2014 Arizona Technology Council Gubernatorial Debate wrap-up.

Today I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 Arizona Technology Council Gubernatorial Debate.  It also was a business mixer for the first little part.  It turned out to be a fun and informative event. 2014-07-09 16.30.45

During the event they had a large screen were people could tweet about the event and they would show all the tweets live and the candidates could read the live feedback during the event.  I was active on the tweet stream, look up hashtag #aztcgovs to see what was said.

There were a few surprises, the first and most shocking surprise was that Doug Ducey canceled at the last minute, many people there wanted to see what he had to say but he was a no show, a lot of people mentioned it on the twitter roll. The next thing that surprised everyone was how friendly the candidates were to each other, it was mentioned a few times that they all had deep respect for each other.  GOP heavys Joe Hobbs and Wes Harris were both there working the room for Frank Riggs.  There were also a group of folks trying to get the word out on Diane Douglas and how she is against common core, I agree with Diane on this issue, and was glad to see them there.

Education was one of the main topics of the night. All four of the Republicans were against common core. Scott Smith said that we needed to raise the bar, higher better teachers and challenge students, a lofty goal but no way on how to do it. Ken Bennett said that we needed to focus on the lowest 5% of schools each year and bring them to average and that if we did that for 4 years we would be one of the top states in the United States.  He also said we should allocate the funds for teachers separately from other district funds so that they get paid directly and get paid more. When asked about school connectivity most of them did not seem educated on the issue and just said that it was needed.  Only Christine Jones seemed to know that 150M was already given for this task and that this amount of money is more than enough to connect every school in the state that was not connected.  It is just that the government bureaucrats don’t have a clue how to do it so all of the money goes wasted.  Multiple GOP candidates said that we need to copy what is working in our best schools and push it out to all schools. Fred DuVal says that we need to throw much more money at the problem of lack of education, and that Common Core is the solution we have been looking for so that our kids can compete in a global marketplace.  I can’t see how dumbing down our schools will help us compete globally, and if money was the answer to educational problems then we would have no more problems. We waste way too much money, and more money just leads to more waste. Fred DuVal ended his talk about education talking about Khan Academy, but he had all of his facts wrong, he said that Salman Khan founded it for his kids, but he has no kids, he founded for his cousin, he also said he sold it to Bill Gates, also wrong, Bill Gates donated $1Million (Pocket change for him, but still a good thing.)  Google has donated at least double that amount.  Fred if you want to use something as an example then get your basic facts straight.

Next they talked about the small business climate. Ken Bennett talked about how we need to remove the personal property tax on businesses, this is a tax that most states don’t have but kills many businesses here in AZ.  It is where you need to pay taxes each year on the equipment that your business owns, such as servers or computers, or machines that make stuff.  This tax is one of the main reasons that many manufacturers choose not to locate here. Removing this law is vital, and Ken Bennett was the only one that addressed it.  Christine Jones talked about all the different rules that small businesses need to address at different levels of government and how it must be streamlined, that businesses need to focus on what they do to make money not dealing with the government, this is something I have said all along.  She also said she will be like Rick Perry of Texas and make it her job to personally call on large businesses to get them to move here.  Scott Smith focused on his history in Mesa of attracting Apple and helping turn around the williams airport and other things.  Frank Riggs says he will personally chair the Arizona Commerce Authority and that will be his prime focus.  He also said that the government is not in the job of choosing winners and losers and he would be against it making grants or loans to businesses and would be against angel investor tax breaks or any rules to make it easier for Venture Capitalists to do business here.   Christine Jones and Ken Bennett both pointed out how these tax breaks and easier rules have generated many times more money for the state than if we did not have them and that they would be in favor of renewal.  Fred DuVal said these grants and tax breaks need to be expanded.  He also said that we should embrace Common Core.

When asked about the EPA and Fed overreach all 5 of them were against it, Scott Smith was strong on how bad the EPA is and that shutting down NGS will replace a small air pollution problem with a Major water pollution problem, because NGS gets us fresh water.  He also said that they simply don’t understand how dusty Arizona is.  He has even gone the the EPA in person in Washington to talk about this.  Ken Bennett segwayed this into other forms of Fed overreach such as his case with them about ID at the Polls.  Fred DuVal waffled a bit, saying that some of EPA things are bad but some are good and that we need to embrace a Cap and Trade system.

The final question was about Arizona’s image in the rest of the nation.  Fred DuVal was quick to pounce on how awful it was, he focused on the 1062 problem.  The others had good ideas how to make it even better, and how to reduce taxes to bring more businesses.  One of them, I forget which one, said that we are in the new a lot because we are a thought leader on a lot of these issues and that others look to us to follow us.  I liked that idea.

Final Wrap Up

2014-07-09 16.42.43After attending this event this is my order of who I would vote for from these 5.

1. Christine Jones, she had obvious passion for doing this, she knew the right things to say and was able to point out the quick and easy solution to many problems.  She mentioned how she helped create many of the rules that govern the internet and how she has worked for years making it free. The negative about her is that she has not been in politics and likely will have trouble dealing with bureaucratic minded politicians, because they are just illogical in their actions.  I did love how she ended her closing remarks about going to “ChristineJones.com, proudly regestered for over 10 years with GoDaddy.com”  I liked that.  She did point out that she is the only one that does not owe favors to any political group.  I personally like the lack of government experience, we need fresh ideas, and they need to come from the top.  Before today she was maybe my 4th or 5th pick from the GOP field, she really has improved from the meetings from last year that we both were at.

2. Ken Bennett, he understands the system and how Arizona politics works, probably more than any of them, he did not seem to have as much passion but after 30+ of these events, with many days having 2 or more, I can see why.  He is a small business guy, and understands change and progress. He said all the right things, had researched positions and would be a great leader for our state.  I almost gave him first place, it was only because of Christine’s passion that I did not.

3. Scott Smith, he told a lot of jokes, was really friendly and his experience as mayor of Mesa has given him some executive experience.  He seems like a nice guy.  I don’t know how well he will work in a large organization like the state government.  He did say he will fight the feds about the EPA.

4. Frank Riggs is a very conservative guy, he also seems like he would be very rigid.  He seems like the guy who’s supporters will tear him up if he compromises on the smallest detail, the problem with that is there is no way to get things done with that attitude.  He did have a good point that he served in the Federal government and that experience would help him work with the Feds.  He also introduced the idea of a  Consumption tax, and he said that such a thing would level the playing fields from out of state businesses selling into Arizona, and eliminate the black market.  I have no idea what he means, or how this would work, and how can someone want a new massive tax and still look for Tea Party support, I don’t get it.  On the positive note he was very nice to me and was the only one I was able to talk to for a few minutes.

5. Fred DuVal supports Common Core, Cap and Trade, and spending a ton more money on education, he has spent years working in the Clinton-Gore administration. He mentioned multiple times about how he would work hard to promote marriage equality and pass laws making all sexual orientations equal.  He is likely going to be popular with those in college and those who have been brainwashed by our liberal school system.  He is the only one here that will for sure be on the General Election Ballot, but lucky for us we are such a red state that I doubt he will have much of a chance.

All in all it was a great event, people were cordial to each other, and I was among friends, knowing many of the people there from other Arizona Tech Council events and AZGOP events.

UPDATE:  They just posted the video of the event.

What is a Real Estate Agent and why do you need one?

As many of you know I have been spending the last few weeks becoming a real estate agent.  Real Estate is very complex and takes a long time to understand all of the different wareal estate flow chart from listing to soldys to own it, work on it, finance it and transfer it.  There are also a ton of government rules and regulations regarding real estate, and then there are industry standards that must be followed so that we all can work together and speak the same language.

So really it is a system, with its own jargon, rules, laws, institutions and much more.  It is really a business ecosystem and it works much the same way that computer ecosystems work in.  You simply need to follow the rules and the format, copy and paste the code, and you have a contract.  There are about 70 different contracts and 100’s of forms to amend or support these contracts. You can think of it much like WordPress and how you can snap in a plugin that you need.  Working a real estate deal is much like this.  After going to all of these classes I now see who the whole system works and it is very elegant and complete.  It is mostly the same across the nation but each state has a few minor tweaks.

real estate agentSo I always resented the cost of real estate agents, heck that is one of the main reasons I want to be one, was to reduce them on my actions.  I have always used an agent for things I have done, even though there was a cost. Now that I am an agent I am glad I did, we have heard 100’s of stories of the pitfalls of real estate.  There are so many ways to mess up, and when you mess up it costs people money and if you are at fault they will make you pay.  The system is so complex, and there are so many rules that it is almost impossible to not mess something up if you don’t get expert help, and often even with expert help things go wrong.

On top of taking care of the system, and making it all smooth for you a Real Estate agent has access to the databases of listed houses. Of course they created this gated database just for this reason, that you need to come to them to access it.  Unless you are an expert, in the US today you really need an agent to make your transaction work without a headache.  This is the advantage that some investors have, and why they can consistently make money, there are too many people who still have problems, and there is a lot of opinions of what something is worth, it is not a totally efficient market.  A good agent can help you find the best deals, and stay away from the overpriced inventory.  There are many good deals to be had, and just as many overpriced duds on the market.

So next time you need to buy or sell a house make sure you use an agent.  And if you happen to live in Arizona give me a call, I will either help you myself or refer you to someone who can.

The Opportunity Fund

There is so much talk on the internet in the world of personal finance (PF) about having an Emergency Fund. I agree that an Emergency Fund is important; you want to make sure that you have enough cash to take care of a stolen laptop, or your AC going out in the middle of summer. There is a lot of focus on building this up quickly; most PF writers say that this is more important than paying down debt, which I also agree. 

But my opinion, another important thing to create is what I call an Opportunity Fund.  This is a fund of special money that you keep aside for in case a really good opportunity comes up.  Opportunities come up much more than Emergencies, so this is the fund that I focused on first. I felt that this fund was critical to future success so I used many of the tactics that people like Dave Ramsey suggest when you are building your Emergency Fund.  Such tactics include Selling Something, and cutting back on expenses, especially those recurring ones that most people don’t really notice, then finding extra income opportunities.

Most PF writers suggest ways with no investment to work hard and make extra income but with an opportunity fund helping out you can supercharge this and quickly pay down debt, build all of your funds up, and if you are doing really good you may even make a business out of your fund.

So I started building my fund about 5 years ago.  We looked for people who needed to sell items quickly, to pay their bills or because they were moving, I stuck with electronics and computers because I knew the market and knew I could flip the items quickly.  Most people who are selling things are not selling to get the most money, most people sell because they need quick money, or want the item gone.  Almost every week I buy a laptop from a parent who took it away from their disobedient child as punishment for something the child did.  Most of these parents have no urge to get the most for their money, they just want the item gone.

I only use the fund to buy things that I am fairly sure I can flip quickly.  I don’t want to deplete the fund so I make sure I can turn the items over and get my original money back along with a nice profit.  Time is money so the longer I think something will take to sell the lower % of my projected sales price I need to get.  My general goal is to double my money in 30 days.

I often buy things that are on huge sales.  I built up my fund the entire summer and early fall my first year because I knew I could take advantage of Black Friday, so when November hit I made sure I sold as much as I could and made this fund as large as I could, then I spent a few days looking over the ads, and I targeted the things that had the largest amount below normal prices.  Anyone can get things for cheap online, so I made sure that I was buying at a price low enough that even if I sold online I could make a large profit.  On black Friday most people look for things for their house, they buy and hold on to these items until they are worthless, so even if you buy at the lowest price you still lose money financially. So many people focus on the TV’s and such but the real money I have found is in the smaller items, the ones that there are no limits on.  My first black Friday doing this I focused on External Hard Drives, that were selling for 40% of normal price, bought a whole cart of them. I found wireless mice for less than 30% of retail price, got over 100 of them, found 32 GB USB Drives for just $9.95 each, still a good buy today, a few years later.  I also got laser printers for $39 each, 22” Monitors for $89 each and many other good buys that most of the people just did not see. (Quick Tip, I use the site ShopLocal to find the best sales on new items.) I then listed these items on craigslist for more than I paid, also called up people I knew and asked them if they wanted any of these, I offered to come over and set up the items and show them how to use it.  I spent $3000 that y

ear, and less than 30 days later I had the $3000 back into my Opportunity fund, AND I still had about half of the stuff left!  I now do this every year, it is crazy the good deals that these places put out on small items, most of these prices are less than the cost to make the item.

CAM00449

But the real, supercharged creation of money from my Opportunity fund came from used items.  I know a lot about computers, so I offered to buy peoples headache computers off of them.  I have focused on laptops, and I have purchased over 150 laptops each year for the last 5 years in a row from private sellers.  By the time 2011 came about I was doing this so much, and needed more room and space that I opened a computer store.  By that time I had built my fund up to over $10,000 along with $10,000 or so worth of computer parts.  So I used it all to move into a store.  I was able to get a very nice store on a shoestring budget, never stopping buying and selling.  I then quickly moved into buying and selling much larger amounts of items.  I depleted my fund to build the store but worked hard and smart to build it back up.  I was putting all of the profits into building out the store, and getting extra inventory, it took a year to finally have in stock all that I wanted to have, then I started building up the fund quickly, once I had enough I quickly became free of consumer debt, for the first time in my adult life. I bought a car for my wife, bought a work truck for the business, then a new SUV for myself.  I also have build up my opportunity fund again.

SanteFe

The Santa Fe, with my truck in the background.

When a good friend of mine came to me trying to sell some items he needed sold quickly to help him with a fine he needed to pay, I was there able to help.  When others needed to borrow money, I was there to help.  When a deal comes across for 300 monitors at crazy low prices I am able to jump on it. When a computer store goes out of business I have the funds to buy all their inventory for pennies on the dollar. When a banner making company wanted to sell their plotter I bought it, now I can make vinyl letters for people, expanding my business.  When a school auction went up I bought 50 chairs and 100 tables, sold 60 tables on craigslist and more than paid for it all, now I have the rest to use and help organize the store.

I am able now, with the combination of a nice Opportunity fund, a large moving truck, a warehouse, staff, and a store to move $15,000-20,000 worth of stuff per month, with only about 40% going into what we buy stuff for, and 30% going into overhead, the other 30% goes into build up the business, giving money away, helping people and saving up to buy our building.  And yes the business has an emergency fund equal to 3 months of expenses, and so does our household.  We have just meet these goals in the last few months, this will allow us to start to really do good things and help people out.

So I have said all of this to show you how thinking different, and building up a fund to take advantage of Opportunity is so important.  Do it in the area you know about, if you are an expert on cars, then buy and flip cars, if you know about guns, there is great money in that, if you know about antiques, I know people who made fortunes in that, real estate works also if you have enough money, if you don’t have enough you can always use other people’s money.  In 2010 and 2011 I did some large deals, and my Opportunity fund was not large enough, I was not shy at all about borrowing the money, doing the deal and paying back the money.   Doing this allows you to follow your passion, to earn money by doing something that you love to do, and of course you can do it as little or as much as you like.  I am sure 80% of the people who read this would never turn it into a business, most people just aren’t wired for that. But maybe you can use this fund to get out of debt, or buy that house you wanted, or even to build one massive Emergency fund, which you can always borrow from when a really good opportunity comes along.

 

The Big Box stores can’t seem to get seasonal right for Arizona.

The Big Box stores can’t seem to get seasonal right for Arizona.

Here in Phoenix we have much different weather than most of the rest of the nation, and every year this leads to tons of odd problems with seasonal items at stores.

214560_K_LA few weeks ago the pump on the swamp cooler for the warehouse of my store went out.  A swamp cooler is a large air blower that sucks air through large pads that are sprayed with water and forces the cool air into your building.  It only works when it is dry outside, and is really only useful when the temp is below 90 degrees or so.  So in Arizona the time of year that it is 75-90 as the high is March-April and again from Mid-September until early November.  We have very hard water here in Arizona so these things usually break about every 2 years; they only are $20 replace and are a 2 minute job so no big deal.

icon_home-depot-vs-lowes

The problem comes in finding them; very near my store is a Home Depot so I went there.  To my surprise they said that they are seasonal items and are only stocked from May until August.  They said that is when it is the right time of the year to use them in the rest of the country and that Home Depot does not sell enough to make them a major item.  My theory is that they don’t sell enough because they have the seasons for it wrong. I called up Lowes and they also said it is seasonal BUT they have a special exemption for Arizona and carry them in different seasons.  One company is smart one is dumb.  I guess I won’t even bother to shop at home depot anymore.


Home Depot is not the only one that has problems with regional seasonal planning.  Wal-Mart seems to also have major problems with this in their clothing section.  Right now it is mid-September here in Phoenix, and so far this month we have only had 3 days where the high was in the 90’s, the rest were all over 100 degrees, BUT Wal-Mart put all their shorts and summer clothes on clearance a month ago and they are sold out, while now half of the clothing section has sweaters, flannel long sleeve shirts and other things that are only worn here from late November until February. 
Maybe that is why Lowes stock grows twice as fast, they are smarter.

Most stores have a problem with this to some level; the solution to this problem would be to have a regional manager who is in charge of seasonal items for each abnormal region.  I often wonder if Wal-Mart sells sweaters in Miami or did they at least figure that out…

 

Free Credit Reporting Sites – Credit Sesame vs Credit Karma

Keeping a good credit score is important to business success. For years now there have been places where you can view your credit scores online, but all of them charged for this service, some gave away free trials but if you did not cancel in full ASAP you would be charged a huge fee, and they made it hard to cancel.  Sites had to charge because the data cost them money, so did building the site.

Check your score for freeAlso for the longest time credit card companies would pay sites who refer them business (ie. Applications) a small commission for doing so.  Finally someone got the bright idea to make a credit score site and is paid for, not by the users, but by the advertisers, the lending  companies who the site would suggest that people use.

Two such sites popped up.  One is Credit Karma, and the other is Credit Sesame.  Both sites offer scores for free, and limited credit information and both offer advice and suggested loans or cards you may receive based upon your credit score.

But Which One is BETTER?

I have signed up with both of these sites a while ago, and I have been using both for months now, both have their pros and cons.  Here is a breakdown of the differences.

Credit Karma vs Credit Sesame
Credit Karma Credit Sesame
Founded March 2008 September 2012
Score Source TransUnion Experian National
Equivalency Score
this is a score that is usually
10-15 points less than a normal FICO Score
Data Freshness Every 5 Days
I have noted that when they both update on the same day this is much more fresh
Once per month
Design Clean and fresh blue design fresh teal design with but much more pushy with the advertising and trying to upgrade you to full credit reports for extra money
Android App Very nice app with lots of info and is clean Not nearly as clean with much less data and more ads
Connections Allows you to get data from some of your credit cards directly to show on the site Does not do this.
History Feature Shows a list of all changes from last report and keeps track of it in a feed type log
they also show a graph of the last 12 months of scores and you can also see last 12 months of balance history of any card
Just a few months of your score only
Best Feature The See how you compare section Allows you to enter your financial goals and it will inform you when they find a product to fit that goal.
Worst Feature They use TransUnion which is not as correct and is more focuses on the east coast way of doing things You can't actually see who your debt is with
it is all just given names like Credit Card 1 and Auto Loan not the real names of the companies
the information is much more limited
Advice The Advice is mostly Q&A that is crowdsourced it has quite a few great questions with some really good answers
There are also 5 Calculators along with 61 articles about credit and a fairly active blog
The advice they offer is all products from their sponsors that may help you go more into debt

Conclusion

In summary I think that Credit Karma is a mature all around good tool, they offer a fairly good level of information and allow you to view each open account you have on your CBR in full with history graphs and sometimes it can link to your actual bank to get even more current data (This data does not reflect in your score).  The Advice section is robust.  There is a good focus on the amount of your available credit that you are using, which is one of the most important things you need to focus on Credit Sesame does not show this information at all.

Basically I feel that Credit Karma is a really good tool on many levels, something that can help you out. Credit Sesame on the other hand brings almost nothing to the table except more offers and a lot of advertising.  The only reason to use it is to check a different credit company to see if there are differences.

Why do you do what you do?

Today I have been thinking about WHY I run this business.  Most people spend so much time on how they are going to do things, and What they are going to do.    Today, I wrote this and printed it out and posted it on my office wall, “Focus on Why we do what we do, If you do it for the right reasons What you do and How you do it will fall in line and success will follow.”

When I moved my business to its much bigger location I have only a rough idea of what we would be doing.  I had a few basic ideas of areas where money could be made, because I was already making money in those areas and my old business made money in those areas, but I was open to doing something else.  It turns out that now my most profitable part of my business was something I never did at my old shop.  It now accounts for 60% of sales and over 80% of profits, that is recycling computer products.

Once you know the what the “HOW” is very simple and obvious.  But I am here to talk about the Why….why do I do what I do?  Why am I a business owner and don’t have a job, why do I choose to work with technology?  For me that “WHY?” comes down to a few key things that I believe.

First I loved technology, it is always amazing to find out what is new, and to be able to actually play with it, not just read about it.  By owning a computer store I get the ability to design and build things for clients, forcing me to become an expert many different tech issues.

Next, I must have adventure  I also have found that I don’t like to spend much time on things once I figure them out, and technology is ever changing, allowing me to always be engaged.  For example here are some things I have done in the last month, I took apart a top of the line new Asus ultra-thin laptop to see what was inside, it was amazing how it is more like a Cell phone than a laptop.  I have explored new database ideas for WordPress, and how to import from XLS files to make carts on something that was designed for blogs.  I have had time to play new games. I played a lot with running windows 8 on a big screen TV with wireless keyboard, touchpad.  And the list goes on and on.  Every day is a new adventure, always learning and always teaching.

Next I love to share my passion for tech with others.  Spending time showing someone the new gadget, or the next big thing in the tech world is something that I love.  I also love to help people, to give them tools to make their life and their business better, then I love to see them a few months later and how what I did really changed their life.

Next I love a good deal.  I love to find good deals, I love to share them and I love to give them to others.  It is so fun when I can do something for someone better than they thought it could be done and under the price they thought it could be done in.  The side effect of this is that we have never been highly profitable.  I am always giving people deals and slashing prices.  For me it is often more about the sale than the profit, I have sold many things well below cost to make someone happy.  Recently I have been forced to charge most people a bit more to cover costs.

Those are the reasons I am in the IT industry, but now I think “WHY?” did I do it on my own instead of working for someone else.  Well I really enjoy my freedom, I also highly value spending time with my Family and friends.  I love to be able to sleep in a bit, knowing my shop is taken care of, then spend some time with the kids while they are still kids, and then be able to take them and my wife to work with me.  It is nice to be able to take time off when I need it.  I also like it when people count on me, when I can show someone…”Yes I built that”.

I guess it all comes down to the fact that if you love what you do then it never seems like work.  Most of the time it does not feel like work, it feels like fun.  There are there rare times where I told a client Yes to something I should not have because it is something I don’t like to do or don’t want to learn, and in those cases I have found that subcontracting is a great idea.

So what is your “Why”?  If you are in business, why are you in business, why did you do what you do, and why do you do it the way that you do it.  If you have a job, then why do you work where you work, does it fit in with who you are?  If the main answer to your “WHY?” is money then you will likely never live a very happy or fulfilled life.  Now-a-days there is also a large part of our population that lives off the government, why do you feel entitled to do that?  If you served in the military, or if you are retired after 45 years of work I can see why you would feel that way, but many feel entitled who need neither of these.  Do you feel that you could have somewhere else to serve, to make this world better?

You should work to make the most of your short life here, and doing things with no reason why is one of the easiest ways to waste your life.  Here are some questions that really helped me focus on what is important…Why do you surf the internet so much, do you really need to read Facebook that many times per day, do you really need to watch that TV show, what will you get out of playing that video game.

Watch what you do and see if it lines up with your why.

A Special thanks goes to today’s episode of the Glenn Beck show for getting my thinking about this again.

 

The Hard Drive Bottleneck and how to make it better.

In todays computers everything has gotten so much faster, even hard drives are faster, but not as much as most other things.  SSD is a great solution if you have the money to spend on it and you are willing to deal with small sized prime drives.

I have been noticing recently that after a boot up my HDD is busy 100% of the time for up to an hour, this is a huge amount.  It is not really reading or writing data that much, just checking small things.   For my home computer the bottleneck is the Hard Drive BY FAR.  I only get a 5.9 HDD rating while all of my other stats are in the mid 7 range when I use the Windows Experience Index.

I know that the HDD is the bottleneck in my system and I do have 2 hard drives so first I moved the page file to the G drive.  Also made sure torrent folders were on the G drive.  This makes all of these commonly accessed files not detract from the drive that the OS is on.  Even with this booting up was super slow.  So I cleaned up the startup.  I usually do this once every few months but the problem was still there.   The best tool to clean up the start up is Autoruns, it gives you a list of the various programs and files that are loaded on startup, you uncheck them and they are gone instantly.  Very cool.  After getting rid of many things my system was still slow.  

Many companies like to pass the blame and make their program seem faster by loading their program when you turn on your computer, so when you want to use their program it is already loaded.  I don’t mind this IF I have enough RAM and IF they wait to load until your system is idle.  BUT almost no programs do that so they bog down your system and load tons of data that is not even currently needed.  What is worse is that they all do it at once, and your hard drive is bogged down at 100% for a long time.  I especially hate the programs that check for updates or ask to install updates at boot time.   When your computer takes 5 minutes to load people blame Microsoft, they don’t blame the real programs that are causing it.  A few year ago Microsoft tried to crack down on this activity but it did not take too long for companies to figure it out.    In my years of fixing computers some of the WORST programs that do this are: Any Adobe Product, Java Updater, Most HP software, Most Apple Products (Then Apple shows people how slow windows is).   Then there are other programs that you want to run some time near startup, you just need to watch them.  This includes: Printer Applications (For heavens sake if you get rid of the printer get rid of its software), Side Bar, Messenger Software.  These programs you would want to simply delay by a minute or two so that you are free to use your system sooner.  A good tool for this is LaunchLater.

So I loaded up another awesome free tool called Process Explorer, this tool lets you see what is going on with every program running on your computer.  I added columns for I/O Reads and I/O Writes, these are the ones that show you the number of actions that programs do on your hard drives.  After only having booted up the system 10 minutes before I was shocked that Steam had done 70,000 reads and over 270,000 writes.   This was about 60% of all the reads that my entire system did and about 80% of all of the writes.  It was not doing updates or anything, it just always did this I guess.  I told to not run on startup and then I fully exited the program, and instantly my system was fast again, rebooted and the speed was back.

I did notice that Google Chrome was also doing a lot of reads and writes but only after I loaded it.  The other program doing a lot of reads was Mesh, but this program is awesome and I will be writing a full blog on it in a few days.

If your computer is going slow then follow these steps.   This is the heart of the “Tune-up” that we do at Emerald Computers, we do these many times per week and charge $75 most of the time.  A Tune-up has a few other things in it also, I will save that for later.

Do you know any good Republicans who want to make a difference?

Step up and Run for Office!

Did you know that there are 16 Seats for the house and Senate that there is not even a Republican running for here in Arizona.  Out of 90 over 60 are already Republican and we could take a few more away if people ran.

The good news is that there is still time for some good people to step up and fill these spots.  All they need to do is fill out a simple form and they will be a write in candidate.  Once they hold the August primary election they will be the Republican Candidate because no one else is running.  Then they will be on the November ballot for the General Election.  All 16 of these seats are in areas that have more Democrats than Republicans, but this year the Democrat base is discouraged and the Republican base is energized and will vote to make sure Obama does not get back into the White House.  this will give a 10-15% boost to Republican Candidates.

If the area you live in is currently full it is too late to run, but PLEASE do step 1 2 and 5 below to become active in the party.

People Currently Running.

There are two openings for the house in each area and two for the senate. Go to the Sec of State Office website for full listing.  CLICK HERE   If you run, even if you don’t win you will have a chance to get your views out and to give Republican voters a real choice in the election.  It is so discouraging as a republican to go to the polls and not be able to vote on an important position.

Map of LD’s

You will need to know where you live to see if you, or someone you know lives in an area that has an open seat. These are the updated Maps.
CLICK HERE FOR MAPS (Look at LD Maps not CD ones)

 

Now lets get started…

  • Step 1 Register as Republican if not already, go to servicearizona.com to do it.
  • Step 2 Fill out this form to be a Precinct Committeeman. DOWNLOAD FORM HERE, Print, Notarize, then send to Maricopa County. This is ONLY the form for Maricop County.  This form is due on June 13th at 5PM.  You don’t NEED to be a PC but it is HIGHLY suggested.  After June 13th you can not be an elected PC anymore but you can be an appointed one.  To be appointed you must contact your LD Chairman.  An appointed PC does not get a vote at the meetings in January and can not be a State Committeeman, but is the same otherwise.
  • Step 3 Fill out this form for write in candidate. CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION  According to the Sec of State Website the deadline is July 19, 2012 to file, but I would suggest that you file ASAP.  You will also need to open a Campaign Committee to file your finance records, this is rather simple and is free, like everything else.
  • Step 4 Go to county recorder and file forms and create campaign, they will also give you a quick walk-through of what is needed to do everything correctly.
  • Step 5 Call the AZGOP office at 602-957-7770 and ask for the information about the leader of your district, they will give you their phone number if they have it.  Call this person and then ask about when and where they meet.  Also ask them for help in running.  They will let you speak during these meetings to get more help.
  • Step 6 Start Running for Office, decide on where you stand on all the issues, educate yourself, talk to people in your district, talk to other leaders, make a website (I can help you with that if you call me at 602-579-4919), make a press release to the media (The more local the more likely they will publish it)
  • Step 7 Raise Money.  You have two choices, either you can run “Traditional” which means that you can use your own money and family money in unlimited amounts and you can get donations up to $420 or so from Citizens to help you run.  You also can try for “Clean Elections” funds, if you choose this you need to get 200 different people to give you $5 each and fill out a form, once you do that you will receive about $13,000 or so State Government.  You can not use your own money or get donations over $5 per person.  In both cases you will need to track and document every penny that you spend.
  • Step 8 Win the Primary and keep running
  • Step 9 Win the General Election
  • Step 10 Take office and start making a difference, defending freedom and making our state better.

Good luck.  I already have one person who wants to run in LD19.  In case you were wondering in 2010 Don Shooter of Yuma followed this exact path to make is way to the state Senate, and now he is running for Re-Election.

If this page inspires you to run please call me at 602-579-4919 or add Jason Dragon on Facebook, I would like to know if this helps anyone.

Arizona Statute of Limitations on Credit Card Debt

Many people have been asking me recently about Credit Card debt and the statute of limitations on it.  This the the amount of time that a bank can used the legal system and sue a customer to collect a debt.  After this time they can only ask but not use the legal system.  It is a complex issue here in Arizona because for many years it has always been Three years but recently things have changed the Arizona State Legislature created a bill, HB2412 to make it 6 years.  It passed on April 11th 2011.  But this bill was so short and so poorly written that it caused a huge amount of lawsuits and problems for the People of Arizona.

This is why…  There is a Federal law that defines all credit cards as “Open Accounts”.

Open-ended Accounts: These are revolving lines of credit with varying balances. The best example is a credit card account. Please note: a credit card is ALWAYS an open account. This is established under the Truth-in-Lending Act:
TITLE 15 > CHAPTER 41 > SUBCHAPTER I > Part A > § 1602
§ 1602. Definitions and rules of construction(i) The term “open end credit plan” means a plan under which the creditor reasonably contemplates repeated transactions, which prescribes the terms of such transactions, and which provides for a finance charge which may be computed from time to time on the outstanding unpaid balance. A credit plan which is an open end credit plan within the meaning of the preceding sentence is an open end credit plan even if credit information is verified from time to time.

And there is STILL on the books this ARS which defines all Open accounts as having a 3 years Statute of Limitations.

ARS 12-543. Oral debt; stated or open account; relief on ground of fraud or mistake; three year limitation

There shall be commenced and prosecuted within three years after the cause of action accrues, and not afterward, the following actions:

1. For debt where the indebtedness is not evidenced by a contract in writing.

2. Upon stated or open accounts other than such mutual and current accounts as concern the trade of merchandise between merchant and merchant, their factors or agents, but no item of a stated or open account shall be barred so long as any item thereof has been incurred within three years immediately prior to the bringing of an action thereon.

3. For relief on the ground of fraud or mistake, which cause of action shall not be deemed to have accrued until the discovery by the aggrieved party of the facts constituting the fraud or mistake.

So if you take both of those together, it would seem that it is still 3 years.  But with the bill passed in April 2011 they only edited ARS 12-548 to read…

ARS 12-548. Contract in writing for debt; six year limitation; choice of law

A. An action for debt shall be commenced and prosecuted within six years after the cause of action accrues, and not afterward, if the indebtedness is evidenced by or founded on either of the following:

1. A contract in writing that is executed in this state.

2. A credit card as defined in section 13-2101, paragraph 3, subdivision (a).

B. If there is a conflict between another jurisdiction and this state relating to the statute of limitations for a debt action as described in subsection A of this section, this section applies.

So the ARS now has conflict within it.  There is also nothing in the bill to “Grandfather” credit card debt that was already out of SOL but now is back within it.  So these questions, as most do, found their way to court and the Judges have decided to lean in the favor of the banks for the most part.  So now people who have old debt are now being made to pay, which will result in more Arizona bankruptcies, and more money leaving our state.  It would have been really nice if the above bill made things crystal clear by REMOVING the part in 12-543 about open accounts, but they did not.

IMHO I think that the limit on Credit card debt should be 3 years because if the bank can’t get their act together in 3 full years people should be free from the worry of the unknown so they can move on a rebuild this economy.

So now people can’t move on, and people are getting aggressive collectors calling them.  And our legal system is filling up with cases that were previously long dead.   This is a great example of a simple rule change that has huge unintended consequences.

As I have been getting into the ARS more and more I have noticed so many conflicts within it where two different things are said in two different ways in two different areas but they both affect the same thing and make it confusing for citizens, and a mess in a legal system.  There is nothing that can be done to these messes with out an act of the Legislature.   It is probably too late in 2012 to do anything about this but there is always 2013.

 

Paypal security

As a business I have a credit card processing account, but if someone wants to process an order over the phone or internet I don’t use my account, I have them send it with PayPal.  I do this for many reasons.

First PayPal has built the most secure system for processing credit cards, if it is Fraud, usually the bad guy will give up once you mention PayPal so it saves a lot of time.  This has save me countless hours of dealing with scammers.

Next, I don’t want to be responsible for having the clients information, with PayPal they never need to tell me anything.

PayPal is the only safe way to take international credit cards.  With PayPal they will be much more fair about a charge back than a foreign bank will be with an American company.

Another reason that this is ok is because PayPal charges 2.9% and my normal company charges 2.8% so the cost is not much more, and well worth it.

There is a small downside to PayPal and that is that sometimes they will favor, unfairly to buyer if there is a dispute, but if you are a good company you should never have those anyway.

You likely have a PayPal account but if not you can CLICK HERE to make one and it will help support my blog also.