2010 Midway Point

Mon Jul 5, 2010 8:30:26 am by Dustin
Filed under Finance, General, Health, Payroll, a little about life

The first half of this year has been gradually getting better. I was not a fan of 2009 and some of its annoyances traversed into the first part of this year. We seem to be making some progress though and 2010 is looking better.

As is my tradition, I thought I would review my progress at my 2010 goals.

  • Gain Weight … Err, Eat Better and Exercise – As of this morning, I have lost four pounds. My progress to actually gain weight has been a roller coaster. I was up about ten pounds pretty quickly. When I started biking, I lost 15 pounds in three weeks. I have gained that back in my leg mostly. I probably wont fight to get to my, now, 27 pounds by the end of the year. I will keep trying though.

    My real goal of eating better and exercise is working though. I virtually bike everywhere. I lift weights. I could be better at this though. I eat like crazy. Without being anal, I have almost cut red meat, pop, and candy out of my diet.

    I feel great. I think there are two times in my life I have been in better shape. The first was late in my high school running career (about 16-7 years old) when I was running 60 miles a week. The second was my last summer working construction (20 years old). I was lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, jack hammering, etc 30-50 pounds for 60 hours a week.

  • Updated Net Worth – I am a little behind the original 126.3158%. I have a 55% change thus far which puts me at 110% by the end of the year. I had a couple large purchases which impacted the progress – bike, rain gear, and Wisconsin trip. I might be able to cut some costs in the last half of the year to catch up.
  • No House – I have not bought a house, but I did move to NE Portland. Double win. I do want to own a home but still do not know if Portland is where that will be.

The rest of my life is going well. I am still working at Conducive Technology and our FlightStats project is growing like crazy. I still have the life goal to start my own company and Conducive is teaching me some powerful knowledge which will pay off one day. Unless a business opportunity comes a knocking, I plan to stay where I am.

Fixing The Derivatives Market

Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:46:32 pm by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, Finance, General

Derivatives are an interesting beast in the financial world. They can be very powerful or very hazardous.

Although I find finance fascinating, I am no expert. I do know there is some ambiguity between how GAAP applies to derivatives. This miscommunication causes investors and the public to be unaware of the true state of a company’s assets and debts. AIG is a good example of this. At its peak, it was 11 times leverages. That means $11 of debt for every $1 of assets. I personally do not feel all debt is bad. There becomes a point where my investment becomes hindered.

Chris Dodd thinks would we should publicly trade derivatives. Rather I would vote we get them completely on balance sheets. This get the numbers in the hands of investors quarterly. Public traded assets get forgot; quarterly reminders puts pressure of executives.

John Ross Building Tour

Sun Apr 4, 2010 11:28:53 am by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, Finance, Fun, General, Household, a little about life

Yesterday, Jason and I traveled over to the John Ross building for an information session about its upcoming auction. For all of you who are wondering, wow, this is a nice building.

Going into the day, I was still leaning toward actually attending the auction. Yes, yes, I know I said I would not buy a house this year. Looking at the possible purchase prices of some of these units, I was curious enough to get more information.

The building was open to the public, so we went through about a dozen units. I found two units I was really, really, really interested in 1618 and 2018. Both are the same floor plan – one bed, bath, and study – facing Southwest.

I spoke with two realtors while traversing the building. One basically told me I would be an idiot to not – at my age – buy one of the units. The other thought anybody who bought was an idiot since purchase prices were expected to be 60% of the minimum auction price. This person also told me unit 1218 – same floor plan as I liked – was a short sale she was trying to sell. The most recent offer on that until was $215k, putting it at ~40% increase.

Those purchase prices plus huge taxes and larger HOA convinced me to not buy – again. Although it is a lovely place in an area of town that is most likely going to boom, I still should not buy.

An Example Of Lack Of Journalism

Thu Mar 25, 2010 8:50:08 am by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, Finance, General

Inc Magazine has an article out called Greed is Google. To summarize, Google is looking for bond trader to help it maintain its $24 billion is cash reserves and that is ‘evil’.

First of all, many companies have similar positions. A company with large cash holdings can either pay it to its shareholders, give out bonuses, increase its infrastructure, or invest it. I am sure you could classify other categories, but you get the point.

The question I have: Why are you attacking Google? Is it because they know more about you than other companies? Possibly. Can you do much about it? Not yet – well not use their services.

Why not attack, say, GE? Their healthcare unit creates MRI machines while GE Capital is one of the largest ‘banks’ in the country. Their bond traders must be using all that MRI data to trade foreign government bonds and destroy our lives. The list of medium and large size companies who try to increase their cash through investing could continue.

The Google “Don’t be evil” Achilles Heel might be an easy target to sell magazines though.

OpenData Standards

Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:34:10 am by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, Finance, General, Software, Tools and Tricks

How much about you does the outside world know about you? I am particularly interested in the web world – as usual. Think about it for a couple minutes.

The last purchase you made on Amazon was saved and reused to better predict what you might (or will) purchase next. Facebook knows who you are, your age, what you enjoy, who your friends are, what they like to do, who you hang out with most often. Each of the Facebook Apps you have installed can see these characteristics too. Your emails, phone calls, location – this list goes on – can be logged by many organizations.

Heck even this site has some of these controls. Its analytics system will collect when you came to the site and how you got here. It does not know that you are Bob, but it does know any generic information a marketer might want to know. Added a comment becomes worse. Assuming you do not lie, your name, email, web address, and location are forever stored.

My point is not that this is good or bad. Rather, it exists. I would like to stay neutral on the accumulation of such data.

Instead, I would like to promote a new web standard called OpenData. For those of you who are not knee deep in how the web is created, there are many ‘open’ standards. OpenID and OpenSocial to name some, but the list could continue.

A quick search on the Internets will not produce the ‘open data’ I am referencing. Open Data is more commonly referred to as making some information open to the public – patents, legislation, etc – without restriction.

My goal is different. I would like a standard to help me as a consumer of these data collecting services to control the information they know about me. Once the OpenData standards and structure are in place, I could use a third-party app to control (add, modify, delete) the amount or types of data these services know about me.

At a technical level, this would be a non-trivial process. Even getting around a companies data backup policy could be a huge bottleneck since in many cases this data is not easily accessible. Auditing (internal or external) procedures would also limit the ability for a company to remove, say, purchasing records.

Either way, the world would probably benefit from this type of standard.