Monday, January 5, 2015

Monthly Budgeting: The 50,30,20 rule

It is 2015 and I am already reflecting on the past year and all of my holiday spending. I started looking into my spending habits given that I have a lot to purchase and plan for this year. It is stressful to measure my spending compared to other people given that everyone's life and income is different. So as a result, finding an answer to this can get complicated

I can't find the source for it, but I remember reading about how Winston Churchill would ask his generals for the full facts happening about WWII just so he can sleep at night. It is an example of how taking control and facing the reality of the issue can free the brain to focus on other tasks and be more productive.

A great rule that I found is the 50 30 20 rule. Simply, it is works as setting three buckets and splitting your income between them

50%: Needs
This money is set for everything that you can not live without. This includes Rent/Mortgage, Transportation, and bills. These are fixed costs that you are paying monthly.

20%: Long term
This is for either clearing debt or saving for retirement (401k or IRA). Savings for long term purchases (e.g. a house) can go here.

30% Lifestyle
This is for flexible spending items. This includes entertainment, restaurants, and all fun activities that you do on regular basis.

You don't have to follow the same percentages of course , but you need to be careful to not overstep a bucket as it can harm you in the long run.

The best thing about this budget is that it can
a) free you from the guilt of having fun. You will have no problems blowing your money on fun activities as long as you know that you are within the threshold that you set for yourself.
b) Better comparison to how others spend their money if that is your thing.
c)Finally, the ability to actually observe and save. If you notice that you are overspending on a media subscription that you are not using then you should think about canceling it.

Not sure why started with a WWII reference.. but I think we should all attack our problems as that is the only way to solve them.

Hope that helps.

(Not so bad) Resource:
Thursday, November 20, 2014

Filtering large text files with PowerShell

I found myself struggling to opening and reading large text files and looking for errors. So I made this powershell script:

Get-Content file-name.txt | select -First 5000 |  Foreach-Object{ If ( $_ -match 'ERROR'){$_}  }

Simply it does three things:
Get-Content file-name.txt  gets all of the content of the text file
select -First 5000  gets me the first 5000 lines (this is optional if you want to search all the data)
Foreach-Object{ If ( $_ -match 'ERROR'){$_}  } gets lines with the word 'ERROR' in them

The result is the lines you want. You can use regex for better word matching as well.

To export the result. you can add a "> mytxt.txt" to the line and you will end up with a text file at your directory.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Review - The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

A coworker of mine asked me for help on how to buy an audio book and how to listen to it as he is going on a road trip. I recommended the service Audible as it is easy to listen to audio books. The book that he was trying to listen to was Lean Start up by Eric Ries. I had the book on my to read list as I heard many great things about it. It was also a great timing as I just switched my career and joined a small start up with the goal of learning how to start a successful business.

The Lean Start-up focuses on building the features that existing customers want over building a product that no one wants. The process steps that he talks about share a lot with the Agile software process where the app is driven by constant feedback. Small failures are also considered to be a good thing and are encouraged . 

There are a lot of examples and stories told to support the points made on how the process can help companies. My favorite were the ones where the "lean thinking" was implemented in larger companies. Intuit creating process of the mobile Turbo Tax used all of the ideas that seems to be exclusive to a start-up in a big corporation. I have heard that the secret to Google's success was that it was made of start ups inside a corporation umbrella and it all make scene after reading this book.

While I love the concepts of the book, I felt like the audio version was not the best way to enjoy this book. The examples used kept going back to ones used earlier and it was hard to follow the book structure as all chapters felt to sound as they talked about the same thing (compared to Good to Great Audio book where each concept/chapter used it's own chapter). This is more of a study guide to follow than it is an easy to follow audio book. That being said, I found myself sitting in my car waiting for a good stopping point. The concepts discussed were so relevant and ear grabbing.

Book Summary that I enjoyed:
Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Charlotte Start Up Weekend 6: Return of the Jedi

Just a quick reflection about my experience in my second Charlotte Start Up Weekend (CSW6). You can find my last's year thoughts here: 

I highly recommend all event participants to take the time to look back and reflect on what they learned, What worked and what they can improve on. It is very helpful.

What is this?
This is the 6th Charlotte Start up weekend. It is an event where participants work over the weekend to create a business. The winner gets a prize package that helps them going further with the business.

But at it's core, it is a networking and hands-on learning event.

How did you prepare and what did you want out of the event?
I had a different strategy this year. Last year, I wanted to put my technical skills on the table. I built a web site and got it going.

This year, I had a different goal: Win the contest... cold truth. Everyone wanted the same thing.. yet it is somewhat selfish when I put it that way. But I want to build a start up and see what lessons I can learn. Winning the contest would give me the chance to do that.

My Pitch:
.. no pitch. A wasted opportunity? I spent my time scribbling down all of the pitched ideas. I wrote "red shirt" next to some pitches and had no idea who was who when they came back they day after wearing different colors.

What went well?
-Decision making. When the teams were announced, I had a "gut" feeling on who can win and who can not. There were a lot of good ideas this year and I wanted to work with three teams (two fitness and one about education). Two of the teams got first and second. 
-Focus. I observed what happened last year and knew what it takes to win. last year, We built a great product  and did not have any potential business. It was clear that we were not accomplishing anything and decided to talk about patents and ideas that could not be done in a weekend. 

What did not go well? (sorry if I offend anyone)
-I did not get to ask people about their pitches before the voting ended.
-My technical skill set was not used (three developers with three different technology stack on the same team).The guilt was very painful to me and I kept going around trying to find things to help out with.
-Did not force myself to meet as many people as I wanted. I need to print out some business cards with personal contact information (Twitter/FB/linkedin) on them.
-I was sick. I had a long work week and I did not eat as well as I should have.

For the future, What would do?
This answer really depends on what I can get out of YouCompleteMe and how it goes. Generally, I am going to stay around the team, learn the ins and out of a startup, and take what I learnt to whatever I am building next.

Who won? How did they win? Do you think X deserved to win instead?

Yeah I act like a cartoon charachter..but it is worth to quickly highlighting why I think YouCompleteMe Won:
-Working MVP (Minimal Viable product) up and running to handle the business concept.
-Experienced team (5 out of 9 members were at the last start up weekend).A strong diverse team that works together.
-Presentation that explained how our product is a business. Explain the revenue plan
-Explain why we need to win and how we would continue the business beyond the weekend.
-Great video that explained who would use the app.

Basically, We stuck to the formula. We (or I) read the blog by a CSW6 organizer and tried to hit all the points (seriously.. he knows what he is talking about)

Other teams are solving real problems and they all have potential to grow great business. The biggest reward here is the feedback and network you got. Please prove to everyone that you should have won. Your success will benefit everyone.

It is a great feeling to win. It validated our work and effort. Our team worked well together and we had a lot of fun. Time flew by very fast that we had to remind each other when lunch and dinners were served. I am really happy that this event exists and I really appreciate the work that the organizers put into this event.

Random points (future blogs maybe?):
-Many people are still leaving after an unsuccessful pitch. You are missing the point of the event and .. it is probably good that your idea was not selected. YES I SAID IT.
-You don't need a website if your business is not technical. Just set up a Google dorm doc and collect emails. 
-Being a developer in a start up weekend kinda sucks. Many of my friends from last year expressed the same opinion and decided that it is not worth coming back. It might be worth it for me to sign up as a "non-technical" to have a chance of pitching and contributing. because .. planning is fun.
-Do some research before you pitch your idea. Talk to others about it and see what they think. Also, does you idea exist already? (so you don't solve a solved problem).

ok enough writing. I need to work on other ideas. Go try out our app

*photo was taken from
*Twitter person who took the second picture I am so sorry I can't find your name

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Book review: I Will Teach You To Be Rich

I will teach you to be rich is a book about the fundamental needed for a person to start a good financial foundation.  It breaks down all of the intimidating investment, credit card, retirement funds, and banking accounts into plain English.

The author proposes a plan to start a 3-4 weeks to start building a good financial foundation.  

The chapters start with explaining the basics such as explaining Credit Cards, opening retirement accounts (401k and roth IRA). Those are the best chapters in my opinion as I had a foggy understanding on what to do and how those financial concepts work. The idea of the early chapters is to not worry about the details of which credit card or account to chose. Instead, It is better to start and get the the tasks done.

The later chapters are about investing and they go in depth into what to do with money. It also talks about how to save money for events like weddings and other spending. I did not think that those advises are strong and I saw some complaints on Amazon about how some of the ideas are wrong or outdated (e.g. bank loans changing, buying a car method does not apply to all dealers).

Overall, I think this is a fun read for beginners. I have been wanting to learn more about investing and money handling. This book worked pretty well as a beginner guide. I would recommend it to anyone who is too intimidated by all of the noise out there.
Friday, May 24, 2013

Getting Started with Chrome Developer Tools

I found a great site called Code School (all free for the 5/24 - 5/27 weekend) with a very well made hand on tutorials for different Web technologies. The Google Chrome Developer Tools  course was free. It was so interesting and engaging that I finished the full course in one day.

Here is a list of features that are included in the Chrome Developer Tools. If you do not have the time to take the course, I highly suggest skimming the features and go back to learn them if you needed the tools.

  • Gives you the ability to Drag and drop HTML Lines, Edit the HTML,
  • Look up the CSS items  and where they are inheriting the elements.
  • Ability to change to cursor dependent events (elements like onhover, infocus ..etc) to edit the CSS

  • Look up all the files used to create the site (CSS, JS, images) and highlight any missing ones
  • Local storage shows any saved JSON calls (I have yet to test this with forms, but Get and Post data should be shown here)

  • Shows the calls (Get and Post) made to show all of the files and when they started (server is limited to a number of files it can call in time. So it is a great idea to combine and minify files.
  • To use: Press the black circle at the bottom and it would start recording then Refresh the page.
  • Options to disable cashed items under settings (small gear on the bottom right)

  • A text editor. Access all of your (js) files and ability to edit.
  • Right click and click on Local modifications for the option to save your files or revert.

  • Record Behaviors (animation, drawing) to see how long they are taking to draw.
  • Memory monitoring to check for any memory leaks

  • Monitor the speed of the JS to help with finding parts of the codes that are slowing the page
  • Monitor CSS to find how long the JS is taking to select the elements (e.g. #elementName vs .elementClass)
  • Take a Heap shot to find any memory leaks of elements not collected.

Consoles allow you to type any Javas Script functions you have in your page and it would return the result.
Select elements to find them in your html by using  $(".className") or element
Lots of goodies that could be found on the google API support.

Chrome Developer tool is a must learn if you are doing any web development. I have to admit that one feature that I miss from IE dev tool is being able to use the cursor to highlight and click on an element on the web page.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Zoom in to Show Your Presentation Details

Ever seen a presentation where the presenter zoomed in to a part of the screen to show some hard to read details?

I always thought that it was a windows feature but I finally found it. This cool trick could be done with a product from Microsoft called ZoomIt.  It is hard to show an example of it, but  this is what my full screen looks like before and after zooming in.

I wish I knew about this before I used ctl + and - on my presentation. Enjoy!