Product recommendation- Apple News+

Can you want something that you don’t want?

Here is my dilemma, I’ve trialled Apple News+, and although the concept is great! I.e. access to hundreds of magazines and newspapers all in one place, but who really has the time to consume all of this content?

The value proposition is there, $14.99 per month to have access to all of these magazines from the US, Canada, UK and Australia- titles which could easily cost upwards of $7.95 each! But you have access to all of them, in the palm of your hand, in an environmentally friendly package!

But have you ever felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content that you have? I suspect you’ve felt this way if you subscribe to too many podcasts. You know that feeling of anxiety, when you see the list of unlistened content piling up. And now I’m having the same issue with Apple News+, and it hasn’t even been a month yet!

The first thing after securing News+, was that I went into the list of all the magazine titles, and subscribed to everything which caught my interest (from cooking to cars). But less than a month on, I already have this month’s unread title sitting there (July), and now August’s issue has also made its way onto my unread list. Now I have double the amount of content to work through, we’re talking about upwards of 15 titles. Yikes!

I attempted to read one magazine cover to cover…… still haven’t quite got there yet. And meanwhile I’ve lost my spot. Boo! But here are the 4 reasons why I’m going to maintain News+ beyond the trial period.


I’ve already mentioned how it’s value+ even for just one user, but with family sharing and the ability to share with up to 6 people in your family! That’s value++. If you divided that cost up, that’s $3 per person per month!


Yes, it’s super easy to access, as titles automatically download to your device each month after you’ve subscribed to it. But it’s also blind accessible! Previously there were no means for me to get my hands on periodic print material like magazines, but because my phone talks, and the format of the magazines are in accessible text so my phone reads out the articles to me! All of a sudden, a whole new world is opened up to me! That in itself is priceless! Hey?

One day, one of these days I’m……

Yeah, one of these days I’m going to find myself lost for something to do, perhaps in-between audio books? Perhaps with a spare 20 minutes to burn? And what better, than to read a short article to pass the time? One of these days, it’s going to happen!

It’s just such a darn good product

I’m not exaggerating here, but it really is a great product! Depending on the magazine title, but it may be a proper digital magazine which is interactive (opposed to just a PDF file); the magazine articles are presented as an individual block, thus you can sit back and allow your screen reader to read the article from start to finish, without the need to turn each page, while the reader doesn’t just read and read either, blending together two articles which could be confusing and annoying; all of the print content is in there, including adverts and images so it’s just as good as the real thing; you can share an article with friends (haven’t tried, but the option is there); and to date I haven’t mentioned much about the available newspapers, or the fact that you’ll no longer hit pay-walls on normal Apple News! There’s really so much value for $14.99 per month.

Although I’m going to keep it, however is anyone using it? The main reason why I got News+ in the first place, was for my mum. My idea for her birthday was to buy her an iPad, loaded with magazines that she might be interested in (I think we subscribed to 20 cooking/lifestyle titles on her behalf). But when I checked in with her, she told me that she had tried flipping through one magazine, but found it unnatural. I guess mum is more used to a physical magazine, and being able to flip through quickly and only stopping when something caught her eye. So that’s one family member not using it.

My sister said she preferred to use Google news, preferring to put up with pay-walls than to change news providers.

My wife just doesn’t have the time, and just prefers reading news which friends share on Facebook.

And my dad who I thought would be the biggest fan of News+, he too preferred what he already has (has subscription to Sydney Morning Herald), which he says there is already enough content there to keep him occupied.

So here is my dilemma, I want to keep a product and keep paying for it although it seems that no one wants it! Maybe it’s a reflection of our changing times? People prefer content in small digestible bite sized pieces; people only want what they’re interested in (not spoon fed a 70+ page document); and perhaps people rather watch something than read something (my mum loves Disney Plus, which we also downloaded to her iPad).

The value is definitely there, now it just requires an audience who has the time and patience to read. But if you want to learn more about Apple News+, click HERE! It might be just what you’re looking for! But for now, Apple you can keep having my money, God knows how much you’ve already taken from me.

Product recommendation- Bass guitars

Oh, Covid lock-down blues……

Ok, this isn’t exactly a product recommendation, because I don’t have a product to recommend to you just yet……. But I’m putting forward an idea, a concept, a spark to stimulate your own thinking? It just might help you pass time quicker during isolation.

So a few months back I received my Roland Hand Sonic, a multi-purpose digital percussion instrument, and as I was banging away on it bashing along to tunes off Spotify, I came to the realisation that I actually preferred the bass part of songs, than being the beat…….

Hmmmm, this posed a few problems, as I had just dropped over $1500 on the Roland, and only now at this late stage I’m realising that I prefer to learn how to play the bass guitar, Than Drums!? D’oh!

So I started to watch YouTube tutorials, to find out how difficult (or achievable) it might be to learn; and I was checking online music stores to find out how much a bass guitar can be, to allow me to join this bass playing fraternity. But like fads or phases, after a week or so, I got over it and I didn’t think much more about it.

That was until one Sunday, as we were waiting for church to start, a friend came to us and handed us a bass guitar, “Um, someone said that you guys were looking to learn how to play?” He said, as he handed over the bass guitar which was enclosed in its bass guitar bag to us.

“Um, yeah….” I could only mutter, as it felt so unreal, like I had only been thinking about it, and only my wife knew of this desire to try, but here it was, handed to us solid in my hands. It turned out that my wife had mentioned it to a friend (a bass player), and her second bass was making the rounds around the church, being lent out to people who wanted to tinker around on its 4 steal strings. And now it was my turn to tinker!

First impressions, boy it’s heavy! Carrying it back to the car I was so surprised by its weight. And trying to play it for the first time, boy the strings were stiff and quite painful to press down. And only after a few minutes of mucking around on it, I decided that the bass was probably not for me, as I couldn’t stand the pain on my fingers. I know! I’m a wimp! So I packed it away, and my largest achievement that day, was to find space in our apartment to store it. As we live in a small apartment, and everything has its place, and I hadn’t devised a spot for it during my day-dreamings. But I found a nook for it, and it was now out of sight, out of mind. To be returned back to our friend, the next time we saw them.

However in the first week, I kept going back to the bass, pulling it out and flick at the strings, still not knowing what I was doing. But the turning point was when I started to use a bass guitar pick. Sure, a “proper bass” player would never use a pick, as they’d be using their index and middle fingers to do the walking along the strings, But I simply couldn’t stand the pain! After following one YouTube tutorial, I already developed a blister on my middle finger pad, which annoyed me to the nth degree. But the pick was a vital key in unlocking the next subsequent stage- which was just spending more time playing it.

So after just putting in the time and playing it, I started to get familiar with where everything was. In tutorial one on YouTube, it was all about the E-string, so I’d play every note only using the e-string. Thus I’d move half way up and down the neck, taking way too long to play different notes, until my wife walked in and pointed out: “You do know you can play that same note on the A-string”. And that was turning point No. 2! And an addition to this moment of enlightenment, was my wife’s tip bit that I basically only had to learn 12 notes, and all of them can be played on the E, A and D strings, without going past the 5th Fret. And this piece of wisdom, I believe has been the most important factor in why I’m still humming along, on my journey of learning the bass! Literally and metaphorically.

Now that I knew that the note that I’m looking for, can be found in this small hand span wide area, it has made it so much easier to pick-up a song, and start thumbing along to it, until through trial and error I’ve learnt all the notes for that song.

Other elements which had helped in this learning phase, was adjusting our amp’s setting to max bass and minimum treble- now the bass actually sounds like a bass! Before that, it just sounded like a slightly deeper electric guitar. Secondly it was taking the bass permanently out of its storage nook, and placing it on a guitar stand, thus its easy now to pick up and play whenever the urge comes. And after I got over my marcho-ness and got over needing to play it “like a man”, now I regularly take a seat rather than packing it in after standing for 30 mins and my neck and left shoulder are screaming out to me to stop! Therefore sitting equates to spending more time playing.

To date I’ve learnt the bass parts to 4 songs, and google and YouTube have been a God send! As you can literally find everything you need there, be that learning what key the song is in, or a step by step tutorial in playing the bass part. It’s all there!

And finally, Spotify premium! Nothing like being able to request the song that you want, and play along to it over and over until you’ve perfected the bass part- sounding like you’re one of the band!

So yeah, this latest round of Covid lock-down hasn’t been too bad, as I’ve been spending my indoor time learning a new skill. So Covid blues? No low mood here, just the blues….. of the musical kind. I imagine the next time I post about this, would be a proper ‘Product recommendation’, where I’ve pulled the trigger and purchased my own bass- so this one can be passed on to the next budding bass player.

What I’ve learnt:

  1. Borrow, don’t buy- only after some hands on experience, can you tell if an instrument is right for you. And sometimes it just isn’t for you.
  • Don’t be a man- if I stuck it out and held onto my macho ways, I think I’d given up on the bass after week one. A guitar pick and being willing to sit down to play, has bought me additional time to learn the basics- and now I can build on those foundational building blocks. Maybe in the future I might graduate to big boy pants, and I can do away with the pick, and stand on my own two feet. But for now, my ass is firmly planted in my chair, and I need to stop losing picks, as I’ve only got 2 bass picks left. Ah!
  • Persistence- I’m not musically inclined, and my natural reaction when something doesn’t come naturally to me is to give up. But by persisting with it this time, and of course obtaining advice from others and YouTube, the bass guitar has been achievable. A good entry level musical instrument for those who lack any musical talent. And for those who have it, then you’ll absolutely excel! As long as you don’t find the bass parts too boring, and lacking mental stimulation.  

Product recommendation- ESPN Radio on TuneIn Radio

FREE access to LIVE NBA finals coverage anyone?

You know that old adage, there is no such thing as a free lunch? And in this day and age of paid subscriptions, you’re probably right in 99% of the time in believing in no freebies.  

But I’m here to tell you, that there are still such things as freebies! And from all the various Medias I’m subscribed to at the moment, the media which I’ve been listening to the most ATM is FREE! Yep! FREE!

So the concept of free to air commercial radio isn’t ground-breaking, however the ability to listen to world wide content free to air, in an accessible format might be though?

The media/app which I’m talking about is TuneIn Radio. It enables you access to hundreds of radio stations, from talk back to music, from sports to finance, and heaps in-between. But the radio station which I’ve been keeping on in the background on low all of these weeks, has been ESPN Radio!

And the reason for this is because ESPN Radio broadcasts live the most crucial can-not-must-not miss games! 24/7 ESPN Radio is a Sports talk-back radio station, with Analysts discussing the sports topics of the day. However when there are major events e.g. NBA finals or MLB finals, they place all regular programing on hold and broadcast to you live the most critical matches!

So for us in Australia, all the way on the other side of the world, in the midst of a month long Covid lock-down- we can pass the time by listening to Live broadcasts of the NBA finals, sprinkled in with some MLB All-star action, and some clever American commercials along the way to keep things interesting. Yeah, I’m even enjoying adverts!

Never before have we been able to enjoy LIVE US sports like this, why? Because if this was the normal world, we’d be at school or at work during these hours. But now that we’re working from home, and a Google Home easily plays softly ESPN Radio in the background, we now can enjoy free live sports while still holding down a 9-5 job! Pretty wild hey?

Here’s to the new ways of working! If you too would like to follow live American sports while working on a spreadsheet, just ask your Google Home to “Play ESPN Radio on TuneIn!” So you’ll never miss a critical bounce or strike-out ever again!

Netflix recommendations- The Circle USA (Season 2

Hotel quarantine, even before hotel quarantine was even a thang!

You have to admit, it’s pretty funny that the only Reality TV competition we can safely hold during a pandemic, is a show where everyone are already socially distanced! And it’s pretty funny how the contestants are so willing to agree to be locked away for a fortnight of total isolation, in hotel like quarantine, as long as they have a shot at $100K at the end of the experience. Perhaps that’s the key in improving mandatory hotel quarantine for travellers, dangle a potential cash prize in front of everyone?

But for those who are unfamiliar with Netflix’s Reality TV game show ‘The Circle’, it’s essentially like ‘Big Brother’, but instead of a large share home where contestants live and sleep together, the Circle contestants are completely isolated from one another. Imagine a serviced apartment from a popular hotel chain, and it’s a bit like that- with occasional use of spa and gym facilities, but all times the contestants are isolated from one another. All interaction is done through an App called the ‘Circle’, and all of their communication is done via text. So plenty of opportunities for misinterpretation- and that is what the producers are hoping for. And if there aren’t enough drama from that alone, then the Circle throws spanners into the mix, by manufacturing scenarios and opportunities for contestants to anonymously back-stab one another! Nice hey?

In every second episode, the contestants are made to rank their fellow contestants , with the outcome being that the two contestants with the most favourable rankings, they are made ‘Influencers’; given the power to block other contestants from the game, evicting them from the Circle building. And at the following episode, a new contestant is brought in to replace the old (this occurs 4 times). But because all interaction is done over an app, contestants can enter the Circle as someone else, a term called Catfishing. And it’s this factor which makes things very very interesting. And surprisingly, when people find out that they’ve been catfished, they don’t really hold it against that person- I guess it’s a part of the game, and expected.

In season 1 we already loved this format, but in season 2 all of your favourite features of the game are still there, however a few more surprises are introduced- so the second season is even better and more fun! The contestants this year also seem to be savvier, as I guess they had seen seasons 1 and perhaps The Circle France and Brazil, so they all seemed quite switched on, except for Chloe. Haaha. But that’s why we liked Chloe. And that’s why season 2 was so binge worthy. We smashed through the 13 episodes in less than a week.

Things we’ve learnt:

If you’re going to catfish someone, at least use your own gender and someone younger than you. Because when you assume a fictitious character who you’ve never lived a day in their shoes, you’ll eventually slip up and you’ll pay for that slip-up (or not……).

In general, people don’t like drama in their lives. Thus don’t rock the boat or come in all guns blazing! Be harmonious and diplomatic, even if it pains you to do so. Well,…….. At least just to their face.

And the last thing I’ve learnt, is that it’s so easy to fool others on social media, that  case on any form of digital communication. As exhibited on The Circle, so this show actually acts as a fantastic reminder to all, to be very careful when online, as there are some pretty weird people on the internet.  

In the end, The Circle was entertaining for us, fascinating to see how people played the game when they can sit behind anonymity. So if you want to check out The Circle for yourself? Click HERE! For us, we’re looking forward to Season 3. 

Waffles & I- Sydney CBD

A self-indulgent blog post, about a man and his waffles.

I write this post with a very heavy heart- Clock it, it’s Wednesday 30 June, a start of a new day, but the start of the last day for Bells Hot Chicken Darling Square.

It all started in 2018, merely 3 years have passed but this romance has felt much longer than that. The once Entertainment Centre site, flattened into rubble, but resurrected into a commercial, residential, and entertainment precinct. And the first to open was Darling Square, a less than 20 metre long alley of shops and restaurants- and there, on the East West end of this short strip of stores is (or was, depending on when you’re reading this post) Bells Hot Chicken.

Pre-Covid, we were dine in customers only- my usual at Bells Hot was the Saturday Special-  Waffles and Chicken drumsticks (Hot), and an Arnold Palmer to cleanse the pallet before transitioning back from hot to sweet. But when Covid hit, our usual practice became ‘shuffle up to the takeaway counter’, order Waffles and Chicken drumsticks (Hot) to go, and in a matter of minutes we were back at our apartment, watching TV with our Bells Hot Chicken & Waffles in-front of us. Amber maple syrup poured over the 4 triangles of waffles, making sure that none of it found its way onto the chicken. And then it’s a forkful of waffles dripping with maple syrup, followed by a chicken drumstick (hot), finger so licking good! Sure, dining from home there wasn’t any Arnold Palmer chaser (half-and-half ice tea and freshly squeezed lemonade), but we made do with our own chasers (this week it was half-and-half apricot nectar with carbonated H2O).

And after 3 rounds of waffle + chicken drumstick (hot) +one more slice of waffle, belching softly I’m content. We always vow not to eat waffles and chicken (hot) again, for at least another 6 weeks. But inevitably we always end up back there, after having mad cravings for the fluffy sweet waffles, and the crunchy, spicy, and always cooked to perfection chicken drumsticks. Mmmmmm. I’m not counting here, but I estimate that these cravings kick-in within 3 weeks, and we succumb to these cravings 1-2 weeks after the symptums first present themselves.

On our second to last visit to Bells Hot Chicken Darling Square, whilst walking towards it, I asked my wife: “How devastated would you be, if we got there and it was closed down?” She responded, “9”, “Was that 9 out of 10 for being very devastated, or was this some reverse scaling system where 9 equated to not devastated at all?” I asked her, to clarify.

“No, no, 9 for being very devastated”, she confirmed. But hallelujah, as per usual, as we rounded the corner we could see that they were open! A staff member manning the take-away counter, while it was always pretty empty inside the actual restaurant. We made our orders, stood aside to wait, and when our waffles & chicken (hot) were ready. The staff member handed us the takeaway bag, and as a final thought he added “We’re closing at the end of the month, but the Barangaroo and Tramshed outlets will still be open.” And we were left utterly deflated, our worst nightmare realised. No more waffles & chicken (hot) in front of the TV anymore! Nooooo!

Fast forward a week, Sydney CBD was under lockdown orders due to the second wave of Covid, residents only permitted to leave their homes for 4 reasons: work or studies (if they cannot be performed remotely); visiting family or friends for compassionate reasons; for exercise; or for shopping for essentials. And with our lunch options limited (most restaurants were shut), we decided to get waffles & chicken (hot) in consecutive weekends, the last hurrah for old time sake. Not to mention visiting Bells Hot, ticked 3 of 4 criteria to leave the home during Covid lock-down (as Waffles & Chicken is soo an essential). But it was obvious that my wife’s love of waffles isn’t as devout as mine, as with our final opportunity she still elected the chicken (hot) sandwich over waffles. With the predictable end outcome being, that I was very satisfied and 95% full with a quarter of waffle to go. While she had long finished her sandwich before me, and I’d say she was probably only moderately satisfied and 85% full. And with my final triangle of waffle sitting there crying out to be eaten, I pushed my takeaway box over to her. “No, you have it, I’m full”, I lied. Something as good as waffles? Must be shared with loved ones!

So here I am, writing this open letter/blog to you, Bells Hot Chicken and Saturday special ‘Waffles & Chicken’, although you’re pretty pricy at $20 a serving, but you have brought me and my wife much joy over the past 3 years. Although I’ll never be able to enjoy your fluffy sweet waffles and crunchy, spicy, perfectly cooked chicken ever again from the comfort of our own home. But at least I’ll always have these fond memories of you, tucked away in my memory, to be re-lived and enjoyed whenever those mad cravings return.

I know this isn’t good-bye forever, as your cheery employee stated- that both Barangaroo and Tramshed outlets are still open, so one day we will meet again, when the mad cravings are so severe that this boy is motivated enough to go cross-town to be re-united with his waffles! Till then, shalom, and we’ll meet again, don’t know where or when. …. Who am I kidding, it’ll be at Barangaroo and I’d say, it’ll probably be within the next 4 weeks. SWEET!

Netflix recommendations- Penguin Town

Waddle baby, waddle baby, waddle baby!

I don’t think you can find anything on Netflix at the moment, as cute, as amusing, as insightful or as engrossing as Penguin Town!

What makes Penguin Town so cute? Have you seen a penguin lately!? The way they waddle? And don’t get me started on the baby chicks!

What makes Penguin Town so amusing? It’s the o-so-well written voiceover script (narrated by Comedian Patton Oswalt). Not to mention the natural behaviour of penguins already add to the amusement. And the simple fact that the show is presented like a reality TV show, than a snooty documentary- so the reality TV like storylines, intrigue and conflict does it for me!

What makes Penguin Town insightful? Like who knew penguins had such an incredible sense of direction and long, long memories? Who knew they were so human-like (having both good and bad human-like traits)? Who knew they arrange themselves into gangs, with the sole purpose to piss-off other penguins they dis-like? And who knew they were so organised in their child rearing?

And what makes Penguin Town so engrossing? Is that not everything unfolds like a fairy-tale story, this is nature and this is reality and some things just don’t work-out, not to mention each episode ends on a cliff hanger! Which has you sitting there on the couch electing to ‘do nothing’, so that the next episode would automatically play on!

So if you want to check out these 2 feet tall cuties, in their natural habitat of Simon’s Town South Africa? You can check it out right here on Netflix, just click HERE! Waddle baby!