adams maintains he is a blogger, despite the fact he writes only in newspapers. How so? Well according to him, a journalist is one who writes news; he comments on all things social and political.
Is this correct? Is that simple definition enough to delineate between the two? And does it really matter? What do you think?
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Microsoft’s chief says DON’T use his software – what the heck?
By Ian GRAYSON
Microsoft’s larger-than-life chief executive Steve Ballmer is known for colourful statements, but when he suggests people should stop using one of his company’s products, has he gone a little too far?
The recommendation came in an interview with the New York Times where he was asked his opinion on various topics, one of which was meetings. His advice? Ditch the PowerPoint!
Ballmer has changed the way he likes his meetings to unfold. Where once trembling managers would turn up ready to present their well-honed PowerPoint slides, now they should expect a barrage of questions before they’ve even fired up the projector.
It seems the energetic CEO has decided it’s a much better use of time to have presenters send all the details to him ahead of the meeting for review. He can then formulate a series of questions on any points he doesn’t understand or doesn’t like.
To me, this sounds like a breath of fresh air. How many hours are wasted each day by roomfuls of workers being subjected to lengthy PowerPoint presentations that explain in painful detail some new product or project?
Giving people the material ahead of time and then cutting straight to the Q&A is a much better option, clawing back valuable time and making the whole meeting process much more lively and interesting.
So, I say Ballmer’s on the right track. We should all try to cut out presentations and get meetings back to what they used to be: open and frank exchanges of views designed to get to a result.
Of course, I don’t think his comments will cause a major hit to PowerPoint sales (it’s bundled with Office anyway), but if they save you from just one boring, tedious, overly long slideshow, he should be thanked.
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Digital Radio comes of age
By Adam TURNER
After a decade of false starts, the long-running joke that is digital radio finally seems to be taking off in Australia.
If you thought digital television got off to a slow start in Australia, that's nothing compared to the antics surrounding digital radio. In 1997 at the Federation of Australian Radio Broadcasters conference, Communications Minister Richard Alston recommended digital radio broadcasts begin on January 1, 2001, in conjunction with the launch of digital television.
By the middle of 2000 they were still arguing about which broadcast format they'd use. I remember writing a story for The Age about a handful of broadcasters - including Radio Sport 927, the ABC, Australian Radio Network and Triple R - pushing ahead with trials in 2000 while they waited for the government to approve the Eureka 147 broadcast format. There was also talk of using the US developed In-Band On-Channel (IBOC) format or Japan's Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting - Terrestrial (ISDB-T).
Meanwhile Alston's office was telling me that Eureka 147 (also known as DAB) had been officially approved way back in 1997 - which was news to the radio industry. Unfortunately the supposed January 1, 2001 launch date - now only months away - was "still a topic of discussion" according to Alston's office. It's been a topic of discussion ever since.
I've lost count of how many times digital radio has been supposedly trialed and launched in Australia since I wrote that story back in 2000. It seems the technology is finally getting off the ground, although they're now using an extension of the DAB standard known as DAB+ which incorporates MPEG Surround audio. It's not backwards compatible, so any old gear is obsolete before we even started. DAB digital radios imported from overseas will not work in Australia - it's like the ludicrous introduction of digital television all over again.
Digital radio broadcasts are officially kicking off around the country in May, you'll find more details at www.digitalradioplus.com.au. I'm heading off to Pioneer's DAB+ launch in a few weeks, in conjunction with manufacturer PURE. Hopefully I'll walk away with a review unit so I can decide for myself whether it was worth the wait.
I suspect digital radio has missed the boat and I'll be interested to see how it fares in the age of cheap, high-speed internet and a raft of online music services. We'll see who gets the last laugh.
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What's in a name?
By Stephen WITHERS
The Mac news of the week is that Mac OS X 10.5.7 has been released. There's a list of security fixes as long as your arm, but apart from that it isn't very interesting.
But I reckon this is: According to a report at Out-Law.com (don't be misled by the name - it's operated by a law firm), Mac designer Jonathan Ive has lost an arbitration case aimed at gaining control of certain domains based on his name.
It seems that jonathan-ive.com, jonathanive.com, jony-ive.com and jonyive.com are all used in conjunction with a Jonathan Ive fan site, and Ive and Apple took its operator, Harry Jones to arbitration.
The arbitrator held that while Ive is famous, his name is not used in trade or commerce, and therefore had not acquired the characteristics of a trade mark. "In fact, the Complainant has actively sought to keep his personal name out of trade and commerce," the arbitrator noted.
Trade mark applications have been filed, but after the domains were registered.
If you read Jones's statement, you can conclude that he was acting in good faith. For example, he claims that he only set his asking price of $US400,000 for the domains when pressured to name a price or face litigation. He he also says his offer to "reach an amicable solution with Jonathan Ive" was ignored.
To my mind, the site is rather light on content for a five year old project (for example, the page titled "Jonathan's work" contains only the placeholder text "A discussion of Jonathan Ive's work", and the "Quotes" page presents just one quotation) but there probably is enough there to overcome any allegations of acting in bad faith. After all, the web's littered with incomplete projects that may be revived later.
(I'll leave it to the reader to decide whether Jones's claim that he "had spent a tremendous amount of time building and maintaining the website" is justified.)
But here's the thing: the arbitrator noted that "The Panel has some sympathy for the Complainant's case... The issue as to whether a person has trade mark rights in their personal name is a difficult one, and there are many previous panel decisions based on diverse records which go either way."
Holding a trade mark is not one of the conditions for registering a .com domain name. Essentially, anyone can register any name, and it's first come, first served. The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) tries to overlay trade mark rights onto this free-for-all.
Wouldn't it make more sense if personal names were always sufficient grounds for a UDRP claim? In such a situation, anyone named Jonathan Ive would be able to successfully challenge the registration of jonathanive.com by someone with a different (personal or company) name, although any of them could still be trumped by the owner of the Jonathan Ive trademark unless they were using the domain for non-commercial purposes.
In that situation, the designer Jonathan Ive would have won against Jones, but if the case revolved around Apple (as opposed to Ive) holding the trademark "Jonathan Ive" then Jones would have been the victor as his site is non-commercial. To my mind, that would be the correct outcome.
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Mavis Bacon is alive and well
By David HAGUE
In the West Australian newspaper on the weekend was a mini-interview with PJ O' Rourke. He commented that he still uses an old IBM Selectric typewriter for the simple reasons that a) he cannot get sidetracked by emails arriving, b) there are no Twitter-like distractions and so on. To use a Selectric properly (children, ask your grandad :)) you need a specific skill.
You may remember I used to mention a favourite TV show on Fox is the now defunct Lab With Leo. One of the co-presenters on that show, Ryan Yewell, has become a good friend, and even produced a bed of work for me in the last 18 months, and we have some further projects on the go as we speak. I have a new publication in germination called “The Compendium which is designed to show an older demographic how to make stuff work in a step 1, step 2, step 3 way, with supporting photographs, screen shots and so. Think setting nup wireless networks, Skype, MySpace among other tasks including digital photo manipulation, getting the best from a mobile phone and so on.
Ryan commented to me that we had missed one important section; think about it.
The personal computer has been with us for nigh on 30 years now, and the whole idea is to increase productivity (in business anyway). But how many can actually touch type and take maximum advantage of the time saving of the PC? I know many people who can still handwrite faster than they can type. We have raised a whole generation of kids to adults and continue to do so, with a device that is meant to be used in the best way possible, and yet most still cannot use the most important interface between man and machine properly!
It's like being given a car and never learning how to go into 5th gear or reverse. Or a TV remote control and never knowing how to change channels.
There can be no argument that the necessary tools to learn are too expensive; I saw a very good Touch Typing teaching program in Dick Smith today for $9.95.
I venture that in the future, the ability to touch type as against not, could be a deal breaker in the employment stakes. It has certainly opened my eyes to the skill (or lack of) and will be addressed in Chez Hague as soon as I can.
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