Pleh

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Archive for October, 2005

“Rhymes with Citi”-Bank

Posted by pete on 29th October 2005

I gave in over the weekend and bought the evilness known as Quicken. Quicken 2006 Premire, to be exact. Since the cost of the download version was the same as the plastic-disc-snail-mailed-to-you version and there was no indication of the two versions being any different, I went with the immediate gratification of the download. Turns out that the download is only about 41M and is missing a lot of the support files that come on the CD version. I hope there’s a way I can get the CD version without having to spend any extra.

On top of it all, I’ve been having problems trying to configure Quicken to work with Citibank. Quicken offers two types of connections to financial institutions: web connect and direct connect. Direct connect is pretty much what is says. Quicken directly connects to your configured financial institutions and sends and receives transactions. Web connect, though, is a different bird. The standard Citibank/Quicken connectivity is this web connect. What happens is, I go to one of the Citibank accounts I have, then click on the register tab, then click on the “download transactions” button on the bottom left. It opens a browser window within Quicken that goes to Citibank Online, where I log in as usual. I go to the part of the site where I can download my transactions, then get a QFX file. Quicken intercepts this file and imports the data into my accounts.

This is kludgy and awkward to say the least. It requires me to do two updates to cover all my accounts (and these are not the good kind of updates). I might, might, have accepted this state of affairs if it wasn’t for the fact that I remember having direct access to my Citibank accounts via Quicken when I last regularly used it many years ago, even though they charged $9.95/mo.

I tried calling Intuit’s supprt people. No luck. They only have support people available during west coast business hours. (Which makes sense. It’s not like they have a lot of home users who might try to get their financial books in order when they’re home after work or on the weekends.)

Next, I called Citibank. The woman I spoke with said that they do offer a direct connection between Citibank and Quicken, but I need to fill out some form and the cost is $9.95/mo. *sigh* What’s the URL for the form? Oh, there is none. They’ll (snail) mail it to me. I need sign it, then mail it back to them. I should recieve the form in seven to ten business days. No, there is no PDF or other format of the form available online. No, they cannot fax it to me. No, my previous activation doesn’t count; I need to re-authorize. No, I cannot get the form at one of their many (read: “two”) branches around here. There is nothing I can do to expidite the process. No, I cannot fax back the signed form.

This is frustrating, especially for someone so into immediate gratification, but the real kicker to me is that they are still charging $9.95 a month. I currently have nine different financial institutions listed in Quicken: Citibank and eight others. Of those eight, two don’t offer any Quicken compatibility. In other words, I can use neither web connect nor direct connect to communicate with them from within Quicken and their web sites offer nothing about downloading transactions, either as a QIF or even a CSV or XLS file. (Incidentally, one of those sites is run by Citibank.) The remaining six all over free, direct connections. One of those six: CitiMortgage.

Sure, a company is supposed to profit. Most people don’t go into business to only make life good for others and banks are — surprisingly — not an exception, but when your competition is offering for free what you are charging for, maybe it’d be a good idea to show your customers that you care more about keeping them (at least) than you do about squeezing every single dollar you can out of them before they leave. Or, if you’re going to make your customers jump through hoops and charge nearly $120/year for service that’s free elsewhere, at least they should make it worth $120/yr.

*Sigh* Just another reason to make it my business to find another bank.

Posted in General | 2 Comments »

Mmmmm, Cookie

Posted by pete on 29th October 2005

cookie

cookie,
originally uploaded by sigsegv.

Grandma T sent G some cookies for Halloween.

Posted in Parenthood, Photos | No Comments »

Cootie?

Posted by pete on 19th October 2005

This past Sunday was G’s third birthday. We all had a good time and a nice party with friends and family. One of the (many) gifts she got was Cootie. It’s a fun game for three-year-olds. More fun for mommy and daddy, though, is what G calls the game: Booty. :)

Posted in Parenthood | No Comments »

Congratulations, Now Get Off My Lawn!

Posted by pete on 6th October 2005

My friend and cow-orker, Grumpy and his wife (Ms Grumpy?) had their first child yesterday. Congratulations to you both and welcome to parenthood.

Enjoy the rest and help while you can at the hospital and with your families around, because once you get home and it’s just the two of you staring down into that tiny, beautiful, precious little face, you are so in for it. I love being a dad, but until you’re in it, it’s just impossible to comprehend how completely it takes over your life. It’s like a freight train and your previous lives just got creamed.

There’s a lot I miss about my old, pre-G life, but I wouldn’t want to trade even one bit of what I have now for what it was like then. It’s amazingly hard work, but amazingly rewarding too. (I’m told that I might rethink that once G’s a teenager, but I’ll enjoy what we have now.) As G approaches three, I can honestly tell you, it just keeps getting better. (Apply above teenager disclaimer here too.)

These are my notes:

  • Enjoy rest whenever and wherever you can
  • Pay attention to signs of postpartum depression. From what I’ve read, a lot of women get this and try to hide it out of shame or fear of being seen as weak.
  • You’ll get used to dirty diapers. Puke on the other hand…./me shivers
  • There will be plenty of both.
  • No matter how tough it seems — especially at the beginning, when it’s the middle of the night, the baby’s crying, but not eating and you’re both half-crazed from sleep deprivation — it will get better.
  • Oh, and take lots of pictures.

Posted in Parenthood | No Comments »

Props to Logitech

Posted by pete on 3rd October 2005

I use a Logitech MX 1000 mouse at work. It’s a very sweet mouse that sits nicely in my right hand. It’s wireless, tracks nicely, has great battery life, and a plethora of buttons — enough for my non-MX1000-using cow-orkers to kid me about it.

My only beef against it is that I wish the wheel would scroll smoothly, like many of today’s Microsoft mice. Well, that and the fact that — as of a few hours ago — the middle button stopped responding to clicks. It’s part of the wheel device, but every other part of the wheel works. I can scroll up and down, left and right, just no middle clicky. I swapped mice with another cow-orker who uses an MX1000 and found his working nicely, while mine still didn’t work on his Mac.

A mouse without the middle clicky feature is dead to me, so I plugged in my old USB MS Intellimouse Explorer, reconfigured X — it shouldn’t be as tough as it is — and got on the phone to Logitech.

After sitting on hold for 15+ minutes, I spoke with Alex. He listened to my story, asked when and where I bought it, took down the model number, part number, and serial number of my MX1000, then said they’d be sending a replacement within seven business days. Sweet.

Of course, a response like this shouldn’t please me as much as it does. I’m so used to the sorry state of consumer electronics support that I expected to talk — over a bad connection — with a person (well, after spending an hour locked in phone-tree hell, being presented with options that had no connection what-so-ever with my current problem) in a call center in India who can barely speak English. She or he would read from as script, not veering one bit to take into account the troubleshooting I’ve already done. Finally, they’ll tell me I need to install the latest Windows software for the mouse to be officially declared broken. When I tell them (again) that I’m running Linux, not Windows, for them to say, “Sorry, our hardware is only supported under Windows,” then rudely hang up so that they can get on to their next call and increase their call stats. Wait ten minutes for the blood pressure to go down, then call back, pretending to be using Windows, silently pausing when they ask me to install some Windows software or check some Windows setting. I hate the fact that I have to lie to get anything done with some many tech support people, if not for the moral issues, but I want Linux to be counted. I don’t want these companies to look at the user stats that only allow you to choose Windows or MacOS and say, “Our user base has no interest in Linux.”

*pant pant*

Okay, rant over. I’m happy with Logitech’s response and look forward to getting a fixed MX1000 in up to seven business days. Oh, and one final cool part? I don’t need to return the broken one. Time for a mouse autopsy.

Posted in Geekery | No Comments »

 
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