Thursday, July 31, 2008

AT&T's iPhone vs. Sprint's Treo 700p

So I made the switch to the AT&T iPhone by Apple from Sprint's Treo 700p by Palm. Here is what I like and don't like regarding the switch.

Things I don't like:
1. Battery life SUCKS! And this is with 3G turned off.
2. Why are they intentionally restricting me?
2a. Can't text to an email address.
2b. Can't send pictures using text.
2c. No cut & paste. (I know, next update...blah, blah, blah)
2d. Can't forward texts.
2e. Forces me to use mobile pages for sites they have partnerships with (
3. No video camera.
4. Most of the free offerings on app store are crap.
5. No direct support for Hotmail (no free POP) like it does for Gmail or Yahoo Mail.

Things I like:
1. Browsing the web. You can even watch videos (YouTube AND others).
2. 2 Megapixel camera takes damn good pics
3. App store itself and not the vast majority of free offerings.
4. Support for MS Outlook is great and simple to setup.
5. Support for Gmail & Yahoo Mail is great and ridiculously simple to setup.
6. Haven't done it but supposedly you can get Hotmail via Izymail. Anyone ever used them?
7. Facebook and iPhone work really well together for the most part (browser is better than free app also).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Canceled cable. Now what?

So as you know I cancelled my cable earlier this year. But this was when I was taking 2 classes and the NFL was quiet so I really didn't even have time to notice. Now it is summer and I only did a 1-week class (Poland trip) so now I have tons of free time and there aren't really that many good DVDs out. (BTW, my Flix account has been on hold due to and will most likely remain on hold indefinitely. In honor of that will now be known as Big Red!)

In any case, I figured since I didn't get a tax rebate check (they claim I am too rich for a tax rebate...set ah THIEF!) I needed to find a way to get some of MY money back from the Gov't. Well, I found out the Gov't has mandated we go to digital TV by February 2009 and is willing to send you up to 2 $40 coupon cards good for purchasing a digital to analog converter. This is even valid for rarefied rich boys like myself who strangely enough still own analog TVs.

Of course I jumped on it just to play with electronics using other people's money (well, actually MY money). But being the true geek that I am I still reviewed and got a quality converter and even picked up an antenna (sadly I threw out all my rabbit ears that came with my TVs) since Radio Shack gives you 25% off the antenna when you buy them together. All told my bill was $34 including tax for the following items I list at the end.

And for my one time fee of $34 I get around 20 channels in crystal clear definition of which some broadcast in HD. Now I only did this recently so I can only go on what I have seen in about 6-8 hours of viewing pleasure:
NBC (2 of these with one being a weather channel that is pretty decent)
PBS (like 4 of these or so)
Worship (best religious channel in my opinion - mostly music with lots of nature scenes)
ION (?? looked like family programming to me)
Others - family and educational stuff it appears

1. Find out what channels are available in your area by going here: (after you get the channel list select "show digital stations only.")
2. Get your coupon cards here:
3. Compare converters:
4. Converter I bought:
5. Antenna I bought:

And I am fully aware that there is no ESPN or NFL Network and that a die hard NFL fan like myself will suffer for the Monday night games. But you get what you pay for I guess.

I also have to ask, could this be the end of cable? Remember, this is digital where you actually get info on the show like with a cable box. And I know it is still lacking right now but you have to keep in mind that this isn't even fully rolled out yet (2/09).

This somewhat reminds me of when I dropped my land line MANY years ago people thought I was crazy but now it's the norm. Hell, I will go out on a limb and say that I give this 2 years before there isn't an all sports channel. Actually, this (nationwide network sports channel) in and of itself is a GREAT BUSINESS IDEA!!

PS: Much thanks to (lots of info) for giving me a heads-up and providing me with all the details of what I needed to do. Each one teach one.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why study finance? Why Brandeis?

For those that have been wondering why the hell I am taking grad classes yet again in an attempt to gain yet another master's degree (MS in Finance) I offer the following video that displays Brandeis professors breaking down the mortgage crisis. Most specifically, the Global Economics class that I took last Fall and the World Financial Centers class that took me to Poland less than two weeks ago was taught by Prof. John Ballantine.

Here is a link to view the segment which ran Friday (7/18/2008) on the NewsHour which featured Brandeis International Business School:

If you wish to view a transcript or just listen to audio, you may click here:

PS: Anita Hill (of Clarence Thomas nomination fame) is also a professor at Brandeis albeit in the Heller Social Policy & Management School.
PPS: No amount of education can save you from greed & stupidity though since I lost an arm & a leg investing in IndyMac Bank. Ouch!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dining out deals

Cheesecake Factory
On Wednesday, July 30, in honor of their 30th year anniversary Cheesecake Factory restaurants nationwide will offer every delicious slice of our more than 30 varieties of cheesecake for $1.50 per slice to pay homage to the price they charged when they first opened in 1978. I got this through word of mouth and the only reference to it online I found was here.

Morton's The Steakhouse
Not to be outdone, Morton's will be celebrating their 30th anniversary in September and will feature Prime Sundays at Morton's every Sunday in that month. In a nutshell, you will get a prime sirloin burger from Morton's for $19.78 of which Morton's will make a $5 donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for each burger sold. This is a great deal for guilty elitist Liberals to live it up while taking a deduction! :)

Also from now until September 30th, 2008 Morton's is also running a Steak and Seafood For Two promotion that looks to be the exact same promo they earlier called 2 Can Dine For $99. Since I already did and blogged it there is no need for me to indulge a second time. On second thought, those desserts still rate as the BEST. I may have to do a follow-up just for quality consistency check purposes. :)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Going BROKE in Poland

Here I am in Warsaw, Poland for school going BROKE. Hey, I guess the best way to learn about world finance is to go broke in a foreign country. Hands on learning at its best!

And yes the dollar has been rising against the zloty and the euro since my departure from Boston on Friday but it has not been rising fast enough. Plus, I really don't think the Poles care because they are intent on taking every dollar, zloty and euro that I have in my possession no matter the exchange rates.

Look, call me naive but I honestly thought that since Poland is an Eastern European former socialist state the prices wouldn't be so ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, I am fully aware that it is a member of the EU and that prices in the EU are sky high. Hey, I was just in Limerick, Ireland getting jacked up in February but that's Western Europe and it was for work so everything was expensed. Or maybe I am just jaded from the movie Eurotrip where the characters were instantly transformed into millionaires in Bratislava another Eastern European former socialist place. OK, I am not that jaded, but I definitely wasn't prepared for the financial a$$-rape that is taking place now.

Let me break down my first day here in Warsaw for you. I landed about 2pm Poland time which is 6 hours ahead of Boston and took a bus from the airport to the hotel for about $1.50 US. At this point I am thinking this isn't bad at all. The place looks a little old and rigid but the hotel seemed nice so I wasn't worried. I got just a tad apprehensive when the hotel told me that they will be charging my room rate in euros as opposed to the Polish zloty. But I brushed it aside speculating that it must be a European chain and thought nothing more of it. But later when they told me that internet would be an additional $10 euros per day I put my self on alert. After checking myself into my room I decided to pay a quick visit to the hotel bar with my classmate and 2006-2007 "Cropover Captain" of whom I share a room in which the beds are separated by an INCH (pictured above). He had a Long Island Iced Tea and I had a Bacardi & 7up (I also noticed that even though Coke is the dominant soft drink Sprite does not exist here). Guess what the total cost was for the two drinks?

$60 zloty including $4 tip.

And here is the kicker my friend. Upon my arrival I exchanged some dollars for zlotys at a rate of $1 for $1.90 zlotys. So in essence those two drinks including tip cost us a total of $31.58 in US dollars. Now if you have ever been to Europe before you know the tiny portion sizes they deal with over here. Trust me, those were TEN OUNCE glasses, at best, that those drinks were poured into. And theses glasses were then filled with ICE before the beverages were added. Look, at this moment I was immediately reminded of the fact that I am desperately trying to get myself back into shape and the strict diet that I should be on as a result. A blessing in disguise is what my Mother would call this type of situation. :)

How many blessings in disguise are you letting pass you by?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

3G iPhone Service Plans

So ATT finally offered up the details regarding the service plans for the new 3G iPhone. And all I have to say is, SET AH THIEF!

Hey, currently I have
Sprint and while I would be the first to say their customer service sucks I also have to admit that they are very affordable. So why am I switching to ATT because of the 8 Gig 3G iPhone only to be ripped off with an unconscionable 2 year agreement? Is it because ATT offers more bars in more places? Hell to the NO! Is it because I am a sucker? Most likely.

In any case, let's breakdown the numbers of how I can make this as affordable as possible without exceeding my monthly limits:
$70 for 450 Anytime
$15 for 1500 texts (THIEVES! Why don't they have $10 for 1000 text messages??)
$9 for early nights & weekends (7pm-7am)
Total before taxes: $94

Over the 2 year contract:
Plan: $94 * 24 mos
Phone: $200 * 1 time charge
Activation: $36 * 1 time charge
Total of $2492 before sales tax and monthly taxes. Sort of a steep committment and we haven't even considered phone insurance or extended warranty yet.

It is even worse for the folks who want a no-contract iPhone: $599 (8 Gig) or $699 (16 Gig). I thought ATT was subsidizing $200. Using my math: $199 + $200 equals $399. Where did the extra $200 come from?? In any event I am guessing most folks will sign the contract to get the $199 or $299 price only to immediately cancel since the early termination fee starts at $175 and drops by $5 with each passing month. They must just want your information for their marketing database. :)

But hey, my cell phone has been my ONLY phone for over 5 years now. Also, the
Amex card that I have been pushing gives you 5% back when you have your cell phone billed directly to them. So I guess I can somewhat justify it...remember, I am already on record as stating the 3G iPhone is a necessity. :)