Why would @fitbit take away a product I loved with no replacement?


Over the past week I have discovered some cracks on the back of my Fitbit Force. As you remember I purchased this device in the US as I am still as yet to see it available I Australia. I contacted Fitbit support first via twitter as then by their support page as they requested. I provided photos. After a follow up request to find out what was going on as I had not heard from Support.


What I received, I thought was sent in error. Basically due to a small number of people (mainly in the US) suffering skin irritations, the Fitbit force was recalled. While I knew about the recall, the issue didn't effect me and I carried on.

As there was a recall in place Fitbit support stated they would not replace my damaged force but would refund me. I don't want to go back to using the Fitbit flex, for one, I had issues with the band breaking after 8 months - the same time I have been using the force, not to mention the shocking battery life of the flex compared to the force.

I am now left with either rigging up some repair or take the refund and look for another product after I have already invested in the Fitbit ecosystem including the matching scale.

How to read the news: a beginners guide for Generation Y and the "Millennials"


news-05Two tragic events this year have brought to the fore the fact that my generation and the generation following (Gen Y and the so called a i generation or the millennials). I am often dismayed at the inability of my peers to be able to evaluate and reconcile news stories, rather than just take every word as fact.

Often the hardest realisation that news junkies such as myself come to is that the news is never just the facts. There is always some 'editorial' or opinion included. It might not be out and out bias but when you have x number of words or x number of column inches, x number of second of video or sound grab to work with inevitably some one has to make a call to cut something out. Therefore you receive edited facts.

Another key point that we, as news readers, have to be aware of is the reliability of the source. Not just the actual masthead (publisher) but the source of the information. Is it a 'wire' report coming in from a syndicated journalist on the ground reported by every single outlet or is it a one to one connection, the the story written or presented by some one on the scene.

Further to the source is the publisher. We all know there are differing degrees of bias or agendas being pushed by today's publishers whether newspapers, radio, or individual bloggers. Knowing the inbuilt bias of the publisher can also alter the lens in which we take in the news.


Australian news and analysis blog Crikey published the list of Australia's most trusted news sources HERE from 2013.  Interesting that the national broadcaster here ranked the top. One could say they are not trying to sell advertising or appeal to a 'market segment' they are freer to report the news, also their reporters are in more locations. There is of course the usual calls of bias against the public broadcaster. Those calls of bias are usually calling the ABC 'left' leaning. However the trust worthy poll linked above does not seem to support that.

Top 5 tips when reading or taking the news in:

1. who wrote it (which journalist)

2. Who published it ( which masthead)

3. Who is the intended audience - is the producer writing for a 'market' or stating fact

4. Who benefits from the story

5. Are other reporters reporting the same thing with different sources?





Walking to the top of the highest mountain in Australia: MOUNT KOSCIUSKO

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We had been planning a trip to see Mount Kosciusko during the off ski season. March 15th was that day! The day was a ‘little’ windy – once we cleared the top chair lift from Thredbo to the “Eagles Nest” we were greet with a temp of -1 including wind chill and 50-70km/h winds.

I will let the video speak for its self, but the day was great. I kept telling Frankie “ This is the highest mountain in Australia, it is not meant to be easy”   As you will see in the video we did not make the true summit due to the weather – good call – within 30 mins of reaching the base and getting in the car, it absolutely bucketed down – that plus wind and -1 temps? Hmm no thanks. 

To keep the cold out – what is better than a cup of tea in nature – nothing I say – nothing at all and the JetBoil really came through.


Crowd funding my #PADI Open Water Certificate


As you know we are buying a house. That has pretty much locked up any spare cash we have until after November. After the introduction dive we ( read I, Frankie chickened out just as his head got under the water) did in Redang Island last year I have been looking at doing my PADI open water certification. That is the first step of the whole qualification process.



I know it sounds a little odd but I am hoping that you might like to chip in some cash to help get me on the course along be part of the journey. The course is hosted half her in Canberra and the remainder down the south coast of NSW. The course is being run by Indepth Scuba here in Canberra and is split over two weekend, the first being theory and pool practice followed by a second weekend down the coast having 2 shore dives and one boat dive.

Including equipment, accommodation and training the entire course is $1300aud. I simply can't spring for that all in one lump and I am trying to get it done before winter starts and the water moves to being almost liquid ice (for me any way).

If you can help, that would be great, individuals / businesses who provide decent chunks of cash will get specific mentions in the video I will make.

If you are unable to help financially please share the link to all your friends on Facebook and twitter. Get WADE HIS DIVE CERT

My Christmas Gift to Me: Kathmandu Lansan Light hiking tent and rediscovering the bush capital #CBR

Since being back from Myanmar and Darwin I have been looking to do more bushwalking and day hikes. I have also discovered the Namadgi National Park. I know it sounds silly to say I have just discovered it after living in the ACT for nearly 10 years, however I am glad I have. Namadgi sits about 40kms to the south of what most people think of as the bottom of Canberra, Tuggernong. Namadgi actually takes up around 46% of the area of the Australian Capital Territory.

A few weekends ago we stopped off at the Namadgi National Park visitors centre and collected maps as well as talked to the staff there as I was looking for a gentle part day walk to get my partner used to carrying a pack. Previously he was not even keen to carry a tiny pack with a water bottle and camera in it. The staff suggested the Yankee Hat walk to the only Aboriginal Rock Art located within the ACT, being only 7kms round trip.

Following on from that trip, I have decided come hell or high water I want to start walking and at least doing overnights, if my partner can not or will not hack it, I will go alone. To this end I started hunting around for a light ( read able to be carried without doing my back) tent. I was bidding on a Hubba Hubba V6 on eBay for ONLY $250 which is hundreds of dollars off, sadly I missed out. Fortunately the even lighter but slightly less versatile Kathmandu Lansan Light  came in at $250 ( down from $699) during the Christmas Sales and weighted in at sub 2kgs.

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I also managed to pick up a Mountain Designs Tasman 40 pack on sale for $65. After packing my new tent, my sleeping bag and my ground pad, there is not much room left for anything else.. I really should have got a 50L if I want to go solo.


Regarding the Tent: Read here

Guest Writer - FF - The Third Party Challenge #Auspol #PUP #palmer


As with our previous post on how the commonwealth came to fun non state schools, our guest writer Mr FF has written about the rise of the PUP and other ' Third Parties' throughout the history of the Australian politics.

The Third Party Challenge

The success of the Palmer United Party in the recent federal elections has caused much comment, and if it succeeds in winning three Senate places and a seat in the House of Representatives it will have a achieved an impressive electoral debut. However, this debut does need to be put into perspective, in order (if nothing else) to determine the likelihood of future electoral success. The Australian party system has been fairly stable since its emergence in its current form in 1910 – so-called “third party” challenges have been surprisingly few and rarely (with one exception) have they survived across the longer term.


The Australian party system has existed in various forms since 1910, and the merger of the various non-Labor parties into the original Liberal Party (1910-1917). In this context the original “third party” Challenge was the emergence of the Country Party after World War One. In response to the rise of wartime controls of farming and farm marketing the Country Party made an impressive debut at the 1919 federal elections winning 9% of the vote, and electing 11 MHRs. This was the most impressive third party debut, and had a lasting impact. The sustained success of the Country Party (it won 12% of the vote and elected 14 MHRs at the 1922 elections) meant it was ultimately incorporated into the “Two Party System” in a more or less permanent coalition of whoever formed the main urban based non-Labor Party be it Nationalists (1917-1931), the United Australia Party (UAP (1931-1945) or the Liberal Party of Australia (1945-), and the electoral system was altered to accommodate it.


The next significant challenge to the “Two Party” system (or the “Two and a Half” Party system) was the Lang Labor Party which emerged after the Australian Labor Party (ALP) split of 1931. Lang Labor debuted at the 1931 federal election winning 10.5% of the vote and electing 4 MHRs. It increased its vote in 1934 to 14%, but as a party was essentially a product of the internal struggles in the NSW Labor Party between the supporters and opponents of Jack Lang, its vote winning power limited to NSW and ultimately petering out in the 1940’s after most of its initial supporters returned to the Official ALP. It elected its last MHRs in 1946, and earned the undying enmity of the left for its vigorous attacks on Prime Minister Ben Chifley in the lead up to the 1949 federal elections (more vicious than anything launched by Menzies or Fadden). It was less a viable alternative to Labor than a spoiler party, though its adroit use of preferences would later be followed by other parties in the post-war period.


The first major post-war challenge to the party system was the emergence of the Democratic Labor Party in the late 1950’s. First in Victoria and then Queensland the DLP reflected the emergence of a strong anti-Communist faction within the Labor Movement aligned with the Catholic Church, and alarmed at the industrial progress made by the Communist Party and its allies in the 1940’s. The DLP debuted at the 1955 Elections as the Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist) winning 5% of the vote and electing 1 senator. It never succeeded in winning a seat in the House of Representatives (though it did win seats in the Victorian and Queensland State parliaments), but it successfully elected senators to the Australian parliament until 1974, and at its high water mark in the 1960’s polled 10% of the vote and successfully diverted enough second preferences to the Liberal Party to deliver government to the coalition on at least two separate occasions (1961,1969). In this sense the original DLP was the spoiler party par excellence and it largely disappeared after the successful election of an ALP government in 1972.


Unlike Lang Labor or the DLP the next third party challenge did not emerge from the Labor Party nor did it present itself as a “spoiler party”. The Australian Democrats in fact emerged from the Liberal Party of the late 1960’s. In the 1966 Election the Liberals had run on a strong pro-conscription and pro-Vietnam War platform and won a landslide victory, however the rise of the anti-war movement and the success of the Tet Offensive caused deep divisions in Australian society. The gathering pace of social change in Australia and the alienation of some Liberals to the growing conservatism of the coalition led to the formation of the Australia Party in 1970. It made its rather modest debut in 1970 winning 3% of the vote, but after the traumatic events of 1975 it was joined by a fresh infusion of small “l” Liberals led by Don Chipp and Colin Mason. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s the Australian Democrats sought to represent a “dynamic centre” in Australian politics that corralled the protest vote using the slogan “Keep the bastards honest”.


In the 1990’s third party challenges emerged from the left and the right. To the right of the Liberals emerged the One Nation Party (which debuted at the 1998 winning 8.5% of the vote) and the Green Party (which debuted at the 1993 election winning 2% of the vote). This dual challenge to the party system was perhaps the first sustained assault on the two party system since the 1920’s, and while “One Nation” soon imploded, the longer term impact of both parties was to draw media attention to the longer term decline in the “Two Party” vote. During the 1940’s and 1950’s (prior to the arrival of the DLP) the main parties often polled 95% of the vote. By the 2013 federal election this was more like 80%. Alongside the decline in the vote for major parties has been the decline in party membership, and the increase in the frequency with which independents gain election to various parliaments. Whether is a sign of a longer term decline in the vote going to the major parties of course remains to be seen.


Over the long term the role of third parties in the Australian party system is marginal in the sense that they do not form governments, or governing coalitions nor do they form opposition. However, they do have a major electoral impact. The rise of the Country Party in the period 1918-1919 led to the introduction of preferential voting and the formation of a new alignment on the non-Labor side of politics. The impact of Lang Labor (1930’s) and the DLP (1960’s) was to deny the ALP government on a number of occasions, while the Australian Democrats had the same impact on the non-Labor side of politics on at least one occasion (1990). However, the weight of the electoral system and the financial demands of almost continual campaigning does have the impact of re-enforcing the current party system, just as the 24 hour news cycle and the general reaction against the major parties undermines it. Still as yet we are yet to see the wholesale collapse of a major party as in Canada (the Progressive Conservatives) or Israel (Mapai).


Darwin Festival


Another great night in Darwin.

The Darwin Festival is in full swing here.

Tonight I got to go along to my first show - Fear of  Brown Planet, a funny and surprisingly political show. If you have seen any of their youtube clips - belly laughs, along with the occasional laugh suppressed behind the hand ensued.

My next show I am off to is Trevor Ashley as Dame Shirley Bassey in Diamonds are for Trevor on the 24th Aug. Having seen Trevor in Hair Spray in Sydney  as Edna Turnblad- I know this will be a fabilous show.

I am also trying to get some tickets to the renowned cabaret show 'La Soirée' .

Pic below is of me with the boys from Fear of  Brown Planet





Adelaide River Jumping Crocs – Darwin, NT

I am now back capturing some of my more memorable trips around the NT over the past few months. Adelaide River Jumping Crocs would have to be right up there. Located about an hour from the Darwin CBD right on the Arhem Highway where it meets the Adelaide River.


I was lucky enough to venture out on the Adelaide River Queen ( I kid you not).Image

For 25 bucks for an hour of watching these prehistoric beasts jump their body length out of the water to snatch a pork shop – I could not rate it highly enough.

The eerie sight of the crocodiles (or crocs if you are a true Territorian) suddenly appearing out of nowhere from the just below the surface of the muddy brown river water still freaks me out.