Monday, 25 September 2006

What a novel and brave way to promote a music album.

FreeDerekWebb is the place to go to download Mockingbird, the latest album by Derek Webb, lead singer of Caedmon's Call.

All you have to do is fill in your name and email address, send a link to five other friends, and viola! A free music album with 11 song tracks!

Why is he doing this? In his words:
one of the things that excites me most about the future of our business is how easy it is becoming to deliver music to people who want to hear it. i heard a story once about keith green caring so much that people were able to hear and engage with his music that he gave it away for free, which was a very difficult and expensive thing to do at that time. it's actually never been as simple as it is today to connect music with music fans. and i want people to have a chance to listen to mockingbird and engage in the conversation.
What impressed me the most however, was not because of his belief in "music for the people", but the fact that after you've downloaded the music you get taken to a site that basically asks you to think about this:
Now that you've saved $10 or so on a free record, consider giving it to some of these good people.
He lists three different non-profit groups, all with good causes, and is basically allowing groups he believes in to profit from his talent.

Mockingbird is also for sale in the shops. I can only wonder how well sales will be.

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Della tagged me a few days ago with this meme and although it technically isn't lunchtime right now, it's a good excuse to take a break from work.

1. What do you like most about where you live?

Technically a suburb of Sydney, it doesn't have the crowdedness and pollution of the city. It's a leafy, hilly area with beautiful glimpses of the Sydney skyline at right spots. It's busy, but not hectic, the nearest shopping mall is only a 15 minutes drive away and the city of Sydney less than an hour by train. Oh, and having a commute that consists of a three minute walk to work isn't bad either.

2. Is there anything strange about where you live?

It's somewhat like the Seventh-day Adventist version of the Vactican City. I'm sure at least 50% of the houses along the main street are owned by the church and are inhabited by either workers of the Adventist Church regional headquarters and the Sydney Adventist Hospital (which is right opposite my flat) or Adventists who work elsewhere. There are also two Seventh-day Adventist churches right next to each other just across the street from where I live.

3. What's one of your all-time favourite music albums, and why?

Hymns by 4Him. Meaningful hymns jazzed up and spiced up into a more contemporary feel, making it relevant to the tastes of today. Need I say more?

4. Did you have a passion for something as a kid that you still have now? (If not - what is one of your passions now?)

Has to be writing, although it was more of a hobby and a great way to do well in English exams when I was young. Now, I practically do it for a living.

5. What do you like most about having a blog?

Being able to connect with people I normally would not have been able to through my thoughts and writings.

Pick 3 (or more) people and give them the opportunity to be famous in their own lunchtimes! :)

Maya, Ida and Sharona

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Tuesday, 19 September 2006

You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love songs...

I’m not cynical of romantic love. At least I don’t think so. Sweet and mushy talk make me sceptical of the person saying it, but that’s only because I’m naturally wary of trusting people at face value.

I’m certainly not an unbeliever in this thing called love. Although I tend to stay away from romantic comedies and romance novels, I’d be the first to admit that there is still this little girl desire to have my feet swept away by my Prince Charming.

No, there is nothing wrong in love. There is nothing wrong with people being in love. My struggle has been the point of being in love, especially in relation to God.

What purpose does being in love have with doing God’s will, spreading God’s word and living a life as God’s servant? You date this guy, or are married to this guy, but it’s not as if your love life has any real function in doing God’s work right?

But maybe certain things are given to you by God to enrich your own life and hence indirectly enable you to actually continue serving God.

I used to believe that things happened to me so that I can be strengthened and grow in my understanding of God. My relationship with God deepens, I gain an insight I never had and am eventually able to write about it and share my story with others in the hope of encouraging them in their walk with God.

How in the world was I supposed to do that by being in a relationship?

As a couple, we may discuss spiritual issues and even learn from each other. We go to church together and we could strengthen our walk with God. But isn’t it all a little too self-focused?

Sure, there is a possibility that we may become an evangelistic duo, travelling around the country spreading God’s word. That would certainly be doing God’s work. But seriously, you don’t have to be in a romantic relationship to form a dynamic and powerful partnership. Besides, how in the world am I supposed to be part of an evangelistic duo when I really have no desire to be an evangelist in the normal sense of the word even on my own?

As an individual, we all have the ability to do amazing things if God wills it. We can be complete, whole and effective without ever having to be married to someone. God doesn’t require us to be with someone in order to do his work. And that’s precisely it – what is the point of being in a relationship if we can go about life alone?

This could be simply stating the obvious, but it wasn’t till recently that it suddenly dawned on me. Thing is, not everything that happens in life has that much of a direct impact on one’s “evangelical” work. God blesses and gives because of his unconditional love for us. And just as we don’t expect anything in return when we give someone we love a gift, God can provide us with a wonderful present that has nothing to do with what we can do for him in return.

Life is a school of hard knocks. In comparison to the Sudanese genocide refugees, I know I have a pretty rosy life. This is not a “woe is me” article, but the number of deaths, separation, struggles and events that brings tears to my eyes has been enough to make me tired of my existence on earth and yearn for its end. (No, I’m not suicidal or depressed, I just get tired sometimes.)

These are events that eventually strengthen my relationship with God. These are incidents that give me inspiration to write and the ability to encourage others. That is how I’d been trying to approach the reason why romantic relationships happen till I realised I had been going about it all wrong.

The main reason for a romantic relationship is not so much about a lesson learnt, a strengthening exercise or a tool to do God’s work.

The reason for a romantic relationship is God’s way of providing a tangible demonstration of his love, a shelter from the storm, an immovable support for when bad things happen, but most of all, it’s one of the truly good things that God blesses us with as opposed to all the other bad ones we have to deal with.

Just knowing that there is someone there who will be there, who will provide a tangible show of strength and support, and whom one can go to at the end of a long and challenging day is enough. It’s enough to give one the courage to take on the world and its typical obstacles that one faces in the course of doing God’s work.

At the end of it all, being a recipient of romantic love not only uplifts us and brings a smile to our souls, it refreshes us and gives us the strength and ability to face the gruelling challenges of being God’s child in a sinful world. It keeps our spirits alive to maintain our walk with God, experience incidents that strengthen and develop our relationship with God and continue serving him.

Romantic love may not help spread God’s word per se, but in an indirect, intangible way, it serves a purpose.

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Wednesday, 13 September 2006

This is really bizarre and should be a lesson learnt for all companies dealing with customer service. Please do not ever send out a standard template reply without actually first reading and understanding your customer's email and then reading through your reply that is probably taken from a list of five templates to see if it actually sounds logical.

Am currently shopping for a digital voice recorder that does so in mp3 format and came across Sandisk's Digital Audio Players. It all seems nice and well until I realised I could not find out what format it records voice in.

After a rather frustrating five minutes of looking through the entire website first glancing through the FAQ for an answer (none there) and then trying to find a contact number so that I could simply ask someone the question, I finally found a toll-free number in Australia.

I dialled the number and was told "I'm sorry, our offices are currently closed. Please call back between 9am and 6pm New South Wales Time."

It was 4pm in Sydney.

Sydney was in New South Wales the last I checked.

Anyway, finally found an email address for a support office in Singapore or something (there was no email address for Australia - the Sandisk office in Australia probably has not realised computers were invented yet considering they are stuck in goodness knows what time in goodness knows where.)

So I drafted up a quick email that asked:
Hi there,

Just enquiring about the recording function of your Digital Audio Player.

What kind of file format would recorded clips be in?

In what would be a rather pleasant surprise, I actually received an email reply less than an hour later saying (italics mine):
Hello Melody,

Thank you for contacting SanDisk Technical Support. I have read your email and apologize for any inconveniences this issue may be causing you. We are sorry to hear you're having problems and are here to assist you.

The recording will be voice file which are wav. file format.

Should you need to speak to a live representative please contact SanDisk Technical Support at one of the listed contact numbers.

Best Regards,
Moira N.
SanDisk Technical Support
USA +1 (866) 726 3475
Now was anybody actually reading what they were writing?

My question was answered, but I really wasn't have any problems or mentioned so. Well, I've got many problems, but I don't think someone could have realised that from a two line email...

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Friday, 8 September 2006

Baby Carrot is back!

Well, not quite fixed with simply placing an alcoholic meerkat in front of it...but Carrot really is as good as new!

Don't have pics of the returned Carrot, but the smash repairers literally removed both her doors and the back panel and replaced it with brand new parts. (Which explains the huge bill since the Yaris sedan has only been in Australia for about six months and people since don't generally smash their new cars, the parts were still coming in.)

Carrot was returned yesterday evening and it looks as if she had never been involved in any intimate meeting with guardrails at all. She's gorgeous! They even polished her and made her tyres unbelievably shiny!

So Brentyn, I know you'll be reading this - thank you so much for taking care of her and ensuring she looks as beautiful as before. And it would be nice if you don't meet any future guardrails!

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Tuesday, 5 September 2006

Part four of the "Born to be a star" series:

Too Hot to Handle

At the start of this “Born to be a star” series, we realise that one of the best ways to dispel myths and misconceptions about the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to engage the media.

In this current day and age, it's not what we have to say that matters. It's what others have to say about us that does. We need to get reporters writing about what Seventh-day Adventists are doing in the community, the love and care Adventists show others and the fact that we are mainstream Christians.

And as we found out in the second issue, engaging the media is not just a task for the professional communicator, but something any church member can do. All we need to do is to give the media what they want and they want news that has:
  • Impact
  • Timeliness
  • Proximity
  • An element of the unusual
Providing the media with news would most likely include writing a media release. The good news is, you do not have to be a Pulitzer prize winner to write a media release. All you have to do is follow a few simple rules:
  • Entice the reader
  • Inverted triangle rule
  • Include quotes
  • Contact number
  • Plan in advance
  • Keep it short
  • Follow up
  • Practice
Familiarise yourself with the media in your community. Find out the publication day of the local paper. Have within easy reach the contact details of the newsdesk of your local paper or community radio station so that you can get information out to them in time.

But how do you actually “pitch” your story to the media?

There are no hard and fast rules to that. You can either send the media release to them and wait for a response, or you can call the reporter or newsdesk, telling them that you have a story that they may be interested in. Make sure you are able to summarise the story into one or two sentences as you would otherwise lose their attention very quickly.

Bear in mind that reporters will want to interview people and take photos if they are interested in a story, so be prepared to organise a time and location for that to take place.

Provide the reporter with as much information about the news story as you can. Make sure names are spelt right and dates are accurate.

But most of all, enjoy the experience and relish the knowledge that your local church and the Seventh-day Adventist Church is that one step closer to becoming a household name as the church that cares.

Start engaging the media today!

This is the final article for the series entitled “Born to be a star” distributed to local church newsletters in Australia and New Zealand.

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Monday, 4 September 2006

Just to balance the rather negative post I wrote about the other day, I received a really nice one from one of the church leaders regarding my Born to be a Star series today thanking me for that I've been doing.

Warm fuzzies all around!

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Friday, 1 September 2006

And I thought the movie with the rather dodgy storyline and dodgier title, Snakes on a Plane, was bad.

Seems like the PR campaign for another movie director is going to involve inviting folks to a fight, filming it and including it in his next movie.

Can everybody say a collective "what the?!"

{Thanks to Media Orchard for the link.}

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Guess I'm going to be a committed Nokia phone user from now onwards and will have to reconsider buying that MacBook from Apple for a long while.

According to the latest test results from Greenpeace, Apple (together with Lenovo and Motorola) are producing a huge amount of toxic waste in the production of their goods into the environment.

Nokia on the other hand, had recycling policies and was leading the way on eliminating toxic chemicals.

Consuming really should not simply be about owning something. We have the responsibility to the environment and really do need to support companies that actually do something to ensure its preservation. And we have the power to influence the way companies deal with the environment.

What kind of goods will you be consuming today?

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