October, 2009


Playing With Friends And Hiking The Gorge

Sun Oct 25, 2009 7:32:35 pm by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, Fun, General, Health, a little about life

This weekend a buddy of mine was in town from Texas. After college he moved down there for work, so I do not see him too much. I decided to give the job search a break for most of Friday and play with him instead. That night we met up with friends and watched the UP women’s soccer team play St. Mary’s. They won 5-1. Fun times indubitably.

Today, four of us hiked Cape Horn on the Washington side of the Gorge. About a seven mile hike. I would definitely suggest it. There are a ton of viewpoints over the river. Easy to moderate hike. Shocking, I gave up watching the Packers to go socialize. Odd, I know.

Tonight I am pooped, so baseball playoffs and then bed time.


Bill Pay By Due Date, Please

Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:08:41 pm by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, Finance, General

Ok, I am going to rant a little now. Feel free to tone out if you wish.

As you are probably aware, many banks and online stores allow you to use some type of electronic bill pay. Simply put, this allows you to specify a payee, amount, and date to make a payment. The bank will then send a (physical) check on your behalf to the payee on that date. Pretty nifty.

I use these for everything: rent, credit card payments, transfers to savings, etc. In fact, I have even used these to pay friends and family back when I owe them money. For example, my sister and I will buy gifts for our parents and I will pay her back using this method. Quite easy. I do not think I have actually written a check in three years since I started completely using this system.

Ok, history over, now rant time.

When creating a payment I have noticed banks, institutions, and otherwise will allow you to choose the date to send it. For one-time or manual payments this works groovy. It will show you (normally on a calendar) how long it takes to mail, including weekends and holidays and when it will arrive. Perfect.

Recurring payments are not as nice. I will use my rent as an example. It is due on the first of every month. It takes five business days to mail. This means it must be mailed the prior week for every month that the first is not on a Friday. Given, month lengths I have specified to have it sent on the 26th of each month. This makes it late, but my apartment does not count late payments until the fourth.

Now, image this is December with super holiday time. If the 26th is Christmas Day Observed, then the payment is not processed or mailed. Ugg. Results equal late payment. (I did not do the math, so this might be a bad example. Point is, holidays screw it up. Moving on.)

Currently, I monitor these months and manually modify their schedule. I am assuming there are a couple days a year where money is transfered earlier than needed because others follow a similar system.

Better Solution. Can I specify a due date (last day of month)? The system would then determine how many days ahead it needs to send the payment – considering holidays, USPS schedule, and such – and send accordingly.

This is a win for the consumer and the bank. The customer gets money in their account longer and more accurate payment processing. The bank gets more money in their accounts and less headache from missed payments.

Alternatively, actually using an ETF process would be even faster and accurate.


Finding the Top of My Desk

Tue Oct 13, 2009 3:27:12 pm by Dustin
Filed under General, Household, a little about life

Three years ago, I moved into my current apartment. It has two bedrooms all to me. My intentions were to actually use the second bedroom as an office/study. Well that has not really happened until today. Up to this point, my spare room was a clearing house for my books, extra computer, and, well, storage. My laptop primarily lived on my couch or dining room table.

Today I took the time to find the top of my desk between researching for an interview I have at the end of the week. I found out a couple things about myself:

  • I have a ton of books. Holy crap. In addition to a bookshelf containing all my textbooks from college, there are also five moving boxes full. For some reason, I enjoy keeping these. The shelves on the bookcase are beginning to sage from the weight. I think I will need a new one in the future.
  • The computer I took to college is now broken. It will not even load in Safe Mode. I guess seven years will do that. I had intended this to be a backup for music, movies, etc. This may not be necessary in the near future. Either way, I might have a project coming up.
  • Finding the top of my desk really just meant moving things from the desk to my futon or my living room. The living room pile, mostly old electronics, will have a ceremonial departure. The rest needs to be in a filing cabinet or something. Go projects.

My goal will be to use this room more often. In the near future, I should have plenty of time to create a work inducing environment as I look for a new job.

I also feel I need a new desk. My current desk is nice and all, but it has an oak top. This surface is not nice to write with. Although I do not actually write with a pencil/pen often, but when I do, this desk is not sanded finely enough. The surface area could be bigger too.

This post is not the most entertaining I have written, but, personally, I am glad I have the first of this cleaning done.


A Good Weekend

Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:26:12 am by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, Fun, General, a little about life

This last weekend I traveled North to visit my parents. My mom’s birthday is coming up, so this was a good time to visit. I had not seen my parents since mid-August when the three of us went to Wisconsin for a long weekend.

Since I am not doing anything pressing during the day, I decided to go up Thursday afternoon and came back last night. I had a darn-tooten good time.

Thursday, we stayed in, had some beers, and caught up.

I have some pretty awesome connections in the dental industry. I also lack dental insurance. On Friday, I was privileged to get a free checkup.

Friday night, my parents were having some friends over for a bonfire and bratwursts. Yumm yumm yumm. There is nothing like 10 foot flames and brats to make a guy happy. Way too much whiskey too.

Saturday, we headed over to Puyallup, WA for Oktoberfest NW for some beer, brats, and Polka dancing (for the parents). My parents have a routine I found out. It goes as follows: dance a Polka, get a drink of beer between songs, and repeat as needed. I think this was my sixth Oktoberfest of the season.

All in all, a good weekend. My dad only told me to get a job about 18 times – that is low for him.


Analyzing Corporate Web Application Needs

Thu Oct 8, 2009 10:26:23 am by Dustin
Filed under General, Software

I have always been interested in creating software that either is the foundation to easily meet a corporate need or makes making software easier. For example, a shopping cart to integrate into any web application or a tool for optimizing the software development process, respectively.

I thought I would brainstorm some areas of the former. The hope will be to narrow where gaps exist in the market.

For starters, what are the web needs of the typical business? They probably fall into these categories:

  • Informative Website
  • Productivity
  • Products/Service
  • Infrastructure
  • Integration

I think I will step through each of these. I am pulling this from memory, so nothing formal at this stage.

Informative Website

Any business has some form of an informative website. They range from Berkshire Hathaway’s 1994-style site to very complex.

From the software side, this lower market seems tapped. A general CMS will meet the needs for anybody. Everybody and their brother does web skinning and CMS customization for basic informative sites. Additionally, I would call these websites not web apps so not interested. The middle market seems tapped as well. There are software packages to assist these slightly more advanced sites. Think of Wordpress for blogging or DotNetNuke for advanced features. So how about the high end (enterprise) market? Image a CMS behind an online newspaper, magazine, or advanced forum.

I think I will leave that question open for now.

Productivity

You might also call this collaboration. Consider email, chat options, word processing, etc as examples of this section. Google Apps and Office Live, among many others, may not make this area full, but it will make it very competitive.

Entering this section is going to vastly competitive. Highly niche products and services may succeed.

Products/Service

Custom development obviously fits into this category. Many organizations will build these in-house (Google). Others outsource (eBay – rumored, do not quote me). There are options for many custom development firms. I am more curious in making a tool in a specific market to make these sites easier. Ning did this with social networks – supposedly. Additionally, coming up with a fresh idea would be fun.

Options are definitely available.

Infrastructure

Some may also call this the company intranet or portal. I am going to group these into a single category. A company may have a project management system, ERP, document management system, hr/payroll processing, and many many more. There are a myriad of options here. Some systems combine all these processes. Some industries have off the shelf tools to aid those companies. Higher Education has Banner. Construction has Viewpoint.

More research is needed in this area.

Integration

Integration is a rather ambiguous category. I am going to call it anything that either combines two or more of the above categories or converts a legacy system into a new system.

I would say this market is very open if you know integrating X with Y does not have competition. Finding X and Y will be the challenge.

Some final thoughts…

It may seem there are some availabilities in the market. The high end versions of an Informational Website will need more research. I think I will stay out of the Productivity section – too much competition. I love products, so Products/Services is not out of line. This area requires an idea. Infrastructure, similar to Productivity, is a huge market with many competitors. More research will need to be done here too. I am not going to remove Integration from any list either.

And now, I read and talk to people and, well, research. Anybody have any thoughts?