dance, money. dance like you never danced before

I’ve found a solution to one of the Windows problems I mentioned. I’ve now replaced Quicken with a cross-platform solution called Moneydance. Moneydance uses Java, so it runs on Windows, Mac and Linux boxen with all the same features.

One of the things in Quicken that I really would have missed was the debt reduction planner. This is a tool that takes all your existing debt (mortgage, car loans, credit cards, etc.) and puts them together in an organized fashion so that you can maximize the effectiveness of your payments and reduce your overall interest cost. Using this, I was able to put a plan together so we could pay off our house in eleven years without having to live on ramen noodles and tap water.

Turns out that Moneydance has a plugin that does the same thing! Since there is an api, there are several plugins for specific needs such as: stock price updates, exchange rates, and credit card payoff calculators.

Moneydance isn’t free (either as in speech or beer) but it is cheap at $29.99 and well worth the money.

I’ve actually been running it on both Windows and Kubuntu Linux (version 7.04 “feisty”) and it’s been working great, and the time I spent working to make a logical transition (about six hours) made it easy to get running with it.

One down.

bar none

Ever since we moved and I started my new job, coworkers who knew we used to live in Northfield have been very resourceful in finding news articles that seem to point out the absurd situations and people related to that community. Occasionally, I find some on my own. Like this one from the Locally Grown blog.

City of Northfield earns “Friend of the Bar” award from MSBA

Seems the fine citizens of Northfield are spending a great deal of their public and private money to keep the pockets of several capable attorneys well-lined. Maybe I should seriously consider that law school idea…

blog action day

What? Blogs are taking action? That’s ridiculous.

Really. It’s ridiculous to expect that people writing blogs will “change the world” by writing about a topic. The only hope is that it puts that topic in the minds of people who are reading those blogs and maybe somebody, somewhere decides to change something. So it’s ridiculous, but still an appealing idea.

So I thought it was a good excuse to write a quick note about some of the things we’re doing at our home to try and help the environment as part of Blog Action Day.

First, we are slowly changing over to compact fluorescent bulbs throughout the house. The latest room was the main bath where we got some fancy ones to replace the decorative globe bulbs that had been in there. We also have several dedicated fluorescent fixtures, such as in the garage, the shop and our laundry/utility room.

Second, we have been getting more diligent about recycling. Especially the aluminum cans that we generate. By bringing them to a redemption center, we can get a little cash that is going to add to the college savings for the kids. Not a lot, but more than nothing.

And third, we have been slowly decreasing our overall energy use by using the air conditioner less and turning things off that we aren’t using. My wife is great about turning things off. Usually just when I’m planning on using them…

So we aren’t doing much yet. If we could afford it, I’d love to get some solar PV panels on the roof to generate part of the electricity we use, or maybe even one of those small wind turbines. Of course, with the money we are saving (did I mention that all of this stuff saves us money? Nice side benefit, huh?) we could set some aside to invest in that type of technology. Maybe in a few years…

when linux evangelism falls flat

I managed to put my Linux foot in my mouth. Bad nerd!

A few days ago I was having coffee with a few friends when the topic of computers came up. Now, this particular group of friends does not get together to talk about technology (I have other interests, you know) but various topics come up when someone is having problems they think one of the group can solve. One guy gets asked about cars, another about snowmobiles and I often get asked about computers.

The problem was a new Windows Vista machine that a friend recently purchased. He was having a lot of trouble: not able to get user accounts set up, having problems with specific peripherals, unable to get a reliable internet connection (dialup). Since I have absolutely zero experience with Vista, I could only speak in general terms about Windows issues and what I knew about the new security methods used. Naturally, the topic of Linux came up.

Someone asked me if I thought Linux was a good alternative to Windows and, of course, I enthusiastically shouted “Yes!” and began dancing on the table in celebration of another instant convert!

Okay, so maybe that was an embellishment. I proudly mentioned that I use Linux on my laptop and have the option set up to use it on my desktop. The follow-up question is where I really slipped in the cow pie of my own self-confidence: “So it’s pretty good as far as using different kinds of applications?”

“Sure is!” I said with a big nerd grin. “Well, except I use Quicken so I need Windows for that to run without major surgery. Oh, and I also have the TiVo Desktop to download shows from the two TiVo machines. And I guess I also use at least one video editor that isn’t available for Linux.”

I’m an idiot.

After such an utter display of failure I kept my mouth shut other than to make arrangements to go over and help my friend fix his computer.

But this really got me thinking about how I use Linux and how much I really want to get away from using Windows as the primary desktop in my house. (And I decided I needed to write about it after my wife asked me when we were going to switch.)

So I’m starting this week to make a more concerted effort to take care of those last few things that keep me tethered to Windows. Those things are:

  • Quicken
  • iTunes
  • TiVo Desktop
  • Video Redo

I’ve got a few ideas, but haven’t been able to get them going. I’ll try them out and post something on the success or failure here. Here we go with the next project!