Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I'm trying to introduce something new for this blog: Tech Tuesday!

While I'll be writing about various things like parenting, politics and what not, another area of interest of mine is tech and the latest and greatest gadgets. 

I like to keep up to date by following various tech news sites. Some of my favourites include The Verge, Engadget, Arstechnica and ZDnet. The only problem with some of these sites is they like to delve deep into the new tech and the stuff that goes behind in the background. If I only want to know what's in it for me, how do I just get the basics?

Well, let me help you.

So what's new? A new update to your iPhone software, new MacBook Airs and a new Mac Pro. Microsoft also announced the pricing of their new Xbox One and Sony showed off their latest PlayStation. So let's take a closer look...


This morning, Apple held their annual World Wide Developer Conference. This event usually announces the release of new software and sometimes hardware. The iPhone used to be a main attraction until Apple decided that it was big enough to have its own event which is now held in September.

iOS 7

Apple has just announced an update that will be coming to your iPhone this spring (likely at the same time as the next iPhone). The latest version looks quite different to the previous version and represents "a flatter, cleaner" design. Being the first major UI change since iOS 4 allowed a wallpaper to appear behind your icons, some people may love it or hate it. There a quite a few changes but the biggest are:
  • A brighter, cleaner flatter design. All those faux textures and stitching disappears. 
  • A new Control Centre. Basically a quick way to toggle wi-fi/flight mode/bluetooth a la Android.
  • Improved multitasking with swipe up to close gesture.
  • Air Drop. A way to share files between iPhones. Like Samsung's tap-to-share but at a distance.
  • iTunes Radio. Users of Spotify or Pandora will like this, free ad supported music streaming from Apple. 

New MacBook Air and Mac Pro

It's not all just software though. Apple also showed off their new MacBook Airs which are available as of today. Not much has changed though, they still have the same screen resolutions and sizes for the same price as before. However, the change they have made makes quite a difference. They will now ship with Intel's latest processor codenamed 'Haswell' which brings small performance improvements but huge power savings. With Intel's new chips the MacBook Airs battery life increases from 5 hours (11") and 7 hours (13") to a whopping 9 and 12 hours respectively. Now that's a laptop with all day battery life.

Apple also announced a long awaited upgrade to their Mac Pros. While seeing some decent improvements under the hood, the biggest change here is how they've packaged the internals. Now 1/8th the size of the previous Pro, the latest professional computer from Apple looks much more like R2-D2 than an industrial PC but it shows a lot of innovation for a company critics are branding as boring.
The New Cylindrical Mac Pro


Rounding off a big day, Microsoft and Sony both announced the Australian pricing of their latest entertainment consoles at the E3 gaming conference. Since Microsoft had already announced the Xbox One's features last month, there were no new announced features although their clarification that used games bought from a second dealer or friend may have restrictions (additional fees) proved worrying as well a requirement for the new Xbox to connect to the internet at least once every to authorise your games.

Sony had also held a PS4 event earlier this year but held off showing off the new hardware until now. At first glance, you would be forgiven for thinking Sony copied the Xbox One's design and it's not far off. Sony announced  a series of new games and to the cheers of the announcement audience, the new PlayStation won't have any restrictions on used games or require an internet connection to authenticate games.

So what are they going to cost?

Xbox One: AU$599

Sony PlayStation 4: AU$549

With the PS4 coming in cheaper than the new Xbox and not imposing any restriction on used games or requiring internet connectivity, Microsoft may find it a hard sell to convince those sitting on the fence but some might be turned off Microsoft restrictions to the point that even the Xbox faithful may think twice.

So which one will you buy?

Source: Apple, Xbox, Sony

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Beyond an Investment: The Rationale Behind Children

Just why do people have kids?

I mean, they're expensive, stressful and a lot of hard work. And what are the parents supposed to get out of all of this? A little cuddle at the end of the day to make it all better.

At least, that's what economists seem to say about having children.

I recently read an article published to news.com.au by Jessica Irvine titled "Is Having Kids Really Rational?"
Now this article was written in response to a report by AMP and the National Centre. Apparently the reasons behind having kids is baffling these number crunching economists.

Have Kids?! This makes no sense!

According to this report, is costs on average $812,000 to raise a child. That is a big number.
Jessica's article then goes on to ask the question, just why do people have kids. From a purely economical point of view, she has a point. Of all the money that you invest into a child, when do you see a return on that investment? You don't. Well, at least not in monetary terms.
She concludes the article by stating that in the end, perhaps all those hugs and kisses you get from your kids is worth the 812k.

I don't know about you, but somehow I think she's missing the point. Here is what I think.

As someone who has delved into parenthood, I can definitely say that I didn't crunch the numbers on how much money I would need to invest in order to see any sort of return on my "investments". I was not thinking who would be looking after me into my golden years and I definitely didn't have kids just for the hugs and kisses (although that is a nice fringe benefit).

Why do people have kids? There is no singular reason. Some people see it as their duty to have children. Others simply like the idea of having kids. I can definitely say the reasons are different depending on who you talk to.

I think the most disappointing thing I come across these days is some people's attitudes towards people becoming parents and I think it is reflected well in this article. Ms. Irvine refers to children as "luxury goods" in her piece. I think this statement reveals a sobering reality to how today's western society seems to perceive children or at least how they appear to see children. I think there is one statement that sums up the feeling I get from Jessica Irvine's story: We have children mostly for our own enjoyment.

What's wrong with that? Well, it's true that parents should enjoy having kids in order for their sanity to hold together, but what I'm talking about are people who are critical of parents when they have kids. They make statements like:
  • "They don't have much money. Why are they having kids?"
  • "They already have 'x' amount of kids. Why do they need more?"
  • "I don't see why families should receive tax benefits. If you can't afford kids you shouldn't have them."
That last statement is one I've been reading and hearing a lot about lately with the debate surrounding family benefits coming out of the Australian Government's Budget.

The truth is, the impression I'm getting from society is that kids should only be reserved for the wealthy and the affluent.

Don't get me wrong, you need to support your family and you should work out if you are financially able to provide for your family before you take the plunge. But I don't think people should become critical or judgemental over one of the most important thing that a couple can undertake with each other.

I think that this criticism comes about from people not fully understanding themselves why one would have kids and is especially hard for those who haven't got kids or plan to never have children.

The thing is, people are wondering why people have kids but it is engrained within our very being.

The biologist will probably will tell you that our sole biological purpose is to ensure the survival of our species and procreate.

The religious may tell you that we have biblical mandate to have kids. Genesis 9:7 contains God's instruction to Adam and Eve to go forth and multiply.

I think the reasons why people have kids runs a lot deeper than simply being in it for the hugs and kisses or whether its a good investment. Having kids means so much more than personal fulfilment. 

Having kids means continuing our heritage, raising the next generation of society and being largely responsible for how a person grows up and defines them self. It is one of the most important things that parents could on this planet.

But that doesn't say why people have kids despite the economics. So why do we have kids?

It's hard to say because everyone has their own reasons. Some do want to those hugs and kisses, others want to continue their legacy and others may feel it's the status quo.

Myself? Well, I'd like to think I was made for this. That it is engrained so deep within me to have kids that $812,000 is not just worth it, it's an absolute bargain to bring someone of worth into this world and hopefully give back to society in so many ways.

And to those cynical people who are critical of those family benefits. I hope you remember those words when our kids/future taxpayers are paying for your seniors benefits in your old age.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Name Change!

So, I have been mulling over it for the past few days since my last post. I originally wanted to have a name which allowed me to cover all sorts of different topics. The name 'Universal Commentary" was supposed to give me the freedom to write about whatever I wanted; from politics to video games, parenting to gadgetry.

While the idea was good at the time, something began to dawn on me. Yes, the title of the blog allowed me to do that but I had a problem. I didn't feel like I took on a perspective that I could relate to.

Universal Commentary? What am I? Some sort of celestial observer providing commentary on anything while being everywhere?

Look at me! I'm everywhere!
We already have someone who does that...
I think this is what made it so hard to keep the blogging focus . If i didn't have anything in particular to write about, what would I write about specifically?

The fact of the matter is, I still want to cover a lot of the topics that I wanted to originally, only this time, leading with a new name, The Gen Y Dad!

I figure this new name will get the message across of what this blog is about. Why Gen Y? As someone who was born in the 80's, the use of Gen Y seems poignant but I'd like to think of Gen Y as the tech savvy generation. We were the first generation to grow up with the internet, we spent countless hours waiting for our 56k dial up internet to get going so we could start chatting to friends on MSN messenger, we brought Facebook into the mainstream, we were the early adopters of the iGadgets. Gen Y is the tech generation.

Well how about Dad? Well, I thought that this would be obvious but I am a father of two gorgeous boys, one 15 months and the other 1 month whom I raise with my beautiful wife Mama Essy. Fatherhood is also a topic I want to cover quite frequently as it is both a new and challenging experience. Hopefully I can relate to those like myself, young fathers who have a general interest in other things such as tech, politics, sports and religion.

The topics that I want to talk about haven't changed from the original blog, but I think the new title helps provide some focus around the point of view I'm trying to get across.

So stay tuned, I have recently been inspired to write in response to an article published by news limited this week and would love to hear peoples thoughts on the issue. Until then, keep surfin'!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Reviving the Neglected.

Well, now I'm hoping to kick this thing into gear.

Unfortunately, I have not given this blog very much attention. Mostly because I've been too lazy to write anything but I have recently been inspired to write again.

It started with an underwhelming experience at a local cafe. A friend and I frequently catch up for a coffee and we decided to try out someplace new. We had heard good things about the coffee there and thought we would check it out. Too bad it left a sour taste. At that point, I wanted to share that experience. I wanted to write a review about it. I wanted to blog about it.

I called this blog Universal Commentary because I wanted to have a little patch of internet where I could speak my mind on pretty much anything I wanted to. My wife tells me that I need to focus on something more specific to  make sure I actually have stuff to talk about. I think she's right.

Although I have to say I still want a bit of flexibility. So here is what I'm aiming for.

Like my initial urge to get back into the blogging game I'd like to write the occasional review. Movies, restaurants etc. Writing about opinion pieces I read. I want to cover topics such as spirituality, fatherhood technology and the just the everyday things.

I want to see how that goes for a while and I hope it makes for interesting reading. I would like to see if any topics generate discussion as I always look forward to delving into debate.

Right, well that's all for now. I'm gonna try my best to keep up with things.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Being Dad

So if you haven't heard, I'm a father! My son was born earlier this year and what a ride it has been!

He is only 6 weeks old but he is already doing so much it's inbelievable. Just in the past week or two, he has begun smiling and making happy noises. I never really knew what the usual time frame on something like that was but it seems to soon! I guess they really do grow up fast.

Here is the little guy

I lot of people ask me what it like being a dad now. Well, all I can really say is that it is a lot of fun at the moment getting to know the little guy. He is already very aware and I find it fascinating just watching him take everything in that is going on around him. How much sleep am I getting? Well, that's more a question people should be asking the misses. She has had to get up and feed him consistently throughout the night for the last 6 weeks but thankfully for her, he is starting to ease up on the mid-night snacks and is liking just sleeping through the night.

Hopefully he'll keep doing just that!