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Cybernaut

Wesabe the best thing ever

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A few weeks ago I put together a list of time saving software, and referenced a financial tracking and planning website called Wesabe (www.wesabe.com). I lamented the fact that my current bank, which has the worst website of any bank in Canada, did not work properly with Wesabe’s interface, thus denying me the benefits of this most excellent online software.

I kept trying however, and managed to get about three of six accounts uploaded including the biggies — chequing, saving and credit card. No luck loading my mortgage, investment or RRSP accounts.

The Wesabe software wouldn’t work with my bank’s website intuitively, like it seems most other banks do, but that is not always an obstacle because Wesabe will record the actions you take accessing your account and replicate those actions to keep your accounts up to date.

So far it’s worked with my chequing account, but for some reason the credit card upload information works one day and then stops working the next. I blame my bank rather than Wesabe for this issue, but I’m hoping to resolve it soon.

I can tell you that when it’s working Wesabe is amazing. It keeps a record of every transaction on my bank account and credit card, then lets you assign a tag to each transaction to keep them organized for budgeting purposes. For example, for gas and car repairs I created a “Car” tag. The system is smart, and once you’ve tagged a few items it knows to automatically file all charges originating at our Husky station to the “Car” tag.

Once your account is updated, all you have to do is click on your tags to see how much you’ve spent so far this month and what your average has been for the past four months. All transactions falling under that tag are listed below so you can double check, and see just how you spent that much money.

On your spending page you can set spending limits for every tag item (e.g. $200 a month for restaurants), as well as a total spending limit for the month when you get a better idea of your budget.

All of this is just the tip of the iceberg for Wesabe. There is a Goals page, where you can write down your financial goals for the future and read tips from other Wesabe users that have the same or similar goals.

Security seems pretty good at first glance, and I’m encouraged that my bank — as bad as their website might be — has additional security in place if a hacker attempted to access my account from an unrecognized computer.

I used to go through all my transactions one by one and enter them into a spreadsheet after giving up on the version of Quicken that came with my Mac a long time ago. It was a long process, but necessary to know how much my wife and I are earning and spending every month. With Wesabe, what used to take me hours now takes about 10 minutes.

 

GTA IV worth the wait

Without question one of the most anticipated games of the year is the newest installment in the Grand Theft Auto series, GTA IV (www.rockstargames.com/IV/), which hit the shelves on April 29. It’s estimated that the title will sell about nine million copies in the first few weeks, which at $60 a pop translates to $540 million in sales — bigger than any movie box office we’ve seen in many years. That would also make it the best selling game of 2008.

The title is also closely followed by controversy as pundits forget that this is a game that is created and rated for adults. Of course many, many, many teens will probably get copies of the game somehow, but we can only assume that parents, if not completely ignorant at this point about what GTA is all about, are condoning the game as mostly harmless. Stealing cars made out of pixels and mowing down polygon pedestrians doesn’t translate to stealing actual cars and mowing down actual pedestrians.

Besides, while the games do glorify crime to a certain degree (though no more than movies or television), I love the GTA Games for their biting social commentary — they’re the ultimate dark comedies that amplify the very worst in our crass, money-hungry society, and from what I’ve seen this latest GTA edition is nothing short of awesome. The graphics are amazing, the missions are diverse, and there’s an unbelievable online component, and there’s even a new first person shooter view mode for the trickier battles.

I’m getting a copy. Hopefully Rogers Video can keep up with the early demand in Whistler.

 

Website of the Week

www.miniclip.com/games/bloxorz/en/ — I followed a random Digg.com link promising the best strategy game ever, and damned if it didn’t deliver. I started getting stuck on Stage 6, sweated through to Stage 11, and there are 36 stages to get through.

The game also tracks the number of moves it takes you to solve all the puzzles, forcing you to really sit and think if you want to lower your overall score.

Don’t forget to write down the codes for each level. I forgot, and I’m not looking forward to repeating levels eight to 11.

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