Loving my new 950XL Windows Phone

I am not sure if I mentioned it before but about two months ago I upgraded my trusty never-fail 640XL Windows Phone to the 950XL. I had been thinking about making this change for about six months or more but the latest offer from Microsoft was just too hard to resist.

When the 950XL was released late last year the cost in Australia was $1,199; basically $1,200. Over six months or so I watched it come down to $899 at Harvey Norman. And then a pal at work said "I see Microsoft are selling that phone you like for $499 on their site".

Initially I thought that he must have been talking about the 640XL or the 650. But, just out of curiosity,I went to the Microsoft Australia site. He was right. Microsoft were selling the 950XL for $499.

I tried to order one right then. But for some reason the Microsoft site would not accepted my order. So I rang them. They were aware of the issue with the 'shopping trolley' on that page and advised it should be fixed within 24 hours.

Seriously. I mean! Seriously. A company the size of Microsoft put up a special on their flagship phone on their own site and the page doesn't work? Plus, it is going to take 24 hours to resolved the problem.

So I had to wait until the next day to order the phone.

I love it. LOVE IT! The super hi-res AMOLED display is amazing and the colours are very close to correct—which is a big plus for a photographer type who doesn't want his pictures (taken with a real camera but transferred to the phone to show to people) showing on the screen as over-saturated; I really appreciate the colours to be close to correct.

As you might expect, the CPU performance compared to the 640XL is blindingly fast. I realise that the 950XL is not quite as fast as the latest iOS or Android phones but for someone coming from the 640XL I can assure you that the 950XL works like it is turbo-charged.

I really like the fast-charge technology in this phone. While I manage to easily get two full days of life out of the huge battery in the 950XL there are those rare occasions when you find yourself facing the "Charge me now or I am going to die" screen. About 20 minutes on the charger will get the gauge close to 50% (about 44%).

As much as I like it not everything is better on the 950XL. I am finding that the reception antenna is not as good as the 640XL. I realise that the 640XL was the best in the world for antenna reception. It was a freak. But I kind of expected the antenna in the 950XL to be as good. Sadly this is not the case.

Whereas I could confidently make and take phones calls on my 640XL from the office in my house with no fear of the calls dropping out I am sad to report that I have had a couple of instances with the 950XL where calls have dropped out due to fringe reception problems. This is a disappointment. I have also had a call drop out while in the lifts at work—again, this NEVER happened with the 640XL.

In my next post I plan to review the in-phone camera. While the camera in the 640XL was 'just okay' I rarely used it. I am hoping that the 20MP camera in the 950XL is better than 'just okay' to the point where I might be able to use it to take serious pictures with.


My semi-regular complaint about the stock market in Australia

Time to update my semi-regular ongoing side-bar check of the Australian stock market as it tries to claw its way back to pre-GFC levels. As you can see from the following graph, it still has a long way to go.

When the GFC hit Australia the All Ordinaries index was at 6.828. At the close of trading on Friday 7th of October 2016 it was sitting pretty level at 5,467—still 19.93 percent below the pre-GFC level.

On the upside, an article in the Australian last week pointed out that most people's minimum contribution compulsory rate superannuation should now have recovered back to the pre-GFC levels. Well I guess that is good news even though it has taken the better part of 8.5 years for this to happen despite regular contribution being made over that time. So, in a way, that is like 8.5 years of superannuation appreciation and contributions being lost due to the impact of the GFC.

Also, on the good news side, those in the know are pretty sure that the All Ordinaries index should get back to pre-GFC levels by mid-2018. In other words we should see the All Ordinaries hitting 6.800 points sometime around June/July 2018. However, I would point out that back in 2010 many of the experts were predicting that the stock market would recover from the GFC within five years. However, as you can see, 6.5 years on from 2010 the index is still a long way from having 'recovered'. This is being blamed on the unforeseen ending of the 30 year resources boom that came to an abrupt end after slightly more than ten years. But it does make you wonder what other unexpected events the experts might not have adjusted for.


Update on Addicted-to-Heels

I have been in contact with the person who currently 'runs' the Addicted-to-Heels site. Due to their personal situation they have basically abandoned maintaining the site.

I am trying to see if I am able to copy the site content over to my site. I feel it would be a shame if the content goes 'off the air' when the domain name for Addicted-t- Heels expires.

I will keep you updated on how this works out.

I have created a new tag A2H for posts in relation to this so they are easier to find.

How I (don't) vote for many of the pictures posted to 500 pixels

Over the last four or five months since I started contributing the occasional picture to 500 pixels I have become a regular voter and commenter (I don't think that is actually a word) on 500 pixels. But I do have some rules:

  1. I don't vote for 'postcard style' pictures.
  2. I don't vote for sunset/sunrise pictures, unless they have something else in them as the primary object (following the PST rule).
  3. I don't vote for close-up pictures of flowers, which seems to be about 10 percent of the pictures submitted.
  4. I don't vote for close-up picture of bugs, which accounts for another 10 percent of the pictures posted.
  5. I rarely vote for pictures of naked or semi-naked ladies unless there is something scroll-stoppingly (another non-word) good about the shot—which is generally not the case.
  6. I don't vote for pictures that are not full screen when viewed. If the person posting the picture cannot be bothered with making the picture full-screen when they post it then I really don't see why I should vote for it.
  7. I rarely, almost never, vote for pictures where the photographer could not be bothered giving the picture a name. Seriously, if you are going to post your pictures(s) to a site like 500 pixels and not bother to give them a name then I figure you don't deserve a vote. It especially annoys me when people upload pictures to 500 pixels and they still have the sequence number assigned by the camera on them (e.g., DSC_004412).
  8. I don't vote for pictures that are blurred or out-of-focus where this is obviously not an artistic attribute of the picture. Again, if you are posting pictures to a site like 500 pixels then the subject should be in focus.
  9. I tend not to vote for pictures where the photographer has not revealed the camera used to take the picture.
  10. I tend not to vote for pictures taken with a smartphone camera. But it depends on the subject, whether the picture is in focus, colour balance, and if it has been cropped well for posting to a site like 500 pixels—which is almost never the case with smartphone pictures.

Just my thoughts.

Wanna by a house? Good luck with that!

The following graph, not done by me, illustrates a point I have tried to make in a number of previous posts.

What this chart indicates is that in order to purchase the 'average' priced house these days you need to be earning 130 percent of the average income; and this rate is going up rather sharply.

The average national income as at May 2016 was $1,160 per week which would be around $60,000 per year. So, based on Callam's chart then, an individual would need to be earning $78,000 per year ($1,500 per week) in order to fund the purchase of the 'average' priced house. And this would leave them with absolutely nothing to live on, pay regular out goings (rates, regos, power, water, gas, insurance, etc.), or do anything else.

Yeah. I know. There are properties that cost less than the 'average', and typically couples purchase houses so there are two incomes to work with. But even so, the stark reality is that the cost of the 'average' house is pretty much out of range of any single income couple and that assumes the person who is working is at least on the average income, or better.

I would also point out that lots of people in the workforce are being asked to take income cuts these days, and the statistics tell us that starting income packages for new starters has not increased now for over three years. In some professions the starting packages for new starter has moved downwards.

Also, it needs to be highlighted, that this situation exists at a time when the interest rate is at an all time low; a low never seen before in Australia. A situation the just about all economists agree cannot last much longer. So what happens when the cash rate starts to make its inevitable climb back up to a norm of something more like 5 or 6 percent and the bank loan rates will then be at 8 or 9 percent (i.e., about 3 percent above the cash rate so the banks can make some useful profit on their borrowings).

My personal opinion is that the government should assist young couples much more in obtaining the roof over their heads.

The devil is in the details, but I think engaged or married couples embarking on the wild adventure of life together who have a combined income under $100,000 should be assisted to the degree of $100,000 and have stamp duty waived. If they separate or divorce within 10 years then they would have to pay back a tenth for each year short of ten years. Hence, if they separated or divorced after five years in the house then they have to pay back $50,000.

Ordered a Lumia 950XL Windows Phone

I have ordered a Lumia 950XL Windows Phone.

Microsoft currently have a special on the 950 and 950XL. I have no idea how long it will last.

The 950XL entered the market about 12 months ago for $1,199. As is the case for most smartphones, the cost went down in steps over the last 12 months and the current price at Harvey Norman to buy this phone outright is $899 (see screen capture at left).

Microsoft have a current special from the Online Microsoft Store offering the 950XL for AUD$499 with free shipping to anywhere in Australia.

Click on the following image to link over to the page at Microsoft.

Me and 500px

As you would have gathered from my recent posts, I have created an account on 500 pixels and I am posting to 500 pixels on a semi-regular basis. You can check the "500px Pages" item on the main menu above in order to go and see some of the pictures I have posted to 500 pixels although I have not got those pages fully up to date yet.

If you would like to help my pictures get some extra votes then you might like to create a 500 pixels account for yourself. Then you can vote on my posting (insert 'big grin' here). I will be endeavoring to post them here as soon as I post them to 500 pixels—so you would know when to go to 500px and vote.

Creating a 500 pixels account seems to be more or less harmless in that you don't get spammed by 500 pixels. Also you might like to vote on pictures by other people who  post images to 500 pixels. An example of this might be the picture in the posting before this one.


Stunning picture from 500px—taken by Mark Prinz

Had to post this. This picture is what I refer as a 'scroll stopper'.

This stunning picture is from 500px. The photographer is Mark Prinz. When I did this post there were 157 votes for this picture on 500px.

It is hard to find anything at all wrong with this picture. The model is stunning—which is always a good start. The make-up is faultless, and not too heavy such that it doesn't allow her sexy freckles to show through. Very well done. Big thumbs-up on the make-up.

The facial expression is spot on. 100% spot on. As is the lighting.

The photo-finishing is also just right. Not too much softening so the freckles are still well defined and you can still see skin texture.

Just the right amount of depth-of-field for a full-face shot with the neck just falling out of focus.

And then the eyes. This stunner's eyes are amazing. No doubt in the photo-finishing a little extra sharpening was done on the eyes—as is almost always the case. Even so, this girl's eye are hypnotic. When I look at this picture I cannot help but look into those eyes.

It is well worth checking out Mark's other work at 500px, which you can do here (opens in a new Tab).

500px Post: The Flying Red Horse

This is the Plume Oil trademark Pegasus Flying Red Horse which was adopted by Mobil Oil as Plume became Mobil in the late 50s.

People my age will likely remember seeing this striking trademark image everywhere 'back in the day' on petrol stations, stores, tanks, drums, oil tanker trucks, bowser pumps, and the sides of buildings.

Click the image to link over to the posting about it when I posted it onto 500 pixels.