Quicken Online Shutting Down – One Guy in Mattawan Surprised

16 07 2010
Quicken® Free Personal Finance Software, Money Management, Budgeting, Personal Finances

Well THIS will come as a shock to absolutely no one:
>Dear Valued Customer,
> For the past several months, we’ve been working hard to combine the best features of Quicken Online and Mint.com into a single online personal finance solution–Mint.com. With the improved Mint.com, you can enjoy the features you love in Quicken Online, plus new benefits such as connecting to over 16,000 financial institutions, including Canadian banks–as well as tracking your investment and retirement accounts. There is also a new Goals feature that takes the tool you enjoyed in Quicken Online to the next level.
> As a result of these changes, Quicken Online will no longer be available as of August 29, 2010. Creating a new Mint.com account is easy, but for reasons of security and accuracy, we cannot create one for you. Once you’re signed in, you can add your accounts and see your financial picture in just a few minutes.
Color me shocked. NOT.
It was obvious from the beginning that Intuit was never going to make anything serious out of Quicken.com – they’re far more interested in Quickbooks. When they announced the aquisition of Mint.com, the writing was on the wall.
I recently switched my online accounting over to Mint.com, and I have to admit it’s a helluva good system. Fast, very well designed interface, and good integration with my other finances.
So, there ya have it folks. If you can’t code it, acquire it.

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iPhone Game Chatter – geoDefense Swarm Rocks my world

16 07 2010

I admit it. I’ve been a fan of the geoDefense games for quite a while (even during geoDefense’s Freak Out period). When Critical Thought Games released geoDefense Swarm, I jumped at it. The new game layout (free form, etc) took a little getting used to, but after a bit, I was hooked.
geoDefense SwarmFor those not familiar with it, these are classic “tower defense” games. geoDefense used a fixed track for the ‘creeps’, while Swarm uses a free form layout. The game play is virtually identical between the versions (Swarm introduces ‘thumper’ towers, while de-emphasizing ‘vortex’ towers. Which is sad, cuz I do love me the vortexes).
The games have a strong ‘retro’ color-vector look to them. That coupled with some smooth, stunning animation makes the play experience pretty exciting. As the towers get more powerful, and more dramatic action is happening, the visuals really ratchet up. The endgame for an endless level is constant nuke-explosions from the missile towers and plasma lasers firing every which way. Kaboom!
Lately I’ve been rerunning Swarm levels and shooting for higher scores. This involves a huge amount of trial and error at the beginning, particularly on the ‘endless’ levels (which I adore).
The trick is to get the score multiplier up as high as possible in the first 10 levels. My best is around 900x by level 10. That particularly run resulted in my best score ever in the Crazy 88 level (‘hard’ ‘endless’). The screenshot here shows the very end of that game, which took about 3 hours to play beginning to end. Naturally, toward the end, it was just a matter of watching the game run it’s course.
Thanks @nsxdavid for making such an awesome game. Can we have some more endless levels please?





Beating the Heat – How I Did It

8 07 2010

Sounds more grandiose than it is, really.
We’re going through a heck of a heat wave here on the east coast. The last 2-3 days have been 90+ degrees with high humidity, and it’s showing no signs of really letting up until at least next week.
I don’t react well to heat – I mean, I can deal with it during the day while puttering around, but sleeping? Bad things happen when Mr. Geek doesn’t get his beauty sleep.
With our super efficient buildings, we really don’t need to air condition an entire building just to make it habitable. But I’ve found that even with proper ‘behaviour’ (closing windows during the day, opening at night, using fans if necessary), I still need to cool the space down when I sleep.
Here’s how I set up my bedroom to use the minimal amount of cooling necessary for me to get a good nights sleep.
A few months ago I built a loft in my bedroom so Zach could have a place to sleep when he was over. I found that on super-hot-humid days (like this week), the upper part of the loft got too stuffy, even with the room AC turned on. I was also uncomfortable ‘turning up’ the AC just so my upper space could get cool. “The rest of the room is fine, it’s just this spot. Hmm.”
So last night I moved the room AC under the loft, turned it on LOW, and dangled one of my sheets over the end of the loft. With that loose enclosure, the low-power AC was easily enough to keep the space cool. I flopped on what is normally Zach’s bed, and slept like the dead for almost 8 hours.
I’m able to cool that space down in about a half an hour. I can turn off the AC when I leave, so in the end, I run the AC only about 9 hours a day on lower power. Just enough for me to get a good nights sleep.
Works for me!





An Open Letter to MoveOn.org

1 07 2010

To Whom it may concern…
I joined MoveOn during the Bush presidency because I felt it was a strong voice against what I saw as a rabid conservative bias in the government. MoveOn was taking a strong (sometimes too strong) liberal tack against the hawks, and I found this to be an excellent way to express my horror at what was happening in Washington.
Later, MoveOn took some positions I did not necessarily agree with, but, just as some choices by the ACLU are ones I might not support, I chose to remain a member because I felt the mission was still important.
Recently though, I’ve been bothered by MoveOn’s policy of taking political stances and setting up petitions to protest something, without really getting the constituency’s feedback as to whether this is something we, the members of MoveOn, would like to support.
Recently, MoveOn sent a request out asking for it’s members to sign a petition :
> **burning endangered sea turtles alive**
> News has emerged from the Gulf Coast that BP is burning endangered sea turtles alive.
> That’s right. BP is using “controlled burns” to contain the oil spill, and any turtles that are not removed from the area before the fire is lit are literally burned alive.
> With BP already facing so much public outrage, we can step in and stop this from continuing. But we have to speak up right now.
What does this have to do with balancing political change in Washington, where the populace needs a voice to counter right wing ideology? Even your home page states:
> **Stand for Democracy**
> It’s time to rescue our government from corporations and lobbyists. Endorse the blueprint to take back our democracy.
MoveOn is using petitions to be a ‘voice of the people’. Petitions are a poor mechanism for gauging the opinion of the membership. The only answer to a petition is “Yes!” – the other answer is silence.
MoveOn, when you ask your constituents to weigh in on an issue, offer them the opinion to say No.