- minute forty four -

Movies, Craft Beer and Geek Stuff

Picture this scenario – You use a monthly budgeting spreadsheet to record your spending and provide a running total of how much disposable cash you have at any given point of the month. You know your spreadsheet is rock solid and you’re never out by more than a few pence when you balance it against your online banking, which you do a few times throughout the month. Then, one Monday morning, you log onto your online banking and you think “Shit! I’m miles out! I’ve got £££ less than I thought I had!”. Turns out, you’re wrong. Your bank has earmarked some direct debits a couple of days before clearing them and some contactless payments haven’t cleared yet, even though you made them a couple of days ago. So what you have is an account balance and an available balance, both showing you inaccurate information. Handy, right?

This happened to me the other week.

After a day or two I figured out what my bank had done and my account and my spreadsheet balanced out nicely, just as they should. But what a bloody annoying move on my bank’s part. Why, in 2016 aren’t transactions instantaneous? I mean, it’s not like I’m doing any foreign transactions here; they’re all domestic and all very much normal. This was the reason I signed up for Mondo. Mondo’s big selling point is that your iPhone becomes your one true banking portal. You can add/send funds easily and your balance and statement update instantly as soon as you make a purchase so you always know where you stand.

So I’ve had it just over a week and I want to take you through my experience.

The good

Firstly, the instant balance updates and alerts work flawlessly. To give you an idea how good this is, on the couple of times I had to use chip and pin (more on that later), my phone gave me a notification of the spend before I even removed my card from the reader. The app is slick as hell, too. The UI is totally simple but anything you’d want to see is right there on the landing screen. Current balance, total spent so far today and an easy to follow rolling “statement” showing what you did and where. Not only that, you get handy notifications when you do other things like change your PIN at an ATM or add your Mondo card to PayPal. Support is great as well. The Twitter account is very responsive and you can access live chat with support or the community forum right from within the app (I didn’t have to use either of these).


Mondo Home Screen


There are a bunch of really cool features when you drill down into individual transactions, too. You can see your total spend to date with that retailer, your average spend there and you can also upload scanned receipts using the in-app camera or from your photo library, the latter being preferable due to the fact you can use your document scanning app of choice to produce properly formatted receipt scans. You can also shame yourself by seeing how much you’ve spent at McDonald’s. That may be a bad thing…

Another awesome thing about Mondo is the fact that, because it’s essentially a pre-paid MasterCard, it’s great for travelling with. Mondo don’t charge you for foreign transactions, they just convert it at whatever MasterCard’s exchange rate is at that time and debit that amount; way cheaper than using your bank-issued debit card abroad. There’s a high chance I’ll be travelling for work in the coming months so this will be a godsend.

The Bad

Keep in mind these negatives are to be taken on board with the knowledge that Mondo is still in beta and, because it isn’t a fully fledged bank, there are some services it cannot yet provide. That being said, these are some of the bugbears I had.

Initial top-up to receive your card is £100. While this isn’t too much of an issue, it does mean committing quite a decent chunk of cash to a system you have never used before and represents a bit of a leap of faith, especially given the next point, and that is that you can’t transfer funds back out to your bank account. This is because Mondo isn’t yet a fully-fledged bank and, as such, your account doesn’t have an account number and sot code for BACS transfers. You can withdraw your funds at an ATM and, if you want, pay them back into your account, but this is a ball ache and you’re at the mercy of the ATM only being able to dish out cash in multiples of £10 so if your balance is, say, £59.97 there’s the better part of a tenner you can’t “get out” of Mondo. This, again, presents more of a problem when you consider my next point… You can only top up in increments of £10, so you can’t just top up £0.03 and withdraw your whole £60.

The contactless implementation isn’t properly supported by all retailers, it seems. I only experienced it with Morrison’s but the forum seems to tell the same story of a few outlets where contactless fails and you have to fall back on chip and pin. This is minor, but does detract from the otherwise very slick system. What detracts from it even more, though is the fact that Mondo does not support Apple Pay, other than for adding funds to your account. This was my biggest issue with Mondo, by far. It was especially surprising, given that the service launched exclusively on iOS. I’ve become a true Apple Pay fan since my bank introduced it late last year and being without it does seem like a pretty big step backwards, especially considering Mondo’s USP of being the bank for people who live on their smartphones. There is hope, here though…


Told you the Twitter account was active…


Early impressions are good. The app does solve my problem of inaccurate balances and embarrassingly slow banking processes, and it also adds a really nice way of managing my monthly disposable cash. Because my trusty budget spreadsheet tells me at the start of the month how much I have to spend after bills and savings, I can just dump that amount (or as near as the top-up area will allow) to Mondo and let that be my running total. While the service is in beta, I’ll likely do this weekly rather than chuck all of my spending money into it in one go, just in case the service fails and I’m stuck not being able to access my money.

I’m super-excited to see how the service develops

A few months ago I got an iPad. When they were first released, I like a lot of people looked on them with a doubtful “really?” considering them to be nothing more than a giant iPod touch. When a guy I know bought one on a whim I got a chance to really use one for more than five minutes in an Apple store and my opinion did a total 180°. It all made sense. Using the large touch screen simply feels like the most natural way to use a computer. Instead of interacting with a device which moves a cursor which then interacts with a UI element, you just interact with the UI directly.



Thoughts on Tweetbot

At some point during the night of the 13th of April, iPhone app kings Tapbots launched their long-awaited twitter client, Tweetbot. Having purchased other apps by Tapbots (Calcbot and Convertbot) and been more than a little bit satisfied, I downloaded Tweetbot first thing Thursday morning and removed Twitter for iPhone from my home screen. What follows are my initial thoughts after using the app for a day.


Just for fun, I want to give you my personal mobile phone history. Good or bad; this is every mobile I’ve ever owned.

I had to rack my brains and do some serious internet combing to find model numbers and pictures of them all but I think I’ve documented them fairly well. So have a read… if you’re a total nerd like me.


If you’re an iPhone user then you’ve probably at least heard about the Tesco clubcard app. The simple app displays a scannable barcode that you can use instead of your full sized wallet clubcard or mini, car keys version. Great, right? Well yeah, for what it’s worth it’s pretty good (even though it only scans on the newest in-store barcode readers). But I think they’ve missed several tricks that would have made it an absolute blinder of an app.



Thoughts on DIBI

Yesterday I made the trip up to Gateshead (Newcastle) for the first ever DIBI web conference. I’d never been to any kind of industry conference before and needless to say, it was one hell of an experience.

So far the closest thing we’ve had to TV on iPhone is down-loadable episodes of our favourite shows or the venerable BBC iPlayer. Both of these are pretty good solutions but neither are actually television. Today I was pointed in the direction of TVCatchup for the iPhone by a tweet from Paul Stanton. I was expecting to see some half arsed excuse for TV streaming or some hacked pirate looking on demand service. What I got, however scored a 12 on my awesomeness scale of 1 to 10.


Today my friend, Dennis posted an article on his site The Beta News about how movie studio fat cats see twitter as detrimental to the movie industry. They are concerned that people are instantly coming out of a screening and tweeting their, often negative, opinions on the movie and this is acting as a catalyst for bad publicity. Where before you’d have to pick up a newspaper or a copy of Empire to read about the latest movies, now you have short, sharp opinions hand delivered to you in your Twitter feed. What used to happen in days or weeks is now happening in minutes. But is this actually bad for the movie industry? I don’t think so.


In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re in a global recession. People are losing their jobs left and right due to cut backs and companies folding. These are often skilled people who would be an asset to any company who could afford to have them on staff. Although it upsets me that these people are losing their jobs, what is starting to get me more and more riled up is the number of people in jobs that they don’t have the skills or competency level to do as effectively as someone else who is potentially out of work. People in office jobs that require them to use a computer every single day often have computer literacy levels FAR below what should be required.


There are so many ways to communicate online. E-Mail, twitter, Facebook, Forums, Blog comment threads and instant messaging all with their own set of accepted standards and unspoken rules for etiquette. It would be easy for the uneducated to commit a dreadful faux pas and embarrass themselves or offend the other party. So behold my 5 golden rules for good Internet communication. You can apply these to pretty much all of the above.