Sign in/sign up

The people's needs

By David Hague in Media News on
After spending months behind the counter at Jaycar, Australian Videocamera's David Hague thinks he's found a disconnect between Australia's tech media and what people really want. You can grab the latest issue of David's latest edition of Australian Videocamera here.

I thought a lot before writing this article. In reality, I understand it might greatly alienate me from my peers (more than I probably already am anyway), but I think it bears a few points worth telling.

And that is a risk I’ll take.

It needs a few hundred words as a preamble though.

For those that don’t know me, I have been freelance writing tech for newspapers, magazines and websites since 1986 and only went solo with my own magazine, Australian Videocamera, through circumstances I will not go into, since 2007.

From 1994-1995 I worked for Computer Television in Perth as a writer and director of video training, publishing video-based series (on tape) for Microsoft (Office, Windows), Apple (Filemaker) and Autocad.

During the period 1987–1994, I owned and ran a successful Gold Coast-based Windows/Mac software import and distribution company, and prior to that had sales and management roles with PC retailers selling NEC, IBM and Olivetti computers. 

And prior to THAT, for 6 years ran Tandy Electronics stores and Computer Centres, successfully taking stores in Western Australia to the best sales and profit units in Australia multiple times.

So yes, I have been around the block a few times in terms of the tech industry and seen all sorts of developments, technologies, fads and dead ends come and go, flourish and die and be born and become mainstream. 

And had major successes and some, sadly, spectacular failures much to my chagrin.

(For those trying to work out how old this “old fart” is, I’ll save you the trouble. I turned 64 this year.)

Six months ago, I was quite happy trundling along with Australian Videocamera as a bigger-than-part-time thing to keep me off the streets. And I am as they say, passionate about what I do in this area and the industry of it in general.

While not about to let me buy that Lambo and 30-foot cruiser I dream of, it is a reasonable living that allows me to indulge in my pastimes which mostly involve filmmaking anyway, around my hobbies of motorsport, fishing, a bit of travel and dogs and family.

But in August this year, fate stepped in. Not directly in the form of the BeerBug® but as a sideways consequence.

In terms of Australian Videocamera, I had never been busier as the sudden need for streaming, live conferencing and the like had been a bonus for  me (and my major sponsor Blackmagic Design – I have to throw that in. If you are interested in this type of stuff, look specifically at the ATEM Mini) and so I was flat out re-visiting old skills with writing tutorials and reviews.

But an old itch got scratched I was NOT expecting.


Like I suspect many, I was a regular visitor to my local Jaycar store, and via lots of conversations, the staff there knew of my background. It turns out they were short staffed as, as has been well documented, sales of tech “stuff” has boomed over the COVID period, partly due to the sudden need for such kit due to home office needs, and partly because the sudden influx of government cash meant people were buying lots of tech.

In late August this year, the local branch manager asked me if I would like a casual job there working in sales.

So, there is that itch that was suddenly scratched.

A few extra dollars per week in the pocket and a generous staff discount scheme will always make me have a think and the lure of retail which I have always loved sealed the deal.

But here is the rub, I thought this would be for a few hours a week – maybe 10 – and I could keep doing what I was doing whilst having a bit extra pocket money and some fun in the process.

Circumstances out of my control crept in and so this has turned into thrice that amount, but thankfully due to lots of late nights and more I have managed to keep Australian Videocamera on the go without too much issue, and so far everyone – readers, vendors, advertisers etc – are happy. Indeed, reader numbers are actually up over last year by a factor of 3, so I must be doing something right!

So, what the Daffy Duck is all this leading to?

Working in a “tech store” (as against a retailer such as JB Hi-Fi, Hardly Normal, the Good Guys, Retravision or online like Kogan), it is incredibly interesting to see what the public, the very people we as tech journo and reviewers are hoping to talk to, actually think and feel and know about this “tech” stuff.

What do they come in to buy? What questions do they ask? What “stuff” don’t they “get”. And so on.

After 3 months on the floor of arguably, Australia’s major tech chain, I think I have some answers. And I suspect they will surprise you.

In terms of product type, the really BIG thing is 12v. 

Fridges, lighting, solar, specifically for caravans, campers, offroaders and the like. This would amount to probably 30% of all tech sales with solar panels, batteries, charging systems, plugs (Anderson, Deutsch) and USB based stuff taking the lion’s share, along with LED lighting.

Additionally, a huge seller is 12v inverters.

Next is TV connectivity, whereby people want to connect TV and video systems to other TV and video systems in separate rooms, sheds, granny flats etc,  via splitters, boosters and something I did not even know existed, Wi-Fi and Ethernet!

And Bluetooth is HUGE. Primarily fuelled by recent police crackdowns on vehicle mobile phone usage I suspect. Hands-free answering systems are, as they say, HOT.

And people want to connect things to things. All sorts of things, So “raw” plugs and adaptors of all types, shapes, flavours and colours are major line items rung through the till. Probably the largest selling product category is adaptor cables for TV, hi-fi and USB.

In a different area, STEM is very high on young parent’s lists with electronic kits and build-your-own-robots type stuff very popular, as are Arduino and Raspberry Pi beginner’s kits and add ons.

I must not forget security. This seems to be a forgotten part of mainstream tech, but trust me, the general public are VERY aware of their own personal and home-based security these days, especially Wi-Fi-based and with connectivity back to Android/iOS for monitoring. A standard system is a 6 camera IP based setup.

I have no intention of this being an advert for my part-time employer. I just find it interesting that a large part of the population – and this appears to be those over 40 by the way – is not that interested in how their smart TV works (because they do not know what it can actually do in reality), how the latest Android OS will affect their lives, what advantages (if any) upgrading to 5G will give them, or many of the other whizzbang things that seem to permeate the mainstream press and guised as “tech” for the masses will affect them.

And having thought about this long and hard, and asking many questions, it seems that is because the mainstream press in the tech area seems to tell readers what stuff IS and not what it can DO for them in the real world.

In other words, there is a lack of education in the usage of tech, whilst there is a plethora of what tech is available.

There are a few journos I know have attempted to go this extra mile – Nick Ross (especially with the NBN), Adam Turner, Alex Kidman, Leigh Stark and Anthony Caruana spring to mind.

But – and here is where I risk becoming a pariah – so many reviewers tell us what it is, how clever it is, what the tech consists of etc – but not how it can be used, help the user and so on.

My daily reality is with real people, on the floor with real problems with tech as they simply do not know what they can DO with it!

How can I digitize my old videotapes, how can I add 12v lighting to my caravan, how do I add solar panels to my camper, how do I watch the footy grand final in my shed when my Foxtel box is in the loungeroom, how do I extend my Wi-Fi, how do I get my music from CDs to my phone and then play it in the car.

And more. 

I have worked out online banking via my phone but I know I can do lots of other stuff via my smartphone; I just don’t know how? Or even where to start!

How do I save my photos/videos of my grandkids from my phone so I can see them on the TV? Can I set up a security system so I can see who is at the farm gate? Can I install a solar-based system so I can turn my sprinklers on and off in the glasshouse to water the vegetables? Can I check the pump in the paddock 500 metres away so the cows have water?

Real-world tech needs.

If you look daily at Epitome as I do and have done so for more years than I care to remember, then very rarely is this stuff even mentioned.

So, I suggest, ask yourself? Are you writing for the real world or some microcosm you are a part of? If that is so, are you then doing justice to your skills as a journo to the greater world and advising?

Or as a great mentor to many people in this industry, Ian Yates, said many years ago, simply reviewing products?


Membership privileges

  • Read and comment an all stories
  • Weekly digest of media and PR news (optional)
  • Post media releases to PRWire newswire
  • Advertise job vacancies
  • List your business in our PR directory

Please note that Influencing is used EXCLUSIVELY by media and influencers, as well as professionals who manage marketing and communications within their organisations, so we need a work email address.

More Media News

Costello exits Triple M Melbourne

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

Seb Costello has called time on his run at Triple M Melbourne’s breakfast show.

He stated that today’s last episode with Eddie McGuire and Luke Darcy would also be his farewell to the show, and he will focus his work on A Current Affair. 

Costello had been involved with Triple M for most of the past five years.

“It seems the right time to finish up with Eddie and Darce, who have both been amazing supporters. I’m so proud of the way we’ve brought a hard-news edge to FM Breakfast. But the Hot Breakfast Family - the audience - have been the stars and I will miss them dearly,” he said in a Radioinfo interview.

Clairs signs off

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

Dean “Clairsy” Clairs is ready to end his time at MIX 94.5 Perth.

He announced in today’s episode of the breakfast show that he had tendered his notice, effective 11 December, to spend more time with his family. 

Clairs has been with Southern Cross Austereo for 30 years, with 20 logged at MIX 94.5. He had been on the breakfast show with Matt Dyktynski and Kymba Cahill since March 2016.

“Very few people in our industry or across the media industry get to do that. The fact that you get to say, ‘I'm done, I'm out,’” said Dyktynski of Clairs’ tenure.

Print IT! Late November 2020

By Seamus Byrne in Media News on
The summer break looms in magazine land, but there's still time for a few more issues to hit stands. This week it's TechLife and Choice Computer. Let's see what's inside.
TechLife is closing out the year with the latest edition, with David Hollingworth thanking readers in the editorial for helping keep the mag pointed in the right direction.
In cover content we get a 'Superguide' to iOS 14 and all the new features you'll find inside. And while there's a lot of that new phone feeling here for iPhone users, TechLife has Android covered too with a nice feature on how to customise Android to give your phone a big makeover.
There's reviews galore from the local contributor team, from Sharmishta Sarkar tackling a number of wearables including the Fitbit Versa 3 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (which gets an Editor's Choice). Joel Burgess rounds up some amazing and weird AI and VR tech (and reviews other hardware too)

Kim Bauer to exit 2HD

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

Kim Bauer is finishing her stint at 2HD in Newcastle. 

Radioinfo reported that she would make her last airing on her breakfast show with Richard King on 27 November to return to her family in WA.

Bauer is one of Newcastle’s enduring voices, having been in the community for almost 35 years. She first joined in 1979 as announcer and music director for 2NX (now HIT 106.9) and worked on NEWFM’s licence application. 

She would work in NEWFM from 1991 to 1999 and from 2012 to 2017, with a co-hosting at NXFM breakfast in between.

Carrie and Tommy takes on full Hit Network Drive gig

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

The Hit Network is tapping the duo of Carrie Bickmore and Tommy Little for the full national Drive show.

Southern Cross Austereo said Hughesy and Ed’s departure for 2DAY FM in Sydney left Hit without programs in the 5PM-7PM block. As such, Carrie and Tommy’s 3PM-5PM show will instead finish at 6PM, with highlights from The Morning Crew airing from 6PM to 7PM.

Despite Carrie and Tommy’s new assignment, Ten confirmed that the duo’s commitments on The Project will continue in 2021. 

“We are thrilled Carrie and Tommy are our national drive show for 2021. When you listen to Carrie and Tommy the most obvious and appealing thing is their genuine affection for each other. They are friends who enjoy opening up their mics to deliver a show that is full of life and charm, with just the right amount of provoking each other for the entertainment of others,” said HIT Network chief Gemma Fordham.

“We know our audience love the show and want more, the

Nick Cody joins FOX FM Breakfast

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

Comedian Nick Cody is co-hosting the FOX FM Fifi, Fev and Byron Breakfast show in Melbourne.

Show co-host Byron Cooke said Cody will replace him when he steps down from the show on 27 November after five years on the team. He will spend more time with his family and run his podcast.

Cody is heading down from Brisbane, having left Triple M Brisbane’s breakfast show. 

“I’m so pumped to be joining Fifi and Fev in 2021. Fifi is an absolute legend and let’s be honest, there is only one bloke that can keep up with one of the best full forwards of all time and that is me – 1999’s Werribee Under 12’s 3rd best and faires,” said Cody.

“It’s insane that they’ve let a kid from Hoppers Crossing join the breakfast show on the biggest radio station in the country. 2020 was a hectic year for Melburnians but we are on our way back to the life we love.”

Sun to rise in North Sydney

By Phil Sim in Media News on
North Sydney will have a local newspaper again, with publisher Grahame Lynch revealing the impending launch of the North Sydney Sun. 
Lynch’s Decisive Publishing is well known within the Australian communications sector, where daily newsletter CommsDay, is a must-read for telco and Internet providers. As such, the launch of a suburban newspaper might seem an unlikely diversion.
However, Lynch believes the fact that so many Australian telecommunications companies have their national or state headquarters in North Sydney means there is a “surprising amount of synergy”.
Indeed, that business angle will be a core part of the paper’s identity. Lynch points to the fact that City-based business journals are common in the US, but less so in Australia, and certainly there was no outlet presently targeting the North Sydney business community.
Lynch will also be seeking to fill the gap for local community news. While the Mosman Daily/N

Media news latest

Costello exits Triple M Melbourne
Seb Costello is moving on from Triple M Melbourne Breakfast.

Clairs signs off
Dean Clairs packs up at MIX 94.5.

Kim Bauer to exit 2HD
2HD’s Kim Bauer is saying goodbye.

Marcoms news latest

ACTIV Brand Management earns new The Block project
ACTIV Brand Management and The Block have some treats ready.

VMLY and R Melbourne works on Earth Funerals
VMLY&R Melbourne is on the case of Earth Funerals.

New staff in at The PR Hub
The PR Hub has new staff members in the fold.