Now accepting bitcoins.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Worthless eTrade

I decided to sell a few stocks and close my eTrade account, since their annual fees and commissions make it impossible to get any more returns than I can get from a savings account.

This is not as easy as you might expect.

One of my stocks has a value of $0. It's not even something I purchased - it's one of those mystery stocks that got created when there was a merger, or spinoff, or something. Well, I can't close my account until I liquidate these shares. And the only way to liquidate these shares is to print out a paper form ("Worthless Securities Authorization Form") and mail it in to them. And, by the way, there is a $5 charge to liquidate my worthless security:

Once I liquidate my worthless security, and sell everything ($12 commission for each), then I have to figure out how to transfer the funds to another account. Then I can ask them to close my account. Of course, they'll probably have hit me for two or three more annual fees by then.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Please Select Your Country

I am willing to embrace the flat world and its global market. However, this does not mean that I want to sift through a list of EVERY FREAKING COUNTRY to select United States from the bottom of the list on a web form.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This company did the list in an intelligent way, listing the most likely countries of origin on the top:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

There are many examples of other ridiculous pull-down lists as well. Another one that really annoys me is time zone selection. Blogspot, for example, gives you over 150 time zones to chose from for your blog. As far as I know, there are only 24 possible hours of the day it could be at any given location at any given time. What ridiculous pull-down lists drive you mad?

That really...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Apple iPod Incompatible With Polarized Sunglasses

As the weather gets nicer, I found myself outside more, enjoying my iPod. It's only now that I've discovered that I can't see the display in bright daylight when I am wearing my sunglasses. That is because I wear polarized sunglasses, and the iPod display, being liquid crystal (LCD), is also polarized. They oriented the polarization of the display screen to be at a slant with respect to the normal viewing angle. This means that the display is only roughly half as bright as it should be, unless I tilt the iPod at a funky angle.

Apple's engineers must be lazy. I can't think of a good reason why they didn't oriented the screen for maximum brightness when viewed horizontally. They went to such an effort to make the screen super bright, so that you can enjoy it in daylight. Did they not expect you to wear sunglasses? Maybe they are working on iShades (coming out in August) that will be more compatible with the iPod.

I wonder if the screens are installed randomly (though I seriously doubt it)? Does anybody else have the same problem with their display? I will be examining my friends' iPods closely.

For what it's worth, I checked my GPS unit display and it is set up properly for full brightness when viewed horizontally. Kudos Garmin!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Please Consult Your Tax Advisor

I am completely sick of advertisements that say "please consult your tax advisor".

First of all, these companies are just making this disclaimer so they can say anything they want in their marketing campaign. "HOME EQUITY LOANS - FULLY DEDUCTIBLE" (to determine deduction eligibility, please consult your tax advisor)

: We are normal people! We are not rich marketing executives. I do not have a team of advisors. The only advisor in my house advises me twice a week to take out the trash. I have never had a tax advisor. And if I did, he'd charge me an arm and a leg to find out that your scheme is not tax deductible because I am not blind and disabled. I don't even know anyone who has a tax advisor. (The guy at the mall who, once a year, charges you $150 to punch your W-2 into a computer does not count).

Search for "consult your tax advisor" on the web and you will get 694,000 hits. All of them are people trying to sell something to us that we are not smart enough to understand. I am going to start selling a set of car tires that are guaranteed to last for 300,000 miles. I will include a disclaimer that says "consult your hydrocarbon polymer engineer".

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Worst Passover Math EVER

Happy Passover!

Manischewitz may have the best Matzo Ball Mix around, but they sure aren't any good at math. Looking at the nutritional facts, it's clear that a package makes about 18 matzo balls. Then again, looking at the back of the box, you get a different story. First of all, is a "package" a packet, or a carton? Apparently 12 (or 24?) is about 18. Which is it???

This really isn't Kosher!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

AMF Village Lanes

I took my children to AMF Village Lanes for an afternoon of bowling, along with their cousin who was staying with us for the week.

The first issue is that they would not take my coupon. Even though they are clearly listed on the website I went to as "AMF Village Lanes", they said they were privately owned and thus could not honor the coupon. I don't think it would kill them to honor our "Buy one kids game, get one free" coupon, to drum up some loyal local business. So I guess they don't mind the prestige of the AMF name, except when it comes to taking my coupon.

The bigger issue was when we violated the snack policy. Since my kids generally don't eat 3-day old hot dogs and beer, I took some Nutri-grain bars and juice boxes out of my backpack for the kids to eat. We went over to the designated tables, to make sure we wouldn't get food in the bowling area (even though this would have only added to the crushed chips and other debris that was already there next to the lane when we arrived). The alley guy came over and told us we would have to throw out our snacks because there is "No outside food or drink" permitted in the premises. (By the way, outside cigarettes are clearly not a problem). I told him he could try to take the juice box away from my 3-year old. Then he gave us the other option, which was to take it outside. So the four of us go outside the side door and sit on the asphalt in the parking lot eating our snack. A few minutes later, the guy comes out and says we can't take bowling shoes outside, so we will have to take off the shoes or go back inside. We went back in and the 3-year old hid in the corner to finish his snack bar while his cousin acted as "look-out".

By the way, for some very funny discussion about Village Lanes, look at some of the comments on this bowling2u page. I think Heather sums it up best with her commentary on 11/3/06. I won't spoil it for you, but she manages to precisely describe the decor, staff, activities, clientele, pricing, and equipment in one short paragraph.