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Back. For MORE Brains.

Scott and I are back.  We have been away, dining on the brains of the unsuspecting living and trying – often without success – to lumber to the Apple Store and buy the latest gadget that our leader, Steve Jobs, tells us to buy.  We are Apple Zombies, after all.

But, once again, we are mindlessly wandering the streets, munching.  Always munching.

If Scott or I had higher brain function, we would be excited by the greatest underground event to ever surface from the undead depths.  “Z-Day” is just around the corner.  It is on March 12, a Friday, as the living pretend to be us, the brain-loving, rotting community.  They will simply be playing a decomposing game of tag, touching others to have them join our rancid minions.  What a glorious day it will be!

Details can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=216774344947

MacBooks are optional.  I look forward to feasting on your sweet, sweet brains.

Mmmmm… Brains.  Did I mention I like brains?

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For the last year or so, I have been using Bank of America’s “My Portfolio” feature to aggregate bank accounts, retirement accounts, loans and credit cards to generate a snapshot view of my finances.  Boy am I broke!

Setting aside the gloom of seeing how poorly my investments have fared and how much debt I have, I’ve been adequately (but not overwhelmingly) pleased with BofA’s “My Portfolio”:

  • It is easy to add accounts if you can remember all the different user IDs and passwords (though the accounts error FREQUENTLY, which I suspect is the other bank’s fault more times than not).
  • The main page is informative.  The upper left shows your Total Net Worth with the change from one month ago, and on the right is the Net Worth Summary with the name and balance of each account.
  • The Budgeting & Reports section is not as intuitive as the rest of the site, and I stopped using that section after a few tries.

Virginia Heffernan, who writes the New York Times Sunday magazine column and nytimes.com tech culture blog The Medium (which, for mysterious reasons, is about to be folded into the ArtsBeat blog even though the magazine column lives on), introduced me to the free account aggregator Mint.com in her May 21 column on, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Mint.com apparently makes its money off credit card, savings account and other referrals, but is almost lazily non-pushy about it.  The interface is simple, and the welcome screen made it a breeze to enter account information.  There are only five tabs:

  • Overview shows the accounts down the left, an alerts section at top right that picks up due-date info from your accounts and sets them up as bill reminders, and a month-to-date chart that shows you how you’re doing on the major budget categories.
  • Transactions has transactions grouped by day and allows you to easily re-categorize your entries.
  • Trends shows you the current month spending-by-category as a pie graph and allows you to compare to a previous month.  (The chart below that allows you to compare your categorical expenses to people in various cities is almost completely useless — everyone categorizes differently, and the results are not bracketed by income.)
  • Investments needs work.  The main chart defaults to how your portfolio has performed against the S&P 500 — which is nice — but the other charts don’t provide much useful information for showing the diversification and performance of your portfolio.
  • Ways to Save has offers for credit cards, CDs, etc., and shows how much you would save or how much you would earn based on variables like interest rates and the value of rewards programs.  I have not used that feature, but I probably would if I were looking to set up a new account.

My biggest gripes are: (1) the aforementioned underwhelming investment charts, (2) Mint.com’s failure to add a community bank that I suggested more than a month ago and that is available on competitor Quicken.com (which I tried and abandoned for other reasons; it’s not as good as Mint.com by a longshot), and (3) the inability to add manual accounts (like ones that aren’t available online).  All relatively minor and correctable.

Neither BofA nor Mint.com are particularly useful as get-out-of-debt planners, so I’ll continue to use my ridiculously elaborate Excel sheet for that.

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Peter is our chief zombie correspondent, but I couldn’t resist this one:

It sounds like something out of science fiction: zombie fire ants. But it’s all too real.

Fire ants wander aimlessly away from the mound.

Eventually their heads fall off, and they die.

continued…

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I am an Apple Zombie, a brain-numbed follower of all things that come from Cupertino. So, I should be carrying an iPhone, right? Well, not so fast.

I have written extensively about my iPod Touch, the entertainment device, identical to the iPhone, without the phone. So, before deciding on a smart phone, I became quite familiar with the iPhone platform. Still, I bought a BlackBerry.

To be sure, I love my iPod touch. When I bought it, I was using a Motorola KRZR phone, which had almost no ‘net functionality, so the ability to use WiFi on my iPod was revolutionary for me – almost life-changing. Finally, I was able to keep up with the world – away from home. I learned every public and non-public WiFi site in Germantown, and visited them often to pull email or read the Drudge Report. And, I could even listen to Kanye West at the same time (and, yes, I realize I just referred to Drudge and Kanye in the same paragraph).

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images1.jpegEarlier this week, I posted a brief history of Apple TV from concept (iTV), to initial release (1.0) to the update announced last week at Macworld (2.0). Today, I’ll look at what Apple got right, got wrong and what lies ahead for Apple TV.

The full post is after the jump.

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images1.jpegBelieve the hype. Apple’s movie rental announcement is a game changer for the maligned Apple TV, which should finally get some traction after a rough start. We don’t know yet whether the studios will stock huge catalogs of movies, but the iTunes Store-Apple TV-movie rental ecosystem is ready for its close-up.

A brief history of the nearly year-old and just-revamped Apple TV after the jump.

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As I type, Britney Spears is late for a custody hearing regarding her two children. At the same time, the preliminaries for MacWorld are on-going, just up the road itn_singgerbritn_mazur_14769553.jpgn San Francisco.

Could these two seemingly unrelated events be coincidental, or is it something more?

Perhaps Britney munches the occasional brain? Lord knows, she needs some.

But, I digress…

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