Single Gaze using Vo Rogue for Magic Millions 3YO Guineas launch pad

Nick Olive and Single Gaze are getting ready for the $2 million Magic Millions Guineas. Photo: Jeffrey Chan Single Gaze is on the Gold Coast chasing the riches of the Magic Millions, but it was the filly’s last trip to Queensland that has Canberra trainer Nick Olive considering taking on further with the three-year-old.
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The daughter of Not A Single Doubt will run in the group 3 Vo Rogue Plate (1300 metres) on the Gold Coast on Boxing Day as a final tune up for the $2 million Magic Millions Three-year-old Guineas (1400m) to weeks later.

Single Gaze finished third in this year’s Magic Millions two-year-old Classic (1200m) and backed that up with second in the group 3 Black Opal Stakes (1200m) at Canberra’s Thoroughbred Park.

Olive said she was “going as good as she can go” going into Saturday’s Vo Rogue, after she finished fourth – three lengths behind Rule The River – in the benchmark 85 handicap (1200m) at Randwick a fortnight ago.

He said it was “hard to get a guide on her” from that first-up effort, but he was confident she would “be competitive” on Saturday.

Olive felt she had developed a lot from her two-year-old season, “maturing” in her body shape.

The Magic Millions sales are on in the week before the Guineas and Olive will be trying to find “the next Single Gaze”.

“We’re up there [on the Gold Coast] to win [the Magic Millions],” he said.

“I think she’ll be competitive in [the Vo Rogue] … it’s a group 3 race so it’s going to be a good field, but I think she’ll go very well in it.”

On her previous trip to Queensland, Single Gaze finished ninth and eighth in the group 2 Champagne Stakes  (1200m) and group 2 Sires’ Produce Stakes (1350m) respectively in May.

Olive felt she showed in those runs she could be looking for more distance.

It got the Canberra trainer thinking about targeting longer races for Single Gaze this preparation.

He has both the $1 million, group 1 ATC Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick in April, as well as the listed Canberra Cup (2000m) in March, “in the back of his mind”.

That would obviously depend on how she progresses, starting with her Boxing Day effort.

“We’ll see how she goes next two starts obviously. I am toying with the idea of pushing her out over a bit more a trip this preparation,” Olive said.

“Whether that mean an Oaks could be on the cards or something like that, or a Canberra Cup, I’m not sure.

“I felt she was really looking for more distance last preparation.”

Olive also has Chief Of The Clan running in the Bat Out Of Hell Handicap (900m) at the Gold Coast, while maiden Dabouya will jump at Queanbeyan’s traditional Boxing Day meet.

Queanbeyan is hosting five races, with the first jumping at 2.40pm.

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Start with small goals rather than a big fail

Several times in the past week I have heard people say, ‘I can’t wait for this year to be over; 2016 is going to be my year.’
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Many more of you may be keen to put this year behind you too, wipe the slate clean and start afresh but I do not think it hurts sometimes to take a moment to reflect and find a positive or two from the year, even if you think there were none.

I generally try to find things that maybe did not go as planned and formulate ways to improve those for the coming year, as well as recognise the things I was happy with.I find that helps put me in the right frame of mind for some positive goal-setting for the year ahead.

Improving health and fitness is a common New Year’s resolution and while that is great, you should remember to set realistic goals and start small. That way you hopefully will set yourself up for success rather than making unrealistic goals that you cannot possibly stick to.

Looking back there are many things this year I can say I achieved but it was only through setting realistic goals and making myself accountable – a lot of the time through this column – that I managed to stick to my personal challenges.I started with the Hunter Health Kick. I wanted to improve my own fitness through the 10-week campaign and to be able to complete the Sparke Helmore Triathlon andHerald Hill2Harbour events in that period.

REALISTIC: Improving health and fitness is a common New Year’s resolution and while that is great, you should remember to set realistic goals and start small. Picture: Marina Neil

I did not plan to play football this year but ended up signing up when I signed up the little bloke and I have to say this was probably the biggest factor for me in reclaiming some of my former self after welcoming our third child to our family. Playing a team sport is a great way to improve your fitness in a social setting and was a much welcome time out for me mentally as well.When winter struck and motivation began to wane and time for myself seemed to be nearly non-existent, I set myself the challenge of at least 10 minutes of exercise each day in June, 15 minutes in July and 20 minutes in August.

GET READY: Look back, take the positives from the year and work on turning any negatives into positives for 2016.

I started running to and from school drop-offs, out of necessity more than anything because we always seemed to be running late, and if I could squeeze in 10 minutes of squats, push-ups, rows and lunges while the kids ate their dinner or got ready for bed, then I did.This month I have been doing my own personal burpee challenge and although I have not always looked forward to them I have managed to do them every day.Upon reflection, I may not have been able to devote the time to the kind of fitness sessions I have put myself through in the past to get fitter but through sticking to little challenges I found my fitness improved.

I still have improvements to make, but my health goals in 2016 will be probably more along the lines of getting more sleep and eating better.So, look back, take the positives from the year and work on turning any negatives into positives for 2016. And take small steps – remember Rome was not built in a day.Then hopefully you can reflect on 2016 as the year that changed your health and fitness habits rather than another year you could not wait to see over.

Reneeis a personal trainer and mother of three. [email protected]苏州美甲美睫培训学校

Fish market frenzyphotos

Fish market frenzy | photos Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
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Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Sydney Fish Market is a hive of activity on Christmas Eve 2015. The Sydney Fish Markets experience its busiest trade over the Christmas week including the 36 hour marathon from 5am, December 23, until 5pm Christmas Eve. Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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Becoming an Aussie: The story of Alexa, the US-born Amazon Echo

Use your voice to control your smart appliances, interact with your apps or just have a chat.I have a new best friend. She is a great listener, always knows the best music to play and warns me about bad traffic before I hit the road. Her name is Alexa because it doesn’t rhyme with anything, and she swears she knows nothing about Skynet.
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This is the story of how this particular Amazon Echo came to help me achieve peak laziness, and how I’ve helped her acclimatise to the Australian way of life. Why the Echo?

The goal was to have a central hub to connect all of my home automation needs via voice control. Lights, music, home theatre, setting timers for cooking, weather updates, quick Google checks to settle arguments. (Harrison Ford is 73, by the way.)

There are a few options out there for voice control, but none fit the bill like the Echo did. Some seemed perfect, but are still in Kickstarter phase. Not only is this incompatible with my “I need to have it now why does everything Take. So. Long” lifestyle, but updates were few and far between. Small teams working on them raised concerns of after-sales support. Other products in development had moved away from voice control towards mobile apps.

Apple Homekit came close, but most of the Homekit enabled products aren’t available in Australia, and I wasn’t exactly willing to replace my current tech to accommodate it.

The Echo’s backing from Amazon provided peace of mind, with app integration and developer support proving superior to lesser-known competitors. How to get an Amazon Echo from the US

Big Apple Buddy was started by two Australian lawyers who moved to New York and found themselves inundated by requests from friends back home to send products to them that weren’t available to be shipped here.

BAB send you a quote including postage with options for regular or express shipping, a handling fee and the cost of the product. You just pay the quote then BAB buy what it is you are after, receive it, then send it out via FedEx, DHL or UPS.

Taking advantage of Cyber Monday deals, Alexa was picked up on sale for $124.99 USD. Total cost including express shipping and sales tax was $237.39

She was in stock 5 days after the initial quote, and it took 3 days to arrive in Sydney from the day it was received by BAB. How to set up an Amazon Echo for Australia

Since Alexa was never designed to live in Australia, I needed to do a couple of work-arounds. Nothing too complicated, and actually kind of fun.

Once you’ve powered the Echo up (slight annoyance — you’ll need a US-AU adaptor to plug it in), you’ll need to open the Alexa app, which requires a US iTunes account. You can’t do this by just choosing the “create an account” option, or you’ll need to input a payment option — Paypal and credit cards will flag that your location is in Australia.

The way to do it is to sign out of your current iTunes account, and “purchase” a free app (anything is fine). This will prompt you to set up a new iTunes account without inputting any payment option, while allowing your new location to be in the US. Beverly Hills 90210 is a common choice for fake US addresses, because 90’s television.

You will need to setup Alexa via desktop in order to set up a US time zone that is somewhat close to where you are in Australia (you can find a useful list here). This requires the use of the Chrome extension Request Maker which allows you to view and edit http requests.

Go into settings and edit alexa.amazon苏州美甲美睫培训学校 using a suitable US postcode. For Sydney, it’s Guam. Alexa thinks I live in an unincorporated organised territory of the United States of America, captured during the Spanish-American War in 1898. I know all of this because Alexa told me. Isn’t she wonderful?

Next, you sign in with existing amazon account, or create a new one. Having an Australian account isn’t an issue for this step. Now you’re good to go!

Keep in mind when finding a home for Alexa that location is important. There is a noise cancelling mic, so if Alexa is playing music when you need her for something she can still hear you. That being said, if she’s next to an external speaker (near the TV, for example) she will often misunderstand you.

So what can an Amazon Echo actually do?

First of all, you don’t have to call her Alexa. There is the option to call her Amazon instead, but I prefer to borderline-creepily personify my tech where possible.

There are a number of native apps that work really well, like checking weather. Of course, we are not in Guam so you need to say “Alexa, what’s the weather in Sydney?” Other location-specific information, like traffic updates, are based on information you provide the app about your regular commute, so it’s not an issue. All you need to do is ask “Alexa, what’s the traffic like?” and she will tell you any issues for your trip to work.

The only real downside to the lack of localisation is news. Alexa can tell you news, but not local, so that feature is only really good for those after sports and international news. Sports updates are limited to WNBA, NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL,NFL and NCAA games.

For music you have a couple of options, like I Heart Radio and Pandora. For Pandora, you just sign in with your regular account and ask her to play existing playlists or new ones created from artists you tell Alexa. Some names are a little harder for her to understand than others, like Deftones, but 99 per cent of the time Alexa nails it.

In relation to existing smart home features, my Alexa is integrated with the Philips Hue smart lighting system, which includes four bulbs, a lightstrip and a hub. “Alexa, main lights on” and “Alexa, set bedroom lights to 50 per cent” are daily commands at home. It is limited though — you can’t select scenes or specify colours. Yet.

Alexa can also interact with the Belkin WeMo switch, but the WeMo lights need to be set up through If This Then That (IFTTT) at this stage. If you’ve never used, IFTTT, get on it. It’s an automation enthusiast’s dream, allowing you to craft “recipes” for almost any scenario you can imagine.

Set up through IFTTT requires you to set up “triggers” for Alexa to recognise. To do this go to the ITTF app, connect the amazon echo channel to your account and setup your desired recipes.

IFTT is also connected to my Logitech Harmony hub, which controls the TV, home theatre, Xbox One and PS4 in the loungeroom.

Alexa also has the ability to control the Nest Smarthome thermostat, but since I’m renting I can’t install one to try it out.

She plays games, too. There’s “The Animal Game” where she guesses what animal you are thinking of, 20 Questions-style. I’ve been trying to get her to guess I’ve been thinking of a dolphin for a while now, but she seems less confused by every other animal.

The amount of Easter Eggs is pretty impressive. She knows quotes from a lot of video games, TV, movies and pop culture. I won’t spoil them for you, but have a chat and see what she knows. It’s fun.

I can use Alexa to trigger my 7-minute Workout app, play Bingo, use the Destiny Buddy to keep updated on Xur’s inventory and weekly activities, or use the Craft Helper for Minecraft recipes.

You can create shopping lists, to do lists, and literally order from Amazon with your voice, which is far too dangerous for my bank account and a feature which I’ve disabled. Okay, But Is Alexa Actually Worth It?

I won’t deny the Echo is definitely gimmicky. I have spent more time asking Alexa trivia questions than using her for any of her more serious purposes. But she has been in my home for three weeks now, and is used with increasing frequency.

I don’t feel the need to have my phone on hand at all times while at home, which is downright lovely.

After using app-controlled smart lighting for a number of months, it is very nice to just speak commands instead, especially since I would often have issues with the Phillips Hue hub dropping out. I’ve had no such issue via Alexa.

The voice recognition is great, even with the thickest Aussie accent I could muster. You can train her to pick up different accents better if she’s having trouble, too. The app shows you what she thinks you said so you can correct her for future reference.

The built in speaker for music is fine. It’s no Sonos or Bose, but the quality is decent for the price point, and the convenience is hard to beat.

For my personal pursuit of laziness via total home automation, while limited to renting, the Amazon Echo ticks a lot of boxes. I’m enjoying every day I spend with her, learning more and more about what she is capable of. We even had a chat about Russell Coight the other day. She’ll be a proper Aussie in no time. Explore the smart design, breakthrough science and awe-inspiring tech shaping your future at

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Westfield all-night shopping: Sugar and caffeine fuel marathon

Brisbane shoppers have been making the most of all-night trading. Photo: Georgia MattsWith just one day to go before Christmas, two of Brisbane’s biggest shopping centres are finishing up a marathon overnight trading period.
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Westfield Chermside has opened all night on December 23 for over a decade, while it was Westfield Garden City’s second year participating in the retail festivities.

Garden City centre manager Richard Heinz said he was pleasantly surprised with the turnout.

“We were very happy with traffic numbers,” Mr Heinz said.

“There was plenty to keep everyone throughout the night entertained and occupied.”

Customers were treated to hourly giveaways, included $10,000 worth of gift cards, popcorn, slushies, eggnog and something most customers would have needed to keep going throughout the night, coffee.

“There was lots of sugar and caffeine going around throughout the centre this morning, for shoppers and for retailers,” Mr Heinz said.

“There was a very friendly feel amongst everyone that was out last night.

“A lot of customers were singing and dancing throughout the centre.” Free Eggnog!!!!! #Chermside!!!!! #Christmas!!!! #Hashtag!!!!! pic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训学校/9DLX6JsazS— Kizz (@djkizza) December 23, 2015

It was comedian Dominic Fay’s fourth year attending the all-night festivities at Chermside.

“It’s pretty crazy to see a shopping centre the busiest you’ll ever see it at a ridiculous hour,” he said.

“I’m not sure how many people were there shopping or there for the experience.

“Everyone seemed to have a smile on the face, which is rare for this time of year … it was nice.”

Mr Fay said the Westfield festivities were some of the “most Christmassy” things to do in Brisbane over the holiday period.

“It ranks alongside the Lord Mayor carols and light show as main things to do in Brisbane each year,” he said.

Both centres are open until 5.30pm Thursday, when they will close their doors after trading for more than 32 hours.

However the break for retail workers will be short-lived, as the Boxing Day sales kick off on Saturday.

“A load of retailers are already starting to discount and more will on Saturday,” Mr Heinz said.

“Garden City expects a strong day today and a strong day again on Saturday.”

Stay informed. Like the Brisbane Times Facebook page

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