A very lazy day at home

Relaxing at home and didn’t wake up until late today because, well, it was too damn cold to get out of bed and I just didn’t feel like doing anything more than relaxing all day without having to run around dealing with drama or sorting issues out either financially or with work so it was a good day for me. Funny enough I went out to check the mail, removed the usual junk mail and local rag but no Mastercard Debit card arriving yet – it’ll be as funny as a fart if by next payday I haven’t received that or the new credit card because it’ll be the quickest account opening and closing ever recorded.

Went off to Pak ’n Save and it was one of those nights when you’re hungry but can’t work out quite what you want to eat – everything I thought of came off as ‘meh’ or ‘oh, I guess so”. In the end I played it safe and had a pasta dish with tomato and mushroom sauce then I treated myself to a sticky date pudding for desert with butterscotch custard. I can thank Sara Lee and Puhoi Valley for making my life a whole lot easier because honestly I can’t be figged trying to do a sticky date pudding myself let alone the fact that given that I haven’t baked anything in my house yet the purchase of ingredients (flour, egg, milk, baking powder etc) would be more expensive than the one off purchase of a pudding that just needs to be heated up in the mini-oven I have. A nice bit of comfort food for a cold and rainy night but funny enough I left my washing on the line once again – two days raining with a third not exactly going to cause any more than the first two – maybe I’ll get lucky and wash it (again) then bring it over to my parents to get dried in their clothes dryer.

Just reading through the forums regarding the latest beta release of iOS 8.0 and OS X 10.10, and to be honest I’m pretty damn excited particularly with the movement forward in terms of developer features such as new frameworks and the launch of Apple’s new language called Swift which (to paraphrase the Apple engineer) takes Objective-C and gets rid of the C and all the parts of the language that make it overly wordy. What is interesting isn’t just the new blog that Apple engineers are using to communicate with third party developers but also the attention to features which bring iOS and OS X communicating with each other so that they can leverage the benefits of having both an iOS device and a Mac computer.

Just having a look through the latest rumours around the new Apple products and how delays by Intel are putting a spanner in the works but that is coming as a result of the decreasing size of their manufacturing process – something that TSMC, Samsung, Ti and others have all struggled at so it is hardly surprising that Intel is having some pains in the transition to 14nm in the form of Broadwell micro-architecture. To be honest I’m more interested in the skylake micro-architecture that’ll bring to the mainstream DDR4 (which in itself will bring reduced power consumption, higher memory density) along with Thunderbolt 3, PCI Express 4.0, improved GPU architecture that’ll drive a 13.3” retina display without any problems along with AVX and memory protection extensions to name a few. According to rumours there will be a release to manufacturing around the end of 2015 and maybe the beginning of 2016 but that is very much dependent on how things go with broadwell. Maybe that time we’ll see the next generation of AMD and nVidia GPU’s along with retina displays from top to bottom for all their product line up – when I upgrade I’ll probably either sell my computer or maybe donate it depending on how charitable I feel at the time.

Freeze the balls off a brass monkey

Just came back from the airport store an hour ago – damn it was cold and miserable with the roads getting a little icy and combined with the windy night I had to take it carefully as I almost went into the side of the roundabout but I was lucky in that I slowed down just in time (not too aggressively) and then straightened myself up. The car behind saw that I was having trouble in the windy evening so they held back till I got my bearings all sorted out because I was being blown everywhere. That is the first and last time I go out there again; it is cold, miserable and it costs a small fortune in terms of petrol.

I had a look at the fees with the Westpac kiwisaver and I’m going to stick with ASB because long term I’m going to keep my account open then once my credit card is paid back I’ll go back to ASB and close off my Westpac account. End of the day the only reason why I went with Westpac was to give myself breathing room of 0% for 12 months and once I’ve taken advantage of that I’ll then close it off and move back to ASB where I can go with the original plan of having a low interest ViSA card.

I’ve got Tuesday and Wednesday off from work so I’ll head around to my parents home for dinner and thursday I’ve still yet to decide – probably chicken wraps with lots of lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli and ‘rocket fuel’ sauce – omnomnomnom. Depending on what time I get up I might go and drop in and say hello to my boss but if the weather is atrocious (like it is now) the I’ll avoid going out and might get a ride to my parents by them picking me up as they come through Lower Hutt as they’re driving home from work.

Apple has released OS X 10.10 Beta 4 and iOS 8.0 Beta 4 – their public developer preview is apparently going to be launching half way through August. Looking forward to iOS 8.0 particularly centred around improvements to webkit which will feed into the many applications that rely on it for their rendering needs. iTunes has had an update as well – hopefully that’ll mean that Apple is going to clean things up because right now it doesn’t look all that pretty particularly when dealing with large libraries of music which in my case is around 200GB inside not to mention that a large number of the albums are gapless which adds a new layer of complexity to the mixture.

Oh, finally got the power bill for the month; I was expecting the worst but was pleasantly surprised when the bill $206 and that included running the heater for at least 18 hours straight. Oh well, only a 1-2 more months like this and then I’ll be back to the usual billing cycle of $50 per fortnight as I’ll no longer have to run a heater. On a positive note I’ve been looking through the idea of retrofitting some wall insulation primarily because if I end up moving to get a heat pump installed the last thing I want is in the process of getting a nice flash heater I find that the heat just disappears through the walls. I’ll need to investigate first of all the types and secondly the cost along with whether I can get a special grant from Energy Wise which might offset some of the cost.

End of the week? lol, good one mate!

Just as I thought my day had ended and my weekend begun the ominous sound of the phone rang – a complaining customer? a crew member who is sick and cannot come in? nope, my weekend coming to an end or more correctly never actually getting off the ground. I’ve been called to do a shift out at another shop because of their consistent lack of managers to cover shifts (and the stedfast refusal by said store manager to do anything more than Monday to Friday or god forbid him actually answering the phone on the weekend (one questions why pay and give someone a store managers position when one isn’t willing to accept the responsibility that comes with it) hence the situation that exists today). So I’ll be heading out there to start work at 4pm so I’ll need to get up by at least 1pm so then I can first of all head to the bank to sort out some odd bits and pieces then head off to work – kind of annoying that I have to start at 4pm given that I won’t be out till 2am at the earliest (assuming all goes well in terms of stocktake).

Just had a check of my power account and it appears that the bill for the month is generated the day after the end of the billing cycle – hopefully I’ve slid under the radar and it won’t be too expensive given that it has been damn cold recently and thus I’ve had my heater on for longer than usual.

Another day another pay

Damn tonight was boring, it was like watching the ice melting channel crossed with the grass growing channel – bugger all customers, too much product having been cooked before I arrived thus meaning for the whole time there we were working through the existing stock. Honestly, I wished the crew rubbed a few brain cells together and cooked less but more often as to avoid having to move heaven and earth to get something resembling a respectable raw waste result for the night.

I rang up IAG on the morning of Friday (last night) before heading off to sleep to find out what was happening; I owed some money due to the first payment not coming out of my bank account but since I cancelled my policy and the payment was due to come out on 20 July (which was a Sunday) I was wondering firstly whether the payment would come out on Friday or Monday since the payment can’t come out on a weekend and secondly what the new amount will be given that I’ll no longer be paying from June 20 going forward (basically I’m only paying for a month worth of coverage from the time I bought my scooter). Basically the long story compressed into a single sentence is that I no longer owe them any money since I cancelled my policy – I’ll be checking up post 20 July (half way through next week) to see whether that is the case – I don’t want them sending me a letter whining that I haven’t paid them and that they’re going to throw a paddy over it (I’ll point them to the person told me that I owed them no money since the policy is closed off).

Hopefully next week my Mastercard Debit card and Mastercard Low Rate credit card will arrive in the mail – I’ll need to head down to the bank to load a PIN onto it but I was thinking when I loaded the PIN onto the bog standard EFTPOS card that I’ve been using the same one that I was given when I was living in Australia and banking with Bendigo bank. With the online banking at Westpac it is pretty basic at best but from what it appears their existing system is pretty limited and they’ve developed it as far as they can and September 2013 they announced a $15 million investment which probably included not only front end but also bank end changes – moving completely to Mastercard for Debit, Credit and EFTPOS (Cirrus) which would have required a whole change to the back end, then working to develop their web front end with new applications for iOS and Android – they’re already beta testing the new online banking which apparently will launch towards the end of this year which (from what appears is built from the ground up on an entirely new platform which explains why they’re adding existing functionality as well as new functionality that the old system didn’t have). I guess it lesson to learn for future businesses thinking of getting a presence on the web – make sure you have a system that is expandable which enables one to cater for new demands in the future.

Just rocked out to check my letter box just then – just a letter from ASB confirming the cancellation of my home contents policy through them. Hopefully next week the debit card will arrive and I’ll rock down to the bank; throw some cash onto my credit card and then get my PIN sorted out for the debit card – might even give it a test run either at the store or online at the iTunes store. Oh well, lets hopefully keep everything going in the right direction – off to sleep I go then back to work tonight at 8pm for more fun and excitement.

More good news: things are progressing well

Had Westpac ring me up and everything is all approved and going ahead with the balance transfer and hopefully in the next couple of days my Mastercard Debit card will arrive in the mail which will enable me to make a payment to SkyTV. The information from State insurance has come through and everything is good when it comes to the premium each fortnight with the great thing being that my health insurance, scooter insurance and contents insurance will all come out on the same day every fortnight rather than the mish-mash of different payments on different days which leads to a tonne of confusion on my part. Another great thing that’ll paid for will be the VDSL 802.11ac wireless router (Huawei HD659b) which is all paid it – set me back $170+GST (around $200 incl. GST) thus my internet and mobile phone bill will go back to $105 per month. My power bill however is going to be nasty based on the fact that I left the heater on when I went to work – on the plus side I had a nice warm house but on the downside I fear that the bill I’m about to receive on 21 July isn’t going to be good. Oh well, I’m now $300 in credit with the energy company and hopefully the bill doesn’t gobble it all up – it has been colder than normal so I’ve had to have the heater on for longer that I have had in the past.

End of my tether: Looking at moving banks

Just at the end of my tether with my bank (ASB) these days. I had a small balance on my credit card I wanted transferred over to the new low rate VISA card – I don’t want something special but just the bog standard interest rate on the transferred balance but alas they don’t transfer balances and thus it would be treated as a cash advance. Then the latest fiasco was the amount of money that was supposed to come out of my account for insurance where I changed the details based on the fact that I had bought a new scooter (the Aprilia Motard SR50 which set me back $2899 including GST and on road costs). In the past what normally happened was that if I didn’t have the necessary amount of money in my account the transaction went through but was charged $5 at the end of the month for an non-arranged overdraft which I’m ok with paying. 20th June came and gone with me wondering, “oh well, I guess I misunderstood how much was going to come out” thus two weeks past (I have to admit I’m stunningly lazy when it comes to checking my mail – if it is urgent then drop me an email otherwise a the snail mail box might as well not exist).

Fast forward two weeks after I was supposed to have the first payment to come out and I receive a strongly worded letter from IAG claiming that I’m $122 in arrears and thus I have to make sure that the cash is in my 01 account on 20 July so that the payment can be made. Now, to add insult to injury I went back through wondering what had gone wrong at the time – and the real kicker, charging me a $20 dishonour fee. Sorry IAG/ASB I’ll show you a dishonour fee by cancelling the insurance so then you get no fee – feel dishonoured now with a few dollars less cash coming in? Oh, I’ll pay the $122 I owe them and then I’ll play the proverbial pinball as I bounce from Westpac to AMI and getting everything setup before closing off my accounts with ASB.

I’ve always been one to be reluctant about moving banks – I tend to be a person who builds up a mighty fine rut and stays there through thick and thin because you know, “it could always be worse” and “grass is not always greener on the other side”. I’ve stuck with Telecom NZ not because they’re the best but because whilst other ISP’s go up and down like a yoyo in terms of quality the experience I get with Telecom is like McDonalds – never spectacular but always allowing me to do what I need with minimal fuss and bother. I’ve stuck with Mac’s and i-devices because even though they aren’t the most customisable and lack a phablet sized screen I’d prefer something that actually works rather than something that appears to be great only to find that after a few weeks of using the phone that I wish to tear my hair out. Same thing with a bank – with all the BS involved with moving from one bank to another then having to tell all the bill payees of my new account number etc. it can be a pain in the bum. Putting that aside the move to AMI will mean that I can pretty much put $510 into my bill paying account then the rest into my credit card then channel all my bills to go through there so that there will always been credit there to pay the bills and I avoid the fiasco of a transaction not going through due to lack of funds.

Oh well, I have my alarm set for 10:15am so I’ll be all fresh and ready for my day of fun and excitement playing music banks account opening – hopefully the Westpac in Lower Hutt will allow me to access my ASB online account so then I can print off bank statements along with logging into Affinity Logon so then they can also see the pay slips directly from my employer. I’ve had a good look at what is required so hopefully by this time next week I would have moved on – AMI and Westpac here I come.

Follow up to my last post: Microsoft’s services and an Android future

Although I mentioned it in the previous post I forgot to talk about the services side of Microsoft – the issue of Android being bought up in regards to Microsoft is the fact that the future of Microsoft isn’t tying every other part of Microsoft to Windows but instead making Windows once and for all actually have to compete in the marketplace based on merit rather than screwing over the other divisions. When it comes to an Android future and the move away from Windows being a generator of growth and profit it makes perfect sense to move to Android and start focusing their services on that platform but the push doesn’t stop there. The other problem is the horrible integration between Windows, Mac OS X and their online services – particularly on OS X but more mind boggling on how bad their integration is when it comes to their own flag ship operating system (Windows). At some point that if you’re going to rally around your services and you have a flagship product (Windows) that the focus would be on making sure that it provides a first class experience for end users rather than the current situation of “either throw everything in the cloud or have no cloud at all” where at least in the case of OS X and iCloud you still maintain your local account but you can add in iCloud support without losing you local account in the process.

When it comes to their online services they most certainly tick all the boxes – Outlook.com for email, Skype for VoIP and video conferencing, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Contacts, Calendaring etc. but when it comes to working with other operating systems they do a crappy job at it. Take iOS – sure you can synchronise your Contacts, Email, Calendaring etc. without too many issues but what is missing are niceties such as the ability to synchronise bookmarks for example (and they’ve provide no public API to make that possible so even if Apple wanted to they wouldn’t be able to). iOS comes out a whole lot better when compared to OS X where as of 10.9.4 as an end user you’ve had to deal with pop3/smtp support (not particularly useful when it comes to multiple devices keeping in sync) and then Microsoft finally delivers IMAP support but there is no Contact, Calendaring, Notes etc. synchronisation when setting up in the ‘Internet Accounts’ in ‘System Preferences’ and all that could be delivered if Microsoft said “screw it, you can licence ActiveSync for free” and allow Apple to provide ActiveSync support for Mail, Contacts, Calendaring, Notes etc. which would give that integrated experience end users expect from a service provide but alas Microsoft isn’t willing to roll out the ‘royalty free licensing’ welcome wagon which would get more users using their services.

Regarding the strategy of using the consumer space to get into the enterprise space (which was raised by a forum poster on the link I provided in the previous post) was part of the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) which allowed iOS and Android to devour Blackberry overnight thus leaving it the hollow shell that it once was. The problem is that when they did deliver it you had Windows Phone 7 based on Windows CE which was then dropped thus leaving early adopters short changed which then result in Windows Phone 8 but it took till Windows Phone 8.1 before they finally delivered the WinRT developer experience from Windows for ARM but alas here we are and they’re still trying to make up for lost time. I think this post on Arstechnica’s discussion forum pretty clearly sums up the problem:

But what has been conclusively proven is that the days of MS being able to show up a day late and a dollar short, and leverage Windows and Office to force their way into an already mature market, are over. It’s going to take something radical to make them relevant in the mobile space, and “radical” just isn’t in MS’s DNA.