Vale Parachute Festival

A few weeks ago it was announced that the annual Parachute Music Festival would be no more. This is a great loss to the youth of New Zealand.

With my mate Herbie at Parachute 03

With my mate Herbie at Parachute 03

During my teenage years and early 20s I attended seven Parachute Festivals. My first was as a 15 year old in 2003, this was also the last year Parachute was held at Totara Springs in Matamata. Despite this now being over eleven years ago (wow time goes quick), I still have a number of memories of my first festival: trying to be a good kid and go to bed at 11pm on the Friday night and not being able to sleep cause of the noise from all the music stages; watching TobyMac, a very young Rapture Ruckus, and Pillar perform on the mainstage; trying to join the mosh and circle pits inside the cage; and chilling in the afternoon sun on the grass as Steve Apirana played acoustic.

After that first festival I was hooked, Parachute was like no other concert or festival I’ve been to. While the move to Mystery Creek, Hamilton in 2004 saw the production value of the festival increase the core of the festival remained the same – four days of young people being exposed to a wide variety of music and genres, building closer friendships with the people they travelled to the festival with, randomly bumping into old school friends and church mates, and learning about the relevance of God and Christianity in the present – generally, all without parents.

And this is what made Parachute Festival unique. For me personally, I have so many memories of things that have happened at Parachute over the years, I have seen hundreds of bands play and be exposed to music that in the past I wouldn’t have dared thought to like. But three memories stand out: the Newsboys performing and in the middle of Shine basically stopping their show for ten minutes and standing in worship; Dave Dobbyn having to stop playing as the rain poured down and the mosh pit dancing in the rain chanting ‘da da da slice of heaven’; and no matter how late you had gone to bed the previous night forcing yourself to get up and attend the morning church service.

Dave Dobbyn in the rain

Dave Dobbyn in the rain

Parachute Morning Meeting

Parachute Morning Meeting

In the decision to end Parachute Festival, Mark de Jong is right in saying that there are many more big music festivals in New Zealand now and this makes Parachute Festival commercially difficult. However, the big music, while a key component, is only one component of the festival.

Debut Stage 2009

Debut Stage 2009

Another highlight of the festival over the years has been to see many hundreds of small bands play on the debut stage. Many of these bands are teenagers with their garage bands who would normally only play to a maximum of 50 people at a church find themselves performing in front of hundreds and at times thousands of people. This was something very special to heart of Parachute Festival, again there are battle of the bands and other shows for small bands, but the scale of Parachute Festival in this area was like nothing else.

Overall, the end of Parachute Festival is a great loss to the youth of New Zealand, there is nothing else like it. While I’m certain that some newer events will fill some of the void left e.g. Easter Camp, for a long time yet many people will be saying ‘when I was a teenager.. Parachute Festival.’

The Lion King Musical

A few nights ago I went with friends to see The Lion King Musical in Sydney.

This was the first professional musical I’ve been to since I was about six years old. The whole show was spectacular and amazing, especially the set and prop design. Additionally a kiwi in one of the lead roles was a highlight when the group I was with were mostly Australian.

The show runs until mid August, and is well worth seeing.

SafePrice, Avast and Sneaky Browser Plugins

For many years now I have been using Avast as my anti-virus on my Windows computers. For the majority of that time it has been simple to use and generally non-invasive. However, in the past few months that has dramatically changed.

The first big change has been avast prompting to update software updates for almost every installed application. While this may be helpful for the vast majority of people who do not regularly update their systems, I’ve grown to ignore random pop-ups that say my computer is out of date – because the vast majority of the time they are scams/ads themselves. Saying my system is at critical risk because I haven’t updated an application in the last 24 hours is overkill – especially when the application specific updater isn’t prompting for the update.

Today’s inappropriate interruption from Avast is much more annoying and down right unethical – especially as I did not authorise this behaviour in the application. Below is a screen shot of a produce page from a trustworthy and popular online store I visit on a regular basis.

Avast SafePrice Website Takeover

Avast SafePrice Website Takeover


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Connected

One of my goals for this year is to read ten books – including at least seven I already own but have yet to read. The danger with books is that they are so easy to obtain, during January alone I bought four more at the Dymocks sale, and have had three given to me.

Fortunately, I have also managed to read three books in the last month and a half.

Most recently, I’ve just finished reading Connected – How your friends’ friends’ affect everything you feel, think and do by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler. This book is a really fascinating insight into social networks from how we form friendships and relationships, through to how happiness and depression flow through friends of friends, and even how our genes influence our personalities.

Although a lot of the book covers issues in relationships that we naturally take for granted, it also shows fascinating social experiments and statistics that confirm six degrees of separation, and how we have three degrees of influence over others.

Below are a few extracts that I found particularly interesting. Continue reading

Sydney Festival and Australia Day Wrap Up

Over the last few weeks of January was the Sydney Festival. Below are a few photos from the wide variety of events that happened throughout the CBD. Additionally, there are a few photos of the Australia Day celebrations on Sydney Harbour which coincided with the festival.

The finale of the festival was the annual Symphony in the Domain. This year, Gustav Holst’s The Planets was performed, which is one of my favourite pieces of classical music. A short portion of Jupiter is below.

2013 Annual Blog Statistics

These are some stats from Google Analytics, the figures from 2012 are in brackets.

Overall in 2013 there were about 5,000 fewer visits, from 4,700 fewer visitors than in 2012. This is the third year in a row of declining visitor numbers. However, this continues to be correlated to the reduction of posts to this blog – and the change in focus to more personal adventure than just random commentary.

Total

  • Visits: 9,458 (14,714)
  • Unique Visitors: 8,626 (13,371)
  • Page Views: 12,609 (24,504)

Visitors from came from 165 Countries. Australia, United States, New Zealand continue to hold the top three visitor locations. 64.3% of all visits came from Aus/USA/NZ/UK down 1% from 2012. Continue reading