Free money!

Well, it’s free money if you win. 🙂

Just register at http://freepostcodelottery.com/?ref=90563 with your (UK) postcode, and then check the site daily to see if you’ve won.

It’s that easy.

They don’t spam you, and it’s free to register. They only request that if you use an ad blocker that you consider disabling it for their site — because the prize money comes from the ads run on their site. They try to prevent the “bad” ads, so you shouldn’t ever see any pop-ups or scams there.

I’ve been checking my postcode for over 18 months now. I haven’t won yet, but there’s always tomorrow!

Melissa

Wifi / internet problems?

If you’re having problems with your internet connection, and you’re using wifi, try downloading Ofcom’s free “Wi-Fi Checker” app. It will check your wifi connection for you by running a couple of tests.

The tests only take a few seconds to run, and if any problems are found, you’ll be able to see some suggestions for how you might be able to improve things.

Click here if you have an Android phone or tablet.

Click here if you have an iPhone or iPad.

Isn’t it time you gave something back?

Giving Tuesday 2015

Today is “Giving Tuesday”. It’s a day where everyone is encouraged to give their time, money or their voice to charity, after the spending sprees of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a day to give something back.

So what am I doing?

I’m giving my voice by posting about #GivingTuesday to encourage everyone else to give back too — you can find more information on the Giving Tuesday website.

I’m also posting about the “Eye to Eye” 2016 charity walk in London, UK to raise money for Moorfields Eye Charity too — you can find more information on about the event on Moorfields’ website including details of how to register to participate. The event only started in March 2015, so it’s quite new, but it seems to be taking off now!

I’ll be giving my time to participate in Eye to Eye 2016. I’ll be walking 14 miles around London in March 2016, that’s a little over half a marathon in distance. Hopefully it won’t be snowy or icy then. This is the very first charity event I’ll be participating in, and I wanted to do something specifically for eye research both in terms of raising money and the actual event, so Eye to Eye is perfect. If you’d like to sponsor me, you can do so on my sponsorship page — every penny goes directly to Moorfields Eye Charity.

Finally, I’m giving money to Moorfields Eye Charity too. In fact I already have.

What are you giving back…?

Melissa

Would you like to give to charity, but can’t afford to?

There’s an easy way to donate to charity, without you having to actually donate. Confused? Read on…

If you register with Give as you Live, you can donate to charity every time you buy items online.

All you need to do is two things:

  1. Join the Give as you Live website. It’s free, and super-quick to join — you can even login via Facebook. You can choose from over 220,000 charities and causes to support, so there’s plenty of choice!
  2. When you want to buy something online go to the Give as you Live website and search from their site, instead of using Google or going directly to say Amazon.

That’s it. The price you pay for items is exactly the same as it would be if you shopped how you did previously, but a small percentage of the price you pay is donated to the charity you’ve chosen.

It may only be pennies that you donate each time, but they will all add up, especially if everyone else is doing the same thing.

I only wish I’d been aware of this site before!

Melissa

Should fan clubs be free?

Having just heard the news of Metallica’s fan club dropping their annual $60 fee to become free, as of yesterday, two thoughts crossed my mind:

Is this the future of fan clubs? Should other (paid) fan clubs follow Metallica’s example and go free too?

Will Metallica regret their change and revert back to fees again?

Now, I’ve been a member of a few fan clubs over the years, both official ones and unofficial ones. I’ve actually been a member of five official band fan clubs:

  • Bon Jovi — “Backstage With Jon Bon Jovi” 16 years, from 1995 to 2011. No longer a member.
  • Bon Jovi — “American XS Platinum” a year, from 2004 until 2005. The club closed in 2005 and all members were fully refunded (it started as a free club in 2002, and only started charging in 2004).
  • Nickelback — “Fan Club” 2 years, 2007/2008. No longer a member.
  • Goo Goo Dolls — “Inner Machine” just a year, 2006. No longer a member.
  • Cherry Suede — “Cherry Suede Brigade” since early 2015. Active member. (Cherry Suede have only had a paid fan club for around a year.)

Why did I willingly pay to join all of these fan clubs, and why did I leave the ones I’ve left? I originally joined/renewed them all for the following reasons:

  • To support the band.
  • To participate in the fan community.
  • To obtain early entry at general admission shows/pre-sale tickets.
  • To get the latest news as soon as possible.
  • In the case of the Goo Goo Dolls’ fan club, to enter meet-and-greet competitions, knowing there was a high chance of winning one.

Whilst I did buy exclusive merchandise from the majority of these fan clubs, it wasn’t a primary reason for joining.

As for leaving the three clubs I chose to leave… my reasons varied.

One fan club blatantly miss-sold memberships, making major promises which weren’t delivered. Another one also didn’t deliver everything they’d promised, but it was mostly the “lesser” perks of membership (photos, videos, that kind of thing) which were missing. Only one of the three did deliver everything which they’d promised.

All three of the fan clubs lost their fan communities, partly due to other members’ behaviour on the message boards and chat rooms in question, but it was mostly down to social media (Facebook!) taking over the world and making most message boards and chat rooms redundant. And by “lost” I don’t mean that the message boards and chat rooms were removed, it was just that hardly anyone ever posted or logged in to chat.

I ended up being a member of the Bon Jovi/Nickelback/Goo Goo Dolls fan clubs only for the concert perks (pre-sales, early entry for general admission shows), and when I wasn’t able or wasn’t willing to go to their shows any more, I didn’t see the point in remaining a member of those fan clubs, because I wasn’t getting anything I valued in return.

The sole fan club I’m still a member of, “Cherry Suede Brigade”, I’m a member of due to their regular live concerts streamed online for members, and, you guessed it, the concert perks. 🙂 Plus the fan community as well of course!

Now, to go back to whether or not fan clubs should be free…

If you make them all free then you make it more difficult for fans to get the concert perks on offer, and easier for anyone who wants to just make money off selling tickets to get the best seats. You also increase the number of people taking advantage of early entry when that’s offered, which can be a crowd control headache, depending on the numbers. Plus, the more fans you have showing up for early entry, the earlier and earlier fans will queue in order to get to the front of the queue, especially for general admission shows. Trust me! When I first started going to Bon Jovi shows it was almost unheard of for people to literally camp out overnight. Now fans do so regularly, with tents, and I know some fans who’ve camped out for three nights in order to be first in line. I am not joking! (And no, it wasn’t me — I have camped out, but not for that length of time.)

If there are competitions then the odds of any one fan winning drop. Some of the bigger fan clubs have tens of thousands of members now, and that’s those who’re willing to pay. When anyone can join for free, what do those numbers go up to, hundreds of thousands? Millions?

In terms of getting the latest news first, with social media how it is now, it can’t really be considered a perk of a fan club any more. Any news/information can be shared on social media in seconds, so it relies on an “honour” system to keep it private to fan club members… which might work some of the time, but not all of the time. For very small fan clubs of a few hundred members it might work, but when it comes to clubs the size of Bon Jovi’s… it will be all over the internet in a flash.

Fan communities can go either way. My personal opinion is that they’re better off being public now because it encourages more fans to participate. It’s not 2005 when we didn’t have social media, and restricted-access message boards and chat rooms would be super busy every day. However, when message boards and chat rooms are free you also get more trolls — and that requires someone, or several someones, to act as a moderator otherwise things can get very unpleasant, very quickly.

Merchandise… well this still can be “exclusive” even when fan clubs are free, just by only being available to purchase via a single website, and numbers could be limited compared to other merchandise. I don’t see this as an issue at all.

And as for supporting a band just simply by being a paid member of their fan club, well, there are other ways in which to support them if the fan club switches to a free model. Simply spending what you would have spent on membership on merchandise of some description being perhaps the most obvious way.

So… what do I think? Should fan clubs be free? In terms of concert perks (pre-sales and early entry) I prefer them to be for paid members only, for purely selfish reasons. It limits the numbers and means I have a better chance at a better seat/spot at a show without having to pay silly money or buy a “package” (that’s a rant for another day). For everything else though, I’m happy for it to be free, or pay-on-demand for things like web streams.

What do you think? Let me know, I’m curious. 🙂

Melissa

World Sight Day 2015

World Sight Day 2015 is today, 8th October 2015.

When was the last time you had your vision checked? If it was more than two years ago, book a sight test this month, and when you go, insist on the eye pressure test (which only takes seconds), and the visual field test (which takes a few minutes).

Having a sight test could be the best money you’ve ever spent if problems are picked up early. And you don’t have to buy glasses if you don’t want to, just use it as an eye health check instead — problems can be picked up much earlier by an optician than by you noticing a problem yourself. Tip: go to an optician which does digital retinal photography too, such as Specsavers in the UK.

If you’d like to help people who already have vision issues, you could consider donating to a charity like Moorfields Eye Charity, who do a lot of research into various eye diseases. You could fundraise for an “eye” charity too, which brings me to my next paragraph…

I’m taking part in the “Eye to Eye 2016” sponsored walk. It takes place in London (UK) next year, and raises money for Moorfields Eye Charity. I’m going to be doing the 14 mile (22.5 km) route, which starts at Moorfields Eye Hospital and finishes at the London Eye.

If you’d like to sponsor me go to https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/melissaholmes2016, or if you’d like to participate you can find more info at http://www.moorfields.nhs.uk/content/eye-eye-2016.

Any questions? 🙂

Melissa

Sink or swim?

This is the hardest post I will ever write. Why? Because it’s my first post, my “hello world!” post… the post which will forever be the oldest post on my blog.

I’ve been intending to set up a blog for a long time, but I could never decide what exactly I would say, or how I would say it. Which topics would I blog about? Would anyone find any of what I have to say interesting?

So… I still don’t have a plan. I still have no idea if anyone will ever read any of what I post. But I’ve decided to jump in anyway. If I don’t try then I’ll never know. Maybe I’ll discover what I really want to blog about as I go along.

Time to jump in. Sink or swim…

Melissa