Companies: why are you like this?

25 years ago a bunch of Internet people cracked the shits with the inhuman, one-way corporate speak employed by the companies they interacted with, consulted to and advised. Those rants became The Cluetrain Manifesto. There's a copy sitting on my bookshelf right behind me, probably the fourth copy I've bought because I keep loaning it out to people who need to know and forgetting who had it.

25 years on it's still utterly fucking standard to get a stupid email like this one:

So what you're saying, Electrolux, is that I shouldn't reply to this email. But you're willing to receive emails from me at another email address. Somehow it's too hard to make the From address the one you want to receive replied on. Hell, if there's some dumb technical reason, you could even use a Reply-to header.

You know this makes you sound like an arsehole, right? You had an opportunity to provide care to customers, you know like a "Customer Care" function, and you fluffed it. Golf clap time.

sleepmakeswaves and Elephant Gym

Last Saturday night I went to see sleepmakeswaves at the Manning Bar in Sydney Uni with a couple of mates. I have many fond memories of this gig: the epic Freaky Loops gigs, Terrence McKenna and lunchtime gigs during my brief time as a university student, I remember seeing DiG and Trout Fishing in Quebec.

The lineup for the night got moved around so that Taiwanese band Elephant Gym were moved up to slot 2, so I had a chance to catch them. I had minimal expectations but really enjoyed their set. Wikipedia describes them as "math rock" which is, of course, a terrible genre name. I'd characterise them more as jazz rock except instead of improvising onstage they're playing out the result of past improvisations, with exceptional accuracy, tightness and structure. Really good fun.

sleepmakeswaves were, as always, awesome. Dreamy soundscapes with dramatic crescendos. Brilliant.


White Bay Power Station: 700 Feel + Ryan Fennis & Voidhood

I've been entering the ballots for Phoenix Central Park's music programmes for a while now and never managed to get tickets. It's a tiny venue and the gigs are free, but often artists you've never heard of. They've partnered with the Biennale of Sydney to run gigs at the White Bay Power Station. This giant industrial edifice has been closed my entire life in Sydney, so I've spent many years going past and wondering what's inside.

So of course I jumped at the chance!

The music? Yeah, interesting enough. The DJ set played before the acts were really good: a combination of DJ Vadin-style dubbed out hip hop samples and bass-heavy interesting beats. Dunno who they were though. The rest? Yeah okay whatevs.

But going around this giant industrial hulk: amazing! And the art scattered around for the Biennale was pretty cool too. I'm going to have to head back with the family for another look in daylight.

Looking forward to more music at this place though!


Floodlights: Oz Rock revival?

As a kid of the late 70s, Oz Rock was my childhood soundtrack. In the mainstream in the 1980s it was bogan classics: Cold Chisel, The Angels, Rose Tattoo, Dragon, The Radiators, Australian Crawl, Barnsey. Ugh. It's blokey. It's ocker. It's got all the sexist, racist tropes. You can see why I went all in on electronic music as a teenager.

But early 80s pub rock in Australia also had good stuff that broke through: Goanna, Midnight Oil, Men At Work, Hunters & Collectors. Music with a distinctly Australian sound but without needing to drive a ute, wear a mullet and get blind drunk and beat your wife. It's technically proficient music, varied stylistically with great songs and often with a political edge.

Enter Floodlights, a band from Melbourne with a distinct sound. I don't know if they think of themselves as Oz Rock influenced, or part of some kind of revival, but their sound brings to mind bands like Goanna and early Hunters & Collectors for me. Their live performance—and the audience reaction—makes me feel this band is about to go huge.

I love seeing a band in a small venue just before they go huge. You think to yourself "this is the last time I'll see this band somewhere so small". The lead singer has frontman energy (and good looking too, which never hurts) while the band are tight, the harmonies strong and the harmonica comes out quite a bit.

Support band Sweetie were fun, and having fun, with catchy tunes. Melodrones sounded okay but a bit loose.

This was my first time at The Great Club, a terrible tragedy. It's been open years now and I haven't made it. It's a great small-mid sized venue, walking distance from home and well set up. Now that I've been, I'll be keeping an eye out for more bands playing there.


Battlesnake: metal madness!

Last Saturday night I went with my mate Michael to see Battlesnake. This band have been on my radar to watch with their over-the-top stage theatrics and right-on hard rock. Think Saxon by way of Spinal Tap. This is clearly a band who have watched Spinal Tap a few times. And taken notes.

Loads of fun. Unfortunately they had some problems blowing out the venue's electrics every time they hit their big stage lights, so we got a somewhat diminished show. I'll be along to their show for Vivid in June to see what I was missing!

The show was wild. Seven dudes on a fairly small stage. Great songs with killer riffs, delivered by great musicians who clearly enjoy doing the theatrics. Check out the video here showing some truly Spinal Tap antics with a guitarist wheeled through the crowd on wheels. Hilarious.

They're playing around places, including Europe, so check em out!


Brekky Boy

My favourite music venue gains it's favour because it's so close. I can be at the Factory Theatre in about 5 minutes. Back when they only had terrible beer we used to duck home in between bands for a decent beer from our own fridge.

So their free events on weekends are particularly compelling. Low effort and worth checking out at the smallest provocation. Today's paid off in spades.

Brekky Boy are three supremely talented jazz musos playing intricate, tightly coordinated tracks very much in the techno or ambient house vein. Brilliant band.

Golden Plains 2024

Holly and I have been going to this incredible festival as often as possible since 2018. It's like no other festival: amazing people and vibe, single stage with a really diverse lineup of bands and some kooky traditions.

It's the best festival I've ever been to in Australia. Not the gravitas and lineup heft of Glastonbury but certainly captures a lot of the vibe, better in a lot of ways even. Not easy for us to make it from Sydney, involving finding hosts for our kids, flights, car hire and getting tents and the like all the way there.

This year we had to deal with serious heat. 37 degrees every day and on the Saturday night it was still 30 at 10pm. Seriously hot, so there was a lot of sitting around sipping drinks and hoping it'd cool down a bit.

Strange traditions

One of the funny traditions of Golden Plains is The Boot. To show their appreciation of a show, attendees hold a boot aloft above their heads. Charlotte Adigéry was very confused until some of the crowd explained what was going on. People also dress up in crazy stuff. And weirdest of all, you're allowed bring furniture to the festival, so there ends up being a whole array of couches at the back of the crowd area.

The sunsets from the hill beside the main stage are spectacular. A big crowd forms on the hill as the sun goes down with cheers, claps and hoots of appreciation. They're really stunning sunsets.


Musical highlights this year: Elsy Wamayo played a great afternoon set in the heat that forced me up onto my feet. King Stingray's recorded music hadn't set my heart alight but live they were great fun. And best of the fest was Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul. I've been following Adigéry's music since 2017 so I was super excited she was on the bill and they were amazing. Absolutely owned the crowd. Cymande were also a lot of fun, spotting those samples that you've heard everywhere.

Minami Deutsch at Marrickville Bowlo

I was willing to go see this band just because of the description: Japanese Krautrock. It's like the punchline to a joke at Pitchfork Media's expense.

But they were good. Really good. Tight, clever and with perfectly synchronised speed changes that keep you on your toes.

I think Minami Deutsch is to Krautrock what tempura is to fish and chips. In many ways perfecting the original but not just a clone. It's own thing.

Apple Vision Pro demo

I'm currently in Austin, Texas for MeasureCamp so when I read you could book demos (via The Sizzle, of course) I waited until it was 7 days out and booked it in. Easily done on the Apple site, though you do need to sign up for an Apple ID.

My appointment was at a swanky mall in the Austin suburbs so it was a $15 Uber ride out and the same again back to town. Waiting outside I got asked by a Jehovah if I wanted to join a bible study. I suppose if you're camped outside the Apple Temple your chances of finding an easy mark are good.

Once my turn came up, my demo guy introduced himself and of course now I can't remember his name, but he was great. He took my glasses and put them in a machine that measures them and orders the appropriate optical inserts. Apparently there's some prescriptions they can't handle, specifically if your script has a "Prism" value which I think is people with astigmatism. My bifocals were no problem.

Next we had to measure my face using an iPhone app. A bit of a delay because I'm not in the cult and they had to find an iPhone I could use. You then do a process similar to enrolling for the face unlock feature: stare at the dot and slowly move your head left, right, up and down. Repeated again and the order for your seals around your face.

A few moments delay and out comes my demo set, ready for my head, face and eyes. Served on a platter like a fancy meal.

Detailed instructions were given of how to pick it up and put it on your head: you don't want smudges on the shiny plastic I suppose and Apple probably still feels the scar tissue from the "you're holding the phone wrong" antenna attenuation disaster.

Setup and calibration

The first phase of the demo is going through some calibration and learning the gestures. Calibration involves looking at dots and doing the tap gesture, touching your forefingers to your thumb briefly somewhere in the wide field of view of the front-firing cameras. The other two gestures are scroll which is pinching your fingers together, dragging in the appropriate direction and releasing. Zoom is two-handed tap, stretch and release. All pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

Then the magic starts. There's a knob on the top-right of the goggles they call the "crown". Pressing it functions like the home button on an iPhone while turning it dials up or down how much of the outside world you see.


For the next bit I dialed the outside world entirely out for the full immersive experience. The environment is a stunning mountainous outdoor view with water gently moving. The windows of applications are suspended in the air in the environment. I was instructed through expanding and placing windows in that environment.

This experience is pretty amazing. I could see it being super productive: distractions dialed out and you can easily have 3 or more massive, super high res screens arrayed in front of you. Brilliant. Apparently you can bring a Mac's desktop into this environment which would be pretty sweet.

Passive immersive experiences

Next up demos of the immersive experiences. 3D photos and videos as taken by the device itself, then ones taken on iPhones. They're pretty mind blowing quality. While the 3D visuals are as expected, the bit that really blew my mind was the audio. It really comes from the point it should, even as you move your head around.

Some demos of different immersive experiences. A clip from the (execrable I hear) Super Mario film, a bunch of immersive clips of scenes from nature: a women climbing a sheer cliff, people cuddling a baby rhino, baby bears walking into a stream, sharks underwater, a singer half a metre away from you singing straight to you. All amazing.

And that's it, the demo is over and I have to take the headset off. Smart business: they definitely leave you wanting more! Yours for only $3,500 (AUD5,400). Where's a black market kidney buyer when you need one?

Wrapping up

I'm no Apple fanboi: I own a Mac because I got it from my last workplace and while they're amazing hardware, I'm not a huge fan of the OS and GUI. Better than Windows and I can bend it to my workflows with some effort, but there's clunky things I dislike,

But this? This I like. It's really quite impressive. Once they get the price down, I'd consider buying one. I'd probably want to borrow or rent one for a week or so to see what the working environment is like, but I could see it being super productive. And games are gonna be _incredible_. This is a much slicker, better rounded experience than the Oculus from the House of Zuck.


I had some minor quibbles with the device, and things I think need more exploration.

  • Focus for me wasn't perfect. The edges of vision were quite fuzzy. This can probably be tuned in though.
  • It's quite heavy! They pack an incredible amount of tech into this thing so that's not surprising, but I wonder how that goes if you wear it for hours. Ditto any visual things. I'd be curious to see how long people can use it in real world usage.
  • This was a carefully curated demo. The demo guy has an iPad where he can drag you back if you try to explore on your own. I bet there's nasty rough edges, bugs and probably even straight up crashes. This is V1 of the product. Remember how crap the original iPhone was: this is better than that, but there's still going to be bad bits.


It's a brilliant piece of tech. Apple should be rightly proud of it. It's interesting that they're doing these demos: I feel like it'd be quite hard to get across how damn well it works in a video or other method of demonstration. And people have been burnt with similar products in the past: everyone who tried the Google Glasses was surprised to see the screen is just a tiny piece in the corner which isn't clear in the demo videos at all. This isn't like that: full immersion!

But wow it's expensive. I'm keen to see how much it comes down with V2.


Russian Circles

Last night's gig was Russian Circles, a "post-metal" band from the US. I've followed them since the 2000s.

It was a stinking hot night: 28° and something like 90% humidity, so of course I rode my bike in. The Metro Theatre is fortunately very well air conditioned so it was lovely inside. No zero alcohol beers available so I got a glass of tonic instead.

I caught only the last few minutes of one support band, I think they were Meniscus. Seemed quite good. Second support, Tangled Thoughts of Leaving , were a bit too clever for their own good. A cacophonous wall of noisy free jazz.

Russian Circles were great. Heavy, tight and with fantastic tracks. The lighting was particular well executed with the fog combining with lights switching between rear, front and side to great effect. You'd be watching the drummer and the lights switch to behind and suddenly he appears fuzzy, from the fog, then he's clearly illuminated and it's timed with the music. Nice one.

Fun gig. It hadn't cooled down on the way home, still sticky and hot but the roads were mercifully quiet.