Category Archives: Links

Personal Finance and Money Blogs

I’ve never been great at saving or managing my money. But in the past couple years I’ve finally settled into a decent job where I’m no longer living month to month, and I have a bit of money to set aside. Last Christmas my father gave me a book titled, The Lazy Person’s Guide to Investing. As I opened it, even before I could say anything, my father says, “It’s not that I think you’re lazy…” I laughed it off.

I read the book in the next month and it really does give some solid starting advice for saving and investing. It’s by no means a “how to play the stock market” book. It’s quite the opposite. It clearly lays out a smart, sensible approach to saving, focusing on a well-diversified portfolio. As I read it, I thought, “Woah! Wait a minute. I’ve got nothing that could even resemble a ‘portfolio’ let alone enough money to start a well-diversified one.” But it was simple to start thinking in those terms. It doesn’t take much to move some of your 1.5% yearly interest bank savings to a Vanguard fund that’ll earn you anywhere from a 5% to 10% annualized return over a number of years. It’s a lot less intimidating than it seems.

As a result of some of these new learnings, I’ve started reading some more personal finance and money weblogs. Some good starting points:

  • Paul B. Farrell’s columns on MarketWatch.com. The author of the Lazy Person’s Guide writes regularly with a lot of the same good advice.
  • Get Rich Slowly also gives a lot of great advice on saving, and finding places to cut costs in your life. Frugality isn’t always fun, but seeing the results of savings sure is.
  • Wheaties For Your Wallet is a blog for the upcoming Wesabe.com. It provides some good advice for consumers, investors and the money-conscious, in advance of whatever service Wesabe.com is going to offer in that area.
  • Mutual Improvement is a blog from the 43 Things creators, and is a little more focused on personal improvement along the lines of the classic Lifehacker.com, and has had a number of interesting posts lately.
  • StopBuyingCrap.com is, oddly enough, about crap, that companies try to make you buy. Stop buying it.

And if that’s not enough, Get Rich Slowly just posted this roundup of personal development sites with plenty more options.

Start with the little things. Save a little money. Plan for the future. Yadda, yadda. Turns out there’s some truth to all those things our parents told us when we were younger.

Musical Tastes in a Nutshell

Thanks to Williamsburger for finding this nifty application that grabs bits of songs from your iTunes library and creates your iTunes signature. I tried two different versions, one based off number of times played and another based off my highest rated songs. No so surprising that they both ended up with pretty much the same tunes mixed a little different. Here’s the one I think turned out the best: my iTunes signature (mp3). My cousin came up with some interesting mixes with some more classical flavor.

Recent Diversions

Television: I’m telling you, Lost really is as good as people say. I only started watching at the very end of the first season and into the second, but I’m now back at the beginning playing catch up. So good, but yes the compounding twist-with-no-payoff gets a little frustrating.

Make: Two great features in the current issue of Make magazine: Circuit Bending and VJing 101 (unfortunately no articles, just external reference links available online)

Apple: I ordered a highly discounted last-rev 15″ PowerBook 1.67 ghz as a nice step up from my aging 12″ (which I’ll probably sell off). This should tide me over for another year or two before I dive in and break the bank for a swanky new Intel-powered Mac desktop. I wonder if they’ll have 30″ iMac’s by then.

Music: Finally got around to borrowing a copy of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and had one of those, “So that’s who this is!” moments, since I’d been hearing them on KEXP a ton in the past month. Highly recommended.

Tomorrow: Is World Usability Day! Celebrate by, um… using something.

Two Dollar Homepage is Sold!

It’s official, the $$ Two Dollar Homepage is sold.

In this challenging market space, pioneered by the Million Dollar Homepage, I was able to swoop in and stake my claim. Not only was I undercut by the competition, but I was even up against a completely free site. How did my offering survive in this crowded arena? I went with a unique business model focussing on a single $2 commitment with the promise of exclusivity. No sharing of the space, no rotating, and no 10×10 pixel squares. The Two Dollar Homepage was a resounding success. Now to figure out why it wasn’t profitable…

A Few Things and a Question

Here are a couple funny TV spots for the LA County Fair (via).

I have to admit I find some of the Andy Milonakis show funny (he’s the kid from the Superbowl is Gay (.wmv) meme), but most of the time it’s just sad. This Anti-Milonakis Show parody sums it up quite well.

My completely non-sequitur question is this… Why do Asian restaurants (yup, I’m making a big generalization here) typically feel the need to use photographs of their food in nearly every piece of advertising on their store? There are a few large American restaurant chains that use food photos prominently on menus and advertising, such as Denny’s and Friendlys* not to mention the fast food chains like McDonalds. Why is it so common at Asian places? Do similar restaurants in their native China and Japan also use photos on their food (I could use some input here from people who have recently been to said countries)? Can anyone come up with a good explanation? My guess is that it’s partially mimicking an American aesthetic, and partially a cultural gap (because the majority of the time, these photos do not make the food look any more appetizing).

After a couple fruitless attempts at Googling an answer to the above, I came across this amusing phone prank.

* Do any of you West-coasters know what Friendly’s is?

Sudoku-rama

I never thought my visit home would include getting hooked on the addictive puzzles known as Sudoku. At first glance it looks like they require a lot of math, but they don’t take a single bit of addition, subtraction, or any more complex tricks. The purpose is simply to place the numbers 1-9 in each 3×3 square, as well as each row and column. Each number, 1-9, should appear only once in a row, column or 3×3 square. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Think of it like a crossword puzzle without having to know any of those annoying words. Pure logic, baby.

Exercise your brain by heading to Web Sudoku. I recommend printing out the harder ones to do with a pencil and eraser. You’ll need it.

2005 Messenger Worlds

The Morning News has got a great article on this year’s Cycle Messenger World Championships in NYC, titled, No Yellow Jerseys Here. The photo gallery is quite good too, and takes me back two years ago to the crazy weekend watching the Messenger Worlds held in Seattle.

The photos I took from that weekend can all be found here. And for anyone who hasn’t seene it, here’s the short CMWC video teaser I threw together.

Lastly, on the topic of bike videos, these helmet-cam videos have been around for a while, but are always fun to watch. Especially the insane NYC Drag Race.

Lesser, and More on Video

So here I was just hitting the recent Waxy Links and I checked out the funny, banned marketing virals for the videogame Destroy All Humans. At the end of the third one, I was surprised when I recognized the face of the guy in the Yoda-ear hat. It was none other than the brilliant Frank Lesser (director of the hilarious Danny Bot short film), who I shared a number of classes with in college.

And while I’m reposting Waxy links, I might as well point you to this Andy Dick video about President Bush’s Speechalist.

There’s also a trailer out for a little movie by the name of King Kong, and another movie about the dirtiest joke in all of comedy, The Aristocrats.

Lightning Bolt: The Movie

What could be better than the classic bit of LARPing (Quicktime) caught on video? How about an entire documentary on a live-action role-playing event! Darkon The Movie (Quicktime). With some modest production values, decent camera work and a pounding faux string-and-brass soundtrack, it doesn’t look too bad (awkward amateur acting aside).

And just to preempt the obvious first comment… “More like DORK-kon!”

Two Things

First is Woot.com which is an interesting approach to selling things online. One electronics item listed per day (usually coming from overstock or close-outs), at a really good price. Not always the most exciting stuff, but it’s different every day and hot items usually sell out fast. If nothing else, the descriptions they write for the items are pretty funny.

Second, is the new Believer Music Issue, with a couple funny paragraphs by Matthew Derby on the origin of music and the nature of cover songs.

Gnarled Creatures

Perfectly articulating my previous thoughts on Ron Howard, Andrew Wright writes about Cinderella Man in The Stranger:

If a gnarled creature were grown in a lab, bred and designed by unfeeling scientists to spend its soulless existence craving and consuming only Oscars… well, it would still come up short to Ron Howard’s latest ï¬?lm.

White you’re at it, check out the Stranger’s website redesign. Major props to Anthony and Corianton, because this was truly a monumental task (you should skip the Slog/Stranger blog unless you’re desperate for more gratuitous, masturbatory, unedited hipper-than-thou writing).

Lastly, here’s a great new trailer for Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Johnny Depp Show.