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About Gentleman.Jack.Darby

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  1. Budget help

    The only entity of which I'm aware that can spend beyond its means for a significant amount of time, probably forever, is the U.S. government. I advocate budgeting as a way for folks to avoid the pain, misery, and embarrassment that tends to comes along when the last lender finally says 'NO'. I've run across a lot of folks with plenty of resources who always seem to be able to find something on which to spend their proverbial 'last dollar' and then some.
  2. Budget help

    I look at it from the point of view that everyone has a budget with the exception of folks like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett since, whether they admit it or not and like it or not, most folks' assets, income, and most importantly, cash flow is limited and everyone must spend to live I think the big problem most people have with budgets is that they don't realize that budgets are not cast in stone and that they are guidelines that can and should be changed when one's situation changes. It's much easier to start with a best-guess budget that will disclose major shortcomings in assets & liabilities and income & expenses and refine it through experience rather than be smacked in the head when one's ends don't meet or a major expense, such as retirement, arrives. Generally not necessary to budget down to the last dollar or peso. And most budgeting software that I've seen takes what, in most people's circumstances, should be a relatively easy exercise and turns it into something likely not to get done by making the process itself complex, forcing people to learn what is usually a complex and counter-intuitive piece of software, and usually making them pay for the privilege. Nothing wrong with making one's budget as simple as required by using a spreadsheet or plain-old pencil-and-paper; probably don't even need a calculator for the parts that matter most.
  3. Bitcoin - Virtual Currencies and the future of Cash

    Because of the way Bitcoin is designed, with no central authority to regulate it or control it, the number of Bitcoins that can be 'mined' or created mathematically limited, the integrity of each exchange transaction, reasonably speaking, guaranteed, and the ability of each transaction to be executed anywhere in the world between just the buyer and the seller, it will be very difficult for banks and governments to completely regulate it and probably impossible for them kill it completely. Of course, a particular country could forbid money changers from converting Bitcoin to their fiat currency and forbid merchants from accepting it as payment for goods and services, but because transaction are done electronically with reasonable, but not absolute anonymity, buyers and sellers in the country can still get transactions completed; as well, countries that overregulate Bitcoin could see economic activity flow to those countries that are more 'enlightened'. Taxing Bitcoin transactions would present its own set of novel difficulties for tax authorities - I'm from the U.S. and there is an awful lot of 'under the table' economic activity going on here, whether by actual cash changing hands or by barter for goods and services and most of it is probably untaxed. If Bitcoin really took off here, I would expect that the U.S. government would eventually institute a VAT or national sales tax scheme rather than try to tax Bitcoin transactions directly.
  4. Bitcoin - Virtual Currencies and the future of Cash

    The relatively high transaction costs for converting amongst fiat currencies and that there are relatively few businesses that accept Bitcoin in my neck of the woods are two things that have made digital currencies unappealing to me. I do think that, barring a major flaw in the mathematics or the software implementation of the math, as people's understanding and perceptions of digital currencies change, more people and businesses will accept them for real goods and services and transaction costs will decrease. For those old enough to remember (I'm 56 and it's been within my lifetime), take a look at the overwhelming rise, acceptance, and use of credit cards - in the early '60s, they were pretty much unheard of except for a small, well-heeled minority of people. Thanks to a loosening of attitudes toward credit and debt amongst all but the smallest minority of people, the development of (mainframe) computers and networks to tie them together, and a few killer advertising campaigns (Karl Malden telling us: 'American Express - Don't leave home without it') from an advertising industry in it's infancy, VISA and MasterCard are everywhere we want to be. For Bitcoin and its brothers, computers and networks as well as the advertising industry have evolved into something along the lines of Nitsche's 'Ubermensch' (Superman) - people's attitudes are going to change a lot faster than they did during the rise of the credit card. If you can resist the temptation to cash out your Bitcoin position, and I admit that I'd find it very difficult to avoid doing so, probably not a bad idea to hold onto it beyond the bubble popping because I expect it will become a lot more practical sooner rather than later.
  5. Bitcoin - Virtual Currencies and the future of Cash

    That's a very sane way to look at it - at that point, digital currencies will have lost their mystery and novelty and will be, more or less, like any other currency with transaction costs for converting to and from one's fiat currency having been driven down into the realm of reasonableness. I think that may take a while in the PI since credit cards and debit cards are not nearly as widely accepted there as they are in the West, but eventually they'll get there.
  6. Bitcoin - Virtual Currencies and the future of Cash

    Well, I think calling Bitcoin and other so-called digital currencies 'investments' at this point is a little too optimistic; what's going on right now is plainly speculation and it reminds me of the tulip mania and collapse that happened in the Dutch Republic in the 17th century. That's not to say that money can't be made from the speculation, but it's not for the faint of heart nor is it for those who hold a traditional view of what constitutes 'investing'. I've had a series of discussions with a co-worker who is bewitched by the media's breathless scorekeeping of the daily price rises and the wild speculation of where the price will be in 2 years or in 5 years, etc. However, he just can't wrap his head around why the price is rising as well as why digital currencies, being nothing more, in essence, than the computer implementation of provable mathematical theories, have value. I think that his, along with a lot of other people's, 'forgetfulness' of the basics of investing, such as that one should never invest in anything that one doesn't understand well enough to explain to someone else, the higher the reward the higher the risk, and that no one will take better care of one's money than oneself are why Bitcoin has turned into a bubble. My personal view is that, barring a mathematician finding a flaw in the underlying mathematics, which I think is unlikely since elliptic curve cryptography, which underlies Bittcoin, has been around awhile and has been used and tested in other applications or, more likely, a flaw or flaws in the software implementation of the underlying mathematics, we'll see the bubble pop in a spectacular fashion and probably for one of the reasons all speculative bubbles pop - nothing exciting there. Once the bubble pops, as we've seen with other speculative (investment) bubbles, so long as the assets, in this case the underlying mathematics, their real-world implementation, and someone else's willingness to trade what they 'have' for my Bitcoins, truly have 'value' (and I think digital currencies do), we'll see a more orderly and sensible adoption of them and they will, in time, become an accepted and unexciting part of our financial life, much as things like credit cards or derivative financial investments.
  7. Expat in Iloilo needs O+

    It's not that Asian blood types are not the same as westerners, it's the distribution by type that differs from the West. For example, my blood type is O Neg and according to a chart on Wikipedia, only 0.1% of the Filipino population has that type, while in the U.S., it's 6.6% In Thailand, the distribution is 0.2% Once I became aware of the relative rarity of my type in SE Asia, it's given me a major thing to consider while planning my retirement there. And I was a bit surprised, but glad to know, about the difficulty of getting donations of even relatively common types in the PI - that's a risk I want to know about BEFORE I get there. It reminded me of something our minister said while going through counseling prior to getting married: "Sex is only 10% of a marriage, but boy what a big 10%"
  8. Bad Cookies

    Yes, I hear you on that! Of course, there's a way to handle that sort of crap as well but, depending on the browser, it requires a little more love and on-going attention than is required for an ad-blocker, but once it's set up and one has some practice with it, it becomes second-nature. For Firefox users, NoScript is the gold-standard - it tames Flash and JavaScript, which are the roots of all evil for wasting bandwidth, making websites load slowly, and which also present significant security risks. For Chrome, unfortunately there is version of NoScript available, but there are two good alternatives - uMatrix (MicroMatrix) and ScriptSafe. For Internet Explorer, which one shouldn't be using anyway if one cares about speed and security, I'm not aware of anything like NoScript, but I haven't paid significant attention to or used it in years. I understand there is some ability to do something similar within IE, but I have no first-hand experience with it. If one REALLY wants a fast and secure web browsing experience, check out Google Chromebooks. One of the many great things about them, at least for this discussion, is that they DO NO use either Flash or Javascript so, obviously, script blockers and Flash blockers aren't required.
  9. Bad Cookies

    An ad-blocker won't really help with anything other than blocking ads - most people install them because some sites go way overboard with the ads, using multiple SLOW ad networks in addition to their own banner ads, which results in frustration from slow page loading. Other sites, such as this one, don't run many ads so the effect of an ad-blocker on this site will be minimal - I don't run it on this site and my suggestion is that others also allow ads for this site as well. To turn off ad blocking for a single domain (website) in AdBlock, simply click on the AdBlock Plus icon in the upper right corner of the browser Below the "ABP" stop sign symbol, you'll see a green checkmark and "Enabled on this Site" To tun AdBlock Plus off, simply click in the area with the green checkmark - that will turn off AdBlock Plus (allow ads) for every page on a particular domain (website). Ad-blockers also won't do anything for cookie-related problems - that requires changing browser configuration options or performing a procedure in the browser, depending on the browser and how much leeway one wishes to allow a particular site in setting cookies. I've also seen wild swings in prices on Amazon.com for no apparent reason within short periods of time - It's my opinion that a lot of shopping sites have developed bi-polar disorder when it comes to pricing, so I've actually started to move away from Amazon.com for this and multiple other reasons. Airlines are a business in which I'd expect to see prices rise as time goes by (seats get filled) since, even if there are open seats very near the flight date, there will almost always be someone who will need a seat, usually up until the doors to the aircraft are closed.
  10. Bad Cookies

    It depends on the browser that you are using. Hopefully you are using either Firefox or Chrome - my preference is for Chrome, since it's the fastest and most secure browser out there RIGHT NOW, especially when running on a Chromebook. I'd recommend AdBlock Plus because that ad blocker will allow you to turn it off for domains (websites) that you like and wish to support. In Chrome, the adblocker that you install is referred to as an "extension" In Firefox, the addblocker is referred to as an "add-on" In Chrome, go to the Chrome webstore at this URL: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/extensions In the search box on the left side of the screen, enter "AdBlock Plus" or the name of your preferred ad blocking extension and when you see it, simply click "+Add to Chrome" and it will be installed. Once installation is finished, restart Chrome to activate the extension and make sure all is good! In Firefox, go to the Mozilla Foundation site at this URL: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/ In the search box on the right of the page, enter "AdBlock Plus" or the name of your preferred ad blocking add-on and when you see it, simply click "+Add to Firefox" and it will be installed. Once installation is finished, restart Firefox to activate the add-on and make sure all is good! If you're using Internet Explorer, I'm afraid I can't be of help there since I avoid it like the plague but I would humbly suggest that you change to either Firefox or Chrome. You'll notice that either of those are significantly faster than IE, especially with an ad blocker installed.
  11. CITIBANK, Foreign & Phil accounts

    Appreciate the additional information. I mentioned the PDIC limit simply because I thought many people, especially Americans, likely sleep better knowing that their deposits are insured. I should have also pointed out a couple of other things about which some folks may be concerned regarding Citi Philippines somewhat higher minimum balance (TRB) to avoid the monthly maintenance fee - USD 20,000 might be out of reach for some folks and even for those who have it and are willing to essentially park that amount of money, they may have well founded concerns about what might happen if they needed to leave the PI, quickly or otherwise. It would not surprise me to find out that there might be rules on the book, enforced or not, that might delay one's ability to transfer FROM the PI, especially in times of a national or banking "emergency", even using Global Transfers; the Citibank websites I've reviewed in detail (U.S., Philippines, and Thailand) make no mention of THAT aspect of Global Transfers, but I suppose there's something buried somewhere in the fine print.
  12. Windows 10 OneDrive

    OneDrive is just Cloud storage, along the lines of Google Drive or Amazon Drive. I've used OneDrive since it first started and was called by another name which I've long forgotten and never had a problem - Microsoft has renamed it several times that I'm aware of. OneDrive, Google Drive, and Amazon Drive is Cloud storage only - there is no mechanism available that would allow one to stream content, such as a movie, to a device as one can do with music stored in one's Amazon Music Library. Amazon does make it possible, through Amazon Web Services, for one to stream one's content stored in Amazon Drive but that is several steps above simply storing data there and something one must build (and pay for). As for privacy concerns, I wouldn't recommend storing any files there which are sensitive, such as bank statements or tax returns unless they're encrypted using good encryption, such as PGP or Minilock. All of the Cloud services encrypt whatever files one puts there when they are "at rest", ie; not in transit, so ones' privacy is more protected by keeping one's files there than it would be by keeping one's files on one's own computer in one's house. When one's files are "in transit", ie; being transferred to or from the Cloud, privacy is protected by an SSL connection between the Cloud and one's browser (computer). I would also expect that relatively few of a Cloud services employees would be able to "decrypt" any particular files stored on the service and it probably takes more than one employee to do so. As for copyright issues, so long as one is not publicly sharing any content to which one does not own the intellectual property rights (movies, music, books, computer code, etc.) there is no problem storing it on Cloud services.
  13. CITIBANK, Foreign & Phil accounts

    I'm an American with a Citibank U.S. account, so I'm most familiar with that "flavor" - I did check the Citibank Australia site briefly. Yes, with Citibank Global Transfers, one can transfer from an account in Australia to a Citibank Philippines account via the Citibank website for free. The only thing that one should consider with a Citibank Philippines account is that the "Total Relationship Balance" (total of all balance across all Citi Philippines accounts) to avoid the monthly fee of PHP 500 (USD 10) is PHP 1,000,000 (USD 20,000). The PHP 500 is not material when compared to the cost of a wire transfer or the poor exchange rates give by money transfer services, but PHP 1,000,000 is above the amount covered by the PDIC (Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation). Probably not much of an issue considering that it's Citibank.
  14. RESIDENCE for US Tax Returns

    Well, my personal viewpoint is that when it comes to taxes, the alternatives are "better" and "poor". It's better because, in the final analysis regarding Obamacare "shared responsibility payments", by Congress limiting the IRS ability to actively collect them using liens and levies as they can do with income taxes, Congress gave individuals a method to not pay them by not having a federal income tax refund. It may not be perfect but, as is always the case with taxes, it's "better" than what could have happened and, in my book, isn't "poor", so it's a win for the little guys. There are some people who deliberately have their employers withhold too much federal income tax from their pay because they like to get a large income tax refund after filing their annual income tax return to, for example, make a large purchase, in essence making an interest-free loan to the U.S. government because they are unable or unwilling to save on their own. I understand why people do it but, in the end, whether it boils down to an unwillingness to periodically review their taxes to ensure that their withholding approximates their tax liability or the lack of discipline to save on their own, it's still poor tax planning. And governments and businesses routinely take advantage of those who make poor decisions. And if the rumoured "overhaul" of Obamacare actually happens, I hope that those implementing the overhaul ensures that those with unpaid "shared responsibility payments" prior to the effective date of the overhaul are totally relieved of them.
  15. RESIDENCE for US Tax Returns

    earthdome, I'm not picking on you and I'm not trying to split hairs, but under "ObamaCare" which is also known as the Affordable Care Act, there is no "penalty" if one does not have a U.S. health insurance policy and one fails to make the laughably PC named "shared responsibility payment" that some folks refer to as the "health care tax" or "penalty". The IRS is specifically barred from using liens or levies, their usual fearsome and powerful tools for collecting taxes that are legally enforceable, to collect unpaid "shared responsibility payments". However, the IRS CAN withhold any tax refunds and, presumably, any refundable credits, such as the Earned Income Credit, to which a taxpayer may be entitled to satisfy any unpaid "shared responsibility payments". See the following FAQ, Item 29, on the IRS website that states, in pertinent part, "...The law prohibits the IRS from using liens or levies to collect any individual shared responsibility payment. However, if you owe a shared responsibility payment, the IRS may offset that liability against any tax refund that may be due to you." at the following URL: https://www.irs.gov/...ility-provision As well, if a person meets the rather stringent requirements to qualify as a bond-fide resident of a foreign country for, essentially, an entire tax year, as laid out in IRS Publication 54, he is also exempt from the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.