Saturday, June 25, 2005
Friday (Thursday night?) I attempted to import all my recent financial transactions into Grisbi. This would normally be a short process-- log in to my bank account online and "download transactions" into Money or Quicken. Since I have accounts with three different banking institutions (One in Michigan, one in Oklahoma, and Ing Direct), this should have only taken a few minutes.
However, I found out that while Grisbi imports data just fine, there's something funny with the way my Michigan bank exports the data. It just isn't formatted correctly. Combined with the fact that there aren't any Ing Direct transactions yet, I was only able to import from my Oklahoma bank. My Oklahoma bank is phenominal. The online interface is clean and professional, it supports at least 3 different export file types (They do CSV! Brilliant!), the monthly statements look much more business-like than any other that I've ever seen (which isn't saying too much, actually), and it has an export history of about 90 days.
After I imported and categorized the last three months of transactions, I discovered that I go to Wal-Mart WAY too much. More on that below.
Update 2: Last week's project.
Last night I uploaded some pictures to Walmart.com for one-hour photo processing. After being impressed with their regular one-week processing, I thought it would be good to have something to compare it with.
I uploaded the pictures (finally! It was a bit of a struggle. The uploads kept timing out. It took three or four tries before it worked) at about 7:30, and planned on picking them up sometime around 8:45. My thought was that I could find the pictures I wanted to print after dinner, upload them, study for about an hour, then go pick them up.
I left at 8:35, got there shortly thereafter (more on that later!), and found that the 4x6's and the 5x7's were all ready to go. However, the 8x10's weren't - somehow the on-site photo lab had missed them, so they were not ready for me until this morning. On the bright side, since the goof-up was on their end, there was no charge for them!
Update 2.5: Last week's project, extended
Since I was going in to Walmart this morning anyway, I decided to try out their onsite "Instant Print" photo processing.
The pictures I wanted to get instaprinted were from about 4 different cameras- including a print from a four year old, .81 megapixel Polaroid PDC-700. The results were true to the advertisement in that they were very quickly printed out. However, probably because of the quick-print photo printer they use, the colors were a tad on the blotchy side. The paper was also a lower quality than the paper they use in the big machine.
The print quality was probably about the same as you would get of a home printer on photo paper, and really not too impressive. I think I'll be using their one-hour in the future. The one-hour is also a bit cheaper than the instant print at about two-thirds of the price.
Update 3: ...
Earlier this week a friend of mine flew out to San Francisco to take the California First Year Law Student's eXam. Since he drove up to the city and flew out, he left his car with me for the week he's going to be gone.
His car is very nice. It's a royal blue '03 mustang. and it drives smooth.
Since he left instructions regarding it's availability ("it's available"), I took it for a drive last night.
Wow. It's a lot harder to drive within the speed limit than it is with my car. :-)
Thursday, June 23, 2005
This week, I'm trying out some accounting software. Specifically, Grisbi.
Grisbi is a single-entry accounting system designed for home users to track their income and expenditures. It was originally written in France, and although it has been completely translated into most of the major languages, it retains it's euro-centric roots (i.e., default currency is the euro, support for multiple currencies simultaneously , each account can have a native currency, exchange rates are used to calculate account values in different currencies - it's kind of neat). It was initially written for linux, and released under the GPL as Open Source. It has been ported to Windows and, I think, Mac OS X.
I had tried out Grisbi under linux several weeks ago and found it to be rather... obtuse. I hadn't used a personal accounting program since Quicken for DOS several years ago. Yesterday, however, I ran across a newsforge article concerning Grisbi and it explained how the process worked. The brief tutorial was very helpful, and I was able to get started with it without much difficulty.
I'll be trying this out for a few months to see how well it works - I don't have much to compare it with, so it'll probably come up favorably. It supports transaction importing via MS Money export files, so I'm able to download transactions from my bank. I can see this working out very well for me.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
The results were very encouraging. I ordered a combination of 8x10's, 5x7's, and 4x6's. For the 8x10's I ordered duplicates in the smaller sizes to do a print quality comparison. The quality of the printing is very good. Three different cameras were used to take the pictures (Cannon EOS 10D, Canon PowerShot A60, and something else), so there was some minor variation in picture quality due to differing qualities of camera, but they all were quite adequate for the 4x6's. When we compared the 8x10's, we noticed that the pictures looked great until they were examined closely - then 'image artifacts' would appear, for example, a slightly blotchy look in areas of similar colors (i.e., oklahoma granite), and distinct melty-looking lines along the high-contrast edges (i.e., oklahoma granite against a bright grey sky).
Despite the slight shortcomings of the two lower end cameras, the EOS 10D pictures were phenomenal. The difference didn't wouldn't show up unless you looked at the 8x10's, but if you did, WOW! The quality difference was incredible. That's not to knock the other two cameras, they were more than adequate for the 4x6's, and probably okay for the 5x7's, but they were completely blown away in the 8x10 arena by the EOS 10D.
Oh, the print quality: The pictures were printed on glossy Fuji Fujicolor Crystal Archive photo paper, and appeared to be at a quality level comparable with traditional film prints. There was nothing wrong with the colors. The blues were blue, the reds were red, the yellows were yellow, and the blacks were black. The print quality was fine.
The price was pretty good too. The 8x10's were $1.96 each, the 5x7's were $0.58 each, and the 4x6's were just $0.12 each. Since I had them delivered to a store for pickup, there were no shipping charges. It did seem like the turn-around time was a bit long, clocking in at about 8 days, but for 12 cents a print, that's a discomfort I'm willing to live with.
Next up: Walmart.com's One Hour Photo. Results will be posted.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Saturday, June 18, 2005
It was very nice out early in the evening, not at all the sort of weather you'de expect a storm to arise from. It was sunny, and there was a gentle breeze. It was of course warm, but I found it not too warm to be unpleasent. I had retired for the evening and was in my room when I heard a sharp rap on my door. It was about 10:40 in the evening:
"Do you have a car here?" the question came. It was posed by my neighbor, an older gentleman who was in the possession of a NOAA certified weather radio. "I do," I replied. "Well, you'de better get it under cover. There's a big storm moving in, and it's about half an hour away. There's reports of golf-ball sized hail, and winds up to 125 miles an hour. And lots of dust and rain." He continued "There's still room under the canopy out front - maybe enough for one or two more cars."
Immediately I put on my boots and grabbed my keys. I could not let this warning pass! I had never actually seen golf-ball sized hail, but I have had the misfortune of being caught by high speed golf-ball sized apples. I didn't want to see what the effect of a similar volume of ice moving at a similar speed would be on my car. As I left my apartment I could see my neighbor moving down the hall, warning the others of the impending peril.
My car was in the back, so I didn't see exactly how much room remained in the front until I had pulled around there. There was another person in front of me, who looked at the remaining space and decided that there would be better shelter alsewhere. AsI drew closer, I saw that there were already three full sized vans and three minivans assembled under the cover of the solid canopy. The covered area was not square, and in consequence the space was not utilized as tightly as it could have been were the protected area more vehicle-shaped.
After a breif reconnoiter of the remaining space, I determined that I could fit between one the minivans and the fron entrance. This was actually more straight-forward then I initially thought, as the angle of the minivan made it easy to manouver around.
I had just gotten my car carefully parked when I saw the incoming wave: two, three, then FOUR other vehicles were pulling around to the front in an attempt to find shelter. It looked like it was going to be a very tight fit, and it was. However, with the amount of talent that was on hand in the form of driving ability (no, not mine) all three cars and a jeep were able to fit - without scraping - under the canopy.
Then the storm hit.
More accurately, the lightning hit. Lots and Lots of lightning,. We could see the front approaching - it was already dark, being about a quarter past eleven, by the sky grew ominous.More accurately, the sky became onimous, but that's beside the point. We watched the lightning move in from the west, and move generaly around us to the north- most of the lighting appeared to be the cloud-to-cloud type, but this did not diminish the ferousity of the bolts that did make it to earth.
I don't recall ever seeing tuch a great amount of lightning. There were frequent large blasts - there was one blast that turned the whole western sky green. Not an electrical arc type of green, but a bright, vivid, traffic light sort of green.
After about five minutes of watching the lighting move in, the rain arrived. It arrived in great sheets, driven forth by the wind. More accurately, the rain arrived in clouds as great masses of water vapor, which then congealed (ok, condensed) around dust particle whipped up by the wind, which probably did not reach 125 in our location. At any rate, there was a great quantity of rain, and it fell in varying degrees of force as the wind changed directions- first from the west, then from the north, then north-east, then west. It would have been a circular argument to say that the rain only came from one point of the compass.
There were three or four of us that waited out by the cars to watch the storm. It stayed predominately dry under the canopy, but we were bold enough to venture forth into the storm a few times, and I got positively soaked. I was completely wet except for part of my shirt that was covered by my Carhard(tm) brand coat. It was incredible.
We waited out there and watched until about 12:30. We did not go running Friday morning.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Since I was sitting at my computer anyway, I decided to google "pennywort drink" before I drank it. I didn't know anything about it, and had only learned of it's exsistance as a beverage last week, on my previous excursion to the asian market. The results of the search were not encouraging:
After reading the above websites, I decided to try it anyway. I'm glad I did- otherwise I probably never would have known of the exotic grassy/broccoli/kholrabi/celery/sugarcaney/green humusy flavor that it has! Unlike several of the reviewers, I drank it right out of the can (remarkable hefty, that can. Thick walled, too, unlike it's american counterparts) and was not bothered by the brackish brown/green color.
Generally, it was okay. Definately not something I would go out of my way to avoid, but also not something I plan on keeping stocked up on, unlike Dr. Pepper...
Also this morning, I went running. At 6:15, after less than 5 hours of sleep. The experience of running a full mile without stopping or walking has, I believe, given new life to my theory of running. Someday, I hope to try a negative test, and see it's harder to run when I've actually gotten enough sleep.
Also this morning (I think I like this list style of communicating- it's very orderly) I finished my paper!! It really felt good to get it sent in, even if it was a week and a half late. Since it's done now, I can post an abbrieviated outline of the assigned topic:
Apply Common Law principles to the Terri Schiavo incident. Specifically:
Now that there is a precedent for removing a vegetative patient from life support, how could a judge apply Common Law principles to a similar situation?
Under the Common Law principles, was the legislation granting the governor the authority to issue a stay on the court order to remove Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube a valid law?
What should the government's role be in such situations?
It was really interesting to apply the principles I've been studying this semester to am actual (politically charged) situation and see what the result is. It'll be equally interesting to hear what my professor thinks about it, as it makes of 40% of my final grade for this course.
The headline DOES NOT refer to strange spots growing on food in my refrigerator. Nor does it it refer to spots growwing on strange foods. Nor does it refer to normal looking spots growing on normal looking food in my refrigerator... I mean, hey, none of the spots in my refrigerator even have ocular abilities!
Last night I went out to the asian market to get come ice cream. Not just any ice cream, mind you, but special green tea flavored ice cream. While perusing the frozen treats section, I also happened upon an interesting package of popsicles - more of the ice cream on a stick type than the pop-ice type. These had an interesting and not objectionable flavor, although they looked more appetizing on the box than they did out of the box.
Overall, the ice cream had a flavor not unlike certain types of spiced pumpkin pie, if you disregarded the color... With the color factored in, I think the flavor impression was more along the lines of fresh cut alfalfa hay with lots of sweetening. The popsicles were more of a peanut type of flavor, in they were beany and nutty, but they didn;t taste like peanuts. I'd have a hard time imagining this flavor, except I ate one already. :-)
Because of the shopping trip I had to stay up really late to finish up my paper. At 1:00am it was about finished, but needed to be read over a few times. If you've ever writen and proof-read a paper, you'll understand that one o'clock in the morning is not the time to do so.
To be continued....
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
After the novelty wore off, about 36 hours later, I stopped checking on it. I mean, hey, If nobody reads my blog, there won't be any stats to look at, right? Right.
For some reason, there was a surge of activity on Friday. I have no idea what caused it, why it happened, or it it's the result of some miscalculation in the counter- but the logs show that I had 18 unique visitors on Friday, primarily running WinXP and Win2k, with a smattering of Win98, MacOS and Linux. Most of the visitors were from the US, but two were reported from overseas - onr from Portugal, and one from the Netherlands.
My best guess is that on the weekend, people like to go to random blogs.
Monday, June 13, 2005
The results were surprising- I slept right through my alarm, and didn't wake up in time to run. I'll have to try for tomorrow.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Usually, when I go over to this guy's house, we end up playing games (dominos, farkle, Risk(tm), et al.) until the near reaches of the morning - 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, etc., so on Saturday I either loose my entire morning and am pretty much zapped or I get up sometime before noon and am definitely zapped. However, last night in an unprecedented move, I left the party early and got back home around 10:30 (pm, Friday night, in case you were wondering). I then spent the next three hours working on my paper.
I didn't get much written, but I got a lot of background reading+thinking done. It was going pretty well until about 1:30, when I started the main part of the reading.
Now, I enjoy reading. Reading is fun, it's enjoyable, it's something I like to do (yeah I know, that was a bit redundant). Normally. When it comes to Law Books (Proper names are always capitalized) though, I have an extraordinary ability to be wide awake right until I actually begin to look at the letters on the paper. Strange, but true. Anyway, when I began the main reading, my lucidity sort of dropped off, until at 2:00 I was pretty much beyond the reaches of consciousness.
I woke up briefly at 2:30 to find my head on top of the open book, laying on the floor, on my back. My reason might have been slightly impaired at this point, but it seemed to me to be a good idea to call it a night, which I then did.
It was a night.
I woke up sometime around 10:00, having got a decent amount of sleep for possibly the first time in several weeks. It felt great. No, it was marvelous. No, I think it was better than that. Regardless, I felt pretty good.
On to Saturday!
Well, the paper was still not done, so after a shower and morning essentials I returned to my desk. Have I mentioned yet that I really enjoy having a big desk with lots of space on it? It's a blast. I feel like I've got a home office.
I ended up not really leaving the desk until dinnertime at 5:00. After dinner and dishes I came back, and have made great progress. The paper's still not done, but it's getting real close.
Hm. There wasn't much to write on today's activities. Oh well. Did I mention that I feel great?
There was just something about being able to work in my room, fix myself breakfast (Chinese noodles - sort of like Ramen, but made from some sort of sweet potato), and generally act like a well-rested adult that really clicked with me.
Maybe I'm maturing... This could be an interesting study...
Friday, June 10, 2005
Thursday, June 09, 2005
I was impressed - I had put ubuntu 4.10 on it when I first got it, but there were a few things that didn't get configured properly- such as some file permissions for the windows partition, some screen resolution bugs, a few things like that. I worked really good, but the new version is great!
I had removed the previous installation with the intention of installing OpenBSD, but I couldn't get that install to boot. After a while, I tried SuSE 9.1 Personal off a dvd I had on hand, and it was pretty good, but also had screen resolution issues, couldn't mount the win2k partition, and wouldn't run YOU, their online updater. All that to say, this morning I installed ubuntu 5.04.
The install seemed like it took a long time, but there weren't really any parts where it appered to have hung. In hindsight, I would guess that the install took about an hour and 15 minutes to install, reboot, and configure. That's just an estimate because I wasn't focused on the install process, but was working on a paper simultaneously with the process.
After the network was configured (wireless with WEP) and apt-get's config appropriately adjusted, the system update ran and downloaded about 88 megs. I don't know how long this took because I was in the office. Hey, I've got a job!
This post is being sent from gmail using firefox running on the new install over a wireless mesh network through an anonymizing proxy and an onion router to the blogger servers located in.... well, you get the idea: It's working like it should be.
Notes to fellow T23ers (you know who you are):
Boot with the option "acpi=off"
It fixes things. In both the install disk AND the liveCD
Hibernation does not work, but suspend does!
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
At any rate, I'm up to half a mile without stopping, and the whole mile in about 6.5 minutes. Since we're not running in straight lines, though, my distance figures might be a bit off. I think on Friday we'll increase our route by a block and see what happens.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
This normally wouldn't have been a big deal, because I hardly ever need to use my paypal account, except that the day before it froze, I transferred $700 into it. You see, for the last three years I've been using my paypal account to electronicall transfer most of my bi-monthly paycheck from my bank in OKC to my credit union back home, which actually has an interest rate.
At first, I wasn't sure what to think - I mean, security is a good thing, right? So it would behoove me to play be their security rules, right? Well, probably.
PayPal wanted me to do three things to "secure" my account before they would unfreeze it: Change the password, change the security question, and 'validate' the credit card hooked with my account.
The first two were easy - It had been a while since I had updated either my password or my security question, so I was glad to do so. The third one, however, was a bit different. I wasn't the one who hooked the credit card to my account. I'm pretty certain that PayPal got my card info from my bank, and took the liberty themselves to connect the two. My theory is that this was done for security purposes - I think it's possible to make an instant transfer from paypal to someone else, then take the money out of the bank before paypal gets to it. Since the transfer is instant, the recipient gets their money before PayPal takes it from your account, and PayPal takes the hit. Consequently, they want a credit card connected with your account so they have the security of knowing that even if you don't have the money, they can get it from you.
I don't necessarily mind this, but now my credit card is hooked with my account, and PayPal will not let me unhook it. Additionally, they wanted me to authorize a $1.95 charge to the card so they could confirm that the right person had access to the bank statement - the $1.95 charge would have a number in the transaction detail on the bank statement, which you would enter in to verify the card.
The next step was the one that got to me: When PayPal said it needed to charge my account, it said it would refund the $1.95. After I authorized the charge (hey, I wanted my $700 back) and entered in the verification numbers, I found out that I would get the money back in the form of a $1.95 credit on by next PayPal payment - NOT as a refund, NOT as a credit on my account, but as a credit ON MY NEXT PAYMENT! I hardly EVER make PayPal payments, and now I have $1.95 tied up there waiting for that elusive next payment.
I know it's only $1.95, but it's not about money, it's about the principle of the thing. PayPal essentially took charge of my account, and wouldn't give it back until I payed them. Oh sure, I get the paymeny back... but only sometime in the future, and even then, the payment stays in the system, probably in a non-interest-paying account like mine was.
This experience has helped convinced me that my new technique for transferring money is a better way to go: Ing, Direct - 3.00% interest rate, no minimum balance requirement, Transactions by phone (much more important to me now), Has a few (ok, 2) brick-and-mortar locations, and up to three checking or savings accounts liked to it. It also allows you to set up direct deposit with your account, So I'm going to skip the transfer step of depositing my checks in the local bank and have them go straight to my Orange Savings account.
What an experiance.
Monday, June 06, 2005
With the new desk, I've had to rearrange a good portion of my room. I also moved in a small refrigerator that was left to be by my neighbor when he left two weeks ago. It wsa tough, but I found a place to squeeze it in.
Also today, my former boss of almost three years left for Washington, D.C. for a month. He and his family are looking to find a place to live and work there, so they can be involved with government policy decisions. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Saturday, June 04, 2005
That only lasted for half an hour, then the next front moved it. There was a lot of lightning and thunder, with scattered showers, but no hail.
Everything's cleared up now, and the temperature outside is marvelous.
Nowcast from www.wunderground.com:
Things could be shaping up for a tornado!
Friday, June 03, 2005
It started, as all my days have, at exactly 12:00 midnight. I was awake at the time, working on a table of authorities for this semester's legal writing assignment. It was due last Saturday, and will most certainly be sent out by the end of this Saturday. I was making ok progress on it right up until about 12:30, when the LEXIS/NEXIS interface started to misbehave in firefox. I don't know why, but it just would not show the navigation buttons to move between cases. I tried working with it for a bit, but gave up around 12:45.
I got up about 5 hours later to go running with a friend. Our plan is to run for a mile three days each week, and so far we're right on track.
After a run and a shower, I did some more work on my paper using MS IE to connect with LEXIS. It's working, so I'll probably continue to use it for my research needs. I really wish it had tabs.
When I got down to the office, I found out that there were some issues with our sales order files, our credit card processing module, and some filled backorders. Our normal morning processing takes about forty five minutes to an hour; this morning at went for two and a half hours. On the bright side, we did learn how to work through these issues by ourselves!
When the afternoon rolled around, I was completely zonked. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but we managed to get all the essentials processed by 5:00, only leaving our end-of-week processing to do after dinner.
And now here I am, looking up and cross-referencing case after case, sorting out a table of authorities for a negligence suit in the State of Virginia. What a day.
This morning I had an interesting thought:
If you found out that someone had manipulated you into liking them,
would that make you stop liking them?
I'm not sure. I guess you have to define 'manipulated' as any sort of
interaction could arguably be manipulation, unless manipulation is not
something you do but the reason you do a thing.
Really, this is just a hypothetical question.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
I just realized that I could sign my blogger account up for an email
list, and it would be automatically aggregated along with my blog
I'll have to make sure the posting address doesn't fall into the wrong hands...
Just think of it... page after page of spam...
Methinks it could also be used for some sort of covert communications
as well. You could communicate with someone via electronic
communications without knowing any details about them. Oh wait- that
can already be done via forum postings or blog post comments.