2008 was the year I finally decided to get organised and head down to Code Camp Oz. And it was more than worth my time.
For those of you who haven’t attended Code Camp before, it felt to me like a low-key TechEd or maybe a 2-day RDN. The quality of presentations was generally very high – Fernando Guerrero’s presentation (‘Lessons learned while tuning database systems’) was the highlight for me, but I also particularly enjoyed the presentations by Mahesh Kirshnan (‘How well do you know your IDE?’) and Paul Stovell (‘SyncLINQ‘). Phillip Beadle’s presentation on Test Driven Development reminded me of my urgent need to get further up to speed on TDD.
Some other random thoughts from my first experience at Code Camp:
- I stayed at Mercury Motor Inn. I won’t be racing to stay there next year.
- The organisation and catering for the event (including the Wine and Cheese night, BBQ, pizza etc) was very well co-ordinated. A big thumbs-up to all involved.
- I had a real issue finding the venue on the first day (it took me more than 30 minutes, and even then it was only because I followed some other people who had been previously). I think next year I will volunteer to put some signs out on the Friday.
- The WiFi at the venue was surprisingly good (initial connection was annoying, but after that…). I really wasn’t expecting to be able to make VoIP calls while I was there – but it worked well.
- Having my Readify loaner laptop with me reminded me of one key thing I need to consider when picking a new laptop in 2 months – battery life. While the majority of Readify staff seem to get Dell laptops (particularly the XPS M1530) they don’t seem to have the variety of battery options as say the Thinkpad T61P. In fact when I try and spec a M1530 online, Dell doesn’t even provide the option of a second battery (let alone a third!) as part of the transaction.
All in all a great experience. I thoroughly recommend you attend in 2009 – if you live in Australia!
Given my reputation as a cheapskate bargain hunter, I will be starting an irregular series that may help you in your money saving ways. These will be particularly appropriate to those in Australia, but may have broader applicability in some instances.
Now the cynical among you might think this is because I can’t think of anything else to blog about (actually, that is a strong possibility). But by incorporating even 1 or 2 of these ideas you might be able to save anywhere from $10 – $500 a year. And many are quite simple to do (almost all of the ideas and services I will be suggesting I have actually used and still use today).
So here goes with Operation Cheapskate: Episode One (in no particular order)…
Websites to find out about bargains
- These sites are great resources for finding out about new deals (mainly within Australia). After each website I have included their RSS feed (if that sounds foreign to you, you may like to check out Google Reader).
Saving money on your phone bill (landline or mobile)
- If you have a home phone line and make alot of STD calls then consider Better Telecom who do flat rate STD calls for 17.5c a call. Cheaper still is Voice over IP – you can read about this more here.
- If you are planning to get a new loan, make sure you shop around. There are some websites that will help you get started, but note that you may be able to negotiate a better deal with the lender or a mortgage broker (for example I negotiated not having to pay Lender’s Mortgage Insurance when I got my first home loan). I can certainly recommend my mortgage broker (disclaimer: he is my brother-in-law) – he has saved me thousands of dollars.
- For day-to-day banking, look at the fees you are paying and see if you can get a better deal elsewhere. Credit Unions, in particular, are an excellent option. Gateway Credit Union is open for membership to the general public and is worthwhile investigating. One of the best credit unions in Australia (from my research) is the QANTAS Staff Credit Union (of which I am a member). If you (or a member of your family) meet the eligibility criteria then you will find your transaction fees massively reduced (there are no monthly fees, free cheque facilities, 12 free monthly withdrawals at certain ATMs, free online banking, free phone banking etc etc).
Choosing a Health Insurance Provider
- ISelect is a great tool for helping you wade through the myriad of options.