Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Intoxication & Awareness of your filter bubble.

Here is an interesting TED talk forward to me by my friend Sean Clark.    I'll admit it.  I get stuck in my filter bubble at times.  It's fun. It's safe. It's easy.    But if your'e stuck in a filter bubble, don't blame the tech industry.  Be aware there are potential filter bubbles all around us and they only are going to get more severe as the advertising and publishing industry tailors their strategies to be customized to the individual.  

Turn off your filters to show you all the data.  Go out of your way to find new information sources.   Try a different search engine or change your settings.  If you really care about people dying in Africa you are the one that needs to shut off Facebook and read something meaningful. This is not a technical problem, it is a cultural problem.

It is your job to control your time.  Enjoy the intoxication of your bubble, but be aware when your'e in it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

International shopping: Are you giving money to the 1%? Be smart & keep 2.6%

Image via Images_of_Money on Flicr
I was buying some parts for the office today from Italy in Euros.  Paypal's default option is to take the money from your paypal balance and charge you their default commission rate of 0.768327 euros per dollar.  The Wall Street Journal's Rate today is .7888 or 2.6% more favorable for me.   Who gets this 2.6% juice?  Paypal.

My business visa  charges a 3% currency conversion fee and they couldn't tell me what the exchange rates are based off of so this wasn't a good option.

My Personal Amex charges a 1% currency conversion fee and I get 1% cash back making that fee a wash.  My personal Amex's exchange rate is based on the numbers published in the Wall Street Journal.  I'm sure there are also cards out there that have 0% international currency conversion fees.

By using the right mix of financial tools I was able to save 2.6% on my international buying.   Ultimately the merchants who take credit cards get screwed with all this stuff, but until something changes and we have some disruptive technology from startups like dwolla.com, hold on to your wallet.