January 14, 2009
January 12, 2009
January 11, 2009
January 10, 2009
August 22, 2008
Quickening – Not Just for Immortals
As I mentioned yesterday, I had looked around for a new small business accounting package and had finally settled on Quicken. But the hunt didn’t stop there 🙂
Now that I had settled on Quicken, I needed a way to transfer my years of accumulated data in MS Money over to Quicken. Money exports transactions in QIF format but Quicken doesn’t support QIF for transferring data in to all accounts anymore – it only supports QIF for certain types of accounts. Additionally, when I tried to bring Money data in via QIF, I discovered that Quicken displayed the dates incorrectly 🙁
That was when I came across this page, which details how to use the Quicken Data Converter to transfer your Money data over to Quicken. I thought my troubles were over then, for sure. But that was not the case either :p
The Quicken Data Converter did transfer over everything almost flawlessly – there were a few extra transactions in one account but that I believe was the extent of the errors. However, there was one issue which made the whole transfer useless for me – the data transfer utility did not understand multi-currency! It simply took all the transactions to be in US dollars and this created a huge mess since some of my accounts were in Rupees and the final balances were way off.
There was no way to fix the data conversion either since it would automatically create a new company file when transferring in the data and I could not create a set of accounts (with the appropriate currency set up initially) to receive the transferred data. And once an account is created, you can’t change the currency for it in Quicken either.
So what I ended up doing was resort to a rather convoluted procedure. I created a new set of accounts with the right currencies and then exported the transferred in data as QIF files and then imported them back into the right currency accounts. (I later realized that I could probably have dispensed with the exporting and importing and simply copied the transactions over to the new account internally but hey, it did the same job either way …) This did get the transactions into the right currencies but inter-account transfers still had to be manually corrected to account for exchange rate fluctuations. However, that was rather minor given that I did manage to get all my data from Money into Quicken finally 🙂
October 5, 2007
It’s amazing what race brings up …
AXN started showing "The Amazing Race" season 10 on satellite television over here yesterday. Of course, one of the first things I noticed was that they had a Muslim team in the race this time (not to mention a lot of other politically correct/ratings-oriented groups, but that’s another story).
Right off the bat, I was wondering how it was going to turn out both because of the current political climate in the USA and a majority of the people’s perceptions about Muslims and also because I had wondered myself watching previous episodes of "The Amazing Race" as to how I would conduct myself in the race if I was on it. There have been instances when contestants have had to eat things like fried grasshoppers that Muslims cannot eat due to our religious dietary restrictions. Would I eat the grasshoppers anyway just to win a million bucks? Do the producers take the religious restrictions of contestants into account when they set up challenges? I was hoping I could find some answers to these questions this season. Of course, then the Muslims got eliminated at the very first leg of the race :p
That probably would have been that and I’d probably have forgotten all about it if I hadn’t decided to check out the reactions of others to the first episode online. Now I know that a lot of Americans seem to think that they are engaged in some sort of war with Islam for some weird reason and so I should have expected the reactions I found. But still, I was surprised at the level of hatred and prejudice that was displayed online.
Posts like this, and this, and this, and this seem to indicate that Americans seriously believe that all Muslims are terrorists and that they will not be satisfied with anything but the total and utter destruction of America. There’s talk of Islamofacists, "Religion of Peace" (quotes theirs, not mine), revenge on an entire religion for an act of fanaticism, how the Muslims not shaking a woman’s hand is derogatory towards all women and so on and so forth.
In fact, I’m surprised that some consider Bilal and Sa’eed to be fundamentalists because they were dressed in "flowing Arab garments" and "tangly beards". I thought them to be less than fundamentalists – in fact, I was wondering about how well they practiced their faith since they seemed to have no trouble in simply standing up and praying in a dirty airport waiting room without even bothering to wash up for prayer :p But then again, I have no idea how much coaching there was (what? you thought reality shows were really real? :p) or if the two friends had decided to portray the "true face of Islam" to the world on their own or even if it was a mix of the two. Personally, I thought they were a bit too showy and seemed to be flaunting their religion for the camera and to think that God cares enough about whether you win a race on television is to think very little of God or way too much about yourself 🙂
Now don’t get me wrong. There are balanced stories about this particular episode. Places where people couldn’t care less whether Sa’eed and Bilal were Muslims or solipso-agnostic Martians from the moons of Phobos – entries like this and this. With no evidence to the contrary, I assume that these were written by Americans as well. What I find disturbing is the number of Americans who give into the paranoia and hatred and assume that an entire religion is out to get them. I wish they’d do the math: the population of the US is slightly over 300 million and there are over a billion Muslims in the world; if all of Islam wanted America taken out, it would be a really uneven battle 🙂
July 27, 2007
Fighting – what is it good for?
I happened to catch an episode of "The Contender" today and got hooked in. It’s not a show that I normally watch but when they showed the families of the two guys who were fighting in this episode, my interest was piqued. For those of you who have not seen "The Contender", it is a reality show along the lines of "The Apprentice" where a bunch of hopeful boxers get divided into two teams, get trained and fight members from the other team, eliminating the loser from each fight. The last man standing gets something big I guess.
Anyway, what interested me was the fact that they have the wives and children of the fighters watching when they fight. You see the wives cheering their husbands on with comments like "You get him baby!" or shaking their heads when their husband seems to be doing badly. You also see the son of one of the contestants crying because he just saw his father get a cut over one eye. As I watched all of this, the question uppermost in my mind was, "why?"
Why do we find the sight of two human beings beating each other to a pulp entertaining? Why do we call this kind of thing a "sport"? Why can’t the wives who are cheering on their man think about the fact that their husband might be killed, maimed or injured during this "contest"? Why don’t they also think about the fact that while they are asking their spouse to beat another guy to a pulp, that guy too has a wife and kids who love him?
I guess the beat-their-chest-and-how-at-the-moon types will call me a wuss or a sissy or somebody who doesn’t understand what it means to be "manly". But is it really "manly" to beat somebody else down to show how strong you are? Aren’t we once again setting the example to our kids that it’s only strength that matters? That you will always win as long as you are strong?
Sure, I realize that boxing is not just about strength. That the strongest doesn’t always win and there is a lot of strategy, style and grace involved at times as well. But the fact remains, you have to beat a fellow human beings physically to win. What does that say about us as humans? To me it seems as if that it only says that we haven’t progressed very far from our own animal heritage – that we still haven’t learnt that control is better than force, that peace takes more effort than violence. But what do I know? :p
May 3, 2007
Over at LinkedIn, where I’m a member, I heard about this new service called Joost. It was still in beta but the aim of the service was to provide television on demand, for free, to all users via the Internet. Sounded like a good idea to me and so I wanted to join in and see what the service was like.
Only thing is, Joost is in beta at the moment, as I mentioned, and you needed an invite from an existing member to get in. Fortunately, LinkedIn members were there to help 🙂 Mat Morrison from digital marketing strategists, RMM London had some invites available and was kind enough to send one my way when I asked over at his blog. (Incidentally, I’ve got invites now and if you want one, ask away – you might have to link back to me but I’ll give you an invite :))
The Joost download was not very big and the install went through fine. The video streaming is pretty good, even with the crappy broadband connection you get here in Sri Lanka. The playback is a bit choppy but since Joost appears to cache the program as it is being downloaded, you can simply let it play in the background at the standard choppy rate (if your Net connection is as bad as mine that is) and then play it back when it has a good chunk downloaded.
Actually, the caching goes beyond that. Let’s say you shut Joost down while you were in the middle of playing a show or a song. The next time you connect to Joost, it will continue on from where you left off and it appears to have the cache for the segment you already downloaded intact. I liked that because I can watch a long show without having to go through the download again 🙂
There’s some Indian content on Joost as well and so I’m getting my Hindi music fix :p They even have a couple of shows from the Sci-Fi channel (not available in the US or Canada via Joost though) but that’s where I ran into my first snag. I’m not sure if it’s a Joost issue, a Vista issue at my end or something else (like not enough disk space) but everytime I tried to cache one of the Sci-Fi channel shows, Joost would crash out half-way through. Hopefully, they get that kind of thing sorted out (if it’s a Joost issue) and I can enjoy my television to the max 🙂
Note: If you want a Joost invite, you will need to let me know both your first name and last name as well a valid e-mail address since Joost requires these things to send out an invite. (You don’t have to put the e-mail address in the comment – if you give your valid e-mail address when posting the comment, I’ll be able to get that even though it’s not displayed along with your comment.) If you don’t want to leave those details in a comment, please e-mail me directly 🙂
Due to the number of people asking for invites without providing the details requested above, please note that I’ll be ignoring any requests without all the necessary details.
August 9, 2006
Signs of the times
Does popular culture reflect the fears and phobias of the time? I remember a few decades back when stories (in books and movies) abounded about how the US president (or his wife or his vice-president) is replaced by a look-alike. I didn’t think that reflected the paranoias of the time at the time, but now I’m not so sure.
We’ve watched (or are in the process of watching) two US TV series from 2005-2006. They both show the leadership of the US as being morally ambiguous or corrupt. The shows? "24" and "Prison Break" 🙂 (Incidentally, "Prison Break" is my favourite new show :p) In "24", it’s the president of the US who has no care for his own countrymen (and women) in his quest to do "what needs to be done to secure the nation’s future". In "Prison Break" the vice-president will go as far as to frame an innocent man (and kill several others) so that she can win the presidential election. All for the "good of the nation".
Is this how entertainers (and a good portion of the population) view their leaders? Or are these stories just coincidental to the current political/social climate? Here in Sri Lanka, nobody would dream of using mass-media to criticize their leaders. Sure, there are shows which are critical but the criticism is more covert. For the longest time, if you dared criticize the government, you could expect a call from the goon squads and it wasn’t going to be a friendly visit either. However, the people do express their opinions of the government (and the opposition and of politicians in general) fairly openly. The problems crop up only when you start expressing your opinions to a lot of people via the media :p That’s kind of weird, I know.
On the other hand, I get the impression that in the US, the media will lambaste politicians while your average Joe, the man on the street, will not care enough to discuss these matters. Here, politics is more of a topic for common discussion than the weather. Over there, I get the impression that it’s the other way around. The only similarity that I see is that in the end, whether you speak out or not, whether your discuss corruption or not, the apathy remains. We keep electing the same bunch of crooks (or their counterparts) come election time. Sure, we might justify it by saying that one side is less crooked than the other but if we know that they are all crooked, should we be making a distinction as to how less crooked one side is than the other?
March 20, 2006
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Investigations of CSI
We love CSI and CSI: Miami 🙂 In fact, we are so addicted that we bought whatever we could find of both series on DVD and watched it all day after day – notwithstanding all the blood, gore and spilled guts :p We were all caught up on the regular series up to season five but were missing season three of CSI: Miami. So imagine our joy when we found both season three of Miami and season one of CSI: New York on DVD recently :p
We decided to give CSI: New York a spin first since we like Gary Sinise (at least I do :p) and also probably because Laurie doesn’t like David Caruso that much :p Besides, it was a new show and we thought it might take a different direction. Take a different direction it did but so far, not in an enjoyable way.
For starters, the show has a really dark look. It’s probably supposed to reflect the grim and gritty reality of New York life and the lighting in the show is supposed to reflect the mood. It just doesn’t work for me, that’s all. True, I’ve never been in New York and so can’t say if this reflects the mood of the city or not. It’s just that as a show it kind of comes of gloomy and there just doesn’t seem to be as much of a sense of people as there was with the other two CSI shows.
On top of that, the stories seem awful. Sure, we’ve only seen about four or five episodes and I sure hope that the stories pick up later on. But so far, it looks as if they took the rejected ideas from the other two shows, the third-stringers who would have had to sit out the whole game, and put them into CSI: New York. I haven’t seen one story which was as absorbing as the stories on the other shows. Or maybe I’m just coming to New York on a bad day … :p
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