I’m installing Ecobee 3 thermostats. I really like the one at our lake house (1990s heating plant) so I started installing them in our regular home (1900s heating plant).
Things did not go smoothly. I’m mixing late 20th century and early 20th century electrical technology. The simple job became complicated. This is called the mushroom factor in some old-house maintenance communities: surprises in the infrastructure can make a normally easy task mushroom into a major project.
Continue reading Mushrooms and Thermostats
[Update: Kohl’s has distributed new credit cards that actually work with Apple Pay]. Kohl’s and Apple have been merrily posting all sorts of stuff about how Apple Pay now works with Kohl’s charge card.
In my own experience, this celebration is premature.
I attach my interchange with Kohl’s “secure communications” to their credit card group. This is also consistent with a telephone conversation I had with one of their customer support people: nobody at Kohl’s knows anything about Apple Pay support.
Continue reading Kohl’s doesn’t really do Apple Pay after all, I suppose
Biscuit got one of those spiffy new Apple phones a few weeks back. This morning she tripped over the Apple Pay mechanism and asked me about it. We registered her American Express card – no problem. Then we tried to register her Barclaycard. After unexpected delays, she left to take a shower. I remained on the line twenty eight and a half minutes to complete the process. The precise time came from the iPhone’s display. We’re still not sure if this worked – Amex sent me an email confirmation, but I haven’t seen any response from Barclays.
Continue reading Barclaycard vs Apple Pay: customer loses
I started doing personal finances (especially taxes) on a venerable Heath H89 I picked up back in 1980. I graduated to Macintax in ’85 using a borrowed Mac 512. I started online banking in about ’89 with CheckFree software, eventually migrated to “Managing Your Money,” and then to Quicken (who probably absorbed CheckFree’s consumer services). After that, I bounced between Macs and PCs using various versions of Quicken.
My desktop is now a Macintosh but I continue to use PC Quicken. I tried to break free last month, and failed.
Despite having to migrate every few years, I’ve achieved a few things pretty consistently with my financial software. It isn’t everything everyone wants. I do enough to keep me atop finances and tax reporting requirements.
Continue reading A Jaded Look at Home Financial Software
I’ve been looking for a substitute for PC Quicken that I could run on my Mac. I figured, “How hard can it be to create something with the features I need?” Too hard, I guess. Quicken’s own Mac version falls short in a lot of ways, too, but that’s another story.
I tried Moneydance. It doesn’t download all of the accounts I need.
I tried iBank. It came a lot closer, especially if you’re willing to pay for their “direct access to banks” subscription. However, they haven’t figured out what it means to reconcile an account without a paper statement.
How 20th century of them.
Continue reading iBank and Moneydance fail
My friend John shared this one with me – a company with Russian connections has spent over $200K to buy the domain name “ebola.com.” That’s weird enough, but a Slate correspondent took the time to dissect the transaction, which involves stock in a “marijuana company” and a seller who also owns “birdflu.com.”
Continue reading Ebola news of the weird – financial edition
Every time people have congregated on interactive computer terminals, someone has put together chat and email systems. The systems we use today are based on “RFCs” – informal specifications developed by a community we now think of as “the Internet technical community.” In other words, no one person invented email. It arose from teamwork and cooperation.
[Update: Here’s a link to an article about Ray Tomlinson, who probably constructed the computer-to-computer email system, using the ARPANET. He pulled together memo headers like To:, From:, and Date: into an email format and then chose the “@” sign to separate a user’s personal ID from their mail host’s name.]
But according to the friends and publicists for VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the community story is wrong. Shiva actually created the whole thing himself in 1978, as documented by many web sites with names like www.inventorofemail.com. Huffington Post recently published a string of blog posts reporting his claim. Huffpost retracted the articles a couple days ago.
Continue reading Inventing Email