30 Day Video Challenge

I’m going to be very busy for the next 30 days.  I’ve decided to partake in a 30 day video challenge, issued by YouTuber Scott McKenna.  That means I’ve committed to upload a video to YouTube everyday for the next 30 days, even while working 12 hour plus days at my regular full time job.

The first video is already online, check it out below – or visit my YouTube channel – www.youtube.com/user/smjbk

As I upload more videos in the 30 Day Challenge, they’ll appear in this YouTube PlayList
Feel free to “LIKE” and “SUBSCRIBE”!

10 Years on Twitter

So I received a notification from Twitter this morning, that’s nothing unusual, except that this one said “It’s your Twitter anniversary…

What?!  Apparently it’s ten years since I signed up to Twitter.  If you’d asked me yesterday, I would have said that the social media giant wasn’t even around ten years ago.  Some research this morning has enlightened me, Twitter was launched in July 2006.  I signed up two and a half years later.

As a relatively early adopter, I was able to secure my real name as my Twitter handle @SimonYeo.  Good luck to anyone trying to get their real name as a username today!

I’m only an occasional user of Twitter these days.  Below are some of my earliest tweets from 2009.

If the embedded tweets aren’t loading in your browser, click HERE for a screenshot (opens a new tab).

2018 filmed on my iPhone

I was looking for a video project last weekend, and rather than going out and filming video, I decided to use footage I already had.  I thought it would be a great idea to grab every video clip on my iPhone filmed during 2018, add some copyright free music, and edit it all together into a short YouTube video.  So that’s exactly what I did, and it was actually pretty easy – there was no story to tell, just random clips thrown together to some music.

When I watched the video back though, I realised it needed an introduction, to explain why these non related clips were put together.  To continue the phone theme, I decided to film the intro on my phone too, which actually took longer than editing the main video.  I ended up filming in the doorway of my garage to get reasonable lighting (for the front facing camera) and to get away from household noise (TV, games, kids playing).

So here it is, 2018 as seen through the lens of my iPhone 8.  I like it because every clip is a memory for me to look back on, but hopefully it’s short enough to not bore everyone else.

Christmas Morning Family Photo

SMJBK Yeo Family Photo Christmas Morning 2018

Christmas Morning Family Photo 

Even though our eldest son, Josh, is almost 19, he’s still with us and able to continue our tradition of a family photo on Christmas morning.  We started taking our family group photo in-front of the Christmas tree in 2010, when our youngest, Karla, was still an infant.  Back then, the boys were frustrated with the process (“hurry up Dad, we want to open the presents”), but now everyone knows we have to get dressed and take the family photo before any gifts are exchanged.  

I’ve even started filming the process.  As you can see in the Behind-The-Scenes video I made this year, we actually have a lot of fun posing in front of the tree, and getting our family photo just right.

Once the photo is taken, and the presents have been opened, I try to get the RAW picture edited and onto social media as soon as possible.  This year we were running a little late for a Christmas breakfast, so rather than importing the RAW file onto the computer and processing through Lightroom, I wirelessly brought the photos across to my phone and opened Instagram, applied a filter and uploaded to Insta and Facebook straight away.  I thought I would have had to re-edit the photo in Lightroom when we got home last night, but the Instagram photo turned out so well I didn’t need to do anything else.  Instagram re-saves a high resolution copy of the photo, with the filter applied, that I’ve since been able to also publish on Flickr and this blog.  The filters and performance of Instagram have certainly improved a lot over the past few years.

I’m not sure if Josh will still be living with us in 12 months time, so this may have been our last ever Christmas morning photo with all five of us together… and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

You might also be interested in this earlier blog post – simonyeo.id.au/2016-christmas-family-photos

I’ve shut down my Weblinks Website

Early web publishing and bookmark sharing

One of the first websites I ever made was a simple Blogger (Google’s blogging platform) site to record some of my favourite websites.  This was a long time ago, before social media and before you could synchronise browser bookmarks across devices.  I put a lot of thought into the name of that site, and called it “Simon’s WebLinks”.  If I found a website I thought I might want to share with someone else, or access from another computer, I would write a short post including a screenshot and hyperlink.

Once I found out how cheap and easy it was to register a domain name, I even set up Simon’s WebLinks with a custom URL – www.simonsweblinks.com

Moving to WordPress and a new domain

Fast forward a couple of years and I had discovered WordPress around the same time that new Top Level Domains became available.

(A new Top Level Domain is a web address that doesn’t end in the tradition dot-com or dot-net, such as dot-website). 

I registered the domain name weblinks.website and created my brand new WordPress website.  At the same time, I also imported the old Blogger site into a seperate WordPress site and archived it at simons.weblinks.website

WebLinks Website

The first ever post on Weblinks Website (can still be seen on the WayBack Machine)

We don’t need a WebLinks site in 2018

These days a lot of people don’t browse the web, they browse social media.  If you do have favourite websites, broswer bookmarks can be synced across devices.  There is just no need for a WebLinks Website anymore.

When the weblinks.website domain renewal came up, I had to make a decision whether or not to keep the name for another year.  Looking back over the site, I was suprised at how many of the great websites I frequented years ago no longer existed.  The site now had more bad links than good.  It was time to let my Weblinks Website die.

Now what?

Even though weblinks.website has gone, much of the site can still be seen on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.  If I do come across any amazing websites worth sharing in the future, you can bet I will write about them here on my personal blog.

NASA Astronomy Picture Of the Day

NASA Astronomy Picture Of the Day – apod.nasa.gov/apod

Vancouver webcam

Vancouver webcam – www.katkam.ca

     You might also like this related post – I’ve shut down my photo site (Nov.2016)

     You might also like this related post –

I’ve shut down my photo site (Nov.2016)

Black Friday

Just like in America, Australia had big Black Friday retail and online sales last weekend.  These sales kicked off a month of Christmas shopping, but where did Black Friday come from and did I personally pick up a bargain?

Black Friday in Australia

When I was growing up in the ’70s and 80’s, the term Black Friday was used to commemorate the disastrous 1939 bush fires.  Any occurrence of Friday the 13th might also be referred to as Black Friday.  In recent years Australian retail and online sellers have adopted the term from the United States to name heavily discounted and promoted sales over the last weekend in November.

The push to use the term “Black Friday” for sales and discounts in Australia at the end of November, may have come from the American online seller Amazon, who launched their Australian operations in 2017.

Black Friday in the USA

In the United States, the Friday after the Thanksgiving public holiday has been synonymous with big sales since the early 1950s, with the term “Black Friday” being traced back to 1962. One theory for the origin of the term is that it allowed retailers to get their balance books back into he black, instead of the red ink to signify a loss of money. 

Check out the Black Friday Wikipedia page to learn more.

My Black Friday experience

Browsing on my phone at lunch time on Friday 23rd November I spotted a great deal for the new GoPro Hero 7 Black.  Normally selling for $599 in Australia, Amazon had a Black Friday price of $505, with their sale running until Monday.  My wife said I could shout myself an early Christmas present, so I logged on to Amazon that night to place an order, only to find out the same GoPro was now listed at $547.

Amazon screenshot lunchtime Black Friday

Friday 23rd, 1:33pm

Amazon screenshot Black Friday evening

Friday 23rd, 10:09pm

The next day, Saturday, Amazon Australia tweeted “only three days left” for their Black Friday bargains.  I replied asking if I could still get the GoPro at the lunchtime price, but only got a generic reply about not price matching.

Can’t see the tweets?
Click HERE (opens new tab)

Far from impressed with Amazon’s floating price and poor customer service response on social media, I started looking around at other online deals and found a good deal at Teds Cameras, $510 for the GoPro Hero 7 Black – plus a free gift!

TEDS GoPro ScreenShot

Teds Cameras Black Friday 2018 screenshot – GoPro Hero 7 Black
(click here www.teds.com.au/gopro-hero-7-black for today’s price)

 

Cyber Monday

Imagine my surprise, and frustration, when I see Amazon Australia reduce the price for the GoPro Hero 7 Black on Cyber Monday. 

(The term “Cyber Monday” comes from the early days of online sales in America, when buyers would wait until they went back to work on Monday to utilise faster internet in the office.) 

Monday the 26th was supposed to still be part of Amazon’s Black Friday sale, but for Cyber Monday their price for the top of the line GoPro had dropped to $494.

Monday 26th – Cyber Monday

The Ted’s Cameras Experience

So it’s too late to worry about Amazon snubbing me, then going a few dollars cheaper anyway.  I’ve placed an order with Ted’s Cameras, so I should have my new GoPro within in a few days… Wrong!

On Tuesday 27th Teds sent me a text saying there may be some delays because Black Friday was a huge success.  Now a week after placing my order, I’m still waiting for delivery and Ted’s sent me another text today saying they received 8 times their normal orders over their Black Friday sale.  They hope to despatch mine ASAP.

Teds SMS Tuesday after Black Friday

Ted’s Cameras text message,
Tuesday after Black Friday

Teds Cameras text message one week after Black Friday

Teds Cameras text message,
one week after Black Friday

Frustrations and Expectations

Amazon surprised me with their low prices for the new GoPro Hero 7 Black, but the fact their price was constantly changing was terribly frustrating.  Had I stuck with Amazon though, I would’ve had my new toy within a couple of days.

I am so glad I found an almost as low price at Ted’s Cameras, but frustrated they didn’t foresee the sales spike over the Black Friday weekend.  When I check the status of my order online, a week later it still says “allocating stock”.

When the GoPro Hero 7 Black does finally arrive, I expect I will have lots of fun working out exactly what it can do.

UPDATE: 2 weeks later

Two weeks after placing my Black Friday order with Ted’s Cameras, I still don’t have my new GoPro.  Last week I logged on to check the status of my order, which said they were still “Allocating Stock.  An online chat with Customer Service advised they had to wait for another shipment from GoPro, but stock should start going out soon.

The status of my order has now been “Pending Shippit” for several days, which I guess means it hasn’t even been dispatched yet.

Teds Customer Support Chat

Another update, Sunday 23rd December;

One month after placing my order from Ted’s Cameras, during their Black Friday sale, I finally received the last item today.  This blog post was supposed to be about Black Friday sales in Australia, but instead it has turned into a commentary on the poor delivery logistics from this major photography retailer.  Ted’s don’t send out orders from a central warehouse, but instead from individual stores, which can mean multiple shipments from which-ever store has the stock.  

Multiple stores sending out multiple shipments to cover one order can lead to mistakes, which it appears is what happened to my order.  Thankfully Ted’s Customer Service team are very helpful, including dispatching the final item based purely on an angry tweet from me.

I also had issues with the Australia Post or Star Track delivery drivers not doing their job properly.  Maybe I’ll do a follow-up post about all of this after Christmas, stay tuned!

Pencil and Paper Votes

Yesterday Victorians voted to decide who would form the state government for the next four years.  The highlight for me was my 18 year old son, Josh, voting for the first time.  He collected all the How-To-Vote fliers from the various parties, lined up with me to get our names crossed off the big book and went into the cardboard cubicle to cast his vote.  While I was completing my vote, I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would be until voting goes digital.

I wrote about pencil and paper votes after the 2016 Federal Election, and I still don’t understand why we waste so much paper, money and time voting the same way we did 100 years ago.  Some people will talk about the security and fraud risk of going digital, but I don’t accept that.  We have been doing our banking and taxes online for years, surely our finance data is more secure than which political candidates we vote for.

After we completed the vote cards we stuffed them into a cardboard box and threw the fliers into the recycle bin.  Surely in Josh’s lifetime, Australia will move to either voting online from home, or at very least at a digital booth at the local school.

recycling how-to-vote cards

Recycling bin for How-To-Vote cards at the election

4K TV upgrade

Eleven years ago we bought one of the first flat widescreen televisions with a digital tuner.  Prior to that most people were using a set top box to receive the digital channels, or persevering with an analogue set.  Many households struggled to squash a widescreen 16:9 digital signal from their set top box onto an old 4:3 CRT television, or stretch the 4:3 analogue signal onto their new widescreen TV. 

In 2007 our 40 inch Sony finally allowed us to throw away the set top box, but in 2018 that TV doesn’t receive most of the secondary digital channels (like 7Flix or 9Life).  We had gone back to having a set top box (that actually lived underneath the set) in the form of a PVR (Personal Video Recorder) with modern digital tuners to ensure we could watch all the channels, there was also a Telstra box for streaming digital content like Netflix and YouTube. 

The old 40 inch Sony cost well over $2000 when new in 2007, in 2018 we paid just $1100 for a 55 inch Hisense set that can receive every channel, as well as most streaming services, and has a PVR function available simply by plugging in a USB thumb drive.

The other revelation in 2007 was Full HD, while in 2018 most new television sets offer Ultra HD 4K resolution, giving us four times the available picture clarity.  While the free to air broadcasters still only offer SD or HD, many of the streaming services do have 4K content.

Bev, surrounded by family, Christmas 2016

See any pixels? This is a photo of our new TV screen on the Foxtel 4K channel, taken with my iPhone.

Pay TV provider Foxtel recently introduced a 4K channel, that was being made available to subscribers on the Sports HD package.  We subscribe to Foxtel’s Sports HD package to watch football, which means we can also get the 4K channel, simply by upgrading our Foxtel box (for a small fee).  Seeing as we’d just upgraded to a 4K television, I thought we may as well upgrade the Foxtel box to get their 4K content.

Watching live 4K sport blows my mind!  The picture quality is amazing with way less compression than the online streaming services, and never any buffering, because the signal comes from the satellite, rather than internet.  Even thinking about the technology is fascinating, the bandwidth required to get the ultra high definition signal from the venue to the satellite in real time is huge, not to mention the capacity of the satellite its self.  Foxtel only has the one 4K channel at the moment, but there’s no doubt that will increase as their network capacity grows.

I can’t help but wonder what television will look like in another eleven years.  Will we be upgrading to 8K?

Halloween – I Don’t get it

Halloween, I don’t get it.  Kids, of various ages, are dressing in “spooky” costumes, walking the streets, knocking on the doors of people they don’t know and taking lollies (I’m not going to call it candy) from complete strangers.

I don't get Halloween

When we grew up, Halloween was a strange American tradition we saw in movies like E.T.  It’s probably only really taken off here in Australia over the last 10 years or so.  The first time we had kids knock on the front door and yell “Trick or Treat” I asked them if they were American.  When they said “no” I asked why they were doing this, to which they answered “to get free lollies”. 

Those kids had no idea what I was talking about when I told them we had no “treats” so they’d better try and trick me, so I asked them to tell me about the tradition of Halloween and where it came from.  They couldn’t do that either.

don't call it candy

Of course we don’t want to be the Halloween grinch, so these days we have a bowl of lollies at the front door for the “trick or treaters”, and to avoid the possibility of a rotten egg “trick” being thrown at the house, but I still don’t get why Australia has taken on the American Halloween tradition, when it has no relevance here.

I also wonder about the logistics of the Halloween “trick or treaters”.  What would happen if everyone went out to “trick or treat” on Halloween night, that would leave no-one to answer the door and hand out the treats?

Anyway, that was just a short blog with my thoughts on Halloween. 

I’d better go now, there are kids knocking on the door…