Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Apple Macbook Pro: 3 failures in < 4 months of ownership

I got a 2016 Macbook Pro non-Touch Bar back in January of 2016.  I have now had 3 failures in less than 4 months of ownership.
  • RAM failure which caused the machine to constantly shutdown.  System board replaced.
  • 'x' key stopped working.  Key fixed.
  • Scrolling intermittently stops working on the touchpad.  Currently in for repair.
Each repair results in about 5 days of lost service--make an appointment at the store, take it in, have it shipped for repair, and have it shipped back--not to mention the inconvenience of needing to perform a backup, and erasing sensitive data before taking the machine in.

The cost of each repair without warranty would be a whopping $475.  Fortunately the machine is still under warranty.

And I really don't like having to give out my machine's password which can be viewed in the clear by Apple employees.  They need to figure out a better way to service machines that does not involve the user giving out their password.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Life at Bishop's boarding school

I decided to write several posts about my experience attend boarding school at The Bishop's School in Pune, India from 1978 to 1986.  I have a bunch of memories bubbling up -- everything from the dormitories, the food, the schedule, activities, etc. and I thought I'd just put them down in writing.  With the passage of time, the school is a very different place today.

I'll be writing these in pieces and this is a tentative organization and I might change it moving forward.
  • Introduction
  • Dormitories
  • Uniform
  • Food
  • Classes
  • Activities
I expect this to be a very long post and will be updating slowly over time.


The school was founded in 1864.  At the time I attended the school, there were roughly 1500 students of which 250 were boarders.  The school went from kindergarten (KG) all the way to 10th standard (which would be the equivalent of the sophomore year of high school in the US).  There were boarder students for all classes/grades from KG to 10th, ages ranged from 4 to 17.  Some students didn't have accurate birth data at the time of joining, so sometimes we'd have students listed as being a lot older than they actually were.

The campus was fairly large and distributed over a few acres.  There were two offshoots--Framgee dormitory which was about 5-10 min walk away, and Jeejeebhoy dormitory which was across the street from the main campus.  There was a stone wall, probably 6' or so in height, around the perimeter of the school with multiple gates.  The main gate opened to an area where the office building was located, out of which the principal and other administrative staff worked.  Next to that was the Harding Hall (and extension to which house 2 of the classrooms for class 9), a building where the morning assembly and other events such as plays were held.  Other buildings included: principal's bungalow with the adjacent garden, the dining hall, Cambridge dormitory building (which housed the chemistry lab and the Tuck Shop),  the library building (which also had classrooms for class 10),  Jubilee dormitory building (which also housed the infirmary), a separate second infirmary building, Nook dormitory, the primary school building (which housed the New Dorm and all classes for KG through class 4), Lunn Building (which housed Lunn dormitory and all classes 5, 6, 7, 8), the Stationery Shop building (which housed the 3rd classroom for class 9), the New New dormitory building, the servant quarters, the kitchen, the staff common room, and some staff quarters next to dining hall and the Stationery Shop building.  Many of the buildings were old, built in British style architecture.

There was no air-conditioning, heating, or fans, in any of the buildings.  This was not atypical Pune had a relatively mild weather, but summers could be a little hot (high 30's deg celcius) and winters were sometimes quite chilly (single digit deg celcius), so there was some mild discomfort especially in the winter months.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

vi tips

To format text removing line wraps:

To mark/delete/paste blocks:
  • At the beginning of the block: ma [mark a]
  • At the end of the block d'a/y'a [delete till a, yank till a]
  • To paste the block: p/P
To change everything from upper to lowercase:
To search and replace "text1" with "text2" throughout the document:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Movie log

This post will serve as a log of movies I saw and my rating of the movie.  I'll update it with movies old and new that I think are worth seeing.

Youtube movies

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Affordability and assets

A question that often comes in financial forums is the following:  Most affordability numbers are based on annual income, e.g. affordability for a house or car.  What happens if one has a large amount of assets, through a windfall or inheritance, but very little income?

Let's take a hypothetical example.  Someone is looking to buy a house that costs $200,000.  They have $500,000 in assets, but only make $50,000/year.  Can they afford the house?  On the one hand, they have cash to pay for it outright.  But then what about maintenance costs, property taxes, and insurance?  On the other hand, the income is too low by conservative standards because house price divided by the annual income is 4, which is much higher than the recommended 2.5 to 3 times.

A crude way to determine affordability is to look at the assets and see what kind of income it is capable of generating.  This part can be tricky depending on what type of investments one is considering.  As an example, one can use the rate of a 30 year treasury bond to determine how much income can be safely generated.  If we use 3% for that number, then $500,000 is expected to generate about $15,000 per year.  Add that to the original income and we get $65,000.  Now the price to income ratio is about 200,000/65,000 ~ 3.0.  This makes the house appear a lot more affordable.  On the other hand, if we use the current rate for a savings account which is about 1%, the investment would generate only $5,000 in income annually and would increase the original income amount to 55,000.  200,000/55,000 ~ 3.6 which is still a little high.

If one decides to purchase, whether one choose to finance the purchase or pay cash is a different matter than affordability.

Another related discussion that came up was the following.  If one has a portfolio of a certain size, then given that portfolio value fluctuates by 1% on a daily basis, does it mean that 1% of the portfolio is not a lot of money for that person?  Taking an example similar to the above one, if one has $500,000 invested and the portfolio fluctuates by $5000 routinely, does it mean that they person can spend $5,000 without thinking twice about affordability?

The best objective answer that I saw to that question was that daily fluctuations in portfolio should be 100 times larger than sustainable average daily spending.  In this case, that translates to an average daily spend of $50.  This would include meals and all regular daily spending.  Big ticket expenses are fine as long as they are occasional.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

BMWCCA Car Control Clinic

Last year in May, I attended a day-long BMWCCA Car Control Clinic held at Monterey Bay.  The CCC is an event that is geared toward teaching one about how to drive safely by understanding the capabilities of the car and vehicle dynamics such as weight transfer.  I have been to driving events before, but I thought this one was the most thorough.  One is required to take this class before being allowed to participate in higher speed events.  The cost of attending the CCC is very modest (< $100) since one is using one's own car and all of the instructors are unpaid volunteers.  It is a low speed event (max speed < 30 mph), so the wear and tear on the car is not too bad.

The event was held in the parking lot of the Marina airport which provided for a large open area.  We were told to push the car as hard as we could since the worst that would happen would be skidding out of control and hitting a cone.

The details of the exercises are described in this document.

It was raining most of the day of the event, and the even happens rain or shine.  The day started with an inspection of the car.  They didn't really do as detailed of a check as is described in the document.  What they did was a cursory check of the engine bay and then just asked about tire pressures.

Next, there was instruction about seating position (pedal reach, steering reach, seat height), position of the hands on the steering wheel and how to move the hands when turning, and adjusting mirrors.

We then had a bunch of exercises as described in the document above--braking, avoidance, skidpad, and slalom.  During the exercises, we were accompanied by one or more instructors that would make observations about our driving and coach us to do the right thing.  Despite prodding from the instructor, I didn't push the car hard enough to hit my personal limits, so I didn't hit any cones and I didn't skid out of control.