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Archive for August, 2009

Keeping track of expenses in three currencies does not simplify things.

Keeping track of expenses in three currencies does not simplify things.

For the last several years, well since starting college, I have kept track of my expenses using an excel spreadsheet.

It started out being several columns for the date, the place and the amount put onto my credit card. I felt I should keep track of what I used my credit card on in case a credit card bill was off. The following summer I was doing a bit more freelance computer work and wanted to keep track of the hours I worked, what I made and I what I spent it on. At this point still a disorganized spreadsheet.

My sophomore year started with a small jump forward, I now had columns for different expenses with subtotals at the bottom with a running overall total next to them. And I put a section for income so I could see how much I was losing that quarter. From here it evolved slowly into a more complex sheet but the same idea remained.

Now that I am moving away from that lifestyle (one where I mostly spent money) into one with a reliable income I decided to look at free personal finance software for OS X. I looked briefly a few times, gathered a list of potential applications and tried them out.

None of them did anything new. One had a better way to enter items and another and most had easier categorization (currently I use a column per category). One overarching “feature” was program specific file types.

The one feature that they had that I did not already have in my spreadsheet was pie charts and graphs for showing how much money has been spent in various categories. Graphs? Those are easy.

A few minutes later I now have a spreadsheet with two neat pie charts at the bottom. One breaking down expense categories and the other showing various incomes versus overall expenditures. Expenses in shades of red (for different credit cards and such) and income in shades of green (bank account, gift cards etc.). Now I just have to keep the green side from being eaten by the red side to stay out of debt.

I suppose that once I lead a more financial complicated life I will need a more advanced piece of software to track investments and the like. However for now when there is rarely anything over a thousand dollars a simple spread sheet has turned out to be the best of the lot.

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University Bookstore

Loose fiber optics cables handing from a ceiling.

Loose fiber optics cables handing from a ceiling.

The University of Washington bookstore has a sweet program, I don’t know if it is unique but even if it is not it is nonetheless pretty nice. 10% of all purchases made at the bookstore are refunded to you at the end of the year. Even if you did not make the purchase, as long as the receipt is registered under your student number you get 10% off.

In a way this becomes a tax refund that puts purchasing books and supplies at the bookstore on par with buying it online.

While in the bookstore last weekend I took a gander at the textbook section. I looked at the books for Earth and Space Science courses and compared them with books for the Physics course. Glad I am switching over to ESS. I looked through a grad level mathematical physics book and while I knew that I could figure out what was going on I realized that I might not have too.

The best thing about the bookstore is that they had a full line up of Terry Pratchett books in both their main and satellite bookstore. Sure I already own most of them (3 have the zany UK covers) but it is nice to see them all there fresh and new.

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Red Flower

A nice red flower.

A nice red flower.

Just a nice red flower.

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Flickr Uploads

Parking garage at night, okay but won't make it to Flickr.

Parking garage at night, okay but won't make it to Flickr.

Over the last year I have had a mixed relationship with Flickr. At first I thought it was really neat and I joined these groups to post my photos and it had this whole community thing. Then half a year later I started to feel that I could use a Pro account considered to pros and the cons.

After debating about it for a month or so I decided not to do it because then I would feel heavily obligated to use it. While I would like the higher resolutions of the pro account I would have to re-upload my photos at a higher resolution to utilize this feature. Likewise the usage of sets would be a daunting task of sorting the existing photo.

Since I am currently not really enjoying Flickr that much I will probably just upload a few of the photos that I post here and not every one.

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This guy probably not so concerned with blog traffic.

This guy probably not so concerned with blog traffic.

I have mentioned before that I am a sucker for statistics. Give me a good graph any day of the week. WordPress provides a statistics section on the admin page that I cannot help but check once or twice a day.

Something I have noticed is that there is occasionally a large spike in traffic followed by a linear decay back to normal rates. Starting last Sunday the traffic has followed this pattern (normalized to average traffic):

  • Sunday: 5.6
  • Monday: 3.6
  • Tuesday: 2.5
  • Wednesday: 1.3

Almost all of this traffic is directed towards my post on the Think Tank Photo Streetwalker review I did in January.

I wonder if the number of traffic spikes would double if I did a review on a new Think Tank product? Of course I would have to wait for a new release that I could use since I could not really utilize their latest product.

It is good that there is the occasional Think Tank related traffic spike, hopefully one of those people will utilize the handy link for my Think Tank Affiliate program. So far that link is averaging me a whole seventeen cents a day. Imagine, a new packet of ramen every single day.

It is like unto a dream.

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An scanned slide from a Imagelab FS5C05 35mm slide scanner.

An scanned slide from a Imagelab FS5C05 35mm slide scanner.

I received an Imagelab FS5C05 slide scanner in the mail earlier this week. Finally a chance to scan some of my family slides but first I should test it out before getting excited.

I opened it up carefully, plugged it in and got out one of the slide trays. Easy enough. I put a slide (that I have imaged before) into the machine, centered it and clicked the scan button. Fast, easy and not at all complicated. I took out the SD card (not provided) and put it in my laptop to take a look at the quality.

Well it is not so great. In fact it is just bad. Over saturated, noisy yet blurry, muddled and not even the full 35mm frame. While the slide fits into the scanning tray the device itself does not image the entire slide, rather just the center part (unless moved) and crops off the edges. It took a 3:2 image and reduced it to 4:3 image.

I returned it today and hope that the next one I try will work better and give better results.

Now I will admit there is a chance that this was a defective scanner, however I am not willing to try for another one. Especially since I would not be able to scan the full frame anyway.

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A Bit Fuzzy

Fuzziness at large apertures with macro lens filters.

Fuzziness at large apertures with macro lens filters.

Received a 35mm slide scanner today, the results are more then poor (more on it tomorrow). Suffice to say a basic lens with a +3 macro lens filter on it did a much better job. In fact the same combo as the photo above except it involved a tripod and a larger aperture.

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