Debit Cards and Auto Drafts

There have always been two things that worry me about our banking system, and that is debit cards, and checking auto drafts. Both are convenient, but both deduct directly from your account so any fraud or screw up can wipe out your money.

Today I came across this article on KrebsOnSecurity that showed how easy it is to compromise an ATM or credit card terminal:

In the article Brian Krebs mentions this:

I realize a great many people use debit cards for everyday purchases, but I’ve never been interested in assuming the added risk and so pay for everything with cash or a credit card. Armed with your PIN and debit card data, thieves can clone the card and pull money out of your account at an ATM. Having your checking account emptied of cash while your bank sorts out the situation can be a huge hassle and create secondary problems (bounced checks, for instance).

This is what worries me. Best case scenario your bank will limit them to a max withdrawal of $250 a day through an ATM, but 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings1 which means it cause you tons of heartache and stress.

Checking auto-drafts are probably even worst because there is no limit. Someone could drain the entire account, and you are at the mercy of the bank. Not a place I want to be.

The only alternatives are what Brian mentions. Pay by real cash or a credit card, but this leads to a ton of problems for most Americans. Cash is no longer convenient, and it’s too easy to spend over your monthly budget on a credit card. Putting you into a debt spiral that everyone knows is impossible to get out.

The only solutions that I’ve read are to continue using a debit card but only use it at terminals that read the chip. You know the ones that take an hour and then beep at you until you remove the card. Unfortunately, for my area, no gas pumps have this.

I know reading this on a random blog post isn’t going to change your habits, but I think it’s worth remembering how you can be scammed and be prepared. Unlike Equifax, if we get hacked we experience bad ramifications.

  1. According to a survey by GoBankingRates, 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. 

Today’s Dramatic Stock Drop

It seems like the markets are finally starting to correct after the unprecedented rise we’ve all been experiencing. I honestly thought it would happen at the end of 2016 when Trump became our president. I wrongly assumed his Tweets would cause investors to lose confidence and I was wrong. Thankfully, I didn’t let the thought of that deter me from investing as the past year has been kind to us all.

Today’s drop does remind me a lot of this quote by JL Collins:

Everybody makes money when the market is rising. But what determines whether it will make you wealthy or leave you bleeding on the side of the road is what you do during the times it is collapsing.

I know that corrections and recessions happen, and you have to stay the course. Keep your same investing habits as if it gaining 40% a year. In the end, it’ll all work out. The market always goes up.

As someone that only invests in index funds and has limited knowledge of the market, I do find this swing interesting in that it’s coming off the heels of the tax plan. They are claiming will make the market continue to rise, but not many are talking about our huge national debt and the increases in it to pay for it. Maybe that’s why the market is now turning? I’m sure no one knows.

I know very little about economics, but I find it interesting how the markets react to different things and always have to remember to stay the course and not live fearfully. Beyond that, ​I’m most concerned about who is going to get the blame for this. We’ve all been trained over the past year that the administration is only responsible for positive​ things, so it’ll be interesting for sure.

Live Events is Twitter at its Best

I’ve been on Twitter since January 2009, and live events are​ still the best use of the platform. Super Bowl LII (52) just ended, and it was one of the most exciting games I’ve seen.

What made it great was scrolling my feed as the commercials where happening as well as the game action. That is what made me always love Twitter.

Even though I think it’s great for the live events I keep coming back to something I read on the IA Blog:

There seems to be a weak undercurrent of old and young bloggers like us that feel sentimental or curious and want to bring back blogging. Blogging won’t save the world. But, hell, after two weeks now, we can confirm: it feels great to be back on the blogging line.

If you are one of those old or young bloggers, please join in. Drop Facebook, drop Twitter and drop Medium for original thought. Own your traffic. You can use them to engage in discussion. But don’t get lost in there. Write daily. Publish as often as you have something to say. Link to other blogs.

The curmudgeon in me wants blogging to make a huge comeback​ but I know it’ll never happen, but now that I’ve blogged something every day of 2018 it’s starting to get fun again. I just hope that enjoyment continues.

Take a Break to Solve the Problem

Today is beautiful in North Carolina. Clear blue sky, no clouds, but cold with the current temperature of 42F. Tomorrow’s forecast is rain, and although I had a few tasks to get done, I knew I better get a mountain bike ride in today.

With these goals set I knew I had two options. The first was to knock out all my todo’s at home, then go ride. With the temperature being crisp and chilly I knew by the time I would finish I’d end up deciding against riding. I’d come up with an excuse and sit on the couch and be lazy.

So instead I decided to pack up my laptop and head out to the trails and do my tasks while sitting in the truck and using my phone as a hotspot.

I was expecting all the tasks to take me an hour and a ​half, but I blazed through them in about 20 minutes and then got stuck on a logic problem with a new feature I was building. I decided it should wait because I wasn’t making any progress, so I unloaded my bike and took off.

My goal with the ride was just to put in some miles and as my mind wondered and daydreamed​​ came up with a solution to the problem. As soon I finished the ride I loaded my bike, jumped in the truck and banged out the code to complete my last task. It was a good day.

Much has been written on this phenomenon, and I know it usually works, but if it was a workday and I was “on the clock” I’d feel guilty leaving everything and going out for a walk or ride, even though I’d get the solution faster. On the surface, it feels like I’d be cheating my employer, but in reality, I’d be saving them money.

USNWC, Charlotte NC.

How To Properly Respond To a Tweet

One of the big complaints about Twitter and social media, in general,​ is how impersonal it feels. You can share with the world a new job, a new baby, or some other huge milestone and all you get is friends spending a half second of their life clicking a little heart button.

Maybe instead of sharing life moments, you decide to share an opinion on something you’ve been thinking about for the last five days. Then instantly get overwhelmed with pedantic responses ​and righteous indignation.

Many people are leaving social media because of this, and both Dorsey and Zuckerberg are getting a lot of anxiety from this epidemic and I’ve heard they aren’t sleeping well. I’ve found what I believe is the perfect solution to stop this vicious cycle. I think its time we all come together and do what our forefathers did. Write a letter.

Because this is a lost art, I’m going to go through each step and show you how it’s done.

Find, Print, and Cut out the tweet

Find a Tweet that you really want to respond too. Next, open Photoshop and create a new printable document (just a standard page size). Make a screenshot of the Tweet and add it in various sizes:


Print it out and cut out each Tweet with scissors.


Attach the Tweet To a Piece of Paper

Get some tape or glue or whatever and attach the Tweet to a piece of paper.


Write your message

Now, get your most excellent fountain pen and write out your response. Your forefathers would write this message in cursive, and if you are responding to someone older, it’s acceptable.


Put it in an envelope

You’ll need to buy an envelope if you don’t have any around the house. Just be careful when opening as we wouldn’t want a paper cut to send us the ER.

Fold your original letter into thirds and place it in the envelope. Next, lick or seal the back.

Bonus: Becoming Verified!

No gatekeepers​ here! If you want to be verified, you can be verified, and it looks way cooler than a digital blue checkmark.

This is an advanced step and you’ll need some supplies:


Melt some wax on the back and use your seal to make your verified stamp.

Find their address

This step is a little tricky. You’ll need to find the persons mailing address, and few people put this on their “contact me” page. So you’ll need to do some detective work.

Once it’s found, write this on the front of the envelope, head to the post office to get a stamp, and send it off. In a few days, it’ll arrive at their house and they will get read your beautiful prose and your well-thought​ opinion.



Q. Is this not too much trouble?
A. Yes, thank you Capt. Obvious.

Q. Are you telling me to really spend an hour of my life replying to a Tweet?**
A. Sure why not.

Q. What if I get stuck at any of the above steps?**
A. Then your 2¢ isn’t worth sharing.

Facebook Really Spams You to Come Back

Sarah Frier writing for Bloomberg:

It’s been about a year since Rishi Gorantala deleted the Facebook app from his phone, and the company has only gotten more aggressive in its emails to win him back. The social network started out by alerting him every few days about friends that had posted photos or made comments—each time inviting him to click a link and view the activity on Facebook. He rarely did.

Then, about once a week in September, he started to get prompts from a Facebook security customer-service address. “It looks like you’re having trouble logging into Facebook,” the emails would say. “Just click the button below and we’ll log you in. If you weren’t trying to log in, let us know.” He wasn’t trying. But he doesn’t think anybody else was, either.

I’ve been getting these emails too and what was weird to me is I have two accounts, one super old that I deleted years ago, and another that is current. I would get the same “It looks like you’re having trouble logging into Facebook,” email at the same minute. Which means either someone knows both my emails and can attempt the login really fast, I’m on some bot list or something else entirely.

Hearing this story makes me think it’s either a widespread bug on Facebook or they are indeed being shady. Unfortunately​, based on their history I’m not sure I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.