Sunday, July 31, 2005

jazz it up

Out on Saturday night to the Tasmania Inn to see the jazz trio Joe & The Joy Boys, who are acquaintances of my sister Julie. They swung their way nicely through a pleasant selection of standard oldies -- I particularly liked their renditions of "Girl from Ipanema" and "As Time Goes By". The sound system gave them a bit of grief but that's not unusual for Saturday night pub gigs.

It's the first time we've been to the Tasmania Inn since it changed hands, and my sister (who dislikes change in any form) was slightly disturbed by the changes they'd made to the decor.

We were both disturbed by the changes to the menu, where the cheapest item is now about $17. A bit dearer than it used to be.

The new owners, a family of Canadians, seem nice enough but I would be interested to know how much experience they've had in the hotel trade. It's a line that a lot of people go into without any prior knowledge.

I've been generally quite satisfied using Netspace as my back-up ISP, and I queried them about taking out a second account for a friend. They were quite happy about it and I went ahead with it at the weekend.

The problem for my friend Kay, you see, is that she's one of those rare individuals who doesn't have a credit card. If you think about it, that makes it almost impossible to sign up with the majority of internet service providers.

I suggested to her that if she was willing to pay me, I could charge it to my credit card and neither of us would be worse off. She certainly wouldn't be, since her last ISP charged $29 a month and the Netspace Supersaver subscription is only $7-95 a month.

The local press reported this week that petrol has soared to record prices around Tasmania, with some motorists paying a staggering 124.9 cents a litre. In Hobart unleaded fuel has reached 118.9 in most stations, four cents more than in other capital cities.

Despite a drop this week in the world price of crude oil, farmers and the transport industry are reeling from the high prices. The chief engineer of the Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania complained that oil companies were usually quick to raise prices but slow to drop them.

Too true, blue.

I've wondered why Network Ten persists with Big Brother when a quick check of the ratings in Melbourne and Hobart shows that it struggles to get into the ten most-watched programmes each week.

The series costs about A$25 million a year to mount.

Well, mystery solved. I now read that the show is always on the list of the "20 most-watched programmes" among viewers aged 16 to 39 around Australia. Apparently the advertisers don't really care that many people over 40 consider it a complete waste of time. The 25-to-54 demographic are firmly rusted on to the Nine Network anyway.

Speaking of the over-40s, DMG Radio Australia has launched its new Melbourne/Sydney network under the brand name Vega ("on your wavelength"). The new stations will be aimed at the 40-to-60 demographic, just as DMG's Nova network targets the under-40 group.

It's expected to lure listeners away from the ABC, news-talk stations and Classic Hits stations.

DMG - part of Britain's Daily Mail media company - has deep pockets. It's spent over $500 million to set up the five-state Nova network and the Vega stations. (And kudos to The Australian for not describing Nova as a "national network" -- any Tasmanian will tell you that you can't claim national coverage if you only broadcast to five out of the six states!)

I've reinstalled Firefox on my computer this week. I used to have it, but lost it when the laptop's hard drive crashed this year. Firefox 1.0.4 is apparently the latest model. I haven't tried it yet, so I'll be interested to see if I notice any differences to the old version.

I've also put on a free programme called Fraud Eliminator -- I am not paranoid, I'm just careful.

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