Buying A House In A “Bad” Housing Market


I read, watch, and listen to a lot of financial material and one question that comes up over and over again goes something like this:

Hi, we currently own a home and are looking to purchase a larger one for our growing family. Should we buy now or wait until the bad housing market is over?

When it comes to buying and selling homes, “bad” is a relative word. If you’re trying to sell your home and you’re underwater in your mortgage (owe more than the home is worth) then, yeah, it’s a bad market. But mortgage financing aside–if we’re strictly talking house prices–it’s very possible you have a good housing market and a great time to buy! Continue reading »

Marriage: Not The Government’s Business


News has been rampant lately when it comes to marriage–in particular the definition of marriage. At times these discussions and arguments have become violent and have raised anger levels amongst various social groups to dangerous levels. Some argue under the banner of morality and religion that the right to marry should be reserved for a man and a woman. Others argue under the banner of tolerance and equality that two people of the same gender should be able to marry one another. But what perpetuates the argument itself is government intervention.

While the arguments have almost wholly surrounded how the government should define marriage, I propose that the argument should instead be whether the government should be involved in defining marriage at all. What’s the purpose? What business does a government have in recognizing a sacred/emotional/spiritual commitment between citizens? Why must it determine who can officiate marriages? Why must its tax and social security laws distinguish between being married and not? Why is it involved at all? Continue reading »

Put Your Money Where Your PMI Is


For most first-time homeowners, private mortgage insurance (PMI) is a necessary evil. It really doesn’t do a thing for you except allow you to own a home without putting down 20% of the cost up-front. The insurance is actually for the lender in case you bail on them.

Being the frugal fella you are, you have spare cash each month and you need to decide what to do with it. You probably have several options: pay down the mortgage, pay down student loans, invest in a retirement account, pay off credit card debt (credit card debt? but you’re a frugal fella, right?), or put it under a mattress. Whether you’re earning interest or paying interest, these can still be compared to find the most qualified suitor for your cash. Let’s take a look at some numbers, however accurate they may be, for each of these sinkholes:

  • Pay down the mortgage: 5% (mortgage interest rate)
  • Pay down student loans: 4% (student loan interest rate)
  • Invest in a retirement account: 9% (rate of return)
  • Pay off credit card debt: 12% (credit card interest rate)
  • Put it under a mattress: 0% (rate of return)

Now, if you subscribe to the idea that you should put your extra cash in the one with the highest rate, this would lead you to believe you should pay down the credit card. Most people would stop there. Continue reading »

Spark ProgressBar


Here’s a Spark-based progress bar. This component provides the ability to set an “event source” like a URLLoader. When the event source dispatches progress events, the progress bar will automatically update. On the other hand, if you don’t need automatic updating from an event source and just want to set a min, max, and current value, you really don’t need this component. Instead, you can use the Range component that comes with the Flex SDK and skin it just like this one is skinned. Right click the app to view the source. Enjoy!

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IndexableList: Indexing For Faster Lookup


In my last post, Collections And Chaining For Separate Presentation, I mentioned a few data structures for holding a group of objects. These are great for their purpose but sometimes they can be enhanced for a particular project. In this post, I’ll show you a great way to maintain a custom index for a group of items for easy and efficient lookup. Continue reading »

Collections And Chaining For Separate Presentation


The purpose of this post is to describe the various collection data structures used in Flex and how they relate. Once we understand that, we’ll look at a problem I see commonly in Flex apps regarding separate collection presentations and how to fix it. Continue reading »

Cursor/Iterator for Vector and Array


Along with Flex came IViewCursor which provides a way to itererate through ICollectionView classes like ArrayCollection and XMLListCollection. Sometimes though we’re dealing with Vector or Array or are developing an ActionScript-only project. Here’s a cursor/iterator that will allow you to navigate a Vector or Array: Continue reading »

Studio J Online Scrapbooking


Scrapbooking just went from crafty women huddled around piles of paper shreds to online digital awesomeness. Not that crafty women or piles of paper shreds aren’t awesome. Nay. But for many, this translates into finding babysitters or a willing spouse; finding large blocks of time; purchasing a gajillion expensive scissors, stamps, buttons, papers, and ribbons; finding storage for such paraphernalia; and discovering craftiness from within. I mean, seriously, does this or this look fun to clean up? I’ll pass.

For the last year and a half at Rain I’ve been working on Studio J, Close To My Heart‘s flagship online scrapbooking application. It’s been quite a ride but the result is really quite revolutionary. Continue reading »

Pay-for-spray: Pre-existing Condition Redux


True story: A man lives in a county where residents must pay $75 at the beginning of each year if they want fire protection from a nearby city. The man’s house caught fire. The man never paid the $75, so the city didn’t save his house.

I couldn’t have designed a better case study for the polar ideals of American legislation if I tried! Don’t get me wrong–it sucks to have anyone’s house burn down, but I absolutely love this as a case study. Continue reading »

Shuffled Row Solver


I got my my wife a Kindle for her birthday. She loves it. But she loves beating my high score on the Shuffled Row game even more. So, I made the Shuffled Row Solver. Cheating, you say? Is it cheating to use a dish washer to wash dishes? I submit it’s not. I’m kidding, I’m kidding…of course it’s cheating but it was still fun to make and fun to see her face when she saw my “high score”. Yes, I told her about the app afterward and gave her full credit for continually beating my score. Continue reading »