Tag Archives: australia

Active Perth bloggers

I have a confession.  I don’t really read other people’s blogs that much.   Sometimes just thinking about what I should blog about takes up enough time!

But last night I thought – there must be other bloggers in Perth.  I remember seeing some mention of a Perth bloggers meetup, but when I looked up the group in Facebook, it looked quite inactive.

Would bloggers want to meet up?

I think it would seem quite strange, meeting strangers, but knowing what they’ve been up to.

Anyway, I must have been bored last night, because I decided to try and find as many active Perth bloggers as I could.   And not surprisingly, in our little city of a ~1.6 million, there are quite a few blogs!

Here’s a list – by no ways definitive!  I’m sure there’s many other categories, but I’ve tried to list only those that are recently active.   If I’ve missed you out, and you update your blog regularly, let me know!

Food

Abstract Gourmet – http://abstractgourmet.com/

Perth Food Reviews – http://www.perthfoodreviews.com/

The Food Pornographer – http://www.thefoodpornographer.com/

Millier’s Musings – http://alexmillier.com/

Coffee Reviews Perth – http://www.coffeeblogger.com.au/

Cafe Grendel – http://cafe-grendel.blogspot.com/

Breakfast in Perth – http://breakfastinperth.blogspot.com/

Our Breakfast Club – http://www.ourbreakfastclub.net/

Photography

Grippu – http://www.grippu.blogspot.com/

Beau Mitchell – http://beaumitchell.com/

Charlene Winfred – http://charlenewinfred.wordpress.com/

Christian Fletcher – http://christianfletcher.wordpress.com/

Harry and Tom – http://www.harryxtom.blogspot.com/

Jamie Paterson – http://jamiepatersonphotography.wordpress.com/

Kirk Hille – http://kirkhille.wordpress.com/

Martin Pot – http://martybugs.net/blog/blog.cgi

Neal Pritchard – http://spoolphotography.wordpress.com/

Fashion

Perth Fashionista – http://www.perthfashionista.blogspot.com/

Style Discovery – http://www.stylediscovery.com.au/

The Fashion Catalyst – http://thefashioncatalyst.com/

Ginger Fox Vintage – http://www.gingerfoxvintage.com/

Dropstitch – http://www.dropstitch.com.au/

Nic and Clay – http://nicandclay.blogspot.com/

Autilia’s Blog – http://autilia.blogspot.com/

Gin in a Teacup – http://www.gininateacup.com/

Fall Victim to Fashion – http://fallvictimtofashion.com/

The Velvet Bow – http://www.thevelvetbow.net/

Karen Cheng’s Snippet of Life – http://www.karencheng.com.au/

Style Voyeur – http://www.stylevoyeur.com.au/

Misc Stuff / Personal

The Worst of Perth – http://theworstofperth.com/

The eccentric eclecticism’s of elise – http://esc77.wordpress.com/

Tea’s Stuff – http://tealou.com.au/

Rotto Bloggo – http://rottobloggo.blogspot.com/

Rodney Olsen – http://rodneyolsen.net/

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App Store for Macs

Wow!  Apple is clever…   they seem to have recognised and acknowledged the ease and success of the App Store on the iPhone, iPad, iPodTouch platform and expanded this to their personal computer market.

Yep, if you haven’t heard – the latest update of the OSX operating system introduces the App Store to Macs.

What a great idea!!  I can definitely see myself buying and downloading apps and games, especially if they’re competitively priced.  So consumers will now get more out of the Macs.  And this will also encourage developers to write more applications and games for Macs since the distribution model is all there – the App Store is just too easy to buy and install a new application or game!!   I wonder if this will convert users who have iPhones but Windows computers at home to a Mac too.

The first thing I looked up was the new iLife 2011 upgrade.   I was thinking – maybe I can upgrade the parts I want, like maybe just iPhoto.   So I did some price comparisons between the Australian Apple Store and the AppStore.

Retail Store Price – iLife ’11  (iPhoto 11, iMovie 11, GarageBand 11 + existing iDVD and iWeb) = AUD $69

Retail Store Price – iLife ’11 Family Pack (As above but install on up to 5 computers in the house) =  AUD $99

App Store Price –  iPhoto $17.99 + iMovie $17.99 + GarageBand $17.99 = AUD $53.97

So, it looks like if you only have 1 Mac at home to upgrade to iLife ’11, it’s cheaper to buy it through the App Store than off the shelf.  But if you have more than 1 Mac, it’s already cheaper to buy the Family Pack off the net.   But if you don’t need all the new iLife applications for the whole family – for example, if I only wanted to upgrade to iPhoto and no-one else, it’s definitely cheaper to buy it through the App Store.

But then I had an idea – one really valuable aspect of the iPhone App Store is that I can buy a game once, and then my family can also install this for free on their iDevices thanks to Home Sharing.  I’ve done a bit of Googling but can’t seem to find any mention of Home Sharing for the Mac App Store, which is disappointing.  Why should I be able to share Angry Birds between my iPhone, my wife’s iPhone and Little Miss 11’s iPod Touch, but not Angry Birds for the Mac to my wife’s Mac?   Apple – any Home Sharing planned?   I guess not being part of the iTunes framework might make it technically hard to do this?

So how does the purchasing and installation experience work?  Just the same as the iPhone platform.  After signing in with my App Store account, I clicked the “Free” button for a few of the free applications like EverNote and MindNode.   My dock showed them downloading and they just installed seamlessly to my Applications folder.  I did notice that downloaded applications seemed to be pinned to the dock by default.   Arghh!!   Does this have to be the default?   I guess it might help the newbie Mum and Dad who wondered where their purchase went, but this could cause a lot of clutter!!!!

Actually, on clutter – I think people’s Macs will now get cluttered with useless applications and games!

Anyways, I can see my whole weekend taken up by browsing all these apps I never knew existed for the Mac.  I expect that it will take a few weeks/months for the App Store rankings to settle down and be more meaningful too.   I can’t wait until more commercial and common software is available through the App Store for easy purchasing and/or installation – Adobe, Sibelius, Firefox, Chrome?

Masterchef 2010 finally over!

So our family gathered around the box for the grand finale of Masterchef 2010 last night.  Although it’s not really a box, it’s more 2D like a rectangle.

The kids are already barracking for Adam.  Wifey and I have boycotted internet news or social sites so we don’t get any spoilers.  Our family is in a good mood after many laughs thanks to Ten’s new import show of Modern Family and about 10 minutes of has-been Dancing with the Stars.

First up, basic skills and knowledge.  Not good for Callum who has hardly any years of experience.  At his age, I was playing Quake and Doom, eating Chicken Treat and McDonald’s and the only kitchen and food skills I had was cooking toast and cereal! 

Like a quiz show, we’re shouting answers at the TV, but neither Callum nor Adam can hear us.  Adam gets ahead.

Second, it’s the invention test three ways.   Wifey and I look at the end results and think YUM!!!  Pork belly is one of our all time favourites.  But I’m wondering if Adam really did it 3 ways?  Great ad though for a pressure cooker – I’m sure a few thousand people will run into Harvey Norman next weekend to buy one.

The judges play chicken and score them both exactly the same.  Shouldn’t Callum get more for doing peas two ways?  I’m wondering how much collusion there is between the judges outside of what we see.

Sometime around now we see the extended Director’s cut special long edition of the Perfect Italiano ad.  It brings back good memories, but it’s getting a bit old now.  It’s really clever, but not as good as the new “Old Spice” ad.  I was hoping for the grand finale they would do something totally different.

And then last up, they introduce a special guest chef Peter Gilmore who presents a desert and the girls all go, “What the?”.  Channel Ten cut to an ad break, clever cross advertising happens, I reach for the Tivo remote but realise we’ve caught up to live TV and can’t forward anymore.  

Seems like Peter has created some weird egg looking desert but Miss 9 and Wifey complain that it doesn’t look as hard as the Adriano’s V8 cake.   Callum looks like he’s not quite getting it together, and loses part of his desert on the floor.  I’m thinking, “Use the 3 second rule!  Just wash it under running water!”  Hmm…

But I wonder why Peter is there – he just loiters around not doing much.  Adam cleverly uses him as a lifeline once, but does Callum?  Why isn’t Peter judging it?  I’m confused.  I wonder how much this desert is to order at his restaurant.

They present their results to the judges, but it’s not a blind taste test – something not right here.  Judges try to make Adam and Callum cry on camera again.   I urk as the judges make wonderful comments on the recipe again instead of the execution, the same way judges on So You Think You Can Dance sometimes critique the choreographer instead of the dancer.   
For the announcement, they bring back all the guest chefs, including Julie.  But Miss 9 immediately notices that Adriano Zumbo is missing.  Was he miffed that one of his desert’s wasn’t used as the final test?

And then it’s all over – there is no way that Adam is going to lose, Miss 9 and Miss 11 are happy.   Gary says something about a “glittery kind of Masterchef life”.  What is that?  I don’t see Julie prancing around in a glittering ensemble?  If anything, Poh, the runner up from last year seems to have more exposure with a TV show and even an iPhone app! 

And then Channel Ten makes a huge mistake – it draws the ending out WAY TOO LONG!  They should take a leaf out of So You Think You Can Dance.  Get the contestants to have last words, announce the winner, shower all with recycled newspaper or confetti, then end the show there!  Instead, they all had to repeat over and over again, “Adam, you are Australia’s Masterchef for 2010!”.   Duuuhhhhh!  You only have to say that once!

But no, it has to keep on going.  I look at the clock and it’s nearly 10PM – way beyond the kid’s sleeping time and I’m sure many families will be late for school tomorrow.  They bring their families in and more tears flow.   Adam’s Dad seems proud, but Wifey and I already have our Singlish accents on saying what’s really in his Asian mind – “Boy, don’t waste your time lah!  You are lawyer, lawyers earn good money and work guaranteed for life wannnn”.   

Callum gets consolation prize at the Press Club.  No iPhone app?

One thing Wifey and I noticed missing – no thank you from Adam to the judges, other competitors, celebrity chefs, producers, etc.  Was this edited out?

Finally, Wifey and I breathe a sigh of relief.  No more Masterchef TV for a while.  Except the kids are super excited about the Junior Masterchef series coming on soon.  Channel Ten are too clever.  

With the World Cup soccer finished, Tour de France over and Masterchef over, I’ll be glad for some PlayStation 3 gaming time now!

Hands on with TomTom iPhone Australia

Yesterday I bought an early Father’s Day present to myself – TomTom on the iPhone!

Splashscreen

It brings voice navigation GPS to the iPhone – making the iPhone replace yet another device! Yep, family members – you don’t need to buy me a dedicated GPS for Christmas/Birthday/etc anymore 🙂 And I don’t need to hire one from car rental companies anywhere in Australia either now.

So, what’s it like?

Standard Functionality

Firstly I was worried that having an iPhone 3G (and not the 3GS with the digital compass) will mean its accuracy will not be as good. However, it seemed to pick up the direction I was facing very well, except once when I was stopped at a corner and the mapped kind of rotated around and then back to my original orientation a few times.

The voice turn by turn navigation works just like any other GPS. I loved playing around with the different languages and accents – I think I might switch to French to improve on my fluency. Unfortunately, you don’t get spoken street names. But having voice navigation is a huge step up from using Google Maps on the iPhone. I don’t see myself using Google Maps for driving navigation anymore.

The touch navigation of menus works with no problems and the display is very clear.

Menu screen

There is some rudimentary lane information, but I don’t think it’s advanced as some dedicated GPS units. For example, it did tell me to stay on the left lane when on the Graham Farmer freeway this morning so I could take the next exit.

Getting off the freeway

The routing also seemed to find one of my “secret” shortcuts to get to the kids’ school this morning. It didn’t know about another one I use to bypass a traffic light, but when I took it, it re-routed very quickly.

Found my shortcut

I can also vouch that the red light camera functionality works. My iPhone beeped at me when I was approaching one. I don’t see the need to have Trapster on my phone anymore!

Nice iPhone touches

I like how they’ve incorporate the iPhone’s multi-touch pinch zooming when you choose to navigate to a point on the map.

I also like being able to play music from my iPhone at the same time. My music continued to play, and then was faded out to silence whenever TomTom needed to speak a direction.

Controlling iPod

A few tips:

  • Start up your music in the iPod before starting the TomTom Maps application. Your music will continue to play in the background.
  • If you want to change tracks, then you can double click the home button for the mini-navigation. But if you click iPod, you will switch to the iPod application and then have to relaunch the TomTom Maps application again.

(Un)fortunately I haven’t had anyone ring me whilst I was driving, but I’ve read that your call takes priority and the navigation will continue once your call has ended.

They’ve also linked up the TomTom application with your iPhone contacts, so you can “navigate to” the address of any of your contacts. Nice 🙂   But it would be even nicer to link up the “navigate to” with the camera on the iPhone so that I can click on the photo of where I want to go.

Lastly, the TomTom application recognises the orientation of your iPhone, so you can use it in horizontal or vertical mode.

 Horizontal

 

Summary

I’ve only used it for a day, but already I’m yearning for the official TomTom iPhone cradle. I think I’ll have a look around eBay today to see if I can get a cheap one, but so far I’ve been using cup holders in my car to hold it. Knowing how quickly the GPS drains the iPhone battery, a cradle with a dock that powers the iPhone seems necessary.

The only other thing I’m missing (but this is really an iPhone limitation) is background applications support – the ability to switch between multiple running applications. But in the end, it takes about 9 seconds for me the application to start and show where I am.

In my opinion, the price is pretty reasonable. Unlike Google Maps which requires a data connection to download the maps around you to the iPhone, with TomTom all the maps are stored on your phone. This should mean it will work where there is no mobile reception at all (like country driving). 

I just like having all my functionality in one device. I can now check Facebook, Twitter, my emails, have my personal and work calendars at my finger tips, as well as an iPod, a web browser (and 3G connection for my laptop), handheld games and now a voice GPS – all in my pocket.

To Tivo or not to Tivo?

Tivo Logo

Some exciting news today – it is the official release date for the Tivo in Australia.

So what does that mean?  Aren’t there boxes out there that record TV already?

Yes there are.  But the thing about Tivo is not what it does (record TV), but the way it lets you do it.  It’s a paradigm shift.

The old VCRs (Video Cassette Recorders) and most of the PVRs (Personal Video Recorders – really a DVR) – out there now are basically dumb.  You, the viewer, need to know what show is coming up, what time it is, what channel it is on.  Then you can program the VCR/PVR to record that channel at the right time.

Sure, some are a bit smarter – they may show you a little of the TV guide, but in Australia, the TV networks don’t make proper use of the EPG (Electronic Program Guide) capabilities of DTV.  Some may allow you to configure a periodic recording – for example, record the same show every day at the same time, or each week.

These are not the same as a smart recorder – for example, a HTPC (Home Theatre PC), MythTV or Tivo type solution.  These recorders are different in the following ways:

* You select what to record by browsing the TV guide and choosing the program – no need to program the time or channel
* It allows you to record shows based on keywords – for example, record any program that stars Harrison Ford or has the word “Dance” in its title or description

These type of recorders are an example of technology assisting you rather than controlling you.

Three years ago, I started my attempt to get/build a smart recorder.   I evaluated importing a Tivo from the US and modifying it for Australia.  However, it seems that the US had moved on version 2 boxes.   I decided to resurrect my Linux project by using an old PC, installing Ubuntu (a Linux OS) and putting MythTV on it.  I bought a cheap DVICO Dual HDTV Tuner card.  For me, it took me HOURS to sort through Linux installation problems with my wireless card, video card and TV tuner.  Then setting up the EPG to read from a “free” EPG server in Australia.

But when it worked, it was magic – the entire TV guide was shown and colour coded by genre.  I could just click on a show and decide to record once, record each week, record anytime that show comes on, etc.  I had Formula 1 races, all the rally shows, episodes of Bob the Builder for the kids, ABC’s Compass every Sunday, Australian Idol, any program with the word “dance” as a keyword in it taping automatically.  In fact, it recorded too much TV for me to watch!  Unfortunately, my PC died (motherboard capacitors popped) and I couldn’t be bothered to start again.  Especially since it took hours to get it going.

What the Tivo does is bring that type of interface and usability to the mass market.  No Operating Software or hardware to install or tinker with.

Any downsides?

* If you’ve set up a MythTV box, then you probably don’t want to go to Tivo.  And you already know why.  For others – MythTV, being a custom application solution developed by a worldwide community has lots of extra functionality like automatic ad detection and removal, automatic recompression into other formats, remote controllable via a web browser (eg. tell MythTV to record a show from work), server/client architecture, plugins for web, DVDs, music, games (eg. MAME), etc.   I believe there are even plugins to get the closed captions and search on that.

* It won’t automatically detect and skip ads (see above).

* If you have a wireless network, then you have to fork out extra for the wireless card.  Of course, if you’re building your own HTPC, then you’ll have to buy all the hardware anyway.

* From the information I’ve read, the Tivo is fixed to using channel 7’s EPG.  The good news is that it’s legit.  However, I’m wondering if it will have as much information on each show as some of the community run EPG’s out there or ICE.

* May need to pay for upgrades to the firmware.  I hope not – but it’s a possibility.

So will I be rushing out to buy a Tivo today?  Hmmm…  I do know that I now have less free time than I used to, so I don’t really have the time to set up a MythTV box again.

But I’ll have to consult our household financial manager first 🙂

For more information, read:
Tivo home page – http://www.tivo.com.au
The Australian Tivo FAQ – http://www.pcauthority.com.au/News/115698,the-australian-tivo-faq–what-it-does-will-it-skip-ads-when-it-launches-will-it-work-with-foxtel.aspx

Alternatives that I am also considering:
PlayTV on the PS3 – http://playstation.about.com/od/hardwareandaccessories/a/PlayTVPS3.htm
DViCO TVIX 5130 – http://www.cnet.com.au/dvdpvr/pvr/0,239035858,339283113,00.htm
Beyonwiz DP-S1 – http://www.cnet.com.au/dvdpvr/pvr/0,239035858,339279087,00.htm
Topfield TF7000HDPVRt – http://www.cnet.com.au/dvdpvr/pvr/0,239035858,339272283,00.htm

HTPC software alternatives I am also considering:
MythTV – http://www.mythtv.org/
Mythbuntu – http://www.mythbuntu.org/
MediaPortal – http://www.team-mediaportal.com/

Other resources:
Vista & XP Media Center Support Community – http://www.xpmediacentre.com.au/
The Green Button – http://thegreenbutton.com/default.aspx
Comparison of PVR software packages – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_PVR_software_packages