a man, a plan, a cake: nirvana

ShareBuilder lets me down: Trusting Email Delivery

I opened a ShareBuilder account in January so that I could buy a single share of Apple when it dropped from $200 to $130. I have an ING Direct account, and they recently acquired ShareBuilder, and with their no minimums approach it seemed to be a good fit.

So, I bought my share for $130 plus a $10 transaction fee and didn't think much more about it. I set up the Stock widget in Dashboard to watch AAPL and was pleased to see it up to around $167 this week. Then I got an email from ShareBuilder acknowledging the transfer of funds from my account. I was very concerned, since I had made no such transfer. I immediately called them, and they told me that they had closed my account because they were unable to verify the information I had supplied when opening the account. They couldn't even tell me what part they had a problem with. Apparently they had sent me an email about it back in January; an email that I never received. One...single...email. I explained I had not received the email and they confirmed they had not bothered to make any kind of follow up whatsoever: no second email, no phone call, nothing. So they sold my share for the exact amount I originally bought it at and initiated the transfer of the money back to my checking account.

Nice, huh? Who on earth uses a one-time email for something as critical as this? I don't expect personal service from an online provider on a daily basis, but I don't think it's too much to expect them to be a little more proactive before choosing to sell my portfolio and close my account. Now, I'm only out $30 so far on them selling my share before I wanted to, but what if I'd bought 1000 shares? Plus, how annoyed am I going to be once Apple's back to $200 and head north from there?

As you can imagine, I declined their pathetic offer of one free trade and the 'opportunity' to go through the activation process again.

BUG Unboxing

My BUGbundle arrived yesterday. I put a set of unboxing pictures of it on Flickr. I pinged Engadget after I posted them, since they've been following the BUG for a while. I didn't really expect them to pick it up, but they did. My Flickr stats will be forever skewed ;-)


Yup, 30000+ views of those Bug pictures in the last day and a half:

Flickr Stats

New British Coins

Okay, so this isn't really tech-related, but the new British coin designs are seriously stylish!

New British Coins
Thanks to Gruber for the link.

Come in Chumby

So, my copy of Linux Journal arrived in the post the other day. I happened to show the front cover to my wife, and happened to point at the Chumby that was featured there. She saw what it could do and asked for one for her birthday, which happens to be just around the corner. So now I'mshe's getting a Chumby! I know I'llshe'll like it a lot.

I've been looking at the Chumby for quite a while, but the flash-only GUI put me off. However, the LJ article points out that you can save OpenOffice presenations to flash, and of course Keynote can do that as well. In the article, the author used that to create recipe cards that you could view on the Chumby, which I thought was a great idea. The Chumby folks are keeping the device as open as they can, so there should be opportunity to do some good ol' hackery on it too.

For example, if you
turn on a slightly hidden setting, you can enable SSH, and you get this neat welcome message when you sign in:

Chumby SSH Welcome Screen

It runs the Freescale iMX21 processor, which is a little old in the tooth - stuck on a 2.4 kernel for example - but still, it should be fun. By comparison, the Bug runs an iMX31 on a 2.6 kernel, but then it goes for $549 and the Chumby is only $179. My only real concern with the Chumby is the feeds concept, where it seems possible that they might push stuff to your Chumby that you didn't necessarily ask for, like adverts for example. But even then, since it's open you could just stop pointing it at their site and do your own thing.

I'll post back once I've had a chance to play with itset it up.

Larry Lessig using Keynote

Video of Larry Lessig's Keynote slides while talking at Penn. Very interesting, and effective style. I wonder what sort of clicker he's using: the standard Apple Remote maybe?