= fail

250px-MintcomThis blog post was to be about converting to I’m instead sticking with Microsoft Money.’s philosophy, and biggest failure, is low effort. They want a low effort user experience, but they have a low effort technical staff: instead of finding simplified ways of doing complex tasks, they just leave them out!

For example, recurring transactions. Microsoft Money has a “bills” feature that tracks and auto-enters my recurring transactions–paychecks, investments, mortgage payment, church donation, utility bills, etc.

Sure, this is “complicated” because I must manually schedule these transactions. But it removes complexity because they are pre-entered before my monthly bill-paying session. doesn’t have a hint of this. It even lacks logic to suggest recurring transactions–that could have allowed them to simplify an otherwise complex feature.

Another is manual transactions. is reactive: it only has what it downloads from financial service providers. You can’t enter transactions.

That’s a disaster for my checking account. I have no record of a check until it’s deposited!

How do you track outstanding checks, including ones that have sat undeposited for months or weeks? How do you know your true available balance? Currently, it must be some other log that you must constantly monitor and update. No way, that’s terribly error-prone!

Thanks to Microsoft Money, I don’t bounce checks!, on the other hand, requires a gigantic cash pad, loins girded for overdraft fees, or tricky accounting using other programs. is a fail. Its slick user interface redeems it from epic fail. But behind the user interface is a painfully simplistic system. I can appreciate the complexity of the infrastructure needed to support this system, but I cringe at how little it really does for its users.

Above, I wrote I am using Microsoft Money “for now.” I don’t know where I’m going. Quicken suffers from a kludgy user interface and Intuit’s anti-consumer business practices. Plus it can’t convert my Money data yet.

Rumor has it that Quicken 2010 will have better Microsoft Money import capabilities. I’m still with Microsoft Money for a few more months.

Texas GOP’s extreme social stances are a losing strategy

The Texas GOP’s extreme social stances are a losing strategy for two reasons.

1: They are paradoxically liberal. If we fully legislated the Texas GOP platform’s social stances, we would make the government the moral compass, usurping the proper role of the church and individual wisdom. (It’s as if we want to reverse the Protestant Reformation, but that’s an issue for another blog post!)

2: They turn away mainstream conservatives and moderates. This is proven by two polls:

First is a recent Gallup Poll. It finds that conservatives are the largest single voting bloc. But they are neither a majority nor “very conservative”:


Second is a Pew survey, interpreted by Texas Monthly editor Paul Burka to show that the Republican party “hemorrhaging” voters. Indeed, party affiliation is:

  • 36% independent
  • 35% Democrat
  • 23% Republican

If the Republican Party was the mainstream conservative party, it would have more affiliates than Democrats.

But no: the Republican party is hemorrhaging voters because of its extreme social stances. Per the Pew survey: “[independents] more closely parallel the views of Democrats … on the most divisive core beliefs on social values, religion and national security.”

Juxtaposing these surveys, an inescapable conclusion: Extreme conservatism, especially extreme social conservatism, is a losing strategy.

Any winning strategy for Republican domination must not alienate moderates; we can’t win without them.