The Groove Armada CD Is No More…

…The future is beginning. If you’re reading this, the chances are you have downloaded music before. The chances are you know all about the battles the recording industry has been fighting with the internet service providers over illegal music downloads. So here’s a novel solution: allow a free music download, but market the crap out of a kind of complementary product at the same time!

In this case the product is Bacardi and the site is called BliveShare. Good on them for being up there amongst the first to try such a thing. The deal is simple: Rather than try and sell you a Groove Armada CD, the record company has agreed to give you their new EP, free (that’s FREE!) with no legal implications, provided you get it from this site and then you share the site with your mates. Sweet.


This is 100% genuine. The downloads come down at 320kbps, which is just about as good as a Groove Armada CD, only FREE!

So Us Westies Now Have A Drop Of Telecom Wireless Broadband…

So it’s been over five months since we flew in to Auckland from Shanghai and have survived on little more than a pathetic dial up connection to remain connected with our family and friends in the UK, keep my websites up to date and do all the simple things we NEED the internet for these days.

The move out to West Aucks has prompted us to go grab a bite of the giant broadband sandwich for ourselves. Telecom were initially a bit unsure as to whether or not our house could sustain the pressure of such an influx of data into the building, but I persuaded them it was just because our phone number was a new one to them. Also, next door has Telecom Wireless Broadband (I know so, cos our computer detected it – aren’t I smart?), so surely we could have it, right?? And so here it is, one seemingly fast connection! So I can work online AND use the phone at the same time again. Sweet.

One thing I do have to remember about New Zealand is the limited data usage on broadband. Ah, to hell with it! Let’s get the rest of my photos uploading…

Our Free ‘EcoMatters Sustainable Home Check’…

Yesterday afternoon, NZ time, a guy came round to our house, asked me a load of questions, complimented our toilets, tried the shower, asked me some more questions, gave us a load of free lightbulbs and then drove off!

Now, I realise that this may sound like an account of a dream I had yesterday afternoon, while slumped out on the cosy lounge suite, but I promise you: it definitely happened!

The visit was down to EcoMatters Environment Trust, a charitable trust based in Waitakere, West Auckland that aims to aid those wanting live a more sustainable lifestyle. We first heard about the offer of a free Sustainable Home Check at the monthly market here in Swanson (coincidently on our first weekend in Swanson, as ‘Westies’!). An project called ‘ Sustainable Ranui – Swanson’ had a stall and introduced us to their ideas and offered us the free visit.

The visit was most impressive. Our advisor began by asking questions about our property, before moving on to questions based on our water and energy usage habits. He then began the practical tests, such as measuring how much water our shower passed in a minute, the temperature of our fridge and freezer, checking our water thermostat setting and our home insulation.

The whole process represented extremely good value for money, seeing as it cost nothing, and to then receive a number of freebies, such as re-usable shopping bags, an water aerator for a tap and some low-energy lightbulbs was extremely useful (haters, take note, these are NOTHING like the original energy saving bulbs. They have been vastly improved since you last ‘used’ them. There is definitely no need to ring up Newstalk ZB when the Prime Minister is on and waste his precious air time with stupid questions like “Are you going to make us all use energy saving lightbulbs?” like one lady recently did!).

The whole process helped slam home to me that New Zealand is definitely a world leader when it comes to environmental and community initiatives. I would urge anybody who qualifies (Waitakere City residents, I believe) for a free home sustainability check to book one in right away. It will cost you nothing and will save you more.

Valentine’s Day – What a Load of Horse Shit, Cattle Crap and Dog’s Dung…

So this Friday 13th will depart and on will come another unfortunate day: St Bloody Valentine’s Day. Great!

It’s that day where we are all told, en masse, to be more romantic to each other. Or get smacked full on in the face! The TV, the radio, newspapers all have their say in it, which is fine and most of it is of good humour and enjoyable. But then, the shops get involved. I mean, they bloody would, wouldn’t they? Even shops that have never had an interest in selling cards want in. You can pick up a so-called ‘Valentine’s gift’ from the fruit and veg market, with a shoe purchase, fish and chips, even a new bathroom order at this time of year can be supplied complete with giant stuffed red heart, ‘cute’ little bunny (and red ribbon to, it seems, strangle the bunny with).

I don’t want to be told when I have to be romantic. Life isn’t scripted out that way. Spending hard earned cash on paper cards printed in China just because everyone else is doing so doesn’t ramp up my quality as a partner. Likewise, paying a February 14th tax on dinner out is equally unappealing. How does my partner feel about this, you ask? Well, she’s fine with it. We’ll still have a great weekend, only we always have great weekends, so we don’t feel the need to put the weekend that happens to fall in the middle of Feb up on a pedestal. Thanks for asking, though.

Of course, if you are a believer of the current world economic downturn (or whatever your local term for it is: general tightness?) then you may wish to go out and spend, spend, spend this weekend. So, by all means, do. Just buy stuff that is useful to you. Swap that $30 box of Belgian chocolates with a carbon footprint the size of a cow for, I dunno, a drill. Yes, you will still be using that jet ski in two weeks time, while the heart-shaped tea bags won’t last that long. The massage oils can go, just a regular can of motor oil will do (for the car, of course). Just be sure to remember: All women like flowers (that is NOT a generalisation, just the truth – some men do too, if the truth be known).

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve got the self-thought and personal intelligence to make this weekend your own. Really, only losers need buy the ‘Perfect Valentine’s In A Bag’ kit and only really very special losers will purchase said kit and then not bother with the instructions. Have a good one!