Categories
depression Finances mental health

How I recharge

Today I ran out of spoons and I didn’t realize until I started my walk to work and I started tearing up over listening to this podcast about people going for walks. Now there were some touching stories but I even got a bit teary feeling grateful over my morning coffee. 😭.

So yeah, ok then. It was going to be one of those days where I’ll be over sensitive. No watching Pixar films for me then.

I called in sick for the day, told me team I was out of spoons. I’m really grateful that I can be open about this stuff with my colleagues.

The source of my depletion

I’ve started studying a graduate diploma in financial advice part time on top of full time work. I had 2 interview assessments this week where I had to play the role of advisor for two hypothetical couples. I’ve also had two statement of advice assignments due over the last two weekends. Today was burn out day.

Retail Therapy

I started my morning with a nice coffee and breakfast in a cafe. Taking this time to appreciate food helps me recenter. Then it was a walk through Newtown and I ended up buying some awesome craft beer. We are hosting board games tomorrow and I enjoy sharing a beer with friends.

I think using retail therapy to help me feel better is one way my credit card debt got to 35K. I never use to budget for these episodes and because I have an impulsive nature that’s impossible to reign in during a low day all of those purchases use to go on the credit card.

Today, they didn’t go on a credit card. I don’t have one any more. Instead those purchases came out of splurge account, this is money I’ve already put aside to spend on what ever brings me joy. Big win for the budget there. You can read more about my budget here.

Other recharging activities

I had an afternoon nap. It was just so nice to rest for a bit. I also find the act of writing helps me to get my thoughts in order. It helps me get my thoughts out of my head. Hence this blog. I would consider going for a motorbike ride if I hadn’t already left home for the day. I’m going to watch some TV and drink beer with my partner this evening.

Having friends over for boardgames tomorrow is also going to help. I love cooking and creating tasty things, cooking for others is one way I make myself feel useful and appreciated.

How do you recharge your spoons?

Categories
Job hunting Software Testing

The 1 page CV

How many pages should you Resume/Curriculum Vitae have? I’ve always liked to keep mine below 2 pages and I’ve regularly experimented with a 1 page one.

However different countries will have different expectations. And the CV is a relic from the past. Is it all that useful anymore?

My 1 Page CV

This here is my 4th iteration of a 1 page CV (PDF), I tend to do one every few years, you can read about how it’s evolved over time here.

It has embed links and is very brief. It has a visual timeline at the top with recent experience. If you want more information about my work history you can always check out my LinkedIn. You don’t need you entire work history on your resume.

The 2 Page CV

I use this CV (PDF) when I feel like the 1 pager is too experimental. However the job application process is broken and resume’s aren’t all that useful. They are just a token part of the job application process. I’ve gotten my last 3 job offers by networking, speaking and meetup events and blogging.

Want to improve your profile?

You can book me in for 1 on 1 career coaching via Calendly, my rates of $50 AUD for 30 minutes will apply.

You can also check out my career tips for software testers here, technical skills for testers or this video for building your profile on youtube here:

Categories
Design Finances Technology

Review of Finance Apps

I’m studying to be a financial advisor and I’ve been exploring many of the mobile apps out there that can be used to help manage finances. This post is a review of the ones I’ve used so far. My preferred apps are listed first.

This is NOT financial advice or a product recommendation, a professional can help you if you have any concerns about your finances.

I own shares in CBA, Westpac, Eggy & Tyro. This represents an invested interest.

Finance Apps

Budgeting Apps

I prefer using a simple Google sheet to manage my budget, however money brilliant looks pretty and Up bank has a cute little budget tool built into it too.

Commbank gets in honourable mention because their upcoming bills feature has helped me keep on top of expenses due to come out of my bank in the next few days.

Many of these apps have a bank feed import feature and they can miss label transactions/categories and it can be frustrating to fix.

You can read more about how I manage my budget here.

Google Sheet
Up Bank
Money Brilliant
Commbank – upcoming bills
CommBank – category budget

Life Admin Apps

These apps aren’t strictly budget related but can help you with your budget through helping with life admin. With reminders for upcoming bills and connecting with financial advisors.

I own shares in Eggy via Birchal.

Eggy
MyProsperity

Banking Apps

I love Up Banks branding and personality. They also have an ok interest based savings account and an auto round up saving feature on transactions. Westpac has a 3% interest for anyone under 30.

Otherwise most of my banking is done through CommBank. I have used a variety of other banking apps but they are all kinda similar. 86 400 has a bank feed integration feature and a decent predictive bills feature which is cool.

The bank card I received from Xinja was the funnest card that I received:

Xinja
Up Bank
86 400

Business Banking

If you need to do EFTPOS/credit card processing as part of your business Tyro is cool. I worked on their mobile app a few years ago. Otherwise I use commbank as my main business account because the fees are cheaper than westpac.

Tyro

Investment Apps

Learning to invest

CommSec pocket is great if you are learning to invest and has a minimum investment of $50, but the fees can be expensive. Raiz has an auto roundup on bank transactions for the purposes of investing which is nifty.

Setting up automatic investments into an index fund is a great way to get started. You can read more about how I built up my own portfolio by investing a small amount each pay.

CommsecPocket
Raiz

Education

I’ve installed both Finimix and Forex Portal for learning purposes. I’m not sure if they are useful yet. More time will tell.

Building a portfolio

Most of my portfolio is held in CommSec (minimum initial investment $500). BrickX isn’t a mobile app but their website is mobile friendly and I’ve been using the platform to learn about property investment. BrickX may not be great if you need to liquidate those investment quickly though.

CommSec
BrickX

International Investing

I don’t have a large portfolio with Stake but it’s a clean looking app for US stock market trading. Just watch out for the foreign currency conversion fees, fast processing times will cost you.

Otherwise most of my international investing is via index funds traded via Commsec.

Stake

Managed portfolios

This is starting to get towards the bigger end of town in terms of minimum investments. If you have a larger portfolio these options might be worth considering. These products aren’t all mobile apps but they have very attractive web portfolios for checking this stuff while on the go.

Spaceship

I don’t have much invested in spaceship but their managed portfolio has exploded recently mostly due to US tech companies doing exceptionally well during the pandemic.

Maybe these tech stocks are now overpriced? Who knows, the markets aren’t very predictable. You can read more on my adventure with investing during a crisis.

Superannuation Apps

Super Apps

I’m biased, the mobile app that I’ve been working on for the last 1.5 years is the best one here. However Sunsuper is my main super and I like Aware super. Grow is also pretty but it was confusing to use at first.

You can read more about superannuation mobile apps here.

Colonial First State
SunSuper
Aware Super
Grow Super

What apps do you use for your finances? What features do you like the most? What’s been frustrating?

If you are interested in learning more about finances, I highly recommend checking out the My Millenial Money podcast.

Categories
Mobile Testing Software Testing Technology

A day in the life of a mobile app tester

A few days ago I posted on LinkedIn that I have hardly written any test automation code in the last year:

And I had a few people ask, “how do I test during a code review?”. So I thought I would dive deeper into what an average day for me looks like.

My Role; Software Engineer in Test

Officially my role is a Senior Software Engineer in Test on a mobile app team, it’s a little like this role description but with a mobile app focus instead of a C#/web focus. So why am I not writing test automation code? It’s there in the job description.

Checking Jira

I’ll start my day by checking our scrum board for our current sprint and figuring out what my focus is for the day. What tasks have been assigned to me and what needs some focused testing:

We have user stories and tasks in our sprint backlog, we have three columns; To Do, Doing and Done. We create dev and test subtasks for each user story.

Here’s a rough cadence of sprint meetings, you can read more about what these meetings involve in my mobile app test strategy blog:

Check’in out the Code

Next I’ll usually update my local code to include recent changes, if the dev work was merged in recently it can be tested. This is the git command I’ll usually run to get my local up to date:

git checkout develop && git pull project develop && git push

I use git to help me with large code reviews. The developers will create a pull request with their new feature. I’ll check that code out on a local branch and use Xcode/Android studio to test that code on emulators/simulators. I’ll often use this git command to do so:

git fetch project pull/{pr_number}/head:{pr_number} && Git checkout {pr_number}

I’ll explore the new feature and pass the code review. I’ll chat with the developer if there were any issues observed. I might even run the tests they’ve created as part of that pull request.

I don’t do this for every code review, if it’s a small change I’ll approve it and once it’s merged into the main dev branch I’ll update my local to test those changes. Then I’ll test on emulators/simulators or I’ll wait for our continuous integration (CI) testing pipeline to produce an app file and test on devices.

Android Emulators

I have an emulator for every supported android version, for really important features (i.e. a 3 star feature based on my risk analyst) I’ll test it on every emulator:

I have a similar set up for Xcode, we are in the process of dropping support for iOS 11 because we’d also like to update Xcode.

Backend Testing

I also sometimes checkout backend code but my work machine isn’t set up to be able to build our back end locally. I’ll usually use a test environment to test API’s via Postman or cURL.

Helping with unit testing

I’m more likely to help the developers I work with come up with unit testing strategy. E.G. we were working on a feature recently to add up transactions over the last financial year and we have over 100 different transactions types.

We came up with an approach, if we give every transaction it’s type as it’s value we can more easily check the sums invoved. E.G if one category to calculate was:

transaction type2 + transaction type3 - transaction type1 

we could say we’d expect the unit test result to be $4 (2+3-1). We created the mock JSON that went into the unit tests and it really helped the developer figure out how to test this more easily.

Supporting the App

I helped my team build about a mobile analytics dashboard where we could monitor user engagement and any potential issues that needed more investigation. Recently I’ve be checking it nearly every day and helping my team add more sections because we’ve got an SSL certificate issue at the moment.

We release our app monthly and we’ve got 7 versions that our customers can be on. We have a force update API that the mobile app will hit before it starts the log in process. If a user is on an unsupported version they can’t log in and are directed to the play store to update.

BUT this API uses HTTPS and our production SSL certificate expired recently. We haven’t built rolling certificate pinning yet so it means instead of the old app seeing a forced update, they see a generic error message instead because the SSL certificate has expired. Oops, our bad.

We were able to get 98% of our regular app users onto the latest build with the latest SSL certificate but people who log in infrequently would not have seen the forced update. We are monitoring for an increase in generic error messages and hoping that no one gives us a poor review on the app stores.

I have a crash course in SSL certificates if you’d like to read more.

Building our mocking framework

Most of my code changes involve adding mock JSON data to our mobile app mocking framework. We can test our mobile app independently of any test environment.

We have a bunch of profiles mocked into the test build of our app. E.G if you wanted to see the difference between a pensioner vs investor you can change the profile in the test build.

Our whole business has access to this test build to help the company support the app (not every staff member has an account to use the app with). Sometimes these mocks need updating. As a team we’ve discussed a programatic way to keep these profiles up to date but it’s a little hard and hasn’t been prioritised.

If we are working on a new feature and I’ve recently been testing the API, I’ll often add the API mock test data into our mobile repositories ahead of the mobile dev work to make that process easier.

User Research

Recently I’ve been branching out and helping the design team with competitor analyst and research for new features we are working on. For example, how do other mobile apps handle two factor authentication?

Running a bug bash

every few sprints I’ll book the team in for a bug bash. It’s dev tools down and bug hunting goggles on. I’ll organise some snacks and a confluence page of test data and information about what has changed recently to help people focus on what to test. We award our best bug bug hunter for their efforts and add bugs found to the backlog. You can read more about running a bug bash here. We try to keep it fun and social.

Summary

So yes, I haven’t written much test automation code and this is ok. The developers I work with are great at writing their own unit and integration tests. Does this make my work any less valuable? No.

I enjoy engaging with customers and analytics more than building out test automation code. If you are interested in learning these technical skills that I use on a day to day basis, I have this technical testers guide here.

What are your thoughts on this way of working?

Categories
Finances

Windfalls of cash

I’ve gotten 3 windfalls of cash recently;

this post is a reflection on what I’ve done with that money. All numbers are in AUD.

This is not financial advice, a professional can help you figure out the best approach for you.

Show me the money

I first withdrew 10k from my super, then my bonus was 5k after tax and then my tax return was 1.5k. For a total of 16.5K in extra cash in the last 2 months.

Paid off debt

The first thing I did was pay off a 2k credit card, cleaned up my outstanding zip-pay and contributed and extra 1k towards my personal loan.

Emergency Savings

The next thing I did was put 2k into an emergency savings account. Then topped it up with 1K one month later when I got my bonus. Then I put 1k into a spare cash fund in my main bank when I got my tax return.

Holiday savings

I put 1k towards the purpose of saving for a holiday and 1.5k towards my side business app idea.

Investing in the stock market

This is not a product recommendation, this a list of funds that I invested in for my own personal investments

I bought mostly index funds (an investment with a selection of companies):

  • 10 units of the ACDC (battery storage companies)
  • 100 units of the HACK (cyber security companies)
  • 70 units of IIND (top companies in India)
  • 10 units of ROBO (global robotics companies)
  • 18 units of NDQ (tech companies)
  • 8 units of IEM (mostly Asia and other emerging markets)
  • 43 units of ETHI (an ethical/sustainable investments fund)
  • 2000 units of DOU (a new neo bank for the US market)

Which is nearly 4.2k invested, that DOU investment is an experiment, most of my portfolio is index funds and not direct shares.

I use Commsec and Commsec Pocket to buy shares. This is not a product recommendation, all major banks in Australia have some sort of trading platform and there are alternatives like Stockspot, Raiz and Spaceship. Your superannuation is also an investment account.

Investing in property

I put 1k into brickX, I’m doing this to learn about property investment over time with small investments.

This is not a product recommendation

Treat for myself

I took my partner out for dinner for their birthday, we went to Tetsuya’s; a Japanese fine dining restaurant in Sydney. I prepaid for the food and paid for a whiskey at the Baxter Inn before hand. This was a $500 treat and I also spent $200 on buying some new clothes.

Feeling financially stable

This is the first time ever in my adult life that I’ve felt financially stable. It is an awesome feeling. I can’t state how grateful I am for escaping the poverty trap and not getting stuck in the over spending loop. In our society it is too easy to overspend.

I’ve previously written about how I manage my budget, my struggle with consumer debt and how my super is going too.

Any future windfalls will probably go towards my personal loan and then towards my emergency savings.

Categories
Uncategorized

Tech Twitter dumpster fire

Today, tech twitter is complaining about rocks and interview:

And there’s a few people wish for an easier way to find #BadTechTweets

Categories
Software Testing Technology Testing Archives

Testing Archives – October

Wow, we are just as close to 2070 as we are far from 1970. How did they test software 50 years ago? You’ll be surprised to find out, very similarly to how we do it today. The main difference with testing approaches today is the access to technology is greatly improved.

Nearly every developer has access to tools that provide fast testing feedback for what they are working on. Software testing has evolved with the history of computers.

Landing on the Moon

We first landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. This required a huge amount of testing across software, hardware and with astronauts. There were no second chances if this stuffed up. A lot of the Software Engineering practices developed for the moon landing have established themselves as decent practices today.

Margaret Hamilton stands next to a stack of Apollo Guidance Computer source code.

Hamilton led the team that developed the building blocks of software engineering – a term that she coined herself. Her systems approach to the Apollo software development and insistence on rigorous testing was critical to the success of the Apollo Project

Source: NASA

You can access source code for the Apollo 11 project on GitHub too.

Testing Guidelines for Apollo 11

When it came to testing the physical hardware/software, there were 5 guidelines which were applied to all spacecraft tests:

  • Building block approach to testing. Each component was verified before integration testing.
  • End-to-end testing. The use of mocks and substitutes was minimised.
  • Isolation and functional verification of all redundancies. All code paths were proven with end-to-end tests.
  • Interface testing and verification. All interfaces were consistent.
  • Mission profile simulation. The astronauts were involved with real user testing.

These guidelines still ring true today and actually align with this mobile app testing strategy my team uses. The only difference is today we don’t need to build a space hanger to do end to end testing. Oh and getting users involved with testing reminds me of Soap Opera Testing; what could possibly go wrong?

Software Bugs from History

The Y2K bug from the year 2000 (any old computer that used YY as their year format, e.g. 99 might stuff up when the year 2000 rolled around) is an interesting lesson in how bugs in software shape the industry.

This bug caused a huge investment into updating mainframe computers all around the world and established India as the outsource IT capital of the world.

Globally; $308 billion dollars was spent on compliance and testing and it helped build more robust systems that survived the system crashes from the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

A lot of these business critical mainframe systems were built during the 70’s and 80’s. A lot of finance industries around the world still rely on these systems.

Jerry Weinberg might have something to say

I’m currently reading Jerry Weinberg’s Quality Software Management, which was published in 1992 and he has some references from the 70’s. Once I finish reading the book I’ll put up a summary here too. I reckon it’ll be just as relevant today as it was in 1992.

What lessons from history have influenced your testing approach?

Categories
Finances

Lifestyle Plan

How much does it cost to be you?

This blog post is a walkthrough of how I manage my finances so I can answer the question, how much does it cost to be me? I’ll be doing a budget spreadsheet for the month of October to come up with a number for my minimum living standards and my current living standards.

This is not financial advice, if you are concerned or have questions, a professional can help you sort this out.

This is not a product recommendation, this a list of tools I use for my own personal finances

I own shares in CBA/Westpac/Tyro and have worked on some of these apps so please consider this a vested interest.

Budget is an ugly term

I don’t like the word budget. gah, so ugly. So having a lifestyle or spending plan just sounds nicer. Glen James, who is a host on the my mellenial money podcast has his own spending plan program too.

I’m calling mine a “lifestyle budget”. I think it’s important to come up with a process that works for you. It doesn’t matter how many spreadsheets I’ve had professionals share with me, I’ve gotten more value out of tweaking my own method.

Create your own spreadsheet

Here’s my spreadsheet:

There’s a plan

In the first tab I’ve listed out all of my expenses under a few categories, there’s the expenses I share with my house mate at the top. The total rent for the place I live in is $460 per week. I split the rent $250 for the big room and $210 for the small room. My house mate has the big room. We both contribute $50 a week towards house hold expenses.

I get paid fortnightly (every two weeks) and I’m in the process of increasing my salary sacrifice into super to save towards buying my first house using the first home savers scheme. You will see my October income is actually $2740, it’ll be $2600 from next pay.

Then there’s reality

With the second tab I’m tracking my actual expenses to see if it matches with my plan. I don’t do this every month, I’m only doing this for October. I started on the 7th of October when I got paid and I’m tracking everything that comes in and out of my accounts:

Traffic light categories

I’m using a traffic light system to categorise each expense as

  • essential
  • Could reduce if my budget became really tight
  • luxury expenses

If I lost my job, those luxury expenses would be the first thing to go.

When it comes to my minimum savings needed to survive 3-6 months I’ll be using my essentials + my reduced orange expenses to come up with a number.

I fill in the spendings on mobile

I access this spreadsheet on my mobile device and fill it in as I go about my day, this is what it looks like on mobile:

I like adding things in as soon as I see notifications for them:

But I’ll also cross reference check with some of the budgeting apps like MoneyBrilliant to check they are keeping an accurate record:

MoneyBrilliant

I use seperate bank accounts as “buckets”

I have my groceries come out of my every day account and my luxury/Splurge expenses come out of my Up bank account which is connected to my phone via google pay.

I also have a bucket for spare cash, emergency savings, business expenses and my motorbike expenses (I want to save up for a new helmet), this is very similar to the barefoot investors “buckets” process:

My main bank account buckets

My splurge account bucket via Up Bank

My savings with Up Bank

Upcoming bills

I also regulary check for upcoming bills through different apps (commbank, 86400 and WeMoney) to make sure I’ve got enough cash in my everday account to cover these costs:

Commbank

86400

WeMoney

WeMoney

Automatic Transfers

I try to set up automatic transfers as much as possible so I don’t have to think about my budgeting as much. I don’t have to worry about, “do I have enough money to pay for those bills due soon?”

Prepay bills

For my electricity, I like to be 3-6 months ahead. I’ve been stung by a few surprise bills before and hate being in that situation.

I also like to purchase carbon offsets for my electricity too. My electricity is through powershop and they have monthly future power packages that I always buy and a mega pack (2-3 months of electricity) that I’ll purchase every now and again.

Further reading

If you’d like to read more about my investment portfolio, my struggle with consumer debt or how my super is going I have a few more blogs you can check out.

At the end of the Month I’ll update this blog to see if my spendings actually matched my my plan. Stay tuned.

Categories
Finances

Early Access to super

This is not financial advice. This is a story of how I applied for 10k release from my retirement savings and what I spent that money on.

Earlier this year, the Australian tax office allowed Australians the ability to withdraw up to 10k from their superannuation if they had been impacted by the pandemic financially. (super = superannuation = retirement savings)

I went through this process myself. All of the income from my side business had all completely dried up. I was previously helping YOW! conference promote their conferences at tech meetup groups around Sydney, when all meetup events were cancelled all of that income dried up. So I met a condition of release.

The process

I put in an application to the ATO on Friday the 28th of August, by Monday the 31st I got a text message saying the ATO had approved the application. By Wednesday the 2nd of September I had an 10k in my bank account. Oh I’ve never felt so rich before. I was surprised at how quick the process was.

Where did that money go?

I used 2k to pay off a credit card, put 2k into my emergency savings (it was at zero before this point), and 1k put aside for my business to get that restarted. The remainder 5k was re invested. I put 1k into property via brickX and the rest in shares through commsec/commsec pocket.

I know this re-investment isn’t the best option, I’m moved that money out of a low tax environment into a high tax environment. I used half of that money to help me get my financial ducks in a row and it is such an awesome feeling to experience.

The only debt I have left to pay is my personal loan which is at 18K and my HECS debt.

What would you do if 10k came into your account?

Categories
Finances

How I built a 13k portfolio over 12 months

Disclaimer; this is not financial advice. This is a story about how I put aside a small amount of money each pay and how I invested it into a portfolio. I also work/have worked for a few of the companies mentioned in this blog.

The TLDR; I put aside a percentage of my pay into investments/savings and topped it up when I got a bit of windfall.

How this investing started

This all started when I got my 2018-2019 tax return. I wanted to learn how the stock market worked so I started with $1100 in shares. I started the year 2020 with no savings (I had just paid $1400 for a motorbike service) and only a small stock profile:

Taken on the 10th of January 2020, that’s my sad emergency fund account 🙁

My initial portfolio was Westpac shares, prospa shares and 2 ETF’s (index funds):

Taken on the 10th of January 2020

 

Taken on the 10th of January 2020

Setting up regular payments

I get paid fortnightly (every two weeks) and  back in January I tired to set up the following regular transfers:

  • $100 per fortnight into super (a retirement savings account)
  • $70 per fortnight into cash
  • $60 per fortnight into shares
  • $50 per fortnight into property

Which would be $7280 invested/saved over a 12 month period (which is over 10% of my take home pay). But the pandemic kicked in, my income from my side business dried up and I had to have my gall bladder removed (which was a 2k out of pocket emergency expense). I ended up doing:

  • Salary sacrificing into super to take my contributions up to 15%
  • $100 per month into property

The technology I use

For investing in shares, I’m using Commbank’s pocket app to invest in different ETF’s and using their commsec app to buy shares when I have a bit more money. The minimum investment in the pocket app is $50 and the minimum investment in commsec is $500.

For Property, I’m using brickX, which is a company that buys properties and then divides each property into 10,000 “bricks”, they then on sell each brick to budding property investors. Their minimum investment is $50 a month for their self managed “smart plan”.

When I get a bit of a windfall (e.g my tax return or bonus) I’ll squirrel away a bit of extra into my portfolio to help balance it out.

Here’s what that portfolio now looks like after 12 months:

  • There’s 3k in emergency savings
  • 2k in property
  • 8k in stocks

Shares (some are still poorly performing):

Taken on the 8th of October
Taken on the 8th of October 2020
Taken on the 8th of October 2020

Property via BrickX:

Taken on the 8th of October 2020

Emergency savings via Up Bank:

Taken on the 8th of October 2020

Side note: During the peak of the Pandemic 😱

I was down nearly 30% at one point during the pandemic and it got worse, you can check out my investing during a crisis blog if you’d like to read more.

Also there are tons of investment platforms out, here is an interesting video comparing the fees on the different platforms: