Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'm shopping for a new credit card

I have been using Citibank American Airline mileage cards for a really long time. However, I just got a major reality check. Airline mileage points are not what it use to be. I tried to use the points to fly to Seattle. It was impossible to get anything reasonable. Even with anytime upgrade (which is twice the mileage points) The best they could do was fly from LA to Chicago to Seattle which added 6 extra hours to the trip. Crazy. Someway, somehow, someday I'll use up my mileage points but I'm NOT going to collect points any more and I'm not going to pay the annual fee for this credit card.

So, I'm shopping for a new credit card. Lots of sites out there

Here is my favorite. Just a simple list, continuously edited and updated by other users.

Where I found this interesting card.
Put $10K into the savings account to earn 1.4% cash back on the purchases. 1.4% cash back is very good consider most card only provide 1% so this card has 40% better rate of return. However, their savings annual interest rate is 2.75% compared to 3% in my INGDirect savings account.

I fire up MS Excel and use Goal Seek feature. I found that I need to spend $6,500 per year to break even if I move my money and use this card instead of going with another basic card that gives 1% cash back.

Savings $10,000
2.75% 3.00%
$ 275.00 $ 300.00 $ (25.00)

Cash back $6,250
1.40% 1.00%
$ 87.50 $ 62.50 $ 25.00

Is the card worth the hassle of moving my money so I can earn a highly cash back rate? Clearly not. But I'm glad that I took few minutes to run the number.

Marketer are smart. They know how to create a package to make the products more interesting. It's genius to package a savings account and a credit card together and make it sound good. However, it is up to the smart consumers to understand then undo the math to figure out the actual cost and benefit.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

installing vista .. part 2 (should have used a VM instance)

Did I mention this was a waste of time. It seems that the softwares that I need is not compatible with each other in Vista. Both claims Vista support but installed together causes the blue screen of death.

So, I'm building an VM instance with XP guest OS and installing the software inside. Voila, it's working fine. I should have done this in the first place and just live with semi-corrupted OS. At least my VM instance would have been portable.

Yes, I'll have to take a performance hit using a VM instance, but no BSOD. What a lovely choice.

On Vista, I have noticed just one improvement. Vista Media Center recording seems to be better XP based MC. And the close caption is working properly. There.. I said it. The one improvement in Vista.

BTW.. a friend that did go over to the Mac side is urge me to do the same. So, is there a VM instance so I can run Mac OS on the PC? I would love to try it and see.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I upgraded to Vista .. against my better judgement

My main development system is corrupted beyond recovery. I tried my old ghost images, but the system corruption must have been around for a while. I can't seem to install .Net Framework 3.5 and I can't uninstall any .Net application. Unfortunately, I have to install this for a new development gig.

So, here I am. 2am in the morning, installing Vista and restoring my files. What a waste of time. Honestly, I can't understand how "non-tech" people can put up with this crap. Make me want to switch to Mac just to see if it's really better on the other side.

Vista install is going okay. I didn't get any "blue screen" of death, but I had hard-reset the computer a few times already because it seems to hang for 10 minutes trying to install some hotfix. Upon my initial install, I had to install another 55 critical "updates".

I'm sure this is an old story, I'm just another techie complaining about the same old problems. This time, I swear I'm going to keep my main system as clean as possible. Keep as much application as possible inside a VM instance.

I'm really sick and tired of this annual ritual of rebuilding my OS every year.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Vonage or Not to Vonage

I have been using Vonage for 3 or 4 years now. I'm really sick of it. I can't fax out, the lister often gets a strange echo during conference calls. I have made multiple calls to customer support. The people are friendly enough and tries really hard, but can't seem to get the problem solved.

However, there are some really cool features with VOIP. Virtual Numbers, and SimulRing are two features that I don't want to give up. It's very useful for my business.

What should I do? Switch to another VOIP? Give up on VOIP? Any solutions to these problems?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

signed up for Microsoft Live - SkyDrive

I have been an xDrive user for years. For a long time, I actually paid the annual subscription fee to get 5 gigs of storage space. I personally didn't really care that xDrive was acquired by AOL until they made me give up my old account. Forced me to sign up for an useless AOL email address. Now, I can't even upload files any more. There are just too many choices, I don't want to bother with finding out why my upload is failing.

Today, I got a "spam" email about Microsoft Live SkyDrive. I just signed up, I'll use it for a few weeks and write about my experience here.