What’s the word for when something is a hilarious joke but also very true? I also own and recommend whichever Brother printer you want, I got the MFC, because I needed to scan things.

This reminds me of the internet I grew up and I love it so much: After The Beep.

The Frequent Vower Card

For the first time in the world I’m launching a wedding loyalty card, the Frequent Vower Card!

How often do you get married and at the end of the #wedding you go “is that all?!”

Now you can get married again, and again, and again, and again, and again with the Josh Withers Frequent Vower program and every fifth wedding is free! Only redeemable on April 1st.

Go to frequentvower.com for more information.

As March 2024 almost comes to a close I’m reminded how it’s four years since my life fell apart.

Four years on I’m seeing a therapists and building a new life in Tasmania, basically starting a-fresh, it’s like 2012 all over again, the 100% brand new kid on the block.

Still tens thousands of dollars behind.

Still mentally scarred quite bad.

But I turned a corner recently. I was encouraged to understand that no-one from any government or any group is going to come and apologise and I need to forgive, and move on.

I was so busy holding on for dear life that I never even realised that I was the one holding myself back. Covid wasn’t my fault, but letting it dictate my mental wellbeing in March 2024 is, and it’s never too late to see a therapist and to talk honestly with friends.

I heard you could install Linux on an Apple Silicon MacBook Pro … so I did it …

I have no idea what I’m doing, I’m like a toddler flying an A380.

Found this old piece of pretty poor writing by me on Medium, about podcasting from 11 years ago.

The thing that will bring our society to an end is our compulsion to insist that things are other people’s problems

You might have noticed Kate Middleton has been a bit quiet on the socials lately. Well, let’s just say Tasmania now has two princesses. Tasmania’s Queen of Denmark Queen Mary, and me, the, Josh Withers, the Princess of Photoshop.

Naval Ravikant, on the modern struggle:

Lone individuals summoning inhuman willpower, fasting, meditating, and exercising…

Up against armies of scientists and statisticians weaponising abundant food, screens, and medicine into junk food, clickbait news, infinite porn, endless games, and addictive drugs.

Finished reading: Extremely Hardcore by Zoë Schiffer 📚 what a terrifyingly odd account of one of the richest men alive today.

Palmsy is amazing.

A cute little social network just for you with fake likes and notifications from your friends.

We should all tell our parents that this is the new Facebook.

Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing. I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused. I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother’s Day. J.

If this photo I made ten minutes ago excites you, you’re going to love this real estate listing for our home.

A lovely Qantas flight attendant yesterday asked me if I was Josh Withers, at which point I prepare myself to say yes and have a chat to her about a wedding of mine that she attended or how she saw me on TV, like the D-Grade celebrity fool I am.

But no, she goes on to say how my wife is lovely and amazing. The flight attendant was planning to get married and was considering eloping so she ends up on the phone with Britt talking about eloping with The Elopement Collective.

Anyway, Britt really is all that and more, you know.

I was planning on singing her praises today anyway but I’ve opened up the old social media today and found it to be International Women’s Day, so it’s an even better reason to scream her name from the rooftops.

Not only is she the best person in my world, plus she made me a father of two of my other favourite humans, but Britt also spends countless hours each week counselling the brides and grooms of Australia about getting married, whether they should elope or not and whether or not we’re the best place for them to do that.

I’ve always said the thing about being remarkable is that remarkable people are easily remarked on, you are able to remark on them because their talent, beauty, smarts, intelligence is so easily witnessed.

You’re remarkable, Brittany Withers.

Prediction: Wedding photography is about to undergo a massive change.

The people who hold cameras like Fuji/Sony/Canon/Nikon need to figure out how to get their JPEGs right in camera.

They might still deliver a cull of 30 odd photos a week or three later, but the expectation is moving to fast turnaround.

The lovely iPhone holding kids - content creators - will fade away as professionals figure out how to deliver in minutes instead of months. Or maybe they don’t fade but they take up the bottom end of the marketer.

The added benefit is that because of the increased efficiency, wedding photographers will be able to take on more work. Where a wedding might have been five to ten days work, so you would be limited to maybe 30-40 weddings a year, accounting for seasonal influxes, now that same photographer might take on double the work to achieve same pay, effectively reducing the price of wedding photography because it requires less energy and effort.

I’m fast realising that my only real talent in this world is being the member of the conversation who can provide the comedic exit of the conversation before we play a guitar riff, the station call sign is aggressively voiced by an older male, then five minutes of ads is played whilst the listener changes radio station.

I asked readers of my Aisle Authority daily letter to the best celebrants in the world what they thought about the length of the daily email letter … the winner was the third of the Goldilocks bears

New favourite website: fontreviewjournal.com

I’m thoroughly convinced that email can be a meaningful method of communication, relationship, community, and entertainment in the future. I’ve always been proud of what my friend @[email protected] is making at @podnews.net so reading this article by Guy Tasaka encourages me in my little prophetic thought.

I have a deep appreciation for newsletters. They say everything old is new again. Today, with an almost overwhelming amount of information we must sift through on news sites, social media and third-party aggregation sites, like Apple and Google News, it’s nice to have information curated and summarized for me and delivered to my inbox. That kind of sounds like a newspaper.

The CEO of the biggest supermarket chain in Australia is stepping down because no other news media dared question an advertiser.

This is the strength and power of listener/reader supported media, and the strength of publicly funded media.

You can’t lose an advertiser because you asked good questions, because you aren’t reliant on, or don’t have, advertisers.

Our reluctance to individually fund good journalism are part of the reason our groceries are so expensive, that and because we’re too lazy to shop around, or better, buy local food from local producers.

Matt Ruby on metadata:

“Is metadata really that powerful?”

“OK, let’s say there’s a guy who texted a girl 5 times without getting a reply. Would you need to actually read the messages to know what’s going on there?”

“Nah, I 100% get what happened.”

“That’s the power of metadata.”

I find reading the news depressing but I still want to get an idea of what’s happening in the local news so I made an AI bot that writes the daily Tasmanian news headlines as a poem: tas.lol.

Hobart sunset - high res download for any Apple Vision Pro users, and direct link to the 360 photo on Panoraven and direct link to the 360 JPEG in case it works?

It would be super cool to see how these photos can be interacted with and enjoyed on an Apple Vision Pro.

Levelling up in nerdom is running your own AI/LLM on your own hardware.

A unified theory of fucks:

The theory goes like so: you are born with so many fucks to give.

14 ideas to build and grow a podcast network today

I recently had the opportunity to express my interest in a field I’ve never officially worked in, for a company I’d never worked for, in an industry I’ve been out of for over a decade: audio, more specifically, audio on-demand, or as we’ve called it for twenty years, podcasting.

I didn’t make it past expressing interest for the position but my application - in the form of audio on demand - was “one of the most creative submissions I’ve seen/heard” said an ABC executive, which I sincerely appreciate, but my fire and passion for podcasting/audio on-demand has now been given oxygen - after over a decade of self-employment I applied for the job intending to get it.

So, I wanted to at least document my thoughts here on my blog, and then open source them, release my thoughts to the greater podcasting public.

May these gathered thoughts help or inspire you to succeed in the field, even if you got the job as Head of Audio on Demand for the ABC ;)

What I would do if I was the ABC’s Head of Audio on Demand

  • Create a role of tastemaker for the network. They’re the evangelist for the entire network of shows large and small. They themselves release a regular podcast but are also actively blogging and social media creating about episodes and shows. They’re the network’s number one fan and advocate.
  • Serve the niches to an extreme. Look for the small, weird, wonderful communities and interests. Niche passions are infectious, interesting, and lead to great audiences. Think Francis Bourgeois.
  • Serve local extremely well. The ABC already does this so well on every other medium, but the town of Esperance deserves a local daily podcast, as much as the region of Greater Sydney does along with Penrith. Every Australian should have a local podcast they MUST listen to, like it’s the gospel.
  • Up the metadata game. In radio we called the 1% of ultra-mad fans P1 fans, I was told it was because they had our station on preset one. P1 fans love the metadata that makes podcasts so more enjoyable, things like chapters for skipping to topics, unique and captivating album art per episode, and also album art to visually explain chapters. Like if a chart is mentioned, the chart is that album’s artwork. Metadata includes utilising all of the podcast specifications like categories, episode and season numbers, trailer identifiers, podcast:person tags, and show notes with links to things and people mentioned. Look at Podnews' How-To articles and podcasting2.org and get your CMS or software developers to build support for all the apps.
  • Album art like Mr Beast. YouTuber Mr Beast knows that the thumbnail of a video is almost more important than the content, it’s what brings people into the episode. Album art is a neglected wasteland in podcasting, up your game.
  • Unearthed for podcasting. I can still remember when Triple J Unearthed came to Mackay - my friend Leah even has video of me at the event {screen grab of the video to prove I was young once}. Over the past thirty years Unearthed has provided an amazing platform for the up and coming musical acts of Australia. I’m dreaming of a similar program for podcasters. An on ramping exercise to the wider network, developing talent, encouraging it, providing resources and assistance.
  • Success, how do we measure it? The Triton Digital Australian Podcast Ranker provides a nice big list of podcast success, but I would sincerely ask all stakeholders whether that listing defines our success or not. I just think of my own podcasting efforts as a wedding celebrant. I would have one of the least successful podcasts in the universe but I’m probably a top 1% earner because everyone that listens to my podcast books me to be their celebrant. No podcaster is getting that kind of return from each listener.
  • Expanding what audio on demand means. We all know what a podcast is supposed to look like today. A regular release, either daily, weekly, monthly, of a drop of audio. But if we look at audio like we do video, there’s feature films, short films, miniseries, documentaries, anthology series, reality TV, ‘straight to home video’ films. How can some of those storytelling mediums be transposed to audio, and could they be released from the “release date” that immediately dates a podcast when released?
  • Embracing the open web and our own platform. Anil Dash recently wrote this great piece, “Wherever you get your podcasts” is a radical statement, and I agree, and will wholeheartedly fight for the open web. The simple fact that you or I can publish a website or a podcast without needing permission from Zuckerberg, whoever is running Spotify, or Tim Cook. But then it also makes a lot of sense for a publisher to own its platform, like the ABC does with ABC Listen. So find the balance between the two.
  • Drop introductions for audio logos. Think of the Netflix Tudum or the Apple Macintosh or Windows XP startup sound. Instead of wasting precious seconds at the start and end of a podcast, employ an audio logo. The first seconds of a podcast are where the decisions to keep on listening are made, don’t waste it with lots of fancy talk about how we’re listening to another ABC Podcast.
  • Debate what we’re calling this. Before Ben Hammersly mashed together the words iPod and broadcast it was called audioblogging. Today we’re playing with the term “audio on-demand” but it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. My gripe is that people call videos on Youtube a podcast. The terminology is messy, and potentially there’s no fix, but somehow everyone agreed on what radio meant. Maybe the same can happen with recorded audio delivered on RSS or the web at your leisure?
  • Spread it far and wide with the wheel of content. I’m not going to make out like this is a Josh original, but I’ve been banging on about this since I worked at Southern Cross Austereo, 96five, 4BC and Fairfax radio, and everyone there looked at me like I was crazy. It’s my “Wheel of Content” idea. The simple idea is that a story enters the wheel at the hub (the middle), and then it works itself out through the different channels, audio, video, text, short form, longform, infographics, social media posts, all of it. Record the podcast, break it out into a number of blog posts, into smaller podcast episodes, into videos, tweets, posts, toots, whatever. Make that content work not just double time but 10x its usability. Get the story out of the mp3 file and run it far and wide.
  • Cross-guest. Introduce hosts and personalities from across the network as guests on other podcasts. Pretend like you’re not the only podcast in the network.
  • A big head with a long tail. This is my final thought that encapsulates all of them. Any one network can most likely only afford the social capital to market ten shows a year well. We’re talking large-scale marketing campaigns. But that same network should have 10x (at least) that number shows it is actively producing. This is not a new idea, Netflix and many streaming apps work the same way. Evangelism is a costly exercise, so evangelise the hits, and let the rest of the network ride off that network-effect of getting listeners interested in the rest of the shows. Build a big fat visible head of up to ten shows, and let that tail grow as long as you can resource.

So much credit to friends for hearing me talk about podcasts and this job in particular so much, but also credit to industry leaders I’ve either been lucky enough to call friend, or have watched esnrestly from afar, like Cameron Reilly, James Cridland, and Scotty McDonald, and then Marco Arment with Overcast and ATP, plus Myke and Stephen of Relay FM who have been doing lots of this for a while already.

I’ve just found out - through hearing it - that the Disney cruise ship horn blows the tune “When you wish upon a star” in port and now I feel all magical and whimsical.

Tracy Chapman & Luke Combs at the Grammys singing Fast Car

10 issues into my new daily letter to the best wedding celebrants in the world, Aisle Authority, and it’s feeling good.

Shoutout to my Swede and Hong Kong readers!

aisleauthority.email to subscribe

Seriously

No-one asked but if I was a wrestler my walk-out music would be In The Shadows by The Rasmus

For those of us that know Internet Explorer 4.0 was the GOAT, a reflection on the Geocities, marquee rage, dial-up Internet era, the 90s on the web, by Zach Holman

Have you ever shoved a <blink> into a <marquee> tag? Pixar gets all the accolades today, but in the 90s this was a serious feat of computer animation. By combining these two tags, you were a trailblazer. A person capable of great innovation. A human being that all other human beings could aspire to. You were a web developer in the 1990s.

I’ve written the first seven issues of my new daily email letter for wedding celebrants: Aisle Authority.

I’m writing for the North American wedding officiants and celebrants that contact me every day, but Aussies and well honestly anyone, is welcome to jump on board.

www.aisleauthority.email is the place to subscribe if you want to be the best damn wedding ceremony creator in the world.

For those of us that know Internet Explorer 4.0 was the GOAT, a reflection on the Geocities, marquee rage, dial-up Internet era, the 90s on the web, by Zach Holman

Have you ever shoved a <blink> into a <marquee> tag? Pixar gets all the accolades today, but in the 90s this was a serious feat of computer animation. By combining these two tags, you were a trailblazer. A person capable of great innovation. A human being that all other human beings could aspire to. You were a web developer in the 1990s.

Took a peek at a peak across the Remarkables today

40 years of the Mac and why I can’t use anything else now

By the time I was buying my first Apple Macintosh computer the launch of the Mac in 1984 was already a myth, a story shared from one nerd to another, like in an Aboriginal Australian cave painting.

In grade five there was an Apple IIe at the back of the classroom no-one knew how to use but when I realised that the computer magazines at the library full of computer programs and games written in Basic contained not just ideas and lines of code - yes, actual real code just printed in paper magazines - but code I could type into an Apple computer, execute, and then enjoy, I was hooked.

I kept on reading those computer magazines like APCMag, PC User, PCMag, Macuser, Mac Format, and countless others whose names escape me but the school library stocked so generously.

At one stage I designed on paper my dream computer which would triple-boot Microsoft Windows, OS/2 Warp, and Mac OS System 8. I think a “Mac on a PCI card” product had been released, or the opposite for inserting in a Mac, so I designed my Frankenstein’s monster of a computer and presented it to class imagining that they would a) care, and b) be in awe of my product design and computer engineering. Alas neither Steve Jobs or Bill Gates wrote and congratulated me.

I’m not sure how I wrangled it, but somehow our family acquired a Packard Bell IBM-compatible personal computer with a 486 SX 25/33 processor, 4MB of RAM, no sound card, but it did come with Windows 3.11.

The Radio Rentals rented computer and I quickly became close friends but somehow with its 25MHz CPU and 4MB of RAM the computer ran slower than a slug chasing down an ice cream truck.

Enter, my Uncle Grant.

Uncle Grant was my super uncle from Townsville who sold and serviced Apple computers. We’d not been on friendly talking terms about computers since I used his Apple Macintosh and neglected to save a document he had open, but he was quick to diagnose the problem with my computer’s speed: I had an image as my desktop wallpaper. Also, he was quick to quip that “a Mac wouldn’t have that problem.”

What he neglected to acknowledge is that a Withers didn’t have a spare buck either so we went without a Mac for about a decade more.

As I’m sure is the story for most modern Mac users, having your own personal Macintosh Desktop Experience was a dream for too long.

Years later Apple announced the Intel transition from Power PC chipsets and all of a sudden, thanks to an Intel Inside and Bootcamp, these new Macs can run Windows and Mac OS X which is the perfect justification for a nerd to make for a new Apple MacBook purchase.

All white and plastic, it was beautiful, and that new Apple MacBook never needed to be tainted by Bootcamp and Windows. It turned out that Mac OS is actually quite capable on its own.

Not quite as beautiful as that G3 iMac I acquired years after it was ever useful, but always be beautiful.

And that’s why I can’t use any other OS today. I’ve tried Windows and Linux of late, I’m always open to a change so I know I’m using the best tools for the job, but my taste gravitates to the Mac. It is beautiful, useful, and just plain nice. I’ve even tried the iPad as a main computer, or the phone. But it’ll always be the Mac for me. Happy birthday, and hello, old friend.

Marketing is actually part of the product.

That’s an intangible element of Apple products that is often missed by the Android, Windows, Meta Quest commenters.

Sure, the other products do “the same things” the Apple products does, but Samsung, Microsoft, Meta, Google marketing is woeful.

This isn’t an Apple thing, this is a human thing. Some of us just want to be a part of something beautiful and cool.

An Apple invoice and delivery is not just some plastic and metal, software, and some USB cords. It’s also a story, a narrative that some people with certain taste, would like to purchase.

And the rest of you can go use your Android, Dell, Meta Quest.

Ben Thompson’s interview podcast with Spike Eskin about radio from 2023 is a really good listen if you have a Stratechery membership.

a mob of kangaroos

If every website firewall brought this kind of tease energy I’d be a broke man but journalism would be funded globally.

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you can just nominate awesome people around you for an Order of Australia medal on the Governor-General’s website.

You should nominate someone valuable in your community today.

Ten years on since we filmed the first season of Married At First Sight, nine years on since it aired, and I still get recognised. Just happened in Footscray.

It’s wild how being on TV has such lasting brand power.

Unlike this post which will be seen by two humans, five computers, and a large language model.

Listen to Really Specific Stories

Linking to, sharing, telling people about podcasts is a hard problem to solve. If only because I personally do most of my listening while driving.

So I was reminded this morning to link to a project and podcast I’ve been really enjoying, @martinfeld’s Really Specific Stories.

Really Specific Stories is a part of a broader PhD project, in collaboration with Dr. Kate Bowles and Dr. Christopher Moore at the University of Wollongong. Each episode includes an interview with a producer or listener from a selected tech podcast case study and uses the qualitative method of narrative enquiry to uncover their experiences. Down the line, responses from each interview will be included in a final PhD thesis.

They’re all good, and this probably speaks more to my specific brand of nerdery than the quality of the episode, but I’ve personally enjoyed @gruber’s episode, Marco Arment’s, john Siracusa’s, Stephen Hackett’s, Casey Liss’s, Manton Reece’s, Daniel Jalkut’s, Jean Macdonald’s, and Andrew Canion’s episodes .. that said, they’re all great recordings about a very specific time in history, the time that tech podcasts became a thing.

Designing the iTunes Music Store: "Refer to the main.psd"

This is a really insightful read by Michael Darius behind designing the iTunes Music Store, wrapping up on the video at the end though, really amazing that an entire genre of store no-longer exists.

A little life update: we handed the keys for our Gold Coast home back to the landlord yesterday. Today we’re home-less. I’ve just boarded a flight to Melbourne for a wedding there this weekend, then we’re off to New Zealand for a week, the. Hobart and Sydney.

What I’m trying to say is don’t post me anything.

going to bed with an empty inbox and an audience size of 3 …

I can’t escape this idea of what ‘taste’ is, as discussed on the Ezra Klein show.

I like to think about taste not as something that’s not just about consuming a thing or enjoying a thing superficially on a day to day basis, but instead almost making it part of yourself.

Surely, and please give me grace if this isn’t the case, surely the people really upset about not being able to buy new Chinese manufactured cheap plastic crap adorned with the Australian flag surely have some old Chinese manufactured cheap plastic crap adorned with the Australian flag they could repurpose instead of vandalising and throwing flares into a Woolworths store operated by Australian humans who don’t have any Chinese manufactured cheap plastic crap adorned with the Australian flag?

The Farnham Street email:

A different take on what makes us feel so busy, stressed, and anxious.

As a rule, the larger your surface area, the more energy you have to expend maintaining it. Of course, when most of us think of surface area, we think of the area of a rectangle or how much grass we have to mow. But there is a surface area of life, and most of us never realize how much it consumes.

If you have one house, you have a relatively small surface area to maintain (depending on the age and size of the house, of course). If you buy another one, your surface area expands. But it doesn’t expand linearly - it expands slightly above that. It’s all the same work plus more.

Friends are another type of surface area. You have a finite amount of time to spend with friends before you die. The more friends you have, the less time you can spend with each one individually.

Money is another form of surface area. The more money you have, the more you have to keep track of different types of assets and investments.

When your surface area expands too much, you hire people to help you scale. Assistants, property managers, family offices, etc. They’re scaling you - but they’re also scaling the surface area of responsibility. This, of course, only masks the rapidly expanding surface area by abstracting it.

Beliefs are another type of surface area.

The thing about surface area is that the more you have, the more you have to defend and maintain. The larger your surface area, the more you are burdened with mentally and physically.

If you think in terms of surface area, it’s easy to see why we are so anxious, stressed, and constantly behind.

We feel like we need more time, but what we’re craving is more focus. What we need is a smaller surface area.

Your surface area becomes part of your identity. She’s the ‘busy person’ with her hand in every project. He’s the guy with four houses.

Competition can drive expansion. Most people want a bigger house to compete with someone else who has a nicer house. We are animals, after all. On a group level, this causes great benefits. On an individual level, it can cause unhappiness.

Most of the really happy people I know have a relatively small surface area. I know billionaires with two houses. Most of my close friends only have 4-5 close friends - everyone else is a friend in the loose sense of the word. Most of the productive people I know at work are focused on one or two things, not 5.

The way to maximize your enjoyment in life is to keep your surface area small. It’s a lot of work but if the happiest people I know are any indication, it’s a lot less work to keep it small than to maintain it when it’s large.

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world, this makes it difficult to plan the day.

— E. B. White

How it started, and how it finished

Flashback Camera, some first thoughts

A Brisbane based crew have delivered on their Kickstarter promise to deliver a “camera for the small moments”, the Flashback Camera. It’s a digital film camera, or a film-like digital camera more to the point.

The Flashback camera from Kickstarter

I’m an avid Kickstarter backer, but especially for cool gadgets like this, and it was a pleasure to unpack.

The idea is to take the point-and-shoot disposable film camera vibe to a digital setting, mainly for the purposes of getting off our phones, disposing of cameras a lot less, and making memories.

The Flashback camera from Kickstarter

I don’t have a full review in me, instead, a reflection on having used it for a week: it’s a lot of fun and a beautifully made product.

I have but one issue, probably the same one that everyone who has ever clicked the shutter on their iPhone then instantly been able to share and edit the photo.

In an update today the makers have expanded on the feature I find most annoying. That at the end of the arbitrary digital film roll of 27 photos it takes about 48 hours for the photos to “develop”:

The processing done to develop your photos is currently too intensive to run on a mobile device. Over the last 2 years, we developed our own effects. In particular, our method to generate film grain is complex. Often, “film grain” effects are based on adding random digital noise, but true film grain is fundamentally different. Analog images are composed of grains, not pixels, and our method follows this closely. Our vision for this product has always been to stay true to the analog world, and we’ve worked hard to never compromise on that. If we were satisfied with simple filters, we could run them inside the app, but we continue to believe that our current setup is the most flexible in providing the best possible photos from this camera.

The Flashback camera from Kickstarter

Personally, I think there would be greater customer satisfaction if that 48 hour time period was minimised to the actual required time to process, and ultimately that could be brought on to the device. I think the iPhone CPU has proven itself to be apt at processing photos.

The Flashback camera from Kickstarter

It would be nice if the processed photos had better metadata as well, like orientation of photo, date and time that was correct, that the flash even if enabled accidentally by fat fingers wouldn’t fire in full sun, and ultimately this last one is just me being really nerdy: GPS co-ordinates of photos so the captured memories end up in iCloud Photo Library memories.

Here’s some demo photos take over the weekend in Exmouth and the Gold Coast …

Disappointed this hasn’t come to pass yet

This article on “Afrofuturism” is so interesting, so I’ll lead with the end:

The fate of humanity in the 21st century and beyond hinges on whether African countries can figure out the riddle of industrialization.

I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, Of droughts and flooding rains. I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea, Her beauty and her terror – The wide brown land for me!

– Dorothea Mackellar

Photos from somewhere between Exmouth and Learmonth on the Exmouth Gulf.

Drove the 90 minutes from Exmouth to photograph the sunset in Coral Bay this afternoon and also see the couple I’m marrying this weekend, and after the sun had set I found that all the local restaurants all had 90 minute waits, so I thought, I could just drive back to Exmouth for dinner.

Alas, everything in Exmouth was closed, not even a vending machine for a chocolate.

So I present to you my art from today, art quite literally made by a starving artist.

Also, regional Australia, let’s have at least one kitchen open past 8pm hey?

Luckily today is the first day back from holidays for The Short Order, so I was blessed to receive a 5:30am breaky burger for dinner.

When I’m president I’m going to classify printers as terrorists

Digital incompetency truly will be the swan song of the people of the 2020s.

“The information you consume each day is the soil from which your future thoughts are grown.”

– James Clear

I wrote this eight years ago on Facebook. I think it’s more valid today plus I want to preserve it on my blog:

With all of our books, albums, magazines, and letters going digital and stored outside of the physical and easily visible realm, how will our kids discover that album that dad loved, or that magazine that mum kept?

I remember that “already in our house from mum and dad” discovery being a big thing for me.

I love Led Zeppelin and Sheryl Crow because I found the album at home. I loved Nick Earl’s ZigZag Street because it was sitting on a shelf in a room I was renting on the Gold Coast when I first worked for Sea FM. I discovered albums I still love because they were sitting on the music director’s desk and they weren’t on demo enough to give away on air. I love Smith Journal, Monocle, and Relevant Magazine because I found them on shelves, tables, coffee shops, before I ever bought them.

How will our kids discover things?

Will they rely purely on people recommending things?

Recommending culture is hard. I barely ever show other people music I like because a) I don’t want them not liking it to affect my liking it, and b) it’s kind of rude to assume that anyone would like anything.

Passive discovery has been such a strong driving force for hundreds of years, surely that hasn’t been replaced with trending topics, Facebook shares, and retweets?

My app defaults

📨 Mail Client - Mail.app

📮 Mail Server - Fastmail

📝 Notes - Drafts/Obsidian

✅ To-Do - Reminders.app

📷 iPhone Photo Shooting - Camera.app

🟦 Photo Management - Photos.app after a Lightroom CC edit

📆 Calendar - Google Calendar (for business) and iCloud calendar for family, read by Fantastical

📁 Cloud File Storage - Dropbox for work and iCloud for family

📖 RSS - NetNewsWire

🙍🏻‍♂️ Contacts - iCloud and Contacts.app + Obsidian for work

🌐 Browser - Safari

💬 Chat - iMessage plus whatever everyone else makes me use, God bless their souls

🔖 Bookmarks - Raindrop.io

📑 Read It Later - Pocket on Kobo

📜 Word Processing - Remarkable 2 tablet

📈 Spreadsheets - Numbers

📊 Presentations - iA Presenter

🛒 Shopping Lists - Reminders.app

🍴 Meal Planning - my heart

💰 Budgeting and Personal Finance - Xero for business, Up for personal

📰 News - as little as possible, but Apple News plus local news subscriptions

🎵 Music - Apple Music

🎤 Podcasts - Overcast

🔐 Password Management - 1Password

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

I am, at the Fed level, libertarian; at the state level, Republican; at the local level, Democrat; and at the family and friends level, a socialist. If that saying doesn’t convince you of the fatuousness of left vs. right labels, nothing will.

You normally have to be bashed about a bit by life to see the point of daffodils, sunsets and uneventful nice days.

– Alain de Botton

It’s amazing how close Google is to upsetting the iMessage monopoly and I’m betting they’ll let go of the opportunity.

I’ve just started using Google Chat for a new project and it’s actually not terrible. For someone in the Apple ecosystem, it’s not far from being as good as iMessage.

They need a native Mac app that works like a Mac app, and their iPhone app needs to work in with the share sheet API, but it’s close.

They’re so busy fighting for iMessage to accept RCS/Google that they’ll no doubt miss this opportunity to just put iMessage out of business.

The hardest thing about being a wedding celebrant is figuring out the right balance of smiley faces, exclamation marks, or periods, to end sentences in emails with.

You don’t want to sound too cold, but you don’t want to sound too excited. It’s an art.

You know, it’s super fun and easy to take a pot shot at the Humane AI Pin, but put your hesitations aside and 1) watch the video and tell me it’s not actually kinda cool, and 2) it’s refreshing to see someone have a crazy idea and actually get it to a stage of putting a price on it.

So many big ideas never make it past a concept video. Ideas are easy. Shipping is real hard. If it was available in Aus today I’d probably give it a red hot shot because it’s just fun.

Watch out guys, the police have installed new air drumming detection cameras and if you actually can’t play drums or if you’re out of time with the music it’s a $2000 fine.

Answering the most common question I get asked, “Do you travel for weddings?”

Sorry I missed your text, I’m currently being force-fed all of the information about the entirety of the existence of the human race, past, present, and future, through a handheld slab of glass and aluminium, and my brain stopped coping in 1995.

Old people/nerds like me: Do you have memories, or photos, of the computer software and shareware kiosks from the mid-90s in Australia.

I remember going to Video Ezy in Mackay (in the Canelands carpark to be precise) and you could BYO floppy disk or buy one from the staff, and there was a computer kiosk where you could choose which shareware programs you’d download to your 1.44MB floppy disk.

the more you K-sound now

We celebrated my moon girl’s fifth birthday today and without doubt I have so much love for everyone that loves and celebrates her, but I wanted to share something I taught Luna today that is applicable to weddings as well.

Life’s not a dog and pony show, we’re real people with real feelings and lives and we don’t need to watch another TED Talk to know that

In my dream last night I had to explain the “bah-lark-eh” substitute teacher joke from Key and Peele to a wedding guest named Blake. So I guess weddings are back.

I love how at no point is the world left wondering what Ziggy Stardust did and if he was good at it

GM - how people apparently say good morning on social media where - globally speaking - there is no real morning or night or day.

GM - me, thinking you’re talking about that car company again.

Here to help

Monthly photography revenue: $5 Monthly photography audience: 9 million across Unsplash and Pexels.

Can someone check on Mark Di Stefano? Surely the trust fund babies have a price on his head now?

There’s a lot said about how we Aussies are more divided and alone than we ever have been in this country.

But when I see multiple cars across lanes of traffic work together to hilariously block an aggressive driver from getting ahead in the traffic I reckon there’s voice left in us yet, Australia.

Vote yes.

Show me a more “Aussie” Aussie, than this legit Aussie legend.

I’ll wait.

I have a confession to make: I’ve built an Australian news website that is purely created by large language models. It’s autonomous and although I can edit, delete, and stop it, I don’t unless something bad happens.

It’s been a week so far and honestly, I prefer reading it to the other news websites that inspire it.

It’s public but I’m scared about sharing it just yet.

I’ve also been having an LLM rewrite a friend’s blog and I love it.

Hoo roo, Uluru, am I even supposed to be here?

Uluru is such an icon. Its simple beautiful existence is one of my earliest memories, reading about it in encyclopaedias or National Geographic and Australian Geographic magazines. Seeing it in advertisements and in movies, Oprah and Young Einstein, but back then everyone called it Ayers Rock. Today we call it what it always has been: Uluru.

Uluru has had a complicated 200-odd years of history. Before Europeans visited Australia for the first time, the red centre was just plodding along quite well as a special place for the Aṉangu people and neighbouring Aboriginal nations.

But a few years ago everything changed. In the 1870s some white blokes sighted Uluru. 1936 saw the first tourists arrive, 12 years later some tracks that would become roads were laid, and in 1959 Eddie Connellan built an airstrip. His name’s important later on in this story.


I’ve been lucky to witness Uluru’s glory twice now and the main difference since the last time was that in 2016 people were climbing the rock, and now in 2023 every cafe, restaurant, and bar was alive with talk about Uluru from a political point of view. Some talking about the Voice to Parliament soon going to a referendum, some talking about climbing it or why we can’t now, others talking about everything you can or can not do in the area - like drinking and taking photos in certain areas, and most were talking about how the extraordinarily high prices for everything was married to a general lack of enthusiasm from staff for visitors to be present.

Most of my visit this time - aside from creating the marriage ceremony I was hired to create - was spent thinking about a comedic video I’ve seen on social media a few times recently. The premise of the video is that before a theatre performance an MC offers an acknowledgment of country before the protagonist, an audience member, asks if everyone should leave. She says “if we’re on someone else’s land, we should leave, shouldn’t we?” going further to ask if proceeds from ticket sales were going to the owners. It’s a joke at the expense of what can often seem like token or hollow effort to just be better about how Australia, the whole island and surrounding islands, were inhabited by intelligent, valid, interesting humans well before Europeans turned up and started naming things and claiming areas. Not just one group of people called Australia home, hundreds of different Aboriginal nations did.

For a few years the people new to the land were pretty bloody horrible to the locals, genocide-horrible, and in recent years current generations of leaders across the spectrum of Australian society have been throwing around the hot potato of how to deal with this generational trauma.


I was born on the Gold Coast, gifted an Australian citizenship, freedom to roam this entire country (unless there’s some pandemic apparently) and yet thrust into a political debate about being welcomed to a land, land ownership, land use, and land respect.

I’m voting yes for a voice to parliament, I believe it’s the right thing to do but I don’t think it’s the only thing we should do, there’s a far bigger elephant in the room.

As native titles are transferred, and places like Uluru fall more into line with the wishes of the owners, what should happen on that land? Should we leave?

1993 saw the Northern Territory government acknowledge the local name of the rock in a dual naming situation, eight years after the land was returned to the original owners, but still today the airport and the resort keep the names Ayers Rock. As you enter the airport you’ll see the name of the original airstrip builder on the building (Connellan) but to be sure not to confuse the tourists the airport you book a flight to and the motel you book a room at are the right ones, they carry the name Ayers Rock. Obviously they’re keen on keeping that revenue, and I’m keen to keep giving it.

But, customer service at most of the stores and businesses is by First National people and despite paying top-shelf prices I can’t help but feel that they’d be happier if we weren’t there. After all, we were on their land and after we set up shop there (and put chains up the rock) we gave it back to them as long as we could stay.


I’m invited to Ayers Rock this week in my capacity as a wedding celebrant by a German couple who want to commit to marriage in an iconic, unforgettable, location. They plan to apply for residency and wanted to have the most Aussie wedding ever: at Uluru. (Photos below)

The location they choose for the ceremony seemed to be ok in my humble Australian citizen opinion. The lines on the side of the road were white (not yellow “no stopping” lines), and the land off the road was unfenced. So, we started exchanging vows about twenty metres off the road and quite soon after an unhappy first Nations lady, driving a Toyota land cruiser and flashing a card that meant she could tell us what to do, told us what to do and to move on. We did respectfully, to the sunset viewing area that she suggested.

But the overwhelming experience of Uluru for my German friends and others we talked to, second to the rock’s overwhelming beauty, is that the rest of us aren’t really all that welcome - but our money is.

Which is a confusing position to leave all of us, including the First Nations people, in.


I have a proposal for all of us to consider. Let’s go all in. If we’re supposed to leave, please let me know. If we’re not supposed to be in Uluru please let Qantas and the motels know.


But if we’re going to stay, let’s work out how we can do that in a way where I don’t feel like I’ve committed genocide by asking for a $30 burger that the menu said I could have if I ordered it.


And if we’ll stay, let’s right our wrongs as a community, as a nation, as invaders, as citizens, and as residents. This middle ground was and is necessary, like birthing pains it has been taking us somewhere beautiful, I just don’t think anyone with the power to decide knows where we are going.

My family came to Australia in 1903, I sure hope that by 2103 the society my grandchildren live in will be one of unity and joy, not constant tension and racism.

So let’s figure out where we’re going and let’s go there.

Flying into Sydney over the Blue Mountains from Uluru this afternoon was a visual treat

Two Google conspiracy theories proven true today:

1: Google Chrome tracks and shares your web browsing for advertising purposes:

Chrome now directly tracks users, generates a “topic” list it shares with advertisers.

2: Google Assistant shares your queries for advertising purposes: Research paper.

Podcast recommendation for the media, podcasting, and tech nerds in my circles: Really Specific Stories. It’s by @martinfeld of @HemisphericViews on “the narratives of tech-podcast fandom and the role of open RSS”. Two of my favourite episodes so far are with @marco and @jsnell.

Shane Parrish on playing the long game:

Every action is a step toward the short game or the long game. You can’t opt out, and you can’t play a long-term game in everything. You need to pick what matters to you. But in everything you do, time amplifies the difference between strategies that work in the short term and ones that work in the long term. The long game allows you to compound results. The longer you play, the bigger the rewards.

Duelling Retro Roos sighting

Books hold most of the secrets of the world, most of the thoughts that men and women have had. And when you are reading a book, you and the author are alone together—just the two of you. A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people—people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.

– EB White

Most of us, me included, can barely think past the next three minutes. We operate in this fear of lack, lack of good or sleep or money, that completely ignores the long arc of our life which gives us decades of evidence that we haven’t gone without yet, and all trend lines point to us being fine in the future.

That’s one of the elements of marriage I love so much.

In marriage you’re forced - by its very nature - to acknowledge that your life is far bigger than this three minute period of stress and anxiety we’re currently facing - in fact we have a whole life ahead of us, and considering that big picture, it’d be great to have someone else in it.

I’m so glad I got over myself long enough to realise that my big picture was missing you, Britt, thank you for making it so much better by simply being you.

Happy 11th anniversary xx

I’ve driven 737km today, I have 93 left, and I just want to say there needs to be a royal commission into the state of servo food in this once great nation.

I often wonder if Lin-Manuel Miranda is working on a Peggy spin-off

Many thanks to the airline gods for offering up a new CEO for our national flights of Australia for make benefit glorious nation of Qantastralia! May our new blessed CEO that is the one and only decision maker in the entire organisation, no board of directors or any other executive staff. Make good our glorious airline that can now do no wrong and only make good decisions. Whoever the former CEO was, whatever their name, sexuality, or ethnicity was - I forget - may that bad person be forever gone to go lead some European airline far, far away, from our great nation.

Qantas forever!

Guy who’s not the sharpest tool in the shed gets rolled by the world

The lead singer responsible for bringing this century its greatest motivational pop/ska punk/power pop song, All Star, has passed away.

Pitchfork:

Steve Harwell, the founding singer of Smash Mouth, died today at his home in Boise, Idaho, of liver failure, The New York Times reports. The musician was 56 years old. Harwell dealt with alcoholism and numerous health issues in the years preceding his death.

Smash Mouth undeniably left a dent on pop culture from 1999 onwards, and when I saw the band perform in November 2018 it was stale performance from a tired Steve with a team of young local musos behind him, yet the songs struck that joyful chord in my born-in-1981 heart.

But I want to leave you with Steve’s 2003 cover of Neil Diamond’s You Are My Number One.

Hold me down I’m gonna fly straight to heaven Hold me down Dont ever let go I’ve been around You know I can’t stay forever And when I leave I want you to know - When I’m finally gone, I’m gonna be gone without a trace There’s a lot of good times ahead before we’re done

As someone commented on X, with Jimmy Buffet passing it’s not a great week for guys who liked to party, but it seems like Steve was self-aware enough to know that all of our days are numbered.

I just hope the girl with the shape of an L on her forehead had nothing to do with this.

For sale: Leica Z2X vintage point and shoot film camera

Selling my beloved vintage Leica Z2X 35mm film camera for $700 AUD.

I bought it in Paris but I’d like to step up to a bigger film camera. The Leica has a 35-70mm zoom lens, autofocus is super quick and precise, so no more blurry pics, smart exposure control for a point-and-shoot film camera, shutter speed ranges from a slow 1/4 sec to a fast 1/300 sec. Plus, there’s a “B” setting for long exposures. Serial number is 2378996 and it’s got that infectious red dot.

Available for pickup on the Gold Coast (Palm Beach) or I can deliver to Brisbane, Sydney, Hobart, or weirdly Uluru over the next two weeks as those are places I’m going to be. Also driving from Sydney up to Gold Coast on Tuesday so I can deliver on the way.

Slip into my DMs if you’re keen.

Examples

Here’s some photos made with the camera around Paris this year. These images were scanned in Paris, I’ve straightened a few but the colours and exposure are out of camera.

Church in Paris. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Church in Paris. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Street band performing in Paris. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Potato camera being used by potato photographer in Paris. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Daughter at Hardware Societe Cafe in Paris. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Ash Punch showing Luna the original metre in Paris. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Withers family in Paris 2023. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. The Siene, PAris, France. Swans. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Building in Sanit Germaine. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Wine bottles on the street. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers.

Apple Store, Saint Germaine, Paris, France. May 2023. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers.<

Universit in Paris. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. My daughers at Les Margots, Paris, France, May 2023. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Couple at a cafe in Paris. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Luxemburg Gardens, Paris. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Me, holding Godlie, Paris in May 2023. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Britt in Paris, May 2023. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Ash taking a selfie with the girls in our apartment on his Sony A6400, Paris, May 2023. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Bakery in Paris with Luna. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Eiffel Tower. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Carousel. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Gardens around The Lourve. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Britt and Luna on a bridge in Paris. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Example of using the flash on the camera. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Photo of a photo of The King, hanging in an English bookstore in Paris, May 2023. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers. Photo taken with Leica Z2X in Paris by Josh Withers.

Can anyone I know remember the name of the modern web browser for MacOS System 9? I don’t know why this matters to me so much but I need to browse the web inside a virtual machine of System 9 just to feel something today while I wait for news to occur for today’s Sizzle.

I’m a part of the Hobart wedding trail coming up in a few weeks. I’m expecting a great crowd to fly down and come and jump on a bus or boat and check out the Tasmanian wedding scene. My friend Nina at Isle Weddings is hosting, check out her website for more info.

You’re never going to guess who Nouba interviewed.

I’m guest editing The Sizzle today. Apologies for any banana peel in the email.

I’m the guest on the most recent episode of Polka Dot Wedding’s Feel Good Wedding Podcast. My audio recording isn’t great because it was recorded in a small tiled Italian co-working office room, but the sentiment is great: getting married can be and should be awesome and enjoyable.

Listen on their website or in your podcast app of choice.

And thank you to Dorothy and Mary for having me :)

YouTube bringing that dad energy

Death to paper straws

Home

Can confirm, hearing the instrumental “Still Call Australia Home” as you’re settling in your seat as everyone boards, tickles an emotional muscle.

I’m in the Qantas Singapore Lounge and the waiter poured me a glass of Shiraz, a 2020 from South Australia, on the left.

I make the joke, “2020, not a good year” and then I laugh and smile back at him.

He comes back five minutes later with a 2016 cab sav (on the right) hoping that I like that better.

My comedy is wasted on these people.

Frames from Singapore

  • Frames from Singapore from the Withers trip 2023
  • Frames from Singapore from the Withers trip 2023
  • Frames from Singapore from the Withers trip 2023
  • Frames from Singapore from the Withers trip 2023
  • Frames from Singapore from the Withers trip 2023
  • Frames from Singapore from the Withers trip 2023
  • Frames from Singapore from the Withers trip 2023
  • Frames from Singapore from the Withers trip 2023
  • Frames from Singapore from the Withers trip 2023
  • Frames from Singapore from the Withers trip 2023
  • Frames from Singapore from the Withers trip 2023
  • Frames from Singapore from the Withers trip 2023
  • Frames from Singapore from the Withers trip 2023
  • Frames from Singapore from the Withers trip 2023

Four year old just now at our Singapore hotel as we’re getting ready to go to Singapre airport: I don’t want to eat here, I want to eat at ‘the club at the airport’.

Someone’s enjoying her dad’s Platinum status a bit too much.

Luna calls cable cars “plane trains” and honestly, that’s a much better name.

When we took the kids overseas everyone told us to make sure we look after them …

Hello, Qantas my old friend

Entering the Paul Kelly stage of our Europe adventure …

Arriverderci, au revoir, aufwiedersen, hasta la vista. Yeah, every fucking city’s just the same.

CDG ✈️ LHR ✈️ SIN

We’re packing and getting ready for our homeward journey tonight in Paris. We’ve got three flights left, and the longest ones just earned us a text message from Qantas letting us know that the four of us had been upgraded to business class (RIP my points balance). We’ve got a few nights in Singapore left and it’s back to the Southern Gold Coast after almost a year away.

So because I’m a big nerd, these are our family travel stats since we left home last September and listed our home on Airbnb:

  • Photos on my phone: 10,017
  • Days away from home: 354
  • Flight hours: 87
  • Airbnbs and hotel rooms: 52
  • Flights: 50
  • Airports: 23
  • Cars (rented/borrowed/owned): 17
  • Countries: 10
  • Boats: 3
  • Children: 2
  • Eurostars: 1
  • MacBooks that survived a glass of whisky being spilt on them: 0
  • Brown hairs left on my head: -6

Michael A. Fletcher reports for ESPN that the real life story behind the Sandra Bullock movie, The Blind Side, was based on a lie.

Retired NFL star Michael Oher, whose supposed adoption out of grinding poverty by a wealthy, white family was immortalized in the 2009 movie “The Blind Side,” petitioned a Tennessee court Monday with allegations that a central element of the story was a lie concocted by the family to enrich itself at his expense.

Every day I think about the fact that so much Of our culture today is built on lies. Where do we go as a people? Do we lean in to it or revolt?

I walked out of the house this morning and a man was urinating onto the street, facing in my direction, two metres away. I called out that he was disgusting and he stared at me in the eyes.

After riding a scooter across town to a store I walked upon a lady on the street bent over and attending to her monthly needs.

Just now walking to the grocery store I witnessed a man with both hands amputated smoking a cigarette, his two arms acting as two fingers.

The Parisians have really left their mark on me today.

Richard Rohr in Things Hidden:

It is amazing how religion has turned this biblical idea of faith around to mean its exact opposite: into a tradition of certain knowing, presumed predictability and complete assurance about whom God likes and whom God does not like.

We have 48 hours left in Paris. I’m I’m curious what your one awesome thing to do, see, eat, or photograph in Paris. We travel slow, don’t travel like tourists, don’t really hit the common “top 10 things to see” lists, and we’re travelling with two kids, so sometimes we miss things that everyone thinks is awesome. Give me your one recommendation.

I think I’ve spent too much time in Paris this year.

I just got into an argument with another dad about which Parisian playground is the best one.

The American fool thinks the Lourve playground is the best.

Bearly made it home last night

Another chapter in the ever-growing story of how I interact with, and use, social media:

I wrote a little while ago about choosing two social networks.

I kind of have, Mastodon and Threads/Instagram/Facebook. By which I mean that the Meta platforms all blur together with crossposting and attention.

That leaves my remaining accounts from the tier list, Facebook Page, LinkedIn, and Twitter/X.

Rather than delete them, like I’d rather, I’ve trialled throwing them to ChatGPT.

I’m still refining the prompt, but here’s what I’m asking ChatGPT 4 to do in a Zapier zap:

It starts with an instruction, or a set up which looks like this …

You are a content producer for Josh Withers the Australian wedding celebrant, a marriage celebrant famous worldwide for creating epic marriage ceremonies for adventurous people. You believe that the best kind of marriage ceremony and wedding is an intentional one, where everyone invited is invited for a reason and with a purpose, and that everything that happens at the wedding happens with intentionality and purpose. You are not necessarily against wedding traditions but you are against wedding traditions for the sake of wedding traditions. You write and speak in Australian English, and in a classic and timeless nature but with the wit and humour of Australian marriage celebrant Josh Withers. Be funny. When talking about weddings use inclusive language, use bride only if you’re talking about a female person getting married, not as the title of the wedding industry client, and explore a diverse range of topics, cultures, and kinds of people that could get married.

Then I prompt it to write a post like this …

Write another new controversial tweet as Josh Withers, do not enclose it in quotation marks, written in the style of Australian wedding celebrant Josh Withers based off his writing online and on social media, asking a question or posing an thought about Josh Withers’s wedding planning style. The tweet can be a controversial opinion about a modern, inclusive, intentional style of getting married; or an insight into modern wedding planning; or a reflection on wedding traditions of old and how they don’t matter any more. Designed to illicit engagement and a response from people who see it. Take into account all interviews and responses by Josh Withers Australian wedding celebrant, and everything Josh has written on his online. Keep the message to under 280 characters. Do not start with greetings, do not use Australian slang like “G’day”, do not use any hashtags. Be controversial and talk about all kinds of different wedding topics. Make each tweet different and unique.

There’s a 66% chance of the zap running that every hour, and 50% of the time the content goes to Facebook.

My engagement on these existing platforms has been very low for a long time, so let’s see if this moves the needle. If not, it’s a fun experiment into what a LLM can do for social media.

Just a couple of Australians having a French win. Frame from last night in Paris with yours truly.

Will the Australian government send in an SAS extraction group to save Britt, the girls, and I when France loses to the Matildas in the World Cup quarter-finals today?

Did some A-grade marrying in the rain in Paris today

A Modest Proposal; For preventing the children of poor people in Ireland, from being a burden on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the publick, by Dr. Jonathan Swift, 1729:

I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl, before twelve years old, is no saleable commodity, and even when they come to this age, they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half a crown at most, on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriments and rags having been at least four times that value. I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I’d forgotten how nice Facebook Paper was. What was the last great UX you experienced?

My daily steps over the past seven months

I think it’s beautiful that the one thing that binds us together as a global community, regardless of colour of skin, religion, where we were born or where we live, or wealth or lack of it, is how our days old street urine all smells the same everywhere.

Resume the conversation

My only regret from my radio career is that I never once said, whilst on air, the line that inspired my career:

Tank fly, boss walk, jam nitty-gritty. You’re listening to the boy from the big bad city. This is jam hot. This is jam hot.

An element of the wedding industry which offends so many inside and out, the part that eventually pushes many insiders out and back into the normal world where couples kissing in front of you all day at work is not normal, is the unreal nature of so many weddings. That for a single day people dress up and play pretend.

I can tell you that although I’ve witnessed it over my fifteen years in the business, I also push back against it at every chance. I’m also lucky that my clientele aren’t indicative of that side of the wedding industry.

Which is why I love film photography. It’s so raw and honest. Often imperfect, and perhaps with error, it’s a plain and simple recording of the light that entered the lens at that time.

So here’s some film photos made by my friend James at the two Italian elopements we had together last week in Tuscany.

Elopements planned by my girl, Britt.

  • Film photo from our Tuscany, Italy, 2023 elopements with The Elopement Collective and House of Love
  • Film photo from our Tuscany, Italy, 2023 elopements with The Elopement Collective and House of Love
  • Film photo from our Tuscany, Italy, 2023 elopements with The Elopement Collective and House of Love
  • Film photo from our Tuscany, Italy, 2023 elopements with The Elopement Collective and House of Love
  • Film photo from our Tuscany, Italy, 2023 elopements with The Elopement Collective and House of Love
  • Film photo from our Tuscany, Italy, 2023 elopements with The Elopement Collective and House of Love
  • Film photo from our Tuscany, Italy, 2023 elopements with The Elopement Collective and House of Love
  • Film photo from our Tuscany, Italy, 2023 elopements with The Elopement Collective and House of Love
  • Film photo from our Tuscany, Italy, 2023 elopements with The Elopement Collective and House of Love
  • Film photo from our Tuscany, Italy, 2023 elopements with The Elopement Collective and House of Love
  • Film photo from our Tuscany, Italy, 2023 elopements with The Elopement Collective and House of Love

Sari Azout’s “letter to a friend who is thinking of starting something new” is beautiful. As Sari subtitles it, ‘if you are thinking of leaving your job to start a company or passion project, this letter is for you too.’

  1. Will you use this opportunity to grow and evolve or will you use it to beat yourself up?
  2. How will you avoid insecurity work?
  3. Can you learn to enjoy the process as the end in itself, not the means?
  4. Can you learn to enjoy the process as the end in itself, not the means?
  5. Will you default to the norms of your industry, or will you be an original?
  6. What tools will you use to quiet your ego and see reality clearly?
  7. Do you have clarity on what kind of financial value you aim to create?

If I had a beef to pick with anyone in the world today it’s how so many of us let life happen to us instead of us making us happen to life.

I hope you get to know your inner world. I hope you thrive financially while living your values. I hope you focus less on what you achieve and more on who you become. I hope you learn to be kind to yourself. I hope you fall in love with the process. I hope you see the point of pursuing passion work is not to drain yourself to create work that eclipses your life, but rather to create a life you are proud of. I hope this new venture takes you far away from conformism and enables you to make a life and a living on your own terms, with your spirit and creativity unhindered.

With any luck you’re reading this article well after I first shared it in August 2023, and if this is the case I felt the need to find the link and send it to you as you consider embarking on something new.

Make this process mean something so we have a cool story to talk about in a decade’s time.

Colonel Sanders and the sadness in scaling businesses

Mimi Sheraton in the New York Times in 1976 telling the story of walking into a KFC with Colonel Harland Sanders:

You’re frying for 12 minutes—that’s six minutes too long. What’s more, your frying fat should have been changed a week ago. That’s the worst fried chicken I’ve ever seen. Let me see your mashed potatoes with gravy, and how do you make them?

The Colonel is paid $200,000 a year to do advertising and PR for KFC, but when asked about Sanders' remarks on the chain’s methods post-sale:

Raw chicken turns customers off, so we play it safe and fry at lower temperatures for a longer time than the colonel likes.

Which is fair, but this plays to my theory on scaling businesses.

When you run a small or micro business, a single storefront, or perhaps a business like Britt and I do with The Elopement Collective, or our Airbnb, or my celebrancy practice. Businesses that are anti-scale can celebrate the JOMO of business, the joy of missing out. We can’t do every elopement, or every wedding, or take every Airbnb booking on the Gold Coast.

Because of our very deliberate JOMO we can chose a different direction for our businesses where we aim to be five our of five stars, or whatever rating system is in play, we just aim to be the best.

Cabel Sasser once tweeted:

I can’t help but feel there’s a wonderful and often unexplored middle ground between “die” and “grow and grow aggressively”

And ever since I read that I’ve been fascinated on that unexplored middle ground.

When you decide to scale you very simply decide not to be the best, but instead to be the biggest, the cheapest, the most-available, and you turn your back on the best.

I remember a small hotel we stayed at in Manhattan once and it proudly boasted a 7.2 rating on one of the hotel review websites which rated hotels out of 10.

If one of our businesses was 72% as good as the best of that category of businesses we’d shut it down, or completely rework it until it was a really good business and bringing immense value to people.

But when you’re just one of the thousands of hotels in New York, maybe 7.2 is ok?

But it’s not ok for me and it wasn’t ok for the Colonel.

Tess McClure in The Guardian reports on Pak ‘n’ Save’s mealbot:

A New Zealand supermarket experimenting with using AI to generate meal plans has seen its app produce some unusual dishes – recommending customers recipes for deadly chlorine gas, “poison bread sandwiches” and mosquito-repellent roast potatoes.

The app, created by supermarket chain Pak ‘n’ Save, was advertised as a way for customers to creatively use up leftovers during the cost of living crisis. It asks users to enter in various ingredients in their homes, and auto-generates a meal plan or recipe, along with cheery commentary. It initially drew attention on social media for some unappealing recipes, including an “oreo vegetable stir-fry”.

We’re in the beautiful age of quality assurance in large language models. The giveaway is that the supermarket responds with:

(we are) disappointed to see “a small minority have tried to use the tool inappropriately and not for its intended purpose

Instead of owning the issue and revealing that the whole thing is built on a house of cards and we’re all just figuring this crap out.

After two months in London, across regional Austria, Liechtenstein, regional Italy, Puglia, and Tuscany, it is so refreshing for my soul to be walking the streets of Paris again tonight.

I could walk the streets of Paris and New York City for the rest of my days and never get bored or lose inspiration.

Why do airlines communicate a flight’s departure time instead of a “be at the gate” time? Every airport and every airline has different timings and many of us live in flight anxiety because of the lack of information.

Is there a good technical reason why departure time is communicated but not gate-deadline time?

Pro tip for flying out of Vienna Airport: you walk past a Starbucks before check-in, and you think, “awesome, a not-Austrian coffee! If there’s Starbucks at check-in there’ll be a Starbucks after security,” but there isn’t.

There is an epic kids playground though.

Over the weekend I wrote a piece about the fluff coming out of commercial radio in Australia, referencing my own time in a commercial radio station in very remote Western Australia, and considering going back last year but the wage had actually decreased.

Anyway, it was poorly written, so sitting at Gate F6 in Vienna Airport just now I edited and fixed it.

Any other errors or omissions are the faulty of your web browser.

Driving from Siena, Italy, to Graz, Austria, today Goldie and I were looking for somewhere to stop for lunch and we decided on this place named after a beach in Los Angeles.

I took Britt’s Fuji X-S10 with the 27mm f/2.8 for a play while we were there.

Commercial radio isn't "booming", it's barely paying the minimum wage

The PR-wing of the commercial radio community in Australia is getting everyone excited about a new report - that they commissioned and is weirdly in their favour - about how commercial radio in Australia is turning 100 years old this year on November 23rd.

The report tells a compelling story, which I don’t consider to be the actuality of local and regional commercial radio in Australia.

A few takeaways from the report include:

  • About three hours of locally significant content per day is broadcast in regional communities - which is pretty much just obeying the law.
  • 74% of Australians surveyed answered “sure, why not” when asked if they think commercial radio and audio build a sense of community.
  • Over 1/3 of the jobs in commercial radio are in about 1/3 of Australian society (that being, regional Australia).

And it was on the jobs issue I wanted to rebut the argument that Australian radio is “booming”.

It might be easy to try and point out that anyone born in the last 40 years doesn’t know what the antenna on their car is for, or how the Australian commercial radio industry has very poorly stepped foot into podcasting and internet distribution, especially in regards to local and regional content, one of the biggest voids in the sphere of content available today.

But instead I’ll share a personal story that might tell you how booming commercial radio is in regional Australia.


Late 2009 I accepted a role that I was so unqualified for that it was a joke. Twenty-seven years old, with only volunteer broadcast radio experience on my resume, having only even stepped foot in Western Australia once before at the other end of the state in Broome, let alone the small town of Esperance found on the far western side of the Great Australian Bight on Australia’s southern coast, 720 kilometres from the most remote city in the world, a forty hour nonstop drive from home.

The population of over 13,000 people had just shrunk a wee bit after the shock closure of the Ravensthorpe nickel mine in January of that year, but on a freezing cold Saturday morning this young buck who could not name song by The Travelling Wilburys found himself on the corner of Andrew and Demspter Street sitting at an outside broadcast studio in sub-zero temperatures (possibly).

I fell in love with the town of Esperance and its small population. It was a crime that I didn’t know who the Wilburys were considering one of its members had holidayed there, and it was a shame that 14 years on I appreciate the then Radiowest, now Triple M, playlist a lot more than that 27 year old did.

I moved on from that station to Star FM Port Macquarie just over a year later with many great friendships and a much more robust understanding of how to be a leading voice of a local community.

I bring up this anecdote because through COVID things were rough in the wedding industry and Britt and I considered changing many things in our life. One possibility was moving somewhere regional and quiet, somewhere far away, somewhere like Esperance and when the job advert for my old job as breakfast radio host popped up I got in touch. I loved the town and would have cherished the seachange, now with two daughters and now married to the girl I wrote letters to the last time I lived there.

Thirteen years on, with the Esperance population slowly growing, with industry slowly building, and the possibility for remote work in Australia slowly increasing thanks to the NBN and Starlink I thought things might be a little brighter for a modern family moving to the Great Southeast of WA.

  • The cost of goods has increased 36% since I last worked in Esperance. If you paid $60,000 for something in 2009 you were paying $86,000 for it now.
  • The average wage locally in Esperance (according to the ABS - 2021 to 2006) has increased 65% over (about) the same time period.
  • The cost of renting has actually doubled.
  • Esperance-Goldfields property purchase prices have increased about 13%.

But the wage on offer for the same job had decreased 7% and was most likely in a smaller team even though it was only a local staff of seven for two radio stations (I was the sole local programming hire) when I was there in 2009. There was the possibility of increasing the wage by also doing radio advertising sales but I’ve proven in the past that an advertising salesperson I am not.

The same role, for a slightly larger audience which would be begging for local stories and content in an ever-globalised content world, was paying $938 a week after tax - $177 more than the minimum wage.


The premise I’m making here is that the very heartbeat of commercial radio is creating a compelling story for an audience and inserting as many ads around that as possible. The fact that a community so bereft of local stories, news, and media personalities cannot support a good wage for someone to fill that role speaks to the weaknesses in the local media market, and the unwillingness of the corporation operating the media to invest there.

I remember a time at Radiowest Esperance where the technology that connects the telephone line to the broadcast console - which was already the simplest of radio technologies, old and very very simple - broke down and there was real deliberation as to whether it should be replaced. I posited the question: are we planning on taking phone calls and broadcasting phone calls and interviews on the radio station in the future? Were phone calls being broadcasted important to the job? I believed they were, but at all levels of management they weren’t sure it was worth it.

A 2009 era iPhone panorama photo of the low-tech Esperance studio

Maybe Esperance was never going to be a profitable radio station, and if so, hand the broadcast license over to a community radio organisation and let the community run it, like they do the fire and ambulance services.

Talking about the Esperance community spirit, we raised thousands (I think it was about $20,000) for the Perth Children’s Hospital when businesses could push their boss off the Tanker Jetty into the subzero Southern Ocean winter waters if they raised or donated $1000. If any community was going to excel at a community radio station it would be Esperance.


If a national commercial radio network can’t afford to pay a local content creator more than $177 a week over the minimum Australian wage to create and broadcast about 24 hours a week of local content by themselves without local assistance, then I cannot believe that commercial radio is soaring in popularity, or even breaking even financially as a business. Instead, commercial radio in Australia sounds like an industry that has ignored advances in civilisation, in communication, in broadcasting, and how societies work in 2023 and is just hanging on by the threads of people who haven’t got CarPlay yet.


Rest in peace, commercial radio. You were my first love, but at one hundred years old maybe it’s time to pass the batten to someone who understands how to be an integral part of a community.


This article has been updated because I’m a better podcaster and radio presenter than writer, plus I’m writing all this on my phone as I travel around Europe and the new autocorrect in the developer beta of iOS 17 is good but buggy

Not everything is forever. Some things are just internet onions.

This website, the-life-and-death-of-an-internet-onion.com, will live from July 26th through August 30th, 2023 — about 5 weeks total, the average lifespan of a non-refrigerated onion. — Laurel Schwulst

It’s beautiful.

The “_______ is typing” dots are unencumbered by the politics of social media because they’re a passive signifier of attention: the tech does it for you, so it’s an unusually honest message that “_______ is alive and mentally present for you.”

Things I can remember:

✅ My couple’s names in a wedding ceremony
❎ Which of my children has which name
❎ My credit card PIN
❎ How old I am?
❎ Which side of the road to drive on in which country I’m in at the moment
❎ Who our insurance is through?
❎ If the h in hola is silent?
✅ The lyrics to Wonderwall

Father of the bride yesterday asked me who’s father I was. I’m now that old.

This is your annual reminder that there is a pager emoji 📟 please don’t forget to use the emoji for all of your pager-themed conversations.

My favourite part of the wedding ceremony is when we show each other our best memes

Things I learned today:

  1. When you drive many kilometres past beautiful sunflower fields in Tuscany full of big and ripe sunflowers ready to be in a florist’s shop window, five days later when you go back to photograph them they’ll be harvested and in shop windows.

  2. Sunflowers follow the sun, so when you go out to shoot them at sunrise, they’re all looking down like they’ve been listening to Nothing Compares 2 U on repeat since they found out about Sinead.

  3. “Sunflowers at sunrise in fog” isn’t the epic photo I hoped for.

I wonder if Mariah Carey ever regretted collaborating with Ol’ Dirty Bastard?

Adi Ignatius inteviewing Karim Lakhani for the Harvard Business Review:

Just as the internet has drastically lowered the cost of information transmission, AI will lower the cost of cognition.

And he comes in with the zinger, which I believe to be true:

What I say to managers, leaders, and workers is: AI is not going to replace humans, but humans with AI are going to replace humans without AI. This is definitely the case for generative AI.

Two applications I used daily in the 90s/2000s but don’t exist today and I haven’t sufficiently found replacements for are MS Money and MS Access.

Thanks for ruining everything, Bill Gates.

For couples that book my David Copperfield package I do a cool magic trick and make your guests disappear.

Take & Leanna this afternoon in Tuscany.

WinRAR

Three years ago today I called for a new Saint to be named in Melbourne. turns out Aussies are super compliant and boring so nothing happened.

Saint Valentine of Rome was martyred on February 14 in AD 269 after he continued marrying people when marriage was banned. Weddings are banned in Melbourne from Thursday. Will there be a Saint of Batmania?

Jake Meador in The Misunderstood Reason Millions of Americans Stopped Going to Church in The Atlantic:

Contemporary America simply isn’t set up to promote mutuality, care, or common life. Rather, it is designed to maximize individual accomplishment as defined by professional and financial success. Such a system leaves precious little time or energy for forms of community that don’t contribute to one’s own professional life or, as one ages, the professional prospects of one’s children. Workism reigns in America, and because of it, community in America, religious community included, is a math problem that doesn’t add up.

If there was a major crime cast on society in the last generation it was this. The simple idea that professional and financial success reign.

I love my email. Not because I love my email but because due to the swings and round-a-bouts of modern life needing email, and because writers and publications I want to hear from send emails, I’ve figured out how to have an email account that I love. Which according to my friend Steven, isn’t possible. Perhaps it is not dissimilar to training a demon to do the housework.

But one day, I can only hope I am so unimportant, so unneeded, so unplugged from the swings and the round-a-bouts, that I can profess what Don Knuth wrote in the nineties:

I have been a happy man ever since January 1, 1990, when I no longer had an email address.

His very-90s blog post is seemingly popular for advocating that the hyphen be dropped from e-mail, but I am so inspired to reach the stage of life that Knuth quotes in the post:

`I don’t even have an e-mail address. I have reached an age where my main purpose is not to receive messages.' – Umberto Eco, quoted in the New Yorker

A former boss told me that as you become more important in a job you start getting more keys, and you seemingly start on a path to have so many keys. Keys to the front door, back door, your office, someone else’s office, the stationary cupboard, the storage room, etc etc.

But then you reach a stage in that job where you are so important that you start handing keys back, and all of a sudden you have no keys.

Being that important sounds lovely, but I’m more excited about being in such a position that my importance in the world is not an ongoing concern. Instead, my friendship, my love, my efforts would be so valuable to my friends and family that none of us would be measuring importance - or likes, views, follows, or subscriptions - but that we would be in that beautiful utopia of just being a friend.

I was today years old when I learned that the word ‘homographic’ didn’t mean what my brain assumed it meant.

homograph - noun each of two or more words spelled the same but not necessarily pronounced the same and having different meanings and origins.

Like the word bass means a fish, an instrument, and a sound range.

Not recorded images or photos of certain people doing things.

Doing God’s work over here, keeping the Gold Coast honest about it’s Super Mario koala

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but the All Saints sung, “flexing vocabulary runs through my head”. Not, “sex and the vocabulary runs through my head.” Not like I’d thought the latter for the last 26 years or anything.

📷🇮🇹 Siena, Tuscany

Why haven't we seen a photograph of the whole Earth yet?

For an interesting NASA and Apple-related fall down a rabbit hole, start with the origin of the name of “The Whole Earth Catalog” in 1966, skip forward to 1972 when a whole earth photo was made.

Photo of the whole earth made in 1972

Then take a turn to one of Steve Jobs' favourite sayings “Stay hungry stay foolish” which he quoted in 2005 at Stanford in his famous commencement speech.

Back page of the last Whole Earth Catalog magazine: Stay hungry, stay foolish

Ad then wrap back around to how the whole earth image as an iPhone wallpaper came to be.

Original iPhone with earth background

Welcome to my brain, where I just think about this stuff.

I, for one, welcome our new British open web overlords

The BBC has embraced ActivityPub, nice work @[email protected]! I’ve always thought that the long term advantage from a commercial and brand point of view is to be able to say “follow us” and the words that follow are your own brand and your own network.

The power of Mastodon, ActivityPub, the Fediverse, means that the BBC can be on Mastodon, and someone else can be on a completely different platform that supports ActivityPub (like Threads or Micro.blog for example) and you can follow them. For example this very blog, because it’s hosted on Micro.blog means you can follow @[email protected] on your favourite ActivityPub service, like Mastodon, Threads/Tumblr/Flickr one day soon, Pixelfed, or maybe even X if Leon gets his head right, and you can read the blog there. Even WordPress has an official ActivityPub plugin now!

In fact I could imagine that sometime in the future there’ll be a new service that perhaps is more suited to a broadcaster like the BBC and they can transition from Mastodon to it, yet the social graph remains.

When brands and companies operate their own Fediverse instances you can get the updates from your electricity company, you can follow your celebrity or known-person-that-is-a-cool-person and they all get to control their brand and their experience. Instead of mess like this and this.

They are not at Twitter’s, X’s, Meta’s, Google’s or my mercy.

They also are not at the whim of a verification service that is either a secret black box experience, or thousands of dollars a month.

We’re using social.bbc as the domain, so you can be sure these accounts are genuinely from the BBC.

This is the social media future I’d like to see. Where following someone or something is as simple as sending and receiving email.

As a large, high profile, public service organisation, we’ve had to work through a fair number of issues to get this far and we’ve had advice and support from several teams across the BBC. Explaining the federated model can be a challenge as people are much more familiar with the centralised model of ownership. We’ve had to answer questions like “Are we running our own social network?” (well, we’re kind of hosting a small section of a social network) and “Are we hosting a user’s content?” (well, we don’t allow users to create accounts or post from our server, but they can reply to our posts from their own servers, and then their posts will appear next to ours and then they might be stored on our server and it all gets quite complicated).

Does ActivityPub and the Fediverse have issues? Yes. Should that stop us from moving forward and trying to figure it all out? No.

Tuscany for a week or so

Look, all I want to do with my life is make enough money so I can afford to buy Yahoo! which owns AOL which owns Netscape so I can once more have a web browser that has an animated N in the top right again.

Shane Parrish on fs.blog with, Hanlon’s Razor: Not Everyone is Out to Get You, is such an encouraging read today. I was only thinking about how we more often than not think that everyone is looking at us as I was on a beach in Puglia yesterday considering very quickly stripping out of my swimmers into dry pants. I almost did until Britt suggested that everyone would see me. I still wonder whether they would have, and I think not. Most people don’t notice me, don’t see me, and don’t know me. Even less read this blog.

What is Hanlon’s Razor you may ask?

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect.

The fs.blog article stretches the razor out to some real world artefacts:

The media:

Modern media treats outrage as a profitable commodity. This often takes the form of articles which often attribute to malice that which could be easily be explained by incompetence or ignorance.

Not everyone is out to get you.

Years from now the people of Puglia will still talk of the strange man who came from the land down under, where women glow and the men have takeaway American coffee with cold milk. I said, “Do you speak-a my language?” and they just smiled and gave me an espresso with a cold milk drink on the side.

Imagine your audience are the stupidest people alive

About 20 years ago, somewhere early 2003 from memory, I learned the most important lesson I’d ever been taught in broadcasting and business, from Stan Hillard:

(When you’re broadcasting) imagine the audience are the stupidest people alive, but treat them with the upmost respect.

It’s an axiom employee daily. Assuming the audience doesn’t know the backstory, they don’t know your reasoning or motivation, or they simply haven’t been listening. It’s about inclusivity, with the upmost respect for them.

On a side note, in trying to find where Stan was at today, I stumbled across this piece I wrote for Radio Today ten years ago. Looking back it feels rude at the time but still true today.

I reinstalled the Twitter app when X first appeared just so I could experience this firsthand, in the flesh

Opportunity cost and Eggs Benedict

Leaving Puglia today and I’m struck by the thought, after having experienced about thirty different international communities and societies over the last year that there is an opportunity cost to every society.

I’ve left every community thinking “this was great, but …” identifying trade-offs and compromises made to build that society.

Like Puglia for example, I love it here, but there’s no breakfast culture. In fact most of the world doesn’t celebrate breakfast like Australians do, and weirdly enough that’s possibly important to me.

Perhaps utopia is impossible because it would simply be the longest list of compromises ever made? Perhaps getting a good breakfast means you have to live in a society where everyone bottles their feelings and pretends to be polite in traffic, as opposed to Italy where you find out how the driver feels straight away but they won’t road rage you?

Is that the price I want to pay for eggs Benedict and a long black with cream?

11:27pm Italy time and I’ve been slogging away for hours at the stupidest CSS thing that changed in the most recent version of the Shopify code. Felt good to feel like it was 1999 and I was a web developer again.

Any how, sugargathered.com is now open for business on Shopify, I’ve just spent the last (far too many months) amount of time moving it from Squarespace and implementing lots of cool things for my friends who run it.

If you want some donuts delivered to, or at an event on, the Gold Coast, I can recommend a great website.

A MacBook with a turntable instead of a keyboard? Shut up and take my money, DJ.

ABC Radio National’s Andrew West interviewing Ian Buruma on in The religious and spiritual ethics of wokeness:

It’s when a movement to improve certain social conditions, whether it’s about race, gender, or whatever else, turns from an active effort into a rigid ideology, then you have a problem.

Ian originally wrote about wokeness in Harpers Magazine:

Writing about “Woke” has at least two pitfalls. One is that any criticism of its excesses provokes accusations of racism, xenophobia, transphobia, misogyny, or white supremacy. The other problem is the word itself, which has been a term of abuse employed by the far right, a battle cry for the progressive left, and an embarrassment to many liberals.

Looking forward to a future where being woke is a clearer idea and status. I’m sick of wondering if I’m a sheeple or a wolk folk, and by who’s definition.

Update on the book writing: I wrote a lot and I thought it was ok, I ran it past some friends and it wasn’t as good as I thought, and on further reflection it was worse.

Then I read this in Stephen King’s On Writing:

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.

So I’m currently reading a lot. I used to read a bit, now I’m reading a lot.

A photographer at the water park we were just at asked a family to say “Mozzarella” because I guess formaggio doesn’t make a smile?

In Western Australia yesterday

Amanda Holpuch in the New York Times in June 2023:

South Koreans became a year or two younger on Wednesday after a law standardizing the way the government counts age took effect. There are three common ways to count age in South Korea, but the government has changed its civil code to recognise one: starting from zero on a person’s date of birth and adding a year at each birthday. This is the age-counting method used most often around the world, but it is a departure from the country’s most popular method, often called “Korean age.” Under that system, a person is considered 1 year old at birth, and a year is added to their age each Jan. 1. This meant that an infant born on Dec. 31 was considered 2 years old the next day.

Every extra square metre I experience on this planet I find new and wild ways that humans have figured out how to exist. Korean Age isn’t the weirdest, but it’s up there.

The deeper I traverse into life on Planet Earth, into fatherhood, business, weddings, photography, and friendship I am ever further interested in art, making art, and making great art.

So Matt Ruby’s deviation from his normal comedic quick wit and observation Substack into this interesting read on George Michael, his coming out, connecting Freedom with Wham and his later Freedom ‘90, captured all of my attention today.

This whole read was just really interesting.

Sometimes the clothes, indeed, do not make the man

Michael couldn’t handle the combo of massive success and mockery. He did everything he could to make us love him, yet we still didn’t respect him. He wanted us to admire his mind, but we just wanted to stare at his butt. And that set the table for his cri de coeur: “Freedom ’90.” 

Uluṟu, that beautiful monolith that captures the very essence of Australia. It’s my favourite place in Australia. This iconic natural wonder is far more than an awe-inspiring spectacle - it represents the rich tapestry of indigenous heritage and gathering for ceremony.

Uluṟu is intrinsically linked with the indigenous Anangu people, serving as an embodiment of their Tjukurpa - a term that captures the moral laws, spirituality, and existence of these people. Uluṟu’s formation stems from a time of ancestral beings, the Dreamtime, whose stories are etched across its vast surface in the form of petroglyphs.

For countless generations, Uluṟu has been a significant ceremonial site, bearing witness to rites of passage and important celebrations. This land, imprinted with the songs and dances of the Anangu, has been a part of their life’s tapestry, from birth to death and every joy and hardship in between.

Now, imagine breathing your marriage into life here - a site resonating with tales of love, life, and dreams, where the deep-red soil has observed centuries of human connection. A marriage ceremony at Uluṟu represents a union not only between two individuals but also a communion with our shared human legacy and the ancient rhythms of this remarkable landscape.

As a wedding celebrant, my commitment at Uluṟu is to ensure that your ceremony encapsulates your story while honouring the deep-seated heritage there. In doing so, we pay tribute to the traditional custodians of this land.

Joining the long line of stories woven into this sacred land, adding our mark to the generations of human experiences that Uluṟu has borne witness to.

Photo by Heart and Colour from Steph & Kieran’s elopement with The Elopement Collective.

Reed Albergotti in Semafor Technology:

Meta, Microsoft, Amazon, and the navigation company TomTom released a free mapping dataset in a bid to compete with Google Maps and Apple Maps. Developers can use the data, which includes 59 million places of interest, to create their own navigation products.

If a powerfully simple mapping system like What3Words can’t gain traction in a decade, I don’t think TomTom can get a foot up by giving it away.

I am curious where this leaves Bing Maps though.

Keith Richards, April 1962:

Mick (Jagger) is the greatest R&B singer this side of the Atlantic and I don’t mean maybe.

I’ve been having problems for years where my iPhone would have no space left, yet seemingly actually have space left. I’ve always felt like it was an iCloud photos library problem. So I finally downloaded originals to my Mac and I am now convinced Photos is the problem.

📷🇮🇹🏊🏼 Luna looking like she’s not having fun in the water when she’s truly having a ball.

Lefineder:

The English, said Sir John Fortescue (c. 1470), “drink no water, unless at certain times upon religious score, or by way of doing penance.”, looking at reconstructions of beer consumption from the middle ages to the pre-industrial era this was only a slight exaggeration. When estimating consumption from the amount of beer provided to soldiers, convicts, and workers or reconstructing consumption from tax revenues on beer we see that the average person consumed about a liter of beer a day, this is around four times as much as consumption in modern beer-drinking countries.

Better times, ya know

Do I get my eye scanned by Worldcoin when I’m in Paris in two weeks or do I just share my genitalia size here in public instead?

Anthony Agius in The Sizzle

The ATO is cool with scammers ripping off $557m in MyGov identity fraud. A whopping $557m has been stolen off the ATO and people entitled to a tax refund by scammers in the last two years.

If the Aussie Tax Office is ok losing half a billion dollars, I’ve just realised that I have spent about that on uniform laundry last year.

Six years of making photos and droning

Reflecting on Matt Mullenweg ten years ago reflecting on Steve Jobs/Apple’s courage to release products, I’ve been on an early morning walk down memory lane - perhaps because I woke very early and the kids are still asleep - thinking about my first few weeks with a drone camera, the original DJI Mavic Pro. It was delivered on the 28th of April 2017. I was fresh off a red eye flight from a Perth wedding the day before and straight out the door to a Tenterfield wedding that afternoon. Britt came for the drive and we put the drone up at the Airbnb.

I didn’t read a manual, or the civil aviation guides. I just turned it on and thought I’d see what it did.

I didn’t know about aperture (or lack thereof in the original Mavic), ISO, white balance, or shooting in RAW.

I just put it up in the air, mashed my fingers into the remote control, and started creating.

It always has been and always will be not only my first camera, but my favourite camera.

I’ve crashed a few drones, thank god for great insurance and DJI Care, lost one into a wave, and another into Queensland’s Great Sandy Bay. I’ve even had one fly away in Iceland due to magnetic interference!

Since these early photos - seriously, all a fluke that they’re ok photos - I’ve been so blessed to have my work experienced by so many. 24 million views on Pexels, 201 million on Unsplash, commissioned work in a handful of places like the Sydney Reece showroom or the Hilton Gold Coast boardroom, and in a gallery in London.

I’ve got my own fine art prints gallery online that’s sold about three photos, and the commissions I’ve received have probably covered the cost of the drones I’ve purchased, but regardless it brings me so much joy.

I hope my photos over the last six years have meant something to you. It makes me smile looking back at these first few photos. I had no idea what I was doing, I was just making.

Matt Mullenweg on Apple and 1.0 products back in 2010:

Many entrepreneurs idolize Steve Jobs. He’s such a perfectionist, they say. Nothing leaves the doors of 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino without a polish and finish that makes geeks everywhere drool. No compromise! I like Apple for the opposite reason: they’re not afraid of getting a rudimentary 1.0 out into the world.

This has rocked my day. Re is its own word. It’s not short for regarding.

✈️ Flighty 3 is a private frequent flyers social network!

One of my most-used and favourite apps is Flighty, and they’ve just announced a new version that’s basically a frequent flyer’s private social network. I love it!

Flighty 3.0 is the new way to share your flying with family and friends. Keep track of your loved ones, not flight numbers. Another industry-first from Flighty.

  1. Flighty Friends - Connect with family and friends once, then you can see each other trips and get alerts — automatically and ongoing. You’ll see them on your map, can choose alerts levels, and can stop sharing anytime.
  2. Group Trip Ready - Your flights and friend’s flights appear together in the new Today view. Everyone’s live ETA and status make group trips easy.
  3. Friends Names in Flight Alerts - Now with name, photo, and custom controls per person to avoid notification fatigue.
  4. Trip Sharing - Send multiple flights at once. Receivers can add them to Flighty, or simply view them in their browser.
  5. Whose Flight is That? - See who’s on each flight in your flight list, on the map, and including their seat number if you’re sharing a plane.

Add me as a friend on Flighty, yo!

P.S.: Flighty is one of the very few iPhone apps I use on the regular which was quick to allow it’s app to be used on Apple silicon Macs, something more developers should consider enabling.

Imagine being the butt of this line in a news report “The launch of the eye-scanning cryptocurrency project Worldcoin” and you’re also the guy standing behind the main brand name related to a technology the world is shit scared of, and just thinking everything is fine.

Matt Levine on “Leon Smuk”, from X:

I guess my question is, what was he paying for? Musk didn’t want Twitter for its employees (whom he fired) or its code (which he trashes regularly) or its brand (which he abandoned) or its most dedicated users (whom he is working to drive away); he just wanted an entirely different Twitter-like service. Surely he could have built that for less than $44 billion? Mark Zuckerberg did!

I’m looking for an erratic egotistical billionaire to trust my savings and family’s future to, if you can recommend anyone, slip into my DMs

Scissor me on parenting

In a story on the book ‘Welcome to Sex’, Amy Remeikis writes in The Guardian:

The response to a sex education and consent book which was removed from the shelves of Big W stores shows how far Australia still has to go on sex education, a Senate committee inquiry has heard. Welcome to Sex, co-authored by the former Dolly Doctor and adolescent health expert Dr Melissa Kang and feminist writer Yumi Stynes, became the target of an online protest campaign. The book was pulled from shelves at Big W after staff members were abused.

I’m fairly done with the constant outrage in society today, the idea that we just need to be upset all day every day. It keeps journalists employed and right wing activist social media groups active. But I will say, I don’t want Luna or Goldie to stumble across this book in a bookstore without me there to guide them.

I have a theory that the problem with modern Australian society is that continue outsourcing jobs that families, humans, friends and partners should be doing. An example is there’s a guy in a Facebook group today hiring people to be friends with disabled kids and it’s NDIS funded. We’ve outsourced friendship to the Commonwealth. Even in COVID most didn’t understand that the reasons for the lockdowns and border closures is because we have outsourced out community wellbeing to the state, so their undertaking of the ‘contract’ is to minimise expenses.

As it is with this book, it’s a vendor looking to win the contract for the outsourcing of your parenting.

My worldview is that there are matters for the home, for the community, for the family, to deal with, fix, entertain, talk about.

An example is my controversial opinion that I don’t like abortion. I have no problem with liberal/progressive abortion laws, it’s good for it to be regulated and I don’t think people are just out there aborting babies like it’s a fun pastime, but ultimately - in my utopian vision for the world - I’d like to see no abortion. Instead as someone is presented with the crossroads where they would consider an abortion the community would help. If money was required, they’d help. If the baby needed parenting, we’d help. That there would be a personalised, tailored solution, involving community and family compromise that resulted in the baby being born and being loved. I’m aware that my utopia does not exist, but that’s just where I’d like to see society be. No need to @ me, I know that rape exists, there are medical quandaries, and sex protection doesn’t always work, but I’d really simply, almost blindly stupidly just love to see babies be born and be loved. It’s like a one in 400 billion chance that a baby would ever be born, I just don’t want to squander it.

So I have my utopian vision, and it’s about communities and families taking it upon themselves to care for and love the ones within. Of course Police and governance has its place, but we should take more responsibility in the home and in the community. If I see someone litter I call them out on it, and if they’re not there I pick the rubbish up and put it in the bin, that’s me.

So, back to the book.

The main problem I see with the book is that I don’t want my girls to pick it up, if I liked the books message, I would bring it to them. But the other problem in the story today is with the linking of the book and consent. It’s a long shot. Consent is important, should be deeply known, understood and respected by all people.

Chanel Contos, the founder of Teach us Consent, echoed those concerns. “Young people are learning about sex from pornography, which – a phrase I always use is that is basically like learning how to drive a car by watching Formula One,” Contos said.

If children are learning about sex from pornography - I’ll humbly admit that was my early “education”, not due to my own wants but a severe lack of parental input and presence (thanks mum and dad, didn’t mess me up at all) - the answer isn’t to put a children’s book about sex on shelves. Sure, make it available as a resource to parents who want to engage with that resource when they are ready to, but the gaping hole in Australian society today isn’t lack of resource, it’s leadership from parents, or as I like to call it: parenting.

Australians are parenting less and less. I can talk about this from my own experience, my mother walked out when I was five, my step-mother didn’t really like me, and my father worked often two to three jobs.

A former Channel V host should not have to parent my children, I don’t want Woolworths Group to parent my children, I want close to zero of the community group that identifies as politicians to parent my children, and regardless of education choices anyone makes the educators are not parenting our kids.

Parents need to parent. Families and communities need to step up. Parents are not the kids best mates. Parents are not caregivers or landlords. Parents are leaders, leading their kids from birth to greatness - of course that greatness does include a deep and loving understanding and respect of other people’s consent, and also an understanding of the concepts of sex, intercourse, dating, courting, etc.

We have a set of boundaries with our kids that we will not lie to them, we will not lead them astray, but we’ll also respect their need to play, rest, and learn at their speed.

I’ll let them learn about scissoring when their fragile-because-of-age minds can fully understand what it means. Not when they pick it up off a shelf in a book shop next to Paw Patrol.

Page from the Welcome to Sex book

I welcome resources like Welcome to Sex being made available as a resource for parents to introduce to children when they deem so, but please make a space in society for parents to parent their children in their own unique way. Don’t force our hands. We don’t live in a single-speed society. Our lives have a transmission, everyone’s driving at different speeds at different revs using different gears, on different roads, needing to operate at different gears. Making a book this graphic and forward available for my child to just to pick up isn’t the way.

Create space for parents to lead their children, and maybe they will?

📷🇮🇹 Our last Monday in Puglia

📚 After backing and reading Renai Le May’s The Frustrated State it felt like Australian governments had completed, achieved the highest level of information technology incompetence. COVID proved me so very wrong, but then today Anthony Agius writes in The Sizzle:

Services Australia has cancelled a project to create a calculator for Centrelink entitlements, after spending $191m on it over 3 years. Incredible incompetency for such a basic thing the government needs.

How many millions of dollars can the Australian government flush until we actually get real upset?

When people talk about how the 80s were better I want to remind them that there was a character on TV whose name was Gordon Shumway, called himself Gordon Shumway, but everyone called him ALF because audiences and cast stupidly needed the reminder that the alien looking dude was an alien life form.

This is terrible branding, design, and UX. How am I going to remember where to go to be an insufferable prick now?

Thirteen eggs, four pregnancies, six years, and two children ago

I shared this on Facebook six years ago, on July 24, 2017:

Something you probably don’t realise when you ask me to be your celebrant is that in celebrating your marriage, you’re gleaning a little from mine. As I prep for your ceremony I’m taking notes on you both and your definitions of marriage,m although the foundation of my belief of what marriage is and what it looks like in real life starts at home. So with that said, I ought share some personal news about our marriage. For almost five years Britt and I have been trying to fall pregnant, so today we took the next step and our doctor extracted 13 eggs from Britt so we could get some third party assistance in that area.

13 eggs

How cute is it that while you’re under general anaesthetic they scribble the extraction number on your hand like you’re tattooing your BFF with a biro in high school. Life doesn’t always go as you plan, that’s the beauty of marriage - it’s the two of you together forever regardless of how well the plan’s going, or not. And because of that union, we know, that the best is yet to come.

Here’s an update on those thirteen eggs today.

The Withers family

Michael Bierut:

No one will remember that it was on time, everyone will remember that it was bad.

Starting to feel a little bit alone over here in Italy. Trying to get some Aussie work done and it looks like Telstra cuts you off from WiFi calling after your SIM card hasn’t been on an Australian Telstra tower for seven months. Google Fi was three months.