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September 2007

Security checks

September 25, 2007   

I just got a call from somewhere this morning. Now, I say “somewhere” because when it’s not someone I know, I don’t have a way of verifying their information and confirming that they are in fact who they claim to be. This is how the conversation went. My thoughts are in italics:

Recorded voice on the phone (RVoP): This is [name of credit card issuer] calling about suspicious account activity on your account. If your name is [mangled name], please press “1”.

Me: ruh oh *presses “1”*

RVoP: To confirm your identity, please input your five-digit zip code of your billing address.

Me: Uh… I don’t know if I should, but I bet this is the charge for the tv that we got on Sunday, and I don’t want it to get denied… *presses zip code*

RVoP: On September 25th, 2007, your [credit card company] [card type] was charged with [small amount – around the cost of an average take-out lunch] by [strange sounding computer-related company name that I don’t recognize]. If you or an authorized user made this charge, please press “1”. If not, please press “2”. Press “*” to hear this message again.

Me: Who da wadda? That’s not what I was expecting! *presses “*”*

Rinse. Repeat twice out of uncertainty.

Me: Uh… Is this from Seppo making the music purchase this morning? Is this the hold charge for the tv we just got? That company name doesn’t sound right though… I don’t know! *presses “2”*

Hold music.

Human voice: Is this [differently mangled version of my name]?

Me: Thank goodness this didn’t auto-dispute the charge since it might be a real charge. Hi, yes, that’s me.

HV: Can you verify your identity by giving me your password?

Me: What? No. You called me. I have always learned that if I call you, I can give you my password, but I can’t give my password if you call me.

HV: What I’m asking for is your password, so we can confirm your identity.

Me: Yes, I know what you are asking, but I have no way to confirm that you are who you say you are. I don’t want to give out my personal information to strangers that call me on the phone.

HV: I am with [credit card company] and am trying to verify your information.

Me: But I can’t confirm your information. You say you are with [credit card company], but you can’t confirm for me that’s true.

HV: Yes, I am confirming that I am with [credit card company].

Me: *waits, expecting HV to tell me something that will confirm his assertion. gradually realizes that that statement was it.* Sorry, I can’t give out my information.

HV: You can call our number on the back of your card, or I can give you a direct number to call back.

Me: Are you kidding me? I will call the number on the back of the card, but there is no way I’ll call the number he gives me. It’s not like I don’t believe this guy, but I’m still not willing to give out my info and can’t believe the horrible idea of security the company has. That is fine with me. I will do that. So when I call back, I should ask about a charge from today by [name of computer-y company that I didn’t recognize when the voice first told me]?

HV: I cannot share any information with you without confirming your identity.

Me: No, wait. The automated voice message already told me this. I was just trying to be clear about what they said. I mean, you called me at my personal number and got my zip code information already.

HV: I’m sorry, I cannot share any information with you without confirming your identity.

Me: This is ridiculous. Ok, thanks. Bye.


I’m about to call now. That is some inconsistent security policy they have. No one should have to give personal information out when they are the ones that called your personal number that appears on the account. On the other hand, they shouldn’t tell you anything without getting your verifying information, when you are the initiator of the call. WTF.

ETA: Ok, it turned out to just be a shirt Seppo ordered, which I knew about. I spoke to the person on the phone and explained what had happened in the previous call and he agreed that I should not give out my personal information to calls that I receive. He seemed to believe it was a different department but I am sure he’s not allowed to say anything bad. I basically just wanted confirmation that that’s not their security policy.

My VisualDNA

September 18, 2007   

I can’t seem to embed it correctly, so here is a link:

Thanks to Holly for the link to the test. 🙂

Former high schoolmate speaks out against war on Hardball

September 13, 2007   

Link to Daily Kos diary.


Dante’s brother died while looking for WMDs and now Dante and the rest of his family are part of a group called Military Families Speak Out.

Coding-related motion sickness?!

September 11, 2007   

Could I be feeling dizzy from watching logs scroll up the screen all day and night? Whatever is causing it, please stop. 🙁

ETA: Totally figured it out. I had the compile window and the logging window both on the left side of my screen, with the right side stationary. In addition to being in front of the computer for hours on end, I’ve been doing a lot more code-compile-test cycles than usual today because I’m working with small changes, and it really is that. When I look away, I feel fine. When I look at it, the left side of my vision feels weird and my head hurts and the world feels like it’s hurtling away. Blech.


September 10, 2007   

Today marks Seppo and my 9.5 years together. Whoa. Here’s to 95 more. 😀 By then, we’ll both resemble the professor in Futurama.

House craziness

September 10, 2007   

I will leave it to Seppo to post the details of the stone path he build in his backyard, with the help of Sean and and a coworker/friend. All I can say is that it’s really fantastic. It’s beautiful, functional, fun, and graceful. And he did it all in one week! Yowza!

On Saturday, we spent something like 28-30 combined work-hours cleaning up the house. About a third of that time was spent in the kitchen. We reorganized the available counter space, magically creating extra space from nowhere and making better use of the back half of the room. I spent a good hour or so hunched over and wrestling with the reciprocating saw, so I have some weird back and leg aches.

I spent a little time with the Lowe’s kitchen planner(inspired by the Helavas’ kitchen renovation project) and found that while the IKEA kitchen designer is great for doing the actual layout with very precise measurements (and perhaps/probably getting the cabinets there), the Lowe’s planner is great for the overall project management side of things, which is quite welcome. We plan on going this weekend to check out their planning kit and just look around.

New member of the family

September 9, 2007   

Welcome to the world, dear nephew! I can’t wait to meet you, little guy. I wish for you a happy life coupled with a positive outlook, and the desire to make the world a better place. I know, it’s a lot to wish for, but you already were blessed with great parents who love you, not to mention cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparents who are all watching out for you, so it’s a good start. 🙂

I hear you are nice & chubby and cry a lot, but that’s par for the course for a newborn, eh? 🙂 Here’s to your parents’ sanity and ability to sleep in the next few years. Heh.


September 3, 2007   

Much like the people over at Marriage and Money, Seppo and I have individual monthly allowances. It works so well for us that I am rather weirded out when someone says that it’s controlling/harsh, as the linked post illustrates.

All necessities, household purchases, and bills are paid out from the joint checking account. All paychecks and random cash goes into the joint checking account. We have a joint savings account which holds a relative small reserve of money for emergencies and is directly linked with the checking account for easy access. We have a high-interest savings account that holds most of our money.

In addition, we have separate personal checking accounts, personal credit cards (with various reward structures), and a joint credit card. We put everything on credit cards, so that we can track out spending automatically, then pay them off right away — no need to wait for the bill to arrive in the mail, since I’m always looking at the balances every couple of days.

We spend our moderate allowances however we choose, whether it’s splurging for dinner with a friend (when spouse is not there), clothes, gifts, entertainment, whatever. It’s really nice. Since neither of us spends like a psycho in general, there is no resentment over individual indulgences, and neither of us has to justify anything to each other. And presents feel great when you can buy them with your own personal stash, so you can go nuts if you want.

Since most of our other expenses are fixed, we generally have a consistent amount of money left over every month which gets saved. We’d be throwing it into the highest interest loan (currently, the HELOC for the Georgia house), but since we are saving up for renovating the upstairs, this is all going into our savings account.

Anyway, how do you couples/families do your finances? Do you care to share? Are you happy with how it works? I firmly believe that different people need different solutions, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend our method across the board, but if you think you share a similar outlook on spending & saving as we do, I’d highly recommend that you give it a try.