Brandon's Articles, Page 6 of 32
My Time Capsule hard drive bit the dust yesterday. (Airport Utility is giving me a “Internal disk needs repair” error.) Apple Care said my only option is to reformat it, which would mean losing all of my data… including my iTunes library! This is unacceptable, as I have more than 100 GB of music. In hindsight, it was a bad idea to store it there … but it doesn’t fit on my iMac or Macbook and I figured a server-grade hard drive would stick around a while.
- Get a 1 TB external hard drive and a SATA USB dock. (Already ordered. Even if this plan is bogus, I will still need the external hard drive to do this the “right” way.)
Music I purchased in March 2009:
- Adicts, The – Rise and Shine
- Against Me! – Reinventing Axl Rose
- Andrew Bird – _ Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs_
- Apples in Stereo, The – New Magnetic Wonder
- Dismemberment Plan, The – Emergency & I
- Gratitude – Gratitude
- MewithoutYou – Catch for Us the Foxes
- Peter Bjorn and John – Seaside Rock
- Say Hi – The Wishes and the Glitch
I’ve mentioned it before, but I have a fairly clear investment plan:
- Maintain an emergency fund to cover six months’ expenses.
- Contribute enough to my 401k to maximize the company match.
- Max out Roth IRAs for my wife and me.
- Max out 401k.
- Pursue other investment opportunities.
My question here is about the last step. What investments are you pursuing (or would you like to pursue) assuming the things in steps 1-4 are covered? Some options I’ve considered include CDs, extra home payments, and peer lending.
Albums I bought in February 2009:
- Andrew Bird – Noble Beast – Singer/songwriter sweetness.
- Denison Witmer – Carry the Weight – More singer/songwriter sweetness.
- Good Riddance – My Republic – Makes me rather ticked off this is their last (non-live) album.
- Pretendo – II – I’m 87% sure this is a bust.
- Steel Train – Twilight Tales from the Prairies of the Sun
- These Arms Are Snakes – Tail Swallower and Dove
I bought a house in 2008, but I wasn’t sure if any of the rumored tax benefits would apply to me. I knew origination points were deductible, but I used a “no-fee” mortgage from Bank of America (i.e., I paid no origination points). I also knew property taxes and mortgage interest were deductible – but those are deductions I’ll be able to make every year I pay them (not just the year I buy the home). So … where is the big tax break?
With the help of my dad, who has worked in both the tax and mortgage industries, I discovered three things I could deduct on my HUD-1 (the document summarizing my home purchase finances). These deductions resulted in a large refund increase, so I thought I’d share.
When my wife and I bought our current house about a year ago, we knew exactly what kind of kitchen backsplash we wanted. Although the builder didn’t have the option, we did succeed in convincing them to not charge us to leave the tile off. (That’s right. They were going to charge us to not tile our backsplash.) Months later I finally got around to doing the project myself – using marble mosaic tile. If you like it, read on; this … is its story.1
The starting point
Your starting surface will require various levels of preparation depending on your kitchen. As I mentioned above, we saved ourselves the trouble of removing old tile by having the builder leave it off. If you have tile to remove, I suggest following the instructions given in How To Build a Glass-Mosaic Tile Fireplace.2 Here is how things looked before I started:
I take quite a few pictures with my BlackBerry for work. Luckily, my employer was nice enough to buy me a 4GB micro SD card that fits in nicely behind the battery in my Curve.1 Unfortunately, I started receiving the following error a couple weeks ago:
A Media Card has been insterted that contains errors. To correct the errors please use a disk error-checking utility on a computer.
This error would pop up any time I tried to access something on the media card through the phone, or any time I plugged the BB into my computer and entered Mass Storage Mode.2 There were some other odd issues, too. Images on the media card still showed up on my phone background or as profile pictures, but I couldn’t access them through the phone. I could, however, access them through the computer. Additionally, the phone wasn’t able to store photos to the media card directly when taken, and I couldn’t move photos to the media card after they were taken.
If you’re hip to the indie rock scene, chances are you’ve heard of Okkervil River.1 Or, if you’re not quite so hip but make occasional trips to places like the Container Store, you might have at least heard something from their latest album, The Stand Ins – probably “Lost Coastlines.” Well, if you check out the “Lost Coastlines” video and count to the sixth face shown (the fifth if you don’t count the singer), you’ll catch a few glimpses of Brian Cassidy. His head is in a TV a few times along the way, too.2
Music I purchased in January 2009:
- 36 Crazyfists – The Tide and Its Takers
- Copeland – You Are My Sunshine
- Every Time I Die – The Big Dirty
- Forgive Durden – Wonderland
- Fratellis, The – Costello Music
- From First to Last – From First to Last
- Good Life, The – Album of the Year
- Joan of Arc – Boo Human!
- Matches, The – A Band in Hope
I like iPhoto, but sometimes the Enhance button just doesn’t cut it. Take the following image, for instance:
It’s a not horrible photo, but it could use some … enhancement. So, I click the button and get this:
Ouch. The colors are brighter, but something about it just doesn’t look natural. After a quick command+Z gets me back to the original, I click the Adjust button to explore my options.
I’m sure if I were a photo-editing guru, I’d know just how to tweak all of things. But, I’m not.
Having just come out of my first complete Employee Share Purchase Plan (ESPP)1 “cycle,” I’m somewhat disappointed at how naive I was going in.2 I was so excitemented to buy into a very profitable, guaranteed investment, that I failed to analyze the steps in detail. Doing so would have helped me have more realistic expectations, as well as allowed me to maximize my profit. Hopefully this will help others in my position fifteen months ago make more informed investment decisions.3
At first glance, my company’s ESPP seemed almost too good to be true. The high-level process goes like this:
Music I purchased in December 2008:
- Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid: excellent indie rock album
- Elvis Perkins – Ash Wednesday: solid singer/songwriter, but the album feels a little front heavy
- Fall Out Boy – Folie Ã Deux: return to form after the somewhat druggy Infinity On High
- Killers, The – Day & Age: I still don’t understand why Sam’s Town got such mediocre reviews, but it’s easy to see why critics are raving about Day & Age.
- Metallica – Death Magnetic: I never thought I’d live to see the day Metallica released another face melter. The instrumental in the middle is rather boring, but the majority of the album is black album-esque.
I’ve always been a little skeptical of the “unsubscribe” links at the bottom of advertising emails – whether the emails are expected or not. I just find it hard to believe a company wouldn’t take advantage of the feedback to verify an active email address. It was only recently, however, that my fears were confirmed … at least in one case.
My small family and I lived in an apartment recently to span the period between selling our old house and moving into our new one. Unfortunately, the apartment didn’t have a gas hookup for our drying, and we ended up renting one from Aaron’s. The cost was decent and I liked the idea that they wouldn’t run a credit report. (It’s not that my credit is bad. I’ve just heard credit checks themselves can have a negative impact on your score.) Little did I know Aaron’s would persist in sending the black heart of spam to my inbox well over a year later.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I have a little hard drive space problem. I need some time to figure out exactly what solution I want to pursue, so I looked to online tips to help me free up some space in the meantime. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much of anything useful. (Yes, I know I should empty my trash. Is that really all you can come up with?) My fellow OmniNerds, on the other hand, came through for me with two tips worth sharing.
First, my wife discovered iPhoto has its own separate trash receptacle. If you use iPhoto as frequently as we do, right clicking on the Trash icon under the Recent menu and selecting Empty Trash could free up some serious space (over 1 GB in my case).