Hello from dLook Melbourne

If you’ve never been to Melbourne then it’s high time you made the trip. Voted the world’s most liveable city in both 2011 and 2012, a day spent in Melbourne is a day spent amongst trendy cafes, amazing shopping destinations, luscious gardens, world-class art galleries and museums and, of course, secret laneways full of surprises.

Equipped with everything that makes it one of the world’s greatest cities but without the hustle-and-bustle, Melbournites are known for their laid-back attitudes, love of great coffee and appreciation of great local music.

It is, in fact, to the credit of these local musicians that Melbourne is known as the music and cultural capital of Australia. The muse of talented artists such as Paul Kelly, The Living End and Skyhooks, Melbourne and its myriad live venues continue to be the heart and soul of the Australian live music scene. From the Northcote Social Club and the Wesley Anne in the north to the Prince of Wales and the Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda, the city is buzzing with local (and international) talent live on stage 7 nights a week, 365 days a year.

If you’re less of a night owl and more of a daytime enthusiast, then you can easily get your cultural fix by going for a stroll (or a tram ride) around the city centre. Set up on an easy-to-follow grid, Melbourne’s CBD streets are intersected by laneways and secret alleys full of unique shops, local restaurants, incredible galleries.

Melbourne Street ArtMelbourne is well known for its street art (known as graffiti to those not from the cultural capital), and none more so than the ever-changing canvas that is the brick walls of Hosier Lane. Full of paintings of characters, landscapes, political comments and even Hindu goddesses, head on down any day of the week to catch the artists of Hosier Lane in the act.

If art-in-a-frame is more your style, the short stroll down Hosier Lane will see you at the incredible ACMI/NGV complex at Federation Square where the National Gallery of Victoria awaits.

If there’s one piece of advice I can offer from a local’s perspective it would be to escape the city and explore Melbourne’s inner suburbs.

Melbourne is famous for its café culture, and there is no better place to experience this than in the ‘burbs like a true local.

The thing I love about Melbourne is that all you can be a 10 minute tram ride out of the city and already you’re in a completely different setting with its own local must-sees, funky cafes, eclectic shops and locally owned bars and restaurants.

Brunswick St, Fitzroy is one of Melbourne’s most famous streets for those favouring something out of the ordinary, while Lygon St, Carlton’s Little Italy, makes you feel like you’ve stepped onto the streets of Florence or Rome.

Heading South of the River you have South Yarrah/Prahran’s Chapel St – a shopper’s paradise, and a short ride north on the tram or train will get you to my own little suburban paradise, Northcote.

Melbourne | The Garden City

Melbourne Skyline
Melbourne is also great for it’s parklands and gardens – the reason it is also known as the ‘garden city’. Merri Creek runs right the way through the northern suburbs and joins the iconic Yarra River, and the adjacent bike track provides a great place to run, cycle, or stroll your way through a lazy Sunday afternoon. Along the bike track you will find great open spaces and secret playgrounds and skate parks, complete with a stunning view of the city skyline.

A run-down of Melbourne would not be complete without mention of the weather.

As famously sung by Melbourne residents You Am I, Melbourne really does have the tendency to offer visitors four seasons in one day.

One thing I was told when I first moved to this incredible city was to “always carry an umbrella, a jacket, and a pair of shorts” – which has turned out be some of the best advice I have received this year! Sunny one minute, torrential downpour the next, if I had one word to describe Melbourne it would be unpredictable.

You never know what you may stumble upon down the next laneway, what characters you will meet on the tram or just when that blue sky will be replaced by grey clouds.

Regardless of the weather or time of day, however, there is always something to do in Melbourne, so come on down and experience it for yourself!

Social Media Disruptions at Work

The social media monster has entered the workplace and will continue to disrupt our precious work time.

Will it go away?

Going in between social media accounts is fine when you’re procrastinating or if “its part of my job”, but when you’re getting real work done, these social disruptions will slowly impact your productivity.

 

According to an infographic created by the Red e App team, who provide powerful mobile solutions, highlight on average workers are disrupted every 10.5 minutes, of the work day. And to further compound these unproductive activities, it takes around 23 minutes to get back to their daily tasks. Social media disruptions in the workplace are accounting for 28% of the work day.  In addition, most workplaces have 30 minutes to 1 hour lunch breaks.

With productivity and the threat of viruses or malware being an issue, just cutting off social media in the workplace is not a quick fix solution, especially when companies are more and more pressured to being more digitally connected. Better time management is needed.

Check out the infographic for a complete breakdown of how much time is being spent by workers going between Emails; Facebook posting and viewing updates; and tweeting on Twitter.

Why specialty Cakes are Always Better than Supermarket Cakes

Cakes are a way of celebrating many important and memorable events.  Every prominent occasion seems to have a cake attached to it.  Cakes are often the grand finale of many events and as a result, are always very much anticipated.

Weddings are amongst the biggest occasions and often involve the biggest cakes.  Wedding cakes can come in several flavors to accommodate the versatile demand of guests as well as the bride.  Typically, the bride will decide what kind of cake she wants and the cake decorator designs the cake according to the bride’s direction.  Wedding cakes are large and time consuming, but they add so much to the wedding and often play into the wedding theme.

The best place to go to get cakes for a special occasion is a cake shop or a cake store.  Cake shops and stores specialize in custom-made cakes and can prepare whatever the customer is looking for in a cake or design.  Specialized made to order cakes are typically more costly but are worth the price.  There is no limit to what a cake maker can design.  They will make the special event a hit with their handmade cakes.

Anniversary and engagement cakes are made to look more delicate and fancy.  Baby Christening cakes are also more delicate in appearance, as opposed to a naughty or novalty cakes which are often featured at adult birthday parties

Many birthday celebrations often involve highly decorated and colourful cakes with lots of extra toppings such as chocolate and lollies. Often a child who is having the birthday party will pick out the kind of cake they want. This can be particularly exciting, as they get to see their favourite car, character, or animal be made into a yummy cake.  For children’s parties that have many guests, many cake shops also offer cup cakes and mini cakes that make serving and clean up a breeze.

When you go looking for custom made cakes you must remember that cake shops are different from patisseries.  A patisserie specializes in baked goods as opposed to a cake shop that specialises in cakes. Often cake shops will also offer cake-decorating classes.  Both are very great businesses that offer novelty baked goods.

So next time you are planning a party don’t just buy a $10 run-of-the-mill cake from Coles or Woolies, seek out a local cake maker or cake shop and get the dream cake you’ve always wanted!

Is Facebook Advertising Worth It?

In May 2012, the American car manufacturing company, General Motors, decided to withdraw its 10 million dollars’ worth of Facebook advertising. The company, the third largest advertiser in the US, made its decision based on the claim that its paid ads have not had a significant impact on the targeted Facebook users.

General Motor’s move has again highlighted the question frequently debated in the business community: is paying for online marketing on Facebook and other social media sites actually worth it?

The Effectiveness of Social Media Advertising

There is a general consensus among social media marketing experts that Facebook has changed the way businesses communicate with their customers. Because it allows businesses to target potential customers based on specific demographics and interests, when done correctly Facebook advertising does indeed have the potential to be effective.

How to Succeed in Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

Social media strategists have a basic rule of thumb for reaching out to customers: Don’t just advertise!

The key to success in your social media marketing is to build a relationship with the user: make them your friends before you make them your customers. The primary element that makes social media different from more traditional forms of media is that every potential consumer has a voice, and will use it to accept or reject a business.

As such, friendly, conversational communication on a daily basis is far more effective on social media platforms than a preachy, distant advertisement tailored to mass audiences.

Never forget that the purpose of the effort and the money you spend on Facebook advertising is to interact with people, not robots.

That’s why it is important that you use social media regularly, even in a personal capacity, to understand the nature of communication on these platforms. Only then will you be able to effectively adapt the tone and rhythm of online communication to your online marketing strategy.

Social Media Advertising is Here to Stay

Even though General Motors has decided to cease paying for its ads on Facebook, it still has thriving free pages on the platform. Furthermore, there is a growing number of large and small-scale businesses worldwide that are increasing their social media marketing budgets. According to eMarketer, social media marketing is anticipated to double by 2016 – from $32 billion to $62 billion.

So whether you decide to dish out your cash to reach your potential customers or go down the free page road, social media marketing can be very beneficial for your business if done right.

Just remember the three essential elements in your marketing strategy:
• Consistency of your message
• Conversational messages in a friendly tone
• Frequent and regular updates

A Good Taste in Cafés

After years of working an office job, I finally moved out of the city and purchased a beautiful house in a secluded lot on the coast. Sadly I was only 35, not quite old enough to retire yet. However I had always wanted to own my own cafe. Of course I knew it would be very difficult work, but if I loved it and it was rewarding, then why would I not? So started my search for a dream cafe to rent and make my own.

Along our strip of coast there were a string of stunning cafes and restaurants with alfresco dining. A little shop overlooking the sea would be good I though. Serving coffee and lunch to all those passing through, making milk shakes for the youngsters on the way home from school But after searching for a little spot like this I began to feel that that type of café just wasn’t me. As I sat sipping a latte, hearing the autos fly past on the great sea road, I made my decision.

My partner was thrilled with the idea, as it meant I’d spend less cash that I might have spent had I bought a store. My sister told me it was a amazing idea and I was sure to make good money. My best mate exclaimed that I’d be the first stop for breakfast in the morning. It looked like my notion of a mobile coffee van was a winner.

It was more than a coffee shop, it was a cafe on wheels. I prepared a selection of food each night to go out on the run the next morning. From tasty cakes to Greek salad, sandwiches and snacks for the youngsters, I had something to keep everyone well fed and satisfied. With a month of qualified barista coaching under my belt, I was making tasty coffee and brewing tea to perfection.

I did a regular run, frequenting areas where outdoor cafe services were lacking, like little beaches and parks. In time I had a list of homes and companies added to my daily run. Whether it was folks in isolated areas dying for a good cup of coffee or busy retail employees who could not travel far for lunch, the business just kept coming. After five years, business is booming and I could not be more satisfied!

Immortalize Your Horse with a Horse Portrait Artist

Many people who love horses also love horse paraphernalia. Many people who have lots of horse paraphernalia also own their own horse. How better to add to your collection of horse-related collectables then by immortalizing your pet by having their portrait taken? Not everyone can paint horses like George Stubbs but that does not mean that there aren’t some amazing modern horse portrait artists out there.

If you are planning to find a horse portrait artist, first of all, you have to understand some basic specifications aside from style and price. Here is some sound advice to make sure that you hire the best equine artist:

Capture the True Likeness

Your horse portrait artist should possess the necessary skills to be able to capture the true likeness of your horse – its character, quirks and habits – that make it exactly the animal that you love. You need more than just an artist who can paint attractive portraits – they should also be able to observe the finest details of your horse.
You will mostly likely provide your artist with a photo of your horse. Be sure that photo has excellent lighting, a good and balanced angle, is clear and sharp, and large enough to provide the exact details that you want captured in the portrait. Remember that the photo is the tool that will bring out your artist’s creativity and imagination.

Missing Information

You may want to include some details in the portrait that are not in the sample photo. These other details may include a bridle on its mouth or a saddle on its back. Your artist should be able to easily add missing details such as these without ruining the integrity of the portrait.

Face-to-Face with Your Horse

Photos of your horse may provide your artist with all the details that will be captured by the portrait. But there is no substitute for an actual face-to-face meeting between your horse portrait artist and your horse. This allows your artist to have a glimpse of all the angles to your horse, as well as its idiosyncrasies. However if you would like a meeting between your artist and your horse to take place you must be prepared for an extra cost.

If all these steps are taken the finished portrait should represent your treasured pet down to even the small detail, so even after they are gone you can remember them for the beautiful animal that they were.

Hello from dLook Sydney

Sydney Harbour Bridge | dLook

Sydney is one of Australia’s most iconic cities.

Scrap that; Sydney is Australia’s most beautiful, thriving and iconic city.

As any Sydneysider will tell you, the only reason Sydney isn’t Australia’s capital is because the pollies were worried they wouldn’t get any work done if their offices were nestled in amongst the great restaurants, quirky bars and pop-up shops of the CBD.

Really, there’s no city quite like Sydney and no better place for dLook to call home.

The thing I love most about Sydney is the variety of its scenery.

By some strange workings of the universe, this beautiful city ended up perched between the glistening Pacific Ocean and the ever blue Blue Mountains.

Sitting so close to the edge of the continent means that Sydney is, at heart, a beach lover’s paradise. From the world famous Bondi to the little beaches known only by locals, Sydney has a fair share of picturesque sea side destinations to soak up the sun.

But wait, there’s more!

Sydney’s CBD may not be more than a dozen blocks, but “Sydney” goes on forever, from the golden sands of the Northern Beaches to the unforgettable hiking trails of the Blue Mountains.

If you’re not a nature lover (maybe you’re allergic to the sun, or you’ve had some bad experiences trying to snorkel), Sydney still has something for you – striking architecture.

Our illustrious city might not be too old, but we’ve got a great array of heritage buildings.

From the old police & justice museum to the ship building machinery on Cockatoo Island and the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) just across the road from our office, you’ll love Sydney whether you’re a history buff or not.

Museum of Contemporary ArtA city as fast paced as Sydney isn’t just full of sandstone and marble though – we’ve also got stunning examples of bold, modern architecture. Of course there are the better known examples of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, but other buildings, including the recently refurbished Museum of Contemporary Art, might catch you unawares.

If admiring buildings isn’t your thing, you’re in luck – Sydney offers thousands of non-architecture related activities. The fact that there really is so much to do in the city may just be the reason that 4.6 million of us call Sydney home.

Sydney | Something for Everyone

There is something for everyone, a Saturday morning activity to fit into every lifestyle – walk your dog to the local dog park, sign your kids up to the suburb’s soccer team, catch a race out at Rosehill Gardens or stagger home with the world’s worst hangover from one of the city’s gazillion bars.

Newtown, Inner West, SydneyAnd now something close to my heart – the Inner West (that’s right, it means so much to me I’m making it a proper noun).

The Inner West, in short, is the place where alternative dreams come true.

There are no McDonalds’ or KFC’s; the fast food giants have given way to hundreds of independent cafes and restaurants doing what they do best – specialty foods, crafted with love. Stark brick walls have been covered head to toe in the musings of ridiculously talented graffiti artists.

Whether you’re young or just young at heart, the Inner West feels like home.

The many tentacles of the Inner West culminate in the beating heart that is Newtown. Its prime strip, King Street, is famous for its wide variety of stores and vivid night owl hideouts and is arguably the very best the Inner West has to offer.

With the premise of big city life, but the punch and personality that comes with being a local hive, the Inner West is an experience unlike any other, so make sure you give it a go!

Four Reasons to Hire a Marine Surveyor

So you want to buy a boat?

Before launching off and buying that boat, yacht or cruiser that you’ve had your heart set on, it’s best to get the professional advice of a certified marine surveyor first.
Much like when you buy a residential property or even just a car or motorbike, a recognised marine surveyor will perform a number of standard procedures that will help you make an informed decision about your future purchase.
Aside from affirming the seaworthiness of the craft in question, a marine surveyor will offer you a similar service as that of the NRMA, Red Book and Revs. They will also inspect equipment intended for your dream vessel to make sure that it meets all safety standards and compliance specifications. Just as you would never buy a car that looked dodgy or worse – too good to be true – marine surveyors will ensure that you boat or yacht is not a floating lemon, ready to sink as soon as you take it out on the water.

Some of the services that licensed marine surveyors provide include:

i. Pre-Purchase Inspections – A pre-purchase inspection will uncover all of the boat’s faults and highlight any areas that need specific attention, repair or that may affect the final price upon settlement. This task of the surveyor is particularly important as it will ensure that your vessel is not only sea worthy but that it also meets all government requirements, so that you don’t end up with a hefty fine.

ii. Insurance Inspection Reports – Insurance reports are required by your nominated insurance company and need to be up to date, thorough and signed off before you get to cast your first line into the harbour.

iii. Valuation or Appraisal – If you’re selling a boat, you might want to know what it’s worth before you put it in The Trading Post or selling it to a dealer, because after all you want t make sure that you are getting the best possible sale price. So a certified valuation and appraisal of the craft will do you well. A marine surveyor may also be able to instruct you on certain ways to increase the value of your vessel, such as new equipment, a new paint job, etc.

iv. Damage Inspection – If you’re buying a boat, you might want to know if it has a checkered past – that’s where damage inspections and reports come in. And where you may bow out if you don’t like what you see.

So whether you’re in the market for the Love Boat or the Boat That Rocked, you might want to employ the services of a marine surveyor first – because it’s better you get that sinking feeling before you sign the contract than after when you’re clinging to a floatation device and clutching a beacon.

Check List for Fast Removals

Working out what you want to ask a Removalist salesperson when seeking a relocation quote if you plan quickly moving house or office can either be a nightmare or it can be as easy as making a call to the right phone number. The trouble is that working out what’s the right removalist number may also be a bad dream. For anyone who wishes to get out of their present location on short notice or superfast, the chances are worse as there is simply insufficient time to choose or select the best overall option. A great way to begin is to grasp the common indications of a good… and a bad removal quote. Here is a fast checklist.

Can they be reached when needed

This is an amazingly tell tale sign. Professional furniture movers service not only pop up in the Net search engines but also have multiple phone numbers, e-mail and a well updated web site. If the only number you are given is that of the boss, forget all about it and keep looking.

Do they have references

This is potentially the safest indicator of a good relocation service. Those who have already managed several superfast relocations will have no problem sharing the latest options and offer. While on it, check out their insurance cover and, crucially, whether there is a subcontractor in the mix. Referrals from repeat customers could be a good guide here regarding the care and respect for you effects the mover may take once he has the job. Look for testimonials but be careful of made up reviews that are just too glowing as they may happen to be mostly fake.

Is their quotation comprehensive

Except for poor time management, mishandling of heavy furniture or breaking antiques, dishes and fine art, there is very little as annoying as hidden expenses. Packing and wrapping material ought to be included in packaging charges. Parking and waiting costs should ideally be on their tab. If not, you are being set up for extra charges after the job is finished.

Can they organize for extra services

Some professional removalists may not offer incidental services such as rubbish or waste removal, house cleaning, furniture disposal, document eradication or storage. But the best ones either do or have a ready set of contacts they have used before to provde these type of services. Ensure you get all you need before you accept a quote.

Cost and time

Finally, look at the figures on offer from a quote. Is it all up or per hour? A comparison between 3 or even more quotes usually does the trick to  make a selection. Anyone giving you a figure that maybe too high and, especially too low from the average, is doubtless hiding something in the costing so beware of the best price may be not the cheapest overall unless you can determine who is doing the work and that all the services are included.

 

Barbers are not Hairdressers

Have you noticed that you can generally get your hairdresser to be a barber for you, but it’s certainly not the case that barbers are hairdressers.

For the greying and older generation, the red stripped pole land mark indicated the barber’s shop and was the place for the male of the species to go for a haircut.  Other male-only processes would also be available, such as a shave or a moustache trim.  Hairdressers were, in those earlier times, strictly for women, and the services on offer did not include anything so humdrum as a haircut.    The most important purpose for a visit was to get a “perm”   –   more technically referred to as “a permanent wave”.

Whilst the haircut at the barber’s shop was usually cheap, quick and efficient, the permanent wave was none of those things.     Relatively expensive, it also seemed to take a long time, and involved much more technology than the barber’s scissors.   It was clearly not efficient, because the permanent wave was definitely not permanent.   At least at the barber’s you didn’t have any illusions   –   you were not asked to pay for a “permanent short back and sides”.    But the hairdressers was always a place for illusions and fantasy.

It’s a sign of the times that these are now places where you’ll see as many men as women.    No longer content with a mere hair cut, plus an opportunity to browse some ageing motoring magazines and girlie tabloids, the modern male now likes the opportunity to browse fashion magazines, and sip a caffè latte, whilst he awaits shampooing, conditioning, trimming, styling, colouring, blowdrying – and that’s just the hair.   Hairdressers will also offer a host of ancillary services, including spas, waxing, massage and manicures.

This changing market-place has meant that the barber has become something of an endangered species.   The clientele gets steadily older, as do the barbers themselves, and each time they step into the barber’s shop, they’ve got even less hair to cut.   The ubiquitous short back and sides is often the only option available, as there’s nothing left on top.   It’s a leisurely activity all round, though, since there’s little hair to cut, and time even for a little value added, to trim the eyebrows, or other locations where hair growth is not particularly hoped for.

Young men should take the opportunity to visit a barber whilst they still exist.  After all, what’s the worst thing that can happen?    It’s well known that the difference between a good haircut and a bad one is just two weeks.