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Applying efficiencies that make businesses more successful into my own life

July 19th, 2012 No comments

As you may or may not know, I now work a typical M-F 9-5 type of job. On any given weekday, chances are extremely great that I am at work, working. Unlike some tech jobs, my job requires my presence at the office. This means that consistently, at least 40 hours of my life are spent in an environment where I am much less likely to do the things that I want to be doing if I were given the choice. All that crap you just read is really just a super complicated way to say my free time is limited and precious.

Recently, I’ve been applying techniques we use to make businesses more efficient and therefore more likely to be successful, into my regular life. This basically means I want to be able to do things that I don’t particularly enjoy doing but have to do, using less time, such as laundry or shopping. For example, after some practice, I’ve learned the things I generally need to buy for one week, then I buy them all in one trip to the grocery store on Sunday, combining it with a trip to a Sandwich shop so I can buy 2 days worth of lunch (the sandwiches don’t really taste very good after 2 days). By doing this, I essentially have combined ~3 trips to the grocery store into one. The only problem being that I have to spend my precious Sunday time to do this, and my previous trips to the grocery store, more frequent as they were, were often on the way home from work, minimizing the amount of time I have to drive to almost nothing.

To improve this, I think I’m going to start trying to go to the Sandwich store before work on Wednesdays and go grocery shopping on the way home from work on Wednesdays. The reason I choose Wednesdays is because that is the least likely day for us to have a holiday, so its least likely to throw my schedule out of wack, and is also very unlikely I’ll hang out with friends or something after work, making me unable to stop and buy groceries. The only issue I see with this is the will power required to get up 30 minutes earlier to buy sandwiches on Weds morning, and that I’ll have to feed the meter since it is not Sunday. The upside is that the sandwiches will be fresher, and/or I may actually be able to buy 3 days worth of sandwiches. I know this is not the most interesting thing to read, but I get a small kick out of optimizing my life.

I’m also thinking about paying a shop to do my laundry for me. Since I don’t have the luxury of working less than 40 hours a week, time is valuable to me and is worth paying some money for to earn back.

Don’t get me wrong though, spending time with friends is something I love to do, and is definitely one of the furthest things I can think of from ‘wasting time’.

Oh and another thing is I’m going to start aggressively trying to get off work at 17:30 sharp, which is when I’m technically fulfilled my obligation. I way too often stay extra (for free at that) just to reach a good stopping point or do a good job. Really I should be able to stop at 8 hours sharp (not a minute before mind you) and leave and they really should not be able to complain about that. Only thing being since they got so used to me staying a bit extra they may notice and thing I’m not working as hard or something since I’d probably get less done and always seem like I’m leaving early.

Also, 3 different stocks I’ve all been eyeing since 1-2 week ago but didn’t pull the trigger and buy have all been performing phenominally the past 2-3 days (YOKU, IBM, and COP). All up 5-10% and in the case of COP also comes with a ~1.2% dividend (essentially another ~1.2% gain tacked on). Its kinda frustrating because I kept hesitating on one because I missed my chance on another. Now they are all up enough that the deal is no longer as good. Poo.

Categories: Investment, Life, Plans, Theories Tags:

Not posting often anymore because… and a bit of filling in the gaps

August 2nd, 2011 No comments

I’ve noticed a sharp decline in my twitter, facebook, youtube, and blogging activity lately. Well, probably since roughly May 23rd. That would make sense, since I just started working a full time job, something I haven’t had for a while. Its actually a pretty cool job, but work is still work. My bosses are really REALLY cool, and that is very important. I believe this Friday will actually be a sorta half-day (I’m actually not sure what to expect yet…) as I’ve been informed that we will be going golfing. I’m looking forward to it, not because I like golfing (although golfing is fun too) but because it’ll hopefully be just a chill Friday, which is always nice.

So as you guys probably know by now, I’m really into Apple gear. There are possibly 2-3…but at least one technology related thing I’d really like to buy in the late part of this year. Let me list them:

1. Xbox 360 or PS3
2. A high end smartphone such as iPhone 5 or Samsung Hercules (both unreleased).
3. A new computer.

Honestly, I wish to curb my materialism, and getting a new high end smart phone is definitely unnecessary consumerism considering I already have an iPhone 4, which is without question still a very good and high end smartphone. In fact, since the iPhone 4, Apple has pretty much added anything I could possibly want in a smartphone such as great camera quality, 720p video recording, great battery life, great design, and a great screen… I’ve only ever had one thing more I wanted from it, and that is a BIGGER screen. To be honest, even that is trivial. I really should be content with the iPhone 4 for a long long time, yet I have a craving for the latest and greatest iPhone or Android equivalent. Whats so bad about this is that the next iPhone may not even have a bigger screen – the one thing that I wanted in a new phone – and yet I may upgrade anyway and forget why I wanted to upgrade in the first place.

My other 2 items I wish to buy – a 7th gen gaming console (not the wii) and a new computer, I think are more reasonable purchases should I end up buying them. I have not bought a gaming console since the PS2 which must be at least 5 years ago, and my computer is equally old at 5 years – and it has gotten to the point where it does not qualify for the new Lion OS that Apple has released. Moreover, unlike a smartphone upgrade, which simply brings a slight performance bump but nothing truly new, a 7th generation console brings the ability to play 7th generation games – a feature that simply does not exist with my current possessions, and a significantly different gaming experience. Similarly, for me upgrading to a current generation computer would bring enormous performance gains that I feel could justify the purchase – not to mention the ability to run a brand new OS that was previously not supported on my older computer.

Whatever, not terribly exciting for anyone else to read about I realize. What else has happened lately…

Hopefully if I keep working I can finally buy another car (with a manual transmission!!). I haven’t had a car with a manual for a couple years now and I miss it DEARLY. The cars I like haven’t really changed much, its still MR2, Z, or Subaru quite the same as many years ago. Maybe now I can throw in a couple higher price tier cars like the Altezza and Supra. I also like the Honda Fit. Perhaps I should control myself this time around and buy the practical car FIRST, then get the ‘fun’ car later on…priorities…ugh…

Last month I went on a trip to LA with my friend and we carpooled with one of his coworkers who gave me a lot of new perspectives on investing. I am now actually considering more stable investments in oil companies like Chevron, and make a bit off the dividends as well. Slow but steady, so to speak. What he said makes a lot of sense. Instead of investing in stocks with high returns but big risk, get the super stable stocks like oil that are safe and give out consistent dividends. That way, the more money you make as your career progresses, the more money you have in these ‘safe’ stocks, and you are guaranteed a percentage of your savings as dividends, which are taxed at only 14%! So the more you save, the more “automatic” extra income you make. If you for example buy Chevron (a very good stock for this purpose at the moment IMHO) you get 3% a year just in dividends, PLUS whatever gains the actual stock may make (which is pretty stable and ‘safe’ – at least as far as stocks go).

Have to admit though, I like those volatile high risk high gain stocks. They are more like gambling, but it never fails to put a big smile on my face when I gain 5% or more in a single day :). I’ve been quite successful with those types of stocks as well, so its hard to leave them.

Categories: Apple, Investment, Life, Technology Tags:

Investing, cool car, and pirating things

April 25th, 2011 No comments

So, as some of you may or may not know, I’m currently unemployed…. Admittedly, I have enough income to live without working. OK, so thats not going to last forever…probably. My income source is actually investing. I’ve been successful at investing enough that I’ve been able to support myself and break even for the last 10 months or so. Although I could be watching streaming stock quotes, I would really like to get a proper job soon. I have been looking for a proper job, but I think I need to turn it up a notch and apply to even more jobs.

So I took a break from the computer today to go out for a walk. I really should be taking advantage of my area more, since I live in a REALLY nice area in my opinion. Today I was walking around and I saw a fully electric car called the Tesla Roadster. I snapped a couple photos of it, one of which is below:

The quality of the iPhone 4’s camera never ceases to impress me. I mean, for a phone camera, that is. It is not as good as a dedicated point and shoot, but its still pretty darn good! Oh and if you look carefully, you can actually see me in the reflection of the bumper taking the snap. You’ll probably want to click on the photo and see the full size version for that, though.

Finally, I just had this thought today as I was trying to find an anime I wanted to watch. The problem was, even if I wanted to pay to watch the anime, there was nowhere to do so, and only DVD’s to order from online stores. On the other hand, I was able to find a link to download the anime with excellent quality in both video, as well as subtitle quality for free in about 5 minutes. So basically, it is MUCH easier to pirate content than to purchase content lately, at least for some things. I don’t believe its the worst thing you can do to pirate content that is otherwise not even available for sale in your area.

On the other hand, if you COULD purchase something (such as a program or movie), but instead spent 10 times as much effort to get it for free, then maybe you should reconsider things, not to mention you’d be doing the ‘right’ thing.

Oh, and Nintendo seem to have started feeding info to the public about a successor to the Wii. Not enough info available at this early stage to make it interesting to me. I’m still waiting for Final Fantasy 13 Victorias Secret edition (Final Fantasy VS 13) before I decide which 7th generation console (360 or PS3) to purchase, if at all. The 2 games I’m looking forward to the most are FF13VS and Dragon Quest X. Even though Dragon Quest X will be a Wii exclusive, I may be able to get away without having to buy the console using the Dolphin emulator, which I hear is actually amazingly good.

Categories: Investment, Life, Plans, Technology, Video Games Tags:

Newer is not always better

April 24th, 2011 No comments

So, this week or two has been a good lesson that newer is not always better. I’ve actually known newer is not always better when it comes to software, but it happened once again. A couple months ago, when adobe flash player was updated to version 10.2, I jumped right on because I heard it has hardware acceleration enabled for macs (reduces CPU consumption). I know this is getting a bit technical so let me just inform you that when I watched Youtube videos afterwards, my full screen became extremely sluggish to the point it was unwatchable.

Problem being, I didn’t notice right away, so I didn’t figure out it was Flash 10.2 that did this for a long long time. Well, just a couple days ago, I decided I’ll track this down and finally figure out how to fix it, so I scoured the net using Google, which didn’t help much. Instead I decided to try to figure out exactly what was causing the slowdown in full screen mode. Long story short, I ended up looking for an older version of Flash to install and see if that would fix the problem…and it did!

On a similar note, I had recently ‘upgraded’ to Google Chrome 10 by force. It was actually really sneaky, I got no notification and before I knew it, I had the latest version of Chrome. I immediately began noticing small but annoying bugs, such as having to press enter several times after typing in a web page address such as www.youtube.com. This time, I noticed right away and immediately blamed Chrome 10, so I set out to try to figure out how to install an older version of Chrome, which was harder than I imagined it would be. Eventually I found a 99% similar browser called Chromium, and I installed version 8 as well as version 9 and tried both with several different versions of Flash. Finally, I settled on Flash 10.0 combined with Chrome 8 to feel the ‘snappiest’. Now, my web browsing experience feels a whole lot better! If I could, I’d remove Flash completely, but I cannot live without Youtube in my life (and the HTML5 option is not ready for primetime…trust me).

For that matter, I recently decided I would sell my iPad 2, as I found I don’t need anything newer than an iPad 1. The iPad 2 was to me, 99% identical to iPad 1 but nearly twice as expensive. I’ve since put my iPad 2 up for sale, although I don’t know if I’ll be replacing it with another iPad 1.

Finally, I was reading about this fragrance (cologne) that is a limited edition (seen above). For those curious, its called Windsor and it was released in a limited quantity in 2009 (right 4 bottles are 2009 edition). Apparently, it got rave reviews from the very few people who were able to try it. So much in fact, that it was re-released in 2010 (left 2 bottles are 2010 edition), but when people started sniffing and comparing the 2 different releases of the supposedly same product, almost everyone was able to tell the first one smelled a little different (and it is generally considered better). The maker of the cologne (Creed) apparently admitted that the cologne was reformulated! WTF they are selling a reformulated product and claiming it is the SAME product if that is true (and one thing for sure is the color is different as you can see, suggesting this is true). Seemingly off topic, I know, but just another example of an older version of something being better.

In other news, I have been fairly successful with investments lately, which is always good. One thing that kinda sucks though, is that in 2010 I bought a big batch of limited edition colognes as an investment. I found them at a good price and I knew they would soon be sold out and not reproduced, plus the cologne had rave reviews so no doubt the value would increase, right!? Well, same thing happened to this cologne (Thierry Mugler’s Pure Malt, pictured above in the re-release ad), they decided it was so popular that they had to re-release it to make more money. I sorta understand the need to make more money, but this is a fine line that could be considered lying by saying it will be a limited edition. Ask any Lamborghini owner if they would be pleased if Lamborghini decided to make a limited 20 car run into a 2000 car run and suddenly their expensive car was not only 100 times less exclusive, but also lost resale value? Well, if you bought the original Windsor cologne mentioned earlier in this post, at least the newer re-release doesn’t hurt your resale value too much as it is not the exact same product, but in my case, it seems as though the ‘Pure Malt’ product re-release is EXACTLY THE SAME, thus hurting the value of my investment. It can be kinda annoying sometimes.

The good news is, if I sold my batch of Pure Malts now, I’d still make some money, just not as much as before the re-release announcement. And for the record, it actually is quite a nice and very unique cologne.

I’ll try to write a less technical blog soon.

Categories: Investment, Life, Plans, Technology Tags:

You snooze, you lose!

April 1st, 2011 No comments

Hey, got a little frustrated today.

First of all, I got up at 8:30am, which is pretty early for me. The reason is I was actually planning to sell my shares of BIDU and reinvest in YOKU within a few minutes of market open today. This is not “considering” or “sorta thinking about”, I was REALLY planning to do this, but I overslept. While BIDU didn’t tank exactly (actually gained roughly ~1%), but in the same time, YOKU gained ~6% (so far today). 6% is a big amount to miss out on. Suppose you invested $1000 in YOKU, you could of made $60 doing NOTHING but predicting correctly (which I did, in this case).

While you can’t buy stocks one day at a time and expect to make any consistent money, people who know me know I’ve wanted to switch my investment to YOKU. With BIDU steadily rising the last few days, and YOKU dropping for 2 days in a row, it was a perfect time to switch over, so I just feel frustrated that I missed a really good, clean timing for the swap.

Eh, can’t be helped. Not like I lost money I suppose. You snooze, you lose!