Tagline? We don’t need to stinkin’ tagline!

Building a house (third time’s the charm)

Well, we decided to build yet again. This is going to be our third house in almost 10 years! I think we’re getting really good at it now. Seems in every house we always forgot something or didn’t know it was even an option. This time, we’re getting all the infrastructure options. What do I mean?

Here’s a sampling of what I’m talking about.

200 amp service-this is a must, and I’ve gotten it in every house so far. Not easily changed, so do it in the beginning.

Tall ceilings-can’t stress enough. It makes the house feel much bigger than it is.

Extra row or two of concrete in basement. Easily convert into usable living space.

Egress for basement. Either bilco door, welled entrance, or any other type of entrance.

Wiring chase from basement to attic. You never know when you’ll need more low voltage.

And speaking of…get all cabling (cable, phone, network) all homerunned to a specific place (near the chase). Then use patch panels to distribute whatever it is.

And one more cable thing…always run more cable than you think you need. If you need two, go three (and so on).

And I’m sure there’s more, but these are very important to get right.

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My first post from my iPhone

Now this is cool. I got a replacement iPhone 3G due to my old iPhone crapping out *again* and I downloaded the wordpress app. So, this officially my first post from my iPhone.

Neat! Maybe I’ll actually post more.

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I’m Fed Up! (the IndyMac edition)

Anyone see the line in front of IndyMac to close accounts, now that it’s considered insolvent and taken over by the government?  

Did you know for FDIC insurance, the usual max insured at any one bank is $100,000?  Not multiple accounts at one bank with $100,000 each…all specified accounts with a total max of $100,000 (you can have a $100,000 account at differing banks (and make sure they are different, all the way up the corporate chain), and they will be covered up to $100,000 each).

Don’t believe me?  Here’s the official brochure:

http://www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/insured/yid.pdf 

Page 5:

“How Much Insurance Coverage Does the FDIC Provide?  

The basic insurance amount is $100,000 per depositor, per insured bank. 

The $100,000 amount applies to all depositors of an insured bank except for owners of certain retirement accounts, which are insured up to $250,000 per owner, per insured bank. 

Deposits in separate branches of an insured bank are not separately insured. Deposits in one insured bank are insured separately from deposits in another insured bank. 

Deposits maintained in different categories of legal ownership at the same bank can be separately insured. Therefore, it is possible to have deposits of more than $100,000 at one insured bank and still be fully insured.” 

So, all those people lined up in front of IndyMac will get a maximum of $100,000, plus 50 cents on any dollar above.  You have a million dollars sitting in qualified IndyMac accounts?  You’re getting a total of $550000.  Total.  You lost $450,000, almost 50% of your life savings.

Sucks, doesn’t it?

And another 100 banks are destined to fail this year according to the Fed and other analysts.  And the Fed has stated it will do nothing for these banks.  Granted, these are small, regional banks, but still.  Once word does get out about what FDIC means for each individual, this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.  FDIC insures only a portion of your deposits over $100,000…maybe.  I’ll go run over beforehand and withdraw all my money.  Then I tell my friends.  They tell their friends.  Maybe someone on some no-name site starts a rumor that the bank is insolvent.  More people withdraw.  Then the bank becomes insolvent and we see yet another FDIC takeover and people lose money.  More people lose confidence, and so on, and so on.

Anyone remember when this happened before?  It might be on the quiz…

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I’m Fed Up! (hypothetical part 2)

Bad fiscal policy got us here.  Cheap money, bad lenders, and no self control…

For example:  I’ll buy my $500,000 McMansion™ with no money down, 3 year ARM at 4% (hypothetical…or better yet, interest only mortgage…man who thought of that one), no points.  My wife and I make, oh, let’s say 100,000 a year, so the banks qualify us for this wonderful mortgage.  For equality’s sake, I’ll say my wife makes $65,000 and I make $35,000.  At the time of the purchase, we have no kids, so it’s me, the wife, and Fluffy, our pocketbook dog (this is hypothetical…I can’t stand those dogs…get them off your laps when you’re driving…but I digress).  And because we have no money down, we need to pay PMI (mortgage insurance).

But wait!  They can give me a loan for 80%, and another loan for the remaining 20%, circumventing PMI.  WOW, what a bargain!  It’s FREE* money, and everyone is doing it, and I need to keep up with the Joneses here.

So, my wife and I walk out of ABC Bank with our newly approved loans and get the home we required.  3600 square feet of pompous bliss.

But now we need to furnish this home.  That’s okay, I have 5 or six credit cards we can put it on.  And that sale over on 3rd and Maple has no interest/no payments for 1 whole year.  It’ll be a piece of cake.

So, we’re making ends meet, have a beautiful, expensively appointed, newly landscaped house.  I got a promotion, so that’s an additional $10,000 a year and my wife is top salesperson at her company, and she’s making $80,000 a year, plus a nice Bonus.  This is great!

A year goes by, and now she’s pregnant!  We’re so happy, so we spend a ton of money on a nursery for the little bambino.  I’ll go the home equity route here, as we’re paying our bills and saving some money.  And the house has appreciated $100,000 already in our market because we’re close to a large city and the economy is booming, so it makes perfect sense!  We need to retire our BMW 500 series (or whatever the latest in expensive automobiles are…for the record, I drive a 1998 Honda Civic and my wife drives a 2004 Honda Odyssey LX.  No Leather.  No DVD.  No GPS.) and get a new SUV.  I hear Linda down the street got a new LandRover Range Rover, so let’s look at that!

Can you see where this is going?  Cheap money brought us here, and continuing cheap money and bad fiscal policies will sink us.

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I’m Fed Up!

So, I’m sitting here watching Bloomberg and Bernanke spouting off regarding Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the economy, etc.  Anyone else watching?

Over the last few weeks, I have been watching the markets intensely due to BearSterns (I have friends affected on both sides of the fence), foreclosures increasing, IndyMac failing, and now Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  In a way, I feel sorry for Ben Bernanke, as he’s between a rock and a hard place.  Granted, I’m not an economy whiz such as the people at the Fed, but somehow, I just don’t feel what he’s doing is right for the long term.  

Yes, the economy needs some stabilizing.  Commodities are way up, stocks are way down, the housing market crumbled, consumer confidence has eroded, and any rumors seem to become fact overnight, even if they aren’t true.  I noticed in one of the breaking news headlines on Bloomberg, Bernanke said that once the housing market stabilizes, the economy will bounce back.

Huh?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.  Right now, if anything stabilized in the economy, the economy may be considered bouncing back.

But what is it going to take to get the economy to bounce back?

It’s not the stimulus check that went out.  That was a band aid to most folks and really didn’t stimulate the economy.  It did, I’m sure, reduce some debt from those who really weren’t badly hurting, and those that were already hurting used it for necessities.  Now word is the Fed would consider another stimulus check. This is a bad move.  You do not just hand money out.  It reduces faith and value in the American dollar, which is already getting beaten up.  It also doesn’t help those hurting due to foreclosure, sub prime mortgages, lay-offs, etc.  Use some common sense here guys!  People are hurting because of bad economic policy way before Bernanke.  Cheap lending, poor risk analysis, greedy people and many greedy banks caused this.  We did it to ourselves!  It became the perfect storm.  

And all this happened before Bernanke.  He (and the current Fed) are trying to clean up the problems prior economic policies created.  And more than likely, they’ll create more problems down the road.  Do I have a solution?  Maybe in another post.  For now, I’ll just point out a few examples and another mess brewing.

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iPhone 2.0

I finally got 2.0 up and running on my 2G iPhone (no plans on purchasing the 3G…I’ll wait until the next rev).

Here are my thoughts.  Not in any particular order though.

AppStore

Overall, this is worth the price of admission.  I’ve downloaded a number of apps, utilities, games, and an eBook, and am very impressed with most of them.  My overall favorites are Pandora (free for the time being), Bloomberg (really needs a new icon though as the current icon is rather unsightly), and Shazam (again, currently free).

For those who aren’t aware, Pandora is a free radio located at http://www.pandora.com.  I have my radio set up for a few artists, such as R.E.M, Natalie Merchant, and Fleetwood Mac, and am very happy with the service, even over EDGE.  I’m hoping this service introduces me to a few new artists as my iTunes library is sorely dated.

Shazam is the kind of app I’ve always wanted, but didn’t know it.  It “listens” to whatever song is playing (radio, store, etc) and can tell you who the artist is.  This has always annoyed me about radio stations.  They play music, but rarely tell you whose song it is.  And guess what?  Shazam works marvelously.

Bloomberg.  This is what the stock app should have been.  News, stock, charts…I love the app.

What amazes me more than anything is these apps are free.  FREE!

Let’s see, what else about the new software.  It is a bit laggy, in that scrolling can hang up for a second…or typing…or web browsing.  Also, I’ve noticed a lot more GPRS roaming than I did before, but that could be network related, or I was so used to seeing a blank square that I notice the new logo (square with a dot) more than I did before.  Finally, battery life seems to have decreased somewhat, but I think it’s due to more network activity (and that fact that the Aurora Feint game is so damn addicting…again, another free app).

So, is it worth it.  The AppStore makes it a resounding yes.  As for everything else…well, I’m waiting for 2.0.1.

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iPhone 2.0/3G

As some of you may know, I own an iPhone.  No biggie, right?  It seems like everyone and their brother owns one, so no, I don’t think I’m special here.  As a matter of fact, I purchased a refurb 8GB from AT&T during their first refurb sale in March for $250, so no, I didn’t stand in line for days on end or pay the outrageous $600 to have the “privilege” or “honor” of being the first one to own one on my block.  I do that enough for other consumer electronics (HD DVD and Blu-ray anyone?).

However, that’s not to say that I wasn’t wanting one since it was introduced in 2007.

I’ve been a BlackBerry user for about seven years now, in part due to what I do for a living.  For what BlackBerry does right (corporate push e-mail, phone and build quality), it does a number of things wrong (web experience, music and video).  I’d usually find myself in need of more than an e-mail king, especially when I’m on the road.  I needed something more than the BlackBerry, but less than a laptop in a compact format.  I needed portability, but didn’t need multiple devices to put through the airport X-Ray machines or one device to weigh me down even more.  

Maybe one day I’ll get into what drew me into iPhone, but it mirrors what pretty much everyone says about the phone.  It’s a good phone, good at e-mail, a great web experience, and a damn great iPod w/ Video.  It has its warts as well, which is why I looked forward to 2.0.

2.0’s promise of third party software, ActiveSync, possible full Bluetooth profiles, and a whole host of rumored features excited me.  Finally, new features that would allow the iPhone to move from a good user experience to an excellent mobile platform for both consumers and enterprise users.

And that’s why I’m somewhat disappointed with WWDC yesterday.

I think Apple really hit the mark with most of the software features, and really catered 2.0 towards the enterprise market, especially around security and Exchange support.  However, consumers are still missing a few things, especially full Bluetooth profiles, cut and paste (why oh why is this missing), native MMS, and *gasp* Adobe Flash!  I mean, hell, many of the websites are unbrowsable due to a lack of Flash.

I am hopeful the 3rd party apps will resolve many of the software gaps, and I wholeheartedly admit that it may be Apple’s plan to begin with.  But the choice of demos of some of the apps being worked on were, well, strange.  Games is not what really sells these things.  Medical apps?!?  Wasn’t it Steve Jobs who doesn’t believe LCDs are good for medical applications, especially medical imaging?  And now medical apps on a 3.5″ screen?  Where were the apps that made people go hmmmm?  Where were the apps that thought out of the iPhone?  These innovations are what I’m looking for, not pedestrian games.  I hope on July 11th when I upgrade iTunes and my iPhone that the AppStore does blow me away.

And the iPhone 3G?  I’m not selling my iPhone 2G just to get 3G networks and GPS (and a slightly different black or white back).  I already have WiFi pretty much everywhere and EDGE gets me what I need when I’m not in range of WiFi.  And GPS?  While a great feature, it’s not something that’s going to make me run out and buy a new one.  Looks like I’ll be waiting for iPhone 3.0 before I upgrade.

Now let’s see what July 11th truly brings.

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Well, it’s official!

We suck.  No, really, we do.  Seems as if all the prior posts have been removed because WordPress doesn’t play well with older versions of itself…on other servers….

So, I’m here with a nice text file of the previous site wondering if it’s worth posting the old news, or just consider this a learning experience and going with FormatNeutral 2.0.  Starting fresh, as it were.

Anyway, there will be more posts, especially about my feelings about the WWDC and the “new” iPhone.

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We’re officially screwed!

Looks like our move to a new server went fine, except the fact that we lost all previous posts. So, while I try to get the archives working again, let me know how things seem to be working.

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