Friday, January 10, 2014

Doha Review: Ooredoo Marathon 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014 0 Comments
The best marathon ever, because the weather was so nice, the roads were so smooth and a healthy multiracial crowd. I think more than 1600 people took part in this marathon, even the Al Thani chap that climbed Mt. Everest took part; but in the full 42K marathon.

It was a good event, the sandwich was good, the apple was crisp, the tee shirt was light and the timing chip was precise





The Al Thani also joined in the race

The winners of 10K race

And we made it on the front cover of the local daily!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

6 M.A.Cs and a Dior

Tuesday, January 07, 2014 0 Comments

My growing collection of MAC Lipsticks needed an entry so here it goes. Over a span of 2 years I have accumulated shades of red, pink, a purple and a peach lipstick


M.A.C
Lustre Collection:
Sweetie A12
Lady Bug A81

Satin Collection:
Rebel A33


Sheen Supreme Lipstick:
Korean Lipstick Candy AA2

Lipglass:
Russian Red A72

Cremesheen Glass:
Double Dare AB1


DIOR
Dior Addict Gloss:
Iconic Red 856

Monday, January 6, 2014

Doha Review: Al Jarir BookStore

Monday, January 06, 2014 0 Comments
While I can't books from the likes of MPH Bookstores, Kinokuniya Bookstore, Barnes & Nobles or even Popular Bookstores, there are a handful of bookstores here in Doha that sells mainstreams books; fiction, non-fiction, Arabic books, medical books, and more. Of course, they have limited books here. It's not like back home, where you can practically roll around in the mammothness of the bookstores and bask in the books day and night. Anyways, I will stop my swooning and continue with my review.

Jarir Bookstore is located on Salwa Road, Ramada Crossing. It's a 2-storey building attached to this mall (Fifty One East) next to a car showroom/French Cafe and opposite Starbucks Coffee and a slew of other fast food eatery. The ground floor of Jarir Bookstore sells electronics and gadgets and the books are on the 1st floor of the store. They have a section for children's books, adult books, Arabic books, SAT/GSCE books, medical books, and stationery (adult & children)

The bestsellers are really just books that sell well in Doha, not necessarily anywhere else on this planet. For example, Khaled Hosseini is very popular in Middle East and he is in the bestseller's list here but not Malcolm Gladwell

Anyways I'd say they have a decent collection of books, and if you're looking for the latest book or NYTimes bestsellers list here, prepare to be utterly disappointed

The books I found here were:

All of Paulo Coelho's books
All of Khaled Hosseini's books
Some of Dale & Dorothy's books
Plenty of Chicken Soup for the Soul books
Tons of Tinkle (made in India) comic books
Books on Parenting (and how the French got it right)
Adventures of Tintin
Captain Underpants
Teen romance
Adult romance
Arab romance
Plenty of Biography on Justin Bieber
Cookbooks 




Ground floor






Bargain books, 10 riyals each



Saturday, January 4, 2014

Twin Tub Portable Washing Machine

Saturday, January 04, 2014 1 Comments
We bought a twin tub portable washing machine from Jumbo Electronics in City Center. After a year of hand washing, and realising that it took more than the hand to get rid of the grim and sweat stains making a permanent home in my husband's shirts. The new portable machine was cheap, and it had a 30% discount off it (probably because it was the last piece/display stock. We were originally looking for a 2-plate hotplate and came across this washing machine sitting awkwardly in midst of hotplates and gas cookers. My husband saw it actually and I was immediately swooned, it looked so much like TwinTub UK and worked very well too! I tried it last night and today and I must admit the wash power is really good. All the major dirt, visible grime and collar stains went off after 3 washes. Because this is a portable washing machine, it is also a semi automatic washing machine, so you have to manually fill up the wash tank with water, manually turn the dial to spin to drain water and then manually spin dry it before you can hang it to dry. Unfortunately it doesn't come with a dryer function (I will probably buy one separately) so I have to dry it over the retractable rail in the bathroom.

Gone are the days of soaking the clothes in the bathtub! 

Gone are the days of manually wringing the clothes by hand!

But I am still keeping my heavy duty gloves; just in case!

Here are some pictures and videos after the jump!

Cost me 288 riyals


It's a Japan brand but as are all things in the world, it is always assembled or made in China


Spinner

Washer

Water inlet fixed in. This is just a demo shot, I realised it's faster if I use direct pipe

See what I mean?

The clothes washing

Letting out the drain pipe to the toilet (for demo purposes)

As you can see, I was having a hard time turning the dial to drain

Using the spin function

Clothes are washed, spun and ready to hang dry

Thursday, January 2, 2014

AceMoney Vs BankTree

Thursday, January 02, 2014 8 Comments
The husband and I had been looking for an online accounting software and decided on these two, which in our opinion is among the bestest software there is to it to personal accounting.

And now, presenting you the truth behind these two softwares. If you're still deciding which is a better investment then Google no further and scroll down to read my personal reviews after a whole day of initially frustating myself using them, then getting the hang of it and finally deciding which one I liked the best.

No one paid me to write this review, I am just doing this because my husband searched online for countless of personal accounting software, and because I don't want you to do the same and also after reading all the generic reviews online, we decided it's better to judge after we have downloaded the trial versions and it used it ourselves. Being a non-US user, our main criteria were
  • multiple currency support, possibly with online currency update
  • ease of use
  • multi-platform usage, cloud and sync

Let's start alphabetically...

AceMoney

The accounting software comes licensed under mechcad and their website provided plenty of screenshots, which of course the first thing I checked out and immediately liked its GUI. It was simple and appealing. I had worked with Linux platform for 4 years and anything that didn't have too many buttons, options and drop-down meant I can navigate simply with typing words, and one-click editing. Especially when it came to starting off with a negative value balance meant for loan and credit card accounts. Acemoney had all that and more. Among the features they had are:


A function called the "International Setting" so you can change the default American Month-Date-Year (why the Americans go lengths to complicate the most trivial things in life I will never understand) choose a default currency other than USD, set your date separator (date-month date/month date.month) and even choose how you want to see your money, if you have more than 4 figures, that is. If you'd prefer it with a comma, space or whatever (plenty of options there for you to choose from) 

And it's so easy to setup an account. They have 5 options to creating an account:
  • bank accounts
  • cash accounts
  • loan accounts
  • investment accounts
  • credit accounts
I used the cash, loan and credit accounts so far because that's all that I have. Once my condominium mortgage has been paid up the loan account will move to investment account and rental I get from there will be my investment. 

The husband and my bank accounts

The feature that I really liked is the negative value for credit and loan accounts. Because I keyed in the amount manually and if it's credit all I have to do is add a negative in front of the amount and it goes straight into the credit field of the account and on your main page you can view your credit, debit and outstanding balances side by side and the grand total is shown at the bottom of the page

The other thing I find totally unnecessary and I wished accounting software will stop doing is providing hundreds of pre-loaded payee fields. Why not just let the user create their own payee names? It's just time wasting to scroll down hundreds of options just to find one that suits. An average user is going to scroll up and down at least 2 times to find the most appropriate payee name for a payment. It's just time wasting, if you're the person who likes pre-loaded payee then you will find that the payees here are alphabetically organised side by side with a sub-category so its very easy (depends on how you view this function)  if you have a lot of bills (car payments and maintenance, magazines and newspaper subscriptions, cable tv subscriptions, etc)

Payees list. If you don't like what you see and if it's too confusing for you to take it all in then create something simpler like what I did (screenshot below)


I did use one of the pre-loaded functions tho, for my monthly rental payment (screenshot below)


The one thing I really liked about this software is the scheduling tool. If you have an outstanding instructions with your bank to auto deduct/auto-debit your loans or car payments then this is a good way to keep track of your money flow.

Calendar-view scheduling tool


And this is how you setup auto-payment/auto-debit/outstanding instructions. Here I used the money from my Savings Account to pay for the bank loan I had taken from the same bank (it doesn't matter if your bank is different, the software doesn't link with banks out of US and Canada so it's manually choosing the bank from the list you created earlier--Cash Account to Loan Account)


Because I linked the payment from my Savings to my Loan payment accounts, and set it up in the calendar to auto-pay on the 2nd of every month I get two months advanced payment notice. In the screenshot above, you can see that they have calculated my loan payment & balance for February as well

Ok, now the drawbacks of this software
  • no Andriod app compatibility, but they're working on it (except for Windows Mobile, who the fuck uses Windows Mobile)
  • no cloud/online storage compatibility (but they're working on it)
  • no sync available with other machine, you have to buy separate license for each computer
  • you have to manually update the currency daily/weekly. Bad if you're staying in an unstable currency of a country (Zimbabwe and such)
BankTree

BankTree, like its British developers comes on a saucer with teatitude. Literally. It took me longer to find my way around the software, and at the end of the day I ended up asking myself this-that's it?

BankTree is suitable for non-US, non-USD currency user I will give you that, they have a familiar Outlook layout, with a two-panel transaction and reminder/schedule field and all your accounts are listed on your left.

The two options you have to creating your account

The software has a bug, if you choose the first option (cash account) to creating an account, from the scroll down options to setting up your account you can't change the account to Investment account. You will have to delete the account and recreate it with an Investment account option

I know some users are worried about their account safety, and for that reason I discourage you to key in your actual bank account number into any 3rd party accounting software (Acemoney, Banktree, Quicken, Mint, etc) but if you did and you want to protect your account from being deleted then you can always password protect it

I had a very time balancing my Savings and Loans account, because they were linked to each other. My Savings account paid for my Loans account. The embedded calculator doesn't allow me to input a negative value, so I had to manually change it in the Paid column. Which Paid column? I played around with the Paid In, Paid Out and Category column until I figured in order to get a negative value for a loan amount, I have to key in the amount in the Paid Out column which in turn will appear in red and in negative value under the Balance column (see screenshot below) The double sided arrow meant money taken from a "QAR" account to pay for the Loan. Before I forget let me tell you about the one good feature of this software that I really liked. Since I have accounts in two different currencies, at the end of the accounts, I have two account totals, one for each currency. This is really good if you want separate balances to show up in your monthly report.


And just like the previous software, this one also had too many pre-loaded categories to choose from, but I managed to find one that suited me (this example shows a rental payment)


I could not find the pretty month scheduling I was expecting from BankTree other than the default one provided under each account. Nor was I able to change the default view to monthly or weekly view.

I will give BankTree credit for being able to pull up pretty reports. They have plenty of options to choose from, just look under the Cash/Investment Accounts for the Reports pull down button and you will find yourself surrounded by an array of choices of reports that you'd like to pull up. I tried two and I liked the way the pie and graph chart showed my expenses report. You can see where the bulk of my money is going to, how much I have left in my Savings, Mortgages, Loans, etc


Comparisons of both software

Ease of use, navigation, help menu

AceMoney hands down,the software comes with an offline help support. BankTree has an online help support, no offline help pages attached with the software

Monthly Reports

BankTree has more options to view the reports, ranging from monthly budget to spending by payee. AceMoney has a decent report option, it shows in bank-statement-like numerical format and has two other default charts as well but a quick look at the help page tells me that I can customize my report (done manually of course with the filtering options available) And of course both software are compatible with Excel sheets

Currency Converter and Multi Currency Accounts

If you have accounts in multiple currencies and want to keep track of them in a single currency then AceMoney is your dough. You will have to regularly click on the currency exchange button on the software to keep your accounts updated. All your accounts will be balanced in a single currency

If you have accounts in multiple currencies and want to keep track of them in their original currency then BankTree is the right software for you. All your accounts will be balanced according to the currency they're setup with

Cloud Support

Acemoney states that they're working on it. I didn't see anything on BankTree. Like I've said before this is a very Britishy software and majority of their clients are based in UK (just look at their payee list) so unless the demand there rises for the need of it, then you will get cloud storage.

Price

  • AceMoney    USD 34.99
  • BankTree      USD 39.99 
The price difference margin is really small, so it's up to you to decide which one you liked better