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Archive for September 2007

GrandCentral - One Free Phone Number For Life

Published 9/30/07  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

I think Google's GrandCentral slogan should be straight out of the Lord of the Rings - One Number to rule them all, One Number to find them, One Number to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. Well I guess everything except for the darkness part. :)

If you've been trying to find a way to organize multiple phone numbers or just want an extra free number from a particular area code, then you might want to take a look at what GrandCentral has to offer. When you sign up for a free GrandCentral account, you are provided a free custom phone number that is not tied to a particular cell phone plan or location. The idea is that you use this one phone number as your primary phone number even when you switch jobs or move.

When someone calls you on the number you created through GrandCentral, the incoming call is routed to any one of your phones. The call can even be set to go directly to voicemail, where messages are saved for as long as you want.

Use It As a Separate Business Number

I'm currently running a home business and I use my GrandCentral phone number as my business line. For my purposes it's a lot easier and more cost efficient than buying another phone or paying for an expanded phone plan. Business calls are sent to my GrandCentral number but it can still ring my regular cell phone. The caller ID setting will let me know

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NetBank Shuts Down But Customers Are Protected By FDIC

Published 9/29/07  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Well yesterday, NetBank greeted its online customers with a jaw dropping notice on its websiteannouncing that the federal government had shut it down because the bank had finally collapsed due to the weight of significant losses from loan defaults. With that, NetBank became the latest victim to keel over due to the subprime mess, with too many subprime credit borrowers defaulting on their mortgage loans.

When I read the news my heart stopped its beat for a second as I realized that I owned a NetBank account. I had written a previous entry about how I had opened a NetBank checking and savings account with a few small initial deposits to take advantage of the bank's reward promotion. But then I remembered a few more facts. First, I had already fulfilled the terms of the promotion and had already transferred my funds out of my NetBank account, thus leaving the account with zero funds. Secondly, even if NetBank went out of business, all of its deposits were federally insured up to $100,000 for each customer. Either way, I had nothing to worry about. Whew! :)

Even When Banks Like NetBank Go Out of Business Your Money Is Protected and Safe

Unless you have more than $100,000 combined deposited, your funds are safe even if the deposit bank shuts down. U.S. Banks like NetBank are federally insured by the U.S. Government run Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which currently guarantees checking, saving, and certificate of deposit accounts in member banks up to $100,000

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Password and Security Concerns Regarding Usage of Yodlee

Published 9/28/07  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Yodlee is a terrific online account consolidator and aggregator tool. But whenever I try to explain to some people the many benefits of using a service like Yodlee to aggregate their bank, credit card, and reward account information into one easy to access source, I encounter the skeptics. The skeptics are quite the interesting techno-phobic bunch. They generally fear losing control of their accounts and fear putting all of their account login and password information into one basket. The skeptics fear account aggregation technology because they worry that it will somehow make their lives more complicated and they worry that it will allow hackers and identity thieves easier access to their private accounts. Well I'm here to put those worries to rest. Account aggregation tools like Yodlee will make your life much easier and will help to make your other accounts more secure.

How Does Yodlee Keep My Account Information Secure?

Yodlee has indicated that their service operates under a very secure network infrastructure that combines sophisticated intrusion detection methods with firewall and physical protections. Yodlee has partnered with many large and established companies such as Citibank, Fidelity, Bank of America, and Wachovia. I think we can be assured that Yodlee has passed the initial basic credibility test of ensuring customer privacy and confidential information.

However, although Yodlee will do its part to ensure that your account login and password information is completely secure, it is your own duty to make certain that you keep your master Yodlee login and password information in a secure location and

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Yodlee Account Aggregation and Fidelity Full View

Published 9/27/07  (Modified 3/9/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Over the years, I've accumulated an assortment of bank accounts and investment brokerages that store my money, and a wide array of credit cards that handle my transactions. I also have this money saving habit of signing up for every frequent flyer, hotel, and shopping reward portal options available to me. With so many accounts, I found it cumbersome and difficult to keep track of all of my account login and password variations.

Thankfully, someone had the ingenuity and brilliance to create a tool to manage this mess. To organizing my finances and accounts, my preferred tool is Yodlee (very cool name). It's a popular online account aggregation tool that allows users to combine all of their bank, investment, loans, bills, and even reward accounts in one place. You give them all of your logins and passwords to your financial accounts, and it logs into all the sites for you. It lists all of your assets and liabilities, and computes your net worth. In the end you have a real-time view of all your balances and recent transactions, all neatly on one page. Yodlee offers its aggregation service through its own website, but I found their original version to be rather ugly and disorganized. Ironically, you're better off using a Yodlee powered version through another company.

Fidelity Investment Full View

You can access Yodlee's technology through its clients and partners. I currently receive my Yodlee powered account aggregation service through Fidelity Investments' Full View and I find

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Halo 3 - Is the Video Game Industry Getting Bigger Than the Movie Industry?

Published 9/26/07  (Modified 3/9/11)

Halo 3 - Is the Video Game Industry Getting Bigger Than the Movie Industry? By MoneyBlueBook

Microsoft released Halo 3 - its highly anticipated Xbox 360 video game on Tuesday to much hype and acclaim. In case you didn't know, some enthusiasts have called it the biggest day in entertainment history. I think the only other game that could possibly top Halo 3 in the future is Blizzard Entertainment's upcoming Starcraft 2, but that's a story for another day. The Halo series have been very fun to play, and many people are going to be forking over their money to buy this must-have game. Although I used to be a big computer gamer and still enjoy the occasional video or computer game, today I prefer to just read about it and follow the industry spectacle.

Blockbuster Games are Big Money

According tomedia reports, when Halo 3 comes out Tuesday, the video game is expected to pull in more than $150 million in sales in the first 24 hours, outshining the $151 million that the Spiderman 3 movie did during its entire three day opening weekend in May.

What does this all mean? It means that the video game industry has finally flexed its muscle and shown that it's a force to be reckoned with. Popular blockbuster video games have become extremely profitable, with profit margins up to 90% compared to 40% or so for big time successful movies. Highly anticipated games can now easily outsell at retail what movies rake in at the box office.

Video Games Trumping the Movie Industry?

This made me wonder. Has the video game industry finally exceeded

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The 3,000 Mile Myth of Oil Changes

Published 9/25/07  (Modified 6/24/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

What do you think about this statement - true or false? To prolong the life of your vehicle, experts recommend that you change your vehicle's engine oil every 3000 miles.

The answer? False! Modern engines today are much more advanced and don't require oil changes every 3000 miles, and research has shown that frequent oil changes have no appreciable benefits. The only experts that push for this are those from the oil industry.

The 3,000 Mile Myth

The long handed down concept of the 3000 miles oil change was the brain child of Jiffy Lube and propagated by oil industry officials. While it's not exactly a scam per-se, it's quite a lucrative myth for the engine oil maintenance industry. The average American drives 12,000 miles in a year, and with an oil change every 3,000 miles costing in excess of $25 each, that's $100 annually for each customer. Every visit to the auto mechanic or oil change facility gives them yet another opportunity to push for other pricey maintenance services such as air filter replacement and transmission flush.

Although oil companies and quick engine lube shops like to promote this idea, it's usually not necessary. Instead, drivers should consult their vehicle owner's manual oil change schedule for more credible guidance. Most vehicles driven under normal conditions can reliably go 7,500 miles or more between oil changes. Some models now even come with monitoring systems that alert the driver when the oil needs changing. Depending on driving conditions, they can help extend oil change intervals further - to 10,000 or

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