I don't take selfies with famous people

Last weekend I was at Vidcon, a YouTube and online video convention. Almost 10,000 people descended upon the Melbourne Convention Centre to meet their favourite Youtubers and be a part of this community.

I got to meet several high profile creators, all of which you can see on my vlog. You'll notice with a few of them the video cuts a bit dramatically, that's because I switched the camera off and had a conversation. 

One of the biggest features of the convention was a meet and greet space, a huge marked off area for lines to meet some of the big names who attended. The lines were massive, all to pose beside somebody for a photo a few hundred other people have got.

I'm not trying to disparage the people who do this. Some of my friends lined up for these meet and greets. Hell, I noticed on Twitter that Nathan Zed was walking around a part of the convention, so I went over to where he was to meet him.

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I didn't ask for a selfie though. I didn't freak out or try to overwhelm him, I went over with my camera recording (it was rolling for most of the convention), I said hi, switched the camera off and had a few words with him. I'll cherish that conversation more than any selfie.

These creators are just people like us, with their own lives, insecurities and everything else that makes us human. These meet and greets create a strange cult of personality around the people at the top of this industry, a whole other issue I'll write about another time.

Despite all this, the first ever Vidcon Australia was a rousing success. I got to meet so many like-minded creators, and even met a few fans of my videos. It's lit a creative fire under me to do more, be more and create more online. Stay tuned for more blog posts and more videos this year!

I accidentally bought a car

I woke up on Wednesday with no intention of buying a car any time in the next 12 months.

36 hours later I was signing the contracts for a new car. So uh, how did I get here, sitting in a beastly new (to me) Toyota Prado?

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My old car, a trusty old Mitsubishi Magna was beginning to show its age. A few costly repair jobs were done on it earlier in the year, and a few more are just around the corner. It wasn't getting any younger - it was 19 years old this July - so I planned on replacing it sometime in 6-12 months.

With lots more snow trips in the future as well as job prospects in regional areas, I wanted a 4-wheel drive. Ideally a Landcruiser, finances permitting.

On Wednesday I was sitting in a very boring class being taught something not related to the assessments in that class, so like everyone else I had tuned out. I started casually browsing carsales.com.au, seeing what a used Landcruiser was worth. 

My heart sank. Most were above $50,000 - a figure uni students only ever see in their HECS debts - so the dream seemed out of reach, until one entry. A 1998 Landcruiser Prado, just as old as my current car. The listing showed low kilometres and barely any use, enough to pique my interest. 

And then I noticed who was selling it - Melbourne City Toyota. Their used car sales manager, Steve Atto, is an old family friend who sold me the Magna all those years ago! What are the odds...  

I show up at the lot the next day to check the car out. Steve and I got reacquainted and then down to business. Hoping they have cars like this show up every now and then, I asked him how often a car this old and in such good condition come through the dealership.

He responded, "Mate, never. We never get these sorts of cars in." 

At that point I knew this car was mine.

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Everything else was just formality. I looked at the car and everything was immaculate, I don't think anyone has driven it this century. We took it for a spin around North Melbourne and it ran beautifully.

Back in Steve's office, he offered a generous discount on the list price and threw in a set of new tyres. He offered to take my old Magna for a paltry sum, a favour to take it off my hands more than anything.  

So with contracts signed and all the paperwork in order, I am the proud owner of a new (to me) Toyota Prado. I'll pick it up Tuesday, almost five years to the day that I got my license.

I'm no superstitious man, but everything seemed to fall into place, to the point where even the rego plate is perfect - SBS 186 - you couldn't get a more auspicious plate for a journo!

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Over the weekend, I'll take the Magna for one last drive. Saying goodbye to my first car has left me feeling sentimental, might make a blog post later in the week about it.

 The old Magna, just before picking it up in 2012

The old Magna, just before picking it up in 2012

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The Big Thing

In order to succeed against fierce competition, one needs to be single minded about what they are doing.

...the commanding general’s mind can be seized. For this reason, in the morning their ch’i is ardent; during the day their ch’i becomes indolent; at dusk, their ch’i is redolent.
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Sun Tzu says you need to be ardent - very enthusiastic or passionate - when starting out. The Big Thing is reflected in a lot of the smaller stuff that I'm working on, in this blog, and everything I am doing right now. You could say I'm ardently pursuing it.

The big thing is launching a journalism career. 

It's a tumultuous time for the industry. Everyone from CEOs to students are scratching their heads trying to figure out where it's headed. Nobody has figured out the future of journalism - if anyone has, they would be billionaires - but that doesn't change the primary goals of journalists. We tell stories to inform the public and make voices heard.

To put things optimistically, more people than ever before are reading the news. More countries have access to independent journalism than ever before. But according to Reuters only 13% of Australians are willing to pay for online news, the only place where media consumption is steadily growing. Where does that leave an industry starved of revenue?

Like everyone else, I have no idea where this industry is headed. We see steep cost cutting, job losses and redundancies at every major news organisation. Despite all this, the need for people to tell the public what's going on will never disappear, society will always need people informing them. They need people to expose corruption and everything else that journalists do.

Oh, and it sure beats any other office job. Why sit in front of a computer staring at spreadsheets when you can get a job driving around asking important people dumb questions?

 January 2017, about to ask Richard Di Natale some dumb questions

January 2017, about to ask Richard Di Natale some dumb questions

The Medium Things

Part of a series on the things I'm doing. For the other two, see the Little things and the Big Things.

Now that we've covered the Little things that are mostly hobbies I do in my spare time, let's look at the Medium Things, all the stuff that takes a sizeable amount of time and attention in my life.

YouTube

I was at a party with a bunch of Youtubers the other week and the dreaded question came up: what do you do on Youtube? I struggled to find an answer, because there really isn't one!

I've been making videos on Youtube on and off since 2009, a time when Ray William Johnson was the most popular Youtuber [shudders] and HD content was a real novelty. In the last year I've pushed myself to make more videos with mixed results. I started making daily videos in March, but that was cut short by a surprise internship opportunity at the ABC. Weekly videos have failed to materialise and I really struggle to find time to produce a whole video from scratch. Despite this, I've still managed to put together more than 40 videos so far this year. 

There's no clear genre or style that my videos fit into, but the sorts of videos that I have produced this year fall into three main categories: discussion of ideas, book reviews and news items. Watch this space, some exciting videos will be coming out in the next month or two.

This blog

This is the newest project I'm working on right now, but it has quickly become a big part of where I spend my time. I've been meaning to branch into writing for some time, but never really got enough momentum behind any public project to keep it running for more than a week.

Just like YouTube, I still haven't quite figured out what I want to do in this space, so I'm going to throw all kinds of stuff at the wall and see what sticks. The current categories - news roundups, book reviews and personal experience - are a good indicator of where this thing is headed. Basically these are the same as my YouTube videos, without all the production hassle.

Church

I've been going to church for about 10 years now, but it's something I don't really talk about on the internet. There's so much animosity toward organised religion on here that it makes me hesitate to even mention it. 

It is, however, a big part of my life. Church has been an anchor of sorts in a life that has profoundly changed as I figure out what I'm doing both professionally and personally. I still haven't figured everything out in my life, but one thing's for sure, I can count on this part of what I do never changing. 

Work

When I was meeting someone for the first time, they asked me the question, "what do you do that enables your lifestyle?" That's the best way to sum up nearly every job in university, and mine is no exception.  I work in a business that combines a newsagency and post office under one roof, a mix that works strangely well. The people I work with are wonderful, my boss is the best person you could ever work for and the workload is pretty light. I get to read anything that's on the shelves - a seriously great perk for a journalism student - and I get paid to talk to people every day. This is the unicorn of uni student jobs, with decent hours and wages, great perks, and and amazing boss.

It's not all sunshine and happiness, Australia Post's delivery drivers cause enough headaches for us that I could write a whole blog post about it (and just might in the future). We get angry customers, entitled customers, smelly customers, all kinds of people you'd hear about on r/TalesFromRetail.

But at the end of the day it's all worth it, because the break room has a free espresso machine. 

Interning

A compulsory part of my journalism course is at least one internship in a newsroom of some sort. I have mentioned these internships before, even writing about my experiences on the job.

I have been fortunate enough to intern at two major news networks, ABC and Channel Seven. Even though the placements were about five weeks each and only a few days per week, if you're approaching them properly the workload is like a real job. There's a lot of stress, long hours, wide ranging tasks and everything else that a real job entails.

It's a big undertaking and one that is immensely rewarding. Working alongside veteran reporters and producers has taught me so many things that can't be taught in a classroom and provided me with rich experiences and valuable contacts. Oh, and did I mention how fun they are, riding around with camera crews all day and making the news?

As of this blog post I am the only person in my class to have completed two internships this year. While there might be another internship on the horizon soon, but there's no way I'll break the record number of internships that one student did a few years ago - six in one year.

The Little Things

A YouTuber I watch did a series where he talked about all the things he was doing by separating it all into little, medium and big things. When I looked at this website the other day, I realised the entire about me section was blank. What was I thinking when making this website? There's no better way to kick off this blog than to tall you a bit about myself. Here's what I'm up to at the moment, starting with the Little Things.

Photography

With everything else going on in my life, photography has taken a back seat this year. I dabbled in event photography for a few years with some success, but the intensity of my studies and internships  has relegated this side hustle to the Little Things. I still take photos though, and if you need a photographer for your next event, or anything else really, just hit me up (shameless plug).

Dungeons & Dragons

Some friends got me into D&D about five years ago and we would get together most weeks to play it. That group sort of faded away last year as we moved onto new things, but it hasn't stopped me playing.

A few months ago a buddy of mine started hosting a D&D campaign over Skype from Iceland, where we have people calling in from Singapore, Melbourne and the US. It's sometimes difficult managing all those time zones, but when we do get together, it's such a great time. The challenge, adventure and socialising are a really great mix.

I've never been good at explaining what D&D is to people who aren't familiar with it, but this explains it really well. I might write up the next session on this blog to give you an idea of what it's like too.

 My good old iPhone 4, seen after the tragic accident at a tram stop

My good old iPhone 4, seen after the tragic accident at a tram stop

Phone Repairs

I have broken every phone I've ever owned, except the one I currently use (but that's only a matter of time). When I smashed my iPhone 4 at a tram stop in 2012, I decided to teach myself how to repair it. With a little know how and several hours of patient work I figured it out and won myself a good as new phone.

Over the next two years I offered repair services to anyone who would pay me to fix their phone, eventually branching out into iPads. After phone repair shops started popping up everywhere and slashing their prices I just couldn't compete. Parts suppliers began dropping their standards and that resulted in problems with reliability. Eventually I packed it in, the headaches it caused me obliterated any enjoyment it gave me. 

I still repair the occasional phone for friends and family and enjoy this little hobby so much more now. 

Snowboarding

I've put this in the Little Things category, but I really want to start hitting the slopes more often. I went to Mt Hotham for school camp years ago and loved it. Last year I revisited the snow and getting back on the board was just like riding a bike, though the video I made didn't look that way. 

I'm not very sporty so it's nice to have a physical activity that I enjoy. The ski resorts in Australia aren't much by world standards, but it's pretty good for a country that's 70% desert. Maybe someday I'll snowboard overseas, but for now I'll settle for a three hour drive to Mt Buller.

Reading

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For most of high school I refused to read anything. Call it a rebellion against my intellectual side or something... school wasn't easy growing up a geek in a backwater town. In my first year of uni that began to change, and in the last few years I've developed an insatiable appetite for reading.

I read a ton of books during my gap year in 2016, but with less disposable time on my hands this year reading has been relegated to the Little Things just like photography. Even so, I've been pushing myself to read at least one book each week, a goal I've somehow kept up with among everything else.

 

So that's the little things, all the stuff I use to fill spare time. In the next post I'll go through the Medium Things, all the stuff that are more than just hobbies.