Tips to survive unemployment

Things aren’t great in the job market right now and many Australians are going through some tough times. Here’s some hints and tips that I’ve put together that should help get you through some difficult situations and help scrape enough together to make rent and pay bills.

Get a bike

Cycling is one of the cheapest ways to get around, modern bikes are reliable, require little maintenance and what little is required can be done by anyone capable of holding an allen key. Brisbane has many bike tracks – and it’s also legal to ride on the pedestrian path ways making getting around pretty easy – most cities are the same. It’s a great way to get fit and the exercise will make you feel good – a pick me up can help give you the boost you need to get back to looking for work. Bikes can often be found cheaply online or at garage sales.  You might even be lucky to be able to borrow a friend or relatives bike which is going unused.

Avoid public transport (unless you really need it)

Unfortunately most public transport is not subsidised while on government benefits – so it adds up quickly. Cycling, walking and other less convenient options are a great way to save money here – save your pennies for when you need to get to job interviews or long distance travel. Unfortunately not everybody lives close to the city so your milage may vary with this one.

Cook your own meals

Seriously stop eating out.  You can make amazing food for not a lot of money at home and you’ll feel better too.  Many feel that cheap fast food meals are the answer to eating cheaply however those 2 dollar cheeseburgers aren’t as cheap as you think. Cooking yourself could get your food budget down to 5 dollars a day (per person) if you plan correctly. If you can’t cook learn!  Use the time you have to practice a valuable life skill.

Avoid supermarkets

Following on from cooking for yourself, some great savings can be had on your food budget if you avoid the big supermarkets. While is true that they have some great deals on the staples – such as $2 milk and $1 onions – generally you’re paying more for everything else. Find your local farmers market and religiously go.  My SO and I generally are able to buy enough vegetables to last about 2 weeks for about $20 – $30. There is the added smugness of supporting local businesses too and putting more money into the hands of the farmers. Find a great local bulk meat butcher for your meat and buy in bulk when you can.  You can save big on buying bulk cuts of meat and cutting it down into steaks yourself or separating into smaller single use portions.  The meat quality from butchers tends to be better and the pricing (especially in bulk amounts) significantly cheaper.

Quit Drinking!

It might seem like a good idea to pass the time when unemployed – but alcohol is expensive and should really be considered a luxury.

Avoid pubs and clubs and suggest house parties with your friends instead for some much needed social interaction. When meeting friends in public, suggest instead of booze you go out for froyo or a coffee – you can’t afford to this often but you you can keep the outing to a $10 cost instead of $100+ for a night out of the town.

You might not be the most popular person in your friends list but you need to make sacrifices and alcohol is a no brainer when it comes to cuts.

Pick up a hobby

Get good at something while you have spare time – now you are not going to be able to get a pilots licence or pick up drag racing but you might be able to learn to code or pick up bicycle maintenance skills.

Perhaps start reading books again or pick up an exercise habit.

Try and pick something productive and useful as your new hobby might just end up a career avenue for you.

Use the internet to your advantage

You can find a lot of resources on the internet do just about anything.  Perhaps something in this article has inspired you, but you’re not sure where to start – google is your friend.

A great way to save money is to find solutions to problems online – harness  the power of the internet for good and kick start your new hobbies and life goals.

 

Tt eSports POSEIDON Z Illuminated Keyboard

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Due to a bit of luck on my part I was selected by Thermaltake Australia to provide some feedback and review the Thermaltake Tt eSports Poseidon Z illuminated Mechanical Keyboard.

I’ve owned many a keyboard in the past including a few mechanical so I am certainly excited to give this one a run through it’s paces and compare it to other mechanical keyboards using Cherry MX switches.

At a glance it certainly appears to be capable – some of it’s features include:

  • Fully illuminated back lit keys

  • Mechanical switches

  • Anti-Ghosting 6-8 key rollover

  • Windows key disable switch (never accidentally tab out of a game again!)

  • Media Keys

  • 5 Year warranty!

with that in mind, lets get stuck into it shall we?

Typing

The keyboard has a pretty good feel compared to other keyboards i’ve used.  the keys strike with a lovely clack and have that wonderful response you get from mechanical keyboards as your fingers strike the keys.  The key caps feel nice they fit snugly on the switches which lends to a pretty nice experience.

However like most things in life there are some niggles.  The biggest thing that strikes me is that the keys are not consistent, for example on my example the A key feels a mushy  and heavy compared to S or D and weirdly Q and W seem to respond much better again – it’s hard to describe in words, but you can “feel” some irregularities in the switches used.  Typing can be quite jarring when you hit multiple keys on the keyboard and they all feel different.  Comparatively on my Filco Majestouch every key is very consistent and they all feel the same – I know this is a gaming keyboard but it’s something to consider, though in game it’s a non issue.

While not necessarily a negative the keys require a little more activation pressure than my Filco keyboard and I certainly get more finger fatigue using this keyboard over a Filco Majestouch, or even the HP rubber dome keyboard I used at work.  Something to consider though is that this is my first 48 hours with this keyboard and it always takes some time to adjust.

Overall it’s an improvement on just about any rubber dome keyboard out there.  Some will find the keys take some getting used to, people who’re used to typing on laptop style keys will take longer again as this keyboard is pretty much the other end of the spectrum.

Lastly, and one very important thing to mention is that it’s a completely standard layout.  If you’re already using a keyboard with a standard QWERTY layout you won’t need to adjust to any quirks.  This might not sound important – however I once owned a keyboard with a smaller than normal left CTRL key and that was so rage inducing that that particular keyboard met an untimely death.  Buy a keyboard with an adjusted layout at your peril…

7/10

Gaming

Certainly gaming is what this keyboards built for and it doesn’t disappoint.  While not as full featured as other gaming keyboards it makes up for it with great responsive keys that do what you want when you want.  The keys give you a great feel when struck which provides feedback and thus confidence that the key you wanted actually did it’s job.  In the heat of a game when you’re wildly hitting keys this can really help to know just from feel that you’ve actually registered the keystroke.

They keys respond very quickly and there would be next to 0 lag between repeating keystrokes despite making my self red in the face in the progress i couldn’t manage to make the keyboard miss by repeatedly mashing a key – I actually haven’t experienced this problem in a keyboard, but I have read some mechanical keyboard switch styles do exhibit this problem – thankfully Thermaltake have avoided this here.

The back lit keys are excellent for some late night gaming – who hasn’t when they’re a little tired gone searching for a key and had to angle the keyboard up to the glow of your monitor to find the pipe character (|) key or something.  I’m a pretty competent typist, but I am guilty of not knowing exactly where every character is on the keyboard.

Basically for gaming I can’t fault it – sure, it’d be nice to have palm rests and macro keys and other gizmo’s – but does it need it? No, I don’t think so.  Some people out there might have a genuine need for macros and other such features – but I and i’d imagine the majority of the population have little genuine need and they would go unused anyway.

9/10

Style

The keyboard looks fantastic and thankfully a lot less tacky than a lot of the gaming keyboards out there.  I love the fact that the keys use a pretty standard type face (unlike a certain brand).

It has a great presence on my desk and looks the part – it would be really nice to be able to change the colours of the LED’s so you can match a theme you might have going – personally before I purchased my Logitech G502 I would have preferred red LED’s to match my mouse – overall not that important but something to think about.

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From a design point of view the only bit that irks me is the top right of the keyboard that contains the indicators and a button which disables the Win key.  This button isn’t overly attractive, doesn’t glow or match the other keys and overall looks pretty out of place.  The dragon logo here seems poorly thought out and actually off center (I measured it, it’s about 1cm to far left).  It kinda feels like they just put it there to fill some space.

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Overall though the keyboard looks awesome on the desk and the back lit keys are really bright and sexy.  Thankfully as well Thermaltake took a less is more approach and didn’t overload it with ‘gamer’ graphics and flashy logos, one might even say that this keyboard appeals to the mature gaming crowd – someone who wants a pretty standard looking keyboard, with just enough bling to remind you that it’s a premium product.

8/10

Build Quality and Feel

Considering how well the keyboard has fared so far it’s probably not surprising to learn that the build quality and weight of this keyboard is pretty darned good.  The board has a fair heftiness to this that is at least equal to the Filco Majestouch (perhaps even a smidge heavier)  The benefits of a heavy keyboard are numerous, but mostly it stops it moving around unexpectedly on your desk and ensures you’ve got a solid weapon at LANs when things get rough over a game of COD.

The keycaps themselves could use improvement.  It appears they’re made of a clear plastic and then coated black leaving the lettering exposed – they look great when new, but there is the danger that over time you’ll wear off the black down and end up with some pretty ugly keys.  Furthermore, i have to mention that when using the keyboard with the LEDs turned off the lettering isn’t super clear – though most would use it with the LEDs all the time.

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The “E” key specifically on my sample has a weird rough texture – it’s uniform enough it might be deliberate but i don’t see the same texture on photos online.  I’d argue it’d make sense if it was on the WASD keys to help orientate your fingers – but just the “E” seems a little odd to me, i’d be interested to see if this is the same on all or if mine is an exception.

Notice the oddness on the 'E' key?

Notice the oddness on the ‘E’ key?

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Finally, I’m not really sure why there are rubber strips along the top of the keyboard – they don’t seem to serve any purpose – they however hamper nothing.

Overall though, i am very happy with the build quality and i have no doubts that this keyboard would last for the 5 year warranty period.  Thermaltake certainly believe in it and it’s great to see a company really get behind their products – well done TT.

8/10

Final Impressions

I must say, i’ve been nothing but impressed to be honest.  Thermaltake never took me as a quality producer of peripherals.  I’ve owned products by better known (in this sphere) and more regarded companies and have been so terribly disappointed (to the point where i refuse to buy their products) yet Thermaltake, a relative upstart has made something that within days i’m proud to be using and feel like it’ll stand the test of time.  It feels solid, performs excellently and i’m sure as time progresses and i acclimate more to it, it’ll be become indispensable.  My review might sound picky and it is but I think it’s important to tell the whole story.

Thermaltake have impressed with the quality here and it’s certainly given me pause to consider their products more in future.  I urge anyone in the market for a keyboard to consider the Tt eSports Poseidon Z for their next purchase.

My final score is 8/10

The good:

  • Solid build quality

  • Good looks

  • 5 year Warranty

The bad:

  • Keycaps could be better

  • Some switches feel inconsistent

  • Not especially stylish if you’re after a modern minimal look.
  • Some weird design choices

  • Weird rough “E” key on my sample

Shaving the right way, an introduction to wet shaving – Part 1

Before you heading out into the world it’s important to fix up and look sharp.  Part of being a stylish man is ensuring your facial hair is in order and for most without the genetics or patience to grow a decent beard that means shaving.

One of the best ways to shave is using a double edge razor using the wet shaving method – what we end up with is a relaxing ritual that leaves you feeling refreshed and smooth clean shave.

You do not need a lot to get started and the equipment is bound to last you years -  A decent razor will last a lifetime.  Here’s what you will need:

  • A Razor
  • Shaving Cream
  • A Shaving Brush
  • Razor Blades
  • After Shave

The Razor:

Razors are highly subjective and a somewhat personal choice.  with the wide variety of options available to you one might feel somewhat overwhelmed. Thankfully the Merkur HD happens to be a razor that for (most people) works really well.  It has a great balance of weight, blade angle, overall size and (high) quality that means that most people can get a great shave.

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A great option is to go through your grandfathers things and see if he has one or two lying around.  I started originally using my grandfathers old razor – it however has a very aggressive blade angle and I’ve since settled on a Merkur HD myself.

Shaving Cream:

Basically the goal here is to get something that you love the smell of and are able to get a good lather from.  I use a Proraso brand shaving cream – I love the old school smell and the great lather it produces.  Another popular choice is the Colonel Conk range I can recommend the Bay Rum flavor from personal experience.wpid-IMAG0018.jpg

The main thing to take away here is to stop using shaving foam in a can, unfortunately they tend to produce poor lubrication and protection for your skin.  Lastly the act of applying the shaving cream with a brush also aids shaving.

Shaving Bush:

Shaving brushes come in all shapes and sizes and materials.  Basically you want a brush made from Badger hair in the best quality you can afford.  A good brush ranges from about $30 AUD and upwards of $300.  Honestly I’ve been usiwpid-IMAG0017.jpgng a 30 dollar job from Omega and it’s lasted and worked great thus far.  Don’t use the really cheap ones from the supermarket – you just end up with most of the fibers stuck to your face.

Read more about the varying grades of brushes here on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shave_brush

Razor Blades

Blade choice depends partially on skill and how your skin handles each blade.  The difference is mostly related to blade sharpness -  Feather being roughly the sharpest.  Some find sharp blades too aggressive and difficult to shave with, without cutting themselves or damaging their skin.  I like the feather blades as they make light work of my scruff and having used DE razers for some time am able to shave and rarely cut myself.  Starting out you might want to try something a little less aggressive and look for some Gillette or Dorco blades.wpid-IMAG0024.jpg

Blades are very cheap – I purchased 50 packs of blades for about 25 bucks. This is about 2 years of blades for me.  Do the maths compared to your current Gillette/Schick Blades!  Experimenting with blades is easy because they’re so cheap.

Feather are top shelf too, many are even cheaper!

After Shave

Grab something to sooth your face and neck after your shave.  Alcohol based is fine if you’ve got pretty tough skin.  I’d suggest however looking at something with a moisturiser to help your face repair after a close shave and keep your skin supple.  A good moisturising after shave will help deal with any razor burn or bumps if you have sensitive skin.  Right now i am using an aftershave by Burts bees (their lip balm is also amazing by the way).

Check out Part 2 for the full guide to putting these tools in action!

You can find most of these items by Google searching as there are many online stores which cater to the art of shaving.  Also brick and mortar stores such as The Shaver Shop also carry a decent selection of gear including Omega brushes, Merkur razors and decent shaving creams.

Uppercut Deluxe Pomade

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A while ago I decided to go for a slicked back look in the attempt to get something a little more grown up.  My hair is pretty thick and heavy and all the hair products I had at my disposal – while suitable for my previous hairstyles didn’t really cut it for the dapper slicked back look.

My girlfriend @kellyyylek being the gem that she is suggested I look at Uppercut Deluxe products. She had seen the name knocking about and noticed that it was getting generally pretty favourable mentions around social media. In the end I braved Culture Kings in the city to purchase some.  I’m really glad I did.  In the past I’ve spent more than I’d care to admit on hair products that just haven’t worked for me – this stuff however has a great hold and a subtle sheen, it slicks my mane down just how I’d like it to and to top it off when it dries it stiffens to lock your quiff in place all day.

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Uppercut Deluxe uses a heavy coconut scent which is delicious and thankfully not overpowering. It’s not going to overshadow your cologne and doesn’t have the chemical smell that many hair products have. As you can see I’ve given it a good go and it’s my product of choice to use every day for any occasion. If I’m styling my hair i’m using this stuff.

Further more Uppercut Deluxe is an Australian company and the hair product itself is made here (however the tins are not) I don’t personally go out of my way to support Australian business unless the products are quality – i’m glad to say these guys are the real deal.

You can find Uppercut Deluxe in many alternative stores/barber shops as well as on-line @ UppercutDeluxe.com

Borsht

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Ingredients (for two):

  • 2 medium beetroots, Peel and shred finely.
  • 200g polish sausage (Don’t buy Han’s polish sausage, it’s not great. Pork sausage or similar works fine if you can’t find polish sausage, but it’ll have less flavor).
  • 2 carrots – shred finely
  • 2 Medium potatoes – peeled and cubed
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 35 ml water
  • Half of a cabbage – shred finely
  • 1 can diced tomatoes – drain the liquid
  • 3 cloves of garlic – finely chopped (I add more personally but I love garlic).
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar – or to taste
  • Sour cream, chopped parsley and lemon for garnish

Method:

Cube the sausages into small bite sized chunks if you’re using polish sausage it will be easier to cut raw – if you’re using a standard pork sausage you may need to fry them quickly before slicing them to keep them together. Once chopped fry in a fry pan with a small amount of oil until browned all over.

Find a rather large pot – if you’ve already chopped your vegetables as suggested you’ll find a pretty large mound of food – don’t worry it’ll shrink when cooked BUT you need to be able to accommodate it all. Fill a suitable pot about half way with water and allow to boil – add your sausages place a lid on the pot and allow to boil.

Add your shredded beetroot and cook until the flesh has become slightly translucent and admire the beautiful colour of the soup.

Remember to stir as you go.

Now add the potatoes and the carrots and cook until soft – this takes about 5-15 mins depending on how small you’ve chopped it. Now add the can of tomatoes (drain first) add the cabbage as well and replace the lid after giving everything a good stir.

Add the garlic to the soup – unlike most recipes do not fry this off in advance.

Heat some oil in a skillet – whatever you normally cook with is fine. Fry the onions until soft then add the tomato paste and about 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and mix everything together in the pan, once combined add pour into the pot.

At this stage remove the pot from the heat and give it a taste. Add some salt, pepper and a little sugar to taste.

Separate into two bowls – it should look an amazing deep red. I prefer my borscht served quite acidic so I tend to add about half a lemon to mine – however this is to taste. Finish with a good dollop or two of sour cream and dress with some parsley.

Finally enjoy!

 

Traditional Beef Goulash Recipe

This is a fantastic traditional family recipe given to me by a friend.  This is properly authentic.

Traditionally goulash is a dish enjoyed by the poor – Farmers, labourers and paupers alike.  Despite this goulash is a delicious hearty stew that can be enjoyed by anyone and is especially great during the winter months.

It’s also a great way to impress a new flame – it worked for me at least.  You might even get bonus points cooking for someone from Hungary and serving something that tastes just like how their mum makes it.

Goulash can be served accompanied by just about anything and even enjoyed on it’s own. I like it with pasta (traditionally it’s served with noodleki which I’ll blog about another time) however rice is also a great choice.

Ingredients (for two):

  • 500g of shin beef or oso buco (not gravy beef)
  • 1 onion per kilo of meat
  • 1 tomato per kilo of meat (older, riper tomatoes are great for this and traditionally used)
  • 1/2 green capsicum per kilo of meat
  • 1/2 red capsicum per kilo of meat
  • 1/2 banana capsicum per kilo of meat

(Feel free to use all green/red/banana capsicums – banana and red are best for this dish) 

  • 1 to 3 cloves of garlic per kilo of meat (add more if you are like me and love garlic)
  • 1 big potato
  • Grape seed oil (or any oil that you use normally)

Spices:

  • Marjoram
  • Garlic Steak
  • Mixed Herbs
  • Beef powdered stock
  • Chicken powdered stock
  • Hungarian powdered paprika (Absolutely best with Hungarian paprika – however most will do fine)

Method:

Chop the meat, capsicum, onion, potato and garlic into fine squares and put into a cold pot – unlike most dishes you want to start with a cold pot.

Cube the tomatos – however place the tomato into another bowl to the side to be added later.

Put 1 BIG table spoon of oil per kilo of meat then add a splash for prosperity

Turn on stove to HIGH

Mix contents of pot with a wooden spoon until the meat goes whitish. Mix by folding over meat and vegetables from the bottom to the top, constantly scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent the onions sticking and burning, keep the contents moving.

Once all meat is consistent whitish grey take the pot off the heat (literally move the pot off the stove)

Time to add the spices

  • 2 tea spoons of powdered beef stock per kilo of meat
  • 2/3rds tea spoon of powdered chicken stock per kilo of meat
  • 1 tea spoon of mixed herbs per kilo of meat
  • 1/2 tea spoon of garlic steak per kilo of meat
  • 1 tea spoon of marjoram
  • Take the lumps out of the powdered paprika and then add 1 HEAPED Table spoon per kilo of meat
  • Add some chilli flakes or chopped chilli if you like a bit of spice

Mix in the spices OFF HEAT ONLY pay attention to the colour, the paprika should have given everything a tinge of redness, if its not add a little more.  You don’t have to be precise and there is a lot of room for error when mixing the spices.

Place the pot back on to high heat, Add 1 tea spoon of salt per kilo of meat and mix salt in quickly as the contents heats up.  Once the ingredients begin to make a bubbling sound add the tomato and mix through.

You’ll notice now that the liquid in the pot will begin to rise.  Let it bubble for a while then turn down the heat and place a lid on the pot.

Let your goulash simmer for 10 minutes then mix from top to bottom and taste the sauce (try and let it cool down beforehand you can’t taste much when it’s at boiling point), try to look for the spice taste and the tomato taste.If you feel it needs more spice at this point it’s best to correct it with only marjoram and garlic steak add both to maintain balance if extra spice is required.

Now for the home stretch, stir every 20-30 minutes and cook for a minimum of 2 hours to break down the meat.

Serve into bowls with your side of Pasta or rice and enjoy – I wouldn’t recommend adding salt, but add pepper to taste.