My experience with Apple Pay

I had my first experience with Apple Pay yesterday.  My wife & I had gone to Macy’s to look for an overcoat for our upcoming trip to Washington DC.  We found very nice gray overcoat from Michael Kors that got a lot of compliments even when I was in line waiting to checkout.

I hadn’t intended to pay using Apple Pay at all.  Rather, I had my phone out because I was busy checking on my village in Clash of Clans as I waited.  Lo & behold, a message popped up as I got close to the register to touch & pay.  After the total was rung up, the cashier didn’t even asked me for a payment method.  I simply touched my thumb to the Touch ID button and voilà, the coat was paid for!  The only additional thing I had to do was give her the last 4 digit of the card that was on screen.  I don’t think I even had to sign!

It was painless and required absolutely no effort.  I think Apple may have a potential winner here.  Of course, the whole thing is kind of like the chicken & egg problem.  Right now there are so few merchants accepting it that you almost have to go out of your way to find someone that accepts it.  I’m just going to try at other NFC enabled point of sale and see what happens.  If it becomes saturated though, I’m certain it’s going to overtake other payment methods.

How to play SNES games on your jailbroken iPad

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  If you’ve ever wanted to play the classic games from the Super Nintendo platform on your jailbroken iOS devices (iPad or iPhone), I’ve made a new video showing you how to do it.  You can find it on Youtube at: http://youtu.be/nEM39hZIk_o.  These games may be old but they’re very good and that’s why they’re classics!  Enjoy!

Domo Sushi in Santee

Good Monday morning everyone!  I had a great experience at Domo Sushi in Santee this weekend.  It’s located in a big strip mall on Mission Gorge Road, between Cuyamaca and Olive.  The reviews on Yelp were great and I can attest that it’s spot on.  The sushi is more than reasonable and was very tasty.  I had their rainbow roll, the Domo house roll and the tiger roll.  All were delicious.  If my wife hadn’t stop me from overeating, I would have happily eaten it all.  One tip though is to see if you can call in for a table before you come or at least when you’re on the way.  When I was there to pick up my to go order, they were packed.  This was on a Friday night around 8:00 pm.  There was a line outside and although it moved pretty quickly, it can get chilly waiting outside.  I couldn’t believe how busy it was but considering it’s sushi in Santee, I don’t think there’s a lot of competition!  But don’t let that sway you from going here; it’s one of the better places in the county!

Wedding playlist

I’m in the process of putting my wedding playlist together.  So far there’s about 52 songs and my wife & I are still refining it.  It’s a fun process but we have a bit of a disagreement on what should go in there.  Her criteria is pretty much if she knows it, it’s in.  However, we have two problems there: 1) She’s 21 and 2) She’s new to the U.S. having come from southeast Asia.  This pretty much means that a lot of the classics are just not in her repertoire by no fault of hers.  So while fun, we’re having a lively debate on how many of the classic wedding standards should go in the playlist or should we just have a playlist composed of John Legend & Bruno Mars (not bad choices mind you)?

I’m pretty sure we’ll work it all out and will put together a great playlist for us and our guests.  It’s a challenge but rewarding nonetheless.  Happy Saturday everyone!

Signature in the Cell

I’m currently reading the book Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer.  The book is subtitled “DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design”.  I’m very close to finishing the book and feel I have more than enough to write a review from an atheist’s standpoint.  I’m not a scientist although I’m familiar enough with most of the concepts Meyer talked about in his book that I was able to follow it pretty easily.

In terms of non-fiction book, this is pretty decent although there are some areas where it’s quite dry.  But that’s more the subject matter than Meyer’s writing.  I can’t critique it beyond that on the writing alone since I think it’s pretty well written.

I do have a lot of issues with Meyer’s main argument in the book though.  That argument boils down to essentially the following:

Life as we know is governed by DNA, an information rich molecule that pretty much codes all the necessity for biological life itself.  Given the complexity and specificity in coding information, Intelligent Design is the best explanation for the origin of DNA & therefore life.

That is pretty much the argument in a nutshell.  He does talk at length about scientific explanations that have been put forward such as the RNA first hypothesis but he invariably finds the same deficiency in them.  Namely, that they presupposes some initial information pool to get things started.  But that’s pretty much my counter argument to his Intelligent Design argument!  He presupposes something much grander: an intelligent designer.

To me that’s a fault worse than anything else.  It’s a cop out to say it was from intelligent design since anyone can say that.  I can look at any physical phenomenon that we do not understand and make the argument that it was designed that way by some intelligent being.  But to me that feels like giving up. I’m OK with saying I don’t know.  Or I don’t know right now.  But to fall back on the old “Oh, some intelligent being must have created/designed it that way.” just feels cheap to me.

While I feel he made a lot of interesting points that may guide this field of research further, he didn’t add anything new to the argument.  As such, I’m quite surprised at the positive review on this book.  So there you have it… summarized but pretty accurate I would say.

Leave of absence

I’ve been absent from the site for some time now.  Part of it is just life and another is that I got lazy.  There’s no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.  When you’re a one man operation and you’re trying to maintain a daily blog, it can get tough!  I have a new found appreciation for those that can do it day in and day out.  Or even multiple times a day!  I know it’s supposed to get easier the more you do it, like all things.  But for a poor writer like myself, getting started is hard enough.

One of the things I can do to get over this hump is just to force myself to write regularly.  Maybe not everyday (although I’d love to), but regularly enough that it becomes a habit.  Then we’ll take from there.  So take this as a relaunch of me getting back on the wagon.  I feel there should be more of my kind of blog… the individual writing about his own mundane life.  If people read it, great!  If not, that’s OK too.  Blogs these days have become so commercialize.  I long for the day when you really feel like you know the blogger personally.  If I can do a small part to bring that part of the Internet back, then hooray!  Stay tuned…

My new iPhone 6 Plus

For over 3 years I’ve been using my trusty iPhone 4S.  It has served me well but it was definitely getting a little long in the tooth.  The iPhone 5 wasn’t a big enough change for me to upgrade and neither was the 5S.  However, with the introduction of the iPhone 6, especially the 6 Plus variant, I knew it was time.  I usually carry my iPhone and iPad with me.  I use the iPad for reading as the bigger screen makes a huge difference.  With the new 6 Plus, I won’t have to take the iPad with me as much unless I’m doing some serious reading.  The Plus is huge, almost too unwieldy.  Somehow it manages to be just portable enough.  It’s a slippery fish though so I’ll have to get a case.  I ultimately went all the way and got the iPhone 6 Plus in gold with 128 GB.

Aside from the form factor, it does have a huge gorgeous screen.  Now that I’ve used the larger screen, there’s no way I can go back.  Performance wise, I’m not seeing much of a difference between the 6 Plus and the 4S or in battery performance.  But given that the 6 Plus has 4 times the pixels to push around as well as a screen that’s twice as big to light up, that is impressive indeed.  Some cool features that I’m enjoying include the Touch ID.  It works amazingly well for pretty much anything that supports it.  Maybe too well for things like Apple Pay when it comes in October.  I can see paying for something on accident but it’s very accurate.  As I didn’t have the 5S, this is something brand new to me.  The other thing I’m enjoying very much is the 3rd party keyboards that now support things like “swyping” via either the Swype keyboard at $0.99 or the SwiftKey keybord (free).

The other thing I like is the live dictation. I’m not sure if this is what Apple calls it or not but basically after hitting the microphone key, you just speak and the words appear.  No more hitting the done button for the speech recognition to happen although you still have to touch when you’re done speaking.  You do still have to speak punctuation marks but it’s a pretty nice improvement.

My personal net worth

Recently I’ve begun to worry about whether I’ve saved enough (probably but I can always save more!) and whether I’ve accumulated enough to retire later at this age.  It’s a minor obsession of mine to see how others in a similar situation are doing just so I can gauge how I’m doing myself.  That of course puts me into dangerous territory where I may be completely satisfied with just being average rather than doing the best I can.  Some folks are even worse than average given their station in life due to a variety of personal situations.  Everyone understands that.  But I think it’s important to do these check up once in a while just to see how you’re doing generally.

So where am I?  I’m just about average.  I suppose it could be worse.  It’s good to know that at least I’m not behind my peers.  I always have the nagging feeling I should save more but it’s just so hard with all of the expenses of ordinary life.  It does take true discipline to be able to consistently sock away as much as you can.  I do admire those few folks who can do it and strive to do better myself.  But I suppose being average is not a bad place to start from.  There are worse places to begin for sure!

Have you done a check up of where you stand financially?  If not, just do a Google search and get a rough idea.  It’ll get you started on thinking about your finances at the least.  If you’re lazy, here’s a very general formula to get you started:

NET WORTH = [ (Your average income over the past 10 years) – ($15,000 + $5,000 for each person in your household) ] x Your Age / 8

So for example, if you’re age 35 and your last 10 years of income averages to $75,000, your net worth should be in the neighborhood of $262,500 if you’re single.  (That’s $75,000 minus $15,000 times 35 divided by 8).  If you’re a family of 4 in the same situation, your net worth would be less: $196,875.

Refinancing with National Bank of Kansas City

Finally.  That’s all I can say.  I probably should have done this about 1 1/2 years ago but I’m refinancing my house.  It all started with a visit to Zillow where I thought they did such a poor job of estimating my house value with their so called “Zestimate”.  What a load of crap that is.  They were a full 15% off, which is huge.  Unless you’re in a completely homogeneous neighborhood, this estimate will provide absolutely no value.  Two houses next to each other with everything exactly the same can have wildly different values according to Zillow.

But what did intrigue me as I was fuming about this was the ad to refinance.  I figured why the hell not? Rates are still very low.  It’s not as low as it was a year ago but they’re still at a level that we won’t see for decades.  And I’m convinced they’re about to rise. Part of the refinancing process includes an appraisal.  The professional appraiser came out and pretty much confirmed my suspicions about Zillow – that they’re full of crap.  In any case, now I’m on my way!

I’m working entirely online and through the phone on this one with National Bank of Kansas City.  I’ll admit I’ve never heard of this bank before and save for this transaction, I’ll probably won’t see them again.  But what do I care if they sell my mortgage or not?  They are an FDIC bank and so far it’s been a total pleasure dealing with them.  The loan office maintains regular contact throughout the process and keeps me updated.  They’ve been responsive and more than fair with their rate and costs.  I should know; I shopped around after reaching out to them.  I would heartily recommend these guys if you’re in the market to refinance before rates jump.  So far so good with this one.  :-)

Welcome to Phuoc's Blog! A personal blog of Phuoc Le from San Diego, CA.