Ok, I caved in, I bought an Apple Watch (plus other things)

So I had to order a replacement space bar for my MacBook and in that time I decided to go, “fuck it, I’m going to get an Apple Watch” – yes, I’ll use it, a great way to keep track of my exercise, stop me from having to get out my phone when I want to see the time etc.Screen Shot 2017 12 14 at 10 43 16 PM

Got the larger band because my wrist is a bit on the big side just in case but I’m happy with the choice. On a side note, I’m still trying to decide what to get my brother, sister and mum for Christmas this year so but knowing my usual plan I’ll probably get my sister and partner a Countdown voucher, an iTunes voucher for the niece, and for my brother and his partner I’ll probably get something from down the road that happens to tickle my fancy.

So far, so good

Training is going well with the new job over summer  but on the down side my space bar on my laptop has gone on the blink so I’m having to order a new one – hopefully will arrive in 3-5 days time. The diet is going well, things that I would have to consciously think about are becoming automatic so eventually once I come off the medication my body will be used to the routine. It has been raining but I went for a quick power walk although I want to avoid getting wet or otherwise I’ll get sick which will translate in time off work and missing my exercise routine. I’d say that as long as I stick ti my diet that exercising 3-4 times a week will be sufficient to keep things rolling along.

Something unconventional: Bank Review

Something a bit strange, I’m going to write a review of the banks that exist in New Zealand since I’ve had accents with pretty much all the major banks (BNZ, ASB, ANZ, Westpac and Kiwibank) but I’ve never written a review about my experience regarding each of them – so now I thought it would be the best time given that I’ve got a few days up my sleeve and I want to keep myself occupied. One thing to keep in mind that for someone like me I’m all about self service – if I need to go into a ‘store front’ to get something resolved that could possibly be done via the internet but the bank is too lazy to invest money into making it possible then it is a sure fire way of losing me as a customer.

Internet banking (which includes mobile banking) is the corner stone of that experience and when it comes to the best experience I’ve had it is with ASB Bank – everything you could imagine that can be done online such as order a replacement credit card or debit card, the payees for billers are synchronised between the mobile version and what is available on the website, activate a new card and choose a new PIN number, a system where your financial situation is monitored and you are offered an overdraft of credit limit increase on your credit card (saving time, rather than going through the process of applying for something and being declined – if you’re eligible for it then you’d know about it).

The website itself isn’t as modern/sleek as say Westpac’s and BNZ’s banking platform – the BNZ has a lay out view that one can choose between a more spreadsheet style lay out (columns and rows) but those wanting something more colourful and icon driven to act as reminders as to what each particular account is setup for – maybe have a long term savings account for your son or daughter with a photo of your son or daughter for the icon as a reminder of who it is for (might work as a good incentive not the spend the money in there). Westpac’s own website makes great uses of layering and slide out draws/menus resulting in a less disjointed experience where you’re not hopping between different parts of the service. With all that being said the slick design cannot make up for the lack of features such as the ability to activate and set a pin over the internet as both Westpac and BNZ required me to go into a branch to do something that Kiwibank, ANZ and ASB seem to be capable of delivering.

When it comes to ANZ’s own online banking, although it hits the mark in many of the same places where ASB and Kiwibank did, the problem I found was that the payees I set up on the website wouldn’t propagate over to the mobile application meaning that when I’m at work on my break and I see that my pay had gone through I couldn’t pay all my bills. What makes the situation even more bizarre is the process of updating personal information – you cannot see what they’ve got on file and when you’ve submitted an update to the details you never get to see the final version – oh, then there is the delay between submitting and it becoming active. Reminds me of State Insurance and how with Southern Cross Health Society I can update my direct debit but in State Insurance infinite wisdom I am unable to update that online.

In terms of the costing the best value I found was with ASB Bank – the ASB Visa Lite credit card has no account fees, interest free for 6 months for purchases over $1000 but that being said Westpac do have the best value when it comes to balance transfers by having the option of either 12months at 0% or 5.95% until the balance transfer has been paid off. When it comes to the running costs of having an account the most expensive was BNZ which charges a flat $5 per month where as the cheapest being Kiwibank, ASB and ANZ but keeping in mind that the fee free accounts at the  three of those banks are purely electronic transactions so if you do want to have manual transactions rather than using the smart ATM or one of the automated services then there will be a service fee. That being said, the flat fee at BNZ doesn’t cover everything – there are service charges such as if you want to print out a statement at the bank which kind of makes me wonder what the $5 is paying for.

When it comes to Kiwisaver ASB once again is the best value for money and best performing (for the balanced fund) with ANZ being the most expensive, BNZ sitting around the middle of the pack along side Westpac’s BT Fund with Kiwibank being more expensive than ASB but cheaper than BNZ, ANZ and Westpac.

Over all if I was going to draw a conclusion I’d say that ASB is the best value for money and best technology except when it comes to Apple Pay which is where ANZ and BNZ have the edge but that being said if you’re into balance transfers with the best rate then Westpac seem to be a lot more aggressive in terms of competitive pricing than what others offer. When it comes to Apple Pay, as much as I love Apple I have to admit that it is a technology that is solving what is a uniquely American problem of an antiquated banking system with Apple Pay and Android Pay being a patch over a gaping wound. When it comes to Apple Pay in New Zealand my experience at least working in the banking sector is that it is a gimmick used by banks in lieu of fixing critically fundamental flaws in their banking experience – “don’t look at our short comings…check this out…we’ve got Apple Pay!”.For someone like me the idea of Apple Pay is very much something that is ‘neat’ but it is more the icing on the cake and most certainly not something that can be some how used as a replacement for getting the basic banking fundamentals sorted out.

Got some work at least

On a good side, I’ve got some work at least – around 11 days worth of work; one at a site operated by the same organisation I am with along with an event with a temp agency that’ll pay around $19 per hour (8 hours of work) so that’ll all add up eventually but in the mean time I’m putting my name out there to pick up casual work here and there to keep my head above water.

The diet is going well and although I do have the occasional ‘treat’ I also ensure that it is within moderation rather than going crazy; three pieces of pizza rather than having a whole one. Hopefully by the time my brother arrives in New Zealand I’ll be close to the half way point but until then I’ve got 3 hoodies I’ll give to a friend since they don’t fit me and probably won’t fit me since the torso of the hoodie is too short plus I don’t like the feel of the fabric (I got them pretty cheap so it is a non-issue). On the good side I’ve got some nice stuff arriving that I’ve wanted for quite some time – three Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds t-shirts that will be nice and comfortable once I hit my target of being 2/3 of the way there by the end of January/beginning of February. There are some things I want to get rid of since they’re synthetic fabric and they’re horrible from the stand point that they’re not breathable fabric plus a few out of date things too.

In terms of milestones, I weighed myself at Briscos (I’m too cheap to buy a scales myself) and I’m down to 167kg which his a drop of 26kg in total so far and at the rate I’m going at I’ll be below 160kg by the end of the year. Part of the diet has not only been about cutting calories but having a complete lifestyle reboot and now I look at what I eat and it doesn’t even resemble what I used to it – a lot more fruit, vegetables, health vegetarian options, I’m now looking at what is in the food rather than just throwing it in the oven then hoping for the best. My aim is to be pretty much over half way to my target by the time I go back to work next year with my normal job and by the end of that year I want to be at my target weight of around 85-90kg 

I got the answer back…and it wasn’t good

As you’ve already seen via my tweet, unfortunately although the guy who recruited me for the position had vouched for me along with the doctor explaining but alas HR over rode evidence in favour of feels. That being said, one has to remember that the industry I was entering into has, well, lets put it the way, a bit of a reputation when it comes to health and safety which leads me to wonder whether the decision was the result of being overly cautious which is understandable given the million dollar fines that have been handed down by Work Safe. I’ve gotten in contact with someone I know at a recruitment company since she offered me a temporary position but I turned it down believing that I had the job in the bag. Hopefully she’ll be able to find me something because I’d sooner avoid WINZ like the plague since the whole experiencing of having to go into their office is pretty horrible.

Anyway, hopefully once I get some sort of job sorted out then I’ll be in a good position to make a decision on my Apple Watch going forward but given the precarious financial position I am in it is best not to do something stupid like make a big purchase. I’m really hoping that I get that job which the recruitment wondered whether I would be interested in last week and if it has good pay of something close to $20 per hour (it is a call centre job) which would bring in a good pay packet that I can put some savings aside in my high interest bonus saver I’ve got with BNZ (since I’ve moved all my accounts over to them).

Pontificating over the purchase of an Apple Watch

So I’m waiting back from my boss whether it is all going ahead with the job I’ve got lined up – HR has to sign off on the letter my doctor sent through to the companies HR just to reassure them that I am not going to go loopy when I am at work. If everything goes according to plan I’m going to get an Apple Watch which will be great for my workouts so then I can keep track of my work outs, how my calories I am burning, ensure my heart rate is in the ‘fat burning zone’ and so on. Anyway, off to sleep I go and hopefully I’ll get good news tomorrow from work or otherwise I’ll need to print out bank statements and pay slips then head into WINZ to get a bridging benefit from now until I go back to the catering job.

Keeping up to date with Apple’s and Microsoft’s software improvements

One of the most underrated projects is LLVM given how much of a big contribution it makes to Apple’s operating system – whether it is the libc++ library, the compiler, the use of LLVM when it comes to OpenGL and Metal along with many other components. The following ( link ) is to the LLVM YouTube Channel where they upload the latest videos from the regular conferences they hold which includes engineers visiting from Apple to explain what they have been working on. The one I am watching right now is the following:

Where the Apple engineer is going into detail regarding how LLVM acts as a GPU compiler for the Metal stack that exists across their product range. It is rather disappointing that such videos aren’t propagated on Apple’s main website given how valuable they are to developers who are interested in understanding the reasoning behind the decisions that Apple made and how to write their own applications whilst keeping in mind that design decisions that Apple made.

I’m also having listen to a presentation regarding Windows 10 and the future of C++ development with the changes that Microsoft are gradually rolling out:

The presenter goes into great details talking about how there is an active programme within Microsoft to move away from proprietary extensions to a standards based implementation along with making sure that going forward the C++ stack on Windows 10 will be up to date and conforming with the latest standards. Although in an ideal world we’d all be moving to UWP but in the real world it appears that Microsoft is attempting to make Windows suck a little less by getting those fundamentals sorted out so that if win32 must hang around it would be nice if it didn’t suck as much (the use of the word ‘suck’ is not deliberate but merely as a by product of not being able to come up with something better at the time I was writing this blog post).