31337

Dec. 7th, 2010 12:30 pm
prog: (zarf's werewolf)
That's the final dollar amount of Zarf's fundraiser. I know, right?

Warmest congratulations and excitements to [livejournal.com profile] radiotelescope, who will officially launch his full-time, solo game-development career with the start of 2011! It's been a long time coming.

O fortuna

Apr. 1st, 2010 08:06 pm
prog: (Default)
Good money-thing:

• I am paying my taxes in full and on time for the first time since leaving the salaried world five years ago. (I made this announcement weeks ago on Twitter, but then learned I wrote the wrong bank account number on my e-filings. Oops. Today I mailed away some paper checks.)

Bad money-things:

• My relationship with one Appleseed client was sundered suddenly and utterly last month, costing me a lot of money and lost time. For reasons I can't get into here, seeking to recoup the financial losses is not an option, even though I have no culpability in the incident. This results in a financial pinch I will feel for months.

• I spilled coffee on my MacBook last month, damaging it variously. It still technically works, but limps along with half its components blown out and an overheating (and therefore slowed-down) CPU. I've tried to use it anyway for the last few weeks, but am basically out of patience; this is the main tool not just of my creative life but of my day job as well, and my putting off its inevitable replacement is just bleeding away my billable time. Purchasing its replacement adds some extra torque to that financial pinch, though at least I get a better computer out of it.

Compounding all this, these pinches picked a bad time to happen. March was destined to be a low-earning month for me, between a planned DC vacation and then PAX.

On the bright side, at least I can pay for all this. I mucked out my credit card balance enough that I can fill it back up again. This does not delight me, because it means that I will have to put off plans for an I'm-out-of-debt party I was planning on throwing come late summer. But at least I can cope.
prog: (Default)
OK, I'm still making too many screwups with all my bank accounts. Just blew another $50 in overdraft fees, despite my best efforts. (From two unrelated $25-each blunders, no less.)

I'm happy enough with using ING - and using Yodlee to manage my accounts there - that tomorrow I'm gonna march down to Central Bank and close my personal account with them. This will mean that all my ING deposits will have to happen through snail mail, instead of my current system of depositing to Central in-person and then shuttling the money to ING via web. (And occasionally mistiming something, for another $25 fee.) But that's OK; it's a small inconvenience to face versus the hundreds of dollars I lose annually to silly mistakes.

Keeping my Appleseed account at Central, because ING doesn't offer business checking - only business savings. (I do own such an account, and use it for tax withholding.) I will henceforth withdraw money from Appleseed not by visiting Central and filling out account-transfer slips, but by writing myself checks, and then popping them in the mail! And y'know what... this idea appeals to me.

I smirk at how much I'm looking forward to doing this tomorrow morning. I shall have my revenge! Uh-huh.

Munny

Jul. 11th, 2009 01:13 am
prog: (tom)
hey dudes

Money's on my mind again because Unforeseen Events caused the business to skid a little in May, and due to the latency of the billing cycle I'm weathering the financial sting of it right now. It's not like the newbie mistake I made a couple of years ago that left me with no business at all for a while, but it still smarts.

Lately, when money matters of any size injure me, I start obsessing about money and feeling bummed about how cash-poor I have often found myself. Since stepping out on my own four years ago, I seem to get into these areas a little too frequently: barely treading water, and laughing at the idea of saving. Listen: A bunch of new and nifty five-dollar computer games have recently appeared on my radar, and I haven't bought any of them, because I can't justify a five-dollar game purchase right now. That my friends is chilling.

There is a small but resolute part of me that permanently holds the position that I've had my fun, but it's time to return to the safety of the salaried life, where I can get all the five-dollar games I want and also a 401(k). It knows it's always going to get outvoted, so it doesn't press the issue. But it does make sure to clear its throat every time a situation like this comes up, and it points out the most recent six-figure recruiter email I have received. "Just putting this out there," it says. "I know you're not asking for my advice. Take it as you will. Something to consider, is all." It makes humble and placating gestures.

Meanwhile, back in the world that exists outside of my skull, June 2009 has been the accounts-receivabliest month in Appleseed's history. This was in part due to a new partnership which has worked out very well so far, and I'm fighting (but not yet struggling) through a workload logjam in order to get a regular stream of new work going in that direction. So that's good.

Today I started casting out some lines looking for more work to better suit (and allow me to keep!) this increased work-capacity. I also attended a game-lunch at a friend's workplace that somewhat unexpectedly morphed into a miniature networking thing (hi guys), and it make me think that I ought to start going to more networking events outside the games bubble, or even the (somewhat larger) software bubble. Attend the sorts of events where I can hand out my Appleseed card and really mean it, see...

As for managing my money, I hope that I have finally found a way to say goodbye to the useless pile that is Quicken. I have created an account on yodlee.com, and filled it up with all my bank, credit card, investment and personal-loan information. I'm impressed with how well it's already categorized my existing spending history. I look forward to using it for a month, after which I'll see if I can't make a more realistic budget this time. And maybe not blow $100 in overdraft fees in one week...
prog: (Wario)
I have some money lying around in several separate retirement accounts, from my variously salaried past. Because I work for myself now, and expect to continue doing so for the foreseeable future, I'd like to consolidate these various into one IRA basket.

Right now, my IRA has a couple of CDs in it. I think they've earned maybe $1,000 total over the last six years. Whoopie ding-dong. I don't see them doing much better than that, no matter the weather.

One of my accounts is made entirely of an index fund, and like everyone else's, it's been tanking lately. So I am thinking: let's see if I can't roll that into an IRA, and then reassign all the other retirement money I have into it too. Because, hey, cheap stocks, woo! The market will recover eventually, right?

Is this dumb?
prog: (Default)
Sen. Kerry's is the first (and so far only) lawmaker's office to send me a response to my grumbling letters about the bank bailout. It came via email, so here is a copy of the text. The narrow formatting is [sic].

print $response_to{bailout}{disapproval}; )

Boo.

Oct. 3rd, 2008 04:58 pm
prog: (Cheney sneer)
We have now codified a national policy of private reward for socialized risk. Good job. Congress, I fart on you.

That said, this cartoon struck a nerve with me. I still stand by my actions, such as they are.

Mokay

Sep. 30th, 2008 04:37 pm
prog: (Default)
FInally just figured out my budget, now that I have two months of data from my latest biggo lifestyle change. I now pay $700-$800 less in monthly expenses than before, which is nice. I have good reason to believe that I needn't freak out for the foreseeable future, so long as I'm satisfied with living the breaking-even life. And I am, for now; it's the sacrifice I make for the sake of the two big-idea projects I have in development, my wager that one of them will pay off big later.

I have been semi-coasting with consulting work, spending the last two months doing only some maintenance and release-engineering work for a single client - no intensive new coding projects. This has been great for my schedule, and has helped advance my other projects, but I can't keep doing this if I want to avoid getting my head bit off again by tax penalties next year. So, yes, time to activate another client. That's fine.

My holdings in both money and debt are both small enough that these are the main ways I fear the global financial poop might hurt me:

1. Businesses experiencing new pain when performing their routine borrowing (for making payroll and such) become more conservative about hiring consultants

2. One of my big projects gets enough traction that I'm ready to consider taking out a business loan to let me focus on it exclusively, but the state of credit has become so poor that it's just not worth doing

We'll see what happens.
prog: (moonbat)
I urge my fellow Americans to join with me on this action. You can find your state's senators here and find your district's representative here.

I dashed this off myself in a minute. You can copy it if you'd like, but I encourage you to come up with your own words, too.

Dear $TITLE $LASTNAME:

I urge you to oppose the proposed $700 billion bailout of foundering financial companies through a massive federal purchase of bad mortgages and other assets.

I am dismayed and disgusted at the idea of using, all told, $1.8 trillion dollars[1] of taxpayer money in order to rescue private-sector firms from their own greed-driven mistakes, and hope that you consider this issue worth fighting.

I look forward to learning of your position and actions regarding this matter.

Sincerely,

Jason McIntosh
Somerville, MA

[1] Source: http://www.cnbc.com/id/26808715

Conventional wisdom is that email, while it does have mass, still carries a fraction of the weight of snailmail or phone calls, so I plan on printing these out and mailing them to the same folks' offices.

Honest question: what is the experience of phoning your senator or representative like? I'm not sure that I want to have a two-way conversation with someone about this - I just want to make my stance and desires known, and then get out. The one time I phoned a senator's office, like four years ago (I don't even really recall what the issue was), I called off-hours and left a voicemail. That was OK. Rattling off a screed to a live human would be a tad more awkward, though.
prog: (Default)
Adapted from a comment I just left in [livejournal.com profile] colorwheel's LJ, but which more of y'all may be interested in:

NPR just launched a new blog-n-podcast called Planet Money whose topic is what you'd expect. I find it strangely reassuring that they figure that now's as good a time to launch the thing as any, what with all the everything going on.

The new show is itself kind of a spinoff of an excellent This American Life episode called "The Giant Pool of Money" from last spring, which did a great job explaining the crisis' core catalyst (the housing crap) in grokkable language and metaphor.

<hr>s

Aug. 28th, 2008 11:25 am
prog: (Default)
Broker than I thought I was. Suddenly unable to pay bills, prior to this check that came in the mail yesterday. I shall toddle down to the bank after I finish writing this. Check is fairly fat, so it'll last for a little while, but fun spendy-spendy time is over for me until my next period of full-time consulting.

I did manage to do my taxes, finally, and I've started to track Appleseed's finances by starting a new file with plain-old Quicken. Now that I use Freshbooks to track my time and invoicing, Quicken does a fine job handling the bank accounts, including tying certain transactions to tax forms.

Hm, I think these events are connected. Suddenly having over $9,000 vanish out of one's bank accounts is liable to cause some distress.



Picked up "Dogs in the Vineyard" last week, on the grounds that it might make a nice setting for a text adventure game. I didn't know before this that all the PCs are explicitly ~20 years old, and virgins. The notion of roving gangs of indoctrinated, armed youth with little life experience, but a license to carry out God's judgement as they see it, strikes me as terrifying, like roleplaying the Chinese Red Guard. Wondering why I haven't seen anyone else take up this angle.

I haven't actually played the game, and there's much to love about the rules and setting elsewise. I would absolutely be willing to give it a try and see what came of it, but I dunno if that will actually happen, since I am not much of a role-player. I remain interested in checking out indie RPGs that have small scopes and "gamey" rulesets, like "Agon" or "Prime Time Adventures".



Was disappointed by the XNA user group meeting I attended at Microsoft's Waltham offices yesterday. It was really more of a class, with an MSFT employee behind a lectern, stepping through code for one of the XNA example games (a simple RPG). On top of that, it was a continuation of the same topic from the prior meeting. I lost interest quickly and slipped out after less than an hour.

There were no women in attendance, and I may have been the youngest person there. Two other attendees looked under 40, after which there were a dozen more guys ranging up into deep greybeard territory. This is cool, but the lack of younger folk surprised me, since to my mind the typical person who wants to make an XBox game would be significantly younger. I wonder if the idea of offline user group meetings is becoming increasingly alien to anyone under 30.

(I muttered about this on Twitter, since little else was accessible from my phone during the class. One person responded that younger folk just call user group meetings "meetups" now. I would have liked to go to an XNA meetup; in fact, I think I was rather hoping for one. This was not that.)



I may sacrifice a weekend to prototype that game scheduler idea. I've made one already, for Volity, and it would give me an excuse to learn Catalyst much better. Catalyst is what one can rudely-but-correctly call Ruby on Rails for Perl, and it's what my larger client makes use of. I like it a lot, but I don't think I'll really grasp it fore-and-aft until I build a Catalyst solution from scratch, for myself. So.

We have GO on rationalization for latest cockamamie project idea, sir.

blrgh

Jul. 23rd, 2008 07:59 pm
prog: (Default)
Going slightly crazy. It is in my interest to have deliverables delivered by tomorrow night. It's possible if I work straight through, but it'll be tough, and so much else is weighing on me, mostly move-related. I haven't packed much beyond that first push on Sunday. I don't want to deal with the parking office to get some stupid signs, but I must. Maybe I'll push it to Friday.

Two more apt-lookers today. I couldn't escape the later of them due to the rain, and did a better job grinning and bearing their inevitable interview (while typing obscene invectives about my visitors via IM to [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie). Every single person, without fail, wants to know to utility costs. I tell them in all honesty that I do not now. I even looked it up in Quicken, and I still can't figure it out, since I paid them in irregular lumps this past winter, and not always in full.

I must have hosted, gosh, twenty-five of these unwanted visits over the J-months. Perhaps more. I feel I deserve commendation for only now starting to wish I could kill them with my mind, as opposed to a month ago.

To help calm down, I ordered a delicious fishy-fish dinner from Redbones, and paid well over $20 (incl tip). It was around five bucks more than the total based on the delivery menu on my fridge, which can't be more than a year or two old. The food, she has gotten expensive.

Drinking cold beer and taking long breaths now.

Phoney

Jul. 14th, 2008 12:38 pm
prog: (doggie)
Got an iPhone on Saturday. Wait was an hour, at the Cambridgeside Apple Store. Actual purchase took another 30 minutes, including a very fast number-port. (So, yes, I have the same phone number.) Buyer's remorse is forever. No, not really; I definitely needed a new phone anyway coz my two oldies are both in fritzy condition after many years of bang-around use. And ever since using a Smartphone for the first time ever - [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie's Blackberry, during our Maine vacation last year - I have been making a mental note each time I've been on the sidewalk and thought gee it'd be useful if I could hit the Web right now.

Got the $300 16GB model. I like it. The actual-phone improvements seem to be just what they promised. While the quality of incoming voice sounds slightly fuzzier than what my old phones delivered, the reception is otherwise loud and clear, and I'll soon forget the difference. The visual voicemail interface is excellent. And I've just started to explore everything else it can do. I definitely like everything I'm seeing.

But now I am set up to pay $20 / month more for phone usage than I used to, and that's a bummer. I'm trying to alleviate it through proactivity: I just now canceled my subscription to WiFi at the Diesel Cafe, for which I was paying $14 / month. I do sometimes use it, but there are enough free options around now (hello True Grounds), to say nothing of the new cellular-based internet device in my pocket, that it just doesn't make good sense anymore. I still felt bad when the salesguy said "looks like you're a longtime user of ours"; I have been, for many years. I told him I was moving, even though he didn't ask why I was canceling (which was pretty awesome of him). (And, yes, I'm actually moving closer to the Diesel, if anything.)

I'm considering putting a temporary kibosh on the $5 that I donate to somafm.com every month as well, as the combined savings between that and Diesel would near-enough match the increased cost of my new AT&T plan over my old T-Mobile one. Oh, I probably can't bring myself to do it. I crank up one or another of its streaming stations whenever I need some pleasant sound-filler while I work, which is often.
prog: (tom)
On Monday [livejournal.com profile] daerr and [livejournal.com profile] cthulhia joined me for a larkish lunch at Diva. The bill was covered by a Ameriprise, a big ol' financial-consulting outfit who sponsors local put-your-business-card-in-the-bucket-and-get-a-free-lunch dealies. I allowed them to reel me into a free consultation later in the week, on the why-not principle.

That was this afternoon. I enjoyed tripping out to Charlestown for it; don't have reason to go there much. Also enjoyed talking to them and seeing how my current situation fit into their comparative chart of financial hairinesses. Basically "Low Complexity" on all fronts, but naturally they were quite pleased to offer me a year of consulting for their lowest annual fee, and how did starting first thing Monday morning sound?

After I got home, [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie, who is, uh, a professional financial consultant hey, wait a minute suggested that I have better things to spend my money on, seeing as how I have little enough of it as it is, and my most immediate targets (mostly debt-related) are very well defined, and large enough that any finanical plan rather writes itself for the immediate future. So I just sent em an email telling them no, thanks. Maybe when I get hairier.

I have to say, it was also good, as an independent consultant, to objectively observe a couple of experienced and besuited consultants on their home turf pitching at me. The conclusion of the meeting was almost literally "So, do you want to hire us?" "I'll have to think about it." "Of course. How's Monday?" "Okay." Very nice.
prog: (Default)
Ignite was kind of poor. Both floors of pub was packed, and rather than try to institute the obvious segregation of putting people interested in the talks upstairs and people interested in drinking and socializing / networking downstairs, they kept both floors' bars open, and had the PA system on the lower floor playing (VERY LOUDLY) the audio portion of the talks. I would wager that approximately zero of the several dozen people downstairs cared one whit about the talks, and that the extra audio was just an annoyance.

If I was alone I might have been into the talks, but I wasn't, so instead grabbed a table downstairs with my friends and talk-shouted at each other over the combined beery-nerdoid din and PA ruckus. It was actually a pretty good time. I ran into several other friends and acquaintances, met a person iRL for the first time whom I used to know on a MUD (ha, I don't get to say that much, lately), and even managed to make one vaguely legitimate new business contact. And the conversation was good, even if my throat was made quite raw by it.

I am fairly certain (from the PA going quiet at one point) that they did call for a moment of silence for Erik, so that was nice. (I suggested in email that they sneak in some sort of in-memoriam, and they said they'd do silence if I didn't have anything particular in mind. I said that it probably wouldn't literally happen, given the venue, but it would be nice anyway.)



Today I spent several hours going through my personal finances, all the money that's flowed through me since Jan 1. I'm a real mess right now; money's coming in but I'm still unable to pay last year's taxes. I'm not sure why this is and I hope to find out where I'm going wrong, because I'm positive I am going wrong, somewhere. (Yes, not paying adequate attention to how I've been spending my money for the last five months is part of it.)

Still not done! Should have that picture complete by tomorrow, anyway.
prog: (Default)
Portishead has a new album, 12 years after their last. [livejournal.com profile] toddalcott has the goods. I suddenly realize there's buncha albums I gots to get. There's this, and there's new R.E.M., new Underworld, and a new Ladytron disc comin out shortly. All my entertainment dollas been going to video games lately... enough a that, sez I. (Have been saying since I got the 360, actually. Been doing a good job since then.)

INTERESTING PERSONAL TRIVIA: Portishead's signature song "Sour Times" is tightly bound in my mind with the puzzle book Maze, because I happened to hear it for the first time (via MTV!) just as I discovered the Maze website for the first time, and it instantly struck how the song's sound and the book's graphics fit together very well. Yes, this would be back in my dorm room.
prog: (Default)
Posting from the Windows side of my Mac. I just confirmed that exporting XNA games to an XBox works as advertised, at least if you're running Windows natively; there seems to be no way around it if you're going through VMWare. Am presently attacking the Asteroids tutorial I posted about earlier.

On the fence about buying another damn computer. An alternate strategy is to use my G5 for the things that I had been using my MacBook for. But... enh. My MacBook is better at being a Mac than the G5 is. It'd be a downgrade. Maybe I'll feel differently once I've put a couple more checks between me and the hurty, hurty tax pay-off.



I have been sticking to my exercise and my "diet", which gets scare-quotes because it amounts to: Hey, why not pay some attention to what you're shoving into your gob, for once. I have been eating only when actually hungry, and allowing myself one (1) treat per day - like a honking big P.B. Cookie from Rossini's - since I find that I don't really desire more treats than that. The treat always tastes very good this way. It is always worth every totally worthless calorie.

This is all noteworthy because I've stuck to it long enough that my body's adjusted itself in a way I'm not used to: my appetite dropped by a discrete quantum literally overnight, two nights ago. It took me two mealtimes to work through a True Grounds breakfast burrito, and it's been like that since. Everything else seems fine, so I'm not doing my usual reaction to internal changes of jogging up the walls gnashing arrgh it's a tumor. So that's all right.
prog: (colossus)
I just realized that I asked for $15 cash at the Shaw's self-checkout yesterday, and then neglected to actually take the money from the tray.

What else

Apr. 15th, 2008 10:39 pm
prog: (Default)
In other news:

I screwed up my ability to pay taxes on time. I have the money, more or less, but it's not in the right location. I'll spare you the details. So anyway, I filed extensions for the first time in my life. The thing that people seem not to know about extensions is that you're still supposed to pay what you owe on-time; the extension's just for the paperwork.

Fortunately(-ish), tax slackers are a common case, so the gov't will happily take your payment later, plus interest for however long you slacked. The rate is based on the Fed so it's cheaper than credit cards. They won't raise too much of a stink so long as they see their tardy money in a reasonable period of time.

The feds got an in-good-faith payment of $1K from me, and the commonwealth got NOTHING. I'll have to make it up to them next month. I need to be a busy beaver with Appleseed work for the next coupla weeks to make sure I can pay all that and everything else, but the work's right here in front of me.



Climbed back on the exercise horse. I guess it's better that I keep fallin off and gettin on than just stop altogether. The funnest thing about getting back into shape is objectively observing your strength come back, day-to-day. I could barely do five push-ups last week, and now I can do six smoothly. Let us forget that I could do ten easily a coupla months ago. Stupid, slippery horse.



Been playing a lot of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The best parts of the game are wandering the countryside on a mission, as it really is quite beautiful, and getting into utterly insane encounters due to the fact that monsters and NPCs can, if they wish, locate or follow you to literally any location in the game world. Once I had an ally from the game world's main city show up three levels deep in a dungeon to ask me about a quest I had left half-finished. Also, if crazed goblins ambush you in a cave, you can let them chase you right into the middle of the nearest city, where the imperial guards'll be like "wtf?" and stick 'em for you.

Yesterday I did this by accident, except that I got into a situation where two assassins were chasing me, and a guard was chasing them, and I got them all to run into the middle of a deep lake - I have magic boots that let me walk on water, see. None of these guys had any issue with either buoyancy or oxygen, and the assassins stood around directly beneath me, puzzled, as the guard methodically relieved them of their hit points. Presently their bodies floated up like dead guppies, which was nice, coz they're easier to loot that way. Moments later, the guard burst out of the water on a shore dozens of yards away, and zoomed off over the hills, back to wherever he came from. I laughed.

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