Is it worth bringing your kid to tech conferences?

I am back at school after attending the Microsoft Build conference in Seattle for the 3rd year, that means I am almost a veteran 😉 . There were a few major differences to the conference this year, the number 1 from a kids point of view being the new “Student Zone”. As well that, there were some changes to the Keynote and a few major technological breakthroughs that the sessions and 3 keynotes explored. Let’s get back to that number 1 difference, all the students at the conference 😉

Students at //Build

For the first time at a major tech conference, students were invited to attend and participate. This meant that instead of like last year where it was just me and lots of old people (sorry dad, love you) there were 500 students attending (and 6,000 oldies)! Microsoft allowed anyone with a ticket to bring a young family member to the conference, free of charge. I met a lot of kids and their ages ranged from 14 to 21 years.

So what did Microsoft have organised for us students?

We had a broad range of ‘student sessions’ to attend which encompassed ‘kid friendly’ sessions and a large designated area. The types of sessions ranged from learning basic coding skills, to career advice. One of the popular sessions was how to use the new “Minecraft education” program.

You can watch it all at
Unfortunately the student sessions were not recorded.

To Microsoft
I’d like to make a suggestion to record some of the important student sessions. There have been a few times I wanted to show my teachers and friends some of the sessions I attended. Also, other parents that are considering taking their kids, might want a closer look into the program.

And the final question…

Is it worth bringing your kid to //Build?

My experience with the student program and “Student Zone” was extremely positive. The sessions ranged from simple to complicated so they covered all levels.

Because of my dad I was a bit lucky and attended Regional Director (RD) sessions which were really interesting. These RD sessions had Microsoft Vice Presidents and other executives who spoke to us about the up and coming news. My favourite was Alex Kipman who talked to us about the Hololens and as much I would love to talk about it, I have signed an NDA, so all I can say is the Hololens 2 is going to be amazing! 😉

I spoke to many adults and they often talked about their home and the travel time to get to the conference in Seattle. That effort seems to be the biggest factor for most people. The content for the adults is recorded and put online so this probably sparks debate with conference attendees as to the cost/benefit as there are arguments to be made on both sides. For me, there is so much value as a student at this conference and I seriously couldn’t recommend it more. If you are a kid at school, and in the US, the dates can be organised so that only 3 days of school are missed and the things I have learnt for the conference are worth way more than 3 days. As an Aussie, a long way from Seattle, and if you are basically anywhere else the world, you will miss more than 3 days of school (much to my mums dismay). However each year, even my mum, a stickler for rules, has spoken to me about the likely upcoming value and then agreed to my trip to the USA, only because of the value that the conference provides.

After returning to school I have had to try to catch up with the work I missed – which took me about 2 full weekends, but for me, 2 weekends was worth the conference!

| Ruby |

Food in China is wildly different

Now that I have returned home to Australia from living in Hangzhou for 2 months, I can reflect on a range of beautiful intricacies of Chinese life.  After my last post about home and school life in China, I’d like to explore other differences which I noticed about life in China. Let’s talk about the most important…!


The food in China is remarkable and full of flavour. You don’t see “fast food” restaurants often (although food is almost always served faster than our “fast food”!). In China, you do sometimes see KFC and McDonald’s restaurants. Fast food has not taken off like in the west and I think this is because of the street food culture which offers cheaper, more accessible and, in my opinion, tastier food.

I also had a taste of country life, when l visited rural China. My friend Alvin took my dad and I to his father’s local village (referred to as ‘hometown’) to experience another dimension of local cuisine.

On the day we visited, there was a big celebration lunch held for the entire village as a family had built a new house. There were hundreds of people at the party and they were all given free food and gifts. The children were given “red pockets” with¥100 (AUD $20) and the adults were given high-end cigarettes. Somehow, 14 year old me was considered an adult 🙂 Reasonable assumption I guess since I was taller than most of the country-side adult men!

I have no problems seeing a chicken wing or breast, but this lunch included chicken feet and heads and it was a little confronting looking at it on my plate! The Chinese do not let any part of the animal go to waste. That is because throughout the ages the Chinese cuisine has developed off a society that maximised all food in their quest to feed 1 billion people.

While we were eating lunch, I watched the team of chefs busy preparing our next meal, dinner. I was beyond horrified as they began beheading the live turtles.

The sheer amount of (free) food!

If you look carefully you can see a few stacked dishes that we had already finished!

Notice how the Chinese use many parts of the animal that in Western culture is discarded, and how they prepare/butcher their animals in a different way

The dish using turtle meat

The amount of leftover food from just 1 dinner!

Food waste is not the only form of regular waste in China. I touched on this in my last blog about China but here is another example of how the Chinese use extreme amounts of plastic in everyday items that very arguably don’t need it.


Also, Chinese cooking only uses woks on cooktops, not ovens, so kitchens aren’t fitted with ovens and only sometimes have a microwave! Don’t worry, I solved this problem quick smart by buying an AUD $60 ‘toaster oven’ – which surprisingly worked very well.

I also learnt how the Chinese live without ovens! Each Friday I spent the afternoon with Alvin’s mum and she taught me common dishes that were made in Hangzhou province. We only used a wok and we would make at least 8 (small) dishes for 5 people; Alvin, Mr and Mrs Shen, and dad and I. I much prefer the way we made many smaller dishes because it would allow us to try more food and have more variety, unlike in western culture where you have a main dish (often centred around meat), and maybe 1 or 2 side dishes. This was often the highlight of my week, I loved making the food and you would be surprised how much you can communicate to someone through just hand gestures and just a few basic Chinese words.

Preparing the meal by chopping it up more finely because we used chopsticks instead of a knife and fork!

Me proud of myself for cooking and learning with Mrs Shen!

Another dinner with the Shen family and dad!

Another example of the small-sized dishes but widely-varied dinners. I made these with my Chinese tutor and her colleagues!

One of my favourite fruits is mango, and in China, mangoes are bigger, sweeter and the fruit shops provide the free service of chopping up fruit in 1 minute!

My friends at international school, however, we’re always seeking familiar food from western cafes. For example, we could go to a local Chinese shop and buy a few baozi (steamed buns) for 6¥(AUD $1.20), but my friends preferred to go to the only international cafe in the area and buy a sandwich or poutine (chips with cheese sauce) for 20¥(AUD $4). While both of these are equally filling, they prefered to pay more than 3 times as much for the international option. So while Chinese food is extremely cheap, easy to find and has large amounts of variety, the same cannot be said about international food. The price is anywhere from 50% to 400% more expensive than home prices for things like cereal and cheese and often you are forced to buy them online as it is nearly impossible to find them in local stores.

I love to bake and took my cookies and cakes to school multiple times a week. I’ve learnt that the Chinese have not discovered this amazing pastime. I found purchasing my baking supplies very difficult so I resorted to buying supplies online (bowls, scales, measuring cups, spatulas, butter, cocoa powder, vanilla etc), using and

The food in China was one of the best ways I experienced the new culture. I This was just a small bit of an insight into school and home during the last two months. Stay tuned for my next post about other differences between China and Australia!

| Ruby |

Life in China is not boring for a High School student

2 months ago my dad took me to China so he could work in his Hangzhou office and I have been attending an international school and now running the ‘family home’. My older sister Eve is currently completing her final year of high school exams (the HSC) and mum got the easy job of taking care of her 😉 It has been an incredible experience. Everything here feels different, it just depends on the degree of difference!I have so many things to talk about but let’s start with my school and home life in China – where I spend most of my time. Later I will do a post about other differences living in China.

Here is a quick video of a shopping centre precinct in Hangzhou:

I loved International School in China

I have been at Hangzhou International School for 2 months and it has flown by. From the kids to the teachers, and the environment, the experience has been extraordinary.

High school students in China start school at 7 am and finish at 6 pm (and if you are like most of the high school students in China, you will board, where it is compulsory to study until 9 pm or even 10 pm). Luckily for me, at my international school, they have standard ‘western’ school hours of 8 am to 3 pm. My hours were slightly different as I met my Chinese teacher each morning before school at 7.30am and did swim training after school until 5 pm each day.

My friends eating my homemade baked goods!

Obviously, there is no ‘standard international school’ but I think its fair to say as a general thing that teachers that travel the world to teach (at international schools) are pretty cool and not your standard teachers.

The first remarkable thing I noticed at an international school was when you walk around the cafeteria at lunch, you can easily hear more than 10 different languages being spoken at any time. Having students from all over the world means that the school cafeteria has to work very hard to make food that students of all religions can eat and all cultures will like. I found it awesome to be constantly surrounded by countless cultures and it is very difficult to be ‘the odd one out’ when everyone is so different that there is no ‘normal’!

I love Australia but over the last 2 months, I have received a ‘reality kick’ about other cultures. Australia is such a multicultural country that we really do not have a culture of our own (that probably has to do with the fact that modern Australia is only 200 years old). I now feel other countries’ cultures are much richer than I experience in Australia.

Chinese is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn and I can personally attest to its difficulty. I have been learning it for the last 2 months and my language is currently at the level of a ‘2 year old’. I’m not complaining though – I am pretty proud of myself! I am able to use Chinese in basic real-world scenarios, such as shopping, eating and changing my mind during a taxi ride. I have learnt words like:
– turn left/right
– I like / don’t like this
– can I have
– I want / don’t want this / that
and other basic vocabulary to describe people and my birthday etc. Oh, and I had to learn how to say “I don’t want spicy!”.

The only problem is sometimes when you only say a few words in Chinese, people think I can speak fluent Chinese and a blast of Chinese words come my way. Luckily I can solve that by saying 对不起,我中文不好 which is “sorry my Chinese is not good” 🙂

Translation: Hello Friend! Can you please take a photo?

I ran the family home

Try using a washing machine when it is not in English!

Without my mum, I have to do a lot of things by myself which I am not used to. It took quite some time after each day. I would come home and be busy cleaning the apartment, washing clothes, shopping, cooking (and of course looking after my dad 😂). What makes this harder is that I do not have a lot of anything. E.g. when I am cleaning the apartment, I do not have basic cleaning products and equipment which makes even simple tasks of cleaning up after dinner many times more difficult. Then the simple task of buying cleaning products is also difficult when you can’t read the labels!

Every day in China has been an awesome culture shock. I have not stopped learning and had countless new experiences. This was just a small bit of an insight into school and home during the last two months. Stay tuned for my next post about other differences between China and Australia!

| Ruby |

Reducing plastic, one step at a time

It started with her lunchbox. Then the plastic bags at the shops. Now I see everything that she sees – covered in a silent poison which surrounds our lives.

Let me take you back to the beginning of her story. seven years ago, my older sister, Eve, came to my mum and said

“Mum, why do you wrap our sandwiches in plastic wrap? Why don’t you put it in a container?”

My mum considered this and said

“I guess it is just what I am used to; I used to have my sandwiches in paper bags but the plastic wrap keeps them fresher.”

My sister responded with

“Mum, I don’t like throwing out my plastic wrap, so can you please use containers?”.

This wasn’t too much of a hassle, it did involve a little extra dishwasher space but nevertheless, my mum agreed: “OK, sure!” That was the first (and minor) step to reducing the plastic in our lives.

A few months later, my sister had a similar conversation with my mum about the little portioned sized snacks which were individually packaged with plastic. She asked

“Could you please buy our snacks in bulk and pack them in reusable plastic containers?”

In this case my sister Eve was referring to the little yogurt tubs my mum had previously bought instead of buying the little individual containers, there would be less waste to buy a 2kg tub and manually separate the yogurt into containers. Of course mum saw more containers to wash each day, leaving her less time in her day, but reluctantly mum bowed under the weight of Eve’s environmental concerns. Throughout the years Eve became stricter and stricter with the amount of plastic (and in general all unnecessary garbage) that our family produced.

I remember two years ago when my sister asked mum to reduce another form of regular plastic waste, the many plastic bags for groceries. Eve pressured mum to use fabric bags when grocery shopping. These days, thanks to Woolworths new plastic bag ban, it doesn’t seem like a big deal today, but two years ago it was not a particularly common thing to do.

From mum’s reaction, this was by far the most difficult of Eve’s requests. My sister is one of the most patient and kind people I know, but if mum forgot to bring her fabric bags, mum was then subject to a lecture of the terrible things that plastic did to the environment. Not only did mum have to remember to bring the bags, but remember to bring enough of them. If mum only brought 5 fabric bags and had to use 2 plastic bags, Eve would protest and

refuse to eat the food out of those two bags. My sister’s frustrating habits were well-meaning but also an inconvenience to our family (well, mostly mum), but over time our habits have changed.

We can now see that the steps Eve forced us to take were our way to help the environment, to reduce our plastic intake and to help us all see the world in a new light. It is clear that the steps that we have taken are not complete, our family continues to improve, now with everyone onboard. Our family still needs to reduce the amount of plastic in our lives and the amount of waste we create, whether that be the grocery products we buy or “fast fashion” trends we sometimes follow.

People who don’t actively take part in the movement of trying to reduce the plastic they use should be educated to understand the extent of our plastic problem. It is known that plastic will never fully decompose and will take 1000 years to reach its smallest

possible form. Plastic that has been slowly decomposing in the ocean is eaten by the sea life that lives there. The seafood that we eat today has tiny bits of plastic that the fish have consumed because we have allowed it to infiltrate the food chain.

After living with my sister’s environmental passion, let me tell you my story. For as long as I can remember, I have loved to bake. I love everything about it (except the cleaning up part). Now I have always known that there are downsides to the delicious treats I make – “I minute on your lips; a lifetime on your hips”. But what I never considered is the lifetime of plastic I have created, so taking the information my sister taught me, I began to notice my environmental footprint. Becoming aware of products that were wrapped in plastic, such as sugar: packed in a plastic bag, vanilla: packed in a plastic bottle (and if that wasn’t enough, a plastic seal and a plastic wrap that encased the seal), chocolate: packaged in plastic. I have started storing foods in sealed containers instead of zip lock bags and keeping my food in containers instead of wrapping them in single use plastics. Of course I am not perfect. I have not found solutions to all of the sources of waste that are associated to my cooking and generally living a teenage life, but I have been reducing my plastic use one step at a time, every day, every week.

We know that plastic is a problem. It has remained the most common category of rubbish that is picked up on the annual Clean Up Australia day for the last 20 years. The trouble with our society is that even buying a reusable container to be environmentally friendly takes you a step back because it itself is wrapped in plastic! There are countless difficulties that occur when trying to reduce the waste you create; take-out at restaurants, groceries and even fresh produce are often wrapped in plastic. Recently I noticed that recycled toilet paper is also packaged in plastic too!

My sister Eve, Mum and I

Looking back I can see that the changes Eve forced us to make were for the better.  Reducing plastic has been both positive and rewarding. So, the question is: what do you have to lose by also embarking on a journey to reduce your waste?

Love, Ruby

Microsoft Build 2018 – An overview by a 14 year old

I have just come back from a very exciting trip overseas to Seattle, USA where I attended Microsoft Build 2018 conference. Last week I blogged about meeting Satya, again. Since then, Satya even tweeted our meeting!

I am back at school in Australia now and I have been telling my friends my highlights from the conference. Let me tell you about the coolest things I learnt at Build (well, cool for a 14-year-old)!

My top 8 from the Build conference:

1. Microsoft Launcher: I already use iMessage for my computer and now PC users will have a better version of that, they no longer need to pull their phone out of their pocket for a text or alert because it will now pop-up on their computer (and it is available for iPhone and Android!)

‘None of us here can live without phones, so neither should your PC’
– Shilipa Ranganathan

2. Bing seamless 3D maps: I really loved the demo where the 3D maps were overlaid on a diagram of an office. I don’t use Bing often but when I saw this demo I was super impressed! (See the 3 images below)

Figure: (1 of 3) The original 3D blueprint

Figure: (2 of 3) Using Bing Maps to turn the blueprint in a 3D map

Figure: (3 of 3) Using the Microsoft HoloLens to interact with the blueprint and find the problem


3. Notepad improvements: You use Notepad more than you think so it is good to see little fixes finally being done. I think everyone in the audience thought this one was quite funny and surprising because there was a lot of laughter.

4. Microsoft Word Grammar improvements: Spell check currently uses the dictionary and thesaurus uses grammar rules, but new words and the way people write can be different, this new feature uses machine learning to power grammar checks.

5. Revenue increase in the Microsoft Store: Developers of apps now receive 85% of revenue (vs Apple’s 70%) – Basically app developers are getting more money.

6. Adaptive Cards: Inside Outlook, Skype and Microsoft Teams you will find a new embedded feature which is similar to a form to fill in rather than clicking a link and leaving the app. It is designed to avoid disrupting the flow – currently there are forms for GitHub, calendar and Dynamics payments so far.

This was the best video I found for the keynotes: “The Microsoft Build Keynote in 15 minutes”


The sessions were great. The 2 most memorable sessions I attended:

7. An introduction to Blockchain with Mark Russinovich.

Everything about this session was complicated, (even his name!) but it was interesting. I look forward to the day I understand every word Mark says! Not understanding the session was the weirdest feeling: understanding the words he was saying having so little idea what on earth they all meant. I can imagine it’s a bit like if you read the texts between me and my friends, despite understanding the language you would probably fail to understand what we are saying because we use a lot of shorthand language.

What I understood from the session was that online currencies (such as bitcoin) using blockchain are not as secure for payments as I thought. Let me try to explain: when a record in a ledger is created, a ‘ladder’ is also created. The longest ladder continues and the others are ‘forgotten about’.

The problem with this is that the short ladder with the payment, may be forgotten but the goods may have already been exchanged. Mark’s recommendation: wait at least 60 minutes for the payment before exchanging goods, obviously this risk is acceptable for a $3 coffee but for a massive payment it is definitely a good idea to wait!

8. Amplify your Awesome.

This was the last session I attended and I feel like this is a nice way to end the blog. The talk had 7 speakers who each had a timed 5-minute presentation and 15 seconds per slide. It felt like the speakers had really practised because time constraints on a presentation make it a lot harder even though it is shorter. I was on the receiving end of their talk and, to say the least, it lived up to its title. Every talk was awesome, the time constraints meant the speakers narrowed down their content into only the most interesting parts and they were all funny. And it wasn’t all about tech, which was a nice break from the last 3 days!

Until next year,

I asked the CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella a question, again

I blogged my experience last year at Build 2017 and I asked Satya Nadella a question. It was one of the most amazing experiences and something that I remember and don’t take for granted. I was 13 and it was my first tech conference. This year I got to ask Satya a question for the 2nd time.

Yesterday I had just watched the Microsoft Build Conference keynote.

After the keynote my dad got an email, asking if Satya could have parental permission to meet myself and 2 other kids. I guess I got lucky because I was one of the few under 18 kids at Build. Disa Covaci (10 years), Anna Covaci (12 years) and I all came to meet Satya and have a short conversation.

MS Build, Seattle 2018

There are so many things I could have asked Satya but I ended up following up my question from last year because I was interested in seeing where Microsoft’s path had gone. Last year I asked where, ideally, would the new AI technology that they were demo-ing be used in the perfect world and Satya told me that he hoped it would help people with disabilities.

So 1 year later I asked which disability – such as vision, hearing or paraplegia – that Microsoft’s technology would benefit the most from the new AI services being developed. His answer to my question was: “All of them”.

Satya followed up by telling me it is important for young people, like myself, to be able to pick up a tool, like VS Code or Scratch and develop something useful (I assume coding using all the “smart” services that Microsoft have available). I think he believes the cool AI-powered software is now simple enough for kids to use and develop.

Here is the video of me talking to Satya:

My school in Sydney offers a few courses which teach teenagers the basics of developing in Visual Studio Code. Next year I want to come back to the Build Conference with the ability to read and understand not only HTML and JavaScript but the Azure AI services.

I feel privileged to have met this extremely empathetic CEO and he has now inspired me to look further into these emerging technologies.


My Time at Microsoft Build 2017

As you know from my last blog, I’ve just attended Microsoft Build 2017. My dad has been attending this conference for my whole life and I assumed it was a boring “adult” conference. I was surprised by how much fun this tech conference was!

Most of the conference was just attending sessions and walking around the hub where they had so many awesome new technologies for demos.

On top of that I did an interview for Channel 9 Microsoft (not the real Channel 9 on TV for all my Aussie friends!). I think they were interested to know what a kid was doing at the conference!
Watch Video:

During the day I stayed with my dad and the rest of the RD’s in a “special” room. I got to meet a few Microsoft bigwigs Scott Guthrie, Kevin Gallo, Kevin Scott and as you guys know, Satya Nadella.

Check out these wicked photos! 😉

Kevin Scott – Boss of IT at Microsoft and LinkedIn

Kevin Gallo – Boss of Microsoft Developers

Satya Nadella – Boss of Microsoft (he replaced Bill Gates and Steve Balmer)

Scott Guthrie in the red shirt! He is the boss of Microsoft Azure.

I can tell you guys, this conference is so much fun and definitely not just for old people.


I asked the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, a question

Yesterday I was lucky enough to ask one of the world’s top CEO’s, Satya Nadella from Microsoft, a question about AI (artificial intelligence). Before I tell you about his answer, let me give you some background.

Today I was at Microsoft Build Conference 2017 in Seattle. This year Microsoft invited 100 students who sat in the front row for the opening keynote. I was the only Australian and also the youngest kid! 🙂 I knew it was Microsoft’s most important conference and as soon as I walked in the room I understood how big the Build conference really is. There were more than 6,000 people there and I have never seen a bigger conference room in my life. There were screens that were literally 50m long!

The first person to come out onstage was Satya Nadella, seeing him in person was the highlight of the keynote for me. After Satya, there were many other speakers too. Scott Guthrie came on stage and spoke about AI, machine learning and security. Some of the machine learning demos were amazing and he also talked about how it could be used for evil, such as people attacking servers and losing privacy. However, the question Microsoft proposed was how can we make technology great for the good of human beings?

Of course, all of the speakers said much that was very complicated and I struggled to understand all of it but I did understand the gist of all the talks. It was all very exciting and there were so many cool examples and so many ideas I thought of:
– Wouldn’t it be great if hospitals could check that the staff washed their hands after using the toilets?
– Wouldn’t it be good if security cameras could spot dangerous things that appeared in places you walk or drive?
– Wouldn’t it be good if I could make a program that watched people in our house entrance and sent a message to my mum if someone forgot to take off their shoes?

After the keynotes, some of the special Microsoft people (they call them RD’s and MVP’s) went into a separate room until 4 pm. I was invited too as my dad was there. In the room, everyone asked questions to Scott Guthrie for an hour or so, and then Satya came in. Satya’s answers were quite long and he took about 7 questions in total – the last question was mine! Everyone laughed when I put my hand up.

I found his keynote at the beginning of the day very interesting and I had a big question that was nagging at the back of my mind. I asked: “In relation to AI products, what is the best possible product you could see?”

Can you see me asking Satya Nadella a question?

His response was very detailed and he talked about his desire for software to solve problems that affect people with disabilities. He said that the issue was very close to his heart.

This reminds me of one of the nicest parts of the keynote. They showed some software built for Emma. Emma is a young woman with Parkinson’s who used to be a designer. She had a tremor in her hand and that stopped her from doing what she loved. A Microsoft team made a device that stopped her shaking so she could design again.

It was a very inspirational video that you will love

Last night I did some research to identify why Satya answered in relation to disabilities and worked out that he has 3 children and 2 of them have a disability.

Thank you to so many people at Microsoft and all of the Regional Director’s who made me feel very welcome this week. During the week I had many RD’s show me around or talk to me, sharing their knowledge and telling me funny stories about themselves and about my dad! It was an amazing experience and I will never forget it. Rocky Lhotka and Dr Neil even let me plait their hair!


Living in the City

I live in a house and I’ve always lived in a house. We live on the coast of Sydney, in a not particularly busy and populated part of Coogee. I’ve often looked at the tall buildings in streets of Sydney and said to myself “I wonder what it would be like to live in a tall building”.

For 3 months our house was in renovations, so my family and I lived in the heart of the City of Sydney next to George Street Cinemas on Kent Street. After being there for 3 months, I now know the city really well! I know all the streets, shops, underground tunnels often linking shopping centres and countless shortcuts – I learnt new things every day.

Living in the city was a totally different experience. Let me tell you why:

Living with less and shopping more.

I knew living in a city apartment would be a lot smaller than living in our house and in the city I shared a room with my sister Eve. Sharing a room with Eve forced me to be more organised, something I brought home.

The family lived with less and we all got used to that quickly. However, I missed lots of little things and that often meant I had to spend more time getting these things from the nearby shops. For example, if I need batteries at home then I just grab a spare one, but in the apartment, I would need to go out and buy them and waste 20 minutes. Because these things took time, we learnt to live in a very minimalistic manner, it made me realise how little we really needed to get by.

There were so many shops down below!

Easy Transport Options but more Exercise

The city apartment was so convenient! Being in the city meant we were about 500m away from everything: grocery stores, shops, train stations and restaurants. Our serviced apartment was much closer to school, which meant I would walk there or catch conveniently placed public transport.

We were just so close to everything, Walking was actually easier than driving especially when you think of the parking. I found myself walking everywhere. This was great because I did more exercise (steps on my Fitbit). I think I was doing an extra 10km more walking per week in the city!

Starting our walk to school under the Queen Victoria building.


Sometimes we allowed dad to walk to school with us 😉 He always insisted on the scenic route!

Almost at school!


Getting dinner with my sister


Sleep and Noise

The city is always buzzing with energy and with noise. The Meriton apartments which we were staying in were skyscrapers, but even on the 54th floor, when I would open the windows, I could hear the city below! The rooms were so well insulated from noise, that when you closed the windows the sound went away.

Mirrors on the ceiling. OMG!

Mirrors at all angles.

The difference

The whole family liked living in the city. One big difference I noticed was the amount of waiting you did for the lift. And a couple of times they stopped working and we had to walk down 54 flights of stairs before school. Much, much harder than you think!

I asked my sister what she liked about living in the city, she said:
“I felt like I was living at the peak of human civilisation”.

Looking down the gap in the lift was very scary!


Have you ever lived away from home without all your ‘stuff’? That was my experience, what was yours?



My Experience with the Microsoft Hololens

Recently my Grandma passed away, and my sister and I posted about her and the speeches we made for her. Soon after my Grandma’s brother passed away and my mum and our whole extended family have been very sad. So last weekend at the wake, I took the Hololens to brighten the mood. Everyone tried it and I even convinced the Grandma’s to try it on. You can see in the video it was hilarious!!

I was lucky enough to be one of the first people in Australia to get the opportunity to try out Microsoft’s latest gadget, the Hololens. It is a developer edition that my dad received for work. I have used it for a week now playing games, exploring our solar system and watching movies. I believe that the Hololens is awesome fun and will be very popular. This might even be the Apple iPhone moment for Microsoft. As soon as I put it on, I could tell that it was incredibly well developed; it wasn’t slow or blocky, it was smooth and impressive. Let me tell you about my experience:

Putting it on.
As a 12 year old child, putting it on was a bit difficult. BTW it does have a warning that children 15 years and under should not use it, presumably because they think we would break it. 🙂 I initially struggled with being able to see the screen; I was always either squinting up or down, making it difficult to see. Maybe this was because my head is too small.

A Hololens is just over 1/2 a kilogram and working with it is a totally different feeling to working with a computer, and I certainly can’t imagine working with it for hours at a time! I had mine on for about an hour or so at a time before I took a break. When I took it off, well let’s just say I was hallucinating! I kept thinking there were screens around me and my head felt really light, sort of like when you have just got off a hoverboard after riding around on it for hours.

Things to do on the Hololens:
The Hololens has games, applications and the internet, basically everything that the computer has and that I would need. My favourite app of all is the game called RoboRaid – that requires a bit of running around and dodging – and of course to relax watching movies on Netflix is fun! The Hololens also has some awesome applications, like Solar Explorer, where you can see our solar system and everything in it, in great detail! The Hololens also has an incredibly clear image and 64 GB of storage, which does not seem enough when I compare it with my laptop which has 1 TB. I asked Stephen Carter about this and he told me that the size is enough when you consider the size of average Hololens applications are less than 100 MBs.


Me eating breakie while using the hololens, no need to worry about dirtying anything!

Overall Experience:
The Microsoft Hololens is an amazing piece of technology, but I am no geek! Any geek would be able to tell you about the special features of the Hololens, which apps you can use to code in it etc, but I can’t!  I did see a Hololen’s presentation by Stephen Carter in the SSW Chapel and it was all about the history of the Hololens and what you can make for it.

I sadly don’t have any money but I can tell you guys if I did, the Microsoft Hololens is definitely worth it. The developer edition is $3,000, which is very pricey, but after a while, I can imagine the price will drop substantially. Even if the price doesn’t drop, you could compare the cost of getting it instead of a computer. If you included the cost of a second monitor, mouse and keyboard, it will often be close to that. On the Hololens can have as many desktops as you would like, no need for a mouse or keyboard (and obviously a second monitor or computer), unless you are doing work in which case you would need a keyboard for typing.

So if you guys get a Hololens, tell me what you think in the comments below.