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Getting Off the Sunset Train

April 30th, 2008  · stk

Today, because of the Intuit "Sunset Policy", Quicken Deluxe 2005 will lose certain functionality. It's a blatant money grab by Intuit, confident I've grown used to the functionality and will purchase a new version ($89). Sorry guys, I'm getting off the Sunset Train. Read how I'll regain the lost functionality (and actually improve upon it)

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Shame on Intuit's Sunset Policy, which disables certain software features after three years, effectively forcing customers to purchase an "updated" version (containing few substantive improvements).

I've been using Quicken since 1990 (18 years). I'd say that makes me a long-time customer. I used to upgrade every year and drool over the new features like a kid looking through a confectioner's window. As the product matured, I noticed that the new, must-have features became fewer and farther between. The software also became more expensive and so, I stopped purchasing yearly upgrades.

Apparently, I wasn't alone. When Intuit noticed this shift in consumer behavior they countered it with a planned obsolescence of their products, in the form of a Sunset Policy. By disabling certain features every three years, they could generate revenue by forcing users, dependent on those features, to upgrade.

This first happened to me in 2005, with my Quicken 2002 version. At the time, I didn't object too loudly, because I found a way to upgrade for free! Fast forward to 2008 and now it's Quicken 2005 that that is being crippled - today. Intuit says, "Buy Quicken 2008 Premier or lose certain online features."

Well, this time Intuit, I'm getting off the Sunset train. I've found a simple work-a-round for downloading multiple, daily stock and mutual fund quotes, which is the only feature I use that's going to be disabled today. And thanks to my mate, I now have mQuote, which is actually superior to the historical quote retrieval "service" that I'm losing inside Quicken!

For more about why the Intuit sunset policy sucks and my stock quoting work-a-round, read on.

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Updated: 20-Mar-2009
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Late April 'No!

April 20th, 2008  · stk

April 19th - Vancouver Island gets blanketed by a foot of late spring snow. Scott's called out to the North Cedar Fire Hall. A power outage affects over 20,000 customers across central Vancouver Island! What a day, eh?

April 19th - Power Outage & A Crazy Foot of Snow dumped on Vancouver Island

Has the old man spat his last winter's gasp? Most everyone around Nanaimo is hoping so. Many residents on Vancouver Island woke up Saturday morning to nearly a foot of snow and darkness, as much of the mid-island was without power.

Geez. What's up with this crazy weather? Isn't Vancouver Island supposed to have the the most temperate climate in all of Canada? Here we get this huge, late dumping of snow (plus the cold temperatures to go along with it) and many of the eastern Provinces are enjoying unseasonably warm weather!

Go figure.

For more about this crazy day, including pictures and an early morning ride with Alex to the North Cedar Fire Hall, to put the chains on the fire trucks ... read on ....

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Updated: 19-Apr-2010
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The Floating Cabin

April 1st, 2008  · stk

We thought we'd introduce you to our floating cabin, which is situated on the wild, rugged and wet western coast of Vancouver Island. It's located in Julia's Passage in the Barkley Sound and a stone's throw from the world-famous Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

The floating cabin is located off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Not far is the Broken Group Islands and the Pacific Rim National Park. It's a pristine, wild, wet and wonderful land; a kayaking mecca with many coves, beaches and small islands. The wildlife is amazing: black bear, bald eagles, killer whales, sea lions, seals and sea otters, among other creatures. If you like sea food, you'd love this place. Clams, oysters, prawns, crab, salmon, halibut and cod - it's all on the menu.

Over Easter weekend, we took the new boat down for a 4-day trip. It was our first trip to the floating cabin this year and quite an adventure, piloting our "new" boat, which was christened "Blue Yonder" - this happened inadvertently, when Scott radioed to our cabin friends, using the off-the-cuff call sign. It was an hour and forty minute journey down the long inlet, from Port Alberni, to the floating cabin. Traffic was light, but the seas were heavy and we bounced along, singing the theme song to Gilligan's Island.

We had a nice holiday with our friends, Candace and Richard. The weather was especially nice, even though it snowed a bit on the last night. Blue Yonder handled well, although she needs a few repairs and extra gizmos that we'll need to plunk into this particular 'hole in the water'. We're looking forward to sharing this special, wilderness floating cabin with some of our more adventurours guests that may come to visit.

To learn more about the floating cabin, see satellite images of the area, as well as photos ... read on. If you're coming up for a visit, you'll find this post a good primer about "what to expect". If you're likely not ever going to visit, then you'll gain a glimpse of this truly unique, wonderful and diverse area.

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Updated: 1-Oct-2010
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Filed in:Informative

Paint Colors

March 18th, 2008  · stk

House Colors: When you live in the "North-wet", the painting season is very short and if you want to protect your house from rotting, you need to plan ahead.

Painting. Not the most fun of projects, but it sure can make a difference to the appearance (and help protect) a home.

Trouble is, one is always left with half-used cans of paint and (one of my pet peeves) - forgetting the name or formula for the paint that was last applied. Yeah, the hardware store can do a color "match", but often it's off by a shade or two (or maybe three).

This exciting post is my effort to eliminate the paint color issue by keeping tabs on the paints we use around and inside our house. No more worrying about losing the formula because the top of the paint lid has paint on it, the sticker has come off or the print is so faded that it can no longer be read. No having to remember smooth-sounding emotive paint names.

Once I've actually painted some bit of the house in these colors (the "Japanese Maple" is slightly different from what's on there now and the "Whispering Pine" is a new accent color), I'll put up a photo. Maybe it'll spark a whole new trend in house colors? - or NOT!

House (Exterior)

japanese maple

Japanese Maple
Behr 120F-6
(House Trim)

Paint Behr Premium Plus (Deep Base) Int/Ext Hi-Gloss Enamel Latex.

Colorant:
B-Lamp Black [1-36-0]
KX-White [2-16-0]
R-Exterior Red [6-40-0]
T-Medium Yellow [1-8-0]

whispering pine

Whispering Pine
Behr 450F-6
(House Trim Accent)

Paint Behr Premium Plus (Deep Base) Int/Ext Hi-Gloss Enamel Latex.

Colorant:
C-Yellow Oxide [0-14-0]
D-Thalo Green [0-27-0]
KX-White [0-28-0]
L-Raw Umber [1-18-0]

cedar natural tone on cedar

Cedar Natural Tone
DP-533
House (on Cedar siding)

Paint Behr Premium Semi-transparent Wood Stain

Colorant
Tint Base 5-77
C-Yellow Oxide [0-34-0]
F-Red Oxide [0-9-0]
L-Raw Umber [0-35-0]

 

October 2009 Update

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Updated: 6-Nov-2009
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Asset Management

March 7th, 2008  · stk

Philip Coggan has written an excellent report on the asset management business, in this month's issue of "The Economist". An interview with the author is presented. If you invest, you owe it to yourself to hear what Philip has to say about fund managers, fees, performance and ETFs

Fund Managers do well - for themselves

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and asset manager fees are again in the news. This time, in a special report on asset management titled, "Money for Old Hope". It appears in the March 1st issue of The Economist, a UK periodical.

I wrote about outrageous Canadian Mutual Fund Management Fees in early 2007. As a seasoned US investor, I was shocked to discover that Canadians pay the highest mutual fund management fees of any industrialized nation.

Imagine a business in which other people hand you their money to look after and pay you handsomely for doing so. Even better, your fees go up every year, even if you are hopeless at the job.

Philip Coggan
(on asset management)

As an individual investor, the best way to avoid shelling out your hard-earned money to greedy and non-performing mutual fund managers, is to invest in Exchange Traded Funds.

I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in my thinking. In the 14-page Economist Special Report on asset management, Philip Coggen examines the fund-management industry. In his discussion, Exchange Traded Funds are mentioned as being part of the solution in avoiding costly fees, which erode returns.

His description of the asset-management industry is very enlightening, as he outlines the perfect business: "Imagine such a business", he quips, "people hand you their money to look after and pay you handsomely for doing so." Sounds good, so far. But he sweetens the pot by saying, "Even better, your fees go up every year!" Wow. Cool. I want that job. Then he drops the bombshell by saying that you don't even have to be very good at your job and you can still get the monetary reward. Ouch!

The focus isn't on Canada, it's on the asset management industry at large. (In Canada, the amount that most investors pay toward management fees is criminal).

Anyone who wants to save more of their investment money owes it to themselves to read this article. For an audio interview with the author, a synopsis of this special report and a road map for higher investment returns .... read on.

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Updated: 25-Feb-2011
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