Thursday, June 20, 2013

Trading up

So, this week was a bit mental. We accepted an offer on our property, so things are moving forward as we planned. Things hasn't worked out well in the past couple of weeks so it is nice to when good news arrive. It also capped an extraordinary week as I also I finally got my application of Indefinite Leave to Remain granted by the Home Office. So yay!

The story isn't without trials and tribulation. A couple of weeks ago we accepted an offer on our flat from a private buyer - that is, we did not go through an estate agent. Instead we inquired from friends if they knew anyone who would be interested in purchasing a flat here. It was an eye opening experience, and one we genuinely believed we were better off. After all the chance to ignore using an estate agent and paying them commission was too much a lure.

This person (who had a good job at a major car manufacturer) was interested and after a short negotiation, we accepted her offer. Her offer was below our asking price, but we also had no estate agent commission to pay. It was a win-win for both parties.

Then came the hard part. It took us a week of communications to get the buyer to exchange her solicitor details with us so we can get the ball rolling. We appointed a conveyancing solicitor weeks ago already so we were dead set on moving forward, but our buyer was dragging her heals. Excuses were given. Emails, text messages and phone calls were completely ignored.

When we attempted to get her friend to get hold of her, well she did, but the buyer still ignored us. The news that she has been replying to text messages but was completely ignoring us proved just too much so we withdraw on the same day. How rude.

Now I dislike estate agents and many of them still rile me up, but we had no choice. Three weeks behind thanks to the time waster, we decided we were no longer going to trust any private buyers. We finally listed our property with a local agent a week later, with instruction to screen their financials first. The name of the time waster buyer was given to the agent and blacklisted from making another offer on our property.

But an end is not quite there yet, and we are aware that things can still go sour, but we are getting there, and I can't wait to moving back to London officially. It's been too long.

On a final note, Gemalto has published their latest Netsize guide, an e-book detailing M-commerce and mobile payments such as NFC. If you are a merchant or consumer interested in the new era of mobile payments, do check it out. You will also find yours truly in the guide, which automatically makes this book a must read.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

iOS finally goes modern (sort of), Sony wins E3

I haven't blog for a month now, which is pretty long I guess. It's been a busy time in my life, but I am planning to get back to blogging here slowly once again. Let's just say that house hunting in London is a little more overwhelming than we should have allowed it to be. I am pretty sure I aged ten years in these last couple of months.

I just want to put a few thoughts about the latest tech news and what I think about them holy hell, iOS 7 looks a heck a lot like Windows Phone doesn't it? I mean it still features a boring old grid design with static icons and inconsistent UX, but look at that multitasking page and flat(er) UI design! The drop shadows and fake 3Ds and textures mimicking real life products are all gone. It finally looks the bit of a 21st century OS. Barely.
O hai modern UI wannabee
Still, it's shift from skeuomorphism to something a bit more modern is something I can accept - after all I have been calling for Apple to ditch their 20th century design paradigm and follow Microsoft halfheartedly into the brave digital world. Even Palm OS, which you know, powered touchscreen smartphones way back in 2002, featured a slightly skeumorphism-less design and nobody had a problem using it. Depending on how Microsoft responds with Windows Phone Blue and how Apple will design the iPhone 5's successor, I might even consider an iPhone. Maybe...
Argh, colour gradient icons! Ew...
...or maybe not. Sorry Apple, must try harder.

Sony has proven again why it is the top dog when it comes to living room gaming with yesterday's E3 announcement. While Microsoft's Xbox One looks like an admirable effort (hardware wise, used games policy - not so much), Sony's new PS4 strategy has confirmed that I will be sticking with them through the next gen. I am no Sony fanboy but I have stuck with Sony and Nintendo for my living room console gaming. Nintendo appears to have gone wayward a bit, and I can't forgive them for the Wii's dire software library, but I can see a future where their consoles or games are still part of my life.
You hideous thing but I still want you
Back to the PS4. As the PS3 is still going strong, I will likely only enter the next gen gaming a year later, perhaps after the first PS4 price drop. This is a strategy I have been using for every console, and while £350 is a good price, we are in this whole house buying... I am also not too keen on the design of the PS4, but hei, it's a gaming device not a piece of decor. After all, the PS3 wasn't exactly a winning product. And gaming is exactly what the PS4 appears to be designed for. Good job Sony. You almost lost it in the early years of the PS3 but you have done well here. Just keep all that 3D bullshit to yourself and we will continue being friends.