Farrago: Water, Chrome, Money and Ass

I’ve been super busy as late – first with my usual workload, but also spending much of my free time edumacating myself on personal finance. It’s amazing I’ve passed my 31st year on this planet and know next to nothing about saving and investing.

Anyway, time being tight I still wanted to jot down and share a few interesting things I’ve come across in the last few days.


Heard about this one from a Twitter newsletter – Scott Harrison is turning 33 this month, and to celebrate he isn’t going out and having a monster party, he’s not getting a bunch of gifts – instead he’s digging 333 wells in Ethiopia – bringing clean drinking water to 150,000 that were drinking dirty and dangerous water previously.

Watch this:

That’s pretty awesome.


And speaking of awesome – tried Google Chrome yet? It’s Google’s entry into the Web browser market and it’s damn cool. It’s replaced Firefox as my browser of choice, but whether it sticks or not is tough to say (namely because it doesn’t have plugins I use every day – ie. Delicious).

If you’re curious about it – you can read my full Google Chrome review at Tip Trick Mod.


As mentioned above, I’ve been hungrily consuming any and all information I can, trying to teach myself about personal financing. I’ve grabbed a copy of Quicken and am reading “The Richest Man in Babylon”.

Figuring software and 70-year-old books aren’t all I need, I’ve also been spending a lot of time cruising The Motely Fool – a site that has a great collection of information for novices like me.

Verdict? I need to make more money. gasp! And I need to save more money. gasp! And I should buy ETFs. huh? Yeah. Essentially index funds. Simple, no brainer investments that just mimic the market – no day trading for this dork – not yet at least.

If anyone has some good solid financial advice – I’ve got a whole comments section below just begging to be your friend.

and Ass?

Evidently Sarah Palin has one that McCain can’t keep his eyes off of (h/t my mom):

13 Responses

  1. Hi Ryan,

    I’m working on an investing site that is out there but yet to really get going, but here are some recommended investing books, in order of recommendation (by the way, I used to be a firm believer in efficient markets and just going with index funds, but dozens of books, tons of evidence, and a lot of thought later and it’s now just a broken theory in my mind):

    What Has Worked In Investing (Linked PDF report – this is just to prove that value investing works before putting any money down to get any of the books below)
    The Little Book That Beats The Market by Joel Greenblatt
    The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham OR, if you can stomach the best (old) 800 page ‘text book’ on investing:
    Security Analysis by Graham & Dodd, 1st through 3rd editions only
    Crash Proof by Peter Schiff (this is the only ‘non-orthodox’ book on this list, as Peter is somewhat steeped in Austrian economics and the true causes of business cycles – I have many recommendations along this line of thought if you are interested)
    You Can Be a Stock Market Genius by Joel Greenblatt

    Personal finance isn’t rocket science, it is just about changing your philosophy to one of sacrificing today for tomorrow, so no real recommendations there.

  2. I haven’t used Tor in ages – the slowness of it kills me. You should consider getting yourself a VPN. I use Witopia, which is about $40/yr., but I believe there’s a new free one out there… someone on Lost Laowai was talking about it? Damn memory.

  3. Oh, I forgot the comments I was going to make originally: Chrome is a non-starter for me until they get a master password feature. It looks like they have some other security flaws as well, but the lack of a master password feature is a serious disappointment. People need to be more aware of this kind of security hole. A lot of people, even fairly tech-savvy ones, whether out of laziness or whatever, when they take their computer in to a shop to have it repaired, would leave themselves wide open to exploitation unless their Internet passwords are secure. I recently started using Password Safe, which is nice, but not as convenient as having the browser remembering the passwords. But I’m not willing to use that feature unless it’s protected with a master password. As expats in China, I’d suggest you be doubly paranoid.

  4. @Jeremy: Cheers m8. Will definitely check out those books. You’re the second person to recommend “The Intelligent Investor” so I’ll be putting that on the top of my reading.

    @Klortho: Great advice regarding passwords. I’ve never brought my computer anywhere to get it fixed, so it’s not something I’ve ever given much thought to – but people should, DEFINITELY should. Just ask Edison Chen about snooping repairmen.

    And cheers for that VPN link – will see if I can add anything to your “knol”.

  5. I would suggest reading “Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes and How to Correct Them” by Thomas Gilovich.
    Also, despite making Google Chrome my primary browser, the lack of Delicious integration is a minor frustration for me as well.

  6. I am not buying the point of view that just to dig wells Africans need foreigner. Can’t they do it themselves?

    Recently in Canadian newspaper they wrote an article about one Canadian carpenter who went to Afganistan to help build schools and was killed there. I am wondering, can’t Afgani build schools themselves? Maybe they should be being taught carpenter skills or well digging skills instead of being provided with finished infrastucture.

  7. @Chris L: Will take a look for it – you guys are filling up my reading list!

    @維特利: Empowerment should be a major part of any charity’s long-term goals – of course – but, ummm, using some rather simple logic here: if they could build their own wells, would there be a need for a charity to go and build them? I mean, this isn’t something they just discovered they needed – it’s water.

    Additionally, I’m quite certain that Africans will be digging the wells – the part they weren’t able to do was raising the 1.5 million bucks for the gear to build the wells.

    Sometimes it doesn’t come down to foreigners helping poor, sad natives. Sometimes it’s just people helping people. No “us” and “them”… just “us”.

  8. Hi Ryan,
    I 2nd (or third) the nomination for “Intelligent Investor” (pro-Value Investing). Also “A Random Walk Down Wall Street” (pro-Index Fund) and if you are feeling really brave “Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith. No specific investing advice in the last one, but Smith writes in a beautiful style and it’s truly amazing how much of what he said 200 years ago about micro and macro economics is still true.

    I hate to give any specific advice, but here are two general pieces of advice.
    1) Never take action after reading one book or source. Read at least two or more, because they are almost guaranteed to disagree with each other a bit.

    2) Famous last words “This time (place…) is different”. About 15 months ago I tried cautioning some of my Chinese friends that the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges seemed overpriced. The response was always “Chinese markets are different.” None of those people want to discuss their stock market experiences any more – they just cringe.

    BTW, I talked with you a while back about getting an e-bike. I did end up buying an e-bike back in the US (seemed like less hassle). I got something off the web from a California-based company that just slaps their name on a Chinese vendor’s bike.

  9. Haha, like the note about personal finances. I’m going on 28 and am just leaving the piggy bank phase.

    Used to be a Tor user as well until I discovered Gladder. Tor will proxy anything but man…its slowness was killing me. Gladder also only proxies sites that need it, rather than any site you want to look at.

  10. Will VPN or Gladder access anything? How do they differ? I tried an alternative to Tor previously (u/surf)and didn’t find it so effective.

    I’m a bit of a technophobe, but I appreciate that some of these applications work in a slightly different way. I live with Tor’s dawdling because nothing else seems to work.

    As for investments, Ryan, I strongly recommend that you wait for a casino to open in Suzhou and hit the tables. Alternatively, buy the books mentioned above.

  11. Personal finances is a pain in the ass. I too need to make more money. Unfortunately, I’m going to be spending more on a new little project that won’t reap the financial rewards that I need.

    As for Chrome, I’m not a fan yet. Since downloading it, I’ve noticed Firefox opens slower than before. Also, Chrome doesn’t work well when posting photos on blogspot…kinda odd since it’s owned by Google.

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