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Computer Virus Scan is it a Scam?

As it is almost Back to School that means that most of the virus checking software in my house is about to expire (maybe in  your house too? Better check). The entire virus scan/Internet safety/firewall industry seems to be at times running their own “shell game” on their customers.

In our house we have been using Norton Anti-Virus ( the 360 product) and it seems to work fine in terms of protecting us from viruses and such (whether the software is a huge system hog, I will leave to other folks to discuss). I bought the package last year for my daughter’s computer that she was taking off to University and it came with a 3 computer license (i.e. I can put this 1 piece of software on 3 separate computers), so I put Norton 360 on two other computers in our house (seemed like a good deal at the time).

Time has passed and the year’s subscription is about to expire, how do I know that? The Norton software kindly reminds me every day (when you are within two weeks of expiration), which is good for forgetful folks like me, to make sure our machines are not infected with nasty malware (remember if you are connected to the web, you must have protection).

The problem I have is these reminders aim me directly at a Norton web site, where I can conveniently use my credit card and my subscription will be renewed, however, the price I pay is much more than I paid for the 3 computer software the previous year. If I look at Best Buy, Tiger Direct, Future Shop or Staples on line I can see that I can buy the software “off the shelf” for less than this renewal fee, which I think is a bit of a dirty trick.

With this in mind I started looking around at the various Anti-Virus software out there, and I decided to change my allegiances for this year and try out McAfee’s Anti-virus type software, so I went out and bought a 3 license software CD, for much less than a single renewal with Norton, and it all seems to work just fine.

I realize that this kind of practice is attempting to catch Lazy consumers at their weakest moment (when they feel they will be inconvenienced by having to think or shop around) but it still seems like a dirty trick (my opinion).

You should run antivirus software (unless your computer never ever connects to the Internet and  you never install software on  your computer), and I think most of the manufacturers do a good job with their product, so your major differentiating point must now be price, although check with friends in the know about whether there is any performance hits for installing the software is another good point as well.

I am happy with my decision (saved me about $100 at the end of it, if I had gone with the Lazy solution), but only time will tell whether McAfee is better or the same as Norton (but it sure was cheaper for me).

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

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Banks Were Like This?

This is a reprise of one of my favorite NFB shorts, called My Financial Career based on a story by noted Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock.

For my regular readers you’ll know I have already posted this once, but I do love to reminisce with this animated short because it shows so many of the interesting traits the “old” banking system used to have:

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account
  • Bankers’ Hours, which were 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM Monday to Thursday and 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Friday and heaven forbid you talk about weekend hours!
  • Talking to someone directly about your banking

I chuckle every time I watch this witty and wonderful short

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Random Thoughts: TGIF

Yes for me TGIF for the first time in a while (no not, “Toes Go In First” (although I do have that monogrammed on all my socks)). It’s exciting fun and worrying all at once to be back on the job, so we shall see what this new endeavour leads to.

Thanks to all the positive comments I have received this week, but remember there are lots of other folks looking around, so help them out if you can too.

These Guys Is Financial

Another interesting TGIF acronym for the financial articles this week:

Have a great weekend all, I will be recovering from a long first week (after a year any first week was going to be LONG) 🙂

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CPP is OK (for now)

Given the recovery in the markets over the past little while (in 2009 when this was written) it is not surprising to hear Pension funds claiming they are on the road to recovery, and now CPP claims their assets are up $11B in the first quarter of this year (which is good news). This kind of growth is needed given the losses most pensions took during the great Apocalypse of ’08, however is the Canada Pension Plan going to be able to withstand the onslaught of retirees which will live much longer over the next 30 years?

“We are pleased with the $11.1 billion increase in the fund and the positive 7.1 per cent return for the first quarter,” CPP president David Denison said. “At the same time, the negative returns of our past fiscal year and the positive results of this first quarter both need to be viewed within the context of our long-term strategy. We continue to focus on delivering solid returns over the span of multiple years and indeed decades.”

Since the CPP folks have started investing they have managed about a 4.9% return on their assets (over 10 years) so that is a better thing, but the nagging questions are:

  • Can the fund sustain and continue to pay out to the tidal wave of retirees coming in the next 10 years, or will the government be forced to change the system?
  • What is the percentage of Canadians who will only be using the CPP for their retirement?

As I grow older this worries me more and more.

Addendum

Doesn’t worry me as much now. I think CPP will be fine, it will change and may not be as lucrative, but it will be fine. Private pensions and the Civil Service Pensions are much more worrying.

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Should I Drive or use Mass Transit ?

Mass Transit?

That is one of the big questions I continue to have to ruminate on. Do I take a car or bus?

In my previous job, there really was no reason to take the bus because:

  • It took 4 times the time to take the bus as it did in a car
  • The Bus did not run often enough and did not cover the times I might need to come and go to work
  • Parking for my car was free
Microsoft Canada

Variable Changes

With a new job the financial variables have changed and it now I might again look at the transit equation again:

  • Parking now costs money no matter where I put my car (varying costs but none are very cheap).Parking is free for me, but only if I managed to not get a parking ticket and it is much farther away
  • The amount of time to get to work by car is now only 1/2 the estimated bus time1/4 of the time, my office moved
  • The transit tax write off comes into the equation as wellunfortunately that is no longer part of the equation

To bus or not to bus, that will be the question, but for now I will drive.

Biking?

That is another interesting point to consider for this trip. Straight biking to work while excellent for the health can be is dangerous in traffic (some of the route has bike paths but not all of it), and I am not sure whether there are showers at work (I do sweat a great deal)there are showers at work, but biking in Ottawa is lethal. The electronic bike is an interesting idea I have been looking at, but whether I can recharge at work is another interesting question to think about.

Car Pooling?

I do know someone at my job who I might be able to car pool with, which might be an excellent choice as well. I have previously car pooled which works well if the people car pooling all work the same hours, which can be tricky, but the more interesting question is how do you arrange to compensate folks for car pools?

Car for Now

For now, thanks to the systemically flawed mass transit system in Ottawa, I will continue to drive, but if the Light Rail system starts functioning, I will revisit this decision.

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