Eating Through My Data

Today I kept track of my data usage while on 3G using what I would refer to as minimal internet usage. The day began with 15 MB already used and my  battery level was at 61%.

I deleted 7 messages in Mail (MobileMe, push), then clicked link on email from Apple to check the status of my Apple iPad Case via FedEx. It’s in Hong Kong, from China.

Lunch time: checked usage. Browsed tv guide (iPad version) for tonight’s episodes of Lost and V. Checked weather with WeatherBug (no video). Checked RSS feeds with NewsRack (33 feeds, 2 new articles). Checked Amazon’s Deals section on Amazon’s iPad app. Browsed my bank website through 1Password. Browsed the USA Today app and read a couple articles (did not look at the day in pictures).

During the day Mail had downloaded 10 messages, 2 of which contained attachments less than 50kb in size.

Back home under the umbrella of my airport Extreme, I switched off 3G and checked my usage – 26MB. Battery is at 43%

Using what I would call minimal usage, I still managed to eat through 11MB of data. I can’t imagine what I would do under regular usage. I guess the Prez of AT&T was correct in stating that us users really have no idea how much data we are really using.

iPad’s in the House!

My iPad arrived yesterday at 1:34 PM. Unusually early for a new Apple device to arrive at my door. Past experience has shown me that if Fedex claims I’ll have my item by 3, I’ll get it by the end of the night, if at all. Once, the item didn’t arrive on said delivery day. My solution was to go to CompUSA and buy the product. The following Monday when the item was delivered, I simply rejected it.

I am very impressed with everything. I played with it all day and most of the night, and still had over 50% battery life available. It is very fast. Just about as fast as the equivalent task on my 27 inch iMac. Safari rips through web pages. Every sweep of the screen, opening and closing of applications happens instantaneously before your eyes. I’m currently writing this on my iPad in WordPress utilizing my Apple Wireless Keyboard. There is no lag between hitting a key and seeing its character appear on the iPad’s screen.

Most applications I have downloaded for the iPad are first rate, except for this WordPress app. They should have left it in the oven for an hour or two more. Hopefully, they’ll get it straightened out soon. I had some serious issues with copy and pasting into WordPress. I was only able to get it to paste once. Right now I’m having an issue with the built-in spell check. WordPress tells me that the word is misspelled, and when I select the correct suggestion nothing happens. There also appears to be no way to enter a tag or category. The fields are there, but claim there are none and refuses to let me input one. I’ll have to look into that more after I finish writing this. (Update: they eventually let me input a new tag, and my categories eventually showed up)

I had already bought my major applications (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) and they were transferred during my initial sync. I received this notification that Activation was in progress and that it might take awhile. After the sync the message persisted, but was able to be dismissed and the iPad was ready for use.

I was excited to see that a couple of my iPhone apps are ready for the big screen: Amazon, IMDb. I was disappointed that a couple of my apps were not ready, mainly Apple apps: iDisk and Gallery. Other apps were ready, but had to be downloaded because they are considered new apps altogether (I’m looking at you, AIM, Twitterrific, and The Weather Channel Max). AIM has a pretty decent app. It might be more useful in the future when they are able to pull off some multi-tasking, but as it stands now, you can’t chat with anyone while doing something else. That is what my iPhone is for, right? It’s my constant “chat window” sitting next to my iPad.

Selecting my 3G data plan was pretty painless. It’s not really an “app” that’s built into the iPad, but rather a browser window of sorts opens up and gives you the options and you have to click your way through the plan. You have to create a login/password account, and that’s what you have to enter every time you want to see your account details, like how much data you’ve consumed. I found that even though I was connected to my Airport Extreme the whole time, iPad still found a way to register a MB of data. If you really want to turn off the cellular traffic flow, I suggest you put the iPad in airplane mode, then turn your wi-fi on. I purchased the $15 plan just to see how much I will use. Hopefully, I can get away with that plan for a month. If so, I’ll go ahead and probably just let it automatically renew itself.

The iPad folio cover was pre-ordered with the iPad, but is backordered and scheduled to ship next week. A quick search on Best Buy tells me it’s also out of stock at my local store. Someone is selling one on Amazon for $90. I’ll pass on that deal, seeing it retails from Apple at $40.

Quicken Essentials for Mac

I eagerly mounted the install volume when I returned from work for the day. My mission: install Quicken Essentials for Mac. I’ve been using Quicken for Mac for some time. Quicken has never been the most aesthetically pleasing application by any reach of the imagination, but it has always done what I’ve required of my money application: it must connect to my financial institution via a direct connection, download my transactions, and automatically reconcile them to what I’ve already entered. That is the only feature I have ever used. That also happens to be the standard by which I choose a bank. It must allow for direct connection; not the other commonly used “download a file and import it manually” that most banks prefer to deal with.

I don’t care about budgeting. I don’t care to print checks. I don’t care to follow investments. I don’t want to use any bill pay features. I don’t even want to export to some tax program. I simply want my money program to talk to my bank and match up to what I’ve entered, and somehow tell me if I’ve made some mistake. So this is the mindset that I have coming at the new Quicken Essentials for Mac.

My first impression was how pretty the eye candy was. Nice revised icon. When importing my existing Quicken data file it gave a pretty cool show, symbolically illustrating the fact that it was importing all my information. That was a 3 step process that could have been shaved down to an automated procedure asking you one simple question: Where is your existing file that you would like to import? Instead, you select File > Import, another window opens telling you to select a file, the file gets converted to a new file and dumped into your Documents folder, and then you have to drag it over to the dialog window you started from so that it can import that converted file.

Now I’m all set. Or so I thought. It imported everything but my password that I use to connect to my bank in order to download all my transactions. I had to dig that password up, because I only used it once: to put into the original Quicken. From that point on, I never typed that pin number again. I found it after much digging (1Password anyone?). It connected to USAA and downloaded all my new transactions.

That’s when the initial panic settled in. How in the name of Zod do I tell what has been reconciled by the bank and what has not? In older Quickens, every transaction was matched to the one I entered and marked as “reconciled.” This made for a simple task of looking down the columns and identifying which transactions that I have previously entered that do not have a big bold “R” in it. This is no longer the case. A quick trip to the user guide PDF informs me that this no longer happens, but I can still perform a manual reconcile if I desire to. Not cool. The whole reason I use this program is so that I do not have to manually reconcile.

After mucking around in the column chooser (control/right click on one of the column headers) I notice one that is labeled “match” and enable it. Now I see the status. All say “downloaded” except one deposit I had entered. It said “downloaded/matched.” So maybe this is how I will be able to keep an eye on my mistakes when I happen to make one. Unfortunately, I won’t know for sure until tonight after I download the new transactions. I’ll follow up on that later.

Speaking of downloading transactions, that process has been immensely improved. There is an update button on the bottom that connects to the bank and downloads transactions in one simple click. Kudos. I hated the fact I had to enter a password every time connected in previous versions.

Tonight’s download and matching will be the determining factor as to whether or not I stick with QEM. My other options will be to stick with Quicken 2007, or go use MoneyDance for a while, as I own that one too.

Follow-up on Downloading transactions

Downloading transactions was very smooth, as I wrote above. This time, entries already entered in were matched correctly to their corresponding download transaction, marked as “Matched (auto)” and the reconciled checkboxed became checked. It looks like I’ll be able to use this.

Reflections Of 2009

I’m seeing a lot of people talking ill of this last year before the double digit decade. I feel for them and wish them a better year this time around, but I had a great year. I had an absolute blast.

January I was enjoying my newly purchased 2009 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic. My first Big Twin HD Motorcycle that replaced my Sporty. Not to say I didn’t enjoy it throughout the rest of the year.

2009 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic

2009 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic

February brought even more rides, including our HOG Chapter’s annual trip to Tombstone, Arizona. My wife and son even went with. Beautiful scenery. Loved the Lavender Pit.

The Lavender Pit, near Tombstone, Arizona

The Lavender Pit, near Tombstone, Arizona

March was my first time out visiting Elephant Butte, New Mexico.

Elephant Butte, New Mexico

Elephant Butte, New Mexico

April brought a whole new aspect to my life for the first time -- house hunting. Carol and I had planned on purchasing a house after our current lease expired, but thought it would be nice to go look at the market, just to see what it was like. Turns out we found a house that day that we both liked. And bought it. By the end of the month we were packed and ready to go. We even got out of our lease.

Our unfinished house

Our unfinished house

Finished house

Finished house

Finished house with landscaping

Finished house with landscaping

The beginning of May is when we moved and spent most of that month getting the house right…

June was when we picked out Dolli, our dog. Part chihuahua and part terrier. And spent more time getting the house right. The garage and entertainment center were the focus of the handy-man. Installed speaker jacks in the walls and ceiling/attic so that no wires would be running visible in the living room.

Cut-outs in the wall for the jacks

Cut-outs in the wall for the jacks

Jacks installed

Jacks installed

Speaker wire drops down from attic and to each individual surround speaker

Speaker wire drops down from attic

Carol started working at her high school in July. Did I mention we did more work on the house? The main focus that month was the kitchen sink and the cupboards. I also rode out to Sitting Bull Falls, New Mexico.

New faucet

Replaced generic faucet with this one

August was the really big project on the house -- the back porch/patio, rock wall on the sides of the property, and another little side porch to hold the trash and recycle bins that connected to the driveway. We also rode out to Alpine and Fort Davis, Texas. It also marked the birthday of Carol!

September I received my new Bunn STX Brewer that I won in a video contest. Poor Dolli got shaved at the groomers “by accident.” Had to buy her a sweater because she was so cold.

Dolli, shaved and wearing a sweater

Dolli, shaved and wearing a sweater

October brought the changing of the leaves and some very nice rides. Not too hot, not too cold. Rode through the Gila National Forrest and Emery Pass in New Mexico. I also turned another year older. This was the month that Carol bought me my KitchenAid professional stand mixer. That has really come in handy.

November was the usual. All the holidays and 4-day weekends come en masse. Time to start eating like there’s no tomorrow, and that lasts through December and into January.

December saw all our toy rides and poker runs for the ramp up to Christmas and the New Year. I also finished up hiding the cables running to and from the entertainment center and the speaker jacks I put in the wall.

Wire panelling installed and painted to match wall

Wire panelling installed and painted to match wall

Wire panelling installed and painted to match wall

Wire panelling installed and painted to match wall

There we have it. The year in review. There are big plans scheduled for next year as well. I hope everyone has a great New Year!

Carol and I

Carol and I

10 Reasons to drop eWeek from your RSS reader

Was somebody fired from Dave Letterman’s show and subsequently picked up over at eWeek? Or are eWeek’s editors losing creativity when assigning names to their articles? Seems like every other feed that comes down the pipes have “10 reasons” or “10 Ways” in the title. This is getting very boring.

I give you 10 recent reasons to drop eWeek from your feed list:

  1. 10 Reasons Why the Windows 7 Upgrade Is Unlike Any Other
  2. 10 Reasons to Stick with Windows XP Until Windows 7 Service Pack 1
  3. 10 Reasons Why It’s Time for Enterprises to Embrace Netbooks
  4. 10 Reasons Why Reliable Windows 7 Security Is Crucial to Users
  5. 10 Reasons Why Microsoft Released Windows Marketplace Too Early
  6. 10 Reasons Why Having Both Macs and PCs Spells Trouble for Apple
  7. 10 Reasons Why Chrome, Firefox Threaten Internet Explorer
  8. 10 Reasons Why Windows 7 Could Be Best Microsoft OS Yet
  9. 10 Reasons Why Chrome OS Will Outshine Nokia, Linux on Netbooks
  10. 10 Reasons Why Palm Pre May Become the Smartphone Flop of 2009