Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Driving in the Middle Lane

Where is it written "Thou shalt drive in the middle lane"?  I get a little tired of driving on the highway and streets with slow cars in the middle lane (or worse yet, the left hand lane).  Many states, including the one I live in, have laws along the lines of "stay right except to pass."  My state even posts signs says such on the highway.

I've been tempted to mount a camera on my dash to record the gyrations that I have to go through to get through traffic.  Mind you, I don't have to be speeding to have this problem.  People are comfortable driving below the speed limit in every lane (at the same time).  Slow cars in the middle lane, slow cars in the left lane, so I wind up spending a lot of time in the right lane.  That is, until I find the 1 percent who is a slow car and knows to drive in the right lane.  Then I'm having to weave through the middle and left lane to get around that car.

I think that I've figured out why people tend to stay in the center lane.  They don't like the right lane as cars entering and exiting the road would use that one.  They then leave the left lane for passing.  This seems like a reasonable explanation if you ignore the ability of their car to change lanes to go around cars exiting or give room to a car entering the road.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reflections on Windows Mobile 7.5 Update

After waiting for about four weeks after receiving the update coming e-mail from Microsoft, my phone finally received the update.  I was on a trip when that happened, so I had to wait to get home in order to install it.  I've been using the update for just over a day and I have a couple observations.

First, it wasn't one update.  It turned out to be three.  I don't know yet what the updates included individually.  I'm sure that it's probably out there somewhere (a simple search didn't find it though).  Most applications seem to have been updated.

The mail tool now allows the linking of multiple inboxes, so that you can sync them all at the same time and see all e-mail from them together.  The process of linking them allows you to rename the new linked mailbox.  I use three e-mail addresses, so this is pretty convenient.  The new item is now the only one that you'll see in the program list.  If you want to see them individually, select options and folders, which will allow you to see that inbox alone.

Probably, the best non-functional change is that the programs are now indexed so that you can find them by their first letter.  The same search as is used by the Zune software, so it's intuitive.  I call it the best change because, it is a great idea for something that really didn't bother me previously (i.e. I didn't think of it).

Pictures can now be shuffled for the icon on the start page, which is nice.  Office documents can now be accessed through SkyDrive and there are some new templates included.  Phone numbers and e-mail addresses in these documents are still not recognized as such where tapping them would either invoke the phone or an e-mail.  (This was my plan in bypassing having to put all my contacts on

One item that seems a little unsettling though, is that my eBay application (which I rarely use) started beeping at me that things on my watchlist were expiring.  While that's a handy thing, I didn't turn that option on.  Can't really blame Microsoft for that, except that the tool started doing it after I installed the update, and it didn't do it previously.

As for the timing of the update, my spouse (same plan, same phone) received the update on her phone two and a half weeks before me.  The schedule is online.  Everyone that I talked to about the update already had it before me.  I'm sure I'm not the last, but I really was disappointed to have been notified of the upcoming update and then had to wait four weeks.

This update does improve the workability of the phone.  However, I'm still waiting for my contract to run out so that I can get a phone that can sync my calendar, contacts and e-mail between the phone and computer, not using an intermediary.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bernanke Issues Warning: Don't Buy My Book

Today's Wall St. Journal includes an article about the Fed. Chairman issuing a warning about the economy.  However, given his actions since taking over the Fed. in February, 2006, he should be warning people not to buy his book on Macroeconomics.  Basically, if you read this book, you'll find explanations for exactly why what he's been doing doesn't work.

I was studying Macroeconomics in business school in the first quarter of 2008.  During this time, he proposed stimulus checks as a way to encourage the economy.  I remember chatting with a fellow student about how his book explicitly discussed how this doesn't stimulate the economy.  We weren't quite sure why his book would strongly recommend against stimulus checks while he recommends doing it as Fed. chief.

The argument against is basically that people recognize that the government handing out money is actually a deferred tax, so they don't increase their spending.  This behavior was explained to be true regardless of the size of population that received the stimulus.  If a subset receives the stimulus, they may increase their spending, but the population not getting the stimulus decreases their spending.  In fact, the group receiving the stimulus has been found not to significantly increase their spending, so basically the net effect is to decrease consumption.  Governments frequently try this technique, so researchers have had plenty of data upon which to base their findings.

However, this particular item is not the only one where his actions disagree with his book.  The book lays out explanations of savings, investment, and the effects of increased government spending and taxation.  Long term answers to our economic problems are what we need and can be found in the book.  Granted the book I used in business school was the 6th edition published in 2008.  Maybe the new edition has changes which explain his actions as Fed. chief.