Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Wii

I got the girls a Wii for Christmas. Its been about 5 years since they came out with the video game system and allot has progressed. There are plenty of games for it and mods too. It was not long before I had to mod it to take full advantage of its capabilities.

The original Wii mod guide is located at: http://www.modifyanywii.tk/

Remember, if you have no knowledge/experience whatsoever in Wii
Hacking, please use the CompleteSoftmodGuide instead.
It offers the same hacks + detailed information.
The files below are made as an aid for those experienced!

To download Wii games use these torrent sites:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Anthony's Economics

What would I do to fix the current Economy? If you ask a Conservative Republican, they would say lower taxes on everyone, including businesses. The basic theory being that by lowering taxes you increase capital for everyone and people would be more willing to take more risk and spend more money to stimulate economic growth.

If you ask Liberal Democrats, they would increase government spending on social programs like unemployment benefits and infrastructure construction projects. The basic theory being that only the government has the capital to spur growth. The government can spend money on infrastructure items and that will spread throughout the people and that will increase spending. Well, during the last few years we have increased spending and lower taxes and yet our economy is still sluggish and unemployment still hovering close to 10%

So why has nothing worked? Here is my simple theory, increasing economic growth happens when people or businesses spend more money. When the spending just stabilizes or levels off, then the macro economic growth slows. We are always spending, but if our spending stays the same or slows down, then you will see this as a slow down in our macro economics numbers and that does not bode well for our financial system that depends on growth.

During slow downs, their is little real demand for anything new. There is high unemployment now because any successful businesses become more productive over time and with higher productivity, they produce more with less and if demand goes down they have to produce less. If demands goes down even more, then the business has to cut personnel costs to keep profit margins up and thus unemployment rises.

So what we are left with are people with nothing to do. If we don't innovate and create more demand, then we will never get out of this situation. The fact of the matter is that the US economy is really one big legal "ponzi" scheme and requires growth to survive or the system eventually collapses.

The Federal Reserve admits that their primary goal is price stability and low unemployment. The Fed understands that their must be a moderate about of inflation in our system. This is because the economy depends on it. We need someone else to pay more for our products, so that we can continue the ponzi scheme.

Most illegal ponzi schemes fail because the promoter eventually run out of suckers to fuel the scheme. A successful ponzi scheme works until you cant find anyone else to pay into the scheme to pay for all the people who signed up before you.

The USA economy is basically the same scheme, but we control our currency and if we run out of money, we just print more money. Now the role of the Fed was to print money at a moderate rate 2-3%. This 2-3% must be balanced with the rate at which people save money and spend money. If people save more money, then the Fed can print more money. If people spend more money then the Fed will stop printing money and increase interest rates to bring back money to the treasury.

The problem we have now is that people are saving more and spending less. Since there is limited jobs and an uncertain future, people are cutting back. No matter what the government does now, it wont matter if people don't start spending to create more demand for goods and services.

My solution? We need to create demand for goods or services! Another way to say it, we need to "increase the velocity of money" in the system. We need people to spend more and recirculate the money back into the economy. So how can the government increase the circulation of money in the system? Let's look at history the big drivers to get people to spend money over the past 100 years.

First, there were the Railroads and the radio in the 1900s. The telephone became a necessity and Automobiles started in the 1920s. World War I and II during the 30s and 40s spurred demand for weapons. In the 50s commercial Air travel became main stream and television too. In the 80s we had paid Cable TV service, video games and the start of the personal computers.

In the 90s, everyone owned a computer and you had the growth of the Internet and Cell Phone adoption. What do we have in 2000's? What is the next gotta have thing that we all need. Now that everyone has a Cell Phone, Internet, Personal Computer, Car, flat screen TV and is traveling around the world. What else can we buy to "circulate" more money into the economy?

Think about that? How much do you spend today on your cell phone, Internet access, PC and cable service? How much did you spend 10 years ago? What about 20 years ago. That increase spending has contributed to the current economy and created jobs for your wireless providers and Internet providers and computer makers and those jobs were not there 10-20 years ago.

As we find ways to lower costs, people will be laid off. Remember dial-up modems for internet access and the phone land lines. If you worked for one of those companies, you probably got laid off, if they did not innovate to the latest technology.

Well, we are at the point now and we need to find that next big thing to hire those unemployed. What will we all want to buy next? Something that will impact every one's lives and make us spend more. Figure that out and that is where the government can spend money to decrease unemployment.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Top iPhone Apps

It has been about a month and a half with my new iPhone and I have installed over 150 apps. I tried to get the best of the best apps, but there are just to many to use them all the time. So here is my list of the top most used and useful iPhone Apps for me:

JailBreakme.com - This is the first site you should visit to install the JailBreak software expoit. It only works on iOS 4.0.1 or lower. It exploits a hack in the browser to jailbreak your phone and allow any 3rd party software to be installed on your phone. Without this patch, you can only install Apple approved software and this really limits the potential of your iPhone. (Update! New jailbreak Limera1n has been released for version 4.1 -> here is a nice video that explains how to do it. Keep in mind this only works on iphone with the old bootroom. 3GS phones with the new bootrom will not easily be jailbroken. There are some jail breaks out there, but as of this writing they are all "tethered" meaning after you reboot your iphone, you will need to re jailbreak your phone.)

Cydia - This is the first app that is automatically installed after you jailbreak your phone. It contains many hacks and other useful software to really take advantage of your iPhone. Below are all Cydia only apps that I use the most! Make sure you add SinFul Repo site to Cydia for all the cracked apps at -- > http://sinfuliphonerepo.com/

Ultrasn0w - Unlock Phone Service Hack - You apply this code to allow your iPhone to be used on any GSM network like Tmobile or Simple Mobile. I am using my iPhone on Simple Mobile for $60/month, unlimited calls, text and data!
Five Icon Dock - This allows 5 rows of icon instead of the normal 4 rows, check out the picture above for how my main screen looks! I can really pack in more programs on one page then the standard Apple layout screen provides. Also install Five-Column SpringBoard to get 5 columns of icons instead of 4!
LockInfo - This useful hack allows a bigger clock and a preview of messages on your lock screen. I have it simulating the HTC interface with a big clock, weather and small previews of emails, text messages and twitter updates.
Installous - This is another program similar to the App Store, but it contains all free programs for the iPhone. You do need a jail broken iPhone, but once you got this app, you can pretty much get anything for free.
MyWi 4.0 - This Cydia app, allows me to tether my iPhone to my computer. I can use my iPhone's Internet connection on my laptop thru WiFi or USB cable. I find the USB cable more fast, but the WiFi sharing is nice to0
Multifl0w - This Cydia app shows for a really cool preview of all apps running in the background. It replaces the multitasking switching app from Apple, which only shows the icon.

Trapster - This can be found in the Apple App Store. It Logs and view other peoples reports of Police radar spots.
Navigon Mobile Navigator - The Best GPS for the iPhone. It costly, but you can find it for free in Installous.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

More New Gadgets

One nice thing about a new house is that you get a chance to buy all the latest gadgets. When I first moved into my new house, I first got a 32" LCD/DVD combo TV for my bedroom. I got it with Time Warner Cable and that came with a High Definition DVR from Scientific American, the 8300HD for recording up to two shows at one. It automatically records program series and I can quickly fast forward through commercials.

I soon realized that I spent most of my time in my office, so I got a 19" LED TV. LED technology is the latest in TV design and the picture is amazing, claiming a 1,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio and uses very little energy, requiring only 12V to run. Now I needed a big TV for the main living room. So I got a 47" Insignia, LED TV from Best Buy. To play movies I decided to invest in a Blu-Ray player, since HD DVD is finally dead.

I got a LG BD590 Blu-Ray and DVD player from Amazon. This device is more then just a DVD player, it also has online streaming capability from Netflix, YouTube, Pandora and a host of other online streaming sites. It connects wirelessly to my Linksys router using WiFi (802.11g or n) and streams movies directly to my TV via HDMI cable. I got a free trial membership to Netflix and its amazing, plus I get one DVD in the mail too. I'll probably stay with Netflix service, since it is well worth the $8.99/month fee for unlimited streaming of movies. It works on my iPhone and also allows mutiple computers in my house to stream movies too.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New iPhone

I got a new iPhone this weekend! Its been been about 3 years since Apple released the original iPhone and we are now in the forth forth generation of the iPhone. I did a bit of research on all the models and decided on get the 3rd generation phone called the 3Gs. The four models of the phone, in order, are the 2G, 3G, 3Gs and now the 4.

3Gs model: I decided to stick with last year's 3Gs phone because it is the best bang of the buck. It performs faster the the previous two models and the cellular service works the best of any iPhone model. People have complained about the iPhone 4 reception and their have been plenty of drop call reports on the iPhone 4. The 2G and 3G were simply just to slow to be very useful for any heavy Internet surfing.

The craigslist price on the 3Gs is between $250-$350. For the 2G or 3G models you can purchase for $80-$220. If you want a an iPhone 4, the prices are $500-800. You can always get a new iPhone that works only on ATT's network for $99 and with a 2-year contract. The monthly fees can be as low as $55 for very limited services (450mins, 200MS data, no texting). Average user should expect to pay $90 (900mins, 2GB of Data, 200 texts). For a totally unlimited service expect to pay $135/monthly (unlimited calling, data, text and tethering included). This would end up costing an average user $2260 to $3340 over a 2-year contract.

Simple Mobile: I decided to use Simple Mobile's network. There plans are $40, $50, and $60/month. All the plans are prepaid and all prices include all taxes and fees, with unlimited talk and texting. For a two year period the cost would only be $960-$1440, plus the cost of a GSM phone. The $50 plan has 100MB of Web and the $60 plan has unlimited Web. There is no long term contract and you can switch plans every month. Simple Mobile resells the T-mobile network, so they have the same 3G coverage as T-mobile, but is about 25% cheaper. You can use any T-mobile phone or any unlocked GSM phone. All iPhone sold in the USA are locked to ATT's network. To use an iPhone on another GSM network, like T-mobile or Simple Mobile, you need to first jailbreak the phone and then unlock the phone.

Jailbreaking: In the course of my research, I found out that not all software version of the iPhone can be jail broken and unlocked. To jailbreak an iPhone it must be on software version 4.0.1 or less (as of this writing 9-21-2010). Basically, just take your iPhone to http://jailbreakme.com and execute the script, it can take 30-60 minutes to complete. When it is finished you will get a message saying that Cydia has been added to the home screen of your iPhone. You are now running a jailbroken iPhone.

Unlocking iPhone: From here you can install the unlock software and use your iPhone on any GSM network in the world! Just click on Cydia: Manage: Sources: Edit: Add type in http://repo666.ultrasn0w.com

Once the source is added you will be able to find ‘ultrasnow 0.93′ in cydia which you will have to install by tapping on the ‘Install’ button which will download 48kb around of data and install it by downloading Mobile Substrate and then preparing it followed by reboot of the device.

Other helpful hacks: One you phone is at this state their are plenty of other hacks that you can perform. Just search the Internet to find more or click on this link. Here are some of my most useful hacks!
    • Get Push Gmail on your iPhone
    • Enable tethering now (prior to AT&T allowing it)
    • Sync your iPhone with multiple computers
    • Add a 5th row of numbers on your QWERTY keyboard

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dispelling The Stock Index Chart Myth

Stock Index charts that show that the stock market always going up is total bull crap! Below are a couple example of the Dow Jones and S&P 500 charts over the past 50 and 100 years.


Looking at these charts you would think that yes, over any 20-30 years span the market always is trending upwards. But the truth of the matter, is that these charts don't show you what your portfolio would really look like, if you actually held onto all the original stocks. You would actually be broke.

Of the original 12 DOW Jones stock, only one is still in existence today. That is General Electric. All other companies have failed or merged into other companies. The components of the DJIA have changed 48 times in its 114 year history. The DJIA only has 30 stocks, so it has had over 160% turnover rate. So if anyone actually held onto the original 12 stocks, where do you think they would be today? Only holding GE stock, which is up over the last 50 years but flat for the past 15 years..

In June 8, 2009 GM and Citigroup were removed from the Dow average. Less then a year earlier, AIG, Chevron and Bank of America were replaced. Other companies that have been replaced include Kodak, International Paper, Goodyear, Sears, Bethlehem Steel, Woolworth, American Can, US Steel and Chrysler.

Imagine 20 years ago having a portfolio of Dow Stocks that had GM, Citigroup, AIG, Bank of America, Kodak, Sears and Chrysler? You would be broke now! The fact of the matter is that the current DJIA and S&P are actually just the a collection of the top 30 or top 500 stocks in the market to date. If a company gets to small or goes bankrupt, they just replace it with the next biggest, healthy and stable company.

So any historical chart of these indexes are really misleading. Instead of showing a chart of the original stocks over time. They are actually showing the top stocks of the market at that time, as as a company goes out of business, its replaced with a healthy company until that company goes out of business. The fact that it kinda goes up, over time, shows you the effect of inflation and an increase in money supply.

The truth of the matter is that if you hold onto any stock to long. The odds are it will look like Kodak's stock chart below. After an initial spurt of growth, it returns to zero. The lesson here is to play the upswings, but never stay invested to long...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Making your Second Million Dollars

There is a saying that it's easier to make your 2nd million once you make your first million. This is so true. This recently came to light for me as I was looking for a new car. It turns out that there are plenty of Dealers out there selling used car.

Why is that? Well, the fact of the matter is that it's a very profitable business and doesn't require much education. Basically, someone with capital (money) buys the car X and sells for a profit at Y. Usually, the profit margins are 20-50%. The only barrier to entry is having the cash upfront to buy the used cars. I wondered why and realized that its simple. It is easy money.

Most people live paycheck to paycheck, so they cant go into that type of business. But for people who have money, its easy to grow it once they make the right investments. Below are a list of other highly profitable businesses that don't require a 4-year degree. All you need is cash and the money will roll in.

- Real Estate Agents
- Furniture Sales
- Used Cars Sales
- Banking
- Venture Capitol
- Insurance

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Google Offers Free Phone Service

Google is now offering free phone service with every Gmail account. Call anywhere in the USA for free, right thru your computer. Been playing with it and its pretty neat. I also signed up for Google Voice which gives me a local number that will ring my cell phone, home phone and Vonage phone.

The voice to text feature of the voice mail system is pretty cool too. And you can even call me from this blog. Just click below and enter a phone number and I will call you!

Try it!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hijack Virus

Got a call from my sister and her Vista PC was Hijacked. Basically whenever she visited a website or tried to run a program it would pop-up a messages telling her that her computer was infected and she needed to visit a website to fix it.

Whenever she tried to run any programs it would pop-up the message. Whenever she tried to visit it website, it would go no where. Basically her laptop was useless.

So I managed to fix it by following these steps:

- Reboot the computer into safe mode - by pressing F8 upon start-up
- Run MSCONFIG and disable the nefarious program. It was called fxxxxx.exe
- Restart the computer in normal mode Safe mode
- Delete the program .EXE from the hard-drive
- Edit the host file and remove the extra line of code redirecting her browser to nowhere land.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Best Session of the Year

Its been a rough Poker year for me. Lots of bad beats and suck outs early in the year. I kept to my game and feel like Im finally back now. I have 3 winning months in a row, but still a little down for the year. I dont know where the year really went, but hopefully the second half of the year will be back to more normal games.

I felt I couldnt lose early on. My first hand in the big blind I had 83 and flopped a boat with a flop of 338. No real action, but its nice to get lucky sometime. I started noticing people playing any 3. Doty called a big raise with 3♣4♣ and rivered 2 pair to crack pocket kings!

I started playing on the second table and took down four people's entire stack. My first victim was a loose Asian guy. I have A♣Q♣ and spike an Ace on the flop. He calls me down to the river and never shows. I figured he had Ace rag. Then my very next hand I have pocket 1010♠. The same guy pushes over the top of my raise and shows A5. I take all his chips!

I felt another guy with A♠K♠. Everyone limps around and I have A♠K♠ in the small blind. The flop comes Q♠83♠. One guy bets $10 and another re-raises to $25. I smooth call with my nut flush draw. The turn is a 10 and he bets another $31. I call again. The river is a J making my nut straight. I push him all in for his remaining $40. He shows top set of QQ♣s! I dodged a bullet there! Sometimes its better to be lucky then good.

A few minutes later I have pocket AA♣ under the gun. Doty calls and another guy pushes all-in. I call and Doty calls. The guy shows AK♠ and Doty never shows. I spike my set on the flop! and take both their stacks!

I move to the main table and get pocket K♣K, A♦A and Q♣Q♠. They all hold up each time. It's nice when the odds work out in your favor. Its just a matter to time before it catches up with me. I am up over $400 in about 5 hours. That is $80/hr and better then average. I decide to leave a little after midnight.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Lexus In The Shop

I took my Lexus LS400 into the shop on Friday. I had the check engine light turn on and a number of other minor issues I wanted to them to take a look at. My windshield mister motor was dead, my center brake light had a couple of bulbs out and my AC would blow warm during stops. My air conditioning issues was due to a relay that failed.

Going to a Lexus service station is an experience in awesome customer service. All of the service area has flat screen TVs, leather furniture, free drinks and even Apple computers. They even will give you a free car to drive until your car is fixed. For all this, you do pay for it.

They charged me about $100 for all the parts and $350 for labor. They didn't have the parts in stock so I had to come back 4 days later. Fortunately, they gave me a 2010 HS 250h hybrid loner car use while my car was in the shop.

This car was sweet and one of the most technologically advanced cars I have ever driven! Not only is it a hybrid getting 35MPG, it has a rear view backup camera and voice activated navigation system. To start the car you push a button. The car actually unlocks automatically when you get close to the car.

Check out the video below of me backing out of my garage and the back-up camera. My previous company actually makes backup cameras, so it was nice to see one in action.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Home Buyer Credit Check

I am not really the type to accept or qualify for most government welfare programs, but sometimes the government is giving away money. With the recent recession, the government created a number of incentive programs to jump start economic growth. The Cash for Clunkers deal, extension of unemployment benefits and a first time home buyer credit were just a few of these stimulus programs. If you happen to fall within the guidelines, then you just need to complete some paperwork and the money will be yours.

I have never in my life received an unemployment check from the government. Even when I was laid off, I had over 3 months severance and found a job before it ended. So while I paid into the unemployment system for over 10 years, I never used it. As I understand it now, you can get an unemployment check for up to 99 weeks now. Where is the incentive to find work with that kind of handout?

In the Fall of 2009, the Federal government extended the original home buyer credit and expanded it to long term home buyers. The original plan gave $8000 to any first time home buyer. It expired last year and Congress decided to extend to April 2010 and expanded it to include anyone that had lived in there home for 5 years and give them $6500. Wow, what a nice bonus! I now just qualified, owning my last home for 5 years.

I put my home search into high gear during the Winter of 2010. Within a couple of months I found allot of good deals with foreclosures and bank owned properties. I finally decided on a brand new construction at the end of February and closed on the house on March 10th.

I had already filed my 2009 taxes electronically. So on March 31st, I paper filed an amended Tax Return for the home buyer credit. For the home buyer credit, you had to file by paper with 5-years home owner documentation, since their were reports of many people scamming the system. On May 18th, 2010 I got my check!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cracking Pocket Aces!

Its been a while since I won at Poker (five sessions...just a really bad run), but last night was a +$500 night! I knew at some point I would start winning again and it would be with avengence. It could have been another really early night, after I picked up pocket Kings in the Big Blind. A guy in early position limps in for $2 and a few other call. I bump it to $25 and he pushes all-in for over $500. He had me covered, since I just started and I had about $200 in-front of me. I consider for a second if he could have pocket Aces and if he would have limped in like that. I put him on AK and call. The flop spikes a King and I throw down my top set!. He shows me pocket Aces! Whoops, bad call, but he should not have slow played. I might have folded pre-flop if he raised and re-raised my re-raise. Instead he played weak and became week, a classic poker mistake.

A few minutes later I get pocket Aces under the gun so I raise to $20. Only the guy to my left calls. The flop is K-10-3 and I bet $30. The guy re-raises me to $70 and I smooth call. The turn is a Jack and I quickly check. He checks! The river is a rag like a 8 and I figure I have to be good, so I value bet $50. The guy pushes all-in for another $150! It seems like an over bet that he doesn't want me to call, so I call! He says "you must be good I have a king.." and show my Aces. Now my stack is close to $700...

I play a little more hitting a set of 444s and getting pocket Kings 2 more times before deciding to call it quits after about 4 hours of play. I cashed out $735, that is about $133/hr. A very fortunate session for me and I can say, "yes it is better to be lucky then good." And when you are lucky you better be good by quiting while you are still ahead.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sightseeing in Austin and Lake Travis

This past weekend I took a cruise on Lake Travis. It was the first time on Lake Travis for me. It was a blast. I rented a pontoon and drove around the east part of the lake. I checked out Hippie Hollow, the Oasis and Mansfield Dam.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Home Improvements

Its been a busy month for me. I closed on a new house March 10th, 2010. I went to Charleston, South Carolina on March 12th for a wedding for and old college friend. Been trying to move in ever since and get it ready. I have absolutely no furniture and will be starting from scratch. First things I got was a bed, TV and recliner. I also had a Water Softener installed and gutters installed all around the house. Lennar only had front gutters installed.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Things To Look For In A New House

Here are all the things I really like about my house. If you are looking for a new house I would consider only a brand new house at this point. Look for these little details. They make a big difference in the long run and believe it or not, the cost of a new build really isn't that much difference then a used home. This list is, admittedly, a list of "technical" things, since Im a technical guy. If you want to see a listing of non technical items then just do a google search.

Brand New Construction using the latest in building technologies and meets all the high-efficiency code of Austin Green Building Program. All new homes have to be built with the latest building codes. Most of these codes require better building techniques and money saving energy efficient materials to be used. A new home will be warrantied for at least one year and many major items warrantied for up to 10 years. Why settled for a home "as-is" when you can get warranty and some peace of mind for the same price or better? Look at JD Power's rating for builders in your area. Here is a link to the builders ratings for Austin, TX.

LP TechShield, Radiant Barrier used on the roof to block 97% of the radiant heat of the Sun. This alone will save allot in cooling and heating the house, especially in the hot summer months of Texas. The barrier typically reduces heat in the attic by up to 42%, which equals to about a 17-39% monthly savings on cooling costs. There are many suppliers of radiant barriers and the technology is relatively simple and very effective no matter who you use. Existing homes can also be retrofitted with the technology to achieve similar results.

TJI Engineering Wood used to support the 2nd floor, this prevents squeaks in the floor. TJI joists resist the bowing, twisting and shrinking that can lead to squeaky floors. TJI joists save on labor because they are lightweight and install quickly. The beams are stronger then lumber wood and can span much greater distances without additional support beams underneath. The technology is also "Green" since you can use scrap wood in the OSB layer.

Lime Stone exterior, just looks dam nice. Any brick or stone house always looks better then a non brick house. While it is just a facade and provides little structural support, it still acts as a thermal mass to help moderate the house's overall temperature. On this house the Lime stone is literally 4 inches thick. They say their is little insulating value to the stone, but I still feel like it takes longer to heat up in the morning sun compared to a wood or vinyl sided home.

High Efficiency HVAC system - a 14 SEER Lennox Air Conditioner and heat pump - costs less to keep the house cool and heat. If the temperature falls below freezing then a back-up radiant heater kicks in.

Dual pane low E Windows . The glass is coated with a thin layer of tin. This absorbs the UV rays and prevents the heat from entering the house. The window frames are also made of Vinyl which is more insulating then aluminium when tends to conduct heat more readily then vinyl.

Seven zone Sprinkler system that shuts off automatically with use of a rain sensor. This wireless device has a ceramic sensor that communicates to shut-off the system if it is wet outside.

Jump ducts in every bedroom for better circulation and energy efficiency. Typically, when you close a room door the ventilation system has to work harder to push air through the closed door. By adding a vent to the each room the system can just push the air through the vent for better air flow. The only hassle now is that I have more filters to replace in each room, but this is a better way in the long run.

DSC Security System with wiring for CAT5, telephone and Fiber Optics. I have a fiber optic connection at the road. This should give me the fastest possible Internet connection. The house being pre-wired means that an installer doesn't have to worry about fishing cables through all the walls.

I don't cook much, but I love the look of Granite Counter tops in the kitchen! For what ever reason, after looking through so many homes, a plain laminate counter top just says old and dated to me. Yes, Granite doesn't add much functionality to a home for a guy that doesn't cook much, but dam a Granite kitchen just looks awesome! It is one of those things that catches the eye and makes you fall in love with the place. Click the picture to see the entire counter top.

(you can click on at picture above to see more details..)

Monday, February 22, 2010

New Home Purchase

I put in an offer on a new home today and it was actually a brand new construction from Lennar. I never really thought I would ever buy a new home, especially in this economy with so many foreclosures on the market, but the deal I got was unbelievable.

I falsely assumed that all the good deals would be foreclosures or short sale. The reality is that new construction homes in Texas are very competitive against used homes and even some foreclosed homes. I actually will be paying less in the long run for a 3,282sq/ft home, 4 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom ,lime stone, home then a similar one currently listed on the market today, after you include the costing cost, repairs and all the appliances that I would have to get.

The builder is paying all my closing costs and buying down my interest rate to 4.25%! I basically just come to closing with my down payment. I also negotiated $30K off the list price, with a new Washer and Dryer. The house already had a new fridge, stove, microwave, garbage disposal, garage door opener, granite counter tops and sprinkler system. And I did all this without a Real Estate Agent!

Real Estate Agents will tell you that you need them to "look out" for you and that the sellers are only interested in themselves. In reality, the agents are looking out for themselves and to take a 3% cut of your sale for doing very little.

After this purchase, it will be my 4th house that I have purchased by myself with no agent other then the seller's agent working with me. I can honestly say that I have never had a bad experience doing it myself and have saved more money this way then using an Agent.

Reasons to be buying now: I basically decided that now was the right time to be buying a house. Here are a few of my key reasons.

- After March 2010 the Federal Reserve will stop buying Mortgage back securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Basically the government has been buying up 90% of all loans for the past 1.5 years. After March interest rates will go up, unless they extend this program. I estimate that rates will go from 5% to at least 6.5%

- After April 2010, the $6.5K-$8k tax credit will be gone. Basically the government is giving away free money if you buy a house by April 2010. Even if you don't pay taxes, you will get this "credit"...

- Seasonality - basically the winter is the slowest time of the year for home sales. Buying at this time, is when less people are buying giving sellers more motivation to sell and to discount prices.

- Builders are desperate to sell there inventory and will pay all your closing costs and even buy down your interest rate. I am getting a 4.25% rate and they are paying over $11K in costs on top of a $30K discount to the list price!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Why does the IRS ask your Job Title? and Austin Plane Crash

Why does the IRS ask your job title? The simple answer is because their are specific tax laws that vary depending on what you do for a living. Specifically the "Self-Employed" status or sole proprietor status.

If you are a self-employed person and do not fall under an "employee" status, you can generally claim many additional expenses, as tax deductions for against any monies received. This is a tremendous tax advantage over an employee, where the employer must pay income taxes for that employee's entire salary.

Typical self-employed careers would be a lawyer, accountant, Doctor, construction worker or dance instructor. All these jobs can be paid a fixed amount per hour to the individual. That individual does not pay income tax on the monies received. Taxes are only applied at the end of the year or quarterly after all expenses are accounted for like office space rent, office supplies, software, car, travel, tools and training costs.

Current tax rates for a self-employed person is 15% for the first $50,000 in net earnings. Where if you made $50,000 as an employee at "normal" job you would be tax at the 28% tax bracket. Think about that.. As an employee your tax rate is almost double that of a self-employed person. So you make $50K working for someone then you have to pay $14k in taxes. But if you work for yourself and made $50K then you only owe $7.5k

The self-employed are at a great tax advantage here. Keep in mind that self-employed typically don't have any benefits like health care so they have to pay all that themselves. In any case, its still a big difference in taxes.

Back to my original question about your job title: This self-employed status is great for many workers in the USA, except in 1986 Congress pass a law that excluded some jobs from being "self-employed." This group of workers were primary technology workers. The exact text was "engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work..."

So this entire group of workers could not work for themselves because some clever government lawyer wanted more tax revenue and decided to single out this group of workers to extract more taxes from them.

Now, I am a technology worker and I ask why not also exclude private lawyers and accountants? Well the answer is simple. It was a lawyer and an Arthur Andersen accountant that wrote the exception into law. Why would those skilled trades people shoot there own profession in the foot?

This law is totally unfair and discriminatory to single out an entire profession. And this was one of many reasons why Joe Stack killed himself flying his plane into the IRS building in Austin, TX. Now, I'm not condoning what Joe did, he was crazy. But I read his suicide letter and tried to put myself in his shoes. I can say I understand his frustration. This law needs to change, but I would never condone anything crazy like what he did..

Here is a NY Times Opinion Editor about this law,

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rocky Start to 2010

It's been a rocky start for 2010 for my Poker playing.  2009 was a pretty good year all the way thru until November when I had my first losing month in over a year.  I managed 3 losses and 2 winning sessions.  I dont think I played badly, just ran into to many gamblers and bad luck. I have always said that my game really requires that I not run into any bad luck. This month was to much of that.  Generally, I was always ahead and they just sucked out on me.  

During my last session of the year I was getting more lucky then normal.  My rags were hitting! Open enders with 89 and 64, hitting 2 pair with 53, etc..  I usually dont like to play those hands, but I kept noticing that when I folded them, they kept hitting.  I noticed 3 times on the button that my rags were hitting 2-pair every time.  I usually dont play the button with that crap, but decided why the heck not.  Sometimes when you are hot, you just have to playing any 2 hands.  Just be careful, it doesnt last for ever and never become cocky.  This game has a tendacy to make you humble when you least suspect it.

The last session of the year I booked a $300 win.  I'll take it and hopefully the rest of the year is more steady.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Poker Stats Last 4 Years

Below is a summary chart for my poker stats for the past 4 years. Actually, started playing 3.25 years ago. I loss allot of money for the first 6 months and its been a nice steady rise since then. I have constantly made money at poker for the last 2.5 years.

I have also included my four largest expenses for the year. Unfortunately, my biggest expense is taxes! The lesson here is to learn to minimize your taxes, it is usually your biggest expense.