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Eight Things I Think (and a Slew of Personal Finance Tips)

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It's been a little while since I put out a post of random thoughts and things that caught my attention. I'm hoping that you'll find some of them some them useful, and others entertaining.

  1. Amazon Glacier Provides Cheap Backup for Media - I love Amazon Web Services quite a bit. It brings very cheap computer power individuals without the buying power of a big company. They created a service called Amazon Glacier that allows people to back-up information for a penny a GB a month. This is idea for those pictures and music you want safe from fire or flood in your home. Sure you may have your photos on some web service (Picasa, Facebook, Flickr, etc.), but often they are compressed.

    The biggest problem with Amazon Glacier is that they didn't provide a user-friendly graphical interface to it. It was made for software engineers. Third parties are stepping in and creating tools to fill that gap. I've used FastGlacier and it works well.

  2. Looking for the Ideal Ultrabook - My 16" Dell Studio XPS is still performing well, but I have to say that I like the idea of a lighter, faster machine. Two Ultrabooks almost seem to have it right, but I want them to merge their features.

    The VIZIO Thin and Light has the right size and weight, 15" at under 4 pounds with the full HD screen. It has a Microsoft Signature, which means that it doesn't come with a lot of apps that only hurt slow down your computer. Now for the bad... if you want to get the fastest processor, you have to get the much more expensive and larger SSD hard drive. That drives up the price a bit for me. There's no option to get more than 4GB of memory, which is less than what came in my Dell XPS more than a year ago. There is no SD card reader, which is something that I use frequently. Lastly, many reviews say that the keyboard is below average and the trackpad is essentially unusable.

    The ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A tops out at 13 inches which is too small for everyday use for me. It lacks the Microsoft Signature version of Windows that the Vizio has. It is also limited to 4GB of memory like the Vizio. It is also more expensive than the Vizio by a few hundred dollars (when comparing as many apples-to-apples as possible). On the plus side, it has an SD card reader and keyboard and trackpad with good reviews. So at least it works.

    Looks like I'm waiting until Vizio fixes a few things. By that time, Windows 8 and touchscreen laptops and tablet-hybrids will be all the rage.

  3. Sports I: Boston Red Sox - It's been about a full year since I've much on the Boston Red Sox, one of my favorite teams. They haven't earned the any positive words for me in that time with the September collapse and this year's debacle of a season. At least the blockbuster trade of three high salary players allows them to rebuild. I watched fewer games than usual this year, but still caught dozens.

    We saved about $300 in not going to the series this past weekend in nearby Oakland like we usually do. We didn't go because the Red Sox weren't good, but because with my wife full-term and a baby due any day now, we want to stay as close to the hospital as possible. Maybe junior knew something we didn't as the Red Sox got swept, losing by a combined score of 33-4, the biggest differential since the Boston Massacre in 1978.

  4. Sports II: New England Patriots - As bad as the Red Sox are performing the optimism is the exact opposite for the Patriots' season that starts in less than a week. One analyst played out the Patriots season and have them winning every game... except the Super Bowl. As implausible as it sounds, Las Vegas will probably have them favored in every game. They have one of the easiest schedules. The toughest game may be at the Baltimore Ravens. They have games at home against Denver, Houston, and San Francisco. Those are tough games, but having them at home makes them favorites.

    It would certainly be something to win 18 straight games and then lose the title. You have to feel for anyone rooting for a team that does that.

  5. Rare Political Thought - I don't deal with politics or religion very often in this space. I probably mentioned each one about once before. However, I saw this from Chris Rock: "If you vote against Obama because he can't get stuff done, it's like saying, 'this guy can't cure cancer. I'm gonna vote for cancer.'"

    I've been pretty clear about my thoughts about MLMs and pyramid schemes in this space and this Mother Jones article, Pyramid-Like Company Ponies Up $1 Million for Mitt Romney, pretty much seals the deal on who isn't right to lead America. We need people who shut down these companies from scamming American citizens, not people who take their bribes.

  6. While on the Topic of MLM - I liked this article about MLMs by Free From Broke. The Financial Blogger chips in with a great Primerica review. I liked the part where he points out the people's cars in the parking lot. Simple, but effective way to show that the people in Primerica weren't making big money.
  7. The Money-Saving Power of Cloth Diapers - Hat tip to my wife for this article on cloth diapering. Few things are more important to her right now. She's researching them in the same way that I research Ultrabooks. Ignoring that and getting to the article, cloth diapering can save over $1000. Save the environment and money at the same time? That's a no-brainer... at least that's what I'm saying until I actually have to use them.
  8. The Disappearence of Middle Class Jobs - Flexo at Consumerism Commentary had a great article about Five Tips for Dealing With the Job Shift Away From the Middle Class. This is one of the reasons why I got into blogging. I saw a lot of software engineering jobs go overseas. It got me thinking that I need to take care an active role in preparing my finances and look at alternative ways to earn an income.

Moving on from those thoughts here are some other personal finance artices that I like:

Last updated on September 4, 2012.

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18 Responses to “Eight Things I Think (and a Slew of Personal Finance Tips)”

  1. Rushmoore says:

    Chris Rock had it wrong. If Obama can’t cure cancer, a vote for the other guy is not a vote for cancer, it’s a vote for someone who can.

    How much work has the Obama justice department done to shut down MLM companies? They’re too busy trying to allow dead people to continue voting, enabling voter intimidation, and keeping states from securing their own borders.

  2. Lazy Man says:

    It would be logically false to suggest that voting for “the other guy” can cure cancer just because he isn’t Obama. It reminds me of the people who support MLMs like LifeVantage Protandim saying that the FDA approves medications with side effects. They ignore that their “solution” is actually worse than the current one in place.

    Obama hasn’t done anything to shut down MLM companies, but it is better than aiding them. Romney has a close association with them. Maintaining your ground is better than taking a step backwards.

  3. Tommy Z says:

    Both Obama and Romney are rotten to the core. Don’t waste your vote by voting for evil!

    Instead, vote for Gov. Gary Johnson in 2012!

  4. Traciatim says:

    Keep in mind that your XPS probably has discrete video, so if you do anything that uses a video card in any sor (like look at a screen) you are probably going to see an incredibly large drop in performance going with a machine with on board video.

    On board has come a long way, but it’s still pretty pathetic even compared to the cheapest of discrete video. If you really must go for a machine with on board you may also want to look at AMD. They don’t have a lot that can compete in the desktop markets, but for portable machines their on board video built in to their processors is pretty descent.

    As for ultrabooks, why not the Toshiba Satellite U840-001-W . . . i5, 6GB of RAM, SSD and Hybrid Drive, discrete video . . . though a lower res screen.


  5. Cat says:

    That is how the 8 of us felt who voted against Obama during the last election.

  6. Lazy Man says:


    That’s a good point.  I hadn’t thought about it because I don’t do much with video now.  However, I will be doing more with junior coming soon.  I usually equate graphics chips with gaming.

    One of the most important things to me is a 1080P screen as that is what I have now.  I am used to it.  I read that Asus is putting a discrete graphics chip in at least one Ultabook, similar to the one I mentioned, now.

  7. Traciatim says:

    If you are just doing regular video editing and stuff then it’s fine. Keep in mind that your main system memory will have a chunk removed and dedicated to the video rather than a discrete card that has it’s own memory. I figured you played a game or two . . . which on board video really isn’t great at, and especially at 1080p.

    Plus, with Quick-Sync on the newer Intel chips video editing in particular should be a breeze compared to your existing machine.

    I also noticed how hard it was to find an Ultrabook with a 1080p screen… and Why the Sony does have one…. it’s not an ultrabook.

    If you are looking for any small, light, 1080P notebook with a 15″ screen or so and not actually an ultrabook it would be far easier to find what you are looking for.

  8. Veronica @ Pelican on Money says:

    @Tommy Z, I agree. We are given what seems to be a choice on the outside, but in reality both guys are going to run this country into the ground by making sure our jobs keep going overseas.

  9. phr3dly says:

    It’s also a logical fallacy to imply that Romney supports MLM just because a MLM contributes to his campaign. At least #1’s comment was made in jest. Your bullet point #5 appears to have been the result of serious consideration, which I find terrifying.

    Having said that, agreed with #3 and #8. There are real choices out there, they just aren’t being offered by the Democrats or Republicans.

  10. Lazy Man says:

    I think if you read the article that I linked to you, you’ll find that it Romney does indeed support an MLM company. It isn’t like someone just gave him money and he took it. There is a two-way relationship there. There are also ties between Romney and NuSkin.

    I’ve always been a Kang kind of guy, not so much of a Kodus one.

  11. Lazy Man says:

    I should add that my comment about Romney isn’t a republican or a democratic thing. It is simply a comment based on thousands and thousands of comments on my MLM articles here (and reading elsewhere) that anyone that supports MLMs is a poor choice for a leader.

  12. MJS says:


    As someone in the financial services industry, I loathe companies like Primerica. I do think the car thing is a false equivalency. I know of at least three people at my old firm that make 7 figures a year and drive very basic cars (one drives a moderately priced SUV and the other a Jeep Cherokee – which I guess is also an SUV).

    People in our business are experts at saving money as we help people do it every day. The single worst investment is a new car.

    If you google Vince Wilfork, I believe, he said he bought a slightly used pick up with his first large bonus. I worry more about the professionals who buy the expensive car. They are usually all flash and no substance.

  13. Lazy Man says:

    I’m 99.9% sure the car thing is a false equivalency, but it was kind of funny when a Mazda and a Hyundai are the best cars there. I mean no offense to either of those cars, my next car might be a gently-used Hyundai.

    I am also 95% with you on the new car being a bad investment. That said, some research has shown that in the last few years, new cars can be cheaper than used. It’s a rare case like how it is better for me to rent in Silicon Valley and in the rest of the US, it is the opposite.

  14. “my next car might be a gently-used Hyundai.”

    I’d recommend this. We bought a 2007 Elantra with 66K miles from a co-worker last year. It gets 35-38 mpg very easily (vast majority of mile are highway) and still is reasonable comfortable (I’m 5’11” and don’t feel cramped). Great commuter car.

  15. Joe says:

    Lazy Man,

    Love your stuff, but very disappointed that you posted that political blurb.

    Not just because I disagree with you (come on, who is better for business… really… the guy who nationalized GM and gave most of the concessions to the union, instead of the share and bondholders, or the private equity wunderkind?) but because I’d rather your blog be apolitical…

    Now I am left wondering whether I should remove Lazy man & Money from my RSS reader or not…



  16. Lazy Man says:

    Sorry Joe,

    It wasn’t really about politics as much as being against those who are supported by the fraudulent MLM companies. I would say the same thing about Obama if anyone posts that he was getting a million from MonaVie or LifeVantage. If that is the case, (or anything similar to that) the same comment would apply there.

    I simply don’t want anyone leading the country getting support from fraud and disinformation that hurt consumers. It’s an integrity issue for me.

  17. Joe says:

    Lazy Man,

    Yeah, I get that. But what your readers may not know is that the Romney campaign didn’t take any money from an MLM company – in fact, presidential campaigns are prohibited by law from taking money from any corporations, period.

    What that Mother Jones article was talking about was a SuperPAC… an organization that is completely separate from a campaign, and which is prohibited by law from discussing contributions, ad buys, or anything else with the campaign itself… SuperPACs CAN take corporate money, and a SuperPAC that supports Mitt Romney accepted this money, not the campaign, and Mitt and the campaign have nothing to do with it.

    The Mother Jones article, is, of course, a little misleading about this, which is not surprising, given the publication’s left-leaning slant. All of which brings me back to my original point. This stuff is complicated and takes time to delve into and explain properly, and perhaps should be avoided at the risk of alienating readers.


  18. Lazy Man says:

    Well, Mother Jones has mislead me as well. I’m not into politics and a lot of that stuff isn’t my area of expertise. I will say that when I read the article, it was quite clear that Romney supported the MLM company, especially with the quote from Romney where he said, “Melaleuca has delivered on its promise of enhancing the lives of people…”

    The article further goes to explain that there is a working relationship between Romney and CEO Frank VanderSloot. There are also other articles about Romney and Nuskin. That’s from the LA Times, which I would think is a pretty political neutral publication. It mentioned how nutritional companies (it didn’t name them other than Nuskin, but nutritional companies in Utah are usually MLMs) gave $4 million to various campaigns.

    Putting aside the money and the SuperPACs in the Mother Jones article, it is pretty clear that there’s a relationship there.

    I see friendly working relationships between candidate A and an industry that I’ve spend thousands of hours proving is a fraud on the American public. (And I am far from alone on that.) I get your point about this stuff being complicated, but the overall support is there.

    I see no relationship between candidate B and that industry.

    I want to make it clear that it wasn’t a Republican or Democratic comment, but a candidate A vs. a candidate B one. If anyone is taking this to be left-leaning or right-leaning, donkey or elephant, they are simply misunderstanding the point that I’m trying to make.

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