Category Archives: Tools

Personal Finance – KMyMoney

KMyMoney
KMyMoney Logo

Recently I have been experimenting with personal finance software on Linux. The most popular program seems to be GnuCash. This would have been a good choice for me since I run Ubuntu with a Gnome desktop. I instead have chosen to use KMyMoney. It is packaged with the KDE desktop environment. Installation was fairly trouble free using the Synaptic package manager. Some features, such as help still give me issues, but I am slowly working them out.

The interface reminds me of Microsoft Money from the late 90’s. It is straightforward and besides the annoyance of double-entry bookkeeping, does a good job. I am sure I will end up liking double-entry the more I use it. KMyMoney does a good job of sugar coating the accounting, especially compared to GnuCash. I have been able to get most of my accounts into the program with little trouble. Online banking is not running smoothly with my institutions as of yet. This is not a big deal to me as I am trying to use the software to better see where my money is going. The reporting features of KMyMoney seem really great. After a few months of use I will share some of the reports it generates.

Compared to Money Manager Ex, another personal finance software application I have used, KMyMoney is superior. Though very similar in features, KMyMoney seems to work better and is more intuitive.

Besides my own wish to better examine how I spend my money I am hoping KMyMoney will fulfill my search for good software to use with students. Learning how to balance a check register is an important skill but with the abundance of debit cards not many students carry checkbooks or cash except for lunch money. Familiarizing students with software that allows them to track their spending, manage stock market research, and loans is a new skill-set that I believe will become vital for people in the new economy. New markets are emerging quickly allowing for people to put pockets of money in many different investment vehicles.

As a class project it would be interesting to provide a micro-loan and then track the repayments using software. The students will still learn the computations so they understand what is happening but it may provide additional engagement for students.

If you are running Linux and looking for personal finance software give KMyMoney a whirl.

REI Trip – Sustainable Cutlery, Safe Bicycling Gear

Reflective Ankle Strap, Bamboo Cutlery, and a mirror
Reflective Ankle Strap, Bamboo Cutlery, and a mirror

Vanessa and I drove over to REI this morning to buy a spork for me because I have been wanting one for about a year now. The idea I have is to keep it with me in my backpack and then when I am on campus and get rice, or bring leftovers, I will not have to use the plasticware in the lunch areas. Upon arrival we looked at all of the available spork related products and found a set of bamboo cutlery with a carrying case made of recycled plastic water bottles. I got a fork, spoon, knife, and chopsticks with the handy case. I can’t fold it up and store it inside my mess kit while camping, but it is light weight and sustainable, no metal had to be refined.

Mirror installed on the left bicycle handlebar
Mirror installed on the left bicycle handlebar

I also got a safety orange reflective strip for my backpack to be used while bicycling or motorcycling. It is by the Novara company and has the statement, “Never a bad time to ride.” In the bicycle area I found a mirror for the bike as well. I have been riding on Northwest and Slater going between home and work and a mirror seemed like a good safety idea. It slotted right into the end of the handlebar is fully adjustable, it is made of real glass too. My cycling will hopefully be a much safer endeavour now.

Technology as a tool – not always necessary

Citation: Peterson, Doug. (2002). Implementing PDAs in a College Course: One Professor’s Perspective. Campus Technology, Retrieved February 9, 2009, from http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2002/10/Implementing-PDAs-in-a-College-Course-One-Professors-Perspective.aspx?Page=1

Summary

Professor Peterson begins his article by mentioning Use-centered design. Use-centered design focuses on the goals and tasks that a tool is to perform. Dr. Peterson than lists the many uses he observed the PDA’s being used for while part of a campus program. These tasks included course scheduling, document dissemination, class specific applications, tracking assignments, test prep, and personal information management. He ends his evaluation of the technology with the recommendation that teachers and students get used to using the PDA.

Response

The PDA is fast becoming a thing of the past. It is being replaced by Smart Phones and mini-computers like T-Mobile’s G1 and Apple’s iPhone. The same tasks that Dr. Peterson described can be accomplished with these phones, in color. The emergence of 9″ laptops is also allowing students and faculty to get more done with smaller devices. Even though the technology has improved, many of Dr. Peterson’s observations of the use of technology were to help students manage their time. I believe that this is a skill that needs to be taught, not masked by technology. Dr. Peterson discusses pushing the syllabus to all students who have a PDA with alarms set for the day before quizzes and tests. Most syllabuses are now available online, if a student wants it, let them get it. Dr. Peterson also discusses grade tracking, most students can already figure out what grade they need to get a certain score in a class. I think it is ok if technology makes it easier to see, but not if the student doesn’t know how to figure that out in the first place. Use-centered design Dr. Peterson says focuses on the goals and tasks associated with certain technology. Why not focus the design on classroom management, then students might be able to understand the importance of personal scheduling, math, and responsibility. Technology needs to be used as a tool, not a end-all-be-all device. I believe 43 folders premiered the hipster pda, check it out.