Alex's Alliterative Adventures

Thoughts on Programming, Life, and Travel

Archive for the 'Random' Category

576 km

You could easily bike along the Romantic Road and cover less than 500 km, but we got lost a bunch and added a few days of needless biking in circles. When we were done, we got in a paddle boat and biked across the lake.

You can check out the whole set, but here are some of the highlights:

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Dear Diary

Yesterday a bat flew into my head.

Fortunately, I was wearing a helmet.

I think the bat wasn’t.


Dear Diary

Today I tore down a house.

There were bees.

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Wesabe: The bank account

In addition to tracking my cash spending, I also feed Wesabe my bank transactions to get even more detailed spending reports. If your bank lets you download statements in OFX, Microsoft Money, or Quicken format, then you might be able to make use of Wesabe’s automatic account updating. If Wesabe won’t automatically update your bank account, or if their excellent privacy policy hasn’t won you over, you can also manually upload your account information. My bank only offers PDF and CSV statement downloads, so I need to do a bit of work to make things Wesabe-friendly.

Wesabe’s support team introduced me to XL2QIF, an excel macro that converts CSV files (or any excel spreadsheet) to QIF format. Once you open the CSV containing your transaction list in excel1, select the interesting fields in your statement: Read more

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Critical Polo

When searching for a good bike ride on the weekend, I surfed my way to Critical Mass, an event that brings hundreds of cyclists together to bike around the major cities once a month. It took almost three hours for the parade of colourful characters to cover around thirty kilometers of Frankfurt.

Lifting our bikes may have slowed us down a little (not actually a weekend photo): Read more


Wesabe: The Cash Account

I have two accounts registered with Wesabe: a cash account, and a chequing account. In this post I’ll show you how to track your spending in a cash account.

To start a new cash account, click “Add an Account” on the left side of the site, and then find the tiny “Create a Cash Account” link on the right. Once you’ve chosen an account name and currency, click Create to finish making your new account. Read more


Saved from the jaws of shame

From the mouth of a fool:

Hell, I even wrote a blog post to create LIMITLESS SHAME if I don’t sign up for a bank account by the end of the month. Now, I don’t have to read those webpages, but I’ll sure feel pretty dumb if I don’t.

Last week I submitted an application for a DKB account after reading the last of the poorly-translated pdf’s, and gave myself a pat on the back for meeting my deadline of March 31st. For bonus points, my roommate delivered the mail with an hour left in the day: Read more

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Controlling your barriers

I currently pay €2.50 in bank fees every month for an account that earns almost no interest. I’m used to free Canadian bank accounts which earn 2-4% interest, so paying money for nothing drives me crazy. I want to open a free, high interest account as soon as I can, but I’ve hit an active barrier: all of the legal text is in German. It’s an easy barrier to overcome: I can translate the documents online, and there are only a few pages to read. But just the thought of all of that work has made made a simple task stick around for weeks while I keep losing money.

Ramit recently wrote a fantastic guest post on get rich slowly about barriers, like these German webpages, that influence the way you think. I’m a notorious procrastinator, so I know that this roadblock will always make me want to read “later”. So I make the roadblock smaller: I keep the translated pages open on my work machine, so they’re always in my face when I’m waiting for my machine to build. I also emailed them to myself, and they’re sitting ugly and bold in my inbox. Even if I only read a couple of paragraphs a day, at least I’m reading something and getting a little bit further.

Ramit focuses on how barriers can get in the way of doing what you really want. But since barriers have such a shockingly strong effect on our beheviour, why not use them for good instead of evil? This is why I launched my secret weapon: I run my mouth. I create a passive barrier for myself when I tell everyone who will listen that I’ve found these awesome banks, and that I’m signing up right away. Once I’ve told people I’m about to do something awesome, fear of looking bad gives me all the motivation I need. Hell, I even wrote a blog post to create LIMITLESS SHAME if I don’t sign up for a bank account by the end of the month. Now, I don’t have to read those webpages, but I’ll sure feel pretty dumb if I don’t.

Schedule a homecooked meal with your friends to avoid eating out. Put a bowl of fruit on your desk, and put the chips and chocolate in a box behind the washing machine in the basement. Put your workout clothes on top of your laptop. Record your impulse buys on a public webpage for all of your friends to see. Make it physically or emotionally taxing to slack off, and make it painfully easy to stick to your guns.

All of us are lazy procrastinators. We’ll get tempted, we’ll forget our priorities, and we’ll just make bad decisions. So accept it, plan for it, and use your weaknesses to achieve things you used to only daydream about.

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My home gym

My roommate installed a chinup bar in the hall. It challenges me every time I leave my room, begging for one quick pull. When I shower, when I get home, when I brush my teeth…

When I pass under the gauntlet, I’m usually in a rush, or I’m dead tired, or I’m just particularly fascinated by yet another hole in my dwindling supply of socks. But it catches my eye once a day or so, and I become locked in gravitational combat with my unyielding foe. He drops me to the ground, a lifeless husk, my arms reinforcing the stereotypically geeky physique I so rightly deserve.

But I’m gaining ground. A month ago I was shaking after one pull. Yesterday I did 10 after showering and 5 more with a backpack before heading downstairs for breakfast. I’m still not in shape, but it’s a great way to regain the strength that parkour demands.

When my roomie and I eventually part ways, I gotta get me one of these:

Chinup bar

Picross is no more

I finally beat Picross DS.

My life’s to-do list just got a little bit shorter.

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