Getting closer to Christmas

The first part of the Christmas presents have arrived today – the glasses I bought online:

The top two will go to my sister and partner along with a box of chocolates, the bottom two will go to my brother and his partner along with a box of chocolates. It is difficult to buy for people who can pretty much buy what they want so something that is unique or quirky.

At the moment I’m still waiting for my Pixel 4 XL phone, case and accessories to clear customs but I’ve jumped the gun and sent in via email the special customers client code which is required when importing something that is over NZD$1000. Once that has arrived I’ll put my old phone up online along with my Apple TV plus a few other things for sale to balance things off in the end. I’ve had a look at Amazon regarding the nVidia Shield Pro and although I am tempted the problem is that by the time it is in stock and arrive in New Zealand I’ll already be up in Auckland for Christmas. I’ll have a sleep on it and see how I feel after Christmas about whether it is something I want to go ahead with.

Side note: As a convert to Judaism I see Christmas as a time to get together with family – even before conversion I never really saw it as any more than a secular holiday to have fun with the family. The kids enjoy the presents, a lovely big meal with the family etc. given how we’re spread over two countries – perfect time for the family to all come together.

Christmas shopping all complete

Each year I set myself a deadline that all Christmas shopping must be done before 10th December as to avoid the crazy Christmas rush. The last part was bought tonight KMart on the way home – $50 voucher for my niece but while I was there I saw that they had some cheap and cheerful plain black t-shirts so I bought four of them at $7 each. I’ve got the rest of the stuff coming via courier so hopefully that’ll be arriving either next week or the week after so then I can get it all wrapped up for Christmas. The plan is still going ahead to order some desserts from Denheath and have them delivered to my Grandma’s place – my way of contributing something for christmas lunch.

The Pixel 4 XL phone along with all the other goodies has left the United States on 4 December so hopefully next week on Monday or Tuesday it’ll be delivered so then I can sell my iPhone XS Max 256GB and Apple TV 4K where the amount will be enough to offset the original purchase (basically I”m no better off or worse off than before purchasing it). The good side is that I’m now fully back with ASB which supports both Apple Pay and Google Pay. I’m having a look at an Amazon Fire TV Cube assuming that the built in one included with my television becomes too irritating but so far it is holding up well.

Windows 10X appears to be a project that is a lot wider in scope than was first announced with the advertisement of a job to work in the IoT area of Microsoft specifically on working with Windows 10X running on IoT devices. Interesting to see what is happening with Windows 10X and whether long term we’re going to see it offered as a download alongside the standard Windows 10 ISO.

One more day to go

Last day of work for the week tomorrow (Sunday) so I’m looking forward to getting it out of the way – I’m going to chill out and relax over the next couple of days and enjoy not having to worry work.

The Pixel 4 XL is still on its way so hopefully it’ll be at its destination by Monday or Tuesday next week at which point I’ll combine all three packages together as a single package to New Zealand. With YouShop they collect GST so it should mean that once sent from the United States it will go through customs pretty quickly. I think in future when I buy stuff from overseas I’ll wait till black friday, order a whole heap of stuff and then get it delivered to New Zealand.

Something I have been wanting to write about for a while and that is replying to the accusation which some people have made in the technology media that Google ‘sells’ your personal information. Now, I am no habit of defending multi-billion dollar companies but that being said I do get frustrated when people make disingenuous claims for the sake of getting those all important clicks and views.

Google doesn’t sell your personal information to third parties, what happens is this: for example, a company comes to Google and says, “I am selling widgets, I want to target women over the age of 30 who are married and have an income over $100,000” then Google say, “sure, we can do that, and here is the cost $x”. No information ever changes hands other than the ad buyer wanting target ads towards a certain demographic and Google is the mediator between the ad buyer and the person(s) seeing the ad.

Facebook on the other hand was a different situation – third parties they were able to pull down information from those who directly opted in for an application but also all those who are friends and friends of friends who hadn’t opted into sharing anything . which is why the likes of Cambridge Analytica (along with many other organisations) were able to harvest so much personal information from so few users who had opted into using their application or online service (which linked back to their Facebook profile).

The problem with spreading false information is that it doesn’t help the consumer in the end which result in many just throw their hands up believing that ‘they’re all the same’ thus giving up on the idea on security and privacy. A parallel to that would be the way in which the media portray every politician the same (example in the US where they never mention the politicians party affiliation) resulting in the voting public taking the jaded cynical view that ‘they’re all the same’ and then end up disengaging from politics completely. What consumers need is the truth, no sectionalism, but the truth and through being truthful then and only then can consumers make an informed choice. As Steve Jobs noted an interview, it is about ensuring that the user knows exactly what they’re getting themselves into and for them to make the decision whether any trade offs are worth it.

Went better than expected..

Had a one on one today where the main focus was on the future of the business which worked out good – I’ve got a great boss who is upfront and addresses things as they arise rather than bottling it up. Things are back on track with work with the next few months me being trained up to do different jobs as well as making improvements to the technical support documentation that staff can use when diagnosing issues that customers face when using our service. There are some things that I am working on but I hope that eventually it’ll become second nature to the point I don’t have to actively think – it pretty much becomes muscle memory.

My Pixel 4 XL, headphones and case will all be wrapped up and ready to be sent from the US on Monday next week so hopefully by the end of next week, beginning of next, it’ll be in my hands ready to be setup. It is interesting that I’ve moved back to my Samsung Tizen based smart tv built in software and apart from the lack of 5GHz support it is pretty damn good – a lot more responsive and easier to navigate that my Apple TV.

Things work out for the best in the end

After having the experience with Clove regarding ordering a Pixel 4 XL then finding out that they none in stock I resigned myself to the fact that I’ll probably never get a Pixel 4 XL. Well, as they say, it all works out for the best in the end and in the case of my unsuccessful attempt to buy a Pixel 4 XL it allowed me to hold off and as a result I’ve ended up saving over NZ$600 by buying it from Amazon thanks to the sale that they’ve got running.

I’ve got my domain setup with G Suite along with all my music backups being backed up to the cloud – 1TB total storage available is more than enough for not only now but also into the future as my music collection expands further. Everything is working reliably with the uploading of my music backup being an overnight process which, at the time of this post, has just finished.

When it comes to my finances – things are going well particularly now that ASB have finally realised that, “hang on, we’re a bank so why are we getting involved with our own payment platform” so the net result has been not only ASB supporting Apple Pay but also ASB also supporting Google Pay as well. Along with that ‘change of heart’ they’ve also finally modernised the app on Android so it no longer looks old and out of date look which is a nice change.

Regarding the Pixel 4 XL – the case, earphones and phone will arrive next week some time which is around the same time that the new GST rules kick in. What I will find funny is whether retailers will get the expected ‘windfall’ after claiming for years that the reason why they’re struggling is because overseas retailers have an unfair advantage because stuff bought from overseas slipped under the allowance (the allowances’ removal comes in effect on 1 December 2019) so it was artificially cheaper because no GST was charged (the rate of GST in New Zealand is 15%). I’m sorry to say this but they aren’t going to see a sizeable uptick because those who buy things from overseas fall into one of two categories 1) The product is considerably cheaper when buying it from overseas even if you were to include the cost of postage and packaging along with the GST being charged as it has come through customers and/or 2) The product simply isn’t available in New Zealand such as me having to order a Pixel 4 XL from Amazon because no New Zealand retailer sells it.

Tasty but frugal

So I’ve decided to have a look at new types of meals I can have which are affordable and yet easy to put together which has been due in part of wanting to reduce my grocery bill as well as getting better value for money. Right now the average food per day works out at around $8 per day which is due in part to purchasing ready prepared meals such as those sold by Naked Cuisine and Pitango. Don’t get me wrong, they’re very tasty but can become a big costly so I’m going to mix it up a bit by preparing Diamond Vegetable Pasta Spirals the night before by cooking them then putting it in the fringe so then I can take it to work the next day in a container along with the flavoured canned tomato mixed in. The canned tomatoes around around $1.50-$2.00 per can and the pasta is around 20 cents so for around $2 (give or take a few cents) I can a healthy and filling meal at work.

During the summer I’ll have more salads, maybe make some interesting pasta ones involving tuna, sun-dried tomatoes plus a few other ingredients which will be nice on a hot day. At home for dinner on my days off I’ll start to mix it up a little bit more – part of that might involve investing in a new toasted sandwich maker (link) since the last one I had few a few years broke. It is always good to have a few cans of tomatoes on the shelf, toast bread in the freezer and some cheese in the fridge so when you get the munchies it is possible to throw on some toasties and satisfy the hunger.

Next week I’ll get paid so I’ll need to refill my fridge and shelves so what I’ll need to do is rather than just do the scatter gun approach of ‘buy stuff, sort out meals later’ I’m going to make a conscious effort to try and at least have a rough plan on the meals I want for that week as to avoid frittering money away and instead have an end goal for what my purposes are going to do. That reminds me, I need to buy some chicken because I’ve got some stir-fry vegetables but I haven’t used them but they would work well in a honey soy chicken stir-fry – I’ll lay off the noodles and just have it as just vegetables and protein.

Oh, and this week I had some wonderful wraps that I might repeat this week – chicken strips, coleslaw, cheese, red onions, and a tasty sauce. There are some recipes I do want to try but I’m going to have to wait till winter comes around – things like chicken lasagna – given it is such a heavy meal it is more suited for winter when there is a cold miserable night and you’re wanting some comfort food. I’m hoping that getting better organised will allow me to do more home cooking – I can cook but the problem is that I’ve just been so lazy so hopefully that’ll laziness will be a thing of the past or at the very least I’ll be a lot less lazier.

Back to work tomorrow

Well, I’ve enjoyed my two days off but I’m back to work on Wednesday with all the fun and excitement that entails. As much as I enjoy my weekends I also recognise that for me to enjoy those weekends I have to work but I am hoping that as I start getting myself in a better financial position then there will be a lot less pressureI’ll be putting on myself to do overtime. Things are going well and I think I’ll get to a good position towards the end of the year especially if I stay down in Wellington and work overtime on New Years, Boxing Day etc. where I can get paid time and a half – all of that put towards my objective.

I am going to change things around in terms of my sleeping routine because although I do finish late (2200) and start late (1330) I think it would be a whole lot better getting up earlier so then I go to bed as soon as I get home (after having a shower) and then in bed before 2300 so then I’m asleep before midnight. If I make that move I think it’ll help get into a good routine when t comes to Sunday where I start at 1130 rather than 1330 so that 2 hour difference is quite big especially if you’re used to getting to sleep at 0200-0300. I also notice that when I don’t get enough ‘good sleep’ it makes me more susceptible to snacking especially after work which isn’t good eating food that late at night.