Dilbert’s 9-Point Financial Plan

Before I go any further, yes, it's been a while since I last posted here on my site. There's been a lot going on in my personal life in the past year and let's face it; I'm not going to post stuff just for the sake of posting. That being said, I'm going to try and make a concerted effort to be more active here. Yes, I've said it before, so who knows what will happen…

Now,  I came across what I initially thought was a joke while reading through some feeds I routinely keep up with. It turns out that in Scott Adam's book "Dilbert and the Way of the Weasels.", there's a simple 9-point plan puts in very simple words how to manage your financial freedom. Paul Farrell, of Marketwatch had this to say about the small blurb:

Adams boldly states that this is "everything you need to know about personal investing." In just 129 words, nine simple points, one page you have the unabridged "Unified Theory of Everything Financial." That's it. Everything!

 Here are the 9-points:

  1. Make a will
  2. Pay off your credit cards
  3. Get term life insurance if you have a family to support
  4. Fund your 401k to the maximum
  5. Fund your IRA to the maximum
  6. Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it
  7. Put six months worth of expenses in a money-market account
  8. Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker and never touch it until retirement
  9. If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issues), hire a fee-based financial planner, not one who charges a percentage of your portfolio

There you have it. That's all you need to do! You can read the Marketwatch article at http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story…

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MySQL Monitor – Ajaxified

MySQL LogoI use a MySQL database in most, if not all, my website development projects. In some cases, especially with applications/sites that tend to get a large number of hits (and as such, a greater number of interactions with the database), it’s nice to be able to see what the DB engine is doing, how many threads are running, etc. My tool of choice has been MyTop by Jeremy Zawodny for a couple years now. Recently, it looks like someone wanting to learn some Ajax has decided to port Jeremy’s great tool over to an ajaxified webpage! No need to login to the database server and run mytop in a console anymore; now I can do it straight from a web browser!

The project is called ajaxMyTop and is hosted on Sourceforge. Currently, there is no home page or details on the project website, but Ajaxian has a good review of the application.

One note of caution; the application is written for PHP5. There is a small modification available which will enable the application to run under PHP4. It’s located in the ajaxMyTop forums:


Sites mentioned:

http://ajaxian.com/archives/779 – Ajaxian Review of ajaxMyTop
http://jeremy.zawodny.com/mysql/mytop/ – Jeremy Zawodny’s original mytop webpage
http://sourceforge.net/projects/ajaxmytop/ – ajaxMyTop Project Website

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Quick Image to Browser Favicon Conversion

My good friend Scott reminded me of an old site we had found a while back when we needed to whip up one of those browser favicons for a project we were assigned to. A browser favicon is basically that little logo/image you see next to the url when you go to certain sites. It’s also used as the logo when you save any page on such a site as a bookmark.

This online tool enables you to upload any image and it will convert it to the favicon format on the fly. It’s a great timesaver when you don’t want to start from scratch and want to get something you can tweak to your liking.


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Confused about RSS?

Finally, someone has taken the time to write a short, concise and to-the-point article that you can point even your parents to in regards to what RSS is and how useful it can be/really is.


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Rollback your RPM Installs on Fedora using Yum

There’s a little-known option in RPM that enables the rollback of package installs. Think of it like an undo option in your favorite application; it will rollback the package install to a previously known state/version. Yum support this option in Fedora Core 4 (and upcoming Core 5); here’s an excerpt taken from Chris Tyler’s posting on OreillyNet:

Here are cut-to-the-chase directions on using this feature:

  1. To configure yum to save rollback information, add the line tsflags=repackage to /etc/yum.conf.
  2. To configure command-line rpm to do the same thing, add the line %_repackage_all_erasures 1 to /etc/rpm/macros.
  3. Install, erase, and update packages to your heart’s content, using pup, pirut, yumex, yum, rpm, and the yum automatic update service.

If/when you want to rollback to a previous state, perform an rpm update with the --rollback option followed by a date/time specification. Some examples: rpm -Uhv --rollback '9:00 am', rpm -Uhv --rollback '4 hours ago', rpm -Uhv --rollback 'december 25'.

As Chris mentions, keep in mind that you’ll be using lots more storage space to keep prior versions of packages around.

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That Song in Your Head

Musical NotesEver have this nagging song or even just this rhythm looping in your head and you have no idea what the song is named? Now you have a chance to find out! By using your keyboard’s space-bar, you ‘tap‘ the ryhthm of the song and the website will search its ever-growing database of songs (currently at over 7600) for a match. Head out to The Song Tapper and try it out. I tried tapping Where It’s At by Beck which has been in my head since I woke up this morning for some reason and the site accurately identified it. Incredible! I love it!


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Good Review of the Upcoming Fedora Core 5

Fedora LogoAs many of my close friends know, I’m big into Fedora’s Linux distribution. It’s my distro of choice and I religiously update my ‘Cores’ as the lastest one comes out. I’ve been looking forward to the new Fedora Core 5 release and was interested in reading a good review, since I still have not had a chance to install it on a spare box. This review is both comprehensive and very well written:


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The Xen Virtual Machine Monitor

The Xen Virtual Machine MonitorIf you’re familiar with what VMWare does (the creation of smaller virtual machines running concurrently on the same computer), then you’ll want to take a serious look at the latest release of the Xen Virtual Machine Monitor. What exactly is Xen, you ask?

Xen is a virtual machine monitor (VMM) for x86-compatible computers. Xen can securely execute multiple virtual machines, each running its own OS, on a single physical system with close-to-native performance.

If you have a few minutes, check out the project’s website and give Xen a try whenever you need to setup any sort of Virtual Machine, either for testing purposes or for some debugging.

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Need to rebuild your computer? Have all your keys?

Encryption KeysI was chatting with a friend this morning when he mentioned to me that he spent part of his weekend rebuilding one of his home computers. He indicated that he was reluctant doing some of the cleanup work because he wasn’t sure where he had packed all his legally purchased software keys; he moved to a new home a couple weeks ago and he has boxes scattered all over the place. I immediately brought up a little tool I have used in the past that has more than once get me out of such a bind. Take a look at the Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder. Make sure you pickup the Beta version, since the stable version is a little outdated and will not detect keys for Office 2003.

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Dual-LCD Monitors

DELL UltraSharp 2005FPW 20.1-inch Wide Aspect Flat Panel LCD MonitorI've been using an LCD monitor at home for about 4-5 years now, ever since my old CRT monitor started acting up and began being sensitive to anything electrical being turned on in the house. Recently, my wife and I decided to transform our seldom-used dining room into a full office; lots of Ikea office furniture and accessories later, I was able to double my deskspace as well as have a place to be a geek on the same floor where we spend most of our time as a family. Of course, all that extra deskspace was the perfect opportunity to purchase a new LCD monitor. A great sale and some online coupons later, I was the new owner of a fantastic DELL UltraSharp 2005FPW 20.1-inch Wide Aspect Flat Panel LCD Monitor. This morning, as I was sitting in front of my computer, it hit me; I have a perfectly good 18.1" LCD monitor just sitting upstairs in my old office gathering dust! I cleared a little bit of space to the right of my Dell LCD and brought the critter down. I use a dual-monitor setup everyday at work, using my laptop screen and a large external CRT monitor. It's a great productivity booster for me, since I can have my Instant Messenger and email clients on my extra screen, while my main desktop holds the applications I currently need to complete whatever job is at hand. A dual-monitor setup is simply incredible if you have the opportunity to set one up for yourself. The use of LCD's is even better, since the power consumption of the two monitors combined is still under what my old CRT beast used to suck out of the power-outlet. Not to mention the negligible heat produced… UPDATE: My new monitor setup meant that a change to my online status page also had to be made. Also, since I was moving the monitor down, I decided to finally move the old webcam down also, so the home-office webcam is also back up and online. Enjoy!

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Firefox Extensions for Web Designers

Get Firefox!If you’re a Mozilla Firefox user and do any kind of Web Design, then the folks at www.designmeme.com have a list of 5 Firefox extensions that you should drop into your everyday toolbox. While I mostly agree with the list, I would definitely add the X-Ray Firefox extension to the list; The X-Ray extension let’s you see the tags on a page without viewing the sourcecode.

Top 5 Firefox Extensions for Web Designers
X-Ray Extension for Firefox

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RSSOwl – Platform Independent Standalone RSS Reader

My RSS reader of choice is currently Bloglines; it meets all my needs, is always accessible from any computer/browser I’m using at any point in time, and all the RSS data and fetching processes is conducted by the Bloglines servers. Whenever I can avoid installing another client on any of my computers is a blessing.
Now, if I needed to install an RSS reader, RSSOwl (http://www.rssowl.org) is definitely the client I would use. First off, it’s Open Source and as such is freely available. It’s available for many system architectures I use, such as Linux, Mac OSX, Windows and Solaris, with an emphasis to keep the same look and feel across all of these. The one negative point I have is that being a Java application, it depends on having a properly installed working copy of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) on the computer you intend to install it on.
RSSOwl has a long list of features:

  • Import your favorite newsfeeds using the OPML format.
  • Bookmark your favorite newsfeeds in nested categories.
  • Import Blogrolls into RSSOwl.
  • Built-in internal browser to read news that contain HTML.
  • Export the content into one of the formats PDF, RTF or HTML.
  • Choose between a 2-column and a 3-column layout.
  • A lot of search-options make RSSOwl a powerful application to search inside a newsfeed or an entire category.
  • The integrated newsfeed-search engine allows to search for newsfeeds by keyword.
  • Simply enter the website containing links to newsfeeds into the feed-discovery and RSSOwl will show all the newsfeeds it has found.
  • Place RSSOwl into the system tray on minimization.
  • RSSOwl is highly customizable. “Preferences” allow to change fonts, languages, colors, hotkeys and a lot more.

All in all, RSSOwl is the feature-rich reader that will definitely become my stand-alone reader of choice, when the need/time for such a thing comes around in my case. Until then, I remain faithful to Bloglines.

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