Forgot to go old school

Adrian Mole book cover

Tomorrow morning I’m getting on a plane to the USA. I am making sure that all my devices that will help make the hours and hours and hours I will jammed into an airplane seat a little more bearable are fully charged. I have hours of podcasts, audio books and video to keep me entertained.  That’s along with the hours of inflight entertainment that will also help keep me entertained.  

My first ever long haul flight was when my parents and I moved from Adelaide to England. I remember buying my first ever walkman at the airport duty free shop and I still can’t hear to Phil Collins No Jacket Required without remembering the feeling of my first long haul flight. My parents also bought me a handheld Donkey Kong game. That I loved so much I broke the buttons.  Those two devices were the first pieces of technology I ever owned. 

Now I have my iPhone, my iPad mini and a pencil case full of cables and chargers. But I have just realised I will need some old school entertainment. I have forgotten to pack a book. Whilst I was worrying about adapters, chargers and hours of content, I forgot that as some point that batteries will all run flat and by law I will need to turn them off; and I will need a book. 

I can’t believe I forgot a book, I love books. There is a huge pile next to my bed all forming an orderly queue to be read. Sadly on closer inspection they are all hard cover, so too heavy to take with me.  On my first long haul flight I remember reading The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4, I still have that book. So tomorrow as I am killing time pacing around Sydney airport before my flight I will take great pleasure in buying myself something to read whilst I’m on the plane and whilst I’m on holiday. Because even though I love technology sometimes you just have to go old school. 

 

‘My One and Only’

My One and Only artwork

It’s a funny how little things can snowball into bigger things.  As I have said before I’m a theatre geek. I am a huge fan of BBC Radio, especially radio plays, and thanks to the wonders of the internet I listen regularly to the free BBC podcast ‘Play of the Week’. 

In May 2012 I was walking home from work listening to My One and Only, it was an intense drama about obsessive love and stalking which really drew me in. The characters never meet face to face, the whole play was a series of phone calls.

The play made me think about how much of our lives, loves and relationships take place over the phone. I’m amazed by how quickly technology has become pocket sized and is now such an important part of our lives. Most of us rarely leave the house without our phones or get through a meal without making or receiving a call or text message or using our phones to settle an argument by checking a fact online.

I found Dawn King, the playwright, online, and sent her a message on Twitter, another new and very useful piece of technology.  After a few emails back and forth Dawn gave me permission to adapt the play for Adelaide Fringe 2013.  I asked a friend in England to help me adapt the play, we caught up on Skype to talk about the progress of the adaption.  I directed about Layla a young woman and her relationships.

My One and Only premiered at Adelaide Fringe this year and was recently nominated for Adelaide Theatre Guide Award for ‘Best Female Performance (Amateur)’. Sadly at tonight’s award ceremony the lovely Tamara Bennetts didn’t win. But I am incredibly proud that I was able to take a podcast and turn make it snowball into a great piece of theatre. 

Follow Friday

Follow Friday

If you venture on to Twitter on a Friday you will see many tweets using the hashtag #FF which stands for Follow Friday. What is Follow Friday?  It is a chance for Twitter users to show a little love to people they think you should be following. It can be a great way to find people to follow. Some people you #FF as a way to acknowledge someone who has been especially interesting, funny or helpful. So Dear Reader keep an eye out for #FF and see if you can find interesting people to follow on Twitter. And don’t forget to make some #FF suggestions for your followers. 

Image credit: http://technorati.com/social-media/article/do-you-followfriday-on-twitter-what/ 

Tweets for seats

tweet

I’m a theatre fan, a big theatre fan. I don’t see as much theatre as I like but I go at least twice a month.  This love of theatre can be expensive so I’m always on the look out for cheap tickets. What has this got to do with technology I hear you ask, well my love of technology and more specifically twitter has given me free theatre tickets.

I have been given free theatre tickets in return for tweeting about the show. My first ‘tweets for seats’ experience was a couple of years ago at Adelaide Fringe. The publicist of a local production company offered local theatre loving twitter geeks free tickets to shows if they tweeted about the shows. Thankfully I enjoyed all the shows I saw so didn’t have any problems recommending other people get along. More recently, last month in fact, I was offered free tickets in return for tweeting about a show. I jumped at the chance.  It was a show I wanted to see but couldn’t justify the ticket price given I am about to go overseas. The only condition on the free tickets was that I needed to tweet about the show 5 times in a 24 hour period. Which I did.  I was again been offered free tickets to a show tonight and went. The show I saw was Brief Encounter at State Theatre of South Australia, at it was a wonderful show.

Tweeting for seats can pose an ethical dilemma, what if I don’t like the show? This can be a real problem. I have been given free tickets in return for me tweeting to help to sell tickets. I’m not expected to review the show but I am expected to promote the show.  It’s an interesting ethical dilemma, should I tell my twitter followers or not that I was given the tickets?  I believe that if I have been given free tickets for a show that I am tweeting about that I should let my twitter followers know.  If I’m going to promote something for a fee or free tickets then it is only right I let my followers know that the tweets are sponsored.  If I’m going to endorse a product, service or theatre performance I want to make sure I am 100 % clear about what is sponsored and what is my ‘real’ unsolicited opinion.  I am very lucky that so far I haven’t been stuck with the ethical dilemma of not liking the show I’m supposed to promote. I like to think that is something to do with the shows I agree to tweet in return for seats.

There is much discussion in the marketing world about sponsoring tweets and blog posts, it can be an useful marketing tool but it is generally considered bad form to not declare the the post as sponsored.  Given that celebrity tweeters can make a lot of money tweeting endorsements for products and services it is a problem that is only going to get bigger.

I don’t think I will ever be so famous people will give me cash to promote their product, but free theatre tickets are great.  So when people ask me ‘what’s the point of twitter?’ at least I have an answer now, free theatre tickets.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com – Tweet, Tweet! Tamer Koseli 

The design saga continued

Tonight I went to Adelaide Hackerspace and spent almost 3 hours working on making this blog better. Some of the lovely people there patiently answered my questions whilst I stumbled my way through.  To completely honest the whole process all got complicated and too hard. I’m using WordPress for my blog and bought my domain name (the name of the blog) through WordPress. I was hoping to keep the management of this blog simple. Whilst the management is easy, getting the design right is.

In the land of Worpress there are only 213 themes I can choose from, some of the themes are a free.  A theme is what decides the layout, structure, fonts, background image or colour and much more about your website. The 213 themes are all adaptable but only within a limited range.  Sadly the theme I really wanted isn’t available via the official WordPress website so I couldn’t use it with out a complicated process I didn’t have the patience or skills to do. This means I have to adapt an approved WordPress theme to get the website I want. 

So Dear Reader please bear with me while I continue to learn about adapting WordPress themes and designs, each time you visit the blog may look a little different. Hopefully it won’t be too long until I will find a theme that I like and that you like.

Design epic fail

web design clip art

Today I spent the day at The Royal Adelaide Show. I am deliberately not providing a link to their website, because the website commits what I think is a design epic fail. The website has an autoplay video, a video that plays automatically when you arrive on the website.  To make it just that little bit worse the autoplay video culprit has a really annoying jingle.

Autoplay videos are bad for a lot of reasons:

  • They are very annoying if you are multitasking on your computer, maybe watching a dvd or listening to music
  • They can suck up bandwidth, not everyone has ADSL2 or cable and a big download quota
  • The audio of the video will clash with the audio of a screen reader being used by a person who is blind or has an vision impairment 
  • They distract from the content people have actually come to the website to view
  • They breach international accessibility website design standards

A few months ago I visited the South Australian Gridiron Association website www.gridironsa.com.au and they had an autoplay video. I used the ‘Contact Us’ form on the website and pointed out their video was annoying.  To their absolute credit I got an email within 24 hours thanking me for contacting them and telling me they would make the necessary changes, and they have. 

I contacted The Royal Adelaide Show via their website and have not heard anything, which given the resources at their disposal is shameful. Even if they disagreed with my comment, they should have been polite enough to reply.  If you are the administrator of a website and someone takes the time to send you a message about your website, please be polite enough to reply. You don’t have to agree with the comment, you don’t have to do what you are asked but please Dear Reader be polite enough to acknowledge someone took the time to give you some feedback. 

Design – a life altering decision or not

Image

When I started this blog I didn’t give it too much thought. I didn’t start on a whim but it seems that I didn’t plan it out very well. One thing I did not give any thought to at the beginning was the design of the blog. Today I spent over 2 hours scrolling through WordPress themes, trying to find one that I though would be perfect for this blog. 

Choosing a design for this blog feels like one of the most important decisions I will ever make. Of course I know it isn’t, but it feels like it. Choosing the look and feel, the font, the layout and overall design is proving to be a painful process. Which font best reflects me and my thoughts about technology? Should I have a solid colour background or a picture? Should I go hipster retro or clean and sleek? It turns out these are all important questions when it comes to choosing a design.

They are all important questions for which I don’t have answers. I know why I started this blog, but how to best reflect that in colours, fonts and images is proving very difficult. I realise that I am, as is often the case, over thinking the whole enterprise.  But the pressure I felt scrolling through hundreds of options was intense.

So Dear Reader, I have made a decision and that is to make no decision, yet. I will keep my eye out for designs, fonts and colours I like and trust that when I see a design I will know that it is right on for me. In the meantime, any tips or suggestions will be gratefully received.