Tag Archives: general

Saving Money

I’ve taken a keen interest in financial planning, and what better way to get some experience with it than planning my own, personal finances? I’ve set myself the goal of being self-sufficient. My co-op terms make this goal quite possible, despite the regular plundering the University of Waterloo tuition performs on my bank account. I’ve been tracking my spending, prioritizing big purchases, and watching my co-op salary increase with each subsequent semester. But sometimes growing that top line just isn’t enough. Sometimes you just have to cut expenses.
So, I recently decided to start with one of the easier things to control, and with two quick phone calls, I saved nearly $400 per year on internet and cell phone expenses. It makes me cringe to think how much I’m spending to be able to save that amount.

The first call was to Rogers Wireless. I had read about a $20/month promotional plan that seemed to fit my calling patterns a bit better than the $30/month plan I had at the time. Most of my calls were made after 6pm, and most of them to other Rogers Wireless customers. Here’s what I had and what I switched to.

Previous:

  • 100 daytime minutes
  • Unlimited incoming
  • 1000 weekend/nights after 9pm
  • Unlimited Rogers to Rogers

Current:

  • 150 daytime minutes
  • 1000 weekend/nights after 6pm
  • Unlimited Rogers to Rogers

I tallied up my daytimes minutes for the past several months, and without the unlimited incoming feature, I realized I only make around 100 minutes of calls before 6pm. As a result, switching to the $20 plan wouldn’t affect my calling and I shouldn’t run into much if any overages. Unfortunately, I had to sign over another 3 years of my cellular life to Rogers, but hey, what other GSM choice do I really have?

I made another call today, this time to Bell Sympatico, regarding internet services. I’d been reading about TekSavvy, a regional ISP that delivers DSL server over Bell’s network. Their $29.95/month plan is much cheaper than the almost $50/month I’d been paying Bell to deliver essentially the same service. I initially called to cancel the Bell service to switch over to TekSavvy, but the customer service representative presented me an offer I couldn’t refuse – unlimited downloads/uploads and $29.95/month for a year.

The rep wanted to offer me the $29.95/month offer for 6 months only, and had to move me to a new plan, that included a 60GB download/upload cap. When I signed the initial contract with Bell Sympatico, it was still in the heydays of truly unlimited line usage. Even back then, they were one of the only providers to not cap usage, and shortly afterwards, they did move to a capped service. However, I reasoned with the representative and was able to renew my grandfathered plan for another year, all at the lower price.

With the two recurring expenses reduced, I’ll be saving just about $400 per year, after accounting for taxes. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. I can now look at buying a replacement for my (still) broken Sony Ericsson K790a (that’s another story for another time) without feeling more guilty.

Oh wait, I thought the whole point was to save money…

Links for Friday the 13th

No More Mail in Rebates

A couple weeks ago Best Buy announced that it was eliminating mail in rebates from manufacturers. I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen a great sale on a flyer, only to check the asterisk for more details and see that it’s actually $5 and an additional $50 in a mail in rebate. I’ve had a pretty good track record for actually getting mail in rebates back, but the fact is, they’re a pain to fill out. That’s not mentioning the fact that you still have to pay taxes before you can send off that rebate. And I guess it’s only natural that FutureShop (which is owned by Best Buy) has now eliminated mail in rebates as well.

Actually it’s not a great situation for some; the people who take the time to fill in rebates (such as myself) may lose a bit in value. Chances are, with manufacturer rebates gone, sale prices are going to look a little less tasty down the road.

Video Game Texture Piracy

You don’t hear about this sort of thing everyday – there’s talk around the ‘net about a major game ripping graphical assets from other games. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl has been accused by some of blatantly taking in-game textures from Doom 3 and Half Life 2. I mean if you’re going to take someone else’s game files you might want to at least change their filenames…

Vancouver and Dallas Go At It Again

I’ve been secretly rooting for the Canucks all year and the opening game of the Vancouver-Dallas series was quite the thriller. In fact, it was the sixth-longest game in NHL history, requiring over 78 minutes of extra time to end.

The two teams play again tonight.

Canada Buys Tanks?!

Not so long after the idea of scrapping the entire tank fleet and replacing them with Mobile Gun Systems (which are based on the Stryker platform, which is in turn based on Canada’s LAV III, which is in turn based on the Mowag Piranha) the Canadian government made it known that Canada will be replacing its fleet of 100-plus Leopard 1’s with 20 new Leopard 2A6M’s from Germany and up to 100 used Leopard 2’s from the Netherlands. The 20 advanced Leopard 2’s from Germany will be leased and sent directly to Afghanistan while the older Leopard 2’s from the Netherlands (which have been in storage for 10 years and actually never deployed) will be shipped to Canada later and refitted with, among other things, an air-conditioning system.

One of the main faults of the 30 year-old Leopard 1 is the lack of any sort of climate control inside the tank. As a result, under the Afghan sun, temperatures are reaching into the 60’s Celsius.

Hopefully the new tanks will make a difference – it’s sad to see so many of our soldiers dying.

Shopping Spree

I celebrated the commencement of Reading Week (aka a week off, sort of) by going to Toronto on Saturday and buying clothes. I hit up the Yorkdale mall and its exorbitant number of stores. I managed to pick up:

  • two short sleeve polo shrts
  • a long sleeve polo
  • a semi-dressy shirt
  • a button-neck sweater
  • a zip-up sweater
  • a couple long sleeve tees
  • two pairs of khakis
  • and a pair of jeans

It’s not that I even need much in the way of clothing. It’s just that I’ve developed this taste for European styles. The clothes fit so much nicer on me, partly due to my slightly skinny build. Baggy clothes = blah.

I also took a walk through the Holt Renfrew at Yorkdale just for shits. I gotta say, I could get used to shopping in a store like that. You feel rich just walking in it. I even took a sneaky picture of the Louis Vuitton shop in there. Some French guy with a pony tail and an accent was working; how stereotypical. I still can’t quite figure out how a 5cm by 5cm change purse could possibly fetch $300, but whatever.

Louis Vuitton

I found a couple reeeeally nice Chaps cricket shirts at Holt Renfrew, but the $110 price tag turned me away… One day when I’m not thinking properly, I’ll go in there and pick up a shirt or two.

Oh, if you want to see what I’ve been working on over the past couple days, take a gander over here. I’d say it’s probably 90% there; a lot of little details still need to be polished off, but it’s pretty close to being ported over to this site.

Airshow

Actually, this post is probably going to be a huge letdown since the pictures are on the other digital camera which my parents are currently in possession of. Hence, you’ll be seeing no photos probably until this coming weekend. It started with us leaving Niagara Falls around 11am, got to my place in Mississauga to drop some things off around 12:30pm. Then after driving aimlessly (it seemed like it…) we finally found ourselves on the Gardiner Expressway, headed towards Lakeshore. That was one hell of a drive. The roads were jam packed with cars. It seriously looked more like a parking lot than an expressway. After driving for a little over an hour, we finally got down to where the parks and the airshow was going on. Unfortunately, the parking lots were more than filled. People were parked behind other cars and it was basically a huge mess. We managed to find a spot in the median of Lakeshore Boulevard (yeah, it was that bad) and walked over to where we could actually see something.

We had missed a solid portion of the airshow already but I did get to see a CF-18 fighter jet, some random propeller planes and, of course, la piece the resistance, the Snowbirds. They are quite impressive. The synchronization is just phenomenal. I guess you don’t become famous for mediocrity. I took quite a few pictures, some of which turned out pretty decently. It’s pretty tough to get pictures of planes that are zooming by at low altitudes. The only thing I regret is not seeing that B1B Lancer bomber. That would definitely have been quite a sight. There’s always next year I guess.

There was also a festival thing going on. Tom Cochrane and Five for Fighting were performing along with some other bands; those are the two probably more well known ones. I didn’t really watch too much of it, but it’s sort of nice to be able to walk around and bump into a festival like that.

Well, that’s about it. I’ve got (essentially) a 3 day week this week since I’m going golfing on Thursday. I got my clubs from home and a few golf balls. It’s going to be one messy round I’m thinking. I’ve never played a 18 hole course before… Time to play some UT2003 before bed. 🙂

To all you people starting school again: Have fun. (yeah right) 😉

MacBooks Tomorrow?

Well, there are some strong rumours that the non-Pro MacBooks are going to be released by Apple tomorrow. 13.3″ widescreen and all the Apple aesthetics should be nice. I’m thinking of picking up a smaller laptop for my next one and getting a huge LCD + desktop for my next setup. That would be a nice balance of stationary power and mobility.

Played more ultimate frisbee today. Felt really good actually. I can tell I’m going to be somewhat sore tomorrow though. And look at that, 2 posts in one day at university, aren’t you proud? (okay, so they’re not really full posts, but it’s the best I can do for the time being) Time to watch an episode of House and then pass out.

On The Bus

What a week. I’m sitting on the bus on the way back to the university, probably for the last time in quite a long while. School’s getting busier (after one week, I know) and there’s a friend who also lives in Niagara Falls with a car, so I can probably just mooch rides back with him from now on.

I finished my work report a full day earlier than the deadline. I went out and got my report bound at Staples earlier today. But that was only after I ran out of printer paper and had to do a quick run out for that. I also realized later around dinnertime that I had named my introduction section not introduction but technology background. As a result, to be on the safe side, I changed that little discrepancy the only way I knew how; I glued on a little piece of cut out paper. I wasn’t going to get the rebound again for one wrong word. I better not get too many marks taken off for aesthetics… Maybe I’ll post the report up here someday to see just how much better my BS has gotten since high school. J Okay, let’s be honest now; I did a lot of research on my topic while writing the report. It wasn’t all a big load. Hopefully they’ll accept my topic since it wasn’t exactly something I did on the job. Whatever, the report’s done and I’m happy.

The past week at university was quite a lot of fun. We didn’t have any (okay, we had one) tutorials and no assignments so I had quite a bit of free time. It’s not often that one gets that much free time while at university (and in engineering). I played a bunch of ultimate Frisbee, even when I felt pretty sick during the middle of the week. I’m not sure what that was exactly, stomach flu or something. I felt like throwing up constantly for those couple of days. I’m doing much better now, thank you very much.

While home, I also had to switch the 120GB external hard drive for the 200GB. The 120GB was overflowing with stuff and there’s so much more to download! I’m not even sure when I’m going to watch all the TV shows and movies, but I’m sure they’ll come in handy someday. It’s just nice to have right? That’s not to mention the 11.5GBs of techno… That effectively doubled my music library to over 20GBs. Yum.

Since it’s the summer semester, this bus doesn’t even go to the University of Waterloo campus anymore. Instead, I’ll have to find my way from the Charles Terminal in Kitchener all the way up to the university. Normally, I’d just take the iXpress, but that stops running around 6 or 7 pm. I’ve never actually taken the route without the iXpress so I’m sure it’ll be interesting tonight.

Well, time for me to watch some House. That show is just amazingly good. I’ll definitely have to write a post about that later on. But my suggestion for now is to watch it if you don’t already. You’ll thank me. 😛

Update: I just remembered that House is all on my external drive so I can’t watch it right now. Bummer. Starsky and Hutch it is then…

Point Form

Since it’s getting to the point where I can’t spend long periods of time writing, regularly at least, I’ve decided to ditch the paragraphs and prose and settle for a point form summary of any substantial things during my day. So, I’ll start with yesterday.

  • Super warm and nice for the third day in a row
  • Played ultimate frisbee again
  • Walked and got lost on the way to a guy’s house…
  • Wasted an hour and a half of my life searching and watching Gunther music videos.

That last point warrants a bit of explanation. So my friend messages me and tells me, “Search up Gunther in Google videos.” So I do and it’s like rediculously funny. So I wait until later, get all the guys from residence here and we go watch all these music videos. So, if you’ve got about half an hour (we took way longer cause we just needed to find more… which proved to be tricky) go to Google Video and search up Gunther. You’ll know what you’re looking for when you find it. Needless to say, you should probably avoid watching in public (it’s not pr0n or anything, but it’s… European) both because of a bit of content but also because you’re going to look retarded laughing your ass off.

Enjoy, and my work report isn’t going at all. About 4 pages more in 3 days. 😐

Squashed

Well, I played squash for the first time tonight. Was it ever a blast. I’ve played plenty of tennis, table tennis, and badminton before, so I’m pretty familiar with my racquet sports. Well, I had always been slightly afraid of squash to be honest. Think about it, a small, hard rubber ball whizzing around an enclosed space with two people on the same side of the court sort of thing. Well, there’s no sides, but you know what I mean. I’ve always wondered how people didn’t hit each other repeatedly. Well, while there and playing, I definitely nourished some of those thoughts, but luckily, I didn’t hit anyone. One thing that I did have to adjust for though was the big tennis swing. You see, there are a lot of walls in a squash court and many times, the ball comes right down the wall. A big swing usually means you hit the wall instead of the ball. That usually doesn’t work out very well.

I think I did okay for my first outing; the swing definitely changed from my tennis one. But most importantly of all, I feel great. Shamefully, I haven’t really been doing much physical exercise these days and going out there and playing hard for 2 solid hours was definitely tiring and rewarding at the same time. I know for sure my legs are going to be sore tomorrow. It didn’t help that the person I went with is quite the seasoned squash player.

There was also quite the coincidental event today. A friend here bought a pair of Shure E2c earbuds. Now if you know anything about music, you’ll know that these are very nice earbuds. I had also had my mind set on getting a nicer pair of earbuds for my iPod or any future audio playing device. However, I hadn’t really found anything I liked for a decent price. So I never bought anything. But I was on the phone with my parents when surprisingly, they asked me if I wanted to get a pair of earbuds. They remembered that I had wanted a pair earlier and were going to buy me a pair if they could find something. And to top it all off, Rene, tells me he wants to get a pair of good earbuds. Talk about weird eh? Three earbud-related purchases/potential purchases in one day.

Clearly being as tired as I am right now, I can’t do any PDEng. Even though I finally finished my final module assignments, I failed a couple previous ones, which I was supposed to complete for tomorrow. Well, I submitted a request for extension so we’ll see how that goes. I actually want to think over this resubmit since it pertains to my work report, which is still teetering on the edge. I’d like to do a good job and see the feedback they give me. I plan on working on my work term report starting this weekend so the PDEng assignment should get done in the process. At least that’s the plan. 🙂

Bad Day

Well, I said more later and now is later, so I should probably write something more… I actually had a pretty dismal day today. Things seemed to start going downhill right around lunchtime. You know, I probably don’t say this enough but, sometimes I’m just completely, utterly, socially inept. Like today at lunch was an example. Sometimes I feel as though I have to justify my existence in the University of Waterloo Computer Engineering program by acting in the weirdest, nerdiest, most awkward sort of way. Okay, so I’m a bit nerdy at times, but I went totally overboard today. And I could sense it from the others. It was awful. It was like I couldn’t stop. As I said, socially inept. Then with that whole awkward situation weighing on me, I had the chance to see my connecting bus pull away as I stood at the door of the bus I had just arrived on. Oh, that didn’t help my mood at all. And through it all, it felt as though something was weighing on me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I’m really not sure if it was just something trivial or perhaps the fate of the world is now resting on my shoulders. Anything’s possible? Hmmm, that reminds me of a part of the book I’m currently indulging myself in, Theatre of the Mind, but you already knew that. It’s not a book you can read too quickly without losing a lot of its content. You have to sit and think about what the author’s trying to say. I have to admit, it’s gotten me to think about my, well, thinking recently. I’ve got lots to write about relating to that, but I’ll save that for a later time.

So generally speaking, I had a pretty bad day. The few bright spots would probably have to have been the Apple announcement this morning of the Base Boot Camp software and the fact that I (finally) got a Google Analytics invite. I had forgotten that I had even signed up for one. Or maybe I never signed up for one and they just felt like giving me one. I don’t know, but in any case, I took a look at it and it looks awfully complicated, which in turn implies awesome. 😛

Hopefully tomorrow shall be a little nicer to me?

Weak-end

Well, this has been the first weekend that I haven’t gone home in quite a long while. I guess it’s about time I started re-habituating myself with that again anyways. After all, I don’t plan, or have the time, to go home all the time when the school semester starts up again. Well, everyone I know went home, as usual (which is why I didn’t really have any incentive to stay around before) so I was left here to preoccupy myself. I had been wanting this book anyways, so I decided to set off for the local Chapters to kill some time. And time I did kill.

Okay, so I’ve been living in the city of Waterloo for almost 7 months now and you’d think I’d know my way around a bit. Well, the thing is, during my time at school, I rarely went off campus, and even if I did, it’d be to somewhere nearby. Then, over the past few months of co-op, I’ve taken the same bus route essentially every single day, so it’s not like I got to know the geography aside from that route. So here I was, not even sure where Chapters was and definitely not sure of which bus would get me there. I checked up on the web to see that Chapters is north of me. So I’d need to take the 7 north along King Street probably. I start walking to the nearest bus stop and look at the schedule. This bus goes to Charles Terminal, which is south, opposite the direction I want to go. Alright, time to hit up another bus stop. I walk part way across campus to another bus stop and take a look at the schedule there. Hmmm… weird, this bus also does to Charles Terminal. I decide to walk to the Student Life Center here to get a bus map to see what bus I actually needed to take and where that bus stop was. I finally get my hands on a map after about half an hour of walking around to bus stops. One glance at the map and I realize, there is no bus that goes north along King from our campus. I need to first go south, then hitch a ride on another bus. Alright, off I go.

So finally, I make the right transfers and I find myself outside of Chapters. By this time, it had actually started to drizzle, so I was pretty glad to get inside. I’ve never been to this Chapters, so I hit up one of those computers and look up the book I want to get, Theatre of the Mind by Jay Ingram. So it tells me it should be under science/biology. Well, that doesn’t help too much since I have no clue where the science section is. I ask one of the salespeople and I find my way. I grab the book flip it open to find that it costs $38… The website said $25 or so. Well, that’s crappy, but whatever. I want this book now! Well, that took all of 10 minutes. I didn’t exactly want to go back and get cooped up in my room already, so I decided to randomly browse around. Since I had been interested in improving my writing skills, I decided to take a look at some writing books. They all ended up being pretty much useless. My grammar is pretty good and I really just wanted to improve the quality of writing. Nothing really looked to be of any use in that regard. After randomly browsing for about another hour, I decided it was time to start heading back.

I exited Chapters to find it still spitting outside. This was around 2PM. I walk to the bus stop and waited. And waited. And waited some more. The bus finally came, which I took only for a couple blocks before having to step off to transfer to another bus. I definitely could have made it there faster walking than taking that bus. Well, I didn’t know I’d wait so long, but by the time I got to my transfer, the bus I needed to be there was not. It had left only a couple minutes earlier, or so I was told by a lady there. Golly, the next bus wasn’t due for half an hour. So I take a look at what other buses are coming to that stop. Hmm the 12. That could take me to the south entrance of the university at least. A glance at my watch tells me that one would be coming in a little less than 15 minutes. Okay, time to wait again. All told, it took well over an hour from stepping out of Chapters to stepping into my room. The distance was probably walkable in less time.

But I really didn’t have anything better to do. If I hadn’t taken that little adventure, you wouldn’t even see this post, so be grateful, or ungrateful, whatever. I wonder what I shall do tomorrow to keep from going insane. At least it’s supposed to be sunny and warmer tomorrow. Maybe I’ll go walking with the camera and see where I end up.

This is definitely shaping up to be a weak weekend.

[tags]waterloo, chapters[/tags]