Thursday, September 27, 2007

MS Money Plus (2008) System Requirements

A while back, I posted an article about issues that I was having with Microsoft Money 2004. I have the 2007 version of MS Money, and found it to be generally good, but there are a few features that are missing. For example, you can more easily switch between investments in the 2004 version. There is a drop-down box that allows you to quickly view any securities that you've entered into MS Money, but this feature doesn’t exist in the 2007 version. Also, the 2007 version of Money only runs under Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) or Windows Vista.

For 2008, Microsoft has renamed their financial software as "Microsoft Money Plus". Have you seen the system requirements? Again, you need to be running either Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) or Windows Vista.

Looking at the box for MS Money Plus (Deluxe version), I was actually shocked by the system requirement to run the software under Windows Vista. For PCs running Windows XP, the minimum requirements are quite reasonable: a Pentium II 300-MHz or faster processor (or compatible), and 128 MB of RAM.

However, for those with PCs running Windows Vista, the requirements are much more demanding: a Pentium (or compatible) 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor, and a whopping 1 GB of RAM.

I’m starting to question why the requirements are so drastically different for Windows Vista versus the same software running under Windows XP. Is Vista version of MS Money Plus so phenomenally superior to Windows XP? Is there anybody who has the software that can give some insight as to what the main differences are between the two software versions?


Monday, September 24, 2007

Business 2.0 Is Out Of Business

I previously mentioned that I subscribe to Business 2.0 magazine. I've had a subscription off and on since the magazine's first issue. The parent company of Business 2.0, Time Warner, is pulling the plug on the magazine. I believe that the October 2007 issue of Business 2.0 will be its last.

I know that they are no longer offering new subscriptions to Business 2.0. However, I wonder what will happen to the issues that I've already paid for... Will they offer a refund, or substitute another financial magazine like Money or Fortune? So far, I haven't heard anything about plans for current Business 2.0 subscribers.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Cosmetic Changes at Sun Microsystems

I own shares in Sun Microsystems. Sun has recently made a couple of largely cosmetic changes to its stock. First of all, Sun has changed their stock ticker symbol from SUNW to JAVA. They put out a press release giving a few reasons for this change. The truth is that this change is mostly cosmetic. But I did have to manually change the stock ticker symbol in Microsoft Money and other records that I use to keep track of my cost basis. I also occasionally read the message boards at Yahoo Finance, and noticed that Yahoo has not yet setup a message board under Sun's new ticker symbol: JAVA.

Another largely cosmetic change is that Sun Microsystems will ask its shareholders to authorize a 1 for 4 reverse stock split at its Annual Meeting of Stockholders on November 8, 2007. This won't affect most shareholders, other than having to remember to correctly account for the change in their tax basis. As an example, suppose that a shareholder has 1000 shares of JAVA and it trades at $6 before the reverse split. After the split, this person would own 250 shares that are trading around $24. In either case, the total value of the stock holdings is the same, and the cost basis doesn't really change. However, an issue that might come up is if one ends up with a fractional share after the reverse split (i.e. one doesn't own a multiple of 4 shares of stock). In this case, the balance of the fractional shares will be paid out in cash. This, albeit small, transaction might end up being a taxable event for shareholders.

For years, I have used Sun Microsystems computers for my work, designing semiconductor chips. I remembered that the original stock symbol (SUNW) stands for Stanford University Network Workstation. But, I haven't heard it called that since I was in college.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

TD Ameritrade Spam Frustrations

I write about TD Ameritrade so much that I've considered calling my blog "The Unofficial TD Ameritrade Blog". Anyway, I am still receiving spam at my Ameritrade and Waterhouse Email addresses. It is getting very frustrating. In a previous post on the topic, I mentioned how I use a unique Email address for my Ameritrade accounts. What is particularly frustrating is that now many of these spam messages are making it through my spam filter.

I know that I am not the first person to write about getting SPAM at my Ameritrade Email address, as it has been reported by other PF bloggers. I created a unique Email address for my Ameritrade account through Yahoo's "AddressGuard" feature. The only entity that knows my Ameritrade Email address is Ameritrade itself. However, I have been getting spam at this address. Whenever this happens, I change my Email address to a new one, and delete the old Email address.

This has happened at least four or five times already (I lost count). However, it is the first time that the Email address that I used for Waterhouse has been compromised. I currently receive similar spam at both my Ameritrade and Waterhouse Email addresses. I have also been getting correspondence from other bloggers who are experiencing the same issue with TD Ameritrade.

Through my site meter, I have some insight about who reads my blog. I can confirm that employees of TD Ameritrade read my blog regularly, and that they are very much aware of the spam issue. The site meter typically shows Ameritrade employees as accessing my blog from either Nebraska, New York, or New Jersey. In some cases, employees of TD Ameritrade have been specifically searching for "Ameritrade spam" on the web. However, these readers have never responded to any posting that I've made; the silence from TD Ameritrade employees is deafening. Perhaps TD Ameritrade has a policy of not allowing its employees to comment in public forums.

In any case, I hope that TD Ameritrade gets it act together soon. They really need to plug up the holes in their security.


Monday, September 10, 2007

NetBank Continued...

By now, I thought that I would be finished writing about the demise of NetBank. On May 21st, NetBank announced that it was selling a substantial portion of what remaining assets it has to privately held EverBank. At that time, I noted in my posting that when this sale closes, NetBank, as you know it, would be no more. According to the parties involved, this deal between NetBank and EverBank was supposed to be completed in late June or early July, resulting in the conversion of NetBank accounts to EverBank. However, June, July, and even August have passed without any further word on the state of the conversion. Then this notice appeared on the NetBank website:

NetBank is still actively working to transfer its deposit relationships to EverBank, an award-winning national financial services provider with an exceptional value proposition. When we announced our agreement with EverBank in May, we expected to first complete the sale of other bank investments to have the means necessary to meet the terms of the EverBank agreement. The sale of these investments is taking longer than originally anticipated.

Is the NetBank/EverBank deal in jeopardy? Apparently NetBank was not able to come up with the means to live up to their part of the deal. This is what else the NetBank site says:

EverBank remains interested in acquiring NetBank customers, and we continue to believe our customers would be well served by EverBank. If we consummate the EverBank agreement, we will let our customers know what to expect from an account conversion standpoint as early as possible. If the agreement is not consummated, NetBank expects to pursue another partner for its deposit relationships based on direction it received from its primary regulator.

I think that the key word here is "if". What does it mean to NetBank account holders? Mainly that your money may be in a state of limbo for a while longer. However, for NetBank (OTC: NBTK.PK) stock holders, your money is pretty much already lost, as I have said before. Note that NetBank is no longer listed on the Nasdaq, but now trades as a pink sheet stock.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

My First eBay Experience

Recently, I opened an eBay account and started bidding on items. Let me take a step backward for those who are not familiar with how eBay works. Before I opened an eBay account, I setup an account on PayPal which is like a bank account that you use to pay for eBay items. While it is not entirely necessary, most sellers on eBay prefer PayPal. One can also pay with a credit card, but PayPal is the entity that handles the transaction. So, I figured that I would have to end up opening a PayPal account anyway.

I was in the market to buy a Hewlett Packard 92274A (74A) toner cartridge for my 13 year old HP LaserJet 4MP printer. For the record, a new one of these replacement cartridges cost about $90 retail. On eBay I saw that they could be had for a lot cheaper, especially those that are designated as remanufactured cartridges. My first 4 or 5 attempts to buy a cartridge didn't meet with much success as I was outbid (sometimes at the very last minute) by somebody else. Up until this point, I had been bidding on cartridges one at a time. Frustrated by my lack of success, I started putting in bids on multiple items at once, hoping that I might be able to get one of them. To make a long story short, my bidding now became too successful, and I ended up winning two toner cartridges from the same seller. This is where the fun began.

I immediately tried to contact the seller to see if he would be willing to combine the shipping charges since most sellers do that when you win multiple auctions. There was no reply to my Emails after a couple of days. I then contacted eBay to see if I could get the seller's phone number. This is when I found out that his telephone was disconnected! Not a great first experience. So, I informed eBay, and they also could not confirm his contact information. For reference, when this happens eBay restricts the member's activities until the outdated contact information is corrected. I eventually got this updated info. So finally after several days, I did make contact with the seller, and he was willing to knock a few dollars off of the shipping. I then made my payment through PayPal.

What happened next was that I think the seller went on vacation or something. Again, there was no response to my Emails. *sigh* After another week or so, I made contact again, and he informed me that my goods had already been shipped. So, then it was up to UPS to deliver the goods. This also seemed to take forever, but in reality it took about 8 days.

In the end, about 3 weeks after the saga began (with setting up a PayPal account), I completed my first eBay purchase. This experience is certainly the opposite of when you just go into a store and walk out with the product you want. I did end up saving quite a bit over the $90+ I would have paid at say Office Depot. But, I wonder if it was worth the hassle. Since I consider this purchase from eBay a learning experience, I would say that it is interesting to learn how the mechanics of the system work. My new toner cartridge is now in my old printer, and I have one more cartridge to spare. These cartridges last me about 2 years each, so I'm set for a while.

I think I'll go looking for something else to buy now.