Free Online Budgeting with Quicken Online!

Quicken just announced that Quicken Online is now free. It was previously just $2.99 month and was worth every penny. Now you have no excuse to not start budgeting online.
For $0.00/month, you get:

  • automatic transaction download from your bank/credit card accounts
  • bill reminders and alerts (I like to have alerts setup so I’m notified if any transactions come through over a certain dollar amount)
  • mobile access to your current account information through any internet enabled phone
  • and more…

They say they have some cool new features in the works (to be released at the end of this month.) I’ve been using it for about a year now and really like its simplicity and accuracy. Now I really like its price.

Check it out!

Red Bull gives you wings…or a big headache

Last week, I was at the Facebook developers conference. It was a pretty good conference and I learned a lot. Here are a few things I learned:

  • Some companies still operate with their blinders on: One of the sessions I was most excited about was “Made for Mobile.” I was hoping for some insight into developing apps for mobile phones and maybe some new “stuff” from Facebook. I was sorely disappointed. This session should have been named “Made for iPhone.” Instead of ranting in this post, I think I’ll do a dedicated post to the blinders concept.
  • Facebook is on the cutting edge when it comes to social networks: They announced Facebook Connect. If you’re a digg/citysearch/six apart user, you can see its effects already. It’s a new and easy way to put a social network twist on any site (using Facebook of course.)
  • Red Bull gave me a headache: The hardest stuff I regularly drink is Mountain Dew. Red Bull was a sponsor at this conference and as a result, the stuff was given out. I decided to give it a shot. The taste wasn’t very good. I’m a Guaraná Antarctica fan and so I’m a little picky when it comes to guarana. The taste of this took guarana and made it disgusting. To top it all off, within about 10 minutes of drinking it, I got the worst headache I’ve had in a long time. Needless to say, it didn’t give me wings and I don’t think I’ll be trying it again.
  • Facebook does an awesome job at scaling: This is the stuff I really love. In one session, the explained how they handle the high load demand due to their feeds. Their feeds are what displays all of your friends’ activity/actions on the main page when you’re logged in. If you think about it, that’s a lot of data. Just to generate your custom feed they have to go out and get all of the recent feed items from all your friends, filter and prioritize them, and then display it on a nice pretty page for you to see. And they do it all in around 60 milliseconds. Man, that’s fast!

Will the real terrorists please step forward?

Dirt TubeApparently, U.S. immigration officials incite more terror than the terrorists themselves.
Here’s some interesting commentary by Bruce Schneier regarding the terrorism “tax” that honest people pay. I found this quote particularly interesting:
“More respondents were worried about U.S. immigration officials (70 percent) than about crime or terrorism (54 percent) when considering a trip to the [U.S.].”

Microsoft Proposes Acquisition of Yahoo! for $31 per Share

In a deal worth $44.6 billion in cash and stock.  Microsoft has made an unsolicited offer for Yahoo!  In my opinion, Microsoft has always struggled in the online world.  Yahoo! has done well in the online world, but has had decreasing earnings.  Maybe they will combine their best attributes and give Google a run for their money.  (I’m not getting my hopes up.)

Sun Microsystems to acquire MySQL

Sun announced today that they will acquire MySQL AB for approx $1 billion.

I think this will do great things for MySQL.  It seems that MySQL outsiders have often considered it a “toy” database.  I couldn’t disagree more.  I know of one huge site that uses MySQL extensively, you might have heard of them, its name is Yahoo.

This might help those outsiders to see MySQL as a viable database option.

Credit Card – Declined

Train picI recently made a laptop purchase from Circuit City online. During the checkout process, my business American Express (AmEx) card was declined. I tried my personal AmEx card and got the same result. I actually tried each of them a few times just to be sure I didn’t make a mistake when I entered the numbers on the payment page. I ended up making the purchase with my Visa and thought they might just be having trouble processing AmEx transactions at the time.
Later that day, I got a call From AmEx about suspicious transaction attempts. It turns out that the transactions were declined by AmEx because they were suspicious. I guess my card had been locked as a result.

I have mixed feelings about this. The consumer side of me thought, “wow, AmEx is really looking out for me.” I’m a patient shopper, so little inconveniences don’t bother me too much. I’m sure there are others that would be totally frustrated with any sort of inconvenience while ordering online. I’d rather have to jump through a hoop or two if it means stopping someone else from making unauthorized purchases on my account.

The online marketer in me thought, “How many sales are lost due to these false alerts?” In affiliate marketing, this is something that is far out of our control. It’s even out of the merchant’s control if the CC company decides to decline a transaction based on suspicion. I guess it’s a good thing that most merchants offer many methods of payment.

By contrast, when I made my first purchase from Amazon’s MP3 store things went a little too quickly. I clicked on “Buy this album” and my computer was instantly downloading the new MP3s without any warning. It made me uneasy that it was so simple to make a purchase. I didn’t even have to enter in my credit card information, Amazon had that all stored for me since I had purchased from them previously. I’ve since enabled an option in my account so that I get a confirmation page prior to MP3 orders being placed.

Why you won’t see a “more” link in my posts anymore

Little Cottonwood Canyon PicIn the past, I’ve put a brief teaser in my posts followed by a “more” link. I did this so that my main page (htttp://alt-j.com) wouldn’t be a mile long and also so that the search engines wouldn’t see a ton of duplicate content on my blog.
Now I say, “To heck with search engines.” Here’s why:

  • I’m lazy
  • My blog is for people, not search engines
  • It’s more RSS friendly

I’ve been hooked on RSS feeds for a while now and recently switched to Google Reader from Thunderbird to check in on all my favorite blogs. As a result, I can easily read most of these feeds on my phone. I say most because some people do not publish their entire post in their RSS feed. As a result, I’ve started filtering out those that don’t from my subscription list. I have one left that does (Guy Kawasaki), and I’m not sure how much longer I’ll keep it in there.

To answer GrayWolf’s question, Yes, I do subscribe to my own feed and feel that my blog is now easier to read because of it.

Google has full control of your content

I’m not sure I like this at all. I’m a fan of Google Apps. It’s nice to have central access to email, calendaring and some office apps. I’ll admit I’m on the paranoid side and don’t use the office apps for anything that contains sensitive information.
It looks like my paranoia may actually pay off:
Continue reading Google has full control of your content