Anyone interested in their finances (or even in some hardcore economics) should check out this American guy’s blog.

www.garynorth.com/

Sign up to the free weekly update and each week you get a “tip of the week” by email – some of these are genius (a recent one is below) there are also several free bits of the site, but to get to the really indepth stuff you need to climb the pay wall.

Gary also has some of his books available free to download as eBooks, some are pretty useful. Others (to my mind) not so much. A mixed bag.

On occasion he opens up the paid for stuff for sneaky peeks (great marketing move – to let you see what you’re missing by not paying him a monthly fee) and its always been good stuff when he has done that.

Example tip of the week:

GARY NORTH'S TIP OF THE WEEK

Gary North's Tip of the Week - |DATE Used Tools (Cheap)
=====================================================
    I am a great believer in owning tools.  I am also a
procrastinator in learning how to use new tools.  

    One way to reduce your costs of procrastination is to buy
used tools from other procrastinators who finally gave up.  You
buy at 25 cents on the dollar or less.

    This is why I love Craigslist.  It offers so much stuff that
is in good shape, yet the owners are ready to sell cheap.  They
see that they are not using some device, so they figure that
getting something is better than getting nothing and also wasting
storage space.  This is a wise decision.

    I use NotifyWire.  I have recommended it before.  I am doing
it again.  You can find out who is selling what on Craigslist,
and for how long (if you check older listings).  The longer, the
better.  He may be willing to take less.

          http://www.notifywire.com

    If I buy a used tool that is in pretty good shape, and I pay
very little for it, even if I never do use it, I can sell it on
Craigslist for close to what I paid for it.

    The main expense is my time.  So, I don't look for cheap
tools this way.  I look for $1,000 items for $250.  

    I am in the market for a small greenhouse.  

    I have this advantage: my wife is great with tools and can
repair almost anything.  She likes tools, too.

Gary "Tool Shed" North
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Dispatches from India

December 16, 2010

My friend Rowena Speirs (and former Weston & Somerset Mercury reporter back in the day) is in Mumbai, India, blogging for World Vision.

Her dispatches from India are insightful and if you have any interest in the sub continent (or the work of World Vision for that matter) it would be worth having a read.

I will give a personal recommendation for her writing ability – evidenced by her description in the linked piece:

“There is nothing appealing about Subhash Nagar. It is a blight on this banking and diamond quarter of India’s economic capital, Mumbai. There are ramshackle houses tripping over each other in every direction with only narrow, litter-filled lanes and a noodle soup of electrical cables connecting them.”

I am intrigued by her view of India and the descriptions of the people she meets and the life they lead. I recommend you have a read of her dispatches too.

which do you read first?

December 7, 2010

News is about people. Traditional news covers people such as Prime Ministers, Presidents, leaders of business and so on.

Once upon a time these were all packaged up in newspapers published each day, then broadcast in news bulletins on the wireless every hour and later on TV.

All of this information has moved online – you can read, watch or listen to news as it happens from anywhere in the world. I am quite interested in Aussie politics and read about it at The Age (Melbourne) or The Sydney Morning Herald.

So for free (well, the ongoing cost of my web connection), I can know what is happening to politicians and business leaders on the other side of the planet.

But the web has done something else. I can also read news from hundreds (or thousands if I want) of ordinary people. On Facebook via my PC or mobile I can see a stream of updates from people I see everyday and people I see from time to time (I get updates from my friend in Cambridgeshire and know what is happening to her most days, whereas Before Facebook (BF) we maybe spoke once a month / two months, which involved lots of catching up) and from people I haven’t seen for years.

These events I read about are happening to people, and to those folks and to me, these are news stories. Just not in the traditional sense where news values tell you what the Deputy PM does is news, while what my friend CH does in Cambs is unlikely to make the front page of the Sunday Times (as that DPM story did – havent connected to the original story due to the Rupert Murdoch paywall, which I have mentioned before).

I like news in the traditional sense and I like news in this new sense of status updates / feeds / streams which people I know are uploading. This blog I am writing will appear in feeds, sometimes it is commented upon, sometimes re-tweeted or pinged back. Certainly it is read by a few people and to some, on some level it is news that I have written it. Mostly I write commentary on other events (whether readers agree or not is of course up to them) rather than breaking news here.

Altho my Facebook updates will from time to time break news about my life – the biggest one (so far!) being when my son was born. I got messages and comments from all over the world within only a few hours and in some cases from people I havent seen in years.

A friend of mine was on a plane at the time and he landed to discover a voicemail from his mother demanding to know why he hadn’t told her that my boy had arrived – she had seen the Facebook pictures as well – he hadn’t even heard yet as he’d been on a flight. While my brother-in-law who hadn’t been around for the 24+ hours labour as I had, could have uploaded his photos first, while I slept, but told me later he thought it right he wait so I could upload the first photos. I was grateful for this and am glad he had a concept of Facebook etiquette.

I find it interesting that when I click the arrow on Firefox to look for most visited sites, the top two are always the same. One is a news site, the other is Facebook.

One of the life observations I have is whether I look at Facebook or traditional news first more often?

I know when I am expecting an update from a friend I will always look there first. But when I am just browsing while I wait for a train or for someone to arrive, is it the friend stream or the traditional news stream which I go to first? I am going to pay more attention to this.

Please feel free to let me know which one you go for first.

Sunday Times price increase

September 24, 2010

Not only is Rupert Murdoch trying to make us pay to read his online Sunday Times content (no link inserted to paid content!), he has also raised the price of the print version too.

I am no economist, but I am sure I heard once raising prices in a falling market doesn’t usually work.

Come on Rupert, let’s not have a repeat of myspace.

I do have an account with myspace, but having just popped across to have a look at it, I have noticed they have removed the last logged in info. From looking at my own site, I would guess I last logged in back in February. Which I suppose would look bad as it is September now.

What is worse for Rupert, while I am having trouble remembering when I last logged into his social network (and it didnt even occur to me to try and link this blog to the blog function in myspace, off to have a look if that is easy to achieve in a minute), is that  my Facebook page gets visited most days.

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