26 July 2014

Quickflix vs Google Play Movies and TV

I am a Quickflix subscriber. I pay $10 a month and get access to a library of movies and TV shows. I install the Quickflix app on my Android phone and cast it to my television using the chrome cast, which you can purchase from Dick Smith or JB Hi Fi for $50.

I think Quickflix is great. I am watching the Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire. I am watching early episodes. That gets to the main problem with Quickflix. The library of movies and TV shows is not very comprehensive and you mainly have to watch old movies and TV shows if you don't want to pay extra. Most content cost extra money on top of your support subscription.

I also have Google Play Movies and TV on my phone and I can also cast to my TV via Chromecast with it. I have noticed that Google has many features that Quickflix does not, mainly the ability to remember at which point of a movie you were at, the ability to download video to your device so you can watch it offline, and the ability to purchase content in HD. Google Play is simply a more polished and better product. However, Google Play does not have a $10 per month subscription. It is all pay per view. There are many shows on Quickflix that are free with the subscription that cost about $40 per season on Google Play.

13 July 2014

Why Use Bitcoin when Bank Transfers are Free?

I have been following the rise of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. I even purchased about 0.2 BTC and stored it on my phone. The problem is that I find that I rarely use it. There is not much on the internet that can be purchased with bitcoin and finding something in real life that can be purchased with bitcoin is even more of a hassle. It is so much easier to pay for something with cash, and paying with MasterCard PayPass is incredibly simple that I use it all the time now when I use a credit card.

As far as sending money to friends or family is concerned, I could use bitcoin and encourage others to use bitcoin, but I found myself having to pay my father back some money and I offered to pay him in bitcoin. He was perplexed by the idea and instead gave me his bank account details. I simply transferred the money from my bank account to his. It happened instantly and it didn't cost anything. A bitcoin transaction, however, has a 1% fee to provide an incentive for miners to process the transaction.

So then why would anyone use bitcoin if there is a 1% fee and bank transfers achieve the same thing but is free? I don't fully understand.

Why Didn't Elliot Rodgers See a Prostitute?

As many know, Elliot Rodgers was a young male who went on a killing spree because he was not able to get a girlfriend. On the day of his killing spree, he released a 140-page manifesto titled My Twisted Life.

An interesting question has been submitted. If he wanted sex so much, why didn't Elliot Rodgers buy the services of a prostitute?

Here’s the thing. Rodger did have “sexual options.” Sex workers in San Diego, not far from where Rodger lived, participate in a market that generated some $97 million dollars in 2007 alone. Had he been willing to make a day trip to Nevada, only a five-to-six-hour drive from Santa Barbara, Rodger could have paid for sex quite legally. Bracketing the immensely complicated question of how sex work should be considered as a legal matter (for a compendium of excellent articles on sex workers and the sex trade, try this Slate Long Form Collection),  and stressing that I believe that sex workers, like all other workers and human beings, deserve respect and legal protection, the question arises: if Rodger, a self-professed virgin who had “never even kissed a girl,” was so incredibly driven by the need to have sex, and if our society, for better and for worse, makes it possible for men to purchase sexual encounters, then why didn’t he pay for it?
When I read My Twisted Life, I couldn't help but feel sorry for Elliot. I think the answer is that you go to a prostitute for sex, but prostitutes are not substitutes for girlfriends. You cannot hire a prostitute to watch a movie with you. There is also a social problem with hiring a prostitute. If you hire a prostitute, it is a secret transaction due to social stigma. It is something you do to satiate your sexual desires, but Rodgers talks often about his desire to have a hot blonde by his side to make his father proud or to show others that he was superior. Having a girlfriend then is a public statement of your worth, much like driving a nice car or wearing nice clothing is.

12 July 2014

Roadside Assistance - RACV vs Budget Direct

I currently drive an old 1997 Toyota Camry that I purchased when I was a student. I've been driving it for about five years now and it has done about 260,000 kilometres. Because it is an old car, it is essential that I have roadside assistance in case something goes wrong. Some people have asked me why I don't just buy a new car. The answer is that new cars, e.g. a brand new $30,000 Toyota Camry, will lose about $3000 worth of value per year on average. I purchased my old Camry about five years ago for $7000 and a search on the internet of similar cars reveals that it is worth about $4000 today, so that is depreciation of about $600 per year compared to $3000. Sure, an old car may need to be serviced and repaired more, but I am sure that cost will not be greater than $2400 per year. A cheaper car is also cheaper to insure.

Back to the topic of roadside assistance. I've been with RACV for a few years now. I have recently received a bill from them to renew my roadside assistance. They are charging $95! Seems a little expensive. I did a quick internet search and found that Budget Direct charges $70. However, digging around a little more I have noticed one feature of Budget Direct's roadside assistance package that worried me: they only offer towing of up to 40km in the country. The biggest fear I have with this is, if my car broke down in the country, would the tow truck only haul my car 40km and that is it? What if 40kms is not enough? According to RACV's website, they offer the following if you breakdown 100km from your home: "$750, Taxi (1@$50), Rental vehicle, Alternative transport, Accommodation." The RACV benefit sounds much more reassuring.

Insurance is difficult because no insurance is the same. We are talking about highly differentiated products. It is not like petrol. Petrol is approximately the same and so you can easily compare petrol prices of different service stations according to price per litre. Insurance is not so easy. The key to comparing insurance, I think, is to look at what benefits you really think you need and then trying to find insurance that provides those benefits for the lowest cost.

09 July 2014

Ripped Off by PayPal Exchange Rate

I just purchased an eBook online from America. I needed to use American dollars and I had Australian dollars. I decided to use PayPal because I had just installed it on my phone and set up an account. I went through the motions, purchased the book, and then afterwards realized that PayPal charged an exchange rate of 0.90 when a simple Google search revealed the exchange rate to be 0.94. PayPal ripped me off! I will see if I can change PayPal setting so that it charges my credit card in US dollars and supposedly the rate charged by the card is not so bad, but if this turns out to be too hard then I will just uninstall PayPal and in rage will never use it again. Credit card is already quite safe anyway. PayPal charges absolutely outrageous fees. Not only are their foreign exchange rates a rip off but supposedly if you transfer money to a friend who also has PayPal, you must pay a 2.3% fee. What a rip off! Bank transfers are free. If you don't feel comfortable giving away your bank account number (research what happened to Jeremy Clarkson when he gave out his bank account number on TV) then bitcoin fees are less than 1%.