Friday, December 12, 2008

online money managers

This past month I started tracking all my expenses online, partly because we've hired a financial planner and she keeps asking how we spend our money. (Rude, I know.)

I started with (because a vendor of my employer recommended them), and I'm very happy with their service. They:
  • They import from all my accounts (so far).
  • They categorize each expense automatically (and they're usually correct).
  • I can change the categorizations, and save the preference so that future expenses with the same description are categorized the same way.
  • I can split expenses and categorize parts separately.
I only have two complaints so far:
  • I cannot manage my cash.
  • While I can add my own categories, I cannot change or remove the predefined ones.
Coincidentally, today I found two other services that do much the same thing. I won't be switching yet, but I'll be watching for mothers:
  • is very interesting because they want to make it a community that gives suggestions to one another; in addition, they have some APIs to help you work with your account data... they just want to make it really easy to analyze your finances and get help managing them. The current show-stoppers: they require a Mac or Windows install, so I cannot manage things from whatever computer I'm on; they currently only work with "USAA, Citibank, Chase, Wachovia, CapitalOne, and Bank of America"; and their APIs don't yet aggregate account data.
  • seems to offer services similar to Mint, plus in-house financial services like loans, savings accounts, etc. The current show-stopper: it requires a Windows ActiveX install.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ancient teleconference demo... of mouse, screen-sharing, hypertext, and more!

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of what The Register calls "The Mother of All Demos". They're not kidding. You can see it in a video that captured the presentation. Here are some highlights:
  • It starts out with 1 minute 30 seconds of text explaining how the whole production was set up, after which he jumps into his demonstration.
  • He starts showing the hyperlinking at 15:50.
  • He explains his mouse and his one-handed text entry device at 27-30 minutes in.
  • Someone else joins in to work on the same screen at 57 minutes in.
It's fascinating to watch, with all the glitches he hits and the things he has to explain along the way. Be sure to read the article and the explanatory text at the front of the video to get a full appreciation of this demo. It's history right before your eyes.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Jolly Old Mathematics

So I was reminiscing with Jen about Helaman Ferguson and creative math, so I had to google for fun with math for this Christmas season. I found a few lists (this is probably the best one), but here are the specific activities that looked like the most fun out of the dozens I perused:

Happy Holidays!


While I'm here, I've got to mention two cool fractal sites, even though they're not Christmas-oriented: