Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mvelopes First Look

I wrote before about, online budgeting software that uses the envelope budgeting concept.

I signed up for the free trial to see if it looked like I could easily switch over from Quicken. Doing envelope budgeting in Quicken is possible, but you have to jump through a number of hoops. And envelope budgeting is the absolute best way to manage your money, so I'd love to have a system that supported it directly.

Initially, Mvelopes looked great. I hit a snag when I tried to hook it up with my online banking account. Mvelopes will automatically pull recent transactions from online accounts, and it worked fine for my credit card and PayPal accounts. But it couldn't get into my online banking, because of security questions the bank forced you to answer.

I contacted Mvelopes support, and they submitted a trouble ticket. That ticket has been automatically escalated several times, and still no sign of a solution.

It's too bad. From what I saw of the software, it worked exactly the way I wanted it to work. I suppose I could use it by manually entering my banking transactions, since I have to do that in Quicken anyway, but I'd hate to start doing that and then have to adjust somehow when they get the automatic import working.

So, Mvelopes looks good, but I haven't been able to give it a good workout yet.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Origins Recap

It's been about a week since Origins, and I'm just about recovered.

I played a variety of roleplaying games, both tabletop and live action. The most fun of the live action games was a Wild West game that used rubber band guns as firearms. There was one section of the adventure where we had to do the traditional shootout storming bandits in the rocks that was a lot of fun. Rubber bands don't shoot straight, though!

The Osiris Sanction was another new live action game that put you as part of a team infiltrating a computer system in virtual reality. You had to avoid the guards, hack into computer systems, pick locks, disarm bombs, and the like. It was fun, although not quite what I'm used to in live action roleplaying games. In particular, it was entirely based on the mission, there wasn't any roleplaying about it.

I also played in a couple of Call of Cthulhu games, including one live action game. Those are always a lot of fun. I normally run Call of Cthulhu games, so it's fun to play in them at conventions. If you've never played, Call of Cthulhu games are basically like a cheesy horror film where you're the star. Your character will probably go insane by the end of the game, and might even get killed. The object isn't to avoid these outcomes, but to have fun playing in the horror genre.

Finally, I played in several Quick Ass Game System games. This is a nice light roleplaying system that is suitable for pretty much any genre. The Hex Games folks who run the games at Origins are guaranteed to show you a good time, and no experience is necessary. I always try to play in as many of their games as possible.

I had the hardest time finding anything to spend money on in the dealer's room this year, which is unusual. Normally it's hard for me to not come home laden with new board games. I went with a list of games I wanted to buy, and wasn't able to find any of them there! I finally had to resort to ordering them online after the convention.

If you're in the Ohio area, check out Origins next year. It's a great time, and plenty of the games welcome complete newcomers to roleplaying. There are also tons of board games to play, and free movies pretty much constantly throughout the convention.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Well, Origins, the big gaming convention here in town, is over.

I'm exhausted! I had my best day Saturday, with three live action roleplaying games that were absolute blasts. Unfortunately, by the time I drug myself home at about one in the morning, I was so wired from the excitement of the day I couldn't get to sleep until about 7:00am.

Then it was up at 10:00am to get back in time for some afternoon games. So I'm dragging now, and will leave this post as it is. I'll write more later in the week about the games.