Pay Attention to Your Environment

As I write this, the outside temperature is 63 °F. It isn't terribly cold, but definitely I would think a vast majority would agree that there is no need to air condition a space below this temperature.

As I write this, I hear 3-4 air conditioners humming outside in the alley behind my house.

As I write this, the temperature in my upstairs office (with two computers running) is 73 °F. Perfect for me. If I wanted it cooler, I'd open more windows (I had to close some of them a few hours ago because it was getting a bit too chilly in here).

So why do I hear the constant hum of air conditioners every year starting in March and lasting until November? I suspect it is because newer homes are built pretty efficiently, and that means the energy transfer from inside to out is pretty low. But we run all kinds of things in our home that puts out heat. Computers, refrigerators, TV's, lights, etc. Our own bodies generate heat.

It is great that we've built the technology to so reduce the energy transfer between the interior/exterior of our homes, especially in winter and summer. But in spring and fall, those people with allergies or who just don't pay attention to the fact that it is 15 degrees colder outside than what they are air conditioning their homes to, pour tons of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.

It drives me nuts.

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Intuit MUST Fail

Why is capitalism failing the personal finance software market?

I've been using Quicken since 1996. I'm a Mac guy, but Quicken for Mac was notoriously horrible back then, so I used Quicken for PC. I've heard reports of Quicken for Mac being better at times, and I haven't looked at it in years now (I suppose I'm about to). In 1996, Quicken for PC was decent; but not something I'd rave about.

Somewhere along the line, I was forced to upgrade my version of Quicken (I think to Quicken 2000). Quicken 2000 was on par with whatever they were calling Quicken in 1996. That is to say, it ws decent, but nothing to rave about.

Since then, they have sunset Quicken every three years. When this happened in 2003, I was angry that I was being forced again to upgrade, but I didn't bother looking for an alternative (other than looking again at Quicken for Mac, and deciding against it). Then 2006 rolls around, and I'm so angry that I spent a good amount of time looking for an alternative to Quicken. In fact, pretty much the only time I use Windows is when I need to use Quicken, so I was motivated to find something decent for the Mac. After wasting many hours trying various products, I came to the conclusion that I still needed Quicken, so I bought Quicken 2006.

After I purchased Quicken 2006, I discovered that the usability had taken a significant downturn. Who the hell is writing this software? Who decided it was a good idea to make the Security field only 8 characters wide (which contains things like "American Bond Fund of America Class F1")?!?? Despite having lowered my productivity with this version, I stuck with it... I learned how to work around its shortcomings.

Now they just sunset that version, and I bought Quicken 2009 (this time upgrading to the Home & Business edition of the product). What a piece of crap! I do see that I can now adjust the width of the Security column, but the software regularly slows down to a crawl, and I get the busy cursor for as long as 60 seconds while it tries to enter a new transaction. That is unusable. I'm done with them, and I will find an alternative to use on the Mac. I don't care if it has less features anymore... I don't care if it can't import my 13 years of financial history... Intuit has finally made a product so crappy (and FORCED ME to abandon their functioning software), that I will pretty much accept the next best thing.

Now, one can say that this is the way capitalism is suppose to work, but I want to know why it has taken 13 years to come to this? Why is it that Intuit is still top dog of the personal finance software domain? Where is the competition?

I'll post a comment on this entry when I choose my replacement

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Letter to CareFirst

November 25, 2008

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
840 First Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20065

Dear CareFirst,

It is my understanding that you are a non-profit organization. You recently sat on a $754 Million surplus on $2 Billion in revenues. Many would call that a 37.7% profit. With that in mind, I'd like an explanation for why I am seeing a 17% rate increase beginning on January 1, 2009 from $xxx/month to $xxx/month.


Ryan Sandridge

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Dancing Matt

Watch the video. Don't ever ask what the lyrics are to the song, they aren't happy... [update: apparently the sad lyrics are from his 2nd video, and the one I've included here is his 3rd, and the lyrics are from the poem "Stream of Life" by Rabindranath Tagore] Enjoy the music. If you want to know more, go to wherethehellismatt.com and read all about it. Fascinating stuff. Makes me wonder why I don't do this sort of thing.

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Apple Wasting My Time

I am a master procrastinator. In other words, I'm a master at wasting my own time. But I hate it when others waste my time. Verizon wasted hours upon hours of my time back in 2003/2004, and I've not been a customer of theirs since. I'm still bitter about it.

Lately, Apple has been wasting more and more of my time. For starters, Leopard has decreased my productivity rather than increased it. I find it ironic that their commercials make such fun of the Vista users downgrading to XP, when in all honesty, Tiger was a better product than Leopard.

How is Leopard wasting my time? For starters, they've built a new firewall that is terribly hard to figure out. More than once, I've not been able to ssh tunnel to my source control management server. Every time this happens, I've got to go and try to remember why it isn't working with Leopard. Preview (which I prefer, or at least preferred over Adobe Reader) is buggy as hell in Leopard (when using two monitors, it centers documents half on one monitor and half on the other!!! iCal now takes more clicks and/or keystrokes to set up an event than it did in Tiger. Apple Mail asks me EVERY SINGLE TIME I LAUNCH IT if I want to reorganize my folders... NO! Where the hell is the "Don't ask me again" box? Time Machine seems flakey, it's great when it is working, but seems to mysteriously forget how to connect to the backup drive periodically.

Most recently, I've been trying to buy an iPhone 3G. They are sold out everywhere. How annoying. They had us wait until WWDC for the announcement, but they weren't ready to release it so we waited another month. Then they release it, but every location seems to be immediately out of stock. So they create this clever little page that allows you to check inventory the night before, in order to save you wasted trips. Great! Well, it is great if their web page listing store hours was accurate. I saw last night that Clarendon had all three models of the iPhone in stock, and the store opens at 10 am. So I get to the store at 9:30 anticipating the need to wait in line. Guess what? The store opened at 9 am, and they already sold out of all their iPhones. The rather unsympathetic and arrogant employee I spoke with did inform me that the store opens at 8 am tomorrow (although the website says they open at 10 am).

I'm sure I'll cool off, and change my mind, but I'll likely spend much of my day procrastinating things I should be doing, by figuring out how to make the switch to Linux, and which phone to buy rather than the iPhone.

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