Data plans in Australia

Thinking of travelling to Australia and getting data connectivity? Here are some things to note:

Australia is very well connected in the cities. Typically 3G speeds are great. One of the better data plans to get is Optus’ 2 AUD per day prepaid card. I own an iPhone 5 and they already have nano SIM card options. I purchased one for 15 AUD to last me for 6 days, having unlimited data, local voice and local SMS.

Now for the down side — Optus doesn’t allow you to create Personal Hotspots using iPhone 5. Once you plug the newly purchased SIM card, Personal Hotspots disappear from the Settings menu. Optus only allow post-paid to have this option. If you cannot create Personal Hotspots you basically can’t use your iPhone as a data modem with your newly purchased SIM card. You might have better luck with Vodafone although I highly recommend you to enquire the mobile data plan provider.

If you’re thinking of relying on free WiFi connectivity you will be disappointed. Free Wi-Fi is a rarity and so far the 2 Starbucks I passed by, one at Elizabeth Street and another around Pitts Street, doesn’t offer WiFi. Free WiFi doesn’t seem to be available in the airport too. The hotel that I stay in, Metro Hotel Sydney Central offers WiFi at 5 AUD per hour or 15 AUD per day.

I highly recommend you to get mobile data plans if you are traveling without a guide or alone like in my case.

Sydney is easy to navigate in the The Rocks and the City Centre with helpful signs all around. It’s easy to get lost while walking through the Royal Botanical Gardens though. You can rely on the kindness of others to help you. Most Australians are friendly and wouldn’t mind directing the tourist to their destinations. If you’re just going to be there for a day, just remember the full address of your hotel, including the area where it is located, you can generally be safe without a data plan.

Leaving Singapore

I’m leaving Singapore for Sydney in 30 minutes. It feels a little weird traveling alone. I made some mistakes but none that cannot be resolved.

Here are passengers at the departure gate. I’m flying with Scoot Airlines this time.

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My mistake is not realizing you need a visa to travel to Australia. Not too much trouble though, the Changi Airport staff are friendly and one of them responded promptly to offer help with her iPad.

Saving Resque

Open source project Resque needs some volunteers:

Rescuing Resque: Let’s do this

Anyway, Resque has been psuedo-abandonware for a while now. In January, Terence Lee from Heroku got in charge of the project, but it’s a big job. Too big of a job to properly manage alone. It’s hard to sift through 60 pulls and 120 open issues, some of which have been open for a few years. And manage the 1.x line while working on new stuff for 2.0. And debug issues that basically boil down to “When I upgrade Resque and this random gem, everything breaks, but when I downgrade that other gem, it works again. But Resque throws the error.”

So Terrence gave a presentation at Frozen Rails, and in it, he outlined what needs to be done for Resque 2.0, and asked for some help getting it out the door. So myself and a few other people are gonna pitch in and help out, and we’d love to have you.

Resque is a Redis-backed Ruby library for creating background jobs, placing them on multiple queues, and processing them later. You can contribute through GitHub.

Microsoft Office 2013 at $99.99/year

Microsoft prices Office 2013 at $99.99 — a year. That’s quite reasonable for me.

Microsoft debuts Office 2013, a modern reimagining of Word, Excel, & more with subscription

People can choose to pay $99.99 a year for a single subscription that covers up to five users or devices, an extra 20 GB of SkyDrive cloud storage (on top of the free 7 GB of space), 60 minutes of Skype calls per month, and premium licenses that ensure households get as-they-happen software updates.

Folks can instead opt for the nonfrills, single person Office Home and Student 2013 package that costs $139.99. But this has a bunch of catches. With the one-time price option, you won’t get software updates, the additional SkyDrive space, those handy Skype calling minutes, or Outlook, Access, and Publisher. If you want Outlook, you’ll need the pricier Office Home and Business 2013 version, which costs $219.99. Source: VentureBeat

With Adobe also doing the subscription model, I am convinced this is going to be the common model in future.

Amazon Kindle press conference

To watch for — Amazon Kindle announcement. According to Ars Technica:

Amazon Kindle press conference liveblog: Thursday, September 6

Amazon will be holding a press conference on September 6, and as usual, the company has been keeping silent on details. Amazon hasn’t said what it will announce in advance, but all signs seem to point to a new version of the Fire, which may keep that moniker, or may be called the Fire 2. The new tablet will likely come in either a 7-inch or 10-inch model (or possibly both), and it looks like it’s set to compete with the Nexus 7 and the oft-rumored iPad mini.

I’m waiting for Amazon Kindle Fire 2, if there’s even going to be one.

Mega-church faithfuls invest in malls

Misguided? Maybe, here’s excerpts from Bloomberg that amuses me:

Wearing a white leather jacket and jeans, Senior Pastor Joseph Prince asked God to reward a crowd of about 1,200 with houses, cars, jobs, pay raises and holidays if they contributed to New Creation’s multimillion-dollar funding drive.

At the New Creation service, PowerPoint slides showed attendees how to write checks to the church, while armed security guards watched the cash.

Worship and Holy Communion were followed by a video about a woman who donated on Miracle Seed Sundays even when her husband’s cancer treatments saddled the couple with debt. Images of a Volkswagen and a condominium showed the rewards that came to them for giving.

“As they come forth Lord to sow, release upon them Father the power to get, to create, to receive wealth in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Prince said in the rented Rock Auditorium at the Suntec City Mall. “Prosperity is right. Amen. We prosper to prosper others. We prosper to prosper God’s kingdom, so come believing.”

City Harvest Church, a non-denominational church founded by senior pastor Kong Hee, 48, has attracted a reported 20,619 members as of last year. It proposed in 2010 to spend S$310 million for a stake in the Suntec International Convention & Exhibition Centre as well as related rents and renovation costs.

In contrast to the U.S., where churches often champion political and sometimes anti-government views, religious groups in Singapore refrain from criticizing those in power. The laws “provide a broad framework to ensure that these pastors stay clear from discussing the politics of the day,” said Mathew Mathews, a research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies in Singapore who has written about mega churches.

Source: Bloomberg

This is what churches can do to attract funds.