Monthly Archives: June 2016

England, post-Brexit

So on Friday the referendum results were released, and it seems like the UK is now on course to exit the EU. I found it an ideologically disappointing result, but being physically situated rather far away from Europe I can’t say I felt terribly affected by it all.

In fact, as the GBP dropped in value I realised that my upcoming overseas conference in Brighton has effectively been discounted slightly. Yay?

On the other hand, it seems that the referendum has emboldened racist/nationalist sentiment and it might be an unpleasant experience for someone who doesn’t look… traditionally English. Hoping I won’t get such an experience myself during the trip!

In the longer term, it seems quite possible that the results of this referendum might fuel rash populist/nationalist sentiment elsewhere, especially in neighbouring countries. A worrying trend, indeed.

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Gambling while giving

This is obviously not a good way to actually earn miles/cashback, but for me it’s a pretty fun way of maximising gains from my usual habits.

So I usually make an annual donation to Methodist Welfare Services – other than supposedly being a good thing to do, I guess this primarily offsets my guilt from not actively contributing anything else, and probably also the fact that I don’t actually tithe anywhere near 10% directly to my church.

Whatever the reason for giving (and whichever organisation is chosen), now is a particularly fun time to donate, if you hold a Standard Chartered card. As part of their GSS 2016 promotion, they are offering chances to win cashback prizes for transactions of at least $150 during the month of June (capped at two chances per day, registration required) – so I’m able to make two donations of $150 per day and qualify for this.

I was particularly intrigued after taking a look at the T&C and noting that you actually have a higher than 50% chance of winning something every transaction, since there are 40k winning ‘tickets’ and only a total of 70k ‘tickets’ being issued.

Screenshot 2016-06-18 10.56.47

My maths is a little rusty, but I believe that with an expected gain of $1.89 for each $150 transaction made, that’s effectively like an additional 1.26% cashback on top of the 3% I’ll be getting from the Manhattan card – 4.25% cashback isn’t too shabby! On top of that, there’s the 250% tax deduction as well (which can be a very significant sum, depending on your tax bracket).

Screenshot 2016-06-18 10.28.35

All in all, I’m probably especially pleased to have beat the odds (for now) by scoring a $20 cashback this morning!

Late to the Party

Ah, the perils of (amateur) travel hacking…

So I’ve previously been vaguely aware of the idea of using a prepaid card to increase mileage earn on general spend, but didn’t think it’d be worth the trouble (and expense) getting it done.

Recently, though, having more frequently enjoyed the fruits of miles accumulation, I figured that paying 1¢ for 4 miles (or, more accurately, 2.7 miles more than I usually do) isn’t that bad, since I kinda value 1 mile at 2¢ each.


So late last month I decided to get into the game by getting myself a FEVO card to pair with the DBS Woman’s card (yes, men can apply for it too) but it seems like the terms & conditions of the latter has just been updated to exclude prepaid cards.

In short, it seems like I’ve sunk a small sum of money (and effort) purchasing the card and topping it up… all for naught!

Maybe it’s time to consider getting that HSBC Advance card?

Google Local Guides

So I’ve recently taken to submitting updates on Google Maps. This is a large part due to their Local Guides programme, which awards some perks in recognition of contributions. I’ve not really enjoyed said perks very much yet (the one that attracted me the most was the possibility of early access for new apps, but I’d missed one such opportunity as I hadn’t contributed sufficiently at that time), but it’s been pretty fun uploading stuff, especially since I’ve been cataloging some shots of places for my Project 366, anyway. 

What I’ve found especially motivating, actually, were these auto-generated mailers congratulating me on the popularity of my pictures. From what I can tell, the popularity is derived more from the popularity of the actual place and the scarcity of current pictures for the location, rather than the actual quality of the picture – for instance, my first photo to exceed 1000 views was an old one for the YUSU shop on the University of York campus, while the current high-scorer at 3000+ views is a picture of the Habit outlet we’d gone to on our recent trip to NYC.

Ultimately, I know these figures aren’t really all that meaningful – but it’s certainly rather motivational to receive quantitative data that these contributions are of use to people out there!