Daily Archives: July 26, 2008

Randy Pausch passes on

Back in January I wrote a bit about Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture”:

Everything about this recording is interesting to me:

  • From a technology standpoint, what he has achieved and set in motion
  • From a teaching standpoint, how he delivered the lecture – the design, “tech elements”, and presentation style
  • From an emotional standpoint, how he pulls it together in the end. Absolutely perfect.
  • From a personal standpoint, how he comes across as completely genuine and open. Someone you’d really like to get to know.

I never met the guy or heard of him before, but he is now one of the most impressive people I’m aware of.

Randy died yesterday, succumbing to the illness that informed his lecture and made it so poignant. It seems fitting to bring the lecture back again for those who may have missed it.

[kml_flashembed movie=”http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=3115188410730134929″ width=”400″ height=”326″ wmode=”transparent” /]

Another piece of his legacy is the groundbreaking “Alice” programming instructional tool. I wrote more detail about that in a previous post. The genius of it is that it entices kids (even more specifically, girls, an under-served demographic in that area) to learn how to program by introducing story-telling and fun into the learning process.

Take a few minutes to watch the lecture. It’s worth the investment. If you’re pressed for time, I have links to shorter versions on the original post – but I do encourage watching the longer version if you can.

Saving 12% in interest in 10 minutes

I just saved myself 12% in interest fees in a 10 minute conversation.

I’ve been working in earnest to get myself out of credit card debt for a few years now. Back when the economy was doing a bit better, I found a great deal with CitiCard to pay 3.99% on my balance transfer per month for the life of the balance. Naturally, I put as much of my existing debt on that card as I could. Since then, I’ve paid just a little above the minimum on that card while I concentrate on the higher interest balances. So far, this has worked out pretty well, and I’ve made a significant dent on my overall debt.

This month, I screwed up.

Despite the alerts and warnings I set up for myself, I missed one due date by 12 hours. It was stupid, and my fault. Today, I got a message that my APR for that card jumped from 3.99% to 15.99%, and I received a $40 late fee.

That would put a serious crimp in my payoff plans. I called CitiCard and told them I was sorry for missing the due date by 1 day, and emphasized that I had not ever been late in paying them before. Then I asked them to reinstate the original APR – and offered to pay the late fee. After a few minutes on hold, and with no argument, they agreed.

I could probably have talked them out of the $40, but I accept that I missed the date, and that’s a valid punishment (even if I do think it’s exorbitant). I’m willing to take that hit. But the more important thing is that I avoided a 12% increase long-term. That’s going to save me some serious money.

Calling the credit card companies can work!