Sort by category: Commentary

An inspired list

My five most frequent stops for daily inspiration and perspective.

Next Draft

Simply put, it’s the days most fascinating news delivered to your inbox. Curated with wit and intelligence by Dave Pell. A consistent source for inspiration for stories, and just a great way to understand more about the world we don’t read about.

Cinephilia and Beyond

The source for Directors commentaries, behind the scenes photography and video essays. A must for any enthusiast of the dark arts. It keeps the ideas flowing and doubles as your daily filmschool attendance.

BOOOOOOOM!

You can find just about everything at BOOOOOOOM! — art, film, music, design, misc. Provides a peak into what’s trending online, before it’s trended.

The Verge

If you want to know anything about what’s happening in tech right now, and what’s coming round the corner, tune into The Verge. Together with their sister sites Vox and Polygon, these guys are reinventing the news model one category at a time.

Kill Screen Daily

Kill Screen isn’t your ordinary gamestop. Only occasionally will you spot a AAA title reviewed on site. Instead the focus is on what is pushing the industry forward, and what is dragging it down. The commentary is frequently intelligent, subversive, and will change the … Read more

Zero inbox

Of all the productivity hacks I’ve picked up in the past year, committing to a zero inbox has had the single biggest positive impact on my day-to-day output.

This zen-like state is thanks to an app called Mailbox.

Mailbox is an iOS and Android app that accepts Gmail, Google apps and iCloud accounts. It uses a gesture based interface to allow you to quickly process incoming emails as read, flag them for deletion, add to a list, or schedule for reading at a later date.

Think of it as a cross between a task list and email. In this day and age, when emails are pretty much just longwinded task reminders anyway, Mailbox is ahead of the game.

And now that the Mailbox OSX desktop companion has entered beta, I feel like the open email loop of my life is finally drawing to a close.

When you first install Mailbox (on iOS, Android or OSX), the app will ask permission to move all of your existing inbox mail to an archive folder. The mail is still available, but its no longer in your face. It’s a small gesture with a big payoff — everyone starts from zero.

Of course, this is no leap of impossibility. You could do this today in Gmail by creating a new folder and dumping everything into it. But Mailbox is the only … Read more

The Colosseum

football2

Spectating football is a refreshingly honest experience.

Over the past two years I’ve had the chance to attend an AFL match every second week (or thereabouts) between April and August.

During that time I’ve managed to play witness to pretty much every human emotion on the books: anger, joy, frustration, elation, sadness, doubt, and a host more.

Many of these emotions I don’t get to see much anymore, particuarly in such proximity to one another. After childhood the emotional range required of most white, middleclass males is depressingly narrow.

Our workplaces have become shrines to a hindu-like mild mannered-ness, a polite wreck of diplomacy, political correctness and passivity. Out of work (which for many of us also equates to online) networks like Facebook and Twitter reduce our social relationships to a set of socially acceptable preset responses; like, favourite, heart, insert pithy comment here.

We have become increasingly good at acting in our own skin, eskewing agency for broader societal acceptance. But at the footy, things are different. In the colosseum, expressing emotions (the entire spectrum) is not only accepted, but celebrated.

Psychologists suggest that identification with a sporting team can be important to a person’s sense of self, with the impact of exploits undertaken … Read more

Moleskine Roller Pen Review: A pen for people who don’t write much

rollerpen3

Ever since I can remember I have had a thing for pens.

I have delicate, womanly fingers. There I said it. And regular ball points give me finger strain. For a long time, a certain part of my life has been devoted to the hunt for a gentler, more nurturing pen.

For the last decade, my go to pen has been a black Uniball Eye Fine (0.7mm). At around AU$4.30 each, the Uniball Eye is relatively cheap, dries almost instantly and has minimal to no blotching on most paper. Best of all, they are almost completely frictionless, hence gentle on the fingers over the long term.

For my day to day writing I match the Uniball Eye with a soft cover Moleskine Large Notebook. This particular Moleskine offers a nice tradeoff between portability and writing space, and the creamy paper is generally dreamy to write on. I’m sure there are cheaper, and likely higher quality, notebooks out there, but I happily bought into the whole Moleskine cult a number of years ago, and with plenty of black notebooks already on the shelf, I now have a tradition to uphold.

Though I’ve always been fairly happy with the Moleskine-Uniball combination, lately I’ve developed a certain yearning for the kind of maturity that … Read more

Sleight of hand

There is a magnetism passing between writers and books, once you determine yourself to be a ‘writer’.

Each passing year, this magnetism draws millions of our brethren to publisher’s craggy shores, where we proceed to beach ourselves, time and time again, with the same intense mystery of the whales attraction to land, not for health, not for wealth, and most certainly not for happiness.

Well, after a year off from tapping keys, with much ruminating (if bouts of laziness could bear such description), and spectating the year that print bit its last pillow, I have discovered something unholy: I am not a writer after all.

A brief flashback: I can remember the day I became a ‘writer’. Fifteen years ago I started work as a copywriter for a local newspaper. It was monkey work really, ‘writing’ in the same way turning screws is ‘carpentry’, but the day I started my boss took me in front of our department and introduced me: “this is the new writer”.

Proud as peach I was and soon after I joined the club, which I presumed to have many members, though scant few of these I would actually meet in the flesh over the next … Read more

Findings

Here’s something I think you’ll like. An simple yet elegant social network built around your Kindle captions called Findings: http://findings.com/

Allows you to import your existing Kindle captions as well as capturing new ones automatically as they hit your Kindle highlights page. For those without Kindles, well…umm…well there is the option of highlighting text on webpage…

I still like it.… Read more

Oh Pioneer! mixtape

If you are as keen on writing/reading soundtracks as I am, then you will love these three mix tapes curated by the clever ones at Oh Pioneer!

50 curated songs over three themed albums, encompassing winter, roadtrips into the wilderness and, my personal favourite, a mixtape devoted to that heavenly beacon of humanity, campfire:

This playlist has been personally tested to be suitable for fireside chats in the woods, falling asleep in a tent, quiet nights reading, driving through the mountains, fly fishing, and whatever adventures you can get yourself into.

The perfect accompaniment to a quiet room, a glass of hard liquor and some creative kindling.

Enjoy! http://ohpioneer.com/tagged/mixtapeRead more

15 minutes with Linda Jaivin

Last night I had the chance to sit down with my fellow Emerging Writer's Festival bloggers and talk with novelist and translator Linda Jaivin, currently in town for the racy Dirty Words event on June 1.

Among many topics covered – Chinese Kung Fu, the art of bluffing your way through an interview, Renaissance art and French New Wave cinema – I was particularly interested in Linda’s vast catalogue of book reviews. As Linda is both a successful novelist and a critic, I wanted to find out how her position as an author influenced her approach to critquing other authors’ work.

I’ll admit that I have a pretty ignorant view of what a book review actually sets out to achieve. As a pure summary of a text, it seems a paradox that a book of 100,000 words can be explained in 150. If that were possible, all books are in dire need of more ruthless editors. And if reviews are pure opinion, how does that wash when books are such personal objects of affection? I was keen to get a more informed perspective from Linda, who has been reviewing books since before I was born.

Linda explained her approach to a review was less about like/dislike and whether to recommend a purchase, and more about giving the reader an understanding of the work itself, leaving it up to them whether they should read it or not.… Read more

Three months with Kindle – Part 2

kindle3_180511

In Part 1 of this review, I looked at the changes the Kindle has made to my book purchasing and selection habits. In Part 2, I'll give more detail into the reading experience compared to a book, and look at where the technology is headed in the future.

Read Part 1 of this review here.

In many ways the Kindle 3 offers an improved reading experience over a print book, but it’s not an end game comparison. There is nothing offered yet that vastly alters the core solitary reading experience humans have honed over the last few thousand years. But things are definitely starting to change.

Outside of the refined title selection and purchasing process, most of Kindle’s reading ‘advantages’ could be seen as sacrifices.

For example, one handed reading is a significant improvement, that’s achievable through the Kindle’s diminished size and weight, and the removal of page turning. By removing an aspect of a book’s tactile nature, Kindle gains its advantage. But if you are a book lover, and you love the tactile feel of books, the coarse edge of the next page curling beneath your thumb, then you will mourn the loss.

Some will see it one way, many will see it another. And in that way perhaps Kindle actually takes us a step back and refocuses attention on the contents of the book, and away from the packaging. What is obvious though, is that few will ever love the Kindle in the same … Read more

Three months with Kindle – Part 1

kindle2_170511

It took me 31 years to buy a Kindle. All those years, from infancy to adolescence and part way to adulthood, I’ve known only one way to read a book.

How significant then that after just 3 months with a Kindle, I am re-thinking the past 31 years of reading.

Let me start by apologising for the length of this Kindle review.  Either I am incapable of coalescing my thoughts succinctly, or the issue of book vs Kindle is a just wordy nut worth cracking. I’ll let you decide which. To soften the blow, I have decided to serve the meal in two parts, and I’ll be posting Part 2 of this review tomorrow. Pease come back if you’re still hungry.

To whet your appetite for what’s to come, I’ve collected some of my more rash statements from the review and summarised them below:

  1. I have no doubt that ebooks will replace print as the dominant mode of reading books within five years.
  2. Books will remain in existence as long as bookshelves are being made.
  3. Book loving and reading are independent concepts.
  4. In the spectrum of possibilities for ereading, Kindle hardly rates as a single colour. A pale blue at best.
  5. Cloud based reading is the only viable solution to ending Amazon’s growing monopoly.

That over with, now let me tell you about Kindle.

I mentioned already that ereading will … Read more

Page 1 of 2Next