Someone very close to me may always be late, but is always worth waiting for.

The same can be said for the Sydney Morning Herald (and Age) iPad app, released today.

On first testing, it is evident that it takes full advantage of the electronic medium.
A more magazine style approach is used than the broadsheet paper version, with glorious colour photos and liberal inclusion of video.

The app updates its news regularly, and includes the latest headlines in a special ticker.

Sports has extended coverage, including a live score feed.

Navigation is easy, and the Editor’s Choice page offers a selection of recommended articles.

The full range of articles from the last week are available, including those from the Good Weekend, Domain, Sunday Life, the Guide and Travel sections.

You can set which sections you want to be downloaded for offline reading, and ‘star’ articles for reading later. Pages can also be shared via meal, Twitter and Facebook.

Advertising is much less intrusive than it has become in The Australian app, which came to market very quickly after the iPad launched. Until now it has set set the standard. News Corp will need to raise the bar to catch up with this effort from Fairfax.

You can tell I’m pretty impressed, especially as thanks to sponsorship from Telstra it is free until December! After that it will be $8.99 a month. That gives them a good chance to make it an indispensable part of our ‘daily office’.

SMH - Fairfax Digital Australia & New Zealand Pty Limited

What I Learnt On 31st May in other years

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When we first set out on the traditional Australian pilgrimage to The Old World, “Let’s Go Europe” was our friend. We wouldn’t stay at a pensione that han’t been ranked highly by their team of volunteer contributors, all American students.

You can still go with “Let’s Go“‘, but Lonely Planet has taken its place as the number one travel bible on the planet.

You can tell when you’re in a restaurant that has been reviewed favorably by Lonely Planet – no matter how isolated the village, everyone else in the place will also have  a copy sitting on their table.

Lonely Planet was established by Tony and Maureen Wheeler in 1973. Their first title was based on their own experiences traveling parts of the hippy route from London to Sydney, called “Across Asia on the Cheap”. Titles about other Asian destinations followed, and in the 1990s Europe and the USA were added to the stable. The Lonely Planet empire now includes more than 500 titles (in 8 languages), TV shows and magazines.

In February this year the Wheelers sold their remaining 25% share to the BBC, who now own the lot. This final sale earned them $67 million. They won’t have any more need for “South East Asia on a Shoestring”


The Lonely Planet empire  maintains it’s headquarters in Footscray, although It announced this month that much of it’s online business would be shifting to London – doing the hippy trail in reverse.

The sight of Lonely Planet books accompanying diners in restaurants may soon be quite rare. Increasingly, the future for Lonely Planet is digital. Most titles are available for iPhone and iPad, and that is certainly a much more muscle-friendly way of carting the information from country to country. And the interactive travel maps are excellent – a little moving blue dot shows where you are in relation to the quaint local eating spot you seek.

The Lonely Planet blog is a good source of information about the latest travel news, especially as certain travel guides will often be made available free of charge on special occasions. We picked up guides to 7 European cities free during the great volcanic ash shutdown last year.

And this leads us to “What I Learnt Today”.

For two weeks, Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2011 (normally $18) is available for free download from the iBooks store

So there’s no excuse. That’s a headstart of $18 on your next $10000 trip.

What are you waiting for?

What I Learnt On 30th May in other years

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It has been a big couple of weeks in Ireland, as our Rugby friend Kieran from Dublin has pointed out.

The Queens visit was the first ever by a reigning British monarch since the republic was established in 1922 (Queen Victoria had visited Dublin with similar security fears in 1900).

It was followed only a few days later by President O’bama having a pint of Guinness in his ancestral village, Moneygall.

It appears that against the odds both Heads of State ‘won the hearts’ of the Irish, and provided a much needed distraction from their economic problems.

Kieran points us to these slideshows from the Irish Times, which include the excellent speeches given by the visitors.


The Queens Visit – Slideshow


The President’s VIsit – Slideshow

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I’ve read somewhere that if the army have a reason for you to learn a foreign language, they have techniques that can have you fluent within three months.

I don’t know if they learnt these methods from my primary school teachers, but if Mrs Collins (Grade 3) or Ms Tennant (Grade 4) wanted us to learn something, it stayed learned! Rote learning and mnemonics, reward and punishments.  More than 3 out of 10 wrong in spelling each day – off to Father Schneider to get the strap. We sure learnt our tables and our spelling (most of us – some poor souls would get the strap every day).

I can remember that the mnemonic for costal rivers of NSW is “Tweed, Richmond, Clarance Macleay is a hasty man who hunted hawks on the Shoalhaven River”. That has come in very handy for boring my kids on the long drive from the Richmond River to Sydney.

Today was Millie’s tenth birthday party, and Hallie was kind enough to give her the book “Thirty Days has September – Cool Ways to Remember Stuff” by Chris Stevens. It is a wonderful catalogue of aids to assist in spelling, history, maths and general knowledge.

“You’d better clear a space inside your brain it’s about to fill up with fascinating facts!”

Stevens includes a range of mnemonics including acrostics (mum needs effective methods or nothing is certain), rhymes (in fourteen hundred and ninety two…..), acronoyms (SPA reminds us that the order of Greek philosophers was Socrates, Plato and Arisotle), pithy sayings (always remember you must accommodate two ‘c’s, two ‘m’s, and an ‘o’ after each), and maths tips (if you forget your eight times table, double the number, double again, and double again).

It also includes drawings by Sarah Horne as an aide memoire. Did you know that the countries of central America make a shape like an elephants trunk, and the mnemonic to remember them is My Great Big Elephant Has No Critical Problems. (what a lucky elephant)

I won’t forget the distinction between stalactites and stalagmites. “Imagine what would happen if tiny insects crawled up your aunty’s legs. – The ‘mites go up and the ‘tites come down.”

You beauty. Thanks Hallie.

What are your favourite ways to remember cool stuff?

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They say that all news is local, but some is more local than others.

There were celebrations in Alstonville today with the official opening of the much anticipated Alstonville Bypass – after a 40 year wait and a 40 million dollar spend.


Will checks the sunset over the new bypass.

Alstonville is was on the Bruxner Highway, at the midpoint between Lismore and Ballina. This meant that up to 15,000 cars, trucks and Double-bs had to negotiate the iconic Giant Walking Frame and the narrow main street each day.


Ballina may have its big prawn……

The need for a bypass was recognized in the 1970s – the route was determined and the land set aside. Every state and federal election since, each side has promised that the Alstonville bypass would be funded. Must have been a non-core promise.

Eventually, the Bypass Action Group, lead by Bob ‘Mahatama’ Wilson, organized a campaign of civil disobedience. During morning peak hour, a flotilla of our more mobile residents marched back and forth across the crossing in Main St, accompanied by their respective walking sticks, wheely walkers or forearm support frames. Havoc prevailed for through traffic. You can image how delighted the Lembke children were to be included in the photo of the event published in the Northern Star.


Civil Disobedience – Alstonville takes a stand

The pressure was too much, and after her election in Kevin 07, new member Janelle Saffin secured the requisite funding, to her very great credit.

And today the town celebrates the first day of being bypassed. It’s a bit quiet without all that compression braking.


What I Learnt On 27th May in other years

27th May 2012 SpotifySpotify
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