Saturday, February 27, 2010

Alarm Bell Should Ring:Fannie Mae, AIG about to crash completely

A round table of headlines regarding government owned huge financial and industrial entity:

Image from here.
General Motors: Lawmakers question GMAC rescue, U.S. is cast as villain in Japan, GM Still Trying To Sell Hummer Division

Fannie, Freddie: Freddie Mac losses mount, warns of foreclosures - or how it should have been titled: Friday Debt Dump, Part 1: Shhh -- Fannie Mae Lost $72 Bil in 2009, Needs Another $15.3 Bil in Cash

Image from here
AIG: AIG posts quarterly loss of $8.9 billion

Exit question, is buying Dollars considered an investment in current administration and USA owned entities? If so - then add to the list several bankrupt entitlement programs, states, counties and pension plans. Err... this year begins to look as rocky financially as the last two.

Hopefully - a miracle happens and nothing really goes kaboom in the global economy.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Comcast sucks, evidence #154394

Once upon a time, there used to be a Fox-Sports-World channel on my Comcast lineup where I lived in Colorado. I loved that channel because I'm a soccer fan and that's where it all was. When I moved to Michigan, I learned that the channel name has changed, and Comcast wants extra payment for the only channel on TV to broadcast Soccer. You get loads of crap you don't want - including 'Green HD', and 'Bravo HD', and fricken LOGO channel, but Soccer?! Pay extra.

I don't know if by their own mistake, or if I'm just temporarily lucky, but recently I was able to watch channel 727 uninterrupted. I thought - great, cool - finally. Well - Now I notice that there are a lot of HD channels that I don't want, and FSC has an HD icon next to the logo on the screen, but there isn't an FSC-HD channel.

No, Comcast 'resizes' the HD stream, and what comes through is odd pixel effects over the white markings on the soccer field. Makes me wonder: Why am I paying extra each month to get 'Green', 'Bravo', TvOne, Style, G4, We, IFC, NHL, MLB, ESPN-News, B10, CBSC, NBA, VH1, MTV, GREEN, BET, TrueTV, HLN, and once again because this one just offends me 'Green' channels in HD, but not FSC. It is obvious they can deliver FSC in HD, someone just made the decision to broadcast all the other crap I don't want.

Yea, I'm ranting, with my luck - they'll switch FSC to HD and hide it back for extra payment, so I'll get free sports broadcast of everything but soccer again. Which will make me hate Comcast even more.


Canada just won Gold in Skeleton, blame Canada time

As hilarious as ever.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympic fans angry with NBC

Plus, is NBC losing money on Olympics despite record viewer ratings?

wired reporting: Olympic Tape Delays Roil Fans, But It’s Good for NBC’s Business
NBC won’t win any medals for its coverage of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver this year. Its strategy of withholding online coverage to encourage people to watch on television during prime time appears to be working, though, at least when the Americans win lots of medals. The company is taking a walloping from viewers who object to the network’s tape delay of the games, undertaken to sell more expensive ads during at night.

In these hyper-connected times, people are finding out who won a medal before they have a chance to watch, and the immediacy that makes live sports programming so compelling is lost, to an extent. Worse, NBC expects to lose hundreds of millions of dollars televising the Olympics despite this ploy. Before the games got underway, NBC said it expects to lose a quarter of a billion dollars on broadcasting the event, because a weak ad market will fail to offset a whopping $820 million in licensing and production costs.

As for watching the games online, offers a relatively scant selection of live events — about 400 hours according to various estimates. It showed 2,200 hours of live events online from Bejing two years ago. And even if you want to watch what they’re showing online, you can only do so if your ISP paid the required licensing fee.

There’s no way for you to watch for free if your ISP didn’t pay, and we were not able to log in to using our Time Warner password, so in at least one case, a subscriber to an ISP that paid up is not able to watch.

Meanwhile, itself post the results live, well in advance of the taped broadcasts, adding another potential spoiler to an already heady mix. And while you can follow the athletes on Twitter through NBC’s website, skier Jake Zamansky used this forum to post “Can’t wait to see how bad NBC covers the ski racing today,” as noted by Deadspin.

The value of a sports broadcast declines precipitously over time, which is why sports leagues don’t have to worry about file sharing networks eroding their businesses the way other video producers do. And that’s why so many people are mystified and frustrated by NBC’s tape-delay strategy. A quick Twitter search reveals countless viewer complaints and articles about those complaints.

Nonetheless, NBC is sticking to its guns, with vice president of sports communications Chris McCloskey telling the Boston Globe, “You can’t please everybody, but we try to serve the greater good.”

I never considered my self a winter Olympics fan. But that Shaun White half pipe gold medal was very exciting. You can tell that the USA team was all about having fun while schooling the other contenders.

Image from here
Beer Time...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Technical leap: From stylus - to fingers - multitouch - then sausages...

I personally know of several people who decided to stop using iPhones and switched back to blackberry/other/better smart phones.

South Korean Sausage Sales Surge As People Use Them For iPhone Styluses
Sales of a certain snack sausage are reportedly up 40% in South Korea thanks to the iPhone.

In the cold of winter, South Koreans are using the sausages as styluses instead of taking off their gloves.

That's one accessory we don't expect to turn up in the Apple store anytime soon.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Blog Update

I'm in the process of modifying some of the content I've had on this site. Pardon the mess...


More info about this and previous blog

This post used to be linked at the top from the 'about' button. Since then, I've changed the blog's focus and how I'd like to represent my self. If you're really interested, continue reading below:

Hello and welcome to “Thrifty Trend” blog (previously, ""). It's my personal blog where I publish my freeware and opine about personal financial and how my wife and I changed our own financial path from devouring to growing our savings.

About the personal finance part

My wife and I have achieved reversing the consumption trend and would be happy to share with you our “secret”. Just click on the "How I Budget" link above.

I mix my message with humor, and often blog about investments, not from a professional point of view but more as an observer.

You would also find a few open sourced freeware applications I released as well as an open sourced library for data.

So who am I and why should you read on?
I’m a middle class software engineer whose employed full time in Michigan, USA. I was born and raised in Israel and I’ve been living and working in the US since 2001. My wife and I have experienced our ups and downs with our finances and I believe we’ve acquired some real life knowledge we would like to share with you. We’ve read the personal finance books, and deducted our own system. We now work with a plan and together spend in a disciplined manner to stay within that plan. We’re not getting rich, we live richly within our means.

Why “Thrifty Trend” blog?
Because all the other good names are taken... just kidding.

Simply put: Thrifty is synonymous with Frugal, and I believe that this trend among all of us consumers will continue - and it will serve us all well. We should explore it and educate our kids to practice it as well as they grow up.

We all have ideas. We roll them over in our minds and try to lay plans on how to execute them. I’ve had the idea of opening this site for a while now. I believe sharing our experience can help others. After living within our means for enough time, I believe it is the right time to share this experience with anyone who wishes to read about it on the world wide web.

Well what can you expect to find here?
This site is about helping others. I think the system me and my wife came up with can greatly help many others. I detailed our "system" over at within-my-means, and will recollect the items and edit them again here. (After that, I'll pull the plug on "within-my-means")

You will find links to tools, spread sheets and links to free web and software resources.

I’ll try to discuss some money saving techniques and will give my opinions regarding the “Get Rich” crowd.

I’m a software engineer so you could expect some code babble and free code to download as well. If you don’t need the code stuff, skip it - I’m sure will find many other resources useful enough for you.

Come back often!
I will try to update things at least once a week and I will check on comments if any. If you have suggestions or request, feel free to post or email.

You can always reach me at:

See you soon


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Are you aware of new Credit Card law taking effect

Likely answer: no.

Poll: On eve of credit card reform, few understand what new law holds
Major changes for credit card customers:
  • Consumers must be given 45 days' notice of any changes in the interest rates of future balances or in other key terms of a credit card account.
  • Hikes in the interest rates of existing balances are generally prohibited. Exceptions: If a promotional rate expires, if the cardholder makes a late payment, or if the contracted rate was variable. That last one -- a variable interest rate -- is a key loophole that many credit card issuers have been exploiting by changing consumers to variable rate cards prior to Feb. 22.
  • Consumers have the right to "opt out" of significant changes that might be imposed on their accounts. To do so, they merely have to close their accounts and pay off the existing balances within five years.
  • Limitations are imposed on the issuance of credit cards to anyone under the age of 21.
  • Customers who maintain monthly balances must be told how long it will take to pay off that balance if they make only the minimum monthly payments.
  • Bills must be mailed at least 21 days before payment is due.
Read the whole thing.