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the eFestivals blog

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burning down the house

I was charging a high powered rechargeable battery for one of my boys toys on Sunday morning, when it exploded - proper fireballs (several!) and everything. Because it went up with such a bang, straightaway it was a biggish fire (18 inches across i guess), and it set light to my toy (:(), and things nearby (books, chest of draws, placcy bags of stuff, etc).

If I hadn't been in the room at the time, within seconds it would have taken proper hold, and I'd now have no house. Very luckily I was, and managed to beat it out, mostly with a newspaper of all things (the newspaper was the nearest thing to hand). But I also somehow (I've no real idea how - it was mad panic) managed to burn my hands quite badly, so after a trip to hospital I now have bandages around five of my fingers (three on right hand, two on left), and typing isn't easy.

Today my fingers aren't hurting too badly, so I'm hoping they're not as badly burnt as I first thought (although with burns it's quite often the more minor burns that hurt the most). I have to go back to the hospital tomorrow for these dressings to come off, and then I get to find out what's what. I'm hoping that at worst only the two most burnt fingers (2nd finger left hand, 3rd finger right hand) might need further dressings.

But why did the battery explode? I guess it's down to a cock-up on my part, plugging leads in wrongly, although as far as a I'm aware I didn't. The other alternative is that the the battery had a fault somehow (as it's now a molten mess no one could ever know). A friend cleared up much of the mess for me while I was at hospital so I'll never know for sure.

And my very expensive and almost unused boys toy? It's a wreck, completely useless now - there's just a few bits that can be salvaged for spare parts. I'm so pissed off about it that I can't decide if it's a hobby I'm going to continue with - if I do, I need to shell out hundreds of pounds again to rebuy what's been destroyed. And the house? Other than a coating of soot just about everywhere I touch, it's mostly fine, tho the nice wooden floor is ruined.

Ho-hum. :(


the cult of celebrity

The last few weeks have shown that we as a society have sunk incrediably low into the cult of celebrity. People are trying to censor others reasonable opinions on the actions of these celebrities, as tho the only thing allowed is star worship.

And thinking back 50 years, we used to take the piss out of the cult of leadership in dictatorships: at least those leaders had a real effect on people's lives of more than fluff. :D



I've had an email from someone today who was emailing to say hello to the efestivals staff they met at the Big Chill. ... the only thing is, the people they met aren't efestivals staff. ;)

In the past, I've even heard of someone who slept with a girl at a festival I wasn't at, and they were claiming to be me. ;)

I guess imitation is a form of flattery. :(


ticks on the list

I've been working thru a list of to-do's since the end of the summer, putting in place certain things for the new year for eFestivals. As ever with these sorts of things getting thru the list never quite goes as fast as hoped for, but even so much of the stuff is now sorted.

One of the more important things is sorted, and that's new staff for certain tasks. There's a new full-timer who's going to be having a big role, plus another part-timer who I've been bugging for a while and who is now in place for another important task.

Now, where are those holiday brouchers...? :D


:) :) :):D

There's a small handful of people without whom eFestivals wouldn't exist.

Very sadly one of these passed away at the weekend, and she'll be sorely missed by me and her many friends but more importantly by her children and husband.


it's all free

I've just downloaded and installed the latest version of Fedora (Red Hat linux), and it's a dream.

It has everything you could ever want on your computer straight out of the package, all as least as good as anything Bill could ever buy in (it's not like microshit actually come up with anything good themselves), and it all runs far faster than Windoze does on the same hardware.

Why is anyone still enriching Bill? :D:)



It seems that my 'disappearance' is confusing some people.

After ten years of breathing, eating, sleeping and farting eFestivals I've decided to take a different role. 5co77ie has been appointed as full-time editor of both eFestivals and eGigs, and I'm moving on to develop new projects while still having a little involvement in both of the sites.

In the short-term I'm around to help and advise 5co77ie as necessary, as well as keeping a long-term role in developing and improving both sites, running the business side of things to some extent, and managing the servers.

I'll still be posting as Neil occasionally when I feel there's something worth saying under my own name, and I'm sometimes posting as 'eFestivals' too, tho this account is also being used by others. The 'eFestivals' account will be being used to present eFestivals information.


For the last three minutes, I have been working away behind the scenes (;)) to add details about this year's festivals onto the forum calendar and the main forum page.

This is just one of many new developments coming that's the culmination of 3 weeks work - it would have been sooner but we do have to stop to eat a curry now and then, and to whip the hamsters to paint your computer screens that bit faster. Although a project of (not) enormous complexity and scale, we're going to waffle in a patonising way like these developments are now being built into space rockets, because you're all suckers (or not) for a few pretty new buttons and some marketing drivel.

To the small festivals of Britian: eFestivals will keep supporting you as we have been doing. For free. Forever.

If this all sounds a grand gesture, it's not. It's what any self-respecting music festivals website would do, and only the sorts of websites that are keen on deep-lining their own pockets from the efforts of others would have done differently. The is the result of casual underground planning (we once held a conversation about this on the Tube) and no-brainer developments - it's just the right and proper thing to do.

The great advantage with eFestivals? Everyone has joined of their own free will - we haven't done a tie-in with another website and opted in lots of people for our spamming. We don't have a long and detailed reputation for inventing non-existent festivalers, or bullshitting and taking money under false pretences. People come to eFestivals to read and talk about festivals because they love festivals, and love that they find all they need to find on eFestivals.

Things will be the same again. The sun will rise, and in the evening it will set again. And the number twos will still lose.



performance testing

a major bit of performance testing has just been carried out, and given me one set of numbers. I now have to do some re-configuration of the servers, and do the test again to get a another set of numbers.

Hopefully, the second test will give significantly different - and better - results. If that proves to be the case, then the re-configuration will need to be made permanent, and these forums will perform better* on Sunday than they did when the Reading/Leeds announcement was made.

(*actually, they'll perform better on Sunday anyway, as some other changes have already been made, and some of the website functionality will be disabled to benefit the forums).

If the second test does prove to be better, then the forums will have to be taken off-line for a number of hours while the reconfiguration is made. The plan is to do the reconfiguration (if it happens) in the very early hours of Saturday morning.


server tuning

It's that time of year again when my thoughts start to turn towards the mad ticket on-sale days and the stupid load it puts on the eFestivals servers for just a couple of hours each time.

Last year I came up with a solution that worked reasonably well but not as well as I'd hoped for. So this year a number of steps have already been taken which have improved things substantually, and with some more things still to do I'm reasonably confident of a better result this time around. Fingers crossed!


fashions come and go

With yet another festival (Blissfields) having fallen by the wayside for this year, it's pretty clear that fashions are changing.

Blissfields hasn't been hugely ambitious and had (in comparison to other fests) a good offering at a good price, but this was an unfortunate year to go for it - many established festivals appear to suffering a downturn in sales, and i wouldn't be surprised to see a big-name established fest fall this year (it might happen this year but might well not be back next year) as well as other newer events struggling.

eFestivals is of the opinion that the festival peak was three summers ago - the following year held its own, and the drop last year was somewhat hidden by and blamed on the awful weather. While the weather last summer is further affecting sales this year, we don't think it is only the weather that is responsible for the fall-off in the popularity of festivals; they're falling out of fashion and the next few years will show this more clearly.

We expect the coming trend to include (proportionally) fewer advance ticket sales, which of course will make it harder for smaller promoters to run an event, with people making their decisions to attend nearer to an event, in part based on weather forecasts, but also due to a more casual attitude to festrival attendance. It's going to require some promoters to hold their nerve despite the poorer advance sales, but even that won't be enough to save some events into the future.


radio star? :-)

I've just been approached by a major radio station to help them with a long show they're doing about festivals - from what they've said so far, it sounds like there could be me droning on about festivals for around 15 minutes! :)

Those that know me know that I can talk about festivals for hours and hours and hours, but that doesn't mean it's actually interesting or anything anyone wants to actually hear. :)

It looks like I'll be spending some time in a recording studio tomorrow to do the piece - I guess with it being such a long piece they don't want the poor quality they'll get over the phone. What they can do about the poor quality that might come from my mouth I don't know, other than not use it. :)


the scores on the doors

I've just received a Comscore report for hit stats for websites that fall into the "Entertainment - music" category. I knew that eFestivals had a significantly greater amount of traffic than many other better known general music websites, but up until this point I hadn't realised by quite how much!!!!

eFestivals comes in at number 35 in the list, but many of the sites listed above it aren't really in the same market - things like yahoo music, myspace, seeklyrics.com, last.fm, napster, etc. In fact, the only site above eFestivals that is realistically a competitor is nme.com at number 26 (which I knew obviously had much more traffic than efests - but they're actually far far closer than I'd assumed, with nme getting 60% more unique users when I'd previously thought it was around 3 times as many). And in the specific festivals marketplace, eFestivals is so far above any other sites, those other sites must almost be embarrassed by their low traffic.

2008 is going to be bringing some big changes to eFestivals - all for the better of course. Watch this space.... :(


eFestivals has had a problem for a while with a certain music-based publicity company having their staff making publicity posts here.

The terms & conditions of the use of these forums is that they're not to be used for commercial purposes. To try to get around that, these staff have made numerous registrations in the normal sorts of usernames that genuine users use, and then made their posts in a deceptive manner, in a "have you heard the latest album by XXXXX? It's superb, check it out" way.

We first picked up on this particular company doing this early in the year and had a word with them, asking that they stop, and they said something like "it's our interns doing this, but we'll make sure they stop". A week or two later and there's been a load more, so this time we make sure they know how seriously pissed off we are about this; again, they said they'd stop.

And now today, we've discovered a whole lot more. Aside from the amusing thing of these threads often having various of these interns 'promoting' the same thing at each other (with each obviously thinking that the other has a genuine interest in the product/band they're promoting), we've again had wortds with this company and again they've given us the same old "it's our interns, it's not our fault" guff.

This company has today told us that "every PR firm does this" (not true, at least not on eFestivals), that "it's the fault of the interns" (as though the company doesn't instruct those interns in what to do :(), and that the record companies they're promoting for don't have the budgets to pay for proper advertising ... which all comes down to this company operating off the back of any resource that they can take advantage of, for their own commercial benefit and at the expense of their PR competitors and companies such as eFestivals.

It all just goes to show how full of bullshit the music industry is, how marketing driven it is (and marketing means, ultimately, that products are being sold on a false basis to suckers: let's keep it simple and say "sold on lies"), and that the whole of the mainstream music business is operating an unsustainable business model.

eFestivals has always tried very hard to be free of this sort of bullshit, and we're extremely pissed off with this publicity company. We'll keep doing our best to ensure that eFestivals remains an honest resource for the benefit of our users.


Well, that's another summer that's been and gone, with just a few more outdoor fests left before the weather gets bad. Except the weather is bad already - in fact did it ever get good? That's two summers on the trot where it's been generally awful.

Hopefully it's all been due to La Niña, which is normally a two-year weather event and started in early 2007, which means that it's likely that next year will be back to a normal British summer (Yes, that means it rains, but also means it doesn't rain like it has been doing this summer and last summer). I was aware of La Niña early last summer, and in May 2007 was saying to friends that summer 2008 wouldn't be good either; sadly it proved to be true.

Despite the generally awful weather, my own festival going this summer hasn't suffered too badly from it. With more resources for eFestivals now, I've personally attended fewer festivals this summer than I have done for a very long time - just seven, and considering how the weather has been in general I did pretty good, without needing to get my wellies out once (tho waterproof walking shoes [not boots] were needed).

I had wanted to go to Bestival, but a family commitment meant that I had to skip it again (a friend got married on Bestival weekend last summer, so I'd missed last year's too). But having heard reports of just how badly it suffered from the weather this year maybe that wasn't such a bad thing after all - while I can cope with a horribly muddy festival I'd rather not have to.

Roll on next summer: things can only get better, and next summer they will be. :(


free tickets

Every now and then, I get emails from people that think eFestivals are the organisers of the festivals we list. In the last week I've had a few of these, and in each case it's people trying to blag free tickets. The most common theme is "I'm a mate of so-and-so, and he said to email you to sort out a freebie".

Oh yeah? If you're such a good mate of so-and-so, how come he isn't sorting you a freebie himself? ;)



eFestivals on TV?

I've just had a chat with a reporter from Channel 4 news. They'll be running a piece (probably this Thursday, 7pm) about the explosion of live music and festivals, and they wanted my expert ( ;) ) advice to help with their piece.

They said that eFestivals would be mentioned, and it would either be a quote from me (not my voice tho) or a screenshot of the website ... but I never quite believe these things till they happen. Anyhow, fingers crossed!


moan moan moan

Six months ago I got flashed by a speed camera in Bristol (where I live). Thru came a form giving me some options, I ticked the "i want to pay a £60 fixed penalty", and sent it back. Then nothing.

Today I got a summons. So not only have I not had the option to actually pay the fixed penalty (the first form didn't give the option to pay at that point), the frigging summons is for Taunton Court - how does that work then? :P

So I phone the camera unit and say "I never had the option to pay the fixed penalty". They insist that the notice was sent out (yeah, of course it was ... they can't operate any of their other administrive systems properly - as I've proved to them in the past!! - but they manage to send out every single letter. Yeah, right.).

So I ask what can be done. They tell me nothing, that my only option now is court. I point out that to proceed to court is a waste of the courts time, they say tough. I point out that if it gets to court I'll get wacked a bigger fine plus costs, they say tough.

So ... my only chance now of getting just the £60 fine (which I'm happyish to pay, I was speeding) is to grovel to the court explaining that it's not my fault. But of course they're goinbg to believe me aren't they ... courts never have people stood before them telling them it's not their fault, do they? So as I'll be unusual doing that, they'll believe me. Yeah right. :D

What's wound me up is no one will take responsibility for THEIR systems not working: it's now down to me, to try and win a decent outcome in a system where the system never takes responsibility for their own failures. :)

And I've noticed this is the way things are going: no govt dept or agency has anyone or any systems for dealing PROPERLY with complaints - all they do is pass you along the line till you eventually you get to someone who tells you tough, you're f**ked.

I tried taking up a complaint against the dangerous doctors surgery I was with a few months back, the one that was so crap I ended up having to dial 999 for an ambulance and hospital admittance after failing to see a GP despite 60+ hours of trying to see one. Guess who is the ONLY place you can complain to? That doctors surgery. And of course, they're going to pass up the line complaints about the danger they put their patients in, aren't they, NOT? I wouldn't send a sick dog there, yet they're allowed to keep putting their patients at risk because their bosses won't accept a complaint against them.

No f**king wonder the country is f**ked. :)



Well, for the first time in six and half years of running eFestivals, I decided to take some time off last week. I'd forgotten what doing nothing was like!

And now I'm back, refreshed and raring to go ... watch out world. :D


I stopped at a garage today to fill up with some petrol, and about a minute later a posh-ish motor pulls in. Out gets Peter Gabriel, and he looked across at me, nodded and said hello.... like I'm his mate. :ph34r:

OK, I had met him earlier in the afternoon at a press conference, but that was there (I don't count something like that for a 'cool list' as I expect to come across such people now and then thru my job), and this was out there, on the street. :)

BTW, if anyone is wondering if Peter is getting involved with any Genesis reunion plans in the near future, he said that a conversation had been had about it but that he's not going to be involved ... he didn't seem to rule out the possibility of something happening at some point tho.

(no, it wasn't me asking him that - I've little interest in Genesis).



eFestivals has been moved to a new server, to help ensure that on the busiest days everything will still cope. Fingers crossed that the new configurations works as well as hoped for.