Should I give up on iBank 3 and go back to Moneydance?

picture-1.pngiBank 3 from IGG was released earlier this week. Four weeks ago I wrote a post about my first impressions of the beta. Generally I was pretty impressed. The bugs I commented on (icons and date format) have been fixed. However, the more I have used it the more disappointed I have become.

My biggest disappointment is the portfolio. iBank 3 can use a variety of online sources, such as Yahoo or Google to obtain quotes for your investments. It can also display a graph of value over time from the downloaded data. All my investments are UK ISA funds. Unfortunately Yahoo doesn’t recognise any of them and Google only a couple. However, there is a bug where Google downloads all quotes as zero, overwriting any I may have put in manually. And as Google is unable to download my quotes properly I’m not able to graph their value. Since this feature wasn’t available in iBank 2 I haven’t actually lost anything but it’s a shame as it was a feature I was really looking forward to. I’ll just have to stick to Morningstar for graphs.

I think I was expecting more from iBank 3. It isn’t really that different from the previous version. I was certainly hoping for more of an overhaul of the GUI. Entering transactions is fiddly and still long-winded if you’re trying to use the keyboard. And I had hoped for more from the charts. I think they are still unintuitive to create. It would have been nice to have some more predefined charts available such as net worth over time, expenditure over time and predicted future balance. Read the rest of this entry »

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1Password and OpenID to speed up logins

I’ve just been reading an interesting post on The Weekly Review about OpenID. This is a service that allows you to use just one username and password to sign in to registered websites. (Nearly ten thousand sites are currently supported.)

I just don’t feel comfortable with this kind of service. Having someone else store my passwords, even if they say it is secure, makes me nervous. I would always be worried about someone gaining access to my data or phishing.

picture-1.pngHowever, a single login is very appealing as it is such a timesaver. I use 1Password and it is one of my favourite Mac apps. It stores all my passwords for me – but not on some distant server. All your data is retained in the Keychain app on your Mac. If you want, 1Password will generate strong passwords for you. You just need to remember your single 1Password password. Even easier, it can insert a button into the toolbar of most popular browsers so all you need to do is click it and it will log you in.

It can also store other information securely such as credit card details and serial numbers. The list of useful features goes on – 1Password also supports the iPhone.

I’m not doing it justice here – I suggest you try the free demo. And it only costs $30 to buy.

GTD won’t work for you if you don’t trust your system

I have just spent the last half hour in a panic. I had a cheque to pay in to the bank and I couldn’t find it. This cheque is for quite a large sum of money so I was getting really worried that it was lost.

First I looked in my in-basket. Before I started GTDing this basket was always overflowing with papers and receipts and rubbish. If I had a cheque to pay in, it would be in the basket. But this morning it only has a small pile of papers waiting to be processed. I thought maybe the cheque had mistakenly been put in my pile of papers waiting to be scanned, but no, it wasn’t there either.

By this point I was getting pretty grumpy. “This room is a tip.” “I’m going to have to spend the whole day sorting this out.” “The day is ruined.” You get the idea!

Then I had some inspiration. Maybe I had added it to Things on my Mac. And lo and behold, there it was: “Pay in cheque”, tagged as “errands” and with an attached note “cheque is in the bank file”.

I’m really disappointed in myself. It’s not that GTD has failed me – I have failed GTD. I had done everything as I should – I hadn’t left a todo sitting in an inbox – it had been processed, appropriately filed and a reminder left for myself. The problem is that I didn’t trust the system. I can’t believe the first place I looked for the cheque was the in-tray. That’s where the old me left things. I need to learn to trust my system, which is clearly going to be harder than I thought. Have you found this hard to do? I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this.

Why isn’t the Getting Things Done audiobook available in the UK?

Once I’d finished reading Getting Things Done I decided it would also be nice to have the audiobook too. I thought the abridged version would be useful to listen to now and again. I’d recently signed up to audible so that seemed the logical place to go. Except they don’t have it.

You can download it from audible.com for $12.60 if you’re in America. But if you try and download it from the UK you’re shifted over to audible.co.uk where it’s not available. The CD version is available from amazon.com for $16.50. Amazon in the UK doesn’t sell it. amazon.com will ship to Britain but the delivery charge is $6.48 bringing the total up to an eviqualent of £11.44. Read the rest of this entry »

Prey by Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton excels at writing technological thrillers. He has covered many areas of science and technology – Prey delves into nanotechnology and artificial distributed intelligence.

The basic storyline is (without giving anything away) that a lab in the Nevada desert is working on nanoparticles that, when working together, can act as a camera. An application of this could be to inject them into patients to visualise parts of the body – a high-tech angiogram, for example. However, something goes wrong and a swarm of nanoparticles is unleashed into the desert. They are able to evolve – they are intelligent and can no longer be controlled by the scientists and computer programmers. The swarm is deadly and their creators are now the prey. Read the rest of this entry »

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Saving time and money by planning meals ahead

How many times have you gotten to six o’clock and realised you’ve nothing planned for dinner? This was a not uncommon situation for me to find myself in in my pre-productivity days. It would mean either finding some kind of trash in the freezer or getting a take-away. I reached a point where I had had enough. We were eating rubbish. I felt unhealthy and it certainly wasn’t a good example for the children.

For the last three months I have been planning my family’s meals ahead. On a Monday afternoon I make a list of what meals we will have for the next seven days. Then I make a shopping list for all the ingredients I will need and do the shop the following day. This has had a number of benefits.

We used to waste a lot of food. I would buy too much, just buying random items, thinking I would use them for something but then didn’t. The amount of fruit and vegetables we would throw away was appalling. (At least it went into the compost heap so it wasn’t completely wasted.) Now I only buy what I will need for the week. As I’m doing targeted shopping I’ve pretty much stopped impulse buys. Overall I’m saving about £30 a week as I’m only buying what I actually need. And that doesn’t even take into account money saved by eating less take-aways. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s time to apply GTD to my life

I have only finished reading Getting Things Done in the last week. I found the last three chapters a bit of a slog – too waffly for me. But now that I’ve finished it I really need to start applying it properly.

Actually, over the last two months I have gradually been implementing the principles. I started by maintaining to-do lists on the computer. Initially I used Omnifocus but ultimately I chose Things, having tried out virtually every other Mac GTD app along the way.

I spent three evenings with my husband doing an initial “collection”. Our dining room was the dumping ground for paperwork, journals, all sorts of rubbish. We filed loads of it and shredded and threw away even more. I have made three piles of “things to read” based on whether I think it will take under 15 minutes, between 15 and 30 minutes or over 30 minutes to read. Actually, I’m really pleased with my reading piles – I’m finding I’m actually starting to get through them as I can easily choose something to read that fits in with how much time I have to spare. (The idea for sorting my reading material like this came from Ready-Set-Do!, an app that I liked but ultimately discounted as it was too slow.) Read the rest of this entry »