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Journal

37

Seven days ago I turned thirty-seven.

I took the day off in lieu for working the previous Saturday. My wife took off from her work too.

My wife and son surprised me with a couple of gifts, one of which is my favourite organic dark chocolate from a local co-op. Given the current world events, I did not feel too excited to venture anywhere outside our lovely neighbourhood.

I spent the rest of the day with my wife and son, chatting together, playing video games, and eating out at our favourite places. I also spoke to my parents, brother, sister and an old friend, all from afar overseas.

I had a small and simple celebration.

I feel fortunate and privileged for everything in my life and being able to live how I envisioned. I have several ambitions to pursue, and that is probably a life long endeavour. But at this point in life, I don’t wish my life to be any different. For that, I am very grateful.

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Journal

HEY, email spy!

I am not surprised by this, but it feels weird to realize actually getting spied! I am sure there will be many more instances of spying and it feels normal over time, but here’s the first one for the record.

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Journal

I realize in the tweet sent from my previous post I sounded like I sent a pre-populated tweet some services encourage you to share right after signing up for them.

That tweet isn’t something HEY populated or nudged me to send. I should have written a personable custom message to go along with my previous post.

Nevertheless, I am excited about signing up for HEY!

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Apps Tech

Hey, HEY!

Last night I bought my @hey.com email address subscription after trying it for a few days. I have been following HEY ever since Jason gave a heads up earlier this year. Since this is from Basecamp, I knew it is going to be amazing and it is! I signed up as soon as I got an invite a few days ago and I loved everything about it: the onboarding, speed, features, simplicity and privacy. But most importantly, I subscribed to the HEY Manifesto and the principles of its principals Jason and DHH and their Small Tech company, Basecamp.

I never thought I would pay for an email service, but it is probably the best ninety-nine US dollars I spent lately. Like many people, last time I was this excited about an email service when Gmail was introduced in 2004 (or 2005?). Big Tech is so pervasive, and it is not going to go away anywhere or any soon. But where possible and affordable, I think we should support subscription-based services offered by Small Tech companies; they cost money upfront, but they don’t sell your privacy and data to the highest bidders to display ads.

If you want to check more about HEY, I suggest these links: 

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Journal

Lockdown update: returning to normalcy

New Zealand is moving to lockdown alert level 1 —and a return to mostly normalcy— from this midnight. Only border restrictions are in place.

I am glad it is over! It won’t be as normal as before all this, and it is still important to follow the hygiene and physical distancing practices, but overall, given how broken the world is right now, I am grateful for where I am. I couldn’t be anywhere better!

Here is the full timeline of New Zealand lockdown.

  • 11:59pm, 25-March-2020 Wednesday

    New Zealand moves to alert level 4; the entire nation goes into self-isolation.

  • 33 days

  • 11:59 pm, 27-Apr-2020 Monday

    NZ goes down to lockdown alert level 3.

  • 16 days

  • 11:59 pm, 13-May-2020 Wednesday

    NZ goes down to lockdown alert level 2.

  • 26 days

  • 11:59 pm, 08-Jun-2020 Monday

    NZ will move to alert level 1 – and a return to mostly normal lives – from midnight tonight.

God Defend New Zealand.

Here is the summary of Covid-19 virus cases in New Zealand.

Infographic from the New Zealand Herald.
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Journal Tech

Fibre Ultra

I upgraded my fibre internet to Fibre Ultra, technically called Gigabit fibre which has the advertised speeds of 900 Mbps down and 500 Mbps up.

First, some backstory.

My first fibre connection I got in 2018 was solid (Fibre 100 – 100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up). After some time I grew unhappy with the puny 20 Mbps upload speed. I felt uplink could be better and so I upgraded in 2019 to Fibre 200 which doubled the download speed, but oddly enough it did not change the upload speed. So I saw no point in paying extra just to improve only the download speed. I downgraded back to Fibre 100 to save money.

Fast forward to this April. A discussion on Bill Bennett’s blog made me lookout for other offerings with higher upload speeds. After doing the price math, I settled for Fibre Ultra from Skinny.

Fibre Ultra is supposed to get me 900 Mbps down and 500 Mbps up. It does, but only on the ethernet. And I don’t like cables. On WiFi, I get only 300 to 400 Mbps down and 400 Mbps up. Nevertheless, now the downlink is about 4 times and uplink is a whopping 20 times what it was. That itself is amazing!

Was – Fibre 100
Now – Fibre Ultra

But I felt like I am not making the most of the downlink. While I did not expect to get all 900 Mbps down, I hoped to get at least 600- 700 Mbps. I wrote to Skinny and am disappointed by their response:

Internet service provider’s advice

I generally like the customer service of Skinny (one of the reasons I moved to them), but I wasn’t impressed by this specific advice esp. the note about the hardware. As a professional troubleshooter, I checked and played with the WiFi router settings, and tabled it for later since I couldn’t find that elusive setting that could bump up the download speed to 500+ Mbps.

As luck would have it, yesterday Bill published another blog post in which he clarified:

if you connect to, say, Speedtest, from a home computer connected to gigabit fibre but linked to your broadband port via Wi-fi and nothing else is running you might see speeds of 300Mbps to 400Mbps on a good day. Some connections will be slower.

I like to think of it this way: Gigabit fibre is faster, so the bottleneck moves to the Wi-fi network.

Sigh! Now at least I know that I am not missing out any router settings. Thanks again, Bill! You saved me a lot of time.

I feel better now knowing that I couldn’t have done anything to make the most of my internet connection, other than perhaps plugging in ethernet, which I am not going to do. Around 400 Mbps both ways is still pretty awesome as it is!

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Journal

Lockdown update: returning to routines

After eight weeks of stricter levels (4 and then 3) of lockdown, things seem to be getting better.

We are currently in level 2 and have been since Thursday. It is great to see people returning to the streets and generally going about their businesses.

Today we went to our favourite cafe in the morning. As always, the baristas made great coffee. After that, we went to our favourite place in the neighbourhood and grabbed bread from our favourite bakery. In the afternoon I drove past a restaurant that’s usually crowded but was ghosted for the past many weeks. I felt happy to see people enjoying drinks and food, and generally having a good time. It looks like it returned to being the happening place that it used to be!

Today is Sunday and schools are starting from tomorrow. Although it won’t be the same as before, it looks like we are getting back to some semblance of routines after about two months. Fingers crossed, it stays put!

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Journal

Lockdown update: down to level 2 from Thursday

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today New Zealand would move from alert level 3 to level 2 at 11.59pm on the night of Wednesday 13 May; that’s seven weeks after we entered the strictest lockdown.

On Thursday, 14 May, cafes, restaurants, libraries, gyms, malls, cinemas, tourism operators, and sports clubs can reopen.


On Monday, 18 May, kids will be able to return to school.


On Thursday, 21 May, bars will be able to open.

I have no interest in bars, malls or cinemas. But I am looking forward to schools, cafes and libraries reopening soon.

It is great to be able to stick to the ease down schedule!

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Journal

Lockdown update: down to level 3

New Zealand eased into a less severe Level 3 of lockdown today (from 00:00 on April 28th), after about five-and-half weeks of strict lockdown in Level 4 that started from 11:59 pm on March 25th.

We are going to stay in Level 3 for two weeks until May 11th. On May 11th, the cabinet will announce the nation’s next step in the fight against Covid-19. In a great piece of news, the new Covid-19 cases over the past eight days remained in single digits. I am also delighted to see the overall number of infected New Zealanders in the sub-1500 range so far since this outbreak. Over 80% of those people have recovered.

Level 3 feels different from Level 4 in a few ways: there are more people and cars on roads, there is some business activity like takeaway coffees and fast food. Some schools and childcare centres are open.

It is great to see some people and activity compared to how ghosted the streets were for the past five weeks. But I am not too excited as yet. I am not yet comfortable sending the son to the school; neither the school is welcoming all children yet.


I am looking forward to seeing how the curve fares in the next two weeks. I will celebrate more once we go further down to Level 2.

For now, though, I am treating this as Level 4 with one perk: I could now get my daily coffee fix from my regular coffee takeaway outlet. I got one today and boy it tasted great! I have no intention to contribute to traffic gridlocks at McDonalds around the city. I missed my usual eatouts and cafes but no so much to flock on the first day of less severe lockdown. I missed my coffee most and am glad to have it again.

Overall I am impressed with the progress this country has made with keeping the Covid-19 under control. In the coming weeks, I look forward to more easing, schools fully opening, and my other favourite coffee shop opening, all while maintaining physical distancing and other health and safety procedures, of course! It looks like we are making substantial progress in this country.

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Journal

Lockdown updates

Yesterday at 4 pm Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced that New Zealand would go one level down to level 3 from 11:59 pm on 28th April. We would further go down to level 2 from 11th May if the downtrend continues. It is so much relieving!

I am impressed with how this country managed the outbreak in the world where many other first and third world countries have had appalling results. I never took it granted, and I have always been grateful to be living in this country, but more so in the present testing times. I couldn’t have lived in a better place during this pandemic and I am very grateful for that!

Over the past few weeks, I have been reading and pondering a lot about the social and economic impacts of Covid -19, especially on thousands of small and local businesses. For about two years now, as a family, we have been thinking more and more about where the dollars we spend would be going. We have been spending locally as much as we can. I look forward to doing more of the same in the coming years. There has never been a better time to spend locally. I want as much of my money to go to the people and businesses in my community, and I will prioritize local spending for my dollars.

I had a feeling that the bailout money and financial packages governments all over the world are announcing is not free. But I did not quite know the answer until I read this post titled Who Pays For This?

You don’t pay it off. You grow your way out of it. This isn’t intuitive because it doesn’t apply to people. When a person takes out a mortgage or a car loan, there’s a repayment date. But that’s only because people have finite careers and lifespans, so there’s an “end date” where all debts have to be repaid.

Countries (and to some extent companies) are different. They have indefinite lives. So they can remain indebted indefinitely, even with rising debt.

As long as nominal GDP growth is higher than the annual budget deficit, debt to GDP goes down, and spending more than you take in leaves you with a lower debt burden.

This is so simple, but it’s easily overlooked because it doesn’t apply to people.

What matters for countries isn’t the amount of debt they hold. It’s how burdensome that debt is to maintain over time.

Here is another enlightening post I read lately on the Financial Times: Virus lays bare the frailty of the social contract

And the continued timeline…
  • 4 pm, 20-Apr-2020

    PM announced that NZ will go to lockdown alert level 3 from 11:59 pm on 27th April (midnight of ANZAC Day)

  • 00:00 am, 28-Apr-2020

    NZ goes down to lockdown alert level 3.

  • 4 pm 11-May-2020

    Cabinet will decide when will we go further down to lockdown alert level 2.