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The usual eclectic mix 
20th-Jun-2007 09:09 am

On Sunday I went to the Ark (for the first time in a while) and saw Claudia Schmidt. I think the last time I saw her at the Ark was about 20 years ago, and the first Ark. Personally I'm more fond of the folk side of her repertoire, and less enamored of the jazzy stuff, but even if I didn't love her work, just watching her come alive as she started to sing, watching her start to glow, would have been worth the price of admission.

Baaaah. I'm a sheep. I use Quicken. Spouse got me into it, and I have since gone back and put all my bank data from when I opened my first checking account in. I crossed my fingers and upgraded once when the database got so large that the version I had couldn't cope, and all was well. But I never put investment stuff in -- I don't really understand that and had little interest. The spouse, however, did -- so my investments were in the OTHER version of quicken. But recently I've decided that I'd rather have them with my other stuff, and rather than going back and typing in 20 years worth of transactions, since all but the last few years are already there, I hoped to just take the stuff the spouse had done and incorporate it into my file. A few months ago I got a QIC-formatted dump of the files I cared about. Unfortunately, before I tried to install them, I (baaaaah) upgraded again because I wanted to keep my ability to download from my banks. Now, with the new version, I cannot suck a QIC file into an investment account. Contacted Quicken help -- and they sent me mail on what to do. (Have spouse do a backup, and then do a restore on my computer, and delete the accounts I don't want.) Well and good, but (1) I needed to rename one or both of my files to avoid confusion and overwriting, and (2) they're still not in the same file. I responded to the "here's how" e-mail, indicating that I didn't just want them on the same computer (I could have figured that out myself!) I wanted them in the same file, and someone responded that this was not possible. I sent them an email saying "so, in other words, you have removed functionality from your product". and they mailed back that in order to solve my problem I should call them during their hours -- and the normal fee would be waived.

I called. I got a person with an all-too-familiar accent who spoke quite stilted but understandable English. He restated my request. I agreed that indeed that was what I wanted. He said "no problem" and asked me to hold while he researched the best manner to do that. When he came back, he told me that unfortunately what I wanted was impossible.

I'm still not ready to try to move everything from Quicken to some other product that I would then have to learn, but I'm moving from "baaaaah" to "Bah!" pretty quickly.

Last night I went out on top of a parking deck at about 22:10. Positioned myself behind a tree so that one of the city lights would not be shining directly into my eyes. And stared at the sky. I am quite, er, directionally challenged, and I knew that the street the parking deck was on was not pointing due North, but tilted 20 or 30 degrees (one way or the other from North), and I tried to figure out which way North was. I saw one bright star that I thought might have been Polaris, and looked more or less at it, occasionally scanning the sky for anything moving that wasn't a plane. See, I'd heard that just a bit after 22:30 the ISS and the shuttle would be visible from the Ann Arbor area, and that they'd be moving I thought from NW to SE. My watch beeped at 22:30. After a while I decided that it just must be too overcast and I must have missed it -- but I took one more glance around. (1) I was about 90 degrees out -- the star I was looking at was not Polaris, and (2) Look. At. That. You see, I'd thought the shuttle was docked to the station, and there would be one point of light. Nope -- there were two. Following each other in a trail across the sky until they lost the sun. I don't tend to like inactivity, but that was worth it. And it was enhanced by the fact that a kid was practicing his bagpipes on another corner of the roof. What an experience!
20th-Jun-2007 03:10 pm (UTC)
Does Quicken have the same import/export from Excel that QuickBooks has? If so, it might be possible to 1)export the data from the spousal file, then import from that Excel file into your file. Theoretically, this is possible in QuickBooks, although I don't use Excel, so I don't know how it works in practice.

You'd lose a lot of the historic details, but not the starting balances, and you could do reports from both systems until your system has sufficient years of data for tracking.

I use QuickBooks, rather than Quicken, because I use it professionally. QB is designed for business, so there'd be a learning curve for you to figure out how to book personal data, but the product is richer in features.

Unfortunately, Intuit adopted the MS model years ago, and there is no way to keep things compatible for more than 3 years or so.

Call me if you need help!

The sky view must have been awesome. Wish I'd known - I'd have tried to see it, too. Clif will be so disappointed in me.

(PS, since you don't use names, I assume you'd prefer we not use them, as well?)
20th-Jun-2007 06:42 pm (UTC)
I don't think I can import/export from/to Excel. They have a ".qic" format (specialized text file) that they're working on obsoleting, and to my detriment, it seems the investment style accounts were what they obsoleted it on first. I used Excel, but know zip about QuickBooks.

Don't know if I'm annoyed enough to switch now, but I'll keep it in mind.

Check out Heavens-above -- there's another visible pass tonight -- although a bit later. Word is the shuttle and ISS will be a bit further apart.

Regarding names -- eh... others have, so I'm not really gonna get too bent out of shape -- I figure anyone who knows me knows me -- but I just don't wanna make it *too* easy on those who don't. And perhaps I'm too shy to post as much as I do if I were *really* signing it...
20th-Jun-2007 03:37 pm (UTC)
Quicken keeps trying to get me to try out GnuCash. The Spouse is the one who normally deals with Quicken and she doesn't tend to use most of its features, but she's still making more noise about using something else.
20th-Jun-2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
I keep wishing I thought Linux et al were ready for prime time. But the amount of time and hair that friends of mine spend on it dwarfs my available time & hair. I like the way you phrased that, though.
20th-Jun-2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
Talk to Clif (or, better these days: email him.) He keeps talking about something he thinks I should look at that works in the Linux world. I haven't looked it up because all my clients are strictly MS world, so QB is my best option.
20th-Jun-2007 11:01 pm (UTC) - MoneyDance
The software I'm just getting started with is MoneyDance (http://moneydance.com/). I believe it is a Java app. Regardless, they have install packages for Windows, Mac, and Linux. (And support users on all three of these platforms)

It isn't as feature rich as Quicken (yet), but it appears to be pretty good at what is does do. It will import the Quicken QIC export files. It also understands some of the new Quicken data exchange formats and does some automatic downloads (untested by me).

It's not free, but the price is competitive with Quicken and you don't need a separate license for each version. I seem to remember updates are pretty reasonable as well.
20th-Jun-2007 03:47 pm (UTC)
The Ark! I haven't been to the Ark in years. Last time I was there, in fact, I sat next to you at a Christine Lavin concert.

I enjoy anything I've heard Claudia Schmidt sing, jazz or folk. I remember a long-ago Ark concert where she confounded the audience by announcing the next number would be "audience-participation scat". And then grinned a truly wicked grin.

I don't use Quicken. I keep my financial records in an Excel spreadsheet. I'm stubborn that way.
20th-Jun-2007 06:49 pm (UTC)
As I recall, that was Ark 2. They're now on Ark 3, down the street a bit.

I did a lot in Excel, still do, but when you realize that I'm maintaining 8 bank/cu accounts, and 4 active credit card accounts all of which are interlinked, and more than half of these are both quite active and allow me to download the information directly from the bank... I've made a few changes in the last year or so that have simplified my life and cut down on the time I spend on my finances, and (mutter) quicken actually helps with that. *sigh* More power to you if you can maintain in Excel.
20th-Jun-2007 06:54 pm (UTC)
I have far fewer things to keep track of, fortunately.
20th-Jun-2007 05:35 pm (UTC)
Polaris isn't especially bright. Venus is very bright, in the west in the evening these days. Jupiter is also quite bright, in the southeast in the evening these days.

I missed the ISS last night, but I caught it Saturday night in Indiana.
20th-Jun-2007 06:58 pm (UTC)
When it's less overcast than it was last night I can usually pick out Polaris even before the other stars in the dippers take shape for me. Maybe I'm recognizing the shape without realizing it, or the space around it? The light I saw, since North was further around to the left than I'd thought, must have been ENE or there-abouts and moderately high. (60 degrees at a guess?) If I could have seen more stars I would have a better guess at figuring if it were a star or a different sort of interloper.
20th-Jun-2007 09:08 pm (UTC)
Speaking of the Ark, I'm a bit surprised Suzanne Vega will be performing there in September. Figured that kind of venue was too small for her these days, but I guess not.
20th-Jun-2007 10:03 pm (UTC)
When was the last time you were there? Ark3, as mbumby calls it, is larger than any of its predecessors, and they often have multiple shows for really popular items. Sometimes, they co-sponser things with the Michigan Theater, which is one of those old organ-on-the-stage-gold-filagree-balcony kind of theaters -- plenty large!
21st-Jun-2007 12:55 am (UTC)
Cool! I hadn't noticed that. I expect that will be a "tickets sold out a few months in advance" show.
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