A new thing – the Sport Review New Zealand newsletter

I’m not convinced about the ‘newsletters are the new blogs’ chat. But, at the risk of sounding out of touch and longing for the Olden Days, I definitely support anything that operates in a web browser instead of an app.

Claiming the internet back from walled gardens – Facebook, mainly – is good.

If everyone created their own personalised corner of the web, would make it harder for us to be marketed to (arguably a plus!), and give control and autonomy over our ideas and online operations back to us and our businesses.

And so, the good old newsletter relies on the simplest platform there is – email. There’s no algorithm involved, just the challenge of creating something interesting, that hopefully people will sign up for, enjoy, and recommend to their friends.

I’m keen to try – my new project is the Sport Review NZ newsletter. Sign up at sportreview.net.nz/newsletter.

The idea is to deliver the best New Zealand sport writing and content, along with a video, a gif and some surprises, to your inbox every Friday morning at 8am. I’m not sure where it’ll end up, but getting there is going to be fun.

For myself, I enjoy newsletters that have a personal voice, are a bit geeky, and tell me something I didn’t know before. And link to lots of interesting things to read.

The ones I read regularly include Dave Pell’s Next Draft, Ann Friedman’s weekly newsletter, the Dicks and Betties newsletter (it’s cleaner than it sounds), Anne Helen Peterson‘s newsletter.

Along similar lines is my all-time favourite website Kottke.org, which has been finding and sharing fascinating links for over 20 years (he’s just launched his own newsletter too), and Martin Belam’s occasional Friday Reading series.

Also, shout out to Inky’s rugby newsletter – most of what I know about rugby I stole from him.

Let’s see where it takes us – I’d love it if you could sign up, share it, and let me know what you think.

2015 in mobile phone photos

Here’s a ramble through 2015 expressed in the ‘photos I took on my phone’ medium. I’ve actually tried to take the DSLR actually out of its bag more often this year in order to get slightly nicer, slightly more considered photos happening, but that’s, erm, a work in progress. Anyway. Onward.

See also: 2014 (at sportreview.net.nz), 2013, 2012 and 2011.

See also: sportreview.net.nz’s year in review.


Just some sweet garden gnomes I was kindly gifted.


In the middle of scoring 237 against in the CWC quarter final, Martin Guptill hit one on the roof of the packed Westpac Stadium. A few minutes later, this bloke went up there to get it.


And after everyone went home from THAT semi final at Eden Park, these guys went in the middle for a pretend game and selfies. They got in trouble.


Some goober at the MCG.


I’ve largely given up food photography but holy balls, when you’re basically served real-life Fred Flintsone ribs, you can’t not. Recommended.


So, I work at Fonterra now. I got to go to Fieldays and met a long-time hero. Background woman spectacularly unimpressed.


This is my reality now.


We got cats, Sweetpea and Fred. Once the former stopped chewing through every phone charger cable in the house, we got on fine.


Proud moment.


Some neighbour’s plant. In my dream compound / Led Zep-style country estate, I would like a whole garden of these.




Dorking out next to a sweet Falcon at The Mount.


Halloween decoration or Klansman? You be the judge. 


My attempt to make a baked pancake turned out kind of weird, but kind of compelling.


Kids cricket at East Coast Bays. Have to say, I loved being a cricket dad kind of more than being a football dad, it’s much more relaxing watching kids sport in tee shirt and shorts with a shit flat white in your hands.


Joseph Parker Stalkipedia. He was a cool guy and later casually jumped on the bar’s guitar and piano and kicked arse.


Ray Columbus hotel portrait. Unexpected and a little bit terrifying, if I’m honest.


This Mount Victoria fire was obviously worrying for all concerned, but looked pretty sweet from our office. 

2013 in mobile phone pictures

Third instalment of mobile phone photos of the year, here’s 2011 and 2012. Big year this year, with new job and a big work trip, and trying to fit everything in.

You can click all the pictures to make them bigger.

2013-01-09 10.05.54

I changed jobs in February…

Ibanez Talman

…and turned 40 in February also. Quite a month. I had a lovely party with friends and family all in attendance. This axe was my mid-life crisis acquisition – it’s been loads of fun.


The new job’s offices had a pretty different vibe to the last one, in fairness.

2013-05-16 23.15.27

I spent a lot of time this year watching cricket and tweeting about it, happy days.

2013-05-16 16.44.12

This is a traffic light that looks like a TIE fighter.

2013-05-11 15.47.09

Straight to the pool room.

2013-06-30 08.44.36

Wee fella.


Wee fella and wee girl. Family is going great.

2013-12-08 19.21.45


So this was dinner

I tried to lay off the bad food photography this year, but… you know.

Fire walk with me.


Most bad-ass birthday cake awardee here.

We got serious about lego this year.

Quick selfie

I got right on board the selfie boom.

2013-10-10 16.30.40

So I went to Bangladesh with the BLACKCAPS. This was Chittagong.

2013-10-14 07.30.05

I never get tired of posting this – signing a bat at Hotel Agrabad over breakfast.

2013-10-14 10.40.03

2013-10-21 14.32.35

I saw a number of cool modes of transport in Bangladesh.

2013-10-20 14.39.05

2013-10-20 14.41.24


2013-11-06 17.32.07

This was my last meal in Bangladesh. Bloody good it was too.

2013-11-18 18.27.58

Someone did some pretty sweet burnouts on our street.

2013-11-23 09.22.10

Colleague sorts out hipster DJ at Christmas party.

2013-11-23 17.40.05

Watching the Ashes while BBQing was a bit of a highlight. Merry 2014 all!

What’s In Your Bag, Bangladesh edition

I’m a big fan of features like The Verge’s What’s In Your Bag? and The Setup, where folk share the stuff they use everyday in a cheerfully narcissistic fashion.

[Get the full run down on the Bangladesh trip over at sportreview.net.nz]

For the last month I’ve been in Bangladesh with the BLACKCAPS, writing for our website, live-tweeting matches and taking photos and video. This is what I’ve been using – click the picture to see the full size version.

Whats in my bag 041113


A – Timbuk2 Messenger. These are bullet proof. I’ve had mine for almost ten years, in which time it’s seen regular use as a cycle-commute bag, and it’s only just starting to show wear now. It’s roomy, it has not-too-many and not-too-few pockets and it has a well-padded shoulder strap, handy when you’re lugging a whole lot of heavy crap around. Recommended.

B – Power board. Plug local adapter into power board. Plug your phones / cameras / computer / iPad into power board. Charge all the things.

C – 3rd generation iPad. It’s an iPad, you know the deal. This is my personal one, and it’s 16GB, WiFi only and white. Mail, Tweetbot, Twitter, Facebook Pages Manager, Chrome, Dropbox, PlainText, CricInfo and Instapaper are the go-tos.

D – 5th generation 120GB iPod classic. I like to take all my music with me. It also holds podcasts and full-res copies of  all my iPhotos as a backup. Comes with in-ear Sennheiser headphones and ancient neoprene Body Glove Palm III case.

E – Cables n USBs n stuff. USB – mini USB, USB – Samsung charger, USB – iPad, iPad wall socket, 2 x 8GB USB drives, Bluetooth headset and a Mac – Monitor adapter which I haven’t used. All these go in a handy neoprene pouch, which it appears I have a thing for.

F – Samsung Galaxy S3. Bloody good phone this, I’ve used this as my main personal and work phone for the last 18 months. Camera, Twitter, Carbon, Instapaper, the Camera, Dropbox, Mail, Chrome, CricInfo, Voice Recorder and pictures of my kids are what get used the most.

G – Samsung Galaxy Mini. Work phone with local sim card. Gets used the most for hot-spotting data.

H – 320 GB Western Digital hard drive. Nothing special. Contains Time Machine backup files and TV and film entertainment.

I – Fossil Blue watch. Nothing special. One thing with cricket is that using phones is banned in the dressing room and viewing areas during matches. Considering I use my phone as my watch normally, the wrist watch has made a come back.

J – Apple Magic Mouse and no-name mouse pad. Nothing like your own mouse and pad to make you feel at home. Good mouse this, and a good size. Say no to painful-to-use ‘travel’ mice.

K – MacBook Power cable and carry case. No matter how carefully you put a power cable inside your bag, when you open it up at the end of your journey, it will have unravelled and tangled itself throughout all your crap and take 15 minutes to pull out. If you take anything from this whole naval-gazing exercise, my tip to you is to find an appropriate carry case for your power cable if you go mobile a lot, it will make your life at least 4% better. You’re welcome.

L – Pens and a notepad. My #1 pen is a Pilot Dr Grip ballpoint with the fine blue refills and my backups are Pilot SuperGrip ballpoints in the fine blue versions. Not anal at all about this stuff, ah har.

M – Panasonic AG – HMC41E and Sony mic. I’m new to shooting video, but this camera does a really solid job.  I don’t really put it in my bag, it has its own one on wheels, plus the tripod.

N – 15″ MacBook Pro. 2.6GHz with Intel Core i7.  Work laptop. I love everything about this machine, with the weight the only quibble. Chrome, Opera, VLC, Text Wrangler, iMovie, PhotoShop, Dreamweaver, Audacity, Dropbox and Quicksilver are the most-often-most-recently-used.

O – Canon Digital Rebel EOS 40oD with 18-55mm and 75-300mm lenses. My personal one. Like video, I am only a very amateur photographer. Luckily the pros stepped in for this tour, but I managed to get some OK shots in the meantime.


That’s about it – not pictured are hand sanitiser, insect repellent  and bottles of water, all of which I’m going through like nobody’s business. The only thing I think I’m missing is some kind of bluetooth speaker arrangement for the hotel room.

Luckily, not all of this gets humped around at once, on match days I take the laptop and training days the iPad comes instead etc. It’s been a lot of fun figuring out what is needed when and working completely mobile. The WiFi has been excellent at the grounds and everything has worked, no tech disasters so far, touch wood.

The revolution will not be photoshopped competently

Here is the drill. Every so often I photoshop this photo into what I imagine will be a willfully obscure film / TV pop culture reference for my Twitter – which turns out to be depressingly predictable 80s fare nine times out of ten.

You can see the rest of these here and here.  As always, apologies in advance for the photoshopping.

Charlie brown kicking football copy
 steven-spielberg-20070609-267574 copy
 Lost Boys
karate-kid-photo copy
 familyties copy
Dastardly_ani copy
 Dark side
 1769947-100_robocop copy
asterix2 copy
 Animal House
 James Bond
Wall st
 storm copy
 lego_spaceman copy
212_ScreenHunter_ 14-Aug

Some guy on the NZ Digital Podcast

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to chat to Paul Spain and Sim Ahmed on the New Zealand Digital Podcast.

We talked about the new role and the old role, tools of the trade, advice for folk and businesses thinking about getting into social media and the separation between yer professional and personal activity online. Sim complimented my eyebrows at one point, which was extremely gracious of him.

Recording the show was a lot of fun – thanks to Paul and Sim for having me on, this new off shoot of the popular NZ Tech Podcast looks like it’ll be a worthwhile listen if you’re into This Kind Of Thing.

You can listen to my episode in a variety of fashions here.

You can’t troll a troll

On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to be on Social Media Club Auckland’s When communities go bad panel, along with Anna Connell, Mike Kooge and Chris Keall.

The panel. Photo filched from SMCAKL site

Some brief thoughts:

Being trolled is part of the territory for doing corporate social media. Of course, social media is just people. And some people can be dicks, bluntly.

Basically, someone has to be prepared to cop it, and it’s kind of up to you to develop a range of coping mechanisms (hence my ‘harden up’ comment). It gets easier over time! Caring a lot is a bit of a pre-req for doing the job well and properly, but the downside of that is taking the nastier comments to heart and wanting to throw things against things so they break.

The solution? Realise it’s not you, take breaks, make sure you’re well supported by your company. Easier said than done sometimes, but what’s the point of doing a job that’s easy, hey?

Anna definitely  kicked the crap out of me at pithy tweet-able soundbites. Nice work. And Mike showed there’s some excellent thinking and different knowledge out there beyond the usual voices. Well done.

I was most impressed by Chris Keall’s ‘take panel questions from your phone’ paradigm. Typical innovation incubation on the fly by our top tech scribe.

I realise I talked mainly about Telecom examples, rather than the new job (which is going really well BTW). That’s because I honestly haven’t been trolled very much at all in the new role – which is a nice change! The team going well is obviously a big factor, but even so, the ‘other distractions’ don’t seem to have generated much heat online.

I haven’t been to SMCAKL for a while, but it seems to be on the right track, by the evidence presented on Tuesday night. Fair play and all the best to the organisers and sponsors, it isn’t easy putting something like this on.

This is the first time I was trolled on the @telecomnz account, about a day after I took the job.


Leaving Telecom

Last month I left Telecom – I was six weeks shy of completing ten years there. In that time, I reckon I had about seven jobs, in the retail business, then Telecom Wholesale, then in the corporate relations team, the last two and a bit as social media manager. I want to write some stuff down about it before it fades into `on to the next thing`.

I really loved it there – somehow, I got ample rope to hang myself with on a number of occasions. I went from being kind of buried deep, deep in the organisation (I wasn`t even sure what business unit I was in for the first couple of years, probably more reflective of my own lack of interest than anything) to working right where the shit was hitting the fan and the decisions were being made most days. I am very lucky to have been given the opportunities I was given – and I got to work with the most awesome bunch of people you could ever wish to have as colleagues, and I am not even just saying that.

I really enjoyed the Telco industry, there was much drama between the competitors, industry bodies, media, government. I particularly enjoyed getting to know people at other Telcos when I was at Wholesale, the dynamic of being both competitors and customers and having a beer with the next bloke anyway is unique, to an extent, in NZ.

 Evers Swindells
 Just hanging out with some colleagues.

The other awesome bunch I got to work with is the Online Response Team, Telecom`s famous(ish) group of volunteers that manage the social media accounts, largely out of the goodness of their hearts. I was part of the team, then became its `leader` (quotes very much intentional) when the social media manager role was created. The model is one I really believe in and I think it worked really well for Telecom, lending the dirty great corporate a little more humanity, which is important, especially in the early days of the ORT. The folk involved in setting  that up, not to mention the Telecom ONE unconferences that  happened each year despite  the political and resourcing  challenges involved, deserve much kudos.

It  was most fun when things went wrong. XT, Chch earthquakes, Abstain, Stephen Fry, network outages and Yahoo! Xtra, you name it. Social media and Twitter in particular were very much part of the front line response to all this, and it was exciting. I spent more hours than I care to think of at work and at home on audio conferences (I even discovered how useful bluetooth ear pieces are, to my shame) with dedicated, capable and passionate folk trying to put things right – we were really good when things were turning to custard. Crisis comms is something I really enjoy, and without being a dick, Telecom is one of the best places to do it –  it’s a New Zealand headquartered company, and we were it, there was no head office coming in to take over when things got interesting.

I guess the down side of doing social for such a large, service orientated company is the `always on` nature. There was never a moment, when I was with the kids at the beach, on the bus or out drinking when I wasn`t thinking `I wonder if something is kicking off on Twitter?` Often folk  in social media roles are their own worst enemies, preferring to spend their bus journey looking at the work Twitter instead of playing Angry Birds. It is a great and wonderful thing that folk have a public, social way of getting a company`s attention, but in darker moments it felt like a public 0800 complaint line. Corporate social media asks a lot of the people responsible for doing it, and while spreading the responsibility among, say, customer service or  marketing or PR or wherever may take away some of its charm, spontaneity and human-ness, it`s important for the people themselves` human-ness that this very public face of the company is empowered and well supported, both process-wise and emotionally. And they get an actual break every now and again (even if this must be rigorously policed!).

I`m not a legitimate geek by any stretch, barely able to operate a mouse properly, but I loved working at a tech company, with lots of people that Knew What They Were Talking About. In the social media role I got a deep appreciation for mobile technology – a good and fast smartphone with a sharp camera and decent connectivity is the knife and fork of the role. I was extremely lucky to be handed a succession of shiny toys to play with, and I`ll miss that a lot! I liked that at Telecom we worked on making people`s lives easier and better – although, going by my own experience, I sometimes worried that we were just making it easier for people to work *all the time*. Telecom is of course a large (by NZ standards) corporation, with all issues that brings – restructures are part of life, and we got used to them to an extent, but I`m feeling for my ex-colleagues now. I understand why, but it won`t be easy for those involved, something Telecom acknowledges themselves, of course.

Anyway – it was great, and it has taken something special to get me out of there. I`d like to thank (if they`re reading!) all my ex-colleagues and managers for being so cool. Thanks for having me.