Friday, June 29, 2007

Account Buffers

Apparently I missed a calling as an accountant. I currently have four idea's for future blog posts saved in drafts that all pertain to my new "financial" label. I thought I would go ahead and start with a small one and talk a little about a thing I call Account Buffers.

I know I'm a nerd and don't do my finances like most folks. Because I'm a nerd I like nerdy words, like buffer. An account buffer is pretty much what it sounds like. Netbank charges me a fee if my savings account drops below $500, so my savings account buffer is $500. I take that right off the top of my check book and pretend like it isn't even there. So if my spreadsheet shows I have $750 in savings, Netbank will show me $1250. I do the same thing on my checking account too. That way if I say, write a bad check, it won't bounce.

Sometimes it's hard to forget that money isn't there. In my spreadsheet I have a row that shows my balance and it accounts for the buffer. In reality, if my balance is a red negative number, I still have a little in my account. Below is an example of what my spreadsheet looks like...and yes the numbers are fictitious.

Clicking on that picture should give a better view of it. Row 2 I usually keep hidden and I work off row 3 for what I can spend. Column E and G are used to create the buffer and, as you can see I keep those hidden as well. Rows 4 - 232 make up January - May as far as activities go. Generally I hide all but the current month. Columns H and J are old loans that currently have a zero balance, hence why they are hidden. The merged cell below Credit Card and Car Loan represents the total amount of money I owe to everyone. Finally the total column at the end is what I have minus what I owe. Kind of like a net worth that doesn't take into account any equity of any kind. My goal is to basically make that number as high as possible, at least closer to black. This picture does a good job of showing the actual amount in my accounts versus the amount I pretend is there. And yes, this practice has saved me from writing a bad check or two.

Blogging Away Debt

This morning on my way to work I heard an article on NPR about debt and they made mention of Blogging Away Debt. At first I thought this idea was ridiculous. Opening up financial records for all the world to see how much you suck at managing money. In hind sight, and after reading a little bit, I realize it's the kind of thing that helps keep you honest with yourself. Of course it goes against everything I was tough by my parents about money. It's the kind of thing you're not supposed to talk about; it's not polite. As a counter argument, as a whole, we as people learn from not only our past, but from each other. If no one talks about how they manage their money, how will we learn from each others mistakes?

As good as my own argument is, I've chosen to start blogging a bit about my financial life. Not because I want others to learn from it (although I hope someone can), but because it will help keep me honest and stay on track with my financial plan. I'll be the first to admit, my financial life isn't interesting enough to make an entire blog out of, but I'm thinking at least a once a month post. Hopefully this will also help keep me interested in my blog. It's also an excuse to start using the post labels feature in Blogger, which is new to me. I even took the time to go add labels to all posts for this year (not many post).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Irresistible Force Paradox

So I found my blog again after almost six months and now I'm all over it with a post a day for three days. This post come because I learned about something new on Wikipedia called the Irresistible Force Paradox.

How I got this far in life without ever even hearing about this I'll never know, but it's damn interesting. I knew the shield and two-handed mace from World of Warcraft had something in common (and this item is funny too).

After reading Wikipedia's definition and solutions to the problem I wondered to myself if an unstoppable force can stop on it's own? True, it's unstoppable, and by the literal definition it cannot be stopped by anything. But, if it was truly unstoppable would it not be able to stop itself because by not being able to stop itself, in itself, makes it not unstoppable! Let me try to explain this another way...

Basically there cannot be a such a thing as an unstoppable force. For an unstoppable force to be unstoppable, it should be able to do whatever it wants to. It has unlimited energy. So if it wanted to stop, but it can't, now it didn't do whatever it wanted to. It has limitations, and with unlimited energy it cannot have limitations. It's inability to stop invalidates it's very existence as and unstoppable force.

My argument for an immovable object is a little different. An immovable object cannot exist because for an immovable object to exist it cannot be made of atoms. Atoms move pretty much no matter what (at least as far as I know).

Another argument for both to not exist would go back to perpetual motion. For an object to have unlimited energy and power, this unlimited energy and power would have to come from somewhere. Unless for some reason the immovable object or unstoppable force has an external power source; which would very likely make them stoppable or movable. Thus, either of these anomalies, will have to violate the first law of thermodynamics.

For the most part, immovable objects and irresistible forces exist, but only in perspective. André the Giant may really be an immovable object to a wus like me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Google's new Documents and Spreadsheets

Tonight Google updated the look and feel of their Documents and Spreadsheets, and even though I know no one will read it here first I'm proud to be able to be one of the first to announce it. I only know about it because my girlfriend was actually using it as it changed. Here is a nifty screen shot, but the best way to check it out will be to go see it yourself.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Been a While

Like many other lazy American's I don't write in my blog on a regular basis. Not that I have any regular readers I keep on pins and needles awaiting my next post. In fact, I don't think I've made more then a few cents with the Google Adsense. None of that bothers me though, in fact my blog is more for my own use than anything else.

I did come up with a new idea for a blog; Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters 2 in a new body with the same devious plan to take over the world. I hope to use it to help what little creative side I have in me. In setting it up I did discover all the new things added to blogger. As usual, I was impressed with how Google improved
Blogger. Speaking of Google and their glory I finally got a chance to play with Picasa. I honestly never cared for picture applications that take total control of your pictures. I find in most cases (especially with customers), they just make things complicated and difficult to organize. What pictures show up in my application, vs what pictures are really in my picture folder or somewhere else on my computer. Although Picasa is no exception to this, I did find it's ability to edit photo's fantastic. I made this dashingly ugly photo for my Vigo blog (surprising I could find no decent pictures of Vigo on the net).

On a side note I've been using Ubuntu 7.04 on my bench machine at work. I added a two-prong double action switch so I could easily go back and fourth between Windows and Linux if need be. I keep it in Linux most of the time, but I admit I have gone back to Windows to run check disks on NTFS drives and to use Visio. Unfortunately I have yet to find an open source equivalent to Microsoft's Visio. Honestly I don't use it enough to sweet it. Ubuntu has been great though. It lacks some basics that prevent it from becoming any real competition with Windows. For example, the ability to play DVD's and MP3's out of the box. No big deal for a geek like me to figure it out, but I can see where the average user would get annoyed real quick. I do wonder if the machines Dell sells with Ubuntu can do those things out of the box.