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401k and Personal Finance

GCP Cloud Storage and PCF

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Tried two two tutorials on my personal GCP.

hello world


cloud storage (upload a file, then return a public url for download; another download link)

I may delete those bucket and files later on, as hosting costs money (app engine, cloud storage). Update: I disabled the app (here is one article talking about disable / delete app engine app). In simple term: I go to project, app engine, go to settings, click disable. Btw, I noticed all 73 cents charges for about 20 hours is from app engine.

From GCP Console Dashboard, I saw Resource

App Engine
2 versions
Storage
4 buckets

GCP Service Broker

For PCF, the approach above did not work (got an error on line 61 on the example above). I followed the steps for GCP service broker and pushed it to our pcf.

Virus Scan

Automating malware scanning for documents uploaded to Cloud Storage

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401k and Personal Finance

Weekend thoughts: Zoom and Math

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For most Americans, Zoom meeting probably becomes the hottest potato in last few weeks, as we saw the pandemic situation got worse: New York, New Orleans, Detroit, Dallas, and so on. I started to using Zoom about a year ago when I started my new job, and the product experience was good. Note I have used many meeting software in the past, from Webex, Skype, GoToMeeting to google hangout, Slack, Microsoft Teams. Before Zoom GoToMeeting was my favorite. Skype probably is the worst. This is not a scientific comparison, mostly my gut feeling. Zoom is pretty standard in technology companies as well, even for interviewing (no more airplane ride, and uber ride, and hotel stay). Couple more points on Zoom. Zoom is not perfect in terms of security and privacy. And yours truly owns a few shares of Zoom. Last but not least, I do like Zoom’s founder, Eric S. Yuan (wiki English; wiki Chinese). It looks like he came to the US the same year I came. He is very much grounded person, even though is a billionaire now. I think he came from a humble background in China, which is common in China in those days (he was born in 1970, one year earlier than me).

But my point here is while Zoom is important, we should not equivalent zoom = learning or communicating or working. For that I am very much appreciative of this tweet by @DHH.

A more important task, in nowadays’ always-on culture, is the basics: reading, writing, thinking and so on. Otherwise we will end like this. Everyone makes mistakes, my point is not that Brian Williams makes stupid math mistakes. It’s more the issue two people talking about the talking points without realizing that their math is totally wrong. This is more issue in the America right now: the guy or the girl who have the microphone (in some sort of public facing position) usually don’t know what they are talking about. If in doubt, just look at the white house.

Last but not least, here is a stimulus check calculator developed by OmniCalculator.

Stimulus Check Calculator

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401k and Personal Finance

Financial crisis and wall streets movies

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Hank: about Hank Paulson, available at Netflix

Too Big To Fail: on Amazon Prime

I am only curious about Wall Street and movies by Michael Lewis

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401k and Personal Finance

Technology, distance learning and my meltdown

Reading Time: < 1 minuteI was thinking about this as we are at least expecting one month of distance learning for our two kids (K and 4th grade) due to the lockdown of Coronavirus pandemic. Ladue School use google suite and I think they may use google classroom for some or most teacher / students interactions. I was thinking about Zoom as Zoom recently announced free usage K-12 due to the pandemic. Many tech companies have similar initiatives. Not sure how my two kids will handle this. They are not super confident or outspoken in the class: I was hoping they could be a bit more confident (or a lot more) and be a bit more assertive.

This remind me one thing when I was already graduating from middle school. I called my classmate, at that time it’s not the direct phone, it’s like operator assisted phone. The classmate came online, and I did not know what to say (I was shy at the time too), and just freaked out in the end. I don’t think I would freak out in person. So there is my 2 cents on the distance or online learning. It may create some challenges to students who may not be comfortable with microphone or public speaking. For myself, I tried to improve myself on this aspect, I made some progress: and it was still working in progress. 🙂

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401k and Personal Finance

I love Italy

Reading Time: < 1 minuteThe news coming from Italy is heartbreaking: Italy lost nearly 800 people in one day due to Coronavirus. Overall Italy lost more people than the epicenter of outbreak in China’s Hubei province (Wuhan is the capital city of Hubei, with 11 millions people). I think Italy has a population comparable to Hubei’s. In my high school years, a while ago, I watched quite a bit Italian soccer league, from Maradona to other Italian and International players. Milan has two teams: AC and Inter. And I know a little about Italy from the world history class. They are some explanations of the higher death rate in Italy. I hope things can get better from here. Besides the difference in terms of social distancing and lock down, Wuhan / Hubei did have one advantage that Italy does not have: that is China poured help from many other provinces: in total there were more than 40,000 doctors and nurses coming from all over China to help, that was about 10% of the relevant healthcare resources in China. Here is an article talking about the people in Wuhan sending off the medic teams leaving Wuhan when the mission is completed.  This kind of arrangement is difficult to accomplish in Italy, if not all possible. But note China did send some help in terms of advisors (doctors) and medical supplies to Italy, Iran, Spain and other countries (Serbia, Czech), also neighboring Asian countries too.

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401k and Personal Finance

Working from home amid pandemic and financial crisis

Reading Time: 2 minutesI have my first experience of working from home amid financial crisis in Nov 2008. I started a new job with Autodesk consulting division at the time, after working for my previous employer for 8+ years. My intention is to get more customer engagement experience, and also if I stayed, I would probably stay for a year or more to go through the financial crisis. So I decided to jump ship.

It was not smooth experience. I probably would not do it if I have to do it again. Couple reasons: 1) I was not familiar with the software I was supporting or consulting with, it’s a new language and new application for me; 2) I was new to working from home. Before that I did some working from home due to doctor appointment, or as integrator doing after hours work, or doing development work on thanksgiving when I am bored (I was single then). I also worked from remote office (Shanghai) for 6 months: I social with my Chinese colleagues there though. Some of the bad memory I had: I wear panamas all day, the work never stops really, from morning say 9 am until 10 pm, because the laptop was always on. There is no colleague to ask for ideas or chitchat, or have an intelligent discussion.

Financial crisis is another source of uncertainty, as the economy is basically in decline or flat for a while. Job security, project renewal etc. I think of things I can control, and things I cannot (this is something I learned from Arch Coal, esp. from David the CIO later on). I have a bit more control on my work, but absolutely no control on the market or economy. I have some control on the project, or best practice or process. At that time my sweet point is actually work from Panera bread, Borders (the book store, not gone), Barnes Noble and Starbucks (not my favorite because it’s a bit crowded). I recall seeing Frank Cusumano couple times at the Borders (maybe Bread Co too).

So slowly I gained some confidence this way, by playing my strength: developer mentality, analytical, source code version control (even for the automation design we were doing). I still switched to a regular office developer job in Feb 2010. But I think I learned some valuable WFH or remote lessons in my 15 months at Autodesk $ADSK

Also read work from home friendly companies.

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401k and Personal Finance

Market, corona virus, panic

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The US stock market started to feel the heat of corona virus in recent weeks. This week is the worst in term of the percentage loss (8%) and the fear of the market.

Along the same lines, so much fear among the ordinary people due to the news such as Tom Hanks got infected, NBA / NCAA games cancelled, Italy was getting into situation like Wuhan (healthcare system was overwhelmed), and the quarantine / shutdown of the whole country. I can feel the fear of the market as my friends talked much more about the market on wechat.

Last time things were like this, in terms of both the percentage drop (and the speed of the drop), CNBC running extra evening shows, and friends got excited and discussing stocks nonstop (at mitbbs, trader1688, gutone etc websites, no wechat app yet). Then comes the craziness of the stocking things from grocery store or drug stores, from hand sanitizer to toilet paper, from food to drinks. I do understand the situation in Italy and other countries. I also understand the “under-test” of US sick population. It’s improving as time goes, just as the WH made announcement this afternoon. As to the “buying craziness”, I still think it’s unnecessary. When this thing first started in Wuhan, China, friends here asked about buying face masks. I did not listen. I may still a few left in my year 2017 trip. But I am not overly worried. I am cautious though: try to stay away from the crowds, including office. I think we will likely to overcome this.

While for me compared to 2008/9 financial crisis, I am both older and have 2 young kids, I am not overly scared. I do have some savings and lift insurance. I will try my best to keep myself from getting sick. Short term it will be horrible for many people who have less meanings. We should try to help if / when we can.

Last but not least, I maintained a wiki page for the corona virus at github. You may also note I made some changes to this wordpress website recently. Started about a year ago to upgrade the WP to 5.0 (manual) to the upgrade a day ago. I am still trying to figure out things as I made changes, for example, I found out the comments not longer show: I likely did intentionally a while ago to battle the spams, but I could not put it back as the stlplace.com/uudaddy has. Also note uudaddy.com is moved under stlplace.com/uudaddy (site consolidation, I don’t want to pay $18 for the uudaddy.com domain name). I had the domain in 2010 when my first daughter is born, and I think going forward I am ok with the stlplace.com only. A lot has changed since I have the stlplace.com domain, with the virus I think longer term we will use more internet, web, devices and virtual learn / interaction instead of physical. This is a bit unfortunate, but we live in ab “adapt, or die” world.

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401k and Personal Finance

Personal finance quiz

Reading Time: < 1 minuteSaw some good personal finance quiz recently.

70 percent of Americans can’t answer these 3 basic money questions

Pop Quiz: Test Your Knowledge of Personal Finance

Rutgers personal health and finance quiz

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401k and Personal Finance

Change of job: what to do with the savings in the 401k plan

Reading Time: 2 minutes(Update 17-Apr-2019) I recently changed job again and also did some adjustments on old 401k, after leaving much of them alone since 2009. I did moved some money from small 401k to an IRA account (those employers asked me to move the money out). I made some mistakes during the IRA investing, and was reluctant to move the money if an employer would let me leave the money there. But recently I found out this “overly passive approach” is not helping me for long run.

(Original 01-Jul-2017) I talked a bit on this topic in the past (see a post here). The one thing I may add is: I didn’t do very well in most the IRA (self management, mostly buy / sell stocks in the small scottrade IRA account). The value mostly bounced back since I bought the Huntsman (NYSE:HUN) in last couple years, but I lost quite a bit trading the coal stocks (and Palm stock) back in those days. So I decided to put money into Vanguard funds (and IRA account) in 2014 when the old 401 plan asked me to move my money (I worked on a contractor job in part of 2013, for 7 months).

Today I received a letter from my old employer Arch Coal, the director of benefits about change of the asset manager for the 401k plan. Note Arch Coal went through a bankruptcy in last few years, also note bankruptcy alone has no effect on employee’s 401k plan (the money is separate). But I did compare arch coal’s 401k plan performance vs the Mercy plan (managed by Fidelity, the No. 1 or 2 asset manager), and Arch’s performance is not as good. So this is something I will think about: 1) roll it over to my current employer; 2) roll it over to Vanguard; 3) leave it as is (the new manager is transamerica).

I have not decided it yet. Still thinking…

Categories
401k and Personal Finance Software development Technology

Contractor or employee ?

Reading Time: 2 minutesA common question for software developer is to be an employee (full time, perm) or be an contractor (W-2, or 1099). Strictly speaking the 1099 is more like a small business, and I have not done it personally. I heard some experienced people did the 1099; I will share if I have that exp. down the road.

I spent most of my career so far being an employee (8 years for Siemens PLM/UGS was the longest); I also spent some time being an contractor (total 3 places, about 28 months). Each option has pros and cons. A few things I learned from my own exp.

1) People have all kinds of expectations for contractors, usually the higher pay, the higher the expectation. For employee, they are a bit more patient.

2) Contract to hire. I found this is usually promised or at least suggested at the beginning, as personally I still prefer to be employee long time. But in two cases, I found they were not the case. All types things happen at client, but in one case looking back I felt the client may never had intention to convert. So this is something to keep in mind as for some people the longevity/conversion is important factor.