About Me

If you want to get a different perspective on my journey, try this blog from Zac. A friend I'm travelling with. zacstravelcolours.wordpress.com

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Dropbox: Why I couldn't live without it.

Do you own a computer? Then you need Dropbox. That's how good this thing is. If you haven't heard of it then you should stop reading right now and click the link above.

Dropbox is simple. You create a new folder (the dropbox) and everything which is saved their is automatically uploaded to the service.

This folder stays synced with the cloud, meaning you have complete access to all your most important files wherever you are, on whatever device you choose.There's a fantastic mobile app and you can even set your Dropbox up across multiple computers meaning you don't even have to think about making sure you've saved the right copy of something to your USB key. 

You can even allow other users to access parts of your Dropbox for collaboration.

But I think its most useful application is when you need to access a file you had no idea you'd need. Instead of driving all the way home or making sure you always have your USB key with you, simply download the file from the web.

I can't even count the amount of times I've needed a file at uni or work and Dropbox has come to the rescue. To say I couldn't live without it is obviously a bit ridiculous but, it's definitely made my life immeasurably easier. And for an everyday low price of $0 for 2GB you'd be silly not to take advantage.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Brisbane Festival 2011 draws to a close

The final curtain has fallen on Brisbane Festival for another year, as encore performances came to a close this weekend.

The cultural extravaganza saw total attendance figures in excess of 850,000, a significant increase over last year’s festivities.

The festival’s artistic director Noel Staunton is extremely happy with how it was received.

“Our box office is doing well and people are enjoying the performances,” he said.

“We have a lot of standing ovations.”

The event thrilled and entertained audiences in a huge variety of venues around the city throughout November.

The festival, which included acts from all around the country and the world, came to its official close two weeks ago with massive shows from the likes of Kimbra and Bell Shakespeare.

However, a few more special events couldn’t fit the busy schedule and were presented as a series of encore shows.

The high energy dance of The LandOf Yes And The Land Of No, and the haunting theatre of Die Winterreise (TheWinter Journey) comprised the encore event series’ finale.

The festival played host to an all star cast of performers taking in everything from the high energy dance of Mortal Engine to the unconventional comedy of Sam Simmons.

In addition to the obvious artistic benefits, Mr Staunton says the festival's 700 odd performances have been a major boost for the city economically.

“The reality is they might pay the festival 60 or 100 dollars to see a performance but a hotel and an airplane ticket is costing them more money,” Mr Staunton said.

“It also establishes Queensland as a destination for an arts festival.”

The economic effects are not just limited to the city; the individual venues also experienced a significant increase in attendances coinciding with the festival.

The Brisbane Powerhouse theatre was one of the event’s key venues, and director Andrew Ross says the festival made a big impression.

“It’s always nice to have people in the venue,” he said, tongue in cheek.

“The powerhouse has been full of people... things have been pumping down here.”

Expressions Dance Company’s artistic director Natalie Weir says performing their show, First Ritual, as part of the festival has been a completely new experience for them.

“For us it was actually quite simple because Brisbane Festival looked after all of it,” she said.

“They talked to all of the Chinese, and they organised all of the flights and the accommodation, they looked after the box office.”

Ms Weir and her colleagues collaborated with Chinese dance company BeijingDance to bring the show to stage.

She also says the festival has brought a new and wider audience to the show, which played to enthusiastic crowds at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

“What I’ve noticed with the audiences is that a lot of people have come who probably normally wouldn’t come to our shows,” she said.

“There’s a real cross section of people.”

The many free events also proved immensely popular, with 30,000 people immersing themselves in South Bank’s Interactive Light Tunnel in the first week alone.

Mr Staunton says preparations are already under way for next year's festival, which promises to be just as entertaining, but he couldn't reveal any secrets.

Click the placemarks below for detailed venue information.
View Brisbane Festival 2011 in a larger map.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

When even porn is free. Who will pay for news?

How to make money from journalism Part 2
Paywall, the word seems to be everywhere in the online journalism world these days but what does it really mean? And can we ever convince people that they have to pay for news online?

I won't bore you with the details because I'm guessing you're mostly already familiar with paywalls. If not, there's always Wikipedia (not that I condone its use of course).

At first glance, a paywall seems like a no brainer for a news site looking to increase its revenue. Start charging people for something that was previously free. Profits go up. Simple.

The problem with this sort of thinking is it doesn't take into account the (admittedly small) revenue generated by ads.

Every user that hits the paywall has to make a choice: Do they lay down the cash and keep reading, or simply find what they want elsewhere?

Source: Alexa

The above graph shows readers of The Times, in England, left in droves once the paywall was implemented. The smaller line represents the users who subscribed to the paid version of the site. It's impossible to know how this has affected profits without extensive advertising data from The Times but that's a lot of advertising traffic to lose for a relatively small gain in paid customers.

Source: Alexa
And this graph shows what happened to traffic when the New York Times introduced a paywall at the end of March. A massive spike as people checked out the shiny new wall, then traffic settled down to normal. If anything, it's actually increased since the paywall was implemented.

Traffic to The Times was decimated whereas NYT continued on as if nothing happened. So why the difference?

There are obviously many factors involved here (size, relative prestige of the paper, even visitor nationality), but the biggest one of all is moderation. NYT allows users to read 20 articles a month before throwing up the paywall, plus a further 5 from search results and unlimited links from social media. This may sound like a lot of free news but it means casual readers can still visit the site and hardcore followers still pay for the service.

It seems no matter how much free news/porn is out there, there will always be people willing to pay for premium content. If it's done right.