Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for June 1st, 2008

On-line management of kids’ allowances

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Via Lifehacker, meet Zefty, which allows parents and kids to manage the kids’ allowances. Zefty explains:

How Zefty Works
Teaching kids about responsible spending and saving is difficult. Zefty was designed to make a simple task, allowances for kids, even simpler.

1. Parents set up virtual accounts for their kids
The great thing about Zefty is, although it functions like a bank account, there’s no real money involved. Parents set up each child and specify how much allowance they get and how often. It’s their money, you as a parent are simply holding it for them — so the mom and dad are the bank.

2. Allowances can be automatically deposited
Whether you pay your child an allowance daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly — Zefty can automatic deposit virtual funds into their accounts. Now you won’t have to worry about forgetting to pay their allowance, and they will understand the real-world concept of direct deposit.

3. Parents manage withdrawals and deposits
When your child needs $15 to go to the movies, you can hand them the cash and make the withdrawal from Zefty. When kids earn money from birthdays or a lemonade stand, encourage them to have you hold it for safekeeping/savings and deposit it into their Zefty account.

4. Kids can print out ZeftyChecks to take to their parents
From within Zefty, Kids can print out a ZeftyCheck to better learn how checks work. They print out the check, bring it to their parent, who then hands them the money, and their parent can then reconcile the check (and make the appropriate withdrawal) all from within Zefty.

5. Kids can use ZeftyCalc to see how long they will have to save for purchases
If your son or daughter are saving up to buy the latest video game or shoes, they can enter in how much they are going to spend, and ZeftyCalc will tell them how long they

6. Parents can use ZeftyCalc to find a reasonable amount for their allowance
Not sure how much allowance you should pay your child? Using ZeftyCalc, you can enter in your gross household income, the age of your child, and the level of chores they have. ZeftyCalc then gives you a rough estimate as to what a fair allowance would be.

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2008 at 8:04 pm

Posted in Daily life

Barack Obama, speaking before the Iraq invasion

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But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.

The quotation comes via an excellent post by Neil Sinhababu on the Political Animal. His comment is worth reading. Here’s a snippet:

What’s special about this speech isn’t just that Obama opposes the war. It’s that he clearly and concisely predicts several major problems with it, and his predictions have been borne out by history. We had superior ways of dealing with whatever threats Saddam presented, reconstructing the country would be a mess, and the war would strengthen al-Qaeda. Obama made these points at a time when Democrats with political ambitions were falling over themselves to look tough on foreign policy by supporting a war they’d later regret.

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2008 at 5:41 pm

Father’s Day is 15 June

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If you plan to order a copy of Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving — Second Edition as a gift for Father’s Day, you should order it within the next day or two. With a print-on-demand publisher, there’s a wait of about a week before the book can be printed, and then there’s the shipping time.

Currently, the second edition is available only at the link above. It will also be available through in 6-8 weeks—by the end of July, in effect.

It’s also a very nice graduation gift, as well. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2008 at 5:10 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

ZENN moves ahead

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From an email:

On Friday, May 30, ZENN Motor Company announced that it had raised just over $15 Million dollars in new share capital. This is fantastic news and I am exceptionally pleased as this new capital allows ZMC to accelerate its product development and market expansion plans. It is a strong testament to the Company’s vision and direction that the investment community was so readily supportive of ZMC, even in these challenging financial markets. Essentially, we are moving full steam ahead on all the initiatives announced at our Annual General Meeting at the end of March, including the highway capable cityZENN and ZENNergy Drive Systems powered by EEStor for both new and used vehicles.

On that note, many of you have sent inquiries asking for additional information on the cityZENN as well as to be added to a waiting list. Beyond the specifications detailed below, we cannot release specific details on the interior and exterior design of the cityZENN or its final retail price. We have also not established a customer waiting list for the cityZENN. It seemed premature to us to develop a customer waiting list before we had announced more detailed specifications on the car, pricing and initial market availability.

cityZENN Specifications

The cityZENN is planned to be a fully certified, highway capable vehicle with a top speed of 125 KPH/ 80 MPH and a range of 400 kilometres/250 miles. Powered by EEStor, the cityZENN will be rechargeable in less than 5 minutes, feature operating costs 1/10th of a typical internal combustion engine vehicle and be 100% emission-free! The Zero-Emission, No-Noise cityZENN will be designed to meet the transportation requirements of a large percentage of drivers worldwide.

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2008 at 5:06 pm

Things you can do with Drupal

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Take a look at how a science news aggregator was built using Drupal—it now runs automatically, and it comes up with interesting stuff. For example:

Nautiloids are the sole surviving family of externally-shelled cephalopods that thrived in the tropical oceans 450–150 million years ago. However, in the intervening years their modern soft bodied relatives dumped the shell and developed complex central nervous systems; which makes Nautilus ideally suited to discover the ‘evolutionary pathways that led to the development of the complex coleoid [soft bodied cephalopod] brains’ say Robyn Crook and Jennifer Basil. Knowing that the simple Nautilus brain lacks the structures required for memory in more sophisticated cephalopods, Crook and Basil decided to test the living fossil’s memory. Training Nautilus pompilus to associate the smell of food with a blue light, the cephalopods eventually learned to respond to a flash of blue light by extending their tentacles. Then the scientists tested the cephalopods memories with a flash of light 3min, 30min, 1h, 6h, 12h and 24h after training. Amazingly, Nautilus remembered their training for up to an hour before the memory was lost, but then the memory returned 6h later, lasting up to 24h. Nautilus has both short and long term memory, just like modern cephalopods, despite lacking the same brain structures.

Crook and Basil are optimistic that the unsophisticated Nautilus brain could teach us how modern cephalopod brains evolved.

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2008 at 1:35 pm

Improved handwriting: the videos

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I’ve blogged before about italic handwriting (aka chancery cursive)—see the “useful knowledge” page in the Reference Pages list to the right. And now a couple of videos:

The free video series “How to Improve Your Handwriting” by Nan Jay Barchowsky; and

The free video “Handwriting Repair” (just an introduction to some of the issues) by Kate Gladstone.

Learning italic handwriting: a great summer project.

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2008 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Daily life

A slow day in Monterey

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It’s a cool and overcast day, and because of the way the building is built, a moderate breeze can produce a mild howl outside the bedroom window. After getting up and breakfasting, I read a little, felt sleepy, and so back to bed. Just awoke to find the day has sped ahead without me. But well rested.

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2008 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Daily life

Get ready for NaNoMo

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NaNoMo (National Novel Writing Month) will upon us before you know it—NaNoMostarts on 1 November and runs for the full month: a month of frenzied daily writing to complete a novel (of whatever quality) of 50,000-words (or more). It sounds easy, given that the measure is quantity rather than quality, but your internal censor and judge will demand some consistency and sense, and will not allow you to be satisfied with, for example, page after page of “for the”.

So: do you have the chops to write like those pulp writers of the 40’s or the softcover fiction writers of the 50’s? It’s not easy if you sweat it, but I’m told it’s fun if you relax and grind out 50,000/30 (1667) words a day—make it 2000 words a day so you have a little time to revise.

And to get you ready, download yWriter 4, an excellent freeware program specifically designed for writing novels. Or get Liquid Story Binder XE, a not-free program for writing novels—it has more capability than yWriter 4 but also a steeper learning curve. (Read Dustin Wax’s review and the comments that follow his review.)

Spend the summer learning the package you get and writing character profiles and plot notes for your novel.

That’s allowed, provided you don’t use any of the text in the novel—check the rules:

Outlines and plot notes are very much encouraged, and can be started months ahead of the actual novel-writing adventure. Previously written prose, though, is punishable by death.

Then, on 1 November, you know the software you’re using, you have a clear idea of the characters, structure, and direction of the novel, and writing it will be a piece of cake. Right?

More about yWriter 4, from the link above:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2008 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Daily life, Software, Writing

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Alltop: a new browser

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Via Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen, I discovered Alltop, which offers an easy way to browse a selection of blogs in various topics without using a reader and RSS:

We help you explore your passions by collecting stories from “all the top” sites on the web. We’ve grouped these collections — “aggregations” — into individual Alltop sites based on topics such as environment, photography, science, Muslim, celebrity gossip, military, fashion, gaming, sports, politics, automobiles, and Macintosh. At each Alltop site, we display the headlines of the latest stories from dozens of sites and blogs.

You can think of an Alltop site as a “digital magazine rack” of the Internet. To be clear, Alltop sites are starting points—they are not destinations per se. The bottom line is that we are trying to enhance your online reading by both displaying stories from the sites that you’re already visiting and helping you discover sites that you didn’t know existed. In other words, our goal is the “cessation of Internet stagnation” by providing “aggregation without aggravation.”

And if you like that, check out their site Truemors, which has a similar goal (though different design) with regard to news items.

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2008 at 8:19 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Media

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