231 Erwin Road

My experiences as a Northern transplant down in Chapel Hill, NC, 2005. And now my experiences back up in NYC.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Armed Dolphin's let loose by Katrina

This is just too funny:

It may be the oddest tale to emerge from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Observer - Flipper the firing dolphin let loose by Katrina

Tags: Dolphin, Katrina, news
Categories: Funny

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Do something with your social network

If you know me, you know I rant and rant about Social Networks. I just started playing with Yelp.com (which I think the CEO of Meetro.com told me about.)

My problem with most social networks (like Friendster) is that they don't do anything. They are useless. A social network for the sake of a social network doesn't offer much value.

Enter Yelp.com. It's a site where you can write reviews on anything in your city, such as lounges, restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. But now you have the option of searching within your social network to see what your friends are saying about these places, how cool.

The real kicker here is that you don't have to log in to see my reviews. I can make all that info public. You just have to goto http://vincent.yelp.com and you can see all my reviews. I like that.

Tags: SocialNetworking, SN, reviews, YASN, nyc, cool
Categories: Social Networking, cool

Urban Hiking - My Apt to Union Square to JFK

I'm taking an urban hike, from my apartment to Union Swaqure to JFK airport (~10miles)

Ohh, and I'm webcamming it in real time, check it out on vinnie.net

Approximate route via GoogleMaps.

UPDATE 14:30
This never happened. Because TinCam software sucks. I had everything working ready to leave the house at noon. I decided to test the feed, and it wasn't working. I spent the next 2 hours troubleshooting TinCam's FTP feature because it was bugging out on me. I couldn't just walk away (why?), I had to try and fix it.

So it's too late now, the caravan left, now I'm gonna go do something regretful, work at the office.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Get paid to innovate

Are you a problem solver? Well, contract out that knowledge to high paying companies. Check out InnoCentive.

Very interesting idea.

Tags: Innovation, Ideas, ThinkTank Research
Categories: Interesting

Friday, September 16, 2005

New Nintendo Controller

Nintendo has released a new controller that you hold in one hand. It understands orientation. So you could rotate it to turn a car. Or you could swing it through the air to slash a sword.

Very Awesome Revolution Controller

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Some cool designs

My friend Lon sent me a link to this innovative designs blog.

Two cool things worth checking out are the:

1. NYC Floating Island from Sept. 17- 25.

2. Stools cut to the profile of your face.

Ohh, and don't forget to check out Meetro instant messaging/social networking/geography based software. It's a great idea, I don't know why it hasn't come around sooner. I had a chance to meet with the CEO, Paul, while I was in Chicago last week and he's a cool/interesting guy. So check it out!

Some credit advice

Since, I never mind being a guinea pig (no racial slurs please) I figured I could dole out some credit advice on two fronts. (I decided to check my credit today as part of the Federal Act that allow for Free Annual Credit Reports (NY just came online).


So two pieces of advice I can dole out, #1, cell phone disputes go onto your credit report, #2 Maxing out a ridicoulous amount of debt is bad. Note, there are 3 credit reporting agencies in the U.S.: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

I'm currently disputing my Verizon bill because they raped me with overage charges and I switched providers. (Sprint PCS has a Fair & Flexible plan that I always tout, you never have to worry about going 'over' your minutes.)

I had the incorrect hope that my Verizon dispute wouldn't make it into my credit report from what I've seen from previous credit reports. It has not shown up on the Experian report but has showed up on the other two reports. As I am still contesting the amount they say I owe and I have send them payment of what I feel I owe, I still think I can have it knocked off my credit reports, (at least I hope).

So my advice hear, is that if you cut your cell phone contract early, it WILL go on your credit report. However, for me, I don't mind as I have a few reasons to disupte the charge and I belive I can get it off my credit report during the next few months.

Now this is the important infomation. Last year I had the idea to take out a whole bunch of 0% credit cards and drop them into an ING Bank account (currently 3.3% interest). So while that's all working out and I make almost $100 month for doing nothing, it has a severe impact on your credit report. A fact I knew going into it. I wasn't worried as I belive once I pay the cards back at the end of this year, my credit score will begin increasing again. So while this is not worth while to the majority of people, I didn't mind giving it a try.

Here are more detailed explanations of the two items above.

For Item #1, Verizon dispute:
-Evidence of being seriously late or having derogatory indicators/remarks on your credit obligations is being reported on your credit file
You have evidence of seriously delinquent behavior (60 days past due or greater). Approximately 27% of U.S. population have evidence of serious delinquency information being reported on their credit file.

The score evaluates when your credit bureau report shows one or more serious delinquencies (missed payments) on your credit accounts. Studies reveal that consumers with previous late payments are much more likely to pay late in the future.

There is no "quick fix" to improve the score if the serious delinquency indicated on your credit bureau report is valid. However, as these items age and fall off the credit bureau report (most late payments stay on your report for no more than seven years), their impact on the score will gradually decrease

-The time since your most recent past due payment or derogatory indicator is too recent or unknown
There is evidence of a late payment on your file as recent as 2 months ago. Roughly 45% of consumers have some evidence of delinquency in their credit history. Among these consumers, their most recent late payment was, on average, 20 months ago. Click here to review your Negative Items.

Analysis of consumer credit histories shows that consumers with previous late payments are much more likely to pay late in the future. The FICO score evaluates not only the presence of previous late payments, but also how recently the missed payments occurred. In general, the more recently a payment was missed, the greater the risk, and the lower the score. (Most late payments stay on your report for no more than seven years. Keep in mind that closing an account on which you had previously missed a payment does not make the late payment disappear from your credit bureau report.) In rare cases, evidence of a past missed payment on a credit account is present on the credit report, but the date of the late payment cannot be determined exactly. An "undateable" credit account delinquency on a credit report still represents greater risk than never having missed a payment at all, and so it will still affect the score.

There is no "quick fix" to raise your score if the late payment on your credit bureau report is valid. In order to improve your credit rating over time, it's important to pay all bills when they're due. The longer you do so, the better the score. If you have late payments, get caught up on them and do your best to stay current. As time passes the importance of these previous late payments will gradually lessen and the score will increase - as long as you make your payments on time on all of your credit obligations, and use your available credit responsibly.

For Item #2, taking out a lot of Credit Cards in a short period of time and running them to the max :)
-The proportion of balances to credit limits on your revolving accounts is too high
The proportion of balances to credit limits (high credit) on your revolving accounts is 71%. The average proportion of balances to credit limits on revolving accounts carried by U.S. consumers is around 40%. Click here to review your Accounts Summary.

Analysis of consumer credit behavior repeatedly finds that owing a substantial balance on revolving accounts (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, department store cards, etc.) relative to the amount of revolving credit available to you represents increased risk. In fact, the level of revolving debt is one of the most important factors in the FICO score. The score evaluates your total balances in relation to your total available credit on revolving accounts, as well as on individual revolving accounts. For a given amount of revolving credit available, a greater amount owed indicates a greater risk, and lowers the score. (For credit cards, the total outstanding balance on your last statement is generally the amount that will show in your credit bureau report. Bear in mind that even if you pay off your credit cards in full each and every month, your credit bureau report may show the last billing statement balance on those accounts.)

The more you owe on revolving credit accounts - relative to the amount of credit available to you - the more your score may be affected. So doing your best to pay your revolving account balances is a smart way to help increase your score. On the other hand, shifting balances among revolving accounts, opening up new revolving accounts, and closing down other revolving accounts will not improve your score, and could possibly decrease your score.

-The length of time your accounts have been established is relatively short
Your most established credit obligation is 104 months old and your newest credit account was opened 10 months ago. The majority of U.S. consumers have a relatively long credit history - with the average age of their most established credit account being 14 to 15 years. In addition, the average time since the most recent account opening is 20 months ago. Click here to review your Accounts Summary.

This factor is based on the age of the accounts on your credit bureau report (the age of the oldest account, the average age of accounts, or both). Research shows that consumers with longer credit histories have better repayment risk than those with shorter credit histories. Also, consumers who frequently open new accounts have greater repayment risk than those who don't.

It is a good idea to only apply for credit when you really need it. Meanwhile, maintain low-to-moderate balances and be sure to make your payments on time. Your score should improve as your credit history ages.

-You have too many accounts that were recently opened
On average, U.S. consumers recently opened about 1 new credit obligation.

Analysis repeatedly finds that opening several credit accounts in a short period of time represents increased risk for future repayment--especially for consumers who do not have a long credit history. As you demonstrate that you can manage these new credit obligations over time, your score will reflect that positive behavior.

One immediate step you can take is to avoid opening more accounts at this time. Beyond that, the most effective way to improve your score is by following the tried-and-true rules of personal finance: manage all your accounts responsibly - including new ones - and do your best to make all your payments on time.

-You have a relatively high number of accounts with balances
On average, U.S consumers carry balances on approximately 4 of their credit accounts at a given time.

Analysis repeatedly finds that carrying balances on too many credit accounts at once is a predictor of future repayment risk. (For credit cards, note that even if you pay off your balance in full every month, your credit bureau report may still show a balance on those cards. The total balance on your last statement is generally the amount that will show in your credit bureau report.)

In order to improve your FICO score, pay down the balances on your credit obligations. For revolving accounts, once they are paid down keep your balances low.

Hopefully this information can be of benefit to people searching for these answers. I wish I knew how much it affected my credit report. Because Experian doesn't list my Verizon dispute, I can estimate that costing around 120 points (out of 850). I think it's so large of a hit because it's recent (~2-3 months). If it was a few years old, I don't think it would hurt as much.

As for the max'd credit cards (with a VERY LARGE amount of debt) I can only guess, I would guess around a 100-200 point hit. Again, I think this will improve over the next year. As I knew I wouldn't be applying for any loans while I had these 0% CC's max'd out, I was okay for what I would walk into.

I can wait it out.

Happy Birthday Brian

I'm full of posts today.

Last night we had a 2nd celebration for Brian's birthday. We sang some Karaoke at 'Sing Sing' on St. Mark's street. I was sporting shades because "I wear my sunglasses at night".

I don't have pics because it was too dark and my ultracool phone (crappy camera) doesn't ave a flash.

Chenz's Juice

The other week there was a going away party for some friends moving to the west coast. It was an outdoor BBQ on Roosevelt Island, a fun little day escape for manhattanites because you can take a tram (cable car) to go visit it.


Searching around my emtpy food pantry, I came across this little gem:

I ran down to my local Duane Reade and had a stroke of genious, shown below:

Directions for making Chenz's Juice:
(as in Vincenzo's Juice, Vincenzo being my ultra cool italian name.)
Warning, this will get you knocked off your ass and possible knocked up. A friend of ours put his hand on fire with the Everclear.

Makes 1 Quart:
  • 6 Shots Grain Alcohol
  • 6 oz of Red Bull
  • 1/2 half cap of Orange Tang (for 1 quart)
  • Fill with Ice Cold water
  • Shake for foamish effect


Enjoy! I choose a thermous so I could hang it around my neck.

Why is blogging so addicting?

I haven't blogged about my life in a few weeks, yet I feel compelled to. I'll give the brief recap wiht some photos since I'm sitting in my apartment doing 'work' on the weekend.

I went to Chicago with Brian as you may have seen from the gay airplane photo in a prior post.

We walked around the city, we had some drinks with a fat native american that played the flute (That sounds so bad)

The price of gas sky rocketed.

We went to a White Sox game.

We chilled out in Wrigleyville,

Traded baseball cards,

and took upskirt photos of a manikin.

We also visited a gian shinny bean from the future. That's Brent in green. Vince Vaughn was there too, but not with us.

This is Brian on the inside of the Bean,

This is me staring into it's deep dark eyes,

Then we drove up to Grand Rapids, Michigan for Liz's wedding.

So that was my trip to Chicago, ohh, and Brian gave this guy some deep dish pizza (if you know what I'm saying). The bum was a little off guard but welcomed the food.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Another way I'm a geek.

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) which I'm proud to be a member of has featured a testimonial I gave on the benefits of Free Software for the home user. Yes it's really geeky, but I like to give out as many reasons as I can to have my underwear pulled up over my pants.
I use free software at home for personal use simply for the principal. I believe that the ability to modify and redistribute source code is fundamental to innovation and progress.

I get the added benefit that free software has many of the newest and greatest features that traditional proprietary software just can't offer. Take Firefox vs. MS Internet Explorer for instance, look at all the great features that Firefox has: tabbed browsing, Live Bookmarks, plug-ins. Internet Explorer is months if not years behind on these technologies.

Other programs I use are Open Office and The Gimp. Two amazing applications that allow me to interface with the 'proprietary' world. It's amazing how powerful of a tool The Gimp is compared to it's proprietary counterpart, Adobe Photoshop; it's too bad that more people don't know about it.

We live in a culture where small contributions can be replicated throughout society. For this reason, one individual who decides to modify some source code or make a plug-in for a free software tool can have their efforts duplicated a thousand fold. These small contributions lead to progress.

Vincent Lauria
Why not become a member and donate to a cause?

Jobless Rate At All-Time High

I came across this article today, and it really stuck out at me. The Labor Dept. is reporting a 37.4% swelling in jobless rate last month.

In other news, how to get fired.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

In the windy city

I'm in old Chicago's the "Southside". Brian and I flew in last night.
A Picture Share!
It was kinda fun to fly with a friend, I never do that. I haven't flown with a friend in years, it makes travelling a whole lot better. We tried listening to an audio book, Assassination Vacation. Maybe I should stop pushing my audiobook methods onto people, but its just so good. We only got a bit into it and came to the conclusion that it's not fun to listen to audio book with a friend on an airplane. Howerver, the book has a lot of potential, it's about a girl who travels the country adding comedy and commentary to the assassinations of our history.

A Picture Share!
We're staying at Brent's apt. It's freaking awesome.

It's Brian's first time here, so he's really excited, like a 12 year old kid, maybe even 11 and a half.

Brent's making me a Latte, crazy.