Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sydney's beauty

I managed a lovely little mini-holiday in Sydney with some of the family recently.

It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful our biggest city in Australia really is.

Yes - it is a BIG city, and everything that comes with that. But the location, around Sydney Harbour, is startlingly attractive.

In particular, the magnificent open public spaces in and around Darling Harbour are a real highlight for visitors.

Light fittings, Wildfire restaurant, Overseas Passenger Terminal Circular Quay

Evening, from Newtown rail station

Reflection off King's Wharf, Darling Harbour, Sydney

The Sydney Opera House at night from Wildfire restaurant, Overseas Passenger Terminal Circular Quay

Sunday, October 23, 2011

All Blacks Win It: French just fail to close out an All Black #RWC2011 choke

Roll on Rugby World Cup 2015 !!

I've had such a good time watching the Rugby World Cup finals - except the one the Wallabies lost to the All Blacks, of course...

Last night's decider really was one of the most exciting rugby finals I've watched in a while, despite the low scoring and the ball-handling errors (although nothing will beat Wilkinson vs Australia in RWC 2003 for a long time....)

It serves as a reminder why I get so excited in the lead-up to this compettion every four years. It is just sensational sports viewing: the greatest game in the world.

It has to be said: the All Blacks are deservedly Rugby World Cup Champions for 2011.

Just like TV's Survivor - they've outplayed all comers, outlasted huge scares like the one Les Bleus gave them last night, outwitted opponents (the Australians, devastatingly, in particular) by playing them at their own game and winning the battle of tactics, over and over - and out-muscled, out-bustled, and out-rugbyed every opponent they faced.

They've even out-choked their own traditional choke - and put that choke around the throats of their opponents through a consistently tough and altogether ultimately undefeated defence.

Once and for all, the All Blacks showed that making and holding tackles wins the big games.

As Wallaby scrum-half Will Genia said back in August after the Wallabies were smashed by the ABs at Eden Park:

"No matter how long you hold that pill for they’ve got a good enough defensive system to hold you out and they showed that. It was very, very hard."

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans agreed, saying: “They scrambled defensively very well and those sorts of qualities will be important come World Cup time.”

Quite prophetic, in fact, Robbie.

The last half of the 2011 RWC final was exactly like that. As the pressure built on the All Blacks to hold onto their slimmest of leads at 8-7, it was clearly becoming waaay too much for some NZ tweeters who were including references to holding their breath, various types of coronary care and nervous breakdown in their increasingly-feverish tweets (these, at least, provided some light relief on the side).

It was tense and it was exciting. Despite the fact that the French had most of the possession, the All Blacks held them out. Denied them.

Towards the end, the All Black defenders looked completely dead on their feet, battered and sorely tested after dozens of phases put together by heroic waves of Bleus led in the loose by their incredible captain Thierry Dusautoir and a dominant platform in the lineout via Imanol Harinordoquy (a lineout reliability factor the Wallabies desperately needed - nay must have had, and sadly couldn't consistently deliver - if they were ever to challenge for the title).

But the time evaporated and the New Zealanders kept finding something, managing to keep "scrambling" in defence, covering huge overlaps out wide being created by a magnificent final charge of wide-running, hugely-brave French backs. Led by the efforts of scrum half Dimitri Yachvili, tough tackle-breaking centre Aurélien Rougerie and fullback Maxime Mèdard they gave it everything they had from the first minute of the second half in a desperate attempt to break the All Black defensive line.

They just couldn't beat the choker-hold of the strongest-willed All Blacks defence we've seen for quite some time.

Former England and British Lions hooker and now UK Telegraph rugby writer Brian Moore said this morning that "The French refused to play their role as biggest underdogs ever" but that "the All Blacks' defensive wall ended brave France's hope of a breakthrough."

Moore went on to write that:
"In the end, it was pressure that told for the French; not that imposed by attacking pressure, rather an enormous rearguard defensive display from the All Blacks in the middle period of the second half."

It's quite a good commentary actually - and from an ex-front rower, which makes it all the more sensible and realistic. Worth a read.

Let's be very clear here. I don't like the All Blacks.

I do not have a strange attraction to their regularly-infringing (but rarely-penalised) forward pack, led by the all-time unpenalised infringer in Richie McCaw.

And I will not succumb to the sickening media fawning that is occurring across all channels right now.

In my heart I was going for the French (as much as I don't like them, either).

But after yesterday's grinding win against a tough, brave, committed Les Bleus who fell desperately short of their own glory, it is utterly impossible to not respect the best rugby team in the world right now: the 2011 All Blacks.

Congratulations to the All Blacks.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Visit to Bruny Island

Went to Bruny Island on Tuesday - it really is one of our family's favourite spots.
Unfortunately, couldn't find a fish to catch, but it was nice to get away and spend some relaxation time.

The D'Entrecasteaux Channel

Tinderbox in the distance - looking up along Nebraska Beach, North Bruny Island

Nature's sculpture - the rocky outcrops at the end of Nebraska Beach, Denne's Pt North Bruny Island

Nebraska Beach

Nebraska Beach

Nebraska Beach

Looking across the Channel to North-West Bay/Margate from Nebraska Beach - North Bruny Island

Going home: approaching Kettering at sundown, from the Bruny Island ferry

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Essence of Hobart: Mt Wellington

One of the great natural attractions of my home town, Hobart in Tasmania, is
Mount Wellington

I've recently discovered a bit of an attachment to the huge, volcanic backdrop to the port town of Hobart. We have a beautiful view from our place at Kingston and, as many people would experience in their mountain home towns, Mt Wellington seems to have a different mood, clad in different robes and painted by different artists every day.

Here are a couple of different snaps from my house, and from other observation points (including Hobart's Eastern Shore with Camera+ at night, and the cracker from the "organ pipes" on the side of the mountain itself, courtesy of my work colleagues who climbed it the other day).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Paul Keating: Does Anyone Cast A Longer Shadow over National Public Affairs?

Does anyone cast as long a shadow over national public affairs as Paul Keating?

I think the answer is: No. Certainly no former politician, at the very least.

Nobody has greater political and commentariat star-power; nobody has the ability to make such a wide range of people stop what they're doing, look up and take notice; nobody gets the chattering classes chattering at such speeds and volume; and nobody, it appears, commands such adulation from some journalists for his colourfully descriptive turn of phrase as the former Prime Minister, Treasurer and Member for Blaxland, Paul Keating.

And this incredible resonance in the public discourse, decades after leaving the national stage, was there for all to see in the social media world yesterday.

The build-up of expectations on Twitter, prior to Keating's appearance on ABC's 730 show last night, was something to behold.

Regular correspondents tweeted breathlessly about the upcoming interview, Keathing's continued love of fashion, blithe references to clocks and Mahler, some with hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute countdowns, some even using a postscript hashtag of #squeeeee (!) to underline their excitement. It was an extraordinary cacophony of utterances from a bazaar of sycophants and acolytes; followed blow-for-blow by some equally colourful Keating-dislikers and tweeters with a keen sense of history and an unmuddled rear-vison mirror.

In fact, it pretty much cut short and part-buried another big story around at the time: Ricky Ponting's resignation as Australia's Test and one-day cricket captain.

And then there was the flurry of faithfully-transcribed tweets of the interview itself.

When the much-attended-on Devastating Keating One-Liners finally arrived - "those dead men and women hanging around your neck" the "sicko populism" "jumping on and off buses and trains as transport minister doesn't give you the authority to lead the party" "it'll be like lead weight in the saddle bag, that's all" etc etc - these were recycled all through the night and dominated today's headlines.

Usually there is something of an arm's length relationship with these sorts of figures. In terms of ex-Prime Ministers: it's all a bit still too raw for the public with Howard; Fraser has an odd public persona these days; Hawke is almost a caricature of his former self.

But not PJK.

The love affair with the Australian political class endures, even after all these years. And channels like Twitter continue to give it a monster run.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Autumn in Hobart

We've had a little bit of windy, rainy weather over the last couple of days in Hobart and it's forecsat to get uglier over the rest of the week.

I managed to snap some autumn colours at my Mum and Dad's place the other day. The fiery reds and oranges in the leaves on the lawn took my breath away.

7 Levels of social media engagement (Laurel Papworth)

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Marcus Evans Social Media conference #MESM11 in Sydney.
One of the presenters at #MESM11 was Laurel Papworth, regular tweeters would know her as #SilkCharm - Laurel has been teaching social media for the last five years and was a very engaging presenter.

One of her recent blog posts about corporate social media engagement looks at the various approaches from corporates to the use of social media in the business - all the way from ignoring it completely to deep collaborative models.

The blog post has a fascinating series of comments and analysis (more than 170 posts when I looked - lots of retweets but some great comments as well) from a broad range of people involved in this space. Talk about user-generated content!

It's a great discussion; a good place to start if you're looking for some "traditional theory" about social media from a corporate perspective, as well as a highly engaged conversation about Laurel's approach from bloggers, other commentators and practitioners.

(via @kristinalford and her retweet as well)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St Patrick's Day 2011: remembering Ireland

In the middle of 2008, we took the trip of our lifetimes (so far) and went to the UK, Paris; and Singapore on the way home.

After ten days in England, driving the most magnificent car I had driven to that point (a hire/drive Audi A4 turbo diesel), we flew from Teeside to Shannon, in the Republic of Ireland (Eire).

We spent the next five days driving around Ireland (in a diesel Mondeo this time, also nice). It was hard not to feel like we were in Tassie at times; there were many similarities in the surroundings.

Ireland is renowned for its rainy-ness; everywhere we went, when in conversation about our Irish leg, people would invariably say things like: "ohhh, I bet the weather wasn't that good." etc.
And it wasn't, for at least a couple of the days when we had left Dublin's fair city and were out in the country, touring the legendary beauty of those fair hills and vales.
It rained a lot on one or two of those days. It was quite fine and mild on others. Very Tasmanian, in fact.

Notwithstanding the precipitation, I managed to capture some of that beauty and, on St Patrick's Day this year, am posting a few shots bringing back some lovely memories of a wonderful countryside.

Dublin: Georgian terrace doors

Dublin: River Liffey and Ha'penny Bridge

Dublin: Molly Malone "Singin' cockles and mussels - alive, alive-oh!"

Dublin: Georgian terraces

Wrought-iron gates, rain clearing: County Enniss

Black-faced sheep everywhere: roadside, Kerry mountains

Seaside cottage: Ring of Kerry

Coastline: Ring of Kerry

Reflections in a tarn: Ring of Kerry

The view from the steps of Muckross House, Killarney National Park

Muckross House, Killarney National Park

Mossy oak tree, Killarney

Maze Gardens at Muckross House

Stone bridge over a fine fly-fishing river, County Clare (couldn't help but see the bridge at Richmond or Ross, Tasmania...)

Loch Leane - Ring of Kerry

Cows grazing by the side of the road in the Kerry mountains

The awesome natural beauty of the Cliffs of Moher

Castle ruins by the cliffs' edge at Moher

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Telegraph pole, King Street Newtown

I was over in Sydney for the Marcus Evans Social Media conference #mesm11 and had a lovely meal out in Newtown at Thai Pothong with some colleagues.
King Street is such a busy little arterial through-way, with fascinating old and new world artefacts.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Marcus Evans Social media marketing conference, Sydney

I've had a really informative and engaging couple of days at the Marcus Evans Social media marketing conference at the Sydney Harbour Marriot.

Follow it on Twitter #mesm11

Looking forward to having a crack at getting inside iGoogle and the "social media dashboard" and "social media press release" concepts, as outlined by one of the key presenters Laurel Papworth @SilkCharm

The presentation by the Canon team on World of EOS and PhotoChains was vibrant.

Some of the really interesting questions from the conference:

Do you know who the top ten bloggers are in your area of interest or industry etc?
What do we understand as product-centric, consumer-oriented, and values-driven web activity?
What digital places or proerties do you own and have control over ?
Can we measure the value of a "fan" or a "brand advocate" or a "customer life cycle"?

Some great stuff - always good to think well outside the square and peer, bravely, into the future.

Thanks to Gavin Heaton @servantofchaos who did a really good job as MC for the conference

This is a fabulous short macchiato I had at Thai Pothong, Newtown, Sydney