Go the NRL’s #StateOfOrigin #apps

I’m a pretty jaded observer of our nation’s footy codes. Since high school – the last time I counted myself as a fan – I have seen very little in NRL or AFL that has inspired me.

Frankly, most of it just makes me cringe.

But the NRL’s forward-thinking in building and releasing paid iPhone apps in time for the annual State of Origin series is a very savvy move.

More below…

—-

The apps appear pretty simple (stats and bio content), running costs would be low (mainly serving videos) and the audience demographic is wide-ranging.

Plus, they get a free national platform in Games 1 & 2 to promote the hell out of them.

I imagine they had both apps made for less than $40,000 total and they could expect over 80,000 downloads. At $1.19 each, that’s about $50,000 profit and greater audience engagement in a part of NRL jaded fans like me used to love.

Check out the application:

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/nsw-blues/id436086858?mt=8

Cheers, Luke

Oprah’s finale suggest she’s bigger than Jesus

Pictures from Oprah’s Transfiguration – well, it sure looks like she’s bidding farewell to our dear planet.

Seriously, let’s remember. This is simply the final week of a TV show.

Yes, Oprah is a juggernaut of hype and elongated syllables but on a basic level, she is just a successful talk-show host.

I can’t help but compare her to Jesus. Well, at least evangelist Billy Graham – a man who attracted stadium size audiences in Australia fifty years ago.

I could run with that analogy further but isn’t it more enjoyable to poke fun and hold a pop-quiz with twitpics I found??

Just tell me this doesn’t look like HillSong but with more celebrities…

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This is
a) The line up outside the Chicago Stadium
b) An unemployment queue
c) All of the above

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This is
a) product placement
b) because your love for Oprah will make you cry she is having a career change
c) Hugh Jackman’s seat

scaled.php?tn=0&server=620&filename=mdsft.jpg&xsize=640&ysize=640
This is
a) a superstar embracing an icon
b) the biggest surprise of the night
c) the scariest open-mouth kiss ever

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This is
a) Oprah hugging Jerry Seinfeld!
b) Oprah thinking she’s hugging Nick Cage
c) Jerry eyeing the exits

300706580.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJF3XCCKACR3QDMOA&Expires=1305689664&Signature=VC2HXQWR35LDISgjcJBQ0SDlUB0%3D

This is
a) An evangelistic event
b) A rock concert
c) A lot of people hoping to get something expensive for free.

‘Nicole Santos’ virus destroys Facebook and news media missed it

What is going on?
I have just switched on after a night of poor baking experiences and a virus going by the name of Nicole Santos is ‘spreading like wildfire‘ across Facebook yet no major news organisations have noticed a thing.

SMH – nothing
news.com.au – nothing
dailytelegraph.com.au – nothing

Facebook itself has nothing to say…
http://www.facebook.com/press.php
http://www.twitter.com/facebook

Hell, even Mashable.com has no sign of it.

So what are we to make of a clever scam that purports to be a ‘Verify Your Account’ link but then spreads gunk on all your friends’ walls.

Looks to me like the second bad news story on Facebook security in two days.

The first was uncovered by Symantec – which always has me suspicious, who else stands ot gain from such revelations except a virus solutions company? – But this attacks seems worse for three reasons;

1) It’s out in the open – today’s story was largely undiscovered.
2) It’s spread through the actions of unwitting users, not due to Facebook’s low restrictions on developers
3) It’s simply spam which reduces the value and integrity of Facebook as a service, not just of it’s privacy policy

But still, where are all the newsmedia covering what looks like the biggest virus to spread across the word’s largest social network?

These companies gladly publish banal stories about every Facebook tweak and celebrity post or record-breaking nonsense group (e.g. Fans of Pippa Middleton’s arse).

At this time, the US is just waking up and Australia is going to sleep. Yet judging by my twitter feed, a whole lot of people are still awake.

There’s a growing gulf here that only Twitter seems able to address. God love it.

The Chaser PR team is still chasing their royal glory

If your program gets pulled off air by the Queen of England, it’s a good chance for more comedic revelry – the kind HRH was probably trying to halt.

But isn’t all this getting a little out of control?

ABC director of television Kim Dalton talks to @smh_news about the @Clarencehouse #royalwedding Chaser ban. Audio: http://bit.ly/hzvOO4
http://twitter.com/michaelidato/statuses/63237114652921856

@abcmarkscott: Julian Morrow explains how The Chaser wedding coverage came not to be. http://bit.ly/gew50W
http://twitter.com/abcmarkscott/statuses/63180844474441729

@abcqanda: Chaser @craigreucassel will join the panel for #qanda #royalwedding special – doco & debate Thu 8.30-10.30pm ABC1
http://twitter.com/abcqanda/statuses/63154025373249537

Oh please make it stop…

Chaser #royalwedding ban latest: @clarencehouse talks to @smh_news, BBC responds, ABC "disapppointed". http://bit.ly/hdSVC7
http://twitter.com/michaelidato/statuses/63248933329190912

Michael Tunn (remember him!) spells out how a nothing story is going nowhere…

Chaser story getting no international traction.
http://twitter.com/RealMichaelTunn/statuses/63244613351251968

Oh wait, the ABC’s serious news programme Lateline is now interviewing Chas. The hashtag below says it all..

#lateline has @ChasLicc on… #endoftimes
http://twitter.com/iBleeter/statuses/63223594519498752

A school motto for mediocrity

School mottos can say a lot about a school. Or particularly little.

Take one school’s disappointing effort below…
20110416-010819.jpg

GO FORWARD.

Well, thanks for clearing that up. Your well-respected school will send children into the world – or Ashfield Boys High, as the case may be – with one clear direction and, the motto suggests, little else.

As a chance to define the values of a school, a motto gives a school’s stakeholders a platform to express their goals, to market their vision to the community and to stand up for what they believe in.

Moreover, there is a heightened need these days for schools to spell out their intentions and worldview thanks to the ongoing values debate occurring in New South Wales.

The debate draws on the division between ‘secular’ or state schools and ‘religious’ or church schools.

What are your values? Where do they come from, what are they worth to you and how do you live them out?

In this debate, words get bandied about with little explanation like INCLUSION, EQUALITY, FAIRNESS…

(Someone I know who teaches scripture at a Sydney public school was glad to learn that despite the inclusion of ethics classes in that primary school, the size of the scripture classes had in fact grown substantially in 2011. So despite all parents now having a clear choice – albeit a confusing one as ethics is by no means an alternative to spiritual belief in your life or mine – more had chosen to send their children to Scripture than the previous year.)

Could this all be advertising’s fault? Perhaps we are not far from seeing a single, vague word being used to express an entire institution’s reason for existence. I grew up attending Winmalee High whose pitiful motto was

STRIVE TO ACHIEVE

Strive to Achieve – I used to enjoy removing some letters from people’s jumpers so it would read Strive to chive.

Maybe in future it could be reduced, officially, to simply STRIVE.

To me, meaningless mottos evoke the superficial side of corporate life where meaningless words have been sprayed across corporate centres since the mid-nineties. I have worked in business parks where billboards, reception desks and cubicle dividers scream terms like ——- INSPIRE —— DRIVE ——- SYNERGY ——– terms that are all useless on their own and read like you found the notes someone jotted down at a motivational seminar.

I am certain Summer Hill Public School would have more to say if I was a parent speaking to the principal, but I am not, I am a borderline Gen-Y passer-by weighing up my local schools based on my first impressions.

I guess I should be happy it didn’t say MOVING FORWARD.

Last night in Paris. I leave astonished.

This is the fifth night in Paris for me and my wife, our 10-month-old and our three-year-old and none of us want to leave.

I just walked to the Pompidou area – an urban, edgy area surrounding the audacious contemporary art museum, Centre Pompidou – and I found it still full of life at 10.30pm. That may not seem odd but keep in mind it is a Monday.

The crowd hanging out in the wide pedestrian plazas was a mix of students, the homeless and adults acting younger than they are. It was all very refreshing and tells me that I have missed out on much before I have even boarded a plane out of here.

The city’s architecture is astonishing. The town planning is a marvel. The cohesion of the population – a truly diverse multitude – makes me feel warm inside, and the art gracing every green space adds a richness to French life that residents appear unable to respond to except with public snogging matches.

I love it all.

Today we visited a compulsory cliche, the Eiffel Tower. It was twilight with a cool breeze starting to bite, the kids were over it (the three-year-old didn’t notice the 300m structure until we were literally under it) yet all that and the throngs of immigrant salesmen bothering us to buy hideous trinkets didn’t diminish the tower’s grand gesture to stay fixed on it throughout the sunset. I had no expectations of the tower and had barely seen it poking up across the city all week, but when we arrived, I found it reached well beyond all the postcard artlessness. I found it majestic.

All week we have been surprised by the French.

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Rollerblading is still cool here and many people are very good at it. A pack of the skaters seem to own the square across from the Louvre, one of the world’s most famous art galleries. Our apartment lies at a corner of the square and the ballet of the skaters performing each afternoon (they start about 1pm, does anyone here work?) is pretty mesmerising. It’s great to watch and not just for the tricks. Locals and tourists all stop. It’s a free show. No one says that about skateboarders in Martin Place. And the cops regularly move them on anyhow.  Here, the police, or ‘gendarmerie’, are more likely to applaud.

From our window yesterday I watched a street washer get into a shouting match with a high-class couple whose shoes he had obviously hosed. They yelled complaints, he yelled back louder no doubt something about having a job to do before they trotted off to tell two policemen nearby. The policemen clearly made them feel better as they left the short chat looking pleased. The police then headed down toward the street washer but passed him by without a word. Huh! I thought. That’s how this city gets along so well. Chilling out is not just encouraged, nor is it a pastime, it is enforced.

Many shops and galleries shut at midday to reopen at 2pm. The parks are everywhere and they are full, all day. And there are free chairs for all. They are quality metal chairs and they are everywhere, provided by the state – gratuit.

Two fire trucks pulled up outside our building last Friday. One had a ladder so it all appeared quite serious. We, on the second floor began gathering our things. A gaggle of young female models at a modelling agency downstairs did no such thing. As firefighters unraveled hoses and strode importantly to and from the fire escape, the agency’s photographer set up on the footpath of the downstairs cafe and resumed his photo shoot.

We now had cafe staff, pedestrians, gawkers, models and a photographer all hindering the firefighters from potentially saving our lives. Did anyone care? Noh. Did the firefighters even complain? Noh.

WE NEED OUR OWN FRENCH REVOLUTION

Why can’t the whole world be as relaxed? Why aren’t we all happy enough to let kids ride in the train  driver’s compartment, to eat three-cheese baguettes for brekky, to pash extravagantly on a park bench or stay out late on a Monday without fear of being moved on. If you’re in Paris, you can, and it’s not like you even have work in the morning.

Strange UK shop names

I have noticed a few surprising name choices among UK retailers…

There was more than this but I couldn’t always snap a pic quick enough as we ran to or from the Tube…

Unsure what kind of t-shirt slogans I may be wearing if I bought from here. Let’s put it down to Engrish.

This is a chain not unlike Just Jeans, which, on second thought, is not a very accurate name either.

Why not just name the shop ‘Poor choice’.

Larger cars are not the future

Lately, when various people have mentioned to me they are considering buying a new car, two things are apparent;

1) Kids have prompted the decision

2) The default choice is a four-wheel drive

(aka SUV – Special Utility Vehicle)

Now, I won’t deny the first item on the list.

But I am afraid the second point must be addressed. (And I will attempt to do it with all the civility I can muster.)

This should be fun.

But first, here are a few reasons i think we should ignore the boom in SUVs and keep cars small.

  1. Economical
    Smaller = cheaper to run, cheaper to produce and cheaper to maintain. You need the money.
  2. Environmental
    The world needs us to consume less. No surprise there. And this is potentially the biggest purchase you will make – in regard to carbon – so why not make it with the world in mind. Generally speaking, larger cars are heavier and require larger engines demanding more fossil fuels and expelling more climate changing gases. (With some rate exceptions like a Lexus Hybrid 4WD) They demand more resources to produce and represent greater waste when they are eventually disposed of. They require larger tyres to support the weight that is, at the same time, doing more damage to roads than a lighter vehicle. Lose-lose.
  3. Safety
    Larger cars and taller cars, especially, are a threat to all motorists in lower cars who receive reduced visibility on the road when a SUV pulls along side or is parked on a corner where you intend to pull out. Due to the reduced rear visibility, there is the obvious threat to small children that news reports continue to remind us of. Reports that they roll over more often than sedans were exaggerated. I do think the invincibility some drivers of large vehicles feel could influence their driving.

    A child has to be about 12yo or 1.5m tall before you can see them from inside an Audi Q7.

  4. Space
    Ever tried to see past an SUV in your lane? Or a car park? More smaller cars mean more parking spots on every street. Yes! And when street amenity is preserved, suburban clutter is not made worse by larger cars eating up the already pitiful open space in urban areas.

If you are single and/or kidless, why drive anything larger than a vehicle that can get up hills and won’t disintegrate at freeway speeds? This, to me, is the sweet spot for a small car. See Corollas, Hyundai i20s or VW Golfs. Two doors can be awkward so thankfully even the compact Honda Jazz comes with the option of five doors.

(MY) ONE CHILD POLICY

If you have one or two children, how does the equation really change? More than one seat per child is superfluous.

Unless, that is, we are to follow the same societal pressure that declares kids need their own bedroom.

Let’s face it, in cars, you can’t get away from people altogether, so everyone has to get along (if nothing else it’s good practice for CityRail. And besides, children are now in car seats until the age of seven.

(Kids will fight over space regardless. As my siblings will attest, I was the one most likely to lash out when someone’s leg touched mine.)

TWO KIDS

Two kids often means a bunch of attendant belongings and – if you like Fisher Paykel’s products – possibly a bunch of sizable, moving, musical apparatus. For me, this is not enough reason to buy a larger car. Leave the third and fourth toy at home! Play eye-spy – It’s one of those ye olde games without a screen but the kids will be thrilled to learn it is in 3D.

THREE KIDS

Got three kids? When did a family car stop doing that job? They’ve certainly got bigger – compare the 1980 Commodore with today’s Commodore. Didn’t we all grow up in a sedan or station wagon that survived ok until the oldest kid could drive or started pashing someone with a car?

There’s much to be said for packing smarter not larger.

Speaking for myself, if we have three kids, we’re sticking with our Mazda 3. And you can hold me to that.

It fits three child seats across the back and it has a good size boot but if we were going away for a week, it can take a pod on top or we’ll attach a borrowed trailer to the towbar.

You don’t know the satisfaction it brings a man to be pulling a trailer.

Now I know why men love driving around with one and reversing it unnecessarily into tight spaces.

There’s also much pride in delivering the perfectly packed boot.

However, the car companies clearly want to get us into larger cars and are eager to push even families with two or three children into SUV territory. Look at the reduction in the number of station wagons available (gone are the Falcon and the trusty Magna which I enjoyed for a while). Commodores stopped for two years but ‘due to popular demand’ it has returned.

That said, the Mazda 6 station wagon is a goer and Mondeo has a European-designed number worth a look. The boot on these cars is bigger than any you will get in an SUV.

FOUR KIDS+

If you have four kids, I get it, a sedan or station wagon won’t cope.

Of course, you could also get a people mover. It’s not like you are going four-wheel-driving and most have more boot and seat space than an SUV.

There are still the issues of visibility but less environmental concerns as they don’t weigh nearly as much.

Here’s a comparison that shows a popular SUV is 600kg heavier than a similar-sized people mover with more seats:

Toyota Kluger (7-seater)

Height………. 1730mm

Length………4785mm

Weight……… 2720kg

Kia Carnival (8-seater)

Height……… 1760mm

Length………5130mm

Weight………2117kg

Here’s an idea – let’s bring back the Tarago! Why did people stop buying Taragos? Was it due to the naff factor that it makes you look like a soccer mum and a SUV is beefy and therefore you drive around with more purpose than a simple ferry service?

Lastly, I think the choice to buy a large vehicle thinks less about all drivers than it does about just yourself. When I have asked three people why they like driving in an SUV, they say ‘because you are higher’. Higher somehow equates to safer, in people’s minds. Greater visibility? Well, only until the person beside you decides to get one too because they can’t see anything anymore.

And here’s how that feels from a small car:

I took this photo while trying to pull out onto the Princes Hwy, Hurstville, Sydney. Thanks for risking my life, Mr Pajero, so you could feel safer.

So the future will look different one way or the other.

We either all get a larger, higher car – please no – or, as is now looking more likely, a carbon tax is brought in that will at some point add a premium to larger cars and reigns in these vehicles unless their efficiency rockets up in coming years.

Following is a list of 7+ seaters currently available, showing there are many options in both SUVs and people movers, and hopefully some you are not aware of.

SUVs
Audi Q7
BMW X5
Dodge JC Journey
Ford Territory
Holden Captiva
Hyundai Santa Fe
Jeep Commander
Kia Sorento, Rondo
Land Rover Discovery 3
Mazda CX7, CX9
Mercedes GL Class, R Class
Mitsubishi Challenger, Outlander, Pajero
Nissan Dualis 2, Pathfinder, Patrol
Peugeot 308 Touring, 4007
Ssangyong Rexton, Stavic
Subaru Tribeca
Toyota Kluger, Landcruiser 200, Prado
Volvo XC90
People Movers
Chrysler Voyager
Citroen C4 Picasso
Honda Odyssey
Hyundai iMax – Flash
Kia Carnival
Mitsubishi Grandis
Renault Grand Scenic
Toyota Avensis, Tarago
Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life, Caravelle, Multi Van

Source: familycar.com.au

Related reading:

Ten small cars you can live with — an About.com Cars Top Ten http://bit.ly/hrOf7e

Fords Small Car Problem A European Perspective – Motor Trend Blog http://bit.ly/ijgzeb

Drive.com.au blog: Are luxury small cars a rip off? http://bit.ly/i1IIJT

Why was I not told about Battle Hamsters?

Kids toys have always been best when inspired by LSD or scary animals or both.

Think about it – Voltron, Hungry,Hungry Hippos, Mouse Trap, The Game of Life  (They were Catholics weren’t they, those reproducing pegs?)

And today I discovered what rodent-related joy the kids of today are being delivered.

Battle Hamsters!

The limited edition Ninja Hamster range - with armour on, obviously

It gave me one of those moments where I wished my nine-month-old was seven and I could get into kids toys all over again.

It’s some kind of bizarro Japanese-made pet that doesn’t need feeding but does attack at will. Looks like you put them in a ring – Imagine the ad voiceover: “Just like a cock-fight kids!” “Aww yeah dad, awesome!” – and you let them go each other, hamster on hamster, to the death. Am I missing anything? Is this not the coolest thing since Ulysses?

Check the video…

Note: These are not to be confused with the less violent and therefore less enjoyable range of Hamsters toys with the names;

NumNums

Num Nums indeed

I was glad to learn these kids can still be tricked out.

Just add Zhu Zhu Rockstar punk hair implants!

rockstar hamster hair

Make me a kid again now

me tweeting

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