New Year, New Post!

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It’s been a long while since I’ve come up with anything to write! And truthfully I still don’t have a clue but where better to start than with a happy New Year! 🙂

Plenty of stuff has happened in the technology space this last little while, super exciting new things from CES, new releases from unRAID, Plex have released an official Docker container and most exciting is that Monzo are getting even closer to launching their current accounts for everyone to use!

CES was an exciting week of news articles to read and YouTube videos to catch up on in between work and life! Intel’s Kabylake launched the day before CES started which was pretty underwhelming – another 5% increase in speed with a minor reduction in power… What I’m looking forward to (bear in mind I’m a huge Intel fan) is the launch of AMD Ryzen!! Looks like an incredible, very competitive, CPU & platform update from the red team. Hopefully this will kick both AMD and Intel back into gear – getting both companies truly competing with one another (again). The CPU industry has gotten stale, barely noticeable performance improvements, same pricing year to year and nothing new or exciting. I’m running Haswell CPUs in my gaming PC and NAS with no rush to refresh either of those builds for a very long time, even my brother with an Ivybridge i5 is completely happy with its performance. I hope that Ryzen changes all of this, driving Intel’s pricing down, making both companies severely ramp up performance and overall… bringing the much needed competition the CPU market needs! We need another ‘race to 1GHz’ or the first dual core or miles of OC’ing headroom! Not just a lower TDP with a faster DMI interface :/ Competition = better pricing and performance for consumers.

CES brought along some extremely interesting product launches! Razer was very intriguing, a laptop with 3 screens?! It was sadly stolen… but immense nonetheless! Not to mention how many other crazy cases, devices and hardware there was! Liquid cooled laptops, PCs the size of consoles, laptops as this and light as paper – all insane stuff, things which weren’t even possible a few short years ago. The car industry is really picking up too! I remember cars just starting to stick touchscreens in, really slow, crazy interfaces, pretty poor overall… Now we’ve got self driving, red light countdowns!? En-route Amazon deliveries, convoy modes, TVs and automatic sunshades for watching TV. The list goes on and on! I can’t wait to be in a world run by automagic cars.

The paranoid side of me envisions Skynet! But what a beautiful Skynet that’ll be 😉 Think of a time where we don’t even need to own a car, we just shout “ok *assistant name here* I need a lift to work” and your homehub thing has a car outside the house in a second, fully electric, wirelessly charging and perfectly in sync with everything else on the road. No more traffic, no more stopping at lights or junctions. Just a neural net of cars all being able to weave in and out of each other safely and autonomously… That’s all a topic for a post of its own though! All I want to say is that the car industry is booming and I can’t wait to own an electric vehicle of my own!

unRAID launched version 6.3 RC, along with an updated version of pretty much everything in the OS! It brought along with it a new way of ‘beta’ releases – All running under the RC moniker and in a state where they should be completely usable just bringing new features with the risk of some instability – I love seeing the next new thing so naturally, I’m a huge fan of alphas, betas, RCs, nightlies – you name it, if it’s new and I get to use it months in advanced then I probably already am! 😉 I still get along quite well with unRAID, I keep thinking about FreeNAS but then I remember how over-complicated it is, not to mention the difficulty involved with adding new disks to the array, I can’t afford to just buy 4 NAS HDDs at once just because I need an extra bit of space, unRAID is so perfect in that you add what you need, letting you add a few TB at a time instead of all at once 🙂

The official Plex Docker is exciting! I switched over as soon as it was launched. There’s no huge difference between it and the Linuxserver.io version I was using prior to that. But that didn’t stop me! It’s supported by Plex Inc and I know it’s going to be supported forever. Also means I get support from the real Plex guys who definitely know what they’re doing. Day to day, there’s no difference between the different Plex Docker versions though.

Finally that leads me onto Monzo! I’m really loving it, I can’t wait for them to launch their full banking platform with current accounts, loads more Android features and basically everything else you’d expect from a bank! I can’t believe I’ve only been using them for 4 months but I’ve absolutely loved it, seeing exactly where I’m spending is incredible. I’ve always been good at budgeting but this is a lovely way of viewing it all, no more going down stupid bank statements online – just open the app and all the info you could possibly need is presented perfectly!

I’ll be posting more on Monzo as and when things happen!

But that’s it for this new year post! Hopefully something sparks some more blog ideas in the near future… It’s fun to write, so long as there’s something to talk about!

 

-Marcus

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The life of a Monzo user!

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I’m a Monzo user and I’ve got to admit… I’m already a huge fan! Monzo is such a fantastic bank, full of benefits, beautiful design, simplicity and ease. But before I explain why, I’ll get the negatives out the way quite early on, as there are so few! 😉

I’ll quickly preface all of this with: I refer to Monzo as a bank, which is true… Mostly. You can’t use them to pay for Direct Debits, Standing orders or a handful of other things. In their current state, Monzo is using prepaid Master Card cards. Which are pretty similar to normal debit cards, key differences being; they’re useless for ‘Pay@Pump’, payments will fail from time to time (Monzo is still in beta after all 😉 ) – Q1 / Q2 2017 will bring about everything you’d expect from a bank though! So there’s not too long to wait. There will be sort codes, account numbers, direct debits, standing orders, you’ll be able to get your wages paid directly into your account, have your phone bill come out, have a full debit card, etc.

Currently Monzo isn’t perfect, the Android app isn’t quite on par with the iOS counterpart but that’s fine and there’s a dedicated team of Android engineers working nonstop to get the app feature-par with the iOS version. So this bank likely isn’t for you just yet. But if you’re willing to give it a go, be brave and give it a chance? Well – You get a stunning app on both iOS or Android, a truly eye-catching bright coral card, perfect 24/7 tech support, from a real person  with a real sense of humour and you’ll be part of a community of people all dedicated to making a modern bank!

Replacing my current bank?

Sadly no, not yet anyway. For security’s sake, I’ll say I use 2 banks + Monzo. My banks are old, traditional and well… boring. They work but their breakdowns aren’t great, I plan all of my months out by myself with a calculator to see what goes out and how much will be left after this that or the other, etc. And despite that being an incredibly simple 5 minute task, it’ll only get longer and more complicated with time! Think about all those bills, shops, lunches and dinners you pay for? Not to mention all of the clothes you buy and the amount of Amazon baskets you fill up! It all starts adding up quite quickly and if you’ve ever tried to read through a traditional bank statement… well I’m sure you’d still be on last months while the next month’s arrives 😉 Monzo does this all with ease.

There's a lot of iOS specific features.
Which are better than Android...
I'll be focusing on what I know, Android!

 

What’s so good about it?

Spending

A very recent feature, so recent in fact that it’s only in the Beta channel of the Monzo Android app! #Spending – At a glance, it’s clear where my £££ has gone, I can see how much I’ve spent all month, spent eating out or shopping or buying groceries – I can even further break it down – How much I’ve spent at each merchant for the ‘Eating Out’ category, it’ll be easy to see how much you really do prefer KFC over Burger King 😉 – Yet further still, we can break it down – Monthly spends at Morrisons (for example) then listing each spend at Morrisons, then even better, I can click any Morrisons transaction, see number of transactions, average spend and total spend, all in what took 3 seconds and a couple of clicks – Incredible!

If I still haven’t sold it to you? Then apply bills to this, you can track your bills across many months, suddenly December rolls around and the total of all of your bills has risen? Well, I’m sure I don’t need to explain what’s next! You can expand the breakdown which Monzo provides, take a quick look and BAM, that pesky heating bill is what’s hit your wallet. On the other hand, you notice that your bills have slowly decreased over the past couple of months, again, take a look and it just so happens, since you stopped watching YouTube videos on the train, that your phone bill has gone down thanks to all of that spare data 😀

Freezing Card

“Brrrr, I’m cold” – Monzo card 2016

Uh oh! That horrific moment when you open your wallet and notice that your shockingly bright Monzo card isn’t there?! Well, fear not! Head into your Monzo app and simply freeze the card, no need to wait on hold for a ‘UK’ based bank agent… No need to waste 10 minutes on hold while you spend 20p a minute to a damn bank line! All of that is avoided with Monzo, there’s a button, tap that and your card will instantly freeze, no transactions will be possible once you’ve done that. Better yet?? You get active notifications of when and where (with a handy-dandy Google Maps link) that attempted transaction took place. You can either head there, call the police, look for your card – or just order a new one, with next day delivery if ordered before 3pm 🙂 No robot call ‘assistants’ to cope with, you don’t need to remember which scarf your Mum’s brother’s son’s brothers best friend’s dog was wearing in the summer 4.278 years ago, just a button!

Card replacement flow on Android

Pulse Graphs

Whilst this isn’t yet an Android feature, it certainly deserves a mention! It’s well, a pulse graph 😉 (I think I’ll insert an image, that’ll be better!)

 

home

That little graph at the top? Well that’ll let you super easily view how quickly you spend (via the steepness of the graph) when large payments come out, if you need to top up you’ll see the graph raise slightly, etc. It’s a super nice feature, both in terms of looks and functionality!

Top-Up you ask?

Well, like I said earlier, a bank that’s not quite a bank yet. So until full current accounts can be implemented we need to top up! Sound a bit weird for a bank, granted. But it’s so straightforward it takes no effort whatsoever. Home Android.png

This is where Android is even faster than iOS 😉 Just hit the FAB (Floating Action Button) in the bottom right, you’ll be asked for an amount, keep hitting the + until you get to the amount you desire, hit the big top up button and you’ll have ‘x’ funds instantaneously appear in you Monzo account! This functionality will disappear once we have sort codes, account numbers, etc.

Categories

This is where things get interesting again.

category

 

Petrol for your car? No problem, that can go under the ‘Transport’ category, oil for your van? Tyres for your flatbed? All of these can go under the transport category and you can see how much is spent on a category-by-category basis, for each month! All of your expenses can add up in a month, it’s great that they can be added to one simple place! Better yet? Notes and receipts can be attached to individual transactions.

Whilst these categories are all automagic… On the off-chance Monzo gets it wrong / you want to specify manually, you can! Just open the transaction you want to change, tap on the category that’s been pre-selected and choose another! It’s really as simple as that 🙂

All of these things help you plan, spot trends, spend less, save money and in general allow you to organise your money the way it deserves to be organised!

 

I think I’m going to leave it at that, with more Monzo updates to be coming in the future! This is my bank, I will be happily walking away from 2 other banks in favour of Monzo, for all of its (what? 2?) flaws, its Beta status and it’s newness, I still love it! And so do hundreds of thousands of other people, not to mention the investors who raised £1mil in … 96 seconds!!

If you’re not convinced yet, don’t brush Monzo off until they’re a fully fledged bank, take a look at them in the future, make it your new year’s resolution to spend less – Hopefully with the wonderful help of Monzo 😉

 

Edit: Link to Monzo (should you want it! 🙂 )

https://monzo.com/

Moving on to Plan B. aka Plan Blog!

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Contrary to the featured image, I’m certainly not a hipster with my Mac, chilling in Starbucks, sapping their free WiFi and writing all day! Which would be lovely… If I liked coffee that is. 😉

So instead, I’ll be fitting this in on lunch breaks, after a long hard day at the office, over weekends and any time that crops up in between. My short to medium term goal is to have written enough that I build up a ‘buffer’ of content, so I don’t need to rush around creating a half-ass’d job of a post!

As for now however, you may or may not be excited to hear! That I have several ideas in the pipeline. Which will be revealed at a later date AWW who am I kidding, that’s pointless 😉 I’ve got 4 topics so far, I just need to… well… write them!

  • Moving Plex between 2 OS’s (This is a good one, the Plex documentation is poor for this topic)
  • My review of unRAID!
  • Thoughts on the Nexus … Pixel & Pixel XL
  • A couple of Sony product reviews

And that’s all I’ll share for now, I can’t reveal all of my ideas at once can I!

 

-Marcus, signing off.